A Breakdown of Chat API Pricing

7 min read

Sendbird pricing compared to Stream, Agora, Twilio and more. It pays to know the true cost of chat before you invest in a solution for your app.

Emily R.
Emily R.
Published December 16, 2019 Updated January 29, 2024
Comparing the cost of Sendbird's prices with Stream and other Chat API providers

There are a lot of options available when it comes to finding the right chat solution for your app. You'll likely evaluate the features, compliance standards, performance, and support plans of each provider, maybe adapting your use case to embrace the unique functionalities of your front runner. But while your use case may be flexible, it's likely that your budget is not.

To expedite your search, take an objective look at the pricing structures of the six best chat API services to determine which plan falls within your budget:

  1. Sendbird
  2. Stream
  3. Agora
  4. Twilio
  5. PubNub
  6. CometChat

Sendbird Pricing

Breaking down what Sendbird really costs

Sendbird provides chat APIs, SDKs, and UI kits customers can integrate with their apps to create a feature-rich messaging experience faster than building one from scratch. When researching chat providers, customers realize the two most feature-rich API vendors are Sendbird and Stream. Check out the Sendbird reviews and alternatives list on Product Hunt to see how Stream stacks up against them and other Sendbird Chat competitors.

Sendbird Pricing Overview

Sendbird offers four pricing plans: Developer, Starter, Pro, and Enterprise. Each tier and its price is driven by your app's predicted number of monthly active users (MAU) and peak concurrent connections. It's important to note that Sendbird's Developer plan only supports up to 100 MAU, whereas Stream's free Maker Account supports up to 2K MAU for your app to test its chat functionality on.

Here is a direct comparison of Stream and Sendbird's MAU-based pricing plans:

MAU CountStreamSendbird StarterSendbird Pro
50K$2,299Talk to SalesTalk to Sales

Sendbird's customer support options include Base, L1, L2 and L3.

  • L1 is 4% of monthly cost or a minimum of $1K (you'd have to spend $25k a month to hit $1k at 4%).
  • L2 is 6% of monthly cost or a minimum of $2K.
  • L3 is 8% of monthly cost or min $5K.

Base is similar to Stream's Basic Support, but Sendbird restricts support access to US business hours. Stream doesn't—we have support personnel in North America, Europe, and Asia, giving us 24/7 coverage. Sendbird's L3 is the first 24/7 option, promising Slack support for an "extra payment".

Stream's Developer support comes standard with any plan and an average support response time of 30 minutes, 24/5. Stream's Business support includes everything from the Developer plan and a shared Slack channel with one of our developers, a guaranteed four hour response time for critical issues and 72 hours for non-critical issues, and a 99.95% SLA uptime with 25x acceleration. Stream's Enterprise support offers 24/7 phone support, a 99.99% SLA uptime with 100x acceleration, a two hour response time for critical issues and a 48 hour time for non-critical, and complimentary integration review from our team. 

Stream Pricing

Stream powers activity feeds and chat for enterprise organizations and billions of global end users. Notable customers that rely on our Edge infrastructure and 99.999% SLA uptime include UnderAmour, Adobe, TaskRabbit, MasterClass, PGA of America, Like-to-Know, Sotheby's, and Cambridge University. Steam's ready-made components ensure a fast time to market for your app, a feature-rich UX, and that your engineers can allocate valuable resources that would otherwise be used to build a home-grown solution to other areas of your project.

Stream provides a scalable chat API, custom UI kits, and extensive tutorials and documentation for its React, React Native, iOS, Android, Flutter, Compose, Unity, and Unreal SDKs. Stream distinguishes itself from the competition with an easy to integrate solution---it typically takes our customers a few days to a week to implement Stream, while other chat APIs can take months.

Learn what real Stream users have to say about their experience, check out our G2 profile

Stream Pricing Overview

Stream's pricing is broken into tiers called Build, Start, Elevate, and Enterprise. As mentioned above, Stream's pricing is also driven by MAUs but offers a higher percentage of peak concurrent connections. While Sendbird's website fails to mention overage costs, Stream transparently outlines its overages for each plan, starting at $0.09/user for the Start and Elevate plans.

All pricing tiers feature highly performant, secure, and compliant chat solutions with an unlimited message storage capacity, an image and file CDN, and multiple customer support channels to leverage, should you have any questions. 

Agora Pricing

Agora Chat Pricing

Agora's chat platform features flexible customization, ease of implementation, and reliable network quality to give your users an amazing messaging and chat experience. It supports over eight SDKs and enables developers to add customized messaging experiences to real-time video and voice apps.

Agora Pricing Overview

Agora's chat pricing includes a free plan for up to 500 MAU, a Starter plan for up to 50K MAU, a Pro plan for up to 100K MAU, and an Enterprise plan apps can receive custom pricing for. The Starter plan begins at $349/mo with an additional cost of $0.05/MAU if you exceed 5K of the max MAU count. The Pro plan starts at $699/mo with an additional cost of $0.05/MAU if you exceed 10K of the max MAU count.

Translation and content moderation services are not included with the free or Starter plans. Translation is $0.02/1,000 characters and content moderation is $1.50/1,000 transactions for both Pro and Enterprise plans. Support is another feature Agora does not include with its chat pricing plans. It offers Starter ($0/mo), Standard ($1,200/mo), Premium ($2,900), and Enterprise ($4,900) support plans. It's important to note that only the Premium and Enterprise plans offer HIPAA support and guarantee response times of three hours and under.

Twilio Pricing

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Twilio replaced its Programmable Chat product with a Conversations API that enables businesses to interact with customers through voice, SMS, video, chat, and email. Twilio's Conversations API allows engineers to bring the feature-richness of an in-app chat experience to their business's omnichannel communication and user engagement strategy.

Twilio Pricing Overview

Twilio's Conversations API pricing is slightly unique compared to the other chat providers listed here. Since its capabilities extend beyond in-app chat to platforms like Facebook Messenger, SMS, MMS, Whatsapp, and Google's Business Messages it bases monthly pricing off of usage and media storage.

If your app has under 200 MAUs, you can use the API for free. Once you scale upwards from 200-5K MAUs, the API costs $0.05/active user, 5,001-10K MAUs costs $0.0475/active user, and 10,001-20K costs $0.045/active user. Apps with over 20K MAU can reach out to Twilio's sales team for custom pricing and volume discounts.

Media Storage on the Conversations API starts at $0.25 per GB per month. This feature allows app users to add photos, video, and other file types to their conversations. Since your app cannot control how many messages its users will send and receive that contain media, there is no accurate way to estimate your total monthly cost. 

PubNub Pricing

PubNub offers lower level building blocks for creating real-time apps---it doesn't provide reusable visual components for the frontend. They only support low level SDKs for JS, Swift, Java and Unity which means you should prepare to spend a considerable amount of time building out your chat experience. Its feature set is also quite limited compared to Stream and Sendbird. However, PubNub has an excellent track record in terms of performance, scalability, and reliability. Customers such as HubSpot, Yelp, and eBay rely on their real-time API, which is more popular than its chat API.

PubNub Pricing Overview

PubNub offers a free plan for 200 MAUs and under, a Starter plan for $49/mo for up to 1,000 MAUs, and a custom priced Enterprise plan that offers volume based discounts, like Stream. If you exceed the Starter plan, overages are $0.05/user.

It is important to review the features available on the Free and Starter plans as some of the most critical ones are reserved for Enterprise, like HIPAA compliance, SSO, 99.999% SLA, advanced network tuning, and a custom domain origin. Be sure to note that all plans come with PubNub's standard support option, but they do offer Gold ($500/mo) and Platinum ($1,500) support plans that guarantee quicker response times, Slack and phone support, and weekend support options, too. 

CometChat Pricing

CometChat supports 10 SDKs as well as pre-built chat plug-ins that help developers quickly integrate and ship in-app chat, video, voice messaging, and moderation tools for a variety of use cases and industries.

CometChat Pricing Overview

CometChat's pricing is broken into three tiers, Essentials, Pro, and Custom. For under 1K MAU, you can pay $109/mo for the Essentials plan or $529/mo for Pro, a pretty big delta in price until your app begins to scale. For apps with up to 50K MAU, the Essentials plan is priced at $1,579/mo compared to $1,999 for the Pro plan. All Custom pricing plan options must be discussed with a member of their sales team.

The Pro plan includes all of what CometChat calls its "Core Chat" features plus Advanced Chat features, voice and video call recording capabilities, live streaming, webhooks, SMS and email notifications, image moderation, greater customer and implementation support options, and more.

Cost Example: Sendbird's Pricing vs. Stream's

Stream costs less than Sendbird

Sendbird's Starter plan for 25K MAU is priced at $1,199/mo.

However, in order to access critical features including message search, delivery receipts, announcements, data export, advanced analytics, private dedicated servers, auto message translation, a moderation dashboard, profanity filter, and HIPAA compliance you must upgrade to Sendbird's Pro plan for $1,799/mo.

Stream's Start plan for 25K MAU includes all of the features Sendbird's Starter plan is missing and costs 14% less at only $1,049/mo.

With such massive cost savings and access to a more advanced chat functionality, your decision of Sendbird or Stream probably just got easier. 

Which Solution is the Most Cost Effective?

10K$749$399$599$475Talk to Sales$799
25K$1,799$1,049$1,349Talk to SalesTalk to Sales$1,249
50KTalk to Sales$1,849$2,599Talk to SalesTalk to Sales$1,999

While all of the solutions we covered are more cost effective than building chat in-house, Stream is the most affordable, supportive, and feature-rich option. The table above compares the monthly prices by MAU of Stream's plans against the competitor plans with the same features. It should be noted that Stream's 50K MAU plan includes customer support, something that Agora, Twilio, PubNub, and CometChat price separately.

If you're looking for a scalable, Enterprise-ready chat solution, Stream only becomes more economical in comparison to its alternatives as your MAUs and peak concurrent connections grow.

If you are currently using another provider's API and now want to switch from Twilio or migrate from Sendbird or CometChat to Stream, our proven migration plan has got you covered.

Don't take our word for it though!

Get in touch with someone from our sales team, start your free trial of Stream, or check out our demos.

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