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ChatGPT is free, requires no account, and has unlimited access

Will the worlds most popular artificial intelligence remain free forever?

Reviewed By: Steve Hook

Last Updated on April 2, 2024
A graphic displaying the words "ChatGPT free" next to a stylized knot with a question mark, suggesting a guide to solving a problem without cost.
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Among three other subscriptions on the ChatGPT website, is the completely free version of the app, which allows for unlimited access to the chatbot. This is an excellent option for users not want to spend money but still want the benefits of GPT-3.5 features. In addition to this, recent OpenAI upgrades have made the free version of the chatbot accessible without an account, making the process of using ChatGPT even simpler. Read on to find out more about this update and what access to ChatGPT’s free version can get you.

Quick Answer

ChatGPT is free, has unlimited access, and now needs no account to use. However, there are feature restrictions in free access. This means there is no access to ChatGPT’s multimodality capabilities, no access to third-party plugins, and there may also be a usage cap.

The free-forever plan has been available since the launch of its chatbot in November 2022. The GPT-based artificial intelligence language model is expensive to run though, which is why there are also three paid subscription tiers introduced since launch – ChatGPT Plus, ChatGPT Teams, and ChatGPT Enterprise.

ChatGPT works by opening a question-and-answer style human dialogue between you and the bot. We’ve had extensive experience with it here at PC Guide, and you can see what we think of it – and more on the functionality differences of the subscriptions – in our hands-on review of ChatGPT. The technology supports something called NLP (Natural Language Processing). As a result, you can chat with artificial intelligence in real-time conversations. This AI even has the ability to solve coding problems and excel at content generation: write well-constructed essays, suggest social media posts and, if you’re feeling it, even discuss philosophical issues around AI itself.

ChatGPT is free, requires no account, and has unlimited access

To get access to text-based conversational interactions the basic version of ChatGPT’s conversational AI tool is free to use. The free version of ChatGPT can be accessed via the website on a desktop or mobile browser, or via the mobile app for Android and iOS. The sign-up process is quite straightforward, and you can log in using a Google, Apple, or Microsoft account or create an OpenAI account. You will need a mobile or cell phone number too.

Using ChatGPT without an account

You can choose to make an account with the free version of ChatGPT, however, as of April 1st, 2024, Open AI has rolled out an update to ChatGPT’s system wherein users no longer have to create an account in order to access the free services of ChatGPT. The update means that the free version of this chatbot is now even more accessible to users. On OpenAI’s blog, they wrote:

“Starting today, you can use ChatGPT instantly, without needing to sign-up. We’re rolling this out gradually, with the aim to make AI accessible to anyone curious about its capabilities”

OpenAI Blog

Making an account that utilizes GPT-3.5 is now free, doesn’t need login details, and has unlimited access. Making user experience to the platform more accessible than ever.

In use, you can expect almost instant answers but you will be restricted by what you can and cannot do. For example, the free version of ChatGPT cannot generate images like the model accessed with chatGPT Plus and other paid-for options.

A screenshot of a conversation where a user asks if ChatGPT can create images, and ChatGPT responds explaining it cannot directly create images but can provide descriptions or guidance free of charge.
The ChatGPT free version (using GPT-3.5) cannot create images, one of its restrictions.

ChatGPT free unlimited access questions

ChatGPT is apparently unlimited in the number of prompts for free users. We say “apparently” as there is no information from OpenAI that offers alternative information. Certainly, the free version of the powerful AI tool itself isn’t aware of any limit to usage when asked. We even asked ChatGPT Plus and got a slightly different response, highlighting how different access can change outcomes. Both questions were asked on the same day in 2024.

How many times can I use ChatGPT for free?

There is a limitation to user input for free users, believed to be around 2,048 characters (or approx. 500 words). There is also an output limit of 4,096 characters. But it seems you can use ChatGPT for free an unlimited number of times, and logins aren’t restricted unless the service is experiencing a high load. The free plan looks to be free forever too, it just comes with limitations such as using the second-best LLM (Large Language Model) that OpenAI currently runs – GTP-3.5 rather than GPT-4.

ChatGPT Plus provides the next level up and a priority service that ensures your access remains unimpeded during periods of high server load. Upgrading to ChatGPT Plus actually guarantees a certain level of availability compared to using the free version. Should you upgrade to the premium plan? There are three paid subscriptions to choose from.

ChatGPT Plus subscription plan

OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus subscription plan costs $20 per month. It comes with exclusive new features which may be worth it for you. You get priority access in peak traffic, faster response speeds, plugin functionality, as well as exclusive access to GPT-4. This now includes the GPT-4V model, following the “Vision update” which integrated the in-house AI image model DALL·E 3.

With all these benefits, Plus is for professionals and those who want a bit more reliability and stability from the application This may be particularly attractive to you if you are a professional or enterprise user.

ChatGPT Team subscription plan

The newest subscription plan, ChatGPT Team costs $25/month/user and has a minimum user requirement of 2. This means that ChatGPT Team costs at least $50/month. It provides a team management dashboard not included with ChatGPT Plus.

ChatGPT Enterprise subscription plan

OpenAI’s most premium, and most scalable payment plan for ChatGPT. While the ChatGPT Enterprise cost isn’t public, some reports suggest a $60/month/user cost, with a higher minimum user requirement than the ChatGPT Team.

Does ChatGPT Plus give you unlimited use?

There is no way to use a truly unlimited version of the service. Even ChatGPT Plus subscribers will note that GPT 4 has a usage cap.

GPT-4 currently has a cap of 50 messages every 3 hours.

Upgrade to ChatGPT Plus for access to GPT 4 in ChatGPT
Upgrade to ChatGPT Plus or ChatGPT Enterprise for access to GPT 4 in ChatGPT

ChatGPT features for ChatGPT Plus, ChatGPT Team, and ChatGPT Enterprise

The free version of ChatGPT comes with most of the functionality ChatGPT Plus, ChatGPT Team, and ChatGPT Enterprise users enjoy. However, there are differences, as shown by these additions made by the August 2023 update:

Prompt examples: When starting a new chat, all users will see helpful examples of common prompts. The idea is often the hardest part!

Suggested replies: In a similar vein, ChatGPT now suggests relevant ways to continue your conversation. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know – but maybe AI does?

GPT-4 by default: ChatGPT Plus and ChatGPT Enterprise users now have the convenience of a persistent AI model preference. ChatGPT will remember which one you last selected and default to that – “no more defaulting back to GPT-3.5”.

Upload multiple files: ChatGPT can now analyze data and generate insights across multiple files. This adds coherency to any drawn conclusions. This is available with the Code Interpreter beta for all Plus users.

Stay logged in: Previously, users were logged out routinely every 2 weeks. Now, when you do log in, you’ll be “greeted with a much more welcoming page”.

Keyboard shortcuts: Shortcuts added include “⌘ (Ctrl) + Shift + ;” to copy the last code block, as well as “⌘ (Ctrl) + /” to see the complete list.

How is ChatGPT’s free version funded?

OpenAI funds the free version of ChatGPT in a couple of different ways. Firstly, it’s important for onboarding new users to the platform, who later become paid users. Secondly, they may use interactions with the AI to improve the service in gathering data on how humans communicate. It makes sense that the company would be using the free and paid options to fine-tune the model even further. Following this logic, combined with the sentiments of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman during interviews, we believe there will always be a free version of the AI chatbot.

ChatGPT is a free internet service similar to a search engine, except that responses to user queries are uniquely generated every time. This is not the case with a search engine, where pre-existing results are retrieved. The GPT-4 bot is not an IR (Information Retrieval) system and doesn’t simply hand you pre-written text. The process it uses instead is computationally intensive, and therefore expensive, so the costs need to be repaid somewhere.

Is ChatGPT free for commercial use?

Yes, ChatGPT is free for commercial use. However, there are some considerations as commercial use does mean users need to be careful when using such services. OpenAI has pointed out its position in the following statement:

“It is free for anyone to use and modify it for any purpose, including commercial use. But it’s important to remember that OpenAI doesn’t offer any warranty or support for GPT, and it’s up to users to make sure that how they use the model doesn’t break any laws or rules.”

This means that you may use interactions with ChatGPT for commercial projects without OpenAI objecting. However, you should also be well-versed in the legal requirements of any area you are working in. As well as any rules and regulations about using AI-powered services. OpenAI also makes clear that if anyone is looking to modify GPT for their own purposes, there may be ethical and legal implications for using the AI-powered technology.

If you are looking to access OpenAI’s models in a commercial sense this does come at a cost too. This can be done by using OpenAI’s API.

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Is the OpenAI API free to use?

No, the OpenAI API is not free to use. Instead, developers must pay based on the quantity of tokens generated. Using it yourself for private applications is very manageable. However, developing an app that uses GPT-4 will cost money based on each user using it. You may want to consider charging users to use your app as a result.

The OpenAI API is a tool for developers who want to make the most of OpenAI’s language models- including but not exclusive to ChatGPT. It is a paid service, although OpenAI has made it free for those looking to use it for non-commercial and educational purposes. The API pretty much allows you to input text to receive generated responses to tasks such as question answering and text summarization. To access OpenAI API, simply head to OpenAI Playground to get started.

If you are a developer who is looking to get your hands dirty, you can even access OpenAI’s pre-trained models on GitHub. Where you can modify the models for free and fine-tune them using your own data. To find out which models are available, their pricing information, and how it works head to OpenAI’s site for more details.

Will ChatGPT remain free?

Even with the release of the ChatGPT Plus subscription plan, it seems that ChatGPT will remain free – for now, at least. Users hoping to still access the model for free will be happy to hear that OpenAI will endeavor to keep a free version of the service running.

Final thoughts

The world’s most popular AI chatbot is free for commercial use, even with the free version of ChatGPT. ChatGPT is a pretty amazing tool available for users right now. Considering the popularity of the GPT-4 model (and even ChatGPT’s API) producing human-like text on a global scale is an economic feat.

Reinforcement learning via human feedback is one of the most impressive technological advancements in software. However, with over 100 million weekly active users, OpenAI must choose between faster response time or usage limits (or of course monetization) in order to keep up with competitors like Microsoft Bing AI.

Users find that with the right text prompt, GPT-4 and its successors GPT-4V or GPT-4 Turbo produce some excellent responses on seemingly any topic. In addition, thanks to the collaboration between tech giants Microsoft and OpenAI, Windows Copilot (formerly Bing Chat) is directly accessible from your desktop.

Funmi joined PC Guide in November 2022, and was a driving force for the site's ChatGPT coverage. She has a wide knowledge of AI apps, gaming and consumer technology.