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What is ChatGPT Plus? Everything we know about the premium tier

ChatGPT is completely free to use, but that doesn’t mean OpenAI isn’t also interested in making some money.

ChatGPT Plus is a subscription model that gives you access to a completely different service based on GPT-4, with faster speeds and more reliable access.

Close up of ChatGPT and OpenAI logo.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What is ChatGPT Plus?

Details about ChatGPT Plus had been emerging from insiders for weeks, but the official news finally broke on February 1, 2023 via a blog post from OpenAI, the company behind the popular generative text AI.

“We launched ChatGPT as a research preview so we could learn more about the system’s strengths and weaknesses, and gather user feedback to help us improve upon its limitations,” the blog post states. “Since then, millions of people have given us feedback, we’ve made several important updates, and we’ve seen users find value across a range of professional use cases including drafting and editing content, brainstorming ideas, programming help, and learning new topics.”

Like the standard version of ChatGPT, ChatGPT Plus is an AI chatbot, and it offers a highly accurate machine learning assistant that’s able to carry out natural language “chats.” This is the latest version of the chatbot that’s currently available.

How much does it cost?

ChatGPT Plus costs $20 per month, which is a lot less than it was rumored to cost. Of course, the free version of ChatGPT remains in place, so paying won’t be a requirement to use the service moving forward.

We’ll have to see how long OpenAI keeps this price, however. Some reports indicate that it may be costing as much as $700,000 per day to operate, but then again, we don’t know how many subscribers ChatGPT Plus currently has.

What does ChatGPT Plus include?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

When ChatGPT launched, it was described as providing access to three specific features:

  • General access to ChatGPT, even during peak times
  • Faster response times
  • Priority access to new features and improvements

Having access to ChatGPT during peak times is the most obvious major benefit of paying for ChatGPT Plus. With some people having to wait hours to get in, that alone should ensure the popularity of the subscription model. The idea of getting first access to new features and improvements is interesting too, even if what those new features will be remains a mystery.

It’s more than just jumping to the front of the line, though. ChatGPT Plus officially supports GPT-4, which is this latest large language model (LLM), greatly expanding what standard ChatGPT, which uses GPT-3.5 can do. According to OpenAI, GPT-4 provides 40% more factual responses, and is a much stronger collaborative tool for creative tasks. In many ways, we’re still discovering just how much more powerful GPT-4 is that GPT-3.5, but some believe it even hints at the first sparks of AGI (artificial general intelligence).

Other major features added through GPT-4 are the ability to receive visual input instead of just text, much longer text inputs and outputs, and access to data gleaned from the internet prior to 2022. In particular, GPT-4 has a massive 25,000-word limit compared to the 3,000 of ChatGPT.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re interested in trying it out, you can easily check it out and cancel your account later if it’s not longer needed.

Why does OpenAI want you to pay up?

ChatGPT has high running costs — for hosting, upkeep, upgrading hardware, updates, satisfying its investor, etc. — while its own popularity has led to an immediate need to improve its accessibility and speed to a greater user base. Some estimates peg daily running costs at $100,000, or up to $3 million a month! The premium subscription should help to cover server upgrades.

It’s safe to assume that a premium tier will let OpenAI control bandwidth issues, especially during peak times of the day.

Can I subscribe to ChatGPT Plus now?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Yes. ChatGPT Plus initially launched in early access phase, which was by invite only through a waitlist. But now, you can upgrade your account to ChatGPT Plus just by clicking on “Upgrade to Plus” at the bottom of the sidebar.

As an alternative, you can check out some of what GPT-4 has to offer by using Bing Chat, which also uses GPT-4 as a basis for its chats.

The future of ChatGPT Plus

OpenAI is already working on the next versions of its LLM — most notably, GPT-4.5. We don’t know much about this updated model, except that it will build on the foundation laid by GPT-4. OpenAI has suggested in the past that GPT-4.5 could be finished training and ready to go by September or October of this year.

It seems possible that GPT-4.5 will be released to ChatGPT Plus subscribers, but we don’t yet know how the company plans to roll out new versions of its chatbot.

GPT-5 was at one point rumored to be in the works, but OpenAI now says it’s no longer even on the road map.

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Aaron enjoys all manner of tech - from mobile (phones/smartwear), audio (headphones/earbuds), computing (gaming/Chromebooks)…
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