Is ChatGPT Free? Yes, But There’s a Catch

Best Prompts for ChatGPT

Is ChatGPT Free? Yes, But There’s a Catch

Key Points

  • ChatGPT is a chatbot whose foundation is the GPT large language model, which uses natural language processing and AI to mimic human speech.
  • ChatGPT-3.5 is the most well-known variant and is readily available for free.
  • ChatGPT works by taking text-driven data points to generate a model, but it is not advised for generating academic papers.
  • ChatGPT-3.5 is free to use, but it has limitations and can be easily tricked into malicious output.
  • ChatGPT is useful for developers, advertising, and generating ad copy, but not recommended for reference use.

Is ChatGPT free? The online artificial intelligence chatbot has captivated a large section of the public Zeitgeist. However, there are quite a few questions regarding the cost of such a service. Now, make no mistake, there are free aspects to the AI model. However, as with anything online, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Before you go exploring on your own, why not take a deeper dive into the service? This guide will cover what the program is, how it works, and why it isn’t quite as free as you might think.

What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a chatbot whose foundation is the GPT large language model, or LLM, which uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence to mimic the cadence and patterns of human speech. It comes in two different variants for regular use: GPT-3.5 and GPT-4. Of these two, ChatGPT-3.5 is arguably the most well-known, and it’s the most readily available chatbot that users can see when creating an OpenAI account.

ChatGPT made waves upon its release, sparking an international interest in AI. Artificial intelligence has also caught on in a big way when it comes to things like businesses. While AI has often been employed in some fields, ChatGPT really opened the floodgates when considering things like automated customer service, boilerplate ad copy, and more.

How It Works

When instantiated, ChatGPT is similar to more low-tech chatbots. You give it a prompt and, depending on the content, it will generate a response. Part of the trick of learning how to use ChatGPT effectively is learning how to structure and phrase your prompts. It works quite well when you are very particular about the specifics of a given prompt.

ChatGPT’s parent company, OpenAI, has structured the application in such a way that you don’t need to be well-versed to use it. However, understanding the constraints and ways to ask questions is vital to getting the best out of the chatbot. ChatGPT works by taking countless numbers of data points, usually text-driven, to generate a model. The model is then refined and trained with human responses.

This has a positive aspect, as it allows for a wide range of general knowledge topics and the like. However, using it isn’t advised for generating things like academic papers. While it can be tempting to use ChatGPT as something of an erstwhile essay writing service, numerous services like Copyscape and Turnitin are explicitly beginning to recognize AI writing patterns.

Is ChatGPT Free?

chatgpt free
ChatGPT is free to use, but only the most basic version is available to all users.

The base service, or ChatGPT-3.5, is free for anyone to use. You aren’t restricted by the number of queries or prompts. However, you might be restricted during peak usage hours. ChatGPT-4 is a paid service, with a nominal monthly fee associated with it. For most users, GPT-3.5 should be plenty. While you can use ChatGPT free with no strings attached, there are some caveats to this.

Before diving into that, it is important to note the differences. Version 4 is a more accurate LLM, trained on a more recent data set. GPT-3.5 is utilizing data sets from 2019, which were later updated to include sources from 2020. As such, you’re working with data that is a few years old already.

GPT-4 has a more recent data set, dating back to 2021. This will get updated with time, especially as OpenAI feels the need to expand and improve upon the software as a whole. As such, if you’re looking for the most accurate chatbot you can use, GPT-4 might be worth the monthly fee.

What’s the Catch?

So, what is the catch to using ChatGPT? Well, for starters, you’re working with an older data set, as mentioned. This gives a rather incomplete picture, especially if you’re using the chatbot as a replacement for search engine queries. For general knowledge, this works just fine. Basic questions you might ask in a day-to-day scenario are perfectly handled by GPT-3.5.

However, when it comes to more niche knowledge sets, you start to feel the limitations. Let’s be frank, ChatGPT-3.5 is fairly easy to trick into malicious output. This isn’t necessarily dangerous in terms of damaging you or your company. However, it is malicious as far as the content of the output.

ChatGPT-3.5 is a flawed product, more of a proof of concept than an actual production-ready piece of software. As such, you should not rely on it for any sort of work that requires specific knowledge. Academia and fields with extensive knowledge bases like law or medicine aren’t well-suited for GPT-3.5’s output.

If you do choose to use it in this capacity, you should tread very lightly. It wasn’t that long ago that an attorney used ChatGPT to generate written words that cited law cases with zero basis in reality.

Is ChatGPT Free to Use for Businesses?

chatgpt free
Developers can use ChatGPT to speed up the coding process.

Can you use ChatGPT free for any business? Yes, but that is the short answer. As previously discussed, you’ll likely want to use it in limited deployment, depending on your field of work.


ChatGPT is great for developers, as you can generate boilerplate code for a project in no time at all. Even if your team is subscribing to GPT-4, it likely isn’t a good fit for generating larger-scale projects, though. Development in itself is a difficult task, but adding an automated element could prove to yield mixed results as a whole.


ChatGPT excels at something like ad copy. You can feed it prompts with your targeted keywords and a word limit and get back usable ad copy immediately. You’ll likely need to refine it to better suit your needs, but it is still a great option for any user who isn’t confident in their writing skills.

Reference Use

ChatGPT is generally not recommended for reference material. While you can certainly use it in this capacity, you need to keep in mind that the software was not designed for this purpose. You’re working with outdated data sets, and, in the case of GPT-3.5, the propensity to just make things up. If you’re doing serious work with reference materials, it’s better to just do the legwork yourself.

Closing Thoughts

Is ChatGPT free? Yes, in a manner of speaking. You won’t get the best or most accurate version of the software if you’re using the free option. However, if you’re willing to work within the limitations of the free version, you can get some interesting work done.

As with anything AI-related, it isn’t an absolute replacement for doing the work yourself. You can use it for content generation, but you’ll likely have to go back over any written work or code and edit things where needed. To save some time, however, there is little else like it on the market today. OpenAI has certainly put polish and gleam on the software that helps to separate it from its contemporaries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is ChatGPT safe to use?

Yes, you only need an account to get started with the service. At no point does the software ask you for any identifying information, that is something you would have to freely volunteer.

Are prompts persistent with ChatGPT?

They can be, the interface itself will save all previous queries so you can go back and view them.

Should I use ChatGPT for academic essays?

No, unless you like getting caught for plagiarism. You can certainly use ChatGPT to generate an academic essay and sources cited. However, OpenAI and other developers are putting in a lot of legwork to keep students honest when it comes to their essays.

Does ChatGPT write naturally?

GPT 3.5 can seem natural with some outputs. However, when it comes to longer structured works you can definitely tell that some of it is machine-generated. If you plan on using copy generated by ChatGPT, you might want to have another writer go back over and refine things to make it sound natural.

Is ChatGPT legal to use?

Yes, there are no legal dilemmas raised by using AI for your own gain or profit.

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