Is ChatGPT Plus Worth The Price?

Natural language AI tools like ChatGPT have garnered enough mainstream interest that even your local barista is likely to have heard of them. General curiosity is building as these tools get more and more advanced. They can churn out essays, write code, answer life's burning questions, and even help you pass your university's most difficult exams. They might also be coming for your jobs.

The most notable generative, natural language AI tools are free to access and use despite their mind-blowing skill sets, including ChatGPT, Microsoft's Bing Chat, and Google's Bard. But ChatGPT creator OpenAI eventually put out premium subscriptions after it weathered a sharp influx of new users when popularity soared.

For $20 per month, you can buy access to ChatGPT Plus, which offers benefits like priority access and the privilege of testing new features and updates early. But is ChatGPT Plus actually worth the money?

The answer to that question will differ based on the individual asking it. Here's all the information you need to decide whether ChatGPT Plus is worth adding yet another subscription to your monthly bills.

What do you get with ChatGPT Plus?

The biggest benefit of subscribing to ChatGPT Plus is guaranteed access during peak usage. This was especially helpful earlier in 2023 when popularity soared, leading a rush of new users to slam the servers. Even today, you may still encounter the dreaded "too many users" message as ChatGPT urges you to try again later. With ChatGPT Plus, you'll effectively skip that line every time.

You'll also get faster response times from ChatGPT Plus. Considering its powerful capabilities, the free version still responds to commands rather quickly, but you can run into periods of lag during peak hours, especially if your queries are exceptionally complex.

However, we've never seen ChatGPT take more than a minute to respond, whether you pay or stick to the freebie option. That may change if you decide to use its newest version.

ChatGPT Plus is the only way to use GPT-4

Another big benefit of subscribing to ChatGPT was introduced with GPT-4's arrival. The free version of ChatGPT is limited to GPT-3.5 which, while still plenty capable, doesn't have the advanced reasoning capabilities of GPT-4. "GPT-4 excels at tasks that require advanced reasoning, complex instruction understanding, and more creativity," OpenAI writes. It also supports image input.

To put reasoning into context, GPT-3.5 was technically smart enough to pass the bar exam — a prerequisite for practicing law — though just barely, according to a Reuters report. Researchers then found GPT-4 could ace the test with results in the 90th percentile, which is more than many humans can tout. GPT-4 can also process much more text at one time. You can submit instructions as long as 3,000 words, and the resulting output can be up to 25,000 words.

Furthermore, GPT-3.5's dataset is limited to information shared across the web up to late 2019, meaning it may use and write outdated information to complete its tasks. GPT-4 is still outdated, but as of writing, it can boast relevance up to September 2021.

The downside to GPT-4 is that, currently, OpenAI caps you at 25 messages per three hours, and that number will supposedly shrink in time as demand continues to heighten. GPT-4 can also be significantly slower to respond, but again, it will usually act on most commands within a minute. If your workflow requires extreme speed, GPT-4 may not be worth the added cost.

Is ChatGPT Plus worth it?

That brings us to our titular question: should you commit $20 monthly for ChatGPT Plus? If you have taken the time to learn the ins and outs of ChatGPT and are actively applying it to your professional or academic life, then we'd say it's worth at least trying.

If you frequent the tool, you'll want to ensure you can access it no matter how many people are using it. Plus, the few seconds you'll shave off from the quicker response times will pay dividends in the long run, allowing you to get your work done faster and return to your uniquely human life. Lastly, you'll benefit from its updated dataset and the increased complexity with which it can handle your queries, improving the depth and accuracy of the results you get.

If you're someone who's just looking to create the odd scratch of creative content or needs to ask basic questions that don't rely on technical or ever-changing information, then you should get by just fine with the free version. Just note: ChatGPT is imperfect no matter which version you use, and it's unlikely to ever reach true perfection, so continue plugging away at your due diligence of fact-checking and polishing its results whenever you turn to it for help.