ChatGPT’s free tier just got a massive upgrade – so stop paying for ChatGPT Plus

ChatGPT logo
(Image credit: ilgmyzin/Unsplash)

Following its GPT-4o announcement during its Spring Update event, OpenAI has finally made its new AI tools available for free to everyone, begging the question: Is there any point paying for ChatGPT?

With ChatGPT-4o, all users can now access more advanced tools like discussing files and photos you upload to ChatGPT. The generative AI can also conduct data analysis and create charts, and it can access the internet to inform its responses. 

However, with all of these features rolling out to everyone – even if they come with usage limits for non-paying users – there’s a big question of if people should stay subscribed to OpenAI’s premium tier for ChatGPT.

It’s not like ChatGPT Plus has become entirely obsolete. Subscribers still have exclusive features like the ability to create custom GPTs, higher usage rate limits with 4o, and first access to new features – this includes early access to Voice Mode when it launches "in the coming weeks."

But it’s understandable why subscribers feel a little burned. They’re paying $20 (around £16 / AU$30) per month for a service that’s not that different from the free one. Unless you’re an AI power user, now’s seemingly a terrible time to sign up for ChatGPT Plus.

Thinking long term

A close up of ChatGPT on a phone, with the OpenAI logo in the background of the photo

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Daniel Chetroni)

So why would OpenAI want to make its premium service less appealing? Well, there are two prevailing theories.

The far-fetched one is that OpenAI will soon release an early version of GPT-5, or at least some kind of exciting new features that’ll be exclusive to its paid members beyond the voiced version of ChatGPT. It’s not out of the question, though this feels like something OpenAI would have mentioned during its Spring Update event on May 13, so color us skeptical.

The likely reason is that OpenAI is changing track to focus on bringing in as many users as possible, rather than paid ones, at least for now.

That’s because a report recently revealed that hardly any of us use ChatGPT and other AI tools in our day-to-day lives. If OpenAI wants people to get excited by its tools it can’t then lock the best features away behind a paywall.

What’s more, ChatGPT’s rivals – like the Meta AI and Google Gemini – are free to use and offer many of the same premium tools at no cost. If it’s already a struggle to get people to use AI when it’s free, you can bet it’s significantly harder with a paywall in the way.

We’ll have to wait and see if ChatGPT Plus gets any improvements in the coming weeks, but if you’re currently subscribed (or thinking of joining) you might want to hold off for now.

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Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.