9 min read
Jan 09, 2020
Insights

8 Best Free Live Chat Apps—That are Actually Free

By free, we don't mean a free trial. Our list only includes live chat apps offering a free plan that can be used in perpetuity. Discover the features and limitations for nine of the best live chat apps that are actually free.

C.W.
Chris WarnockSpecialist Analyst

Before investing time and resources into a "free" live chat app, it's best to know the terms and conditions that come with it. Free software plans typically have a set number of users and limited features. Adding users and unlocking features beyond what the free plan includes means making a purchase, typically billed as a monthly or annual subscription.

To help make your software selection process easier, GetApp curated the following details for the *free plans offered by nine leading live chat apps:

  • Maximum number of users allowed

  • Chat history retention policy

  • Number of chats allowed

  • Cheapest paid plan pricing

*By free, we don't mean free trial. Our list only includes live chat apps that offer a free plan that can be used in perpetuity (albeit with certain restrictions).

Use this information to determine if a live chat app's free plan will work for your business. Our product list consists of nine applications selected for GetApp's 2019 Category Leaders in Live Chat—an annual ranking of software products—that offer a free plan.

What is GetApp's Category Leaders?

Category Leaders is an annual ranking of software products that uses five criteria—reviews, integrations, mobile, functionality, and security— worth 20 points each to score applications. Category Leaders scores and rankings are provided for every product in this report. For more information on how scores are calculated, view the full methodology here.

Average scores for GetApp's 2019 Category Leaders in Live Chat scale
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Pure Chat

Pure Chat outperformed the live chat category average in mobile, suggesting it offers strong native iOS and Android smartphone applications. This app also received above average integrations, reviews, and mobile scores in GetApp's 2019 Category Leaders in Live Chat, while matching the average for security.

User reviews information and 2019 Category Leaders scores for Pure Chat graphic

Pure Chat free plan features and limitations:

  • 3 users

  • Unlimited chat history retention

  • Unlimited chats per live agent

  • Cheapest paid plan: $39/month (4 users)

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tawk.to

Tawk.to received above average scores across all categories except for security, where it met the category average. While the company doesn't profit directly from software sales, it aims to provide a highly competitive free product that attracts and retains users.

User reviews information and 2019 Category Leaders scores for Tawk.to graphic

tawk.to free plan features and limitations:

  • Unlimited users

  • Unlimited chat history retention

  • Unlimited chats per live agent

  • Cheapest paid plan: $1/hired human agent/hour

Tawk.to operates on a unique business model, generating revenue by offering users access to paid human operators that assist with live chat. For $1/hour, tawk.to will provide a human live chat operator to field customer requests for your business. 

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Drift

Drift outperformed the live chat category in integrations and mobile, suggesting broad compatibility with existing software your business may use as well as robust mobile support. This app matched the category average for reviews, functionality, and security.

User reviews information and 2019 Category Leaders scores for Drift graphic

Drift free plan features and limitations:

  • 1 user

  • Unlimited chat history retention

  • Unlimited chats per live agent

  • Cheapest paid plan: $50/month (1 user); $20/month per additional user

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Tidio

Tidio received one of the highest mobile scores among GetApp's 2019 Category Leaders in Live Chat. However, it trailed the category average for integrations. Make sure Tidio integrations are available for the essential applications your business uses that need to interact with your live chat app, as well as within the technical capabilities your organization has at its disposal. The number of integrations Tidio offers is only slightly below the average for all nine products on our list. Like with any business software, the integrations that matter most will vary from company to company.

User reviews information and 2019 Category Leaders scores for Tidio graphic

Tidio free plan features and limitations:

  • 3 users

  • Unlimited chat history retention

  • Unlimited chats per live agent

  • Cheapest paid plan: $15/month (3 users)

Tidio's free plan also offers chatbots that are available to automatically respond to up to 100 unique visitors per month. If your organization finds chatbots to be a strong value add, you may wind up needing to pay for additional chat capacity. Uniquely, Tidio offers two paid plans that both start at $15/month and include three users:

  • One plan is focused on companies that want to increase functionality for live chat agents or increase the number of agents ($10/agent/month).

  • Another focuses on businesses that want to build out chatbot functionality, increasing the base number of chatbot triggers to 5k per month (with the option to raise further).

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Crisp

Crisp received strong integrations, security, and mobile scores but underperformed the category for reviews. While overall this app received positive reviews, some users complained of promised features and updates that didn’t happen on the timeline they expected. As with any business application, make sure the features, functionality, and integrations that are essential to your business are available from day one (particularly if you are making an annual commitment to a software vendor).

User reviews information and 2019 Category Leaders scores for Crisp graphic

Crisp free plan features and limitations:

  • 2 users

  • 30 days chat history retention

  • Unlimited chats per live agent

  • Cheapest paid plan: $25/month (4 users)

The chat retention policy for Crisp is on the lower end for the applications on our list, at just 30 days. If retaining chat history isn’t a priority for your business, the Crisp free plan might be a cost effective option worth considering for smaller teams. 

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JivoChat

JivoChat scored well overall in GetApp’s 2019 Category Leaders in Live Chat, dragged by below average reviews and functionality scores. This application has overwhelmingly positive reviews with an average score of 4.8/5, however a relatively small number of them at just 24 in total.    

User reviews information and 2019 Category Leaders scores for JivoChat graphic

JivoChat free plan features and limitations:

  • 5 users

  • 60 days chat history retention

  • Unlimited chats per live agent

  • Cheapest paid plan: $13/user/month

Other than a somewhat limited chat retention policy for free users (60 days), JivoChat provides a strong offering. With the cheapest paid plan starting at just $13/month, with the ability to add users as needed, transitioning to a paid should be relatively affordable for smaller teams. 

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Zoho SalesIQ

Zoho SalesIQ received strong mobile and security scores, while trailing the category slightly for integrations, reviews, and functionality. Zoho offers robust integrations between SalesIQ and its other products. If your business already relies on other Zoho products (e.g. CRM, help desk) this an option worth considering.

User reviews information and 2019 Category Leaders scores for Zoho SalesIQ graphic

Zoho SalesIQ free plan features and limitations:

  • 2 users

  • 30 days chat history retention

  • 100 sessions per month

  • Cheapest paid plan: $19/month (3 users)

This free plan should accommodate small businesses in the early stages of offering live chat support. The key threshold to consider with SalesIQ’s free tier is the 100 sessions per month limit. If your business experiences a high volume of outreach via live chat, you could quickly wind up needing to pay for more sessions. The cost for the cheapest paid plan is $19/month, includes three users, and allows for 1,000 sessions per month.

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Olark

Olark performed well overall in GetApp’s 2019 Category Leaders in Live Chat, but was dinged for not offering mobile applications for iOS/Android or a mobile optimized site for accessing the service from a smartphone web browser. If your anticipate needing live chat agents to have mobile access, this might not be a good choice for your business. Olark does provide setup guides for a variety of third-party applications that its live chat service is compatible with, however this will require some degree of manual configuration. 

User reviews information and 2019 Category Leaders scores for Olark graphic

Olark free plan features and limitations:

  • 1 user

  • No chat history retention

  • 20 sessions per month

  • Cheapest paid plan: $17/user/month

The Olark free plan is relatively limited compared to other applications on our list, allowing for just one user, not retaining any chat history, and only allowing 20 chat sessions per month. Unless your live chat plans are extremely limited, it is unlikely this free plan will be a workable long-term solution for your business.

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Want to learn more?

  • Check out GetApp’s full catalogue of live chat apps, which you can filter for your needs.

Methodology

Each year, we rank the leading business apps inside our most popular categories to form a list of Category Leaders. App scores are determined by 5 factors, worth 20 points each, for a possible total of 100. This lists contains products from GetApp's 2019 Category Leaders in Live Chat that offer a free plan that can be used in perpetuity (albeit with certain restrictions). 

See the full scoring methodology and product inclusion criteria here.

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