Firstly, a preface: this is not completely straight-forward. SMS was created a long time ago when phones better resembled bricks than handheld devices. The same rules still apply, so let's jump right on in!

SMS are charged based on three things:

  1. Where you are sending them to. This determines the per-message rate. See our pricing for a full list.
  2. How long the message is.
  3. The content of the message.

Behind the scenes, SMS are sent in individual segments. You are charged for each segment. Each segment has a maximum length. The more segments your message contains, the more the message costs to send.

The basic rule of thumb

The basic rule of thumb is:

  • If using standard characters, you will be charged for a single message if it is 160 characters or less.
  • If using non-standard characters, you will be charged for a single message if it is 70 characters or less.

Standard characters are characters in the GSM-7 character set. This includes most of the letters, numbers and symbols on the keyboard on your mobile phone.

Non-standard characters are everything else, including emojis.

Multi-part messages

When you exceed the length of a single message, the rules change slightly:

  • If using standard characters, your message will be divided into segments, where each segment contains 153 characters.
  • If using non-standard characters, your message will be divided into segments, where each segment contains 67 characters.

Examples

Here are a few examples that apply the rules stated above:

  • A message only contains standard characters and is 100 characters long. This is less than 160 characters, so you will be charged for one message.
  • A message only contains standard characters and is 400 characters long. This is longer than 160 characters, so it will be split into segments of 153 characters. It takes three segments to fit 400 characters, so you will be charged for three messages.
  • A message contains an emoji and is 50 characters long. This is less than 70 characters, so you will be charged for one message.
  • A message contains an emoji and is 100 characters long. This is longer than 70 characters, so it will be split into segments of 67 characters. It takes two segments to fit 100 characters, so you will be charged for two messages.
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