Editor's note: Right before this article was finished, OpenAI temporarily paused new ChatGPT Plus signups. We swear we're not trying to rub it in your face.
If you use ChatGPT as much as I do these days, you know that the free version gives you a whole lot to play with. With just a few prompts, the AI chatbot can create your new business plan, write sales emails for you, and explain wormholes in a way you finally understand.
This made me wonder: is it worthwhile to upgrade to ChatGPT Plus for $20/month when the free version already has so much to offer? So I set up a ChatGPT Plus account to find out for myself. (Spoiler alert: yes, it is.)
Here's how to upgrade your ChatGPT account and get the most out of your subscription.
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How to get ChatGPT Plus
Assuming you've already set up a free OpenAI account, here's how to upgrade your account to ChatGPT Plus.
Go to chat.openai.com or the mobile app, and log in.
In the side panel of the ChatGPT home page, click Upgrade.
In the Upgrade your plan popup, click Upgrade to Plus.
Complete the subscription process.
How to make the most of your ChatGPT Plus account
Before I dive into everything you can do with a ChatGPT Plus subscription, you may need to tweak a few settings. This will make sure you're getting the most out of the paid tier.
Switch to the GPT-4 model
The free version of ChatGPT runs on GPT-3.5 Turbo. With the Plus account, though, you have access to the more powerful GPT-4 model. After you upgrade your account, GPT-4 should automatically be the default model. But if not, here's how to turn it on.
In the side panel of the ChatGPT home page, click ChatGPT.
Click the down caret (
⋁) next to ChatGPT.
Enable beta functions
By default, ChatGPT's beta features, like plugins and advanced data analysis, are turned off. To get the most out of your Plus account, I suggest enabling all available beta features.
In the side panel, click your profile.
Click Settings & Beta.
In the Settings window, click Beta features.
Click the toggle beside the features you want to turn on.
Why ChatGPT Plus is worth the subscription
Here's the quick takeaway: ChatGPT Plus is undoubtedly worth the $20/month subscription. But if you want to dive into the features that make the paid tier so worth it, these are the ones that stood out to me.
Get access to GPT-4
If you, like me, are constantly blown away by how impressive GPT-3.5's responses are, just wait until you give GPT-4 a whirl. Thanks to its broader general knowledge and advanced reasoning capabilities, GPT-4 generates better, more accurate answers than GPT-3.5. GPT-4 even passed the bar exam, scoring in the 90th percentile, which far exceeded GPT-3.5's previous scores.
GPT-4 also lets you input longer prompts—up to roughly 100,000 words. GPT-3.5, on the other hand, has a limit of up to about 12,000 words. This larger context window is part of what allows GPT-4 to produce better answers.
It's worth mentioning that when it comes to large language models like ChatGPT, more information may not necessarily be better. Some users have found that ChatGPT sometimes seems to ignore instructions placed in the middle of long blocks of instructions, choosing instead to focus on the beginning and end. But that's nothing a little fine-tuning can't fix.
General access to ChatGPT (no downtime)
Before I signed up for ChatGPT Plus, I was already accustomed to using ChatGPT to help me summarize articles—especially boring ones. Which is why I found it so disruptive to my workflow whenever the app would tell me, "ChatGPT is at capacity right now."
On a ChatGPT Plus account, you get general access to the chatbot even during peak times.
Try new features as they're released
OpenAI (the company behind ChatGPT) is consistently updating the chatbot. Even as I tested my Plus account over a few days, I noticed multiple changes to the user interface—enough that I had to keep revising this article so the instructions would make sense.
Search the web in real time
The biggest downside to using GPT-3.5 Turbo is that it's only trained on information up to September 2021. This means it can't access real-time data or browse the internet for the most up-to-date information, leaving you to do a lot of your own research. But with GPT-4, ChatGPT is trained up to April 2023, and can browse the web and include citations with clickable links.
Since GPT-4 is still susceptible to AI hallucinations, you should always fact-check its responses. But the clickable citations make the fact-checking task that much easier.
Create images with DALL·E
AI image generators have been brewing up a storm for more than a year. So it's no surprise that OpenAI made its AI image generator, DALL·E 3, available to ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise users at no additional cost. (If you use DALL·E separately, you have to pay for image credits.)
So if you wanted to, say, create an image of a man lizard sitting on a rock working on a laptop and basking in the sunshine, ChatGPT (powered by DALL·E 3) might give you something like this:
Like GPT-4, image requests through DALL·E 3 are capped at 50 every three hours. While this sounds like a limitation, in practice, this means you could create well over a thousand images a day—which is a lot more than you typically get with another AI image generator like DreamStudio or Midjourney.
Upload and analyze files
If you've spent any amount of time analyzing data, transforming complex numbers into easy-to-digest summaries, or interpreting technical documents, you know how time-consuming (not to mention boring) the process can be.
That's where Code Interpreter—available only to Plus and Enterprise users—comes in.
With Code Interpreter, you can upload a file, like a spreadsheet, document, or presentation, and ask ChatGPT to analyze it, answer questions about the file, or retrieve specific data and convert it into a different format.
Here's what happened when I uploaded a spreadsheet of survey results and asked ChatGPT to visualize the data.
I'll admit—the data visualization isn't exactly gorgeous. But the fact that ChatGPT generated this chart in a matter of seconds based on one .csv file and a simple prompt ("make me a pie chart from this data") is pretty impressive.
Of course, if I were actually presenting this pie chart, I'd ask ChatGPT to modify the color scheme and font. Once you start exploring, the possibilities with Code Interpreter are pretty impressive.
Build your own custom ChatGPT
OpenAI recently released a way for Plus and Enterprise users to create their own version of ChatGPT. They're called GPTs.
On a Plus or Enterprise account, you can use one of the prebuilt GPTs—like Tech Support Advisor, which helps you troubleshoot any device—or build one of your own, catered to your company or personal goals.
In a matter of minutes, I used the GPT builder to create a chatbot to help me create low-FODMAP recipes.
You can keep custom GPTs private or share them with others, but only users with a Plus or Enterprise account can access them.
If you want your custom GPT to retrieve external information or take actions outside of the ChatGPT platform, you can also add actions. For example, with AI Actions by Zapier, you can connect your custom GPT with thousands of other apps. This way, you can take action in apps like Slack, Google Calendar, and Notion—all from within ChatGPT's interface. To do this, follow the instructions from Zapier.
Plus users can connect ChatGPT directly to other apps using plugins from known apps, like Canva, Google Sheets, and Typeform. Once installed, ChatGPT will automatically know which one to use without you having to ask.
Your plugins can also work in tandem. For example, you can ask ChatGPT for a recipe recommendation, get an accurate count of calories (using the Wolfram plugin), and then ask it to create a shopping list (with the Instacart plugin).
Limitations of ChatGPT Plus
As with any tool, ChatGPT Plus comes with a few potential downsides.
Web browsing can be slow. In comparison to other AI chatbots, like Google's Bard, ChatGPT's web searches (powered by Bing) can be glitchy and slow. The loading icon tells you which pages the chatbot's scanning, which might ease your mind from wondering what the hold-up is, but if you're impatient like me, the loading status can be a pain.
Code Interpreter can be unreliable. In my experience, when I've used Code Interpreter to analyze data, I've often run into network errors. I did find, though, that if I kept playing around with it, ChatGPT eventually would come around. This glitch is likely because it's still early days for this super-advanced feature, so I'm hopeful it'll improve with time.
GPT-4 chats are limited to 50 messages every three hours. Regardless of the chatbot you're using (ChatGPT or your custom GPT), you're capped at 50 messages every three hours. Which is a lot, but if you have a GPT that's deeply embedded into how you work, this can be limiting.
Despite these limitations, if you use ChatGPT regularly, ChatGPT Plus is well worth the $20/month cost.
The real downside? Once you've seen what the paid account can do, there's no going back.
Is ChatGPT Enterprise worth it?
If you're debating between an individual ChatGPT Plus account versus an Enterprise one, know that Enterprise accounts get access to all the same features as Plus users. But there are a few added perks that make it worthwhile for companies with a lot of individual users:
Unlimited conversations across GPTs
Performs up to two times faster
Processes up to quadruple the inputs or files
Unlimited access to data analysis via Code Interpreter
Enterprise-grade security and privacy
Free credits to use the OpenAI API
While ChatGPT is fun to use in the web browser, that's not the only place you can put ChatGPT to work. With Zapier, you can connect ChatGPT with thousands of other apps, so you can incorporate AI into all of your business-critical workflows.
For example, you can have ChatGPT automatically draft a reply to an email. You can even use ChatGPT to draft a response to a Slack message and post it. Try it for yourself. Click on any of the templates to create your first Zap—what we call our automated workflows.
To get started with a Zap template—what we call our pre-made workflows—just click on the button. It only takes a few minutes to set up. You can read more about setting up Zaps here.
Start a conversation with ChatGPT when a prompt is posted in a particular Slack channel
Create email copy with OpenAI from new Gmail emails and save as drafts in Gmail
Create article summaries with OpenAI from the Zapier Chrome extension