WhatsApp used to be free only for the first year that you used it. After that, you had to pay a small annual subscription fee of 99₵ U.S., or you were not be able to use the service (i.e. your subscription wouldn't automatically renew). Recently, however, WhatsApp has decided to make its service completely free to use!
WhatsApp previously costed 99₵ U.S. per year after the first year of service. It was also possible to buy a 3-year subscription at $2.69 U.S. (a 10% discount) or a 5-year subscription at $3.75 U.S. (a 25% discount). Currently, however, WhatsApp has chosen to stop charging its users subscription fees, so the service is now free to use.
WhatsApp used to make money by charging subscription fees to use the service. They have recently stopped doing this, but have hinted that they may move to a "freemium" model where paying a subscription fee unlocks advanced features. Investors are WhatsApp's only other major income source; they do not sell advertisements.
To read WhatsApp's full statement on why they don't use advertisements, click here.
That's a bit of information about what WhatsApp costs and how it makes money!
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