Why am I wasting $20 a month on ChatGPT Plus when Bing Chat is free?

Two robots facing each other one representing ChatGPT the other Bing Chat
(Image credit: Windows Central / Bing Image Creator)

I love AI. I'm using it many times a day in various forms, mostly through Bing Chat. But I also use ChatGPT a lot, mostly because it's faster. I also, quite happily, subscribed to ChatGPT Plus, the $20 a month premium tier that, among other things, affords you early access to new features. 

At the time that was to use GPT-4 on ChatGPT, but also in eager anticipation of plugins and any other goodies OpenAI had up their digital sleeves. And yet, a couple of months later I'm sat looking at ChatGPT and wondering why I've wasted (to now) $40. 

It's got more intense this past week because Microsoft has revealed what's coming next to Bing Chat. A lot of it covers features I'd hoped to be playing with on ChatGPT by now. Plugins, chat history, exporting, charts, all awesome stuff. And not locked behind a fairly pricey subscription that doesn't even seem to give you what you're paying for. 

Microsoft might have pumped billions of dollars into OpenAI, but it's also beating the company easily at its own game. 

ChatGPT Plus just isn't worth it

ChatGPT privacy settings

The only new ChatGPT feature I've had is one that you don't have to pay for.  (Image credit: Future)

I get it. ChatGPT has a lot of users. It became the fastest service to hit 100 million active users. But I guarantee most of those users aren't paying. The people paying are the enthusiasts, the early adopters, tech press. People like me. But in recent weeks I got access to one big new feature. The same feature everyone got, paid subscriber or not. 

To get access to plugins or browsing right now, you must both be a paid subscriber and sign up to a waitlist. A lucky few already have access now, some more have recently started to see access arrive for the neat charts feature. 

Me? The only thing I can do over a free account right now is use GPT-4. You know where I can use GPT-4 (legally) for free? Bing Chat. That same place that I can use browsing, too, which is comparable to OpenAI's feature since it's also powered by Bing. 

Obviously OpenAI is scaling up. But to tell people they can pay for early access to new features as one of the perks, then keep most of them waiting without any indication of when to expect it, is pretty crummy. 

I've been asked a few times if ChatGPT Plus is worth the money. The answer is a categorical no. 

Bing Chat is free and accelerating much faster 

Bing Chat

Bing Chat has just announced a raft of new features that it won't be charging for early access to.  (Image credit: Microsoft)

Paying for ChatGPT Plus looks even more ridiculous when you look at what Microsoft has recently announced as coming to Bing Chat. In case you missed the announcement, here's a quick list of what's coming soon. 

  • Chat history support
  • Export and share functionality
  • Improved summarization of longer documents and webpages
  • Edge actions to perform tasks
  • Edge mobile support for page context
  • Charts, graphs, and more visual answers
  • Bing Image Creator support for over 100 languages
  • Third-party plugins

This little lot will not only bring Bing Chat onto a better feature parity with what ChatGPT already offers, but also what it's offering to a small subset of its paid subscribers. Bing Chat, like ChatGPT, is going to be a development platform. And we'll hear more about it at Build later this month. 

But the kicker is that, at least to this point, Microsoft hasn't indicated it'll be charging for any of these features on Bing Chat. I could envisage a Bing Chat Insider program similar to the other Insider programs Microsoft already runs. A place where enthusiasts will get to try stuff before everyone else. But Microsoft also doesn't charge for such programs if it did decide to bring one in. 

Eventually you would imagine that Microsoft 365 may be leveraged to provide some kind of premium tier. Perhaps an ad-free experience or priority access, but that, too, would be fine. Paying for premium features is fine. 

What's not fine is paying $20 a month under the pretence of getting premium features and actually getting very little. OpenAI needs to completely rethink its approach to charging for ChatGPT, because at the minute, Microsoft is completely showing them up. 

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine

  • Ali*
    Totally disagree. Bing chat does not work at all well. Firstly you need to have a web page open or it complains like your grandmother saying their is no webpage open. The answers to questions from ChatGPT (Free option) are more clear, accurate and friendly. Using the Bing chat is as bad an experience as Bing search. The replies are usually useless, which is why Google is my search engine of choice. Bing chat provides similar bad responses. Possibly because it learned on Bing search which gave it a skewed view of the world. Bing chat also does not show the creativity of ChatGPT. It does not write stories, code, poetry and the response to a question is usually just a web page that you need to read through and is often not even relevant, where ChatGPT gives you the answer you are looking for. Yes ChatGPT on occassion gets it wrong, but less so than the Bing chat / Bing search. Bing chat is just the next line of badly implemented solutions from Microsoft. Even Windows is going for paid advertising. The only thing keeping Windows on my PC is the fact that gaming is still a Windows monopoly. Once Linux can credibly run games, it will be the end of Microsoft.