How Much Does a Short Code Cost?

If you’re pursuing an SMS marketing campaign, you’re going to need a short code, and you may be wondering how much one costs.

The cost of a short code depends on the type of short code you want to lease. If you’re interested in SMS short code pricing, you can lease a dedicated vanity short code for $1,000 per month or a non-vanity short code for $500 per month.

 

Dedicated Short Codes vs. Shared Short Codes

Years ago, when launching either an SMS or MMS marketing campaign, you’d need to first decide whether you were going to use a dedicated short code or a shared short code. This choice is no longer on the table. Now, you can only use a dedicated short code.

For years, shared short codes have been a cost-effective alternative to dedicated short codes. Unfortunately, as of 2020, most wireless carriers are terminating their existing shared short codes and will no longer provision new ones. This decision is due to increase security and reduce abuse. Phishing scammers were using it to steal personal data, spammers were abusing the short code’s recipient list, and in general, there were a lot of violations of regulatory guidelines.

This leaves dedicate short codes as the only option. Dedicated short codes are more expensive than shared codes were, but that’s because you’re not splitting the cost with all the other brands on that code. A dedicated short code may cost a little more, but it also gives you significantly more customizability and control.

Lease or Buy?

We’re constantly asked here at the Short Code Directory if people can buy a short code rather than lease a short code. The question is understandable. A dedicated vanity short code is not cheap, and a lease will cost $12,000 per year. Unfortunately, here in the United States, buying a short code isn’t an option—you can only lease. The Short Code Registry permits monthly, quarterly, biannual, or annual short code leases.

 

Short Code Payment Methods

The Short Code Registry allows short code owners to pay for their short code leases with a credit card, electronic funds transfer (EFT), or even a check.

 

Additional Short Code Costs

There are other costs associated with short code pricing that aren’t included in the lease. The costs can include the following:

  • Short code provisioning fees: Many application providers or SMS aggregators charge a fee to submit your short code application to the wireless carriers, which starts the short code provisioning process. The short code provisioning process is required by the wireless carriers; you must do it before you’re able to send and receive messages.
  • Short code hosting fees: Many application providers or SMS aggregators charge a fee to host your short code on their system.
  • SMS messaging fees: Just because you’re leasing a short code, doesn’t mean it’s free to send and receive SMS messages on that short code. To send and receive SMS messages on a short code, you’ll have to pay a per-SMS fee to either an SMS aggregator or to your application provider.
  • MMS messaging fees: Just because you’re leasing a short code, doesn’t mean it’s free to send and receive MMS messages on that short code. To send and receive MMS messages on a short code, you’ll have to pay a per-MMS fee to either an SMS aggregator or to your application provider.
  • Carrier messaging fees: Not only are you going to have to an SMS aggregator or application provider a fee for every SMS and MMS message, you’ll also have to pay certain wireless carriers their own messaging fees.
  • Application provider fees: In addition to paying for messaging, you’ll also most likely have to pay an application provider for the software to host your short code and the software platform you’ll use to send and receive short code messages.

The costs for a short code are variable, but you can always be certain of the $500-$1000 range for dedicated short codes. We hope this answered your question on short code pricing. If you have other short-code or SMS marketing-related questions, take advantage of our Learning Center.