OpenAI's Shift to Prepaid API Billing

Prepaid billing is a payment system where customers can purchase usage credits in advance. This system is particularly useful for API users, as it allows them to control their spending by buying credits upfront that will be applied to their monthly invoice. Any API usage will first deduct from the prepaid credits, and if usage exceeds what has been purchased, the user will then be billed for the additional amount.

Setting up prepaid billing is straightforward:

  • Visit the billing overview in the account settings.
  • Click on "Start payment plan".
  • Choose the amount of credits to purchase, with a minimum of $5 and a current maximum of $50 (which is expected to increase).
  • Confirm and complete the purchase.
  • Optionally, set up auto-recharge to automatically add credits when the balance falls below a certain threshold.

Purchased credits have a lifespan of 1 year and are non-refundable. After purchasing, users can start using the API immediately, although there might be a short delay while the system updates the credit balance.

If credits run out, API requests will error out, indicating that the billing quota has been reached. Users can buy more credits through the billing portal.

OpenAI is also developing a feature to automatically top up credit balances and will notify users once it's available.

It's worth noting that due to the complexity of billing systems, there might be a delay in cutting off access after all credits are consumed, which may result in a negative credit balance that will be deducted from the next purchase.

The recent changes in OpenAI's billing system include the introduction of this prepaid billing method, ensuring users have more control over their API usage and spending.

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