The Real Cost of Free Transactional Email Services

When it comes to managing costs, especially ongoing ones, businesses and individuals with side projects alike seek efficient solutions. Email services are no exception. While free email providers can be enticing initially, they come with a serious drawback. Learn from my experience that see that resisting the draw of free email services and opting for paid transactional email services from the beginning is the smart choice.

The Free Service Dilemma:

  • Free email services are convenient when setting up a project. They run smoothly for months or even years without any cost.
  • However, there’s a catch: these free services eventually get discontinued. The abrupt announcement of it being discontinued can seriously disrupt your workflow, especially if you haven’t revisited the project in a while.

The Hidden Costs of Free Services:

When a free service is pulled, you’re left scrambling to:

  • Retrieve the project details.
  • Understand the deployment process.
  • Perform necessary upgrades.
  • Find, evaluate and transition to the new provider.
  • Update DNS entries.
  • Test and deploy.

These tasks consume valuable time and will completely negate any savings from using a free service that seems like such a good idea at the start.

The Solution: Always opt for paid transactional email services:

Here’s why:

  • Minimal Cost: The expense of using a paid service is negligible compared to the time and stress saved when the service is inevitably pulled.

Personal Experience:

I have made the mistake of using a free email service twice:

  • Once with MailChimp, which initially provided 5,000 free emails per month. Unfortunately, it was discontinued with just 30 days’ notice, prompting my move to AWS for my email needs.
  • MailChannels in conjunction with CloudFlare Workers allowed unlimited free emails, but again they pulled the service abruptly. They even started immediately failing a small percentage of emails without any grace period, impacting my service. Again, I had to scramble to switch provider.
While I choose AWS because that is what I am already familiar with, any reputable email service provider will suffice. The important thing is to ensure that the service has long term support and will not leave you in the lurch by pulling the API or service.

In summary, investing in paid transactional email services ensures stability, peace of mind, and efficient workflows. The minimal cost is well worth the long-term benefits.

Daniel Mitchell

Daniel Mitchell