Paid Email vs. Free Email: What Is Best For Your Needs and Budget

Paid Email vs. Free Email

With so many email apps and platforms out there, choosing the best one for you – that suits your budget, too – can be a tricky proposition. It may also be difficult to determine whether to select a free option or if the paid versions are worth the money.

We look below at the things to consider when it comes to free and paid email clients and the pros and cons of each to help you make a choice.

The Cost

The difference between the two is obvious: you’ll pay nothing to use a free email client, whereas a paid-for client will charge you a monthly (or annual) bill to use their services.

For personal users, start-ups, or small businesses, a free email platform is often an affordable way to access the basic features they need. Email providers that offer charged plans usually have various tiers: each tier will cost more than the one before it and will unlock additional features and tools. This can be useful for businesses that want the option to scale up without needing to subsequently shift hosts.

Privacy Considerations

The downside to using a free email client is that the companies providing these platforms have to make money from somewhere, and this is often done by selling your user privacy. This means that you’re likely to see a lot of ads and pop-ups when using a free email client, which could be based on the content of your emails. There are exceptions: ProtonMail, for example, is based in Switzerland and applies stringent security and privacy regulations in line with this country’s general policies.

A paid email provider, on the other hand, will usually guarantee your privacy and limit (or prevent) your encountering any ads or spam.

Features and Tools

As you’d expect, in most cases, you’ll get access to lots of additional features and tools if you opt for a paid-for email host – although there are new email clients that offer some impressive perks even on their free tiers. Spike free webmail, for example, includes in-app video conferencing and collaborative inbox tools, while ProtonMail provides both a dynamic in-built calendar and open source code.

Custom Email Addresses

If you run a business, you may wish to consider whether you’d prefer the professionalism of a custom email address rather than one that incorporates a specific domain address (such as gmail.com), which will be the case with the majority of free options.

Using your domain in your email address can give your business a more professional aspect and make this address more memorable for your customers and potential clients. Custom domain email addresses can also help clarify precisely what your business does or its product and/or services.

Customer Service Provision

When choosing an email host, thinking about the level of customer service that you’d prefer is a great idea. If you run a business, it may be imperative that you can access customer support on a 24/7 basis, which could only be possible with a paid-for platform.

Whichever email clients you’re considering, be sure to look into the customer service provision offered for each: what time is it available, for example, and are there a range of different ways to contact support agents?

Pros and Cons of Free Email Hosting

So, to round up, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of each option, starting with the free hosting option:


  • Cost-effective.
  • No commitments or contracts exist, so you can switch quickly and without incurring charges.
  • The storage space offered with free options, while generally more than with paid platforms, is usually sufficient for most individuals and small businesses.


  • Security and privacy may be less stringent than with paid providers.
  • Ads and pop-up banners may annoy.
  • For businesses, the generic email domain address may give an unprofessional aspect.

Pros and Cons of Paid-For Email Hosting

And finally, the fors and againsts when it comes to paid-for email clients:


  • Privacy and security are enhanced, and there is none of the adverts and spam that you may get with a free option.
  • Better customer service.
  • More options for customization.
  • Your email is unlikely to be mistaken for spam.
  • You may have access to email marketing tools as part of the package.
  • Enhanced features and tools will be included.
  • Much more storage space, including cloud storage, is on offer.


  • It makes for an extra cost that must be built into your household or business monthly budget.
  • Setting up, synchronizing, and integrating a paid-for platform with your other accounts may be tricky.


Finding the Best Email Host for Your Needs

Choosing the right email platform – whether a free or paid-for option – is vital to ensure that you’re getting the features you need and not paying for tools or services you won’t use. In general, a free email client will often be adequate for most individuals and some start-ups and small businesses. However, for those who also use their emails for professional purposes or who run a small business that’s expanding or developing, then the advantages of a paid-for email platform will likely be the better option.