Anastasiia Khlystova
Jan 28, 2019 | 7 min read

The thing about pricing software-as-a-product is that… it’s complicated. It really is. Some entrepreneurs are afraid to start pricing too early, some can’t find the perfect model for their business. Some are afraid to experiment with their pricing along the way, others are raising their prices every other day.

But one thing never changes. No matter pricing plans, there’s always a demand for free software. There are always startups and small businesses that need a little help for free.

That’s when free software appears on the horizon. And for any paid software there’s always some free version, so today, we’d like to introduce you to our top 10 free live chat tools:

Note! Almost without exception, we’re going to talk here about freemium live chat tools. This means the tools from our list are technically paid, but provide one or another limited version of their software for free.

HelpCrunch

In case you haven’t realized it yet, yours truly is also a free live chat software.

Well, to make sure we’re on the same page here, HelpCrunch adopted the freemium business model not as long ago as last year and has been feeling great ever since 🙂

What it really means is that we provide some version of our software for free.

Not without vanity, we made sure to make it one of the most extended on the market. Our COO Paul spent months researching all available free live chat tools, comparing them and finding the perfect middle ground between being free and being of the highest possible quality. (Lots of his findings found their way onto this article, too).

So, yeah, HelpCrunch free pricing plan includes:

  • Unlimited number of domains you can install a live chat widget into;
  • Unlimited number of chats;
  • 30-day chat history;
  • 1 agent seat;
  • 500 contacts stored simultaneously in your database;
  • Chat rating and 2-day chat reports;
  • 1 concurrent auto message for proactive chats based on behavior triggers, in-app targeted messages, etc.

I’m sure you’ll find our free live chat version more than enough for your startup or a small business. Business owners and sales managers will especially appreciate the auto message functionality since it’s something other free live chat tools don’t usually offer.

In terms of limitations (cause there are always some when it comes to free stuff), you can’t unbrand your live chat widget. But if you find yourself in need for more contacts, you can always delete older ones, no biggie.

So all in one, HelpCrunch gives you all the best stuff from the live chat world for free.

Zendesk (former Zopim)

Zopim was once an independent live chat tool until it was purchased by Zendesk, which was a ticketing system at the time. As a result, Zendesk is still one of the most comprehensive ticketing-slash-help-desk tool on the market. Live chat? Not so much.

To be honest, Zendesk live chat widget feels a bit outdated and limited in customization options to me. But free is free – and Zendesk provides its live chat at no cost, so let’s look into what’s inside:

  • Only 1 concurrent chat;
  • 1 agent seat;
  • Unlimited number of contacts;
  • No triggers for auto messages;
  • No chat reports, but chat rating is available.

I guess the biggest limitation to Zendesk’s free live chat software is that you can only manage one chat conversation at a time. Yep, you got it right. You won’t be able to run a couple of chats simultaneously.

On the plus side, though, they don’t put any limitations on the number of contacts you can store simultaneously in your database.

Olark

Funny as it may sound, what I personally adore about Olark is their… website. I mean, it’s so simple and clean, and not overloaded with tons of landing pages, menu items, and BS terms. It’s really refreshing to see something that unspoiled.

Just as their website, their live chat software is that simple and nice. But I’m not sure it’s a good thing when it comes to software.

Additionally, their free live chat version is extremely limited. And I mean EXTREMELY.

Even if we don’t compare it to other free solutions, with Olark you’re only allowed to manage 20 chats per month, not more. So if you’re running the kind of business that only has 10-20 chat sessions with their customers each month, Olark is your choice.

Let’s see what else is in it for you:

  • 20 chats per month
  • 1 agent seat
  • no contacts
  • no chat history
  • no chat reports
  • no triggers for auto messages

So, how’s that for the limitations on free software?

Tawk

Here’s for something completely different.

Tawk is not just a free customer support tool. It’s THE customer support tool people choose when they need it for free.

The thing is, it has a completely different business model. Basically, they just give you the full access to their unlimited live chat software for free, while making money on offering live chat agents for hire. So, if outstaffing your customer support is something you consider for your business, Tawk can be the place to go.

Of course, it’s completely another issue that their admin panel together with their live chat can feel outdated and work not exactly properly at times. And yes, I’m not the biggest fan of the design choices they made for their chat widget, but hey, there are honestly much worse options even in this list.

So yeah, Tawk’s free live chat software includes:

  • Unlimited agent seats
  • Unlimited domains
  • Unlimited chat history
  • Ticketing features
  • No unbranding

It’s a basic set of live chat features you may need and they are available for free.

Drift

Drift is probably most famous due to ‘conversational marketing’, which is something they came up with. Long story short, conversational marketing is when you use targeted, real-time messaging and chatbots instead of lead capturing forms and wearisome tunnels. That’s the light version.

Unfortunately, Drift doesn’t give away their chatbots (which, from what I heard, are not that bad) for free that easily. But they do have a free version of their live chat software, which includes:

  • 1 agent seat;
  • 100 active contacts;
  • Unlimited chat history;
  • Unlimited chat reports;
  • Chat rating;
  • 150 emails/month for sales purposes.

All in all, Drift provides a very decent piece of free live chat software, so it’s something you might want to consider.

PureChat

PureChat has only two subscription plans – Free for $0 and Pro for $99/month.

  • Unlimited chats;
  • 1 domain;
  • 3 agent seats;
  • Unlimited chat history (transcripts).

PureChat’s free version also includes such goodies for live chat as saved responses, advanced widget customization, integrations among other things.

Crisp

What I like about Crisp is its clean and easy UX/UI. Basically, it’s a nice-looking live chat tool with a clear pricing system (which is rather a rarity in the SaaS world, I’d say).

As they state themselves on their website, Crisp free version is perfect ‘for personal websites and anyone who wants a basic chat to communicate with visitors’. That’s it – you get a nice basic live chat for free, which will include:

  • 2 agent seats
  • 30 day chat history
  • no triggers 
  • no team inbox
  • no campaigns 
  • no knowledge base

Tidio

First and foremost, Tidio has an excellent customer support of their own. Yeah, I know they’re competition and stuff, but I just need to mention how fast and to the point their live chat agents are.

The thing is, I needed a few clarifications about Tidio’s free subscription plan, so I went straight to their live chat (like all sane people do these days). When I opened the live chat window I saw the promise of an immediate reply. And hell, they delivered on it.

Now that I got it off my chest, let’s see what their free live chat subscription includes:

  • up to 3 agent seats
  • 100 automations
  • unlimited chat history
  • unlimited number of contacts
  • no auto replies and auto greetings

If you ask me, that’s a very decent package of tools you can get for free.

ClickDesk

ClickDesk’s live chat widget looks like it’s been built in 2007 and hasn’t been updated ever since (read: I don’t like the look of it).

  • 10 agent seats
  • 30 chats per month
  • no simultaneous chats
  • 25 tickets
  • audio calling
  • basic settings
  • no chat customization
  • no reports
  • no unbranding
  • no unlimited domains

What stroke me most, though, is that you can add up to 10 agents to your ClickDesk’s free account, but they can manage no more than 30 chats sessions in a month. Additionally, they won’t be able to manage even a couple of chats simultaneously at all.

Once you reach the limitation of 30 chats/month, you’ll get locked out so you’ll have to wait until next month’s renewal.

I think you’ll agree there’s really no point in having 10 agents on a free subscription here – they will have no work there.

Mylivechat

I know I said it a lot today, but hey, what can I do if most of live chat widgets look like they are from my childhood.

So yeah, you guessed it right. Mylivechat’s chat widget looks outdated. When you open a live chat window, first thing you see is this annoying message: ‘There are no agents available right now to take your call. Please leave a message and we will reply by email.’

(I mean, come on.)

Then you’re asked to leave your name and email right away which makes an impression of rather a website contact form than a modern and fast messenger that will allow instant communication. (But to be completely honest, most of live chat tools do the same.)

On the plus side, their free version is rather rich in features. So if you’re into old school design, here’s what you can get on top of it:

  • unlimited agents
  • unlimited departments
  • unlimited websites
  • unlimited chats
  • 3-year chat history
  • no unbranding

Bottom line

Will you trust me if I say you should just grab yourself HelpCrunch free live chat software and search no more? Well, I can’t judge you if you think I’m a little biased here. (The tool is great, though.)

So, I’ll recommend you the following instead. Choose 2-3 options from the list above, use each of them for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, then make a final call.

I mean they’re free tools anyway – what do you have to lose?

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