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How emojis and special characters affect billing
How emojis and special characters affect billing

Let's deep dive into what special characters are and how they affect sms count

Rachel avatar
Written by Rachel
Updated over a week ago

Every Campaign, Flow, Automation message you send within TxtCart contains and is billed based on character count. We use character counts to ensure successful delivery of a message via carriers and to determine costs as it relates to usage billing as mentioned previously.

  • Character count directly impacts the cost of your campaign, flow or automation sends

  • Using emojis and/or special characters can decrease the number of available characters for a message before entering the next segment

  • Emojis and special characters take up more space behind the scenes which affects how carriers may send or charge for the message

In this article, we define specific characters, discuss the impact of character count and provide additional resources to better understand your billing.

Basic Character Definitions

Let's review some definitions that will help you understand the concepts in this article.

  • Characters - Each symbol, letter, and number in a text has a specific character count. In most cases, the character count is one.

  • Credits - At TxtCart, each campaign, flow or automation message costs a certain amount of credits to send. The number of characters in a message will affect how much it costs to send.

  • GSM7 Characters - Basic letters, numbers, and symbols in a text. Spaces are also considered a character.

    • Example: Take 10% off of our heels today only! equals 37 characters. Each character in this message counts as one character.

  • GSM7 Extensive Characters - These characters require an "escape character" within the text which means these characters count as two characters in a message.

    • The following characters are considered GSM7 Extension characters: | ^ { } [ ] ~ \ €

  • Emojis or Unicode - Standard emojis count as two characters when writing a message. Including an emoji will make all GSM7 Extension Characters count as one character, not two.

    • Example: Take 10% off of our ~ best-selling ~ heels today only! 😁 equals 57 characters. Each character, including both ~ characters, would count as one character while the emoji would count as two characters.

  • Single SMS messages - These basic messages contain only text. A standard SMS message has 160 available characters, but an SMS message with an emoji only has 70 available characters.

  • Multi-part SMS messages - These messages contain only text and exceed the 160 character count. Each individual message within a multi-part SMS message has a 153 character limit. A multi-part SMS message with an emoji has 67 available characters. These messages are strung together and appear as a single message to the end user.

  • MMS - These messages include an image or a GIF and cost 3 credits to send. The above character counts still apply; however, you have 1,600 available characters in your message.

  • UCS-2 - These are special characters such as 'okinas and macrons. When UCS-2 characters are included in your messages, they account for more than one character resulting in your message body being limited to 67 characters.

How GSM7 & GSM7 Extensive Characters Impact Character Count

GSM7 characters count as one character each and GSM7 Extensive Characters count as two characters each.

How Emojis & GSM7 Extensive Characters Impact Character Count

When you use an emoji in a message without an image or GIF, the character count drops to 70 available characters per credit. Remember here that each emoji you include in a message counts as two characters each, while each GSM7 Extensive Character counts as one credit each.

How UCS-2 Characters Impact Character Count

When we send text messages, the characters in the message are encoded so that they can be transmitted over the network to the recipient's phone. There are different ways of encoding characters. One of the main standards is UCS-2. GSM-7 is a standard that is used to encode most of the commonly used letters and symbols in many languages. However, it doesn't include all of the characters that we might want to use, such as ʻokinas and macrons.

When messages include special characters like ʻokinas and macrons they need to be encoded using UCS-2, which means that they account for more than one character in a message. This results in an increased character count when using these characters in your messages. If Postscript detects any non-GSM-7 characters in the message body, we will fall back to UCS-2 encoding. This limits the message body to 67 characters, which means that multi-segment messages will be created if your message body exceeds 67 characters.

How MMS Impacts Character Count

An MMS message includes an image or a GIF, which allows up to 1,600 characters for 3 credits. Each emoji you include in a message counts as two characters each, while each GSM7 and GSM7 Extensive Character count as one credit each. However, since you are sending an MMS, you have up to 1,600 characters available in your message. A general rule of thumb is that MMS costs on average, 3-4 times more than SMS.

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