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FAQs

BulkSMS Costs

Please click on the links below to view our responses to the frequently asked questions.

How much does it cost to send an SMS?

There are three factors to take into account when considering the cost of sending an SMS:

By registering and sending some (free) test messages you can verify exactly what the costs will be.


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How do I buy SMS credits?

BulkSMS works on a prepaid basis. You can purchase credits online via Credit or Debit card, PayPal, Moneybookers or electronic funds transfer. Should you wish to pay via electronic funds transfer, our bank details will be available when you are logged in to your BulkSMS account and select Bank transfer.

Should you prefer to request a quotation to purchase before making payment, please email accounts@bulksms.com. When requesting a quotation, please include your username, email address and the number of credits you would like to purchase.


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Are there any other costs involved when using BulkSMS?

No. BulkSMS operates on a prepaid basis. You simply purchase SMS credit bundles and use them as and when you need to. There is no monthly fee, no set up fee, and no contract fee involved when using our SMS service.


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Who pays for any incoming SMS messages (i.e. replies to the SMS messages I send out)?

Any replies to your SMS message from a recipient are carried by the recipient. You do not pay for replies to the SMS messages you send out. The reply will be at a standard SMS message cost on a local network in these countries, but for mobiles in other countries, the reply path will be via a number outside of those countries and network charges by the network may be higher than for a local reply SMS.


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Does BulkSMS offer discounted messaging?

Yes we do.

For normal commercial based SMS accounts we have the “Tagline discount”. This discount cuts the cost of the SMS message by up to 25%. The characters available per each SMS is reduced by 17, leaving you with 144 characters to type your SMS message. The words “via: bulksms.com” are then appended to the SMS message.

For non-profit organisations, NGO’s, schools and religious organisations we offer special Community Messaging rates. This applies to South Africa and the United Kingdom only. Please see the pricing for our South African Community webpage or our United Kingdom Community webpage for more information.


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Is there a daily or monthly minimum quota for sending SMSs?

No. You can send as many, or as few, SMS messages as you like.

For security reasons we do however have a daily maximum limit set on all BulkSMS accounts. If you would like to increase your daily SMS quota you will need to contact our Support team.

Please be sure to tell us your username and what you would like to increase (or decrease) your daily quota to.


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Do BulkSMS credits expire?

BulkSMS SMS credits do NOT expire. This means that your SMS credits will be available in your BulkSMS account for as long as you need them.


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Do I get an invoice?

We provide invoices for all your SMS credit purchases.

These are available in the Commerce section of your online BulkSMS account platform. Any invoices related to other services will be emailed to you on initiation or renewal of those services. Please note that these invoices do not appear in the Commerce section of your online BulkSMS account.


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Who pays for failed messages?

You, as the BulkSMS account holder, pay for failed messages, that is; messages that were not delivered to a contact in your database.

There are two reasons for this:

  • The networks charge us for all submissions regardless of the status.
  • We expend more resources in handling failed messages as we re-try sending these messages to the network before reporting it as a failed message.

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What does it cost to download the BulkSMS Text Messenger?

There is no cost to download or use the BulkSMS Text Messenger software. You only pay for the SMS messages you want to send and not for the software.


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How much does the iPhone app cost?

The BulkSMS iPhone App is free to download and free to use.

The only thing that BulkSMS customers pay for is the SMS credits purchased in order to send SMS messages.


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Registration and account management

How do I start sending SMS messages?

In order to send SMS messages from your BulkSMS account, you will need to select the product that best suits your needs, register, purchase SMS credits and upload or add your contacts to your chosen BulkSMS platform.

You can send SMS messages using the BulkSMS Text Messenger, our Web to SMS platform, our SMS API or the BulkSMS App.


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Why does BulkSMS need my mobile phone number?

We need your mobile number in order to send you an activation code. You will need this activation code in order to receive your 5 free SMS credits. These SMS credits are for testing purposes and will be allocated only once per mobile phone number.

We may also need to contact you for Support reasons, for example, if you forget your password and need an SMS reminder, or if you have set up SMS notifications for low credit warnings and if we need to follow up on complaints relating to your use of the service.


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What is the activation code I received via SMS for and how do I use it?

The activation code is used to redeem 5 free SMS credits on your BulkSMS account. These SMS credits are for testing purposes and will be allocated only once per mobile phone number.

We may also need to contact you for Support reasons, for example, if you forget your password and need an SMS reminder, or if you have set up SMS notifications for low credit warnings and if we need to follow up on complaints relating to your use of the service.

To claim your 5 free SMS credits, please do the following:

  • Login to the BulkSMS Web platform using your new username and password,
  • Click 'Claim them now',
  • Enter the activation code exactly as it appears on your phone.

Please Note: If you use the BulkSMS Text Messenger desktop software you can also claim your free credits from the 'My Account' tab in the program. Simply click on the “Claim” icon, and enter the activation code.


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My activation code has not come through, what do I do?

If you do not receive your activation code, please email Support to request it.

Please include your username, mobile phone number and the website address of the BulkSMS website that you opened your account on.

One reason why the activation code was not delivered to your mobile phone could be that our service is not available in your area or supported via your local network. You can test whether we can connect to your network by sending a test SMS from our website homepage. See the detailed list of our regional and network coverage.


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I’ve lost my username and/or password. How can I log in?

If you have lost your username and password, you can easily recover both by clicking “forgot password” on the login page and entering your email address. You will be asked whether you would like your password recovery message to be sent to your email address or mobile phone number.

For email recovery, you will need to click on the link in the email received and update your password.

For SMS recovery, you will simply need to enter the password recovery code that was sent to your mobile phone.

Please note that this will only work if you have registered with a valid email address.


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How can I change my password?

Your password can be updated by logging in to the BulkSMS online platform and updating your BulkSMS user profile.


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Can BulkSMS notify me when my SMS credits are low?

Yes, you can choose at which SMS credit level the notification will be sent and you can choose to receive the notification via email, SMS or both.


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Sending SMS messages

How long does it take for my SMS messages to be delivered?

SMS messages sent via our SMS gateway are typically delivered to a mobile phone number within 15 seconds.

In some cases delivery may take up to 3 minutes depending on the network routing of SMS messages, the number of SMS messages sent in a batch, or other factors. For more information on delivery speed for large volumes, please email Support.


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Do you provide delivery reports?

Yes we do. These are stored for 30 days only on the BulkSMS Web to SMS platform. If however, you are using the BulkSMS Text Messenger, you will be able to see your delivery report for as long as you keep the sent SMS message in your Sent items box.

Please note, that the Economy Route does not always provide status reports. The Standard and Premium routes do. All messages sent via these two routes will have a status report whether successfully delivered or not.

A delivery report will indicate the status of a sent message, for example: Delivered to Mobile, Delivered Upstream or Failed.


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What does ‘delivered upstream’ mean?

Delivered upstream means that the message you have sent has been submitted to a network but no status report has yet been received from the mobile network.

This means that we cannot ascertain why the mobile network has not yet been able to deliver the message to the mobile phone number and it could be any one of the following:

  • Status reports can sometimes be delayed
  • This particular network does not support status reports
  • The mobile phone is switched off
  • The recipients SMS message Inbox is full
  • Poor network coverage
  • Mobile phone is roaming
  • Invalid mobile phone number

The status could change at a later stage from 'Delivered Upstream' to either 'Delivered To Mobile' or 'Failed'.


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How many contacts can I send the same SMS message to?

The BulkSMS system allows you to send an SMS message to a database of up to 30,000 contacts in one submission when using the BulkSMS API or Web to SMS platform and up to 20,000 contacts when using the BulkSMS Text Messenger. For high submission volumes, the BulkSMS API Gateway is recommended.


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What is the “daily quota” and what does ‘daily quota exceeded mean’?

The daily quota is the number of SMS messages you can send out from your BulkSMS account in one day. The system is set at a default limit of 1,000 credits when you open your BulkSMS account. If your daily quota has been exceeded you will no longer be able to send SMS messages from your BulkSMS account for that one day. You will however be able to continue sending messages the following day.

Should you wish to increase your daily quota you can do so by sending an email request to our Support team.


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Is it possible to have a personalised Sender ID and when is it available?

The normal Sender ID of an SMS message sent via the BulkSMS gateway is a computer generated long number. It shows the SMS recipient who the SMS message is from, i.e. who is actually sending the SMS message. In personal SMS messages, the Sender ID would be the name of the sender as you have saved it in your mobile phone contact list.

This automated reference number can be replaced by text, for example, a company's name. Setting of the Sender ID can only be enabled after you have purchased SMS credits.

Sender ID requests are processed manually and we suggest you request a Sender ID change within office hours for a swift response. Sender ID can also be set via http request and email to SMS.

Please note that Sender ID is not available in South Africa or the United States of America due to the policy of the mobile network providers.


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What do you mean alphanumeric?

Alphanumeric means you can use any characters in these ranges:

  • a-z
  • A-Z and
  • 0-9
  • as well as the underscore: "_"

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Does BulkSMS support accented and foreign language characters?

Yes, you can send SMS messages using Unicode for non-English characters (such as Arabic, Chinese or Cyrillic characters).

On the Compose Message page tick 'Send as Unicode'. This will however shorten character length for your message to about 70 characters.


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Can I personalise the SMS messages I want to send?

Yes you can.

You can personalise your bulk SMS message sends by adding the recipient’s first name, surname or mobile number to the SMS text message that you send.  The BulkSMS Text Messenger allows you to create your own personalised token fields to insert into your SMS messages.


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Can I send multiple SMS messages with different content for each SMS message?

Yes. You can send multiple SMS messages with different content for each SMS message using the BulkSMS Text Messenger, the BulkSMS Web to SMS platform and our SMS API Gateway. Contact our Support team for a step by step guide using the BulkSMS product of your choice.


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Can I send an SMS that is longer than 160 characters?

While a typical SMS message is only 160 characters long, we do allow you to send up to 6 SMS text messages in one send; that is, you can send a message of up to 918 characters. This is true for the BulkSMS Text Messenger, our Web to SMS platform, as well as our SMS API.

The message gets split into 6 parts when you send it, but when it arrives at the mobile phone it will appear as a single SMS message. The technical term for this process is concatenated SMS where a multi-part message with more than 160 characters is received as a single message on a mobile phone.

If you need even more space for your communications, you can try sending a Mobi-gram SMS message. This feature is available on the BulkSMS Text Messenger.


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Can I schedule my SMS messages?

Yes you can Schedule your SMS messages to be sent at a later date and time for up to one year in the future.


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Can I cancel my scheduled messages?

Yes, you can cancel your scheduled SMS messages by logging in to the BulkSMS Web to SMS platform (if using the BulkSMS Text Messenger, click “Web Portal” under the “My Accounts” tab) and going to “Scheduled messages”. This will list all your upcoming scheduled SMS messages. Simply click on the SMS message you want to delete and click “Delete”.


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Can a third party application be SMS enabled using BulkSMS?

Yes, third party applications can be SMS enabled using our SMS API solution or linking an external or SQL database to the BulkSMS Text Messenger. Please contact our Support team for further information.


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What is a Mobi-gram message?

A Mobi-gram message is where a unique URL is inserted into your SMS message. Using the BulkSMS Text Messenger, a customer can create a web page and the URL is automatically included in your SMS send. Each SMS message recipient will receive a unique URL allowing you to track which recipients have opened and seen the Mobi-gram message.


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Contact Management

How safe are my client contact lists?

Section 8 of the BulkSMS terms and conditions state that BulkSMS will not intercept, monitor, copy or disclose any User messages or personal information, including the User’s phonebook.

This means that BulkSMS is not allowed to disclose the contacts or client lists saved to the BulkSMS platform.


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How do I combine information in different cells in an Excel spreadsheet?

Use concatenation to combine information in different cells in a spreadsheet.

This is used to either add leading numbers to mobile numbers, i.e. the country code or leading zero, or to make a personalized message for Multi-Message uploads. Click here for more information on spreadsheet concatenation.


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Receiving SMS messages

Can customers reply to my SMS messages?

Yes, each message that is sent out using BulkSMS can be replied to.

Each sent message is allocated a unique identifying number. Should your customers wish to respond to the SMS you sent, this unique number will ensure that the customer's response is routed directly to your BulkSMS Inbox.

Please note that we do not offer replies or two way messaging in all countries. You can test replies from your mobile, alternatively, contact Support to find out whether or not replies are possible in your country.


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Will I pay for incoming replies to my outgoing SMS messages?

No, you will not pay for replies to your SMS message.

Anyone who replies to that message will carry the cost of the reply SMS.


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Can SMS responses be forwarded to my email?

Yes, you can set this up by editing your Email to SMS settings on your BulkSMS account.


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Can SMS responses be forwarded to my mobile phone?

No, SMS responses cannot be forwarded to your mobile phone. But you can receive them using the BulkSMS app, or by logging in to the BulkSMS Web platform.


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Can SMS responses be forwarded to a URL?

Yes, your replies can be forwarded to a URL of your choice.

This can be done by:

  • Logging in to your BulkSMS account.
  • Click ‘Update your Profile’
  • To set the URL for incoming SMS messages and/or replies, click “Set” next to “MO Relay URL” or to receive delivery status reports for sent SMS messages to a URL, click “Set” next to “Report Relay URL”
  • Enter the URL you would like to use and click “Submit”.

If you would like to remove the URL, you can simply leave the field blank.


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Why can SMS recipients not respond to messages sent using an alphanumeric Sender ID?

Using a sender ID is a non-repliable method of sending. A Sender ID is a text or alphanumeric name that appears as the sender on a recipients mobile phone when an SMS is sent from your BulkSMS account. The only way a Sender ID could be repliable is if the Sender ID is set to a mobile number. The replies will then go to that particular mobile number.


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Does BulkSMS offer a shortcode service?

Yes, we do offer an SMS Shortcode service in South Africa only.


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