How much do Dalle credits cost? Exploring OpenAI’s Credit System

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Written By Thomas Smith

The New York Times called Thomas Smith a "veteran programmer." For over a decade, Smith has led Gado Images, an AI-driven visual content company.

If you’re considering using the Dall-e image generation AI system from OpenAI, you’re probably wondering how much Dall-e credits cost.

The answer is that it depends on how many images you’re generating each month. Below a certain threshold, you can use Dall-e for free.

In general, though, each Dall-e credit currently costs about 13 cents.

Let’s explore the costs of Dall-e credits in more detail, and also take a look at what you can do with Dall-e credits.

Free Dall-e Credits

At the moment, Dall-e users receive an allotment of free credits each month. Most users currently receive 15 credits for free each month.

Users who participated in the Dall-e Beta test when the app first launched also got a bonus allotment of 50 free credits.

These are enough for users to try Dall-e for free, and to create a small number of free Dall-e images each month, as we’ll explore.

The Cost of Buying Dall-e Credits

If you run out of free Dall-e credits, there’s always the option of buying additional credits. As we write this, the cost of Dall-e credits is $15 for 115 credits. That works out to a price of about $0.13 per Dall-e credit.

Dall-e users can purchase credits to top up their accounts from within the Dall-e interface in OpenAI labs. Payments are billed alongside the use of other OpenAI services like GPT-3.5

What Does a Dall-e Credit Get You?

Once you buy Dall-e credits or receive your 15 monthly Dall-e credits, what can you do with them?

Each Dall-e credit allows you to create one “generation” using the system. This can include creating images based on Dall-e prompts, editing an image you upload to the system or creating additional variations on an existing image.

Basically, any operation that requires Dall-e to do any kind of processing, or causes it to make something new, costs a credit.

Note that each credit doesn’t necessarily correlate with the cost of an individual image made by Dall-e. Prompt-based image generations, for example, yield four images each. If you choose only one of those, your newly-generated image will cost you $0.13.

If you can find a use for all four images generated by your prompt, though, the cost per image drops to $0.0325.

To be clear, most people enter a prompt, look at the four potential images that Dall-e generates, and then choose their favorite. Since prompt intent can be hard to interpret, Dall-e often tries out multiple potential intents in order to give the user options.

Likewise, when you run an image variation query, you get three variations back. Despite this, running the query only costs one credit.

In short, any operation you have Dall-e perform costs one credit, even if the operation returns more than one actual image.

The Future of Dall-e Credits

Why even have a credit system, if each operation basically costs one credit across the board? Why not just charge a flat rate per operation?

It’s possible that OpenAI plans to charge differing rates for credits based on the number of credits purchased. It’s also possible that Dall-e will ultimately cost more for specific operations.

For example, a new image generation might cost less than the computationally expensive operation of editing an existing image.

OpenAI might also offer more free credits each month in the future. That’s the pricing model they’ve adopted with ChatGPT, which has a free tier as well as a paid plan.

Credits, in other words, give OpenAI the flexibility to change or customize Dall-e’s pricing down the road if they decide to do so.

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