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8 Best Transactional Email Services (2024 Comparison)

Looking for the best transactional email services? You’re in the right place.

Transactional emails are those that you send out in response to a user’s interaction on your website or app, like order confirmations, shipping notifications, and password reset emails.

They’re super important and often time-sensitive. So it’s vital that they reach the recipient’s inbox as fast as possible—and that they don’t end up in the spam box. But whether or not that happens all depends on your service provider.

In this post, we’ll be reviewing and comparing the best transactional email service providers on the market this year. We’ll reveal each of their pros and cons, discuss pricing, and tell you what they’re best for.

The best transactional email services – comparison

TL;DR:

  • Brevo – Best all-in-one email tool with transactional and marketing email features.
  • Bird – Best for enterprise-level businesses (most reliable transactional email service).
  • Postmark – Most developer-friendly transactional email service.

#1 – Brevo

Brevo is the best all-in-one email tool, not just for transactional emails, but for marketing emails too. 

Brevo Transactional EmailBrevo Transactional EmailPin

You can use Brevo’s API to automatically send out transactional emails, SMS, and WhatsApp messages, with a guaranteed 99% delivery rate.

They made good on this promise in my tests too. I set up email accounts on all the popular email provider domains—Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL, etc.—and sent out a bunch of emails with Brevo, and they all made it to the inbox super quickly (I’m talking seconds, not minutes).

There are a bunch of customizable templates for common transactional emails so you don’t have to design them from scratch, which is always helpful. And you can personalize your transactional emails with your customer names, prices, products, etc.

It’s very developer-friendly, with API libraries for all common programming languages including PHP, Node, and Python. Plus SDKs, robust documentation, and guides to help you get set up. Integration with your CMS is easy via plugins, webhoops, or SMTP relay.

But what makes Brevo really strong is the way transactional email is seamlessly integrated with all its other tools and features. It’s got everything you need for end-to-end customer communications in one place.

So, you can build landing pages, set up automated SMS & email marketing campaigns, grow/manage your list, track your campaign performance, set up live chat, and more from the same place you handle transactional emails.

Most of these features are included in the Marketing Platform package. You get a set amount of email credits with each plan, which you can use towards both transactional and regular marketing emails. 

If you just want to send transactional emails and don’t need all the other bells and whistles, you can sign up for a pay-as-you-go plan instead, which only comes with email credits.

My only gripe with this is that it’s not really ‘true’ pay-as-you-go pricing, as you can’t purchase additional credits in small increments of 1,000 or so. Instead, you’re jumped up to the next pricing tier: 20,000, then 40,000, then 60,000, etc. 

As a result, you can end up paying for more than you really need. For example, if you need 25,000 credits, you’ll have to pay for 40,000. However, this likely won’t be too much of an issue for high volume senders that need scalability.

Key features

  • Transactional email API. Deliver emails to your recipients almost instantaneously, with a guaranteed 99% delivery rate.
  • Easy integration. Hook Brevo up to your CMS via SMTP relay, webhook, or native plugin.
  • Transactional email templates. Create transactional emails quickly with customizable templates, and personalize them with your recipients’ names, prices, products, and more.
  • API libraries. Developers can integrate Brevo with your existing stack with the help of API libraries, code recipes, SDKs, and guides.
  • Inbound parsing. Turn every email into a two-way exchange with inbound parsing.
  • Marketing, Conversations, and Sales platforms. Design emails in the drag-and-drop builder; set up automated email, SMS, and WhatsApp marketing campaigns; implement live chat, build your own chatbot, and more.

Pros and cons

  • Very high delivery rate for transactional emails
  • Transactional emails arrive in the inbox very quickly
  • Can send 300 emails per day for free, which is 3x as much as most competitors
  • Also offers other SMS/email marketing features
  • Great selection of email templates
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing isn’t very flexible (bumps you up in increments of 20,000)
  • The NodeJS API can be a little bit confusing
  • All links in transactional emails are auto-converted to tracking links (not great for privacy)

Pricing

A free plan is available. Paid plans start from $15/month. Get started with a free trial.

Read our Brevo review.

#2 – Bird

Bird (formerly SparkPost) is the best choice for enterprise-level businesses. It’s the most reliable of any transactional email service I’ve tested and gets top marks for delivery/deliverability, speed, compliance, and data security.

Bird HomepageBird HomepagePin

Bird handles around 40% of the world’s commercial emails. That’s how you know they’re a provider you can trust. If such a large portion of businesses are choosing to use one service over others, you know they’re going to deliver—literally.

Not only are they reliable, but they’re fast too. Transactional emails sent with Bird take less than two seconds to get delivered. And that no matter how many emails you send. In fact, Bird’s burst-rate guarantee is that they’ll send up to 500 million messages per hour. 

Another thing Bird gets top marks for is its analytics. It lets you get really granular when you dive into the data and tracks 42 different metrics—significantly more than any other provider. 

Stats are bucketed into different groups like delivery metrics (i.e. accepted rate, bounce rate, average latency, etc), deliverability metrics (inbox folder rate, spam folder rate, moved to spam rate, etc.), and so on.

You can even sort your stats by email provider so you can see how your transactional emails are performing specifically for Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook, etc.

Aside from the transactional email API, Bird also comes with lots of other tools to help you communicate with your customers, including tools for email marketing, SMS/WhatsApp marketing, chatbots, and more.

The only thing I’m not so keen on is Bird’s pricing. Rather than billing you based on the number of emails you send like most other providers, the price depends on the number of contacts in your list. If you have a large number of contacts, it gets very expensive.

And if you go over your allotted number of emails in any given month, you’re automatically billed for overages.

Key features

  • Transactional email sending. Send emails to your customers programmatically with delivery in under two seconds.
  • Email statistics. Track over 42 KPIs for all the transactional emails you send and evaluate performance with detailed statistics.
  • Real-time alerts. Get notified if/when your deliverability is at risk from blocklists and spam traps so you can take immediate action.
  • APIs. Integrate Bird’s powerful developer APIs with your own workflows to trigger messages, run verification checks, manage contacts, and more.
  • Auto-scaling. Bird offers burst-rate guarantees to ensure you’ll get the same lightning-fast delivery even if you send millions of transactional emails.
  • Email marketing. Use Bird’s email marketing tools to set up automated or one-off email marketing campaigns.
  • SMS & WhatsApp marketing. Reach your customers on mobile through personalized texts and WhatsApp messages.
  • Other tools. Bird’s loaded with tons of other tools to help you grow your list, take payments, communicate with customers, and more.

Pros and cons

  • The most reliable transactional email service provider
  • Lightning-fast email delivery times (<2 seconds)
  • Developer-friendly API
  • Great for larger enterprises
  • Best-in-class email metrics
  • Contact-based pricing
  • No free plan or trial
  • Automatic billing for overages

Pricing

Plans start from $45/month. No free plan is available but you can contact Bird for a demo.

#3 – Postmark

Postmark is a dedicated transactional email service provider, not an all-in-one platform like the other two tools we’ve looked at so far. So while it might not have all the bells and whistles, its core transactional email functionality is world-class.

Postmark Transactional EmailPostmark Transactional EmailPin

It’s also the most developer-friendly service on this list, with API libraries for pretty much all programming languages: PHP, Node.js, C#, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Curl… you name it.

Straightforward documentation and setup instructions for each language/framework allow for easy integration with any stack. And if you’re hoping to use it for your WordPress website, the native WordPress plugin makes it super easy.

The other thing I like about Postmark is that it’s more stringent than most service providers when it comes to vetting senders. They sort of interview you and check how you’ll be using their service to filter out the spammers. 

The result is that they don’t have a ton of bad senders dragging down their sender reputation and polluting the pool for everyone else. And therefore, deliverability is top-notch.

Postmark also deserves credit for being transparent about its delivery metrics. A lot of other providers claim rapid delivery times and near-perfect delivery rates, but they don’t always back it up with data. Postmark does. 

You can check their status page to see their average time to inbox for different email providers. Gmail and Hotmail are both currently a little over 3 seconds, which is pretty good. But AOL and Yahoo aren’t nearly as fast, averaging 1-3 minutes.

Key features

  • Reliable transactional email sending. Deliver transactional emails that land in your recipients’ inboxes quickly, without having to pay for a dedicated IP. 
  • Transactional email templates. Responsive templates for all the most common types of transactional emails including password resets, welcome emails, and so on.
  • Message Streams. Postmark routes promotional and transactional emails through separate sending infrastructures and IP ranges, in line with inbox providers’ best practices (improves deliverability & speed).
  • Documentation. Postmark offers comprehensive, well-structured documentation that developers will appreciate.
  • Email analytics. Get access to detailed open and delivery metrics for every email you send. Plus, 45 days’ worth of content history to help with troubleshooting.

Pros and cons

  • Very developer-friendly transactional email service
  • API libraries for most programming languages
  • Stringent sender vetting process
  • Fast and reliable
  • Good support
  • Analytics could be better
  • Not an all-in-one solution (no email marketing automation or list-building features)
  • Free plan only includes 100 emails per month (many other providers offer the same amount daily)

Pros

  • Very developer-friendly transactional email service
  • API libraries for most programming languages
  • Stringent sender vetting process
  • Fast and reliable
  • Good support

Cons

  • Analytics could be better
  • Not an all-in-one solution (no email marketing automation or list-building features)
  • Free plan only includes 100 emails per month (many other providers offer the same amount daily)

Pricing

Free plan is available. Paid plans start from $15/month.

#4 – SendGrid

SendGrid has one of the best free plans of any transactional email service. You can send up to 100 emails a day forever, without spending a dime. And at under twenty bucks for up to 50k emails, their entry-level paid plan is super affordable too.

SendGrid Transactional EmailSendGrid Transactional EmailPin

I’ve found Sendgrid is easier to set up than most. And their dynamic templates do the job for simple transactional emails. You can edit them in a WYSIWYG editor, so there’s no need to write any HTML or CSS from scratch.

In terms of speed, Sendgrid claims to provide a median delivery time of 1.9 seconds, which is about as good as it gets. 

They’re pretty fussy about sender verification too and make you jump through some hoops before you can sign up, which helps prevent spammers from onboarding and ensures tip-top delivery rates.

In addition to transactional emails, you can also use Sendgrid to design, manage, and track email marketing campaigns.

Key features

  • Transactional email. Use Sendgrid’s purpose-built MTA to deliver transactional emails to your customers quickly.
  • APIs & SMTP. Connect Sendgrid to your existing apps and workflow with the SMTP and RESTful APIs, including libraries for most programming languages.
  • Email templates. Create professional-looking emails quickly with ready-made, customizable templates.
  • Email activity feeds. Enjoy faster, easier troubleshooting thanks to Sendgrid’s searchable email activity feeds and content history.
  • Email automation. Build automated email marketing workflows to nurture leads.
  • Signup forms. Grow your marketing email list with email opt-in forms.

Pros and cons

  • Highly trusted transactional email service
  • Proprietary MTA (mail transfer agent) ensures fast, reliable delivery
  • Stellar sender reputation thanks to careful sender verification/vetting processes
  • Good free plan and affordable paid plans
  • The entry-level plan doesn’t include dedicated IPs, and the next tier is much more expensive
  • You’re automatically billed for overages
  • The email automation tool could be better

Pricing

Free plan available. Paid plans start from $19.95/month

#5 – Mailjet

Mailjet is another all-in-one platform that you can use for both marketing and transactional emails. It’s a good choice for beginners thanks to its intuitive front-end email design tools and generous free plan.

Mailjet Transactional EmailMailjet Transactional EmailPin

The thing I like most about Mailjet is its email editor. It’s super easy to use, with a drag-and-drop interface, a good selection of content blocks/widgets, and an outstanding library of pre-designed templates.

Once you’ve created your transactional emails, you can use Mailjet’s SMTP Relay or Send API to start sending them programmatically, and track delivery. 

There are ready-to-go libraries in all the usual programming languages including PHP, Ruby, C#, Java, and Python for easy integration.

Another thing I like: Mailjet’s templating language lets you customize your transactional emails with variables. So, you can trigger the right content using loops, conditionals, and functions.

Key features

  • Transactional email. Use Mailjet’s SMTP Relay or Send API to deliver transactional emails programmatically.
  • Customization. Customize your transactional emails and show triggered content with loops, functions, and conditionals.
  • Email editor. Use the drag-and-drop editor to build great-looking emails quickly.
  • Expert Preview Mode. View how your transactional emails will look on different devices.
  • Email validations. Check the validity of email addresses before you send them to reduce the bounce rate.
  • Statistics dashboard. Track and analyze your email deliverability and engagement in real time.
  • Other email tools. Set up automated email campaigns, send one-off marketing emails, manage contacts, run A/B tests, and more.

Pros and cons

  • Great transactional email service for beginners/non-developers
  • You can send up to 200 emails/day for free, which is more than most
  • Fantastic email editor
  • Superb template library
  • Quick setup and great UI
  • Not as developer-friendly as some other services
  • Can’t manually send out transactional emails

Pricing

Free plan available. Paid plans start from $15/month, and save 10% if you pay yearly.

#6 – Mailgun

Mailgun is a transactional email service built for developers. It has everything devs could want and stands out for its robust API, comprehensive SDKs, and fantastic support.

Mailgun Transactional EmailMailgun Transactional EmailPin

Like Mailjet, Mailgun is another provider that’s been bought out and is now part of the Sinch umbrella. 

But unlike Mailjet, it’s much less focused on beginners/front-end email design, and much more focused on the technical side of sending transactional emails.

It’s more flexible and scalable than most of its competitors and has specialized offerings for high-volume senders (send up to 750k messages/minute through the API).

I also really like its real-time Email Validation API. Once integrated, it’ll check email addresses as they come in to immediately remove any invalid or high-risk addresses before they start causing issues and hurting your transactional email delivery rates.

Key features

  • Transactional email sending. Integrate Mailgun into your existing systems and send transactional emails quickly and reliably.
  • Email validation. Integrate the email validation API to check email addresses before you send and protect your delivery rates.
  • Email preview. Test your emails on over 100 devices before you send them out and see exactly what they’ll look like to your recipients.
  • Optimization features. Improve your email open and click rates, and avoid the spam folder with Mailgun’s optimization tools.
  • Reputation monitoring. Monitor your sender domains and IP addresses to make sure they’re not on any blocklists, and get notified if you become listed so you can take immediate action.
  • Email parsing. Parse incoming messages and route them to the right email addresses.

Pros and cons

  • Very developer-friendly transactional email service
  • Super scalable and flexible
  • Email validation API is a nice feature
  • Fast and reliable
  • Not as good for beginners/non-tech-savvy users
  • No front-end design tools or email templates

Pricing

Free plan available. Paid plans start from $35/month. Get started with a 30-day free trial.

#7 – Amazon SES (Simple Email Service)

Amazon SES is a barebones email service provider that doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles you get with other tools, but it’s cheap—and I mean seriously cheap. 

Amazon Transactional EmailAmazon Transactional EmailPin

The pricing system is complicated, but you only pay for what you use. If you just wanted the bare minimum functionality, you’re looking at $0.10 per 1,000 emails. That’s just $10 for 100k emails. You’d pay more than 10x that for the same amount of emails/month with Postmark.

Paid add-on features like dedicated IPs will bring the cost up, but it still works out ridiculously affordable—no other service provider comes close to offering this kind of value for money. 

The tradeoff, of course, is that you’re missing a lot of useful features. There are no templates so you’ll have to either pair Amazon SES up with another templating tool or build your emails from scratch. There are no deliverability insights or email validation services either.

And of course, it’s a lot more work to set up. Amazon SES is certainly not something I’d recommend to beginners—only developers who know what they’re doing. And even then, it’ll take some time to get everything up and running.

Key features

  • Transactional email service. Send automated transactional emails via Amazon SES’s API or SMTP interface. 
  • Virtual deliverability manager. Amazon SES’s VDM (virtual deliverability manager) offers insights to help you improve inbox placement.
  • Reports. View reports full of sending and delivery data, and extract insights to improve future performance.
  • Flexible deployment options. Choose whether to send from a shared IP, dedicated IP, or owned IP.

Pros and cons

  • The cheapest transactional email service on the market
  • Ideal if you want a barebones service and don’t need any bells and whistles
  • Scalable from zero
  • Fast and reliable delivery
  • Developer-friendly
  • No templates
  • No user interface
  • Limited analytics
  • Difficult to set up & use

Pricing

Free Tier plan available. Prices start from $0.10 per 1000 emails, but additional charges might apply.

#8 – Elastic Email

Elastic Email is another very affordable transactional email service. It’s not quite as cheap as Amazon SES, but it offers a better balance of features while still keeping costs low.

Elastic Email Transactional EmailElastic Email Transactional EmailPin

You can send up to 100 emails per day through Elastic Email’s Email API and SMTP relay for free. And it’ll only cost you around 25 bucks for 100k emails/month, which is pretty good.

You don’t just get core sending functionality for that price either. You also get access to the email designer, where you can build your templates. Plus, tracking and analytics to help you measure performance, and all the other features you need.

Set up is quick and easy with the SMTP relay; it only took me a few minutes during testing. And you don’t need to be a developer to manage it—there are plug-and-play integrations including a plugin for WordPress.

And if you are a developer, you’ll appreciate the API libraries covering 12 programming languages, comprehensive API documentation, secure API keys with granular access control, and detailed logs.

In addition to the API, there’s also an Email Marketing package that includes all the tools you need for end-to-end email marketing campaigns, including a drag-and-drop newsletter editor, campaign creator, landing pages, opt-in forms, contact management, and more.

Key features

  • Transactional email API. Connect Elastic Email to your apps/workflows with the RESTful API or SMTP relay to send transactional emails.
  • Webhook notifications. Set up webhooks to start tracking events like email opens, bounces, clicks, etc. in real time.
  • Inbound email routing. Automatically parse inbound messages and forward them to different inboxes.
  • Suppression tracking. Track your suppressions to make sure you don’t send emails to unsubscribed or invalid contacts.
  • Statistics. Track your deliverability stats through the analytics dashboard.
  • Template management. Drag and drop to create your own email templates or code them from scratch.
  • Email marketing tools. Send out marketing emails alongside your transactional emails with Elastic Email’s marketing toolkit.

Pros and cons

  • Good value for money
  • Feature-rich transactional email service
  • Good for beginners and experts alike
  • Time to inbox isn’t as fast as some other providers
  • Support could be better

Pricing

Free plan available. Paid plans start from $9/month.

Final thoughts

There you have it—8 of the best transactional email services for 2024.

We chose these providers based on a number of factors including their deliverability rates, infrastructure, ease of use, integration options, documentation, scalability, features, and pricing.

They’re all great options, but the best choice for you will depend on the intended use case, your budget, how/where you plan to integrate them, and the features you need.

Transactional emails are just one of many different types of emails that you might want to send to your subscribers. If you plan to send marketing emails, check out these email marketing services. For newsletters, check out our post on the best email newsletter software.

You might also be interested in our compilation of the latest email marketing statistics.


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