How to get your ChatGPT API key (4 steps)

Integrating ChatGPT—OpenAI’s advanced AI language model—with your internal applications and products can revolutionize how your employees use your systems as well as how your clients engage with your platform. 

By leveraging ChatGPT’s natural language processing capabilities, you can automate customer support interactions, streamline data analysis processes, build cutting-edge product features, and much more. 

But before you can start integrating with ChatGPT’s API, your developers need to get an API key to access it. We’ll help you do just that by breaking down each step of getting your API key.

Step 1: Create an account

ChatGPT is entirely free to sign up. You can create a free account by signing up here.

Related: A guide to getting your Anthropic API key

Step 2: Generate an API key

Once logged in, head to the left navigation bar and click “API Keys”

Generating an API key in ChatGPT

On the next screen, click “+ Create new secret key” and enter a name for your key in the pop-up window. After entering a name, click “Create secret key”

In case you plan to create multiple keys, we recommend giving it a name that’s specific to how you plan on using it. 

Creating a new secret in ChatGPT

On the next screen, copy your API Key and store it somewhere safe. You will not be able to view it again.

Copying the API key

Related: What you need to know about building SaaS integrations

Step 3: Set up billing

OpenAI implements a pay-per-use model for its API services. Therefore, it's essential to establish a payment method for billing purposes. Without this setup, the newly-created API Key will be inactive.

For billing configuration, select 'Billing' from the left-hand menu and then choose 'Add payment details’.

Accessing the billing settings

A pop up window will appear asking you to select which type of user you are. Select whichever option is applicable to you.

Selecting whether you're an individual or working on behalf of a company

You’ll be prompted to enter your payment information. Once done, click “Continue”.

Adding payment details

On the next screen, you’ll see a few configuration options for payment. We’ve broken down what each means:

A. Enter an amount between $5 and $100 to add an initial credit into your account

B. If you don’t want to pay for credits each time they run out, you can set up automated recharges here. Toggling this will allow you to select options in C and D.

C. Set a minimum balance threshold for when new credits should be purchased

D. Specify the total balance you want to set your account at when recharging

After entering your selections, click “Continue”.

Configuring your payment

On the final screen, you’ll see a confirmation of your selections. Click “Confirm payment” if everything looks correct.

Payment confirmation screen

Step 4: Set usage limits

It's practical to implement usage limits to manage your monthly spend on the API. 

To do this, select 'Limits’ from the left menu, and scroll down to Usage Limits

Setting rate limits

Input your desired hard and soft usage caps, and then click 'Save'.

Setting a hard limit and a soft limit

You’re all set to start building your integrations!

Other key considerations for building to ChatGPT’s API

There’s obviously more to accessing and using ChatGPT’s API. You can read on to get additional context on the API.


OpenAI and ChatGPT regularly update their pricing tables and provide a clear breakdown of tiers on their website here. We recommend looking through to understand which model will work best for you.

Rate limits

API rate limits, in general, are implemented for several important reasons:

  • They serve as a safeguard against potential abuse or misuse. For instance, a harmful user might try to inundate the API with requests, aiming to disrupt the service.
  • Rate limits are essential for equitable access. If a single user or entity makes too many requests, it could negatively affect the API's performance for others.
  • They assist in managing the overall demand. A sudden surge in API requests could strain the servers, leading to performance issues. Rate limits help maintain a stable and efficient service for all users.

ChatGPT has a rate limit model similar to their pricing model that differs by tier and functionality. We recommend reading through their guide here.

Errors to look out for

Each API is slightly different in how they handle errors, so it’s important to understand how ChatGPT’s API handles them. You can find a full list of error codes and explanations here.

Final thoughts

Your product integration requirements likely extend far beyond ChatGPT.

If you need to integrate your product with hundreds of 3rd-party applications that fall under popular software categories, like CRM, HRIS, ATS, or file storage, you can simply connect to one of Merge’s Unified APIs.

Merge also provides comprehensive integration maintenance support and management tooling for your customer-facing teams—all but ensuring that your integrations perform at a high level over time. 

You can learn more about Merge by scheduling a demo with one of our integration experts.