SMS Billing and how to top up your SMS credits

Arbor's powerful built-in messaging platform allows you to quickly and easily contact students, guardians and staff.

While emails are free to send, there is a small processing fee for SMS. To keep costs down for schools, messages are pre-purchased in bundles of SMS Credits. 1 SMS of 153 characters or less = 1 Credit. The larger the credit bundle, the cheaper each message becomes. 

From the date of sending your first SMS, Arbor gives you a 30 day grace period to purchase a SMS bundle. This means that you'll still be able to send all your essential messages to students and guardians while you top up your SMS Credits.


SMS Credit Balance

The balance of your SMS Credits can be viewed at any time on the SMS Billing page in Arbor. This can be found by going to School > Communication > Setup > SMS Billing. 

Click the Usage tab to see your usage.



Credits and characters

Please note that the character limit of 153 characters is only an estimate. This is the maximum number of characters allowed, but the real number will be lower to account for an estimated 22 characters for the school name that we append to the end of the message.

The actual number of characters and credits is shown when sending an SMS. This shows a more accurate credit estimate, which often varies on a per-recipient basis because of merge fields (and recipients with foreign or Channel Islands phone numbers). 



How do we know we're running low on SMS credits?

No surprises when you need to send important messages and find you don’t have enough credits! If you have permission to top up your school's SMS balance, we'll send you email reminders when you're running low on SMS credits.

Users with the School: Communication: Setup permission will receive an email when your balance is below 150 credits, and another reminder when your balance is at or below 0.




What happens if we run out of SMS credits?

If your credit balance drops below 0, you will have a period of 30 days to top up your balance. During this time, you will still be able to send SMS.

After 30 days if the account has not been topped up, you will no longer be able to send SMS messages from anywhere in Arbor.

When you do top up, any negative balance will be deducted from your top-up amount.

If you have already followed the instructions below to top up your credits and you need to send urgent SMS, please email us and we can extend your limit for 30 additional days. Contact the Arbor Support Team if supported by Arbor, or your Support Partner if not supported by Arbor.


Adding more credits

To purchase an SMS Bundle and top up your Credits, select the bundle you wish to purchase from the SMS Billing page.

We offer bundles of:

  • 100,000 for £3000
  • 50,000 for £1750
  • 10,000 for £400
  • 1000 for £40

We also offer a bundle of 250,000 for £6250. To purchase this option, you will need to contact us at This can also be purchased by MATs and shared between your schools.



Once the bundle is added to your basket, click Checkout and select your preferred method of billing.

Credits purchased by Debit/Credit Card will be instantly added to your account, while other payment methods require processing:

  • Direct Debits will take 3-5 working days
  • Bank Transfers will take 2 working days
  • Cheques will take 7 working days (from the date the cheque has been delivered)
  • Invoices will take 2 working days


Top tips to prevent your payment being declined

If you aren't able to purchase SMS credits with your card, make sure:

  • You enter an approval code
  • You open the banking app and approve the payment (if prompted)
  • The card is set up to allow online purchases
  • The card is not blocked


Downloading an Invoice for an SMS Bundle Purchase

You can download an invoice for SMS bundles purchased within Arbor by going to School > Communications > Setup > SMS Billing and clicking on Billing History.



This will show you the schools SMS Purchase History. Select the purchase that you want to download an invoice for. A slide-over window will appear on the right with details of the payment. Click Download Invoice.


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