10 Best Amazon SES Alternatives: Transactional Email Services

Amazon SES is a bulk email platform built on Amazon’s giant cloud infrastructure. It specializes in scalable sending with no upper limits.

As an alternative to standard SMTP servers, Amazon SES is very cost-effective. But that doesn’t mean Amazon SES works for everyone. It offers little direct support and no options for creating emails. These are just 2 reasons lots of businesses look for an Amazon SES alternative.

In this article, I’ve picked out 10 of the best Amazon SES alternatives. Read on to find out what they do better than Amazon SES and who they work best for.

10 Best Amazon SES Alternatives Overview

Amazon SES is a reliable email service for bulk sending. It has advanced deliverability tools. But it leaves users to get on with the job themselves. And is designed with developers in mind.

You might want a more hands-on approach. If you’re not a developer, you might want something a little more user-friendly. Or at least have the option of person-to-person support.

You might also want a single platform where you can create and send all your emails in one place. Not just transactional emails like receipts and order confirmations. But email marketing campaigns, too. Amazon SES offers some very basic transactional email templates. But it offers no native email marketing tools at all. It’s pretty much just a sending platform.

All the services on this list have been picked because they better Amazon SES in one of these key areas. Ease of use. Email creation options. Better support. And, in some cases, better deliverability. 

Here’s a summary of what they all offer.

Amazon SES AlternativeBest ForFree Plan?Starting Price
SMTP2GODeliverability Reporting and TestingYes$15/mo
BrevoFree Marketing & Transactional EmailsYes$25/mo
MailersendLow-cost Sending for TeamsYes$25/mo
MoosendValue for Small BusinessesYes, 30 days$9/mo
SMTP.comHigh volume sendersNone$25/mo
ActiveCampaignAutomation & transactional emailsYes$15/mo
GoogleFree bulk sending through GmailYes, w/ Workspace$6/mo
MailgunIntegrating into any platformYes, 30 days$35/mo
SendGridCost-effective deliverabilityYes$19.95/mo
Elastic EmailUser-friendly InterfaceYes$9/mo

What is Amazon SES?

SES stands for Simple Email Service. That might remind you of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, or SMTP. SMTP is the standard used to send emails in bulk quantities between mail servers.

Amazon SES how it works

SMTP servers are reliable and quick. In the right hands, they are also better for protecting sender reputation at high volumes. This means convincing email service providers and ISPs that you’re not sending spam. And that means better deliverability.

Lots of providers these days offer a cloud-based SMTP service. Or access to an SMTP server via the cloud. They are called SMTP relays. Find the best free SMTP servers for transactional emails in our full review.

Amazon SES isn’t only an SMTP relay service. It’s a cloud-based email service based on Amazon’s own tech. But it supports SMTP. To you and me, it functions just like an SMTP relay. It also offers an API to add email-sending to other services and apps.

The main benefit of Amazon SES is scalability. Built on the Amazon cloud, it has virtually limitless sending capacity. Even beyond what standard SMTP relays can achieve. And pay-as-you-go pricing means you only pay for what you use. It also has some great tools for send optimization, sender reputation management and advanced testing. You can buy a dedicated IP address to take further control of your sender reputation.

On the downside, novice users can find Amazon SES tricky to get to grips with. Even the pricing isn’t straightforward. You pay $0.10 per 1000 emails sent, plus $0.12 per GB of attachments. 

10 Best Amazon SES Alternatives in 2023

The following 10 Amazon SES alternatives cover a range of different services. Some are SMTP relays and APIs. Some are specialist transactional email services. Some are email marketing platforms. Some do a little bit of everything. 

All offer something unique as an Amazon SES alternative. Here’s what you need to know.

1. SMTP2GO

SMTP2GO bulk email service provider

SMTP2GO is a bona fide cloud SMTP service provider. It specializes in bulk email sending with high deliverability rates.

SMTP2GO works hard to protect sender reputation. It authenticates email addresses and checks blocklists to keep bounce rates low. It also helps you avoid sending to blacklisted or ‘spam trap’ email addresses. Doing either will quickly see you flagged as a ‘spammy’ sender.

SMTP2GO activity reports

You can also test how your emails will look in 40 different email clients. This gives you a chance to adjust designs if there are any display issues. And again helps avoid slipping into the junk folder. After you hit send, you get activity reports for every email. This helps you track deliverability and outcomes in fine detail.

SMTP2Go Pros

  • Excellent deliverability 
  • Automated spam detection and monitoring
  • Testing for 40 email clients
  • Event reporting for every email sent

SMTP2Go Cons

  • No option to create emails or manage email campaigns

SMTP2GO pricing starts at $15 a month for 40,000 emails. There is a free plan with 1,000 emails per month. 

Try SMTP2GO for free

2. Brevo

Brevo email service product options

Brevo is an email marketing and CRM platform. But it includes an SMTP relay for transactional emails.

This gives it one big advantage over Amazon SES. You can write, design, and send HTML emails in Brevo. There are 40+ email templates to choose from. And a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor to customize designs. 

Another big plus of Brevo is that you can automate email sending. This is an option for both marketing campaigns and transactional emails. There’s a simple workflow editor to build automated sequences. And automation templates to speed up the process.

Brevo configure SMTP settings

Brevo walks you through the SMTP server configuration very clearly. You can also use an API to connect your website directly to the server.

Brevo Pros

  • Design and send HTML emails from 1 tool
  • Full suite of email marketing tools
  • Automate sending of marketing and transactional emails
  • Send up to 300 emails a day for free

Brevo Cons

  • Higher per-email cost but worth it with all the tools you get

Brevo pricing starts at $25 a month for 20k emails. It has a free plan that lets you send 300 emails a day.

Get started with Brevo for freeor read our full review

3. MailerSend

MailerSend cloud based email service

MailerSend is a transactional email service provider from the makers of Mailerlite. It specializes in sending receipts, password resets, order and shipping confirmations.

MailerSend supports bulk sending for businesses of all sizes. Its SMTP relay comes with a plug-and-play option for WordPress websites. This offers easier integration than using its API. For agencies, MailerSend lets you run multiple domains on the same account. You can choose a dedicated IP address for greater control.

MailerSend templates

A stand-out feature of MailerSend is that you can also design HTML emails within the platform. Email design is often overlooked for transactional emails. But MailerSend features a drag-and-drop email builder and editor. You can choose from pre-made templates to kick-start your designs. All templates support dynamic content so you can personalize every email.

MailerSend has recently added an email verification tool. You can upload email lists as CSV files and MailerSend checks if they are in use and genuine. This avoids damaging your sender reputation by risking high bounce rates. Looking for an email service provider for your small business? Read our full Mailerlite review to learn more about its features, costs, pros, and cons.

MailerSend Pros

  • Drag-and-drop editor for easy transactional email design
  • Dynamic templates for personalization
  • Bulk email list verification
  • Low-cost team accounts

MailerSend Cons 

  • No option to automate email sending

MailerSend prices start at $24 a month for 50,000 emails. This also includes 100 email verifications. There is a free plan that lets you send 3,000 emails a month.

Try MailerSend for free

4. Moosend

Moosend email marketing automation

Moosend is best known as an email marketing service. It also offers a cloud-based SMTP service for high-volume sending.

Moosend has a reputation for being a great value platform for small businesses. Comparing it to Amazon SES cost-wise, there are two ways to look at it. All Moosend plans let you send unlimited emails. Starting at just $9 a month, Moosend wins hands down on per-email pricing. 

Moosend limits the number of contacts you can have. Starting at 500. Amazon SES doesn’t. So you have to work out what’s the best value for your business.

Moosend lets you send promotional and transactional emails from the same place. It’s easy to design quality HTML emails. And it has excellent automation options to save time.

Ecommerce businesses can connect Moosend directly to their web store. Site tracking lets you fire off automated, personalized emails based on what visitors do on your site. There’s an AI tool that makes targeted product recommendations. And you can drop product listings straight into emails. 

Moosend Pros

  • Handles all your email needs from one platform
  • Low cost with no email sending limits
  • Easy email automation and personalization
  • Send promotional and transactional emails from your ecommerce store

Moosend Cons

  • A free plan would be the icing on the cake

Sign up to Moosend and get a 30-day free trial. Pricing starts at $9/month for 500 contacts, unlimited emails, and all features included.

Get started with Moosend for freeor read our full review

5. SMTP.com

SMTP.com reputation defender

SMTP.com is a bulk email delivery platform that goes big on the bulk. Its custom service for high-volume senders starts at a minimum of 250 million emails a month. It also has a flexible range of plans building up from 50,000 emails a month.

Like most services on this list, SMTP.com combines a cloud SMTP relay with an API. For developers, it promises simple and fast integration. Migration templates make switching to SMTP.com from another relay or API easy.

Another big thing in SMTP.com’s favour is its deliverability features. Its Reputation Defender is a powerful validation tool. It automatically scans for ‘bad’ emails in your list in real time. Or as SMTP.com puts it, “actively catches bounces before they happen.” It’s a clever tool, taking the weight of list hygiene and sender reputation off businesses.

If you want all your sending needs taken care of, SMTP.com also offers a fully managed sending service.

SMTP.com Pros

  • Designed for high volume scalable sending
  • Automated list hygiene and sender reputation management
  • Exceptional deliverability rates
  • Easy API integration

SMTP.com Cons

  • As clever as the Reputation Defender tool is, it’s a paid-for add-on. And SMTP.com’s plans aren’t the cheapest to begin with.

Essential plans start at $25 a month for 50,000 emails. All plans from Starter up come with a dedicated IP. There is no free plan or trial.

Get started with SMTP.com here

6. ActiveCampaign Postmark

The transactional email service Postmark was bought by ActiveCampaign in 2022. ActiveCampaign is an email marketing and CRM platform. Postmark is the transactional email offer. When you add the transactional email ‘app’ in ActiveCampaign, you connect to Postmark.

Becoming part of the ActiveCampaign family has expanded Postmark’s offer. To quote the site, “Postmark is no longer just for transactional email only.” It’s very much positioned for email marketing, too. Previously, you couldn’t send promotional emails through Postmark. And you can also use it as a mailbox for inbound emails. Check out our full ActiveCampaign review to find out more about email marketing and automation features.

ActiveCampaign postmark message streams

This has also led to a switch in Postmark’s email infrastructure. Postmark offers the usual SMTP relay and email API. But it has distinct ‘messaging streams’ for inbound, transactional and marketing email. You can create different streams for yourself.

The idea is to protect sender reputation across the different ways you use email. If marketing emails get flagged as spam, it won’t affect transactional emails. And vice versa. 

Postmark comes with templates for transactional emails. So unlike Amazon SES, you don’t have to think about running another platform to create your emails. If you want email marketing, there’s a direct connection to ActiveCampaign.

Postmark also offers much better customer support than Amazon SES. The support team is available on phone and live chat.

ActiveCampaign Postmark Pros

  • Protected ‘streams’ for sending marketing and transactional emails
  • Direct integration with ActiveCampaign for email marketing
  • Transactional email templates
  • Telephone and live chat support

ActiveCampaign Postmark Cons

  • Doesn’t have any list cleaning tools

Postmark pricing starts at $15 a month for 10,000 emails. Dedicated IPs are available as a paid-for extra above 300,000 emails a month. There’s a free trial that lets you send 100 emails.

7. Google

Google is not only the world’s biggest search engine. Gmail is also the world’s largest email client. It offers a full range of email services, including free personal webmail. And near-identical, though paid-for, business email.

Gmail isn’t purpose-built for bulk email sending the way Amazon SES is. But you can still do it. It has its own SMTP relay and API. Or if you don’t fancy setting either of these up, you can just use Multi-Send Mode in your normal Gmail Compose screen. Gmail automatically personalizes the greeting to every contact you send to.

Both of these bulk-sending options are included with Google Workspace subscriptions. So for personal use, they are completely free. The catch? ‘Bulk’ in Gmail is not all that bulk. As an email client, Google is very cautious about its sender reputation. So it imposes strict sending limits on public accounts. The trade-off is that Gmail’s deliverability is very high.

Multi-sending is limited to 1,500 recipients per day. Which, over a month, works out as a pretty generous sending limit. With the SMTP relay and API, you are restricted to just 100 recipients per message. And 10,000 recipients in total per day (so you could send 100 messages to 100 different people every day).

These fall short of the open-ended sending limits of Amazon SES. If you need to, you can scrap these limitations with a Gmail Enterprise account. This gives you a unique domain so you’re in charge of your own sender reputation.

Google Pros

  • Free with Google Workspace accounts
  • Multiple bulk sending options available for Gmail users
  • High deliverability
  • Automatic personalisation

Google Cons

  • Low send limits

8. Mailgun

Mailgun email service provider for developers

Mailgun is a transactional email service for developers. Like Amazon SES, that means it combines an SMTP relay service with an email API. This means you can plug email-sending into any platform you like.

Mailgun doesn’t try to compete with Amazon SES on price. It works out as a minimum of 7 times more expensive for every email you send. Instead, Mailgun focuses on delivering a much more complete all-round service.

Amazon SES is pretty easy to integrate with websites on AWS (Amazon Web Services). But Mailgun makes a point of making its API hassle-free to connect to any platform. It offers multiple REST APIs for different environments, frameworks and programming languages. And detailed, user-friendly documentation for each.

Plus, it offers 24/7 support. With a service the size of Amazon SES, you’re more or less left on your own.

Mailgun matches Amazon SES on sender reputation management, deliverability and testing tools. Where it goes one better is with send time optimization and email verification. If you’re looking for a standalone tool for email validation, check out our review of the best email verification tools. An AI tool also identifies when contacts are ‘in’ their inbox, and automatically sends emails at that time. And you can run checks on your email list to sift out defunct or fake addresses.

Mailgun also scores a win with how it handles multiple domains. If you are an agency setting up separate domains for your clients, they are treated as separate. A dip in sender reputation on one will not affect deliverability in another. Amazon SES lumps multiple domains on the same account together. 

Mailgun Pros

  • Great option for agencies running multiple email domains for clients
  • High levels of support for developers
  • Email verification

Mailgun Cons

  • On the expensive side, especially for small businesses.

Mailgun pricing starts at $35 a month for 50,000 emails. A dedicated IP costs an extra $50 a month. There’s no free plan, but you do get a one-month free trial, with a 5,000 email limit.

9. SendGrid

SendGrid home page

SendGrid is a business email service with a cloud SMTP relay, email API, and email marketing tools. You can run promotional email campaigns and transactional emails in one place. And high sending volumes aren’t an issue.

Deliverability is a big strength of SendGrid. It claims to send over 100 billion emails every month. All new accounts go through a process called IP warmup. This limits and then gradually increases send volumes according to a fixed schedule. This gives ISPs and email clients time to ‘get used’ to your IP sending large volumes. And not flagging you as spam right away.

Beyond that, your IP address configuration is optimized according to monthly send volumes. SendGrid authenticates domains and IP addresses using SPF, DKIM and reverse DNS. It provides in-depth reporting to help maintain a positive sender reputation. This includes blacklist monitoring. And you can validate emails before you hit send to lower bounce rates.

SendGrid is a better bulk email-sending platform than an email marketing tool. It does a decent job of running email campaigns. There are responsive templates to choose from.  And a simple-to-use editor. You can set up simple automations to save time. But SendGrid’s email marketing tools don’t have the range and sophistication of, say, Brevo or Moosend. If you’re looking for an alternative with better email marketing features, check out the best SendGrid alternatives here.

SendGrid Pros

  • Excellent deliverability
  • Offers transactional emails and email marketing in a single platform
  • Email validation API
  • In-depth email analytics

SendGrid Cons

  • Sendgrid’s email marketing options are useful but a little basic

SendGrid pricing starts at $19.95 a month for up to 50,000 emails. Pro plans come with a dedicated IP included. There is a free forever plan with 100 emails per day.

10. Elastic Email

Elastic Email delivery platform for marketing teams

Elastic Email is an email marketing and email delivery service. These are offered as separate services.

The bulk-sending option takes the form of an API. It includes a range of deliverability features, including email verification. You also get SPF and DKIM validation as standard.

If you purchase a private domain, you also get extra deliverability features like IP warm-up.

Backing up these deliverability tools, Elastic Email offers in-depth analytics. Reporting covers the usual status checks like delivered, opened, clicked, and unsubscribed. You also get insights about why contacts unsubscribe.

For email marketing, Elastic Email features all the tools you would expect. A drag-and-drop email builder with pre-made templates. Campaign automation, including send time optimization. Landing pages and forms. Personalization, contact segmentation and dynamic content.

The only shame is that these aren’t available as a single bundle. You have to pay for the email marketing tools and transactional emails separately. But you get the email builder and templates with an Email API account. So you can build good-looking transactional emails that fit with your brand identity. 

Elastic Email Pros

  • Advanced features for reliable email delivery
  • In-depth analytics
  • Drag-and-drop builder for transactional emails
  • Email marketing tools

Elastic Email Cons

  • SMTP relay API and email marketing are available as separate plans only.

The Elastic Email API plan starts at $9 a month for 10,000 emails. The email marketing plan also starts at $9. You can send up to 60,000 emails a month to 2000 contacts. Both have a free version limited to 100 emails a month. And you can get a custom plan if you send 100M+ emails per month.

Amazon SES Alternatives: Which is the best?

So that’s it. Everything you need to know about the best Amazon SES alternatives. But which is best for you?

Your choice may boil down to 2 factors. A lot of businesses want an all-in-one tool for all their email needs. If that’s you, check out a platform that combines email marketing and transactional emails.

You may only be interested in sending transactional emails in high volumes. In that case, choose a service with the best combination of deliverability tools and ease of use.

Best for email marketing and transactional email combined:

Best ForFree Plan?Starting Price
BrevoFree email marketing & transactional emailsYes$25/month
MoosendValue for small businessesYes, 30 days free$9/month


Best Amazon SES alternatives for transactional emails only:

Best ForFree Plan?Starting Price
SMTP2GOIn-depth reporting and testingYes$15/month
MailerSendLow-cost sending for teamsYes$25/mo
SMTP.comHigh deliverability rates at very high send volumesNone$25/month

FAQs about alternatives to Amazon SES

Is Amazon SES expensive?

No, Amazon SES is a very cost-effective bulk email service. It charges a flat rate of $0.10 per 1000 emails. This works out cheaper than most rival services. The scalable pricing is also very flexible. You only pay for what you send.

But Amazon SES does charge extra for various features. This includes sending attachments at a rate of $0.12 per GB. The Virtual Deliverability Manager costs an extra $0.07 per 1000 emails. Some people find the pricing structure confusing.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Amazon SES, try Brevo, Moosend, SMTP2GO, SMTP.com, or MailerSend.

Is Amazon SES an MTA?

Yes, Amazon SES is a Mail Transfer Agent, or MTA. MTA is software that controls the transfer of messages between sender and receiver. MTAs can be physical email servers based on premises. Or, as in the case of Amazon SES, cloud-based services.

Does Amazon SES work with Gmail?

Yes, Amazon SES does work with Gmail. You can use Amazon SES to send emails on behalf of your Gmail account. This lets you to send in bulk volumes way above Gmail’s usual limits. On the flip side, you cannot use Amazon SES to receive emails via a Gmail account. This is because you have to own the whole domain to receive emails in SES.

What are the best Amazon SES Alternatives?

The best Amazon SES alternatives are Brevo, Moosend, SMTP2GO, SMTP.com, or MailerSend. These tools offer more features and are easier to use. Amazon SES sends and receives emails only. You can’t create emails in SES. 

If you want a platform for bulk email marketing campaigns, check out Brevo or Moosend. Brevo has a great free plan that lets you build and send 300 emails a day for no cost. Moosend has great value automation tools for email marketing.

For bulk sending at very high volumes, SMTP2GO and SMTP.com both offer better support than Amazon SES. And Elastic Email is much easier to use for non-developers

 

About Mor Mester


Mor Mester is the Head of Content Marketing at EmailVendorSelection. He's an email marketing and marketing automation expert with 6+ years of experience. Having tested and reviewed 100+ email marketing, marketing automation, CRM, ecommerce, SMS marketing, email verification, online course, and lead generation tools, he knows a good business software when he sees one.

After work, you can find him riding his bike on some trails.

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