AWS Billing and Cost Management
User Guide (Version 2.0)
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Use the AWS Free Tier

You can test-drive some services from AWS within certain usage limits at no charge. AWS calls this the AWS Free Tier. The free tier is designed to give you hands-on experience with AWS at no charge. For example, with the features in the free tier, you can investigate AWS as a platform for your business.

Note that if you don't use the full benefits provided by the free tier in a given month, they don't roll over to the next month. To maximize your benefit from the free tier, be sure to spend time with AWS each month, investigating the services that you're curious about.

Eligibility for the Free Tier

You receive the benefits of the free tier automatically for 12 months after you sign up for an AWS account. If you exceed the usage limits of the free tier, use a service that does not provide free tier benefits, or continue to use AWS after you are no longer eligible for the free tier, you are charged at the standard billing rates for your AWS usage. For a list of services that offer free tier benefits, see AWS Free Tier.

If you're not sure when you created your AWS account, open the Billing and Cost Management console. If you see a message like the following under Alerts & Notifications, your AWS account is less than a year old.

You can also click Bill Details to see when you created your AWS account. In the Date drop-down list box, you'll find one bill for each month since you opened your account.

If your company created your AWS account, check whether the account uses Consolidated Billing. Consolidated Billing is a feature that combines payment for multiple AWS accounts under a single AWS account, called the paying account. For accounts that use Consolidated Billing, the creation date of the paying account determines free tier eligibility.

When your free tier eligibility is coming to an end, AWS sends a notification to the email address that you used when you signed up for AWS. If you decide to continue using AWS after your free tier eligibility ends, be sure to clean up any resources that you no longer need to avoid being charged for their use. If you decide not to continue using AWS, you can close your account. To close your AWS account, click Account Settings in the navigation pane of the Billing and Cost Management console, scroll to the bottom of the page, click the checkbox to confirm your intent to close your account, and then click Close Account.

Free Tier Benefits

The free tier is designed to enable you to test the free tier services using small amounts of data and traffic. To avoid charges for your AWS usage, stay within the usage limits defined by the free tier. To review the free tier limits for a particular service, see the Pricing page for the service. For example, in addition to a limit of 5 GB of storage, the Amazon S3 free tier also limits monthly Get requests, Put requests, and outbound data transfer. For more information, see Amazon S3 Pricing.

For tips about avoiding unexpected charges, see Checklist: Avoid Unexpected Charges. Contact AWS Customer Service if you require additional explanation of unexpected charges on your bill.

To ensure that you stay within the benefits provided by the free tier, set a billing alarm to notify you if you start incurring charges. For more information, see Create a Billing Alarm to Notify You If Your Usage Exceeds the Free Tier.

Hourly Usage in the Free Tier

Some services, such as Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, and Elastic Load Balancing, charge for usage on an hourly basis. The free tier for these services provides you with a monthly allotment of hours for the first 12 months. For example, the free tier for Amazon EC2 provides you with 750 hours usage of Linux t2.micro and t1.micro instances, plus 750 hours usage of Windows t2.micro and t1.micro instances. How you divide this allotment is up to you. For example, you can use one Linux instance continuously for a month, or 10 Linux instances for 75 hours a month.

In some cases, leaving your resources running maximizes your free tier benefits. For example, if you run an Amazon EC2 instance for only a portion of an hour, AWS counts that as an entire hour. Therefore, if you stop and start an Amazon EC2 instance three times in a single hour, you use up three hours of your monthly allotment. The following diagram illustrates how this works. Both the red and green usage scenarios below use up three hours of your monthly allotment.

For more information, see Amazon EC2 Pricing.

Amazon Machine Images

When you start an Amazon EC2 instance, you must select an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) that is eligible for the free tier. Because of licensing restrictions, some AMIs are not eligible for the free tier.

Important

Third-party applications or services from AWS Marketplace are not eligible for the free tier.

AMIs that are eligible for the free tier are marked in the Amazon EC2 Launch Wizard as Free tier eligible. The free tier allotment for Linux and Microsoft Windows instances is counted separately; you can run 750 hours of a Linux t2.micro or t1.micro instance plus 750 hours of a Windows t2.micro or t1.micro instance each month for the first 12 months.

For more information, see Amazon EC2 Pricing.

Outbound Data Transfer on the Free Tier

Be sure to monitor the number of web service requests you make and your outbound Internet data transfer. Under the free tier, you are allowed 15 GB of outbound data transfer per month across all AWS services.