AWS Billing and Cost Management
User Guide (Version 2.0)

Creating a Billing Alarm

Even if you're careful to stay within the free tier, it's a good idea to create a billing alarm to notify you if you exceed the limits of the free tier. Billing alarms can help to protect you against unknowingly accruing charges if you inadvertently use a service outside of the free tier or if traffic exceeds your expectations.

After you complete this procedure, you'll receive an email as soon as your account's usage exceeds the free tier limits. At that point, you can decide whether to terminate the AWS resources that have exceeded the free tier limits, or keep them running and be billed at the standard AWS rates.

Create a Billing Alarm to Notify You if Your Usage Exceeds the Free Tier

To create a billing alarm, you must first enable billing alerts. The following procedure explains how.


If your account is linked to a reseller account, billing alerts are not available for your account.

To enable billing alerts

Before you create a billing alarm, you must enable billing alerts. You need to do this only once. After you enable billing alerts, you can't turn them off.

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the Billing and Cost Management console at

  2. On the navigation pane, choose Preferences.

  3. Select the Receive Billing Alerts check box.

  4. Choose Save preferences.

Once you have enabled billing alerts, you can create a CloudWatch billing alarm.

To create a billing alarm

  1. (Optional) If you want to send your alert to an AWS-managed distribution list instead of a single email address, follow these steps to set up an Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) notification list. If you want to send your alert to a single email address, go to step 2.

    To create an Amazon SNS notification list:

    1. Open the Amazon SNS console at

    2. On the navigation pane, choose SNS Home.

    3. In the Common actions section, choose Create topic.

    4. In the dialog box, for Topic name, enter the name for your notification list.

    5. (Optional) If you want to use this notification list to send SMS messages, for Display name, enter the name you want to appear on your SMS messages.

    6. Choose Create topic.

  2. Open the CloudWatch console at

  3. If necessary, change the region on the navigation bar to US East (N. Virginia). The billing metric data is stored in this region, even for resources in other regions.

  4. On the navigation pane, under Metrics, choose Billing.

  5. In the list of billing metrics, select the check box next to Currency USD, for the metric named EstimatedCharges, as shown in the following image.

    Choose Create alarm.
  6. Choose Create Alarm.

  7. Define the alarm as follows.

    1. If you want the alarm to trigger as soon as you go over the free tier, set When my total AWS charges for the month exceed to $.01. This means that you'll receive a notification as soon as you incur a charge. Otherwise, set it to the amount you want to trigger the alarm, and you will be notified when you go over that amount.

    2. Choose the New list link next to the send a notification to box.

    3. When prompted, enter your email address or choose your Amazon SNS notification from the drop down.

    4. Choose Create Alarm.

  8. In the Confirm new email addresses dialog box, confirm the email address or choose I will do it later. If you don't confirm the email address now, the alarm remains in the Pending confirmation status until you do so, and does not send an alert. To view the status of your alarm, choose Alarms in the navigation pane.

    View your alarm.