Knowing the differences between Billing and Cost Explorer data - AWS Billing

Knowing the differences between Billing and Cost Explorer data

Once you have active data in your Billing and Cost Management console, there are key differences to note between when you see in the Billing and Payments pages, compared to your Cost Explorer data. This section explains in detail how each data sets are used, and the benefits of each.

Billing data

Your billing data appears on the Bills and Payments pages of the AWS Billing and Cost Management console, and in the invoice that AWS issues to you. Billing data helps you understand the actual invoiced charges for previous billing periods, and the estimated charges that you've accrued for the current billing period, based on your month-to-date service usage. Your invoice represents the amount that you owe to AWS.

Cost Explorer data

Your Cost Explorer data appears in the following places:

  • The Billing and Cost Management home page

  • The pages for Cost Explorer, Budgets, and Cost Anomaly Detection

  • Your reports for coverage and usage

Cost Explorer supports deep-dive analysis so that you can identify savings opportunities. Cost Explorer data provides more granular dimensions (such as Availability Zone or operating system) and includes features that might show differences when compared to billing data. On the Cost Management preferences page, you can manage your preferences for Cost Explorer data, including linked account access and historical and granular data settings. For more information, see Controlling access to Cost Explorer.

Amortized costs

Billing data is always presented on a cash basis. It represents the amount that AWS charges you each month. For example, if you purchase a one-year, all-upfront Savings Plan in September, AWS will charge you the full cost for that Savings Plan in the September billing period. Your billing data will then include the full cost of that Savings Plan in September. This helps you understand, validate, and pay your AWS invoices on time.

In contrast, you can use Cost Explorer data to view amortized costs. When costs are amortized, an upfront charge is spread, or amortized over the life of that agreement. In the previous example, you can use Cost Explorer for an amortized view of your Savings Plan. A one-year, all-upfront Savings Plan purchase will be spread evenly across the 12 months of the commitment term. Use amortized costs to gain insight into the effective daily costs associated with your portfolio of reservations or Savings Plans.

AWS service grouping

With billing data, your AWS charges are grouped into AWS services on your invoice. To help with deep-dive analysis, Cost Explorer will group some costs differently.

For example, let's say that you want to understand compute costs for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud compared to ancillary cost, such as Amazon Elastic Block Store volumes or NAT gateways. Instead of a single group for Amazon EC2 costs, Cost Explorer will group costs into EC2 - Instances and EC2 - Other.

In another example, to help analyze data transfer costs, Cost Explorer groups your transfer costs by service. In billing data, data transfer costs are grouped into a single service named Data Transfer.

Estimated charges for the current month

Your billing data and Cost Explorer data are refreshed at least once per day. The cadence when they're refreshed might differ. This can result in differences for your month-to-date estimated charges.


Your billing data and Cost Explorer data are processed at different granularities. For example, Cost Explorer data is available with hourly and resource-level granularity. Billing data is monthly and doesn't offer resource-level details. As a result, your billing data and Cost Explorer data might vary due to rounding. When these data sources are different, the amount on your invoice is the final amount that you owe to AWS.

Presentation of discounts, credits, refunds, and taxes

The billing data on the Bills page (for example, in the Charges by service tab) excludes refunds, while Cost Explorer data includes refunds. When a refund is issued, this might cause differences in other charge types.

For example, let's say that a portion of your taxes was refunded. On the Bills page, the Taxes by service tab will continue to show the full tax amount. The Cost Explorer data will show the post-refund tax amount.