AWS Free Tier: an overview of capabilities and limitations

Yurii Kucherenko

Yurii Kucherenko

AWS Free Tier is a program that allows users to explore and experience a range of AWS services at no cost, up to specified usage limits. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to effectively use it. We will cover its purpose, terms of use, supported services, and highlight the benefits it offers to users.

How it works

The AWS Free Tier provides customers with the opportunity to try out some of the AWS services free of charge, enabling them to gain hands-on experience with cloud computing. It consists of three offerings:

  • The 12-month Free Tier allows free usage of services within set limits for one year from the date of account activation. 
  • The Always Free offer enables ongoing usage within specific limits as long as the user maintains a valid AWS account. 
  • Short term Trials provide free usage for a limited period or up to a one-time limit, depending on the selected service.

Terms of Use

To qualify for the AWS Free Tier, users need to have an AWS account. It is available to various customer types, from students and small businesses to large enterprises. However, if an account is linked to an AWS Organization, only one account within the organization can benefit from the Free Tier. The usage of AWS services across all accounts within the organization is aggregated to determine eligibility for the Free Tier. If the free tier limits are exceeded or the user is deemed ineligible, standard pay-as-you-go rates will apply. As part of the AWS Free Tier, you can get started with EC2 for free. 

List of services included in AWS Free Tier

aws free tier limits table

AWS Free tier Limitations

Pay attention – not all AWS services are free. There are no guard rails and you need to remember that your access to services is not restricted by the AWS Free Tier. Moreover, services at the Free Tier have usage limits. You will be charged at standard rates, if exceeding those limits. Also, make sure that services you intend to use are covered and has usage limits applicable to your goals, in order to avoid unexpected charges.

Services not available in the AWS Free Usage Tier

  • Reserved Instances
  • AWS Support subscription
  • Route 53 (still need to pay for hosted availability zones and domains)
  • EC2 is limited to a micro instances
  • Amazon EKS
  • Many of the amounts are high enough that you can get locked in — like 50GB Glacier storage or 1M calls/month to API Gateway
  • Free tier is not allowed to be used for for cryptomining 
  • Limited availability of AMIs 
  • Amazon S3 RRS storage.

How to get the best out of your AWS

Experience of our experts converted into overview of actionable and beneficial strategies

Benefits of AWS Free Tier

  1. Exploration and Learning: Users can experiment some of AWS services, gaining hands-on experience and exploring different use cases without incurring costs.
  2. Cost-effective Development and Testing: The Free Tier allows users to develop and test applications, proof of concepts, and prototypes without the need for upfront investments.
  3. Cost Management and Control: The Free Tier helps users understand the costs associated with different services, enabling them to optimize usage and control expenses.

As you see, despite its limitations AWS Free Tier provides a valuable opportunity for users to explore and leverage the benefits of cloud computing services without incurring initial costs. By understanding the terms of use, exploring the supported services, and taking advantage of the benefits it offers, users can make the most of their cloud journey, empowering themselves for innovation and growth.

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