How to get free AWS credits for your startup or scale-up

Category AWS Cost management
21 February 2024

How to get free AWS credits for your startup or scale-up? Cloud infrastructure represents one of the largest expenses for entrepreneurs who depend on software. For start-ups and scale-ups aspiring for growth, this often results in an increasing investment in cloud computing. In this article, I share my valuable insights for start-ups and scale-ups seeking effective ways to reduce the costs of AWS services. I discuss some valuable methods for obtaining AWS credits and how to leverage them optimally to make your business financially more efficient.

What are free AWS credits?

Free AWS credits are automatically applied to bills to help cover costs that are associated with eligible services. Credits are applied until they are exhausted, or they expire.

How to get free AWS credits?

To obtain free AWS credits you can apply through the AWS Activate credits program. I describe five more options for startups or scaleups to obtain free AWS credits.

1. AWS free tier account (startup)

AWS Free Tier credits - Elasticscale

More than 100 AWS products are available on AWS Free Tier today. Three different types of free offers are available depending on the product used: 

  1. 12 months free: these free tier offers are only available to new AWS customers and are available for 12 months following your AWS sign-up date. When your 12-month free usage term expires or if your application use exceeds the tiers, you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates (see each service page for full pricing details). Restrictions apply; see offer terms for more details.
  2. Always free: these free tier offers do not automatically expire at the end of your 12-month AWS Free Tier term but are available to both existing and new AWS customers indefinitely.
  3. Free trials: short term trial offers that start from the time of first usage begins. Once the trial period expires you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates (see each service page for full pricing details).

Target audience: All customer types, including students, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and large corporations.

Number of credits: The AWS Free Tier does not provide credits, but it allows users to use certain AWS services for free within specific limits during a defined period.

Terms: New customers. AWS Free Tier is not applicable to AWS GovCloud (US) regions, except for Lambda. Consolidated Billing allows multiple accounts in an organization to consolidate payment, but only one Free Tier is accessible per organization.

How to apply: You can start building on AWS after creating an AWS account. If users exceed the Free Tier limits, they will be billed at standard rates. It’s crucial to monitor usage to avoid unexpected charges, and AWS offers various tools, including the AWS Pricing page, Free Tier page, GetFreeTierUsage API, and email alerts, to help users keep track of their usage.

2. AWS Rapid Ramp Credits (small businesses)

AWS Rapid Ramp free credits - Elasticscale

Target Audience: Small businesses looking to quickly test AWS against their specific IT and business requirements.

Number of Credits: $300 in AWS credits, valid for 6 months.

Terms:

  • New customers qualify for AWS Free Tier when creating a new account.
  • Business must have a valid AWS account with up-to-date billing information (reseller accounts excluded).
  • Business must not have previously received more than $300 of AWS promotional credit.
  • A sufficient business case and proof of concept are required to test using the credits.
  • No linked accounts are allowed.

How to Apply: create an account for AWS Rapid Ramp. Application will be processed in 2-3 business days. Customers will receive a decision via email.

3. AWS Activate (startups)

AWS Activate free credits - Elasticscale
  1. Activate founders serves as the launching pad for startups seeking to establish their footing in the entrepreneurial landscape without an existing partnership with an Activate Provider. By joining this initiative, startups gain access to a myriad of benefits, including $1,000 USD in AWS Activate credits. To be eligible, startups must be new to AWS Activate credits, self-funded or funded pre-series B, possess a fully functioning company website, and have been founded within the past decade.
  2. Activate Portfolio is the gateway for startups already affiliated with an Activate Provider. This program offers significant benefits, including access to up to $100,000 USD in AWS Activate credits. To qualify, startups must be associated with an Activate Provider and possess their Organizational ID. Additionally, they must not have redeemed a total of $100,000 in AWS Activate credits previously, nor have received credits of equal or greater value from an Activate Provider. Eligible startups should be self-funded or funded pre-series B, maintain a fully operational company website, and have been established within the past decade.

Target Audience: Eligible startups seeking support throughout their startup journey.

Number of Credits: AWS credits ranging from $1,000 to $100,000, along with access to 80+ exclusive offers valued at up to $800,000.

Terms:

  • Startups must be self-funded or funded up to and including Pre-Seed, Angel, Seed, Debt Finance, and Series A.
  • Must have a company website or public company profile.
  • Startups must have been founded within the past 10 years.

How to Apply: create an account for AWS Activate. Applications will be processed in 7-10 business days, with decisions communicated via email. New customers can qualify for AWS Free Tier by creating a new account.

4. Revolut (members)

Revolut free AWS credits - Elasticscale

Revolut carefully selected discounts and Rewards from leading partners to help get your business up and running. Such as AWS credits!

Target Audience: Members of Revolut business

Number of Credits: AWS Cloud Credit Up to $5000 in AWS Cloud Credit

How to Apply: You need to sign up for Revolut business.

AWS Activate Providers

AWS Activate works with hundreds of accelerators, angel investors, seed/venture capital firms, and startup enabling organizations across the world to provide startups with free AWS credits, technical support, training, resources, and more. These exclusive benefits are designed to help startups quickly get started on AWS and grow their business. You can only benefit from an AWS Activate Provider’s specific offer once. If your Activate Provider has two offers, you may apply for the second offer as long as it’s for a greater number of AWS Activate credits than your previous approved application and you haven’t received the maximum lifetime value of $100,000 in AWS Activate credits not including AWS Support plan credits.

List of activate providers

I received $5000 in free AWS credits by becoming a member of Revolut. This method of receiving free AWS credits is hardly known anywhere. AWS itself doesn’t advertise it. You must be aware of or stumble upon these organizations that can give away free AWS credits. As I mentioned, there is no list of organizations. I personally searched for organizations offering credits. Below, you’ll find the result of this search as of 2024. Note that the list is not exhaustive. For instance, activate partner Revolut is not mentioned.

Make the most of it! Do you have any questions for me about my experience? Feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.

Activate partners A t/m H

Aws Activate partners I t/m O

Aws Activate partners P t/m Z

More information about AWS activate credits

  • Previous Credits: AWS credits issued by Activate are separate from credits received through other programs. Previous credits do not impact Activate credits.
  • Application Limit: Only one application can be submitted at a time. Simultaneous applications for different credit offers will result in the rejection of the one with the smaller credit amount.
  • Multiple Startups: Founders of multiple startups can apply, but each startup must have its own AWS account. Applying from the same account for different startups will result in application rejection.
  • Additional Credits: If more AWS credits are needed, founders can apply for additional credits, provided the maximum lifetime credit amount has not been reached. This requires association with an AWS Activate Provider offering a larger credit award.
  • Credit Details: Information about AWS Activate credits, including amount, expiration date, remaining balance, and applicable services, can be found in the AWS Billing and Cost Management Console and the AWS Activate Console.
  • Notification of Expiration: AWS Activate notifies startups via email about credit expiration or exhaustion, including alerts at 60, 30 days prior to expiration, and upon expiration.
  • Different Credit Amounts: If applying for a different amount than previously received, the difference will be awarded. Applications exceeding the maximum lifetime credit or for a smaller amount will be declined.
  • Multiple Credit Offers: Startups can apply for AWS Activate Portfolio multiple times, provided each application is for a greater amount than the previous one and the maximum lifetime value hasn’t been reached.
  • Choosing Credit Amount: If associated with an Activate Provider offering $100,000 in credits, choosing a lower amount means the startup can apply for the higher amount later, but each Org ID can only redeem an offer once.

Other ways to get free AWS credits.

Look into credit pools for open-source projects, non-profits, researchers, public sector institutions, clean energy startups, and founders from minority groups.

  • AWS Proof of Concept Program: Apply for free credits by participating in the AWS Proof of Concept Program. The AWS Proof of Concept Program not only provides $1000 in credits but also offers a free architecture overview session to set your startup on the right path.
  • AWS Sponsored Hackathons: Participate in AWS-sponsored hackathons on platforms like DevPost to earn prizes and AWS credits.
  • AWS Builder Program: Enthusiasts passionate about AWS can join the AWS Builder Program, gaining early access to features and free credits.
  • Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofit organizations can benefit from the AWS Nonprofit Credit Program, providing $1000 per fiscal year, or the AWS Imagine Grant, offering promotional credits ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. Nonprofit organizations can take advantage of both the AWS NonProfit Credit Program and the AWS IMAGINE Grant.
  • Education Sector: AWS Educate offers free hands-on labs for students. AWS Cloud Credit for Research supports faculty and researchers, and AWS EdStart provides credits and resources for startups in the education sector. Students can utilize the AWS Educate program, while researchers can benefit from the AWS Cloud Credit for Research program.
  • Open-source Projects: AWS supports open-source projects with credits, evaluated based on the project’s benefits to the AWS ecosystem.
  • Startup Communities: Join startup communities like Y-Combinator’s startup school, ExtraCrunch by TechCrunch, Startup India, Secret, FounderPass, Product Hunt, Segment, and f6S to access AWS credits and other services. Being a part of a startup community, such as Y Combinator’s startup school, also grants access to AWS discounts and cloud credits.
  • Attend AWS Webinars & Events: Participate in AWS webinars and events to not only gain knowledge but also to access additional free credits and engage with the AWS community.
  • Check the Ultimate List of AWS Free Credit Deals: Explore deals from organizations like Product Hunt’s Founders Club, Startupschool, Brex Rewards, Silicon Valley Bank, Techcrunch Extra Crunch, AWS Startup Loft Accelerator, and F6s Deal.
  • Explore additional credit pools for various organizations and projects, such as open-source projects, AWS Educate, non-profit organizations, and specific accelerator programs.
  • Various programs, including the Healthy Equity Initiative and the Impact Accelerator, offer credits with specific focus areas and objectives.
  • The AWS Partner Network (APN) also provides cloud credits and funding through the AWS Partners program.

How do I get as many free AWS credits as possible?

There is no guaranteed way to get as many free credits as possible, as the number of credits you receive will depend on various factors such as your startup’s needs, eligibility, and the Activate Provider you are associated with. However, you can increase your chances of receiving more credits by ensuring that your application is complete and accurate, and that you meet all the eligibility criteria. Additionally, you can explore different Activate Providers and their credit offers to find the one that best suits your needs. It’s important to note that the maximum lifetime value of AWS Activate credits is $100,000 USD, so you cannot receive more than that amount.

Do you have any questions for me about my experience? Feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.

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