What are AWS Credits and how to get them for your startup / business?

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Last year, I was developing a website for a startup where we required AWS credits, but I was wondering how to get some. Later, at the beginning of this year, I needed hosting space for one of my side hustles. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that much money to host a website on AWS or other shell-access-supported hosting services. Then I remembered about AWS Credits and started exploring how to obtain some. I asked some people about the process of getting AWS credits. Unfortunately, no one was aware of the process. So, I thought I would write something about this one day, and today is the day.

Today we will learn about AWS, AWS Credits, how this thing is helping businesses or startups, and how to get the credits.

So, without wasting any more time, let’s dive into it.

What is AWS?

According to Wikipedia, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon that offers on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to people, businesses, and governments on a pay-as-you-go basis. These cloud computing web services provide distributed computing processing capability and software tools through AWS server farms. One of these services is Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which provides customers with a virtual cluster of computers that is always available through the Internet. Most of the characteristics of a real computer are emulated by AWS’s virtual computers, including hardware central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs) for processing, local/RAM memory, hard-disk/SSD storage, a choice of operating systems, networking, and pre-loaded application software such as web servers, databases, and customer relationship management (CRM).

In easier terms, you can host your website or solution’s backend server, database, or frontend as per your need and use various services of AWS to maintain your website, such as storing your in-app media files, balancing your customer traffic, fixing your server uses, and other hundred plus services. And these services are mostly paid.


How AWS is helping startup founders?

We all know that there are always financial issues in the early days of any startup. Founders often get confused about prioritizing their spending. If somehow we manage to get a domain for a cheap price (from $5 – $12 for a year), we get frustrated about the server cost. I was facing those difficulties during my early days. To solve this problem and to help founders in this dilemma, AWS has a program called AWS Activate where you can get $1000 up to $100,000 AWS credits as a founder based on your startup age, needs, business domain, and other factors. And not just only that, you will also get $350 up to $10, 000 in developer support and business support credits.


What are AWS Credits?

AWS credits are as same as any other credits. After applying to AWS Activate, AWS will review your application and give you AWS credits, developer credits, business credits, developer and business credits, and many more.

AWS credits are the main or core factors of AWS Activate. Earlier in this post, I mentioned that most of the AWS services are paid, so how a startup can use it? So here is the catch, you can use those paid services in exchange for credits like you are paying the bills. For example, suppose AWS has given you $1000 credits, and after redeeming the credits, you use $7 of services that month so that AWS will cut $7 from your credits, and your AWS account will have the remaining $93 credits. By using these credits, you can use AWS EC2, ECS, CloudWatch, and many more services.

Besides this, you will get developer credits and business credits by which you can get developer and business support from AWS’s in-house technical and business team.


Some important information:

Your AWS credits can only be used to balance your current expenses, which means you can only utilize them for the same billing period in which you earned them. You cannot use the credits to pay expenses from prior months; for example, you cannot use AWS credits received in October to pay expenditures from June or September.

It’s also essential to understand that credits are delivered in chunks, and the amount you’re qualified to get can only be more than the prior chunk. In other words, if you receive $10,000 in credits now, you cannot seek $1,000 in credits afterward. The only way to go is up until you reach the maximum amount of $100,000.


How to receive AWS Credits?

You have to apply via the AWS management portal/dashboard. But before applying, you should know the application levels, factors, and prerequisites. So, there are two tiers of AWS Activate:

1. AWS Activate Founders: This tier is for self-funded and bootstrapped very early-stage startups. You will get $1000 AWS credits and $350 developer credits, and more. To be eligible for these credits, you must be new to AWS Activate Founders with no prior history of receiving credits, have an active AWS account, a company website, and be less than 10 years old.

2. AWS Activate Portfolio: This tier is for startups associated with a venture capital firm, accelerator, incubator, or other startup-enabling organization. You will get up to $100,000 AWS credits and $10,000 developer and business credits, and more. To be eligible for these credits, you must be funded or unfunded (up to and including Pre-Seed, Angel, Seed, Debt Financing, and Series A), must not have exceeded $100,000 in awarded or redeemed AWS credits from AWS Activate, have an active AWS account, company website and LinkedIn page, and the startup must be less than 10 years of age.


How to get started with AWS Activate?

The steps are very easy. Create an AWS account, apply for Founders/Portfolio, and then wait for the next 7-10 business days. So, let’s go to see some details and insights about these steps.

Creating an AWS account: Creating an AWS account is very easy. Search for Amazon Web Service (AWS) or go to their homepage, and click on the “Create an AWS Account” button, you will get it on the navigation bar.  But the important thing is you will need an active bank account and card to create an account, and AWS will charge $1 from you. If your company has a bank account, it’s good but you can use your personal account also.

Apply for Founders: After creating an account,

● Go to the activate page and apply, it will redirect you to the sign in page, sign in with the credentials you just created a while ago, but must select the root user mode while signing in. 


● After signing in, it will take you to the Apply for Activate page where you will see the two tiers and their benefits. Select the tier you need (as a first-timer, the Founders package is better and easier to get), and click on Get started.


● After clicking on get started, you will be sent to the founder’s package application page where you will have to verify your account, then give a complete startup profile such as the business domain, target customer, age of the startup, and how AWS can help your business grow, and then you have to give your team profile like your and your co-founders’ name, email, LinkedIn.


● After filling up this information, you have to wait 7-10 working days, AWS will send you a follow-up mail regarding your application. And someone will call you from the business/support team. Since I live in Bangladesh and applied from here, a business person from AWS India Team called to congratulate me and share other details, benefits, and clauses.


How to see your redeemed credits?

To see your redeemed credits, go to your billing dashboard and click Credits, you will get the amount you got, how much you spent, a list of services, the expiration date, and other information.




AWS understands that startups need technology resources for the business to take off and scale. That is why AWS proposes to lend a hand to startups at the beginning when capital is scarce, with an expectation to receive a return as the startup grows. 

As mentioned, AWS credits work like a coupon that startups can use to save on their AWS bills. The credits are free and can be applied to cover various Amazon Web Services usage bills. The credits are applied to your account until they are exhausted or expire.


So, that’s it for today. If you have some questions, check out the AWS Activate FAQ section. If you cannot find the solution or need any help while applying or setup the instances, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Best of luck!