How To Get AWS Free Credits

Getting free AWS credits for your startup or business is easy and straight forward, we show you the different ways you can apply as well as the different number of credits you can get ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and even up to $100,000.

How To Get AWS Free Credits

How To Get AWS Free Credits

Getting free AWS credits for your startup or business is easy and straight forward, we show you the different ways you can apply as well as the different number of credits you can get ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and even up to $100,000.

Quick Summary:

In order to qualify for free AWS credits you need to meet the below criteria:

  • Self-funded or funded (up to and including Pre-Seed, Angel, Seed, Debt Finance, and Series A)
  • Associated with a partner (see below)
  • Have a functioning company website
  • Founded within the last 10 years
  • Available for new or existing AWS accounts

If you tick all of the above then you have three options for getting free AWS credits, these are:

  • Get $100k of credits if you're associated with an Activate Provider (these are mainly available if you're part of an accelerator or VC fund etc)
  • Get $5k of credits for those who join a startup community like FounderPass for $99/year
  • Get $1k of credits without the need for the above


April 26, 2023

By Max

Chances are that you already know what the AWS activate program is and are looking at your options when it comes to getting free AWS credits. The good news is that there are various ways for you to get free AWS credits and the amount/value of these credits will vary depending on several factors.

AWS credits for startups are given to you directly by Amazon themselves, they are used to essentially encourage you to use their cloud computing platform for your business with the idea being that if you get free AWS credits as well as enjoy your AWS account then you'll stay with them for a long time.

Essentially there are three different tiers of AWS promotional credits that you can apply for, starting at $1,000 and going up to $100,000 at the most, this AWS cloud credit is applied directly to your account once approved and used against the service you get.

How to get AWS credits

The first thing you need to consider is if you meet the AWS credits criteria that Amazon have that will essentially mean if you can apply for the AWS activate credits or not, these are as follows:

In order to apply for the free AWS credits you must:

  • Be self-funded or funded (up to and including Pre-Seed, Angel, Seed, Debt Finance, and Series A)
  • Be associated with an Activate Provider and have their ORG ID (see below for how to get these)
  • Have a functioning company website
  • Founded within the last 10 years
  • Open to existing AWS accounts and new ones

If you meet the above criteria then you have three options:

$100,000 of AWS credits - for those who are on an accelerator program or VC funded

$5,000 of AWS credits - for those who join a startup community like FounderPass for $99/year

or $1000 of AWS credit - for those who don't want to join a startup community and just want a smaller amount of AWS credit.

All of these credits are for use over 2 years, we go into more detail below on all of the above AWS account tiers.

AWS Startup credits

Let's first take a look at the largest AWS promotional credits that you can get, in this case, it's $100,000 of AWS free credits, this is gained through what Amazon call the AWS activate portfolio, which is generally available to startups who are part of an accelerator program or VC fund.

The second tier is $5,000 of AWS free credits and this is available to any startup via startup communities such as FounderPass, where with a full membership which costs $99/year you can get access to apply for the $5,000 AWS credits offering. You can get the Free AWS credits via us, this option is the best if you're not part of the specific accelerator programs or VC funds for the first option above.

AWS free credits

The final AWS free tier will give you $1,000 of AWS free credits and this is known as the AWS Activate Founders program, which is aimed more towards smaller bootstrapped startups.

AWS startup credits

All of the available AWS promotional credit can be used against your AWS services and is mainly seen and used as AWS cloud credits. You not only get these AWS credits but also get access to additional resources such as AWS webinars, AWS support credits, personalized content, tools, the AWS marketplace and a whole array of other AWS resources.

AWS educate

AWS educate

If you're looking for free AWS credits for students then the AWS educate program is your best avenue, although you may not get free aws credits themselves you can use the educate program to learn as you go along and then later apply for the credits.

You'll be able to access hundreds of hours of training and this includes hands-on experience in the AWS management console itself. You must be 13 years or older in order to register for this program but that is essentially as much as you need in terms of criteria to begin. You can find out more and apply to the AWS educate program here

AWS for Nonprofit organizations

If you run a non-profit organization then you can take advantage of the AWS for nonprofits program, you'll get an array of benefits including access to $1,000 of free AWS credits which allow your nonprofit to implement cloud solutions to better their organization.

AWS Imagine Grant program

AWS Imagine Grant Program

If you're a nonprofit looking to receive credits and get discounted programs then this is certainly something to explore. It does have some caveats who o which include your company must be based in the US, must be a Nonprofit organization and must use technology within their organization to help drive the mission of the nonprofit.

If you do tick all of these boxes then it is certainly worth exploring and applying to as if successful you'll be able to receive $150,000 of AWS credits to cover your cloud costs and to be used as service credit across the AWS ecosystem. You can find out more and apply here.

Nonprofit organizations that have received this grant include: Save the Children, The Kennedy Center, Harmony Labs and more.

What is AWS and AWS Activate

What is AWS

In case you're not aware of what it is, AWS is "the world's most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform", it has millions of customers all over the world and offers its members over 200 services from data centres across the world. AWS activate is essentially the place to go so you can quickly start with AWS and get your business on track to grow. It also gives your credits which can help you save on your costs.

It's not only about the money, it's also about the resources and support that Amazon will offer you to get your business to grow.

Who is the AWS activate program for?

Whether you're a solo entrepreneur, a funded or non-funded startup, early stage companies or an existing company you'll be able to take advantage of the AWS credits that are available, the AWS credit program is a fantastic initiative offered by Amazon, but as with all promotions, there is always a benefit to the company offering it. In this case, the incentive for Amazon is that you'll sign up to use these free AWS credits and stay with the company as your cloud solution for the foreseeable future and hence spend money with them.

Companies using Amazon

Some of the biggest companies in the world use Amazon AWS including:

  • Netflix - Video streaming service
  • Linkedin - Professional social media platform
  • Facebook - Social media platform
  • BBC - one of the biggest news companies in the world
  • ESPN - Sports network
  • Twitch - video streaming
  • Airbnb - Accommodation site
  • The Guardian - Digital media site

Why does Amazon AWS offer these credits

If you're wondering "what's the catch" and "How can AWS give out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of AWS credits for free, well it's simply down to the fact that they are not only one of the largest companies in the world with huge budgets but that by having early stage startups and new customers signing up and developing a business around the AWS cloud it means it's very likely that if and when they become a larger company and have used all of their free credits that they'll continue to use AWS activate as their provider.

AWS free tier without a credit card

AWS free tier without a credit card

If you're looking to open an AWS free account without a credit card then sadly you will be disappointed, this is because it's one of the requirements from Amazon when you sign up, you will need a credit or debit card, the reason for this is that as you ramp up your use you may incur additional charges in which they need to be able to charge a payment method with. The other reason is that you may want to use another service that Amazon web services offer and this may not be covered by the free credits.

Alternate ways to get AWS Promotional credits

There are other ways to get promotional credits for the AWS activate program, being active within other AWS services may lead to emails offering you credit, these typically come by a couple of times a year and can vary from around $50 to a few hundred. As you can imagine this isn't the most reliable way to get promotional AWS credits but can be a nice bonus.

There are also other startup communities available for you to get credits from including Product Hunt's Founders Club, they offer $5,000 of credits but membership is $720 a year, this offer isn't as compelling when compared to the FounderPass offering of $5,000 in AWS promotional credits for just $99 per year.

AWS free credit verdict

Overall Amazon is very generous with the free promotional credits that they give out, on par with other companies such as $120k of IBM credit and $50k of Mixpanel credit these all offer discount programs or discounted pricing. We'd certainly recommended apply for AWS activate credits if you're a startup or business which is looking for cloud computing solutions.

If you see a * next to a link it means we are affiliated with the company and therefore may make a small commission if you sign up, this does not affect our reviews or information provided, this simply helps us run FounderPass and help give you the best information possible.