Navigating the end of AWS credits: Proactive steps for Startups

Optimize your startup's cloud costs with expert tips on smoothly transitioning from AWS credits to sustainable growth.

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As startups evolve, especially those in the post-Series A/B stage, managing cloud costs becomes increasingly crucial. A common milestone many face is the impending end of AWS credits. This phase often catches startups off-guard, leading to hasty decisions and unnecessary expenses. In this article, we'll explore proactive steps to efficiently manage this transition, ensuring your startup remains on a sustainable growth trajectory.

Understanding your AWS credit timeline

Assessing credit expiry

The first step is to accurately determine when your AWS credits will expire. This isn't just about marking a date on the calendar; it involves a deeper understanding of your current usage patterns and how they align with your credit balance. If you're not already doing so, start monitoring your AWS usage more closely. Tools like AWS Cost Explorer can be invaluable here, providing insights into your spending trends. AWS Cost Explorer is a powerful tool but difficult to master - you can check out the AWS documentation page to understand how you can leverage it.

Estimating beyond free tier

If you're still within the AWS Free Tier, it's crucial to estimate your costs once standard rates apply. This can be a bit of a reality check, as costs can escalate quickly beyond the free tier. Use AWS's pricing calculator to forecast your expenses based on your expected usage. This exercise will help you understand the financial impact and plan accordingly.

Engaging with AWS account management

Seeking Extensions or Increases

Once you have a clear picture of your AWS credit situation, it's time to engage with your AWS account manager or your AWS Solutions Architect. AWS is often willing to work with startups, especially those showing promise and growth potential. Discuss the possibility of extending the duration of your credits or even increasing the amount. This isn't just about buying time; it's an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to AWS and discuss how your startup's growth aligns with their services.

Exploring AWS support plans

While in discussion with your account manager, also explore different AWS support plans. These plans can offer varying levels of support, from basic guidance to more in-depth technical assistance. Choosing the right plan can help you optimize your AWS usage, potentially leading to cost savings. You will find more information about AWS Support Plans here. Please be advised that AWS Support Plans can be quite expensive - but they can also be a source of cost saving opportunities as AWS support can help you reduce your costs.

Proactive cost management strategies

Regular audits and optimization

Regularly auditing your AWS usage is key. Identify underutilized resources and either scale them down or eliminate them. For example, you might find:

  • Unused EC2 instances that can be terminated.
  • Over-provisioned RDS databases that can be downsized.
  • Forgotten EBS volumes that are incurring costs.
  • Idle Elastic Load Balancers that are no longer needed.

Optimization isn't a one-time task but an ongoing process. Tools like AWS Trusted Advisor can provide recommendations for cost optimization. Trusted Advisor's Basic tier, available to all AWS users at no additional cost, provides essential checks and guidance across five key areas. However, for more comprehensive support, the Business tier of Trusted Advisor is accessible with an active AWS Business or Enterprise Support plan, which incurs additional fees. This tier offers expanded checks and detailed recommendations for a more thorough optimization strategy.

Leveraging Reserved Instances and Savings Plans

Consider using AWS Reserved Instances or Savings Plans for your predictable workloads. These options can offer significant cost savings compared to on-demand pricing. For instance:

  • Switching to Reserved Instances for 24/7 running EC2 instances.
  • Adopting Savings Plans for consistent usage patterns in services like Lambda or S3.

However, they require a commitment, so it's important to base your decisions on accurate usage forecasts. If you’re not familiar with Reserved Instances or Savings Plans, you can either refer to the AWS documentation pages (Reserved Instances or Savings Plans) or check out the table below.

Exploring cost-effective alternatives

Don't hesitate to explore cost-effective alternatives within AWS's vast service portfolio. Sometimes, a less expensive service can meet your needs just as effectively as a more costly option. Here are examples you could implement:

  • Rightsizing EC2 instances: AWS provides recommendations in the Billing section to help you choose the appropriate instance size.
  • Reviewing RDS usage: Check if all your RDS instances are essential or if some can be downsized or terminated.
  • Considering Amazon Aurora as an alternative to traditional RDS for performance improvement and cost efficiency.
  • Using Amazon S3 Intelligent-Tiering for data storage, which automatically moves data to the most cost-effective access tier.


The end of AWS credits is a critical juncture for startups. It's a time to assess, plan, and engage proactively with AWS. By understanding your usage, communicating with your AWS account manager or solutions architect, and implementing cost management strategies, you can smoothly transition from a credit-based model to a sustainable, growth-oriented expenditure framework.

Remember, this phase is not just about cost containment; it's an opportunity to refine your cloud strategy, aligning it closely with your startup's growth and development goals. In this crucial transition, Tailwarden emerges as a pivotal ally. Our platform provides clear, easily accessible insights into your AWS costs, ensuring you maintain transparency throughout your cloud spending. More than just monitoring, Tailwarden offers strategic guidance and support in restructuring your cloud infrastructure to be more scalable and cost-effective. By partnering with Tailwarden, you gain the expertise and tools necessary to optimize your cloud usage, setting up a robust, scalable infrastructure that grows with your startup. Let Tailwarden guide you through this transition, turning a challenge into an opportunity for sustainable growth and innovation.

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