AWS create billing alerts so that our free* account doesn’t surprise us

By | May 15, 2016

Now that I’ve been playing around a bit in the environment, I decided to create some alerts in case I accidentally (or on purpose) chose an option that will incur charges to my credit card. Here are the steps to set up an email alert for your AWS account.

Before you create a billing alarm, you must enable billing alerts. You need to do this only once. After you enable billing alerts, you can’t turn them off.

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console

  2. Open the Billing and Cost Management console at

  3. On the navigation pane, choose Preferences.
  4. Select the Receive Billing Alerts check box.
  5. Choose Save preferences

Once you have enabled billing alerts, you can create an alert.

To create a billing alert

  1. Open the CloudWatch console at (note: The billing metric data is stored in this region, even for resources in other regions.)
  2. On the navigation pane, under Metrics, choose Billing
  3. In the list of billing metrics, select the check box next to “USD”, the graph below will populate with historical usage:

  1. Choose Create Alarm:

  2. Define the alarm as follows:
    1. If you want the alarm to trigger as soon as you go over the free tier, set When my total AWS charges for the month exceed to $.01. This means that you’ll receive a notification as soon as you incur a charge. Otherwise, set it to the amount you want to trigger the alarm, and you will be notified when you go over that amount.
    2. Choose the New list link next to the send a notification to box.

  1. When prompted, enter your email address
  2. Choose Create Alarm

  1. That’s it! Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll notice that a new alarm shows up in the alarms section (at first it was in the “insufficient” section, but it moved to “ok” before I could screencap it):

    Since I haven’t spent any money in my free environment yet, I haven’t gotten any alarms. Eventually I am going to spin up a non-free tier box just to make sure my alarm is working… but not today J