A Quick Overview of AWS Payment Methods
In the cost management world, we spend quite a bit of time diving into the bill, but we don’t talk much about paying your bill. In recent days, I’ve heard a lot of questions about the payment options that AWS provides (and the many related acronyms), so I spent some time getting up to speed on these terms. I’ll do my best to faithfully report back on them here.
This post provides an overview of the payment options available to you when using AWS, with some additional detail geared to help out those of you operating in multiple AWS regions.
Understanding your payment options
AWS provides a lot of flexibility when choosing your payment options. You manage payment types from the Payment Methods page, which can be found in the Preferences section of the AWS Billing Console. Note that payment options can vary somewhat depending on your geographic location.
Paying by credit card
AWS sign-up requires that you have a valid credit card on file. While using a credit card is the preferred option for many customers, there are some customers who don’t have access to (or don’t want to use) a credit card as their payment option. For these customers, AWS also provides the ability to pay your bill using your bank account.
Paying by bank account
As of last year, customers operating in the United States and Europe can pay by directly debiting their bank account. AWS launched direct debit functionality in mid-2018 for US customers and quickly followed that up by providing direct debit to European customers. This direct debit functionality is referred to as Automated Clearing House (ACH) in the United States and Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) in Europe.
The ACH network is what enables United States banks to electronically move money between bank locations, while SEPA allows European consumers, businesses, and public administrations to seamlessly make and receive cross-border credit transfers, direct debit payments, and card payments.
These payment options provide the benefits of simplicity (you can set it and forget it), convenience (no failed payments due to credit card expiry), and, sometimes, cost-effectiveness (no credit card fees). Direct debit also lets you learn exactly how much AWS will debit you before the charge is completed. ACH provides 10 days of advance notice, while SEPA provides 1 day of advance notice. Unlike credit cards, there is no credit limit or expiration date associated with your bank account, so you don’t have to worry about credit limits or an expiring card. One additional benefit of SEPA is that it makes it easier for enterprises in Europe to access the broader European market, because they don’t have to deal with multiple payment card standards of euro payments.
To get started with direct debit, both of these programs require that you have paid at least one invoice in full in the past 12 months and that you have paid at least a total of $100. ACH requires payments to be processed in US dollars and SEPA requires payments to be processed in Euros. In addition, ACH specifically requires that customer accounts are at least 60 days old and meet the requirements listed here, while SEPA has some additional requirements that include accepting the SEPA terms and conditions. You can view the full list of SEPA eligibility requirements here.
AWS provides multiple payment options to enhance the simplicity and convenience of paying your bill, no matter where in the world you happen to do business. If you would like to learn more about the options described above, see Managing Your Payments in the AWS Billing and Cost Management User Guide.