This topic walks you through Elastic Compute Service (ECS) billable items, billing methods, usage fees, and instance pricing.

Billable items and their billing methods

An ECS instance is a virtual server in the cloud that consists of computing resources (such as vCPUs and memory), an operating system (provided by an image), block storage devices, and networking resources. The following table describes how each individual component is billed.
ResourceDescriptionBilling methodReferences
Computing resources
The computing resources you can obtain are determined by the instance type. Each instance type offers a unique combination of vCPUs, memory, and related capabilities, which determine the price of the instance.
Important When you create an instance, you occupy computing resources in the cloud. As long as you occupy these resources, you are billed for these resources even if they are idle. This is particularly true for pay-as-you-go instances. To avoid paying for idle resources, we recommend that you stop such instances in economical mode. For more information about the economical mode, see Economical mode.
  • Subscription
  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Preemptible Instance
  • Pay-as-you-go + Reserved Instance
  • Pay-as-you-go + Savings Plan
Instance types
Image fees are determined based on the types and usage of images.
  • Subscription
  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Pay-as-you-go + Reserved Instance (for public images)
    Note Images can be used only with ECS instances. Reserved instances for Windows instances include the costs for the instance and the public image.
Block storage device (cloud disk or local disk)
Billing for cloud disks is determined by their size and usage duration.
Note Local disks only come with specific instance types and cannot be separately purchased. The prices of the instances include the costs of their local disks.
  • Subscription
  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Storage Capacity Unit (SCU)
  • Pay-as-you-go + Savings Plan
Block storage devices
Public bandwidth
If your instance uses a system-assigned public IP address to access the Internet, you are charged only for outbound data transfers to the Internet.
Note An instance can also use an elastic IP address (EIP) or a NAT gateway to access the Internet. For information about how EIPs are billed and how NAT gateways are billed , see Overview and Billing of Internet NAT gateways respectively.
  • Pay-by-bandwidth
  • Pay-by-traffic
Public bandwidth
  • When you create snapshots, you are charged for them based on their size and storage duration. Fees are region-specific and vary from region to region.
  • When you copy snapshots, you are charged data transfer fees in addition to the storage fees generated for the snapshot copies.
  • When you use the instant access feature, you are charged instant access service fees, storage fees for normal snapshots, and storage fees for instant access snapshots.
  • Pay-as-you-go
  • SCU
Note ECS resources support the subscription and pay-as-you-go billing methods. You can mix and match different billing methods for different resources to reduce costs. For more information, see Overview.

ECS usage fees

The following figure shows the fees charged for your ECS usage and illustrates how individual resources are billed. ECS usage fees


For information about the instance price schedule, visit the Instance tab on the Pricing tab of the Elastic Compute Service product page.

Switch billing methods

You can switch between billing methods for ECS instances as your business requirements change and evolve. The following table describes the resources whose billing methods can be changed.
When you change the billing method of ECS instances, the billing methods of their computing resources and system disks are changed to match the billing method of the instance.
  • If your workloads become intermittent or you no longer need the instance, you can change the billing method of an instance from subscription to pay-as-you-go. Then, you need to pay only for what you use and can release the instance at any time. This lets you recover a portion of the subscription costs.
    Note Alibaba Cloud determines whether you can switch the billing method of an instance based on usage metrics of the instance. Go to the ECS console and check for the button or menu item that is used to change the billing method of an instance. If the button or menu item does not exist, the billing method of the instance cannot be changed.
  • If your workloads shift towards long-term, sustained business, you can change the billing method of an instance from pay-as-you-go to subscription to save on costs in the long run.
Cloud disks
  • You can freely change the billing method of data disks that are attached to subscription instances.
  • However, the billing methods of system disks and data disks on pay-as-you-go instances change together with the billing methods of the instances.
Public bandwidth
You can change the billing method for network usage by upgrading or downgrading instance configurations for instances that have system-assigned public IP addresses.
Change the billing method of network usage


You can view your bills and their details in the User Center. For more information, see View billing details.

Instance renewal

Subscription instances stop providing services when they expire. You can renew an expired instance to continue using it. However, if you do not renew it within the grace period, the instance is released, and all data stored on the instance is lost and cannot be recovered. For more information, see Renewal overview.

Overdue payments

Payments become overdue if you do not have sufficient funds in your account when a bill is due. The total usable funds are calculated as the sum of your balance and applicable vouchers in your account. Overdue payments may result in service interruptions. We recommend that you regularly check your account balance and ensure that you have enough funds to ensure business continuity.
  • Subscription resources: Subscription resources are not affected by overdue payments because you have already paid for the resources. You can use these instances up until they expire. However, you will be unable to perform payment-related activities, including purchasing new instances, upgrading instance configurations, or renewing resources.
  • Pay-as-you-go resources: Pay-as-you-go instances are automatically stopped when you have overdue payments. In this state, billing is stopped for some resources. You are required to settle the overdue payments before you can continue using your instances. If payment is not completed within the grace period, your instances are released and all data stored on the instances is lost and cannot be recovered.

Payment methods

ECS supports the following payment methods:
  • Bank card
  • PayPal

    Alibaba Cloud performs a pre-authorization hold on your PayPal account when you create pay-as-you-go resources.

  • Paytm (India)

    This payment method is available only for users in India. Alibaba Cloud performs a pre-authorization hold on your Paytm (India) account when you create pay-as-you-go resources.

Note You can use coupons to obtain discounts and savings on your purchases.

If you want to purchase ECS resources in the Chinese mainland, you must first complete real-name verification for your Alibaba Cloud account. For more information, see the "Why do I need to complete real-name registration when purchasing cloud products in Chinese mainland?" section of Real-name registration FAQs .

Alibaba Cloud provides multiple methods to view the detailed information about your bills. For more information, see View billing details.

Best practices for cost optimization

ECS usage costs can be broken into ownership costs and O&M costs. We have prepared a selection of best practices for maximizing cost performance, including actions such as optimizing resources, upgrading resources, taking cost savings measures, and implementing automated O&M. For more information, see Best practices for cost optimization.


For answers to the questions that you may encounter when you purchase or use ECS resources, see Billing FAQ.