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How to Use the New User Free Credit

As a new user of Alibaba Cloud, you can claim free credit of USD $300 to be used across a variety of products and services across the Alibaba Cloud platform. This tutorial will show you how to set up your account and claim the credit.

We will assume that you have not used Alibaba Cloud before, so we will start from the very beginning. Note that you’ll need a credit card and/or a PayPal account to hand. And if you can access your credit card account online, those details will be useful too.

Note that Alibaba Cloud is billed in US dollars, regardless of where you are based or in what currency you ultimately pay.

About the Free Credit

Before you set up your account on Alibaba Cloud, you are probably keen to know what the free starter credit can be used for and how much it can buy. So, let’s run through that now.

Your free credit comes as two separate coupons applied to your account. As you buy products or services on the system you can then choose to pay with all or part of a coupon. You do not have to use an entire coupon at once – any balance remaining can be used for future purchases.

Your coupons are valid for 60 days and can not be spent after that time. But services or subscriptions that you buy with them won’t expire at that point. For example, if you register a domain name for two years and pay for it from your coupon, the registration won’t expire after 60 days. But any remaining credit on the coupon will, unless you spend it.

The two coupons have different values and are used for different purposes. One is for $50 and the other is for $250.

The $50 coupon can be used against Elastic Compute Service (ECS) services on Alibaba Cloud. The most well-known of these is a virtual server, otherwise known as an ECS instance.

It is up to you how you spend your $50 ECS coupon but, as an example, you could run a single-core ECS instance for up to 60 days, or two instances for around 30 days.

Another popular ECS service is Server Load Balancer (SLB). If you have multiple ECS servers, SLB provides a “single point of contact” for your users. For example, if you have a very busy website that runs on multiple servers, the URL of your site will point to SLB rather than a specific server. SLB then takes care of forwarding each incoming request to the server which is best capable of handling it at that specific time.

As a guide, you can run SLB for 60 days, with 548GB of data transfer, with your $50 credit (or half of that for $25, and so on).

The second part of your free credit comes as a coupon worth $250. You can use this against any non-ECS products and services on Alibaba Cloud. This covers databases, file storage, video broadcasting, additional security products and more.

For example, $250 will get you four MySQL instances on a single-core processor for two months (or run them for a single month and use the other half of the credit for something else).

Alternatively, $250 will buy around 3 terabytes of data transfer on a Content Delivery Network (CDN) over a whole year. Or you could have around 2.4 petabytes (2,400 terabytes) of NoSQL table storage space.

Your $250 coupon can also be used towards features such as Anti-DDoS Pro and Web Application Firewall (WAF), to add extra security to your servers over and above the basic Anti-DDoS and firewall capabilities that are included as standard.

So now that you know what you are about to sign up for, let’s get started.

Get Signed Up

From the Alibaba Cloud home page at www.alibabacloud.com, click on the Free Account button in the top right of the page, or as may appear on the page on one of the scrolling images.

You will then be asked for your email address and to choose a password. Make the password as long and complex as possible. Anyone who manages to access your Alibaba Cloud account will have full access to all of your server resources, web hosting packages, firewall configurations and so on.

Take care to ensure that you choose the correct country, typically the one in which you are located (and specifically in which your credit card will be billed). Otherwise, you will have problems when it comes to entering and validating your payment details. If you specify the wrong country you’ll need to start again and set up a new account, as this setting can not be changed.

Next, you need to verify your email address. Click on the “Send” button. This will result in a numerical code being sent to you in an email. Open your email and look for the message – it should arrive within a minute or so.

When the code arrives, type it into the box and click Verify. Now that your email account is verified, you need to complete some additional information such as your name, address and postal code. You are also asked for a mobile phone number, which needs to be verified too.

When you have entered your phone number, click the Verify button next to it. When you do this, a second window will pop up. Click the Send button on that window, and a numeric code will be sent to your phone as a text/SMS message. Again, enter the code into the box once you have received it, and your mobile phone number will be marked as verified.

Your name and address are now on file, as is a verified email address and a verified phone number.

Payment Methods

Next, you need to enter a payment method. This is to ensure that your Alibaba Cloud services continue to work if or when your free credit is used up.

You can specify a credit card number, a PayPal account, or both. Some services on Alibaba Cloud require a one-off payment, while some are Pay-As-You-Go. You can’t pay for Pay-As-You-Go services with PayPal. So, for maximum flexibility, and to ensure that you can try out all that Alibaba Cloud has to offer, we recommend that you provide credit card details. You can supply PayPal details too, of course, to use when that option is available to you.

When you have entered your credit card details, the card needs to be verified and validated. To do this, Alibaba Cloud will charge a small amount (less than $1) to your card and the transaction record will include a 6-digit code. In order to verify your card, you need to provide either the code or the charged amount. To find out this information you will need to contact your card company (by phone or online), or wait until your next printed statement arrives.

In the meantime, if you are keen to get started, you can always register your PayPal account too. You won’t have access to all of Alibaba Cloud’s features, but you’ll be able to explore the system and use many of the features. Plus, it will allow you to claim your free credit.

Again, to verify your PayPal account you might receive a confirmation code on your phone.

Your Alibaba Cloud account should now be up and running with at least one validated payment method in place. You will find yourself at the console which should look like this:

Note the link to Manage Payment Method towards the top of the screen. If you are waiting to receive details of the credit card charge, then you’ll need this link. Once the details arrive, log into your Alibaba Cloud account, go to the console, click on this link, and you can enter the missing information in order to have your credit card validated.

To check the status of your payment methods, click on the Billing Management link at the top of the console.

In order to start using the service, and your free credit, you need at least one payment method to have an account status of “Valid”. As you can see above, our PayPal account is indeed valid so we can proceed.

As soon as you have a valid payment method in place, your $300 in coupons will be credited to your account automatically. So, let’s see if they have arrived.

If you haven’t already done so, click on Billing Management at the top of the console. Then from the left hand side of the screen, click on Coupons.

They’re here! We now have our $250 and $50 credits ready to spend.

Whenever you buy a service, Alibaba Cloud will ask whether you want to use some existing credit from a coupon, so make sure you choose this option. Otherwise, the payment will be charged to your current default payment method.

With your coupons in place you are ready to start your free trial of Alibaba Cloud. Start from the console page and explore the services on offer. You will probably want to start with an ECS instance. Keep it low-spec to start with, as this will be cheaper. If you need to increase the server’s RAM or processors, or the size or quantity of drives, you can always do it later.

That is the end of this tutorial. We hope you enjoy using Alibaba Cloud and taking advantage of your free $300 credit coupons.