You can choose an appropriate billing method based on ECS resource types. This topic describes all types of billing methods and the comparison between subscription and pay-as-you-go.

Major billing methods

The following table describes the major billing methods of ECS resources: subscription and pay-as-you-go.

Billing method Applicable resource Description Reference
Subscription
  • Instance
  • Image
  • Disk
  • Public bandwidth
A billing method that allows you to use ECS resources only after you pay for them. Subscription is applicable to services that run for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, such as web services. You must pay for subscription resources before you can use them. Subscription
Pay-as-you-go
  • Instance
  • Image
  • Disk
  • Public bandwidth
  • Snapshot
A billing method that allows you to use ECS resources before you pay for them. Pay-as-you-go is applicable to applications or services that experience traffic spikes, such as temporary scaling, interim testing, and scientific computing. You can activate and use pay-as-you-go resources before you pay for them. The system generates bills in each billing cycle and deducts corresponding fees from your account. Pay-as-you-go
Subscription ECS instances and pay-as-you-go ECS instances support different features. The following table lists the differences.
Feature Subscription Pay-as-you-go
Release instances at any time
  • To release an instance before it expires, you must first change its billing method from subscription to pay-as-you-go.
  • After an instance expires, if you do not renew the instance within the required period of time, the instance is automatically released.
Supported.

Release pay-as-you-go ECS instances that you no longer need as soon as possible. If you do not release them, the ECS resources are continuously charged until the instances are stopped and released due to overdue payments.

Change instance types Supported. Supported.
Change bandwidth configurations Supported. Supported.
Change billing methods Supported. Supported.
Use subscription images from Alibaba Cloud Marketplace Supported. Not supported.
Apply for ICP filings for ECS instances in mainland China Supported.

You can apply for ICP filings only for ECS instances that have a subscription period of at least three months.

Not supported.
Create instances by calling API operations Supported. Supported.
Use Alibaba Cloud Security, Cloud Monitor, and Server Load Balancer (SLB) for free Supported. Supported.

Other billing methods

In addition to subscription and pay-as-you-go, Alibaba Cloud provides other billing methods for different ECS resources. You can use these billing methods to reduce costs.
Billing method Applicable resource Description Reference
Reserved instance Instance Reserved instances are coupons that can be used to offset bills of pay-as-you-go instances. Reserved instances
Preemptible instance Instance Preemptible instances are on-demand instances that you can use before you pay. Compared with pay-as-you-go instances, preemptible instances are charged based on the actual usage duration, and their prices fluctuate based on the changes to supply and demand. Preemptible instances
Storage capacity unit (SCU) Disk and snapshot SCUs are storage resource plans that can be used to offset bills of different pay-as-you-go storage resources. SCU billing methods
Data transfer plan Public bandwidth Data transfer plans are effective and economical solutions that can be used to offset bills of IPv4 traffic on a pay-as-you-go basis. Data Transfer Plan