You can choose an appropriate billing method based on the Elastic Compute Service (ECS) resource types. This topic describes all billing methods used in ECS, compares the subscription and pay-as-you-go billing methods, and elaborates the cost-effective billing methods such as preemptible instance and savings plans.

Basic billing methods

An ECS instance includes computing resources (vCPUs and memory), an image, and Elastic Block Storage (EBS) devices, and uses one of the following basic billing methods: subscription, pay-as-you-go, or preemptible instance. The following table describes the applicable resources and scenarios of each billing method.

Billing method Applicable resources Description References
Subscription
  • Computing resources (vCPUs and memory)
  • 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 seven days a week, such as web services. You must pay for subscription resources before you can use them. Subscription
Pay-as-you-go
  • Computing resources (vCPUs and memory)
  • Image
  • Disk
  • Public bandwidth
  • Snapshot
A billing method that allows you to use ECS resources and pay for them afterwards. 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
Preemptible instance Computing resources (vCPUs and memory) Preemptible instances are on-demand instances that you can use before you pay for them. Preemptible instances offer some discounts compared with pay-as-you-go instances and are charged based on the actual usage duration. Prices of preemptible instances fluctuate based on the changes in supply and demand. Preemptible instances
Subscription and pay-as-you-go instances support different features. The following table describes the differences.
Feature Subscription Pay-as-you-go Preemptible instance
Release instances
  • To release an instance before it expires, you must first change its billing method from subscription to pay-as-you-go.
  • If you do not renew an instance within the required period of time after the instance expires, the instance is automatically released.
Supported.

Release pay-as-you-go instances that you no longer need at the earliest opportunity. If you do not release them, the ECS resources continue to incur charges until the instances are stopped and released due to overdue payments.

Supported. The system may also release an instance when the market price exceeds your bid or when the resources of the instance are insufficient.
Change instance types Supported. Supported. Not supported.
Change bandwidth configurations Supported. Supported. Not supported.
Change billing methods Supported. Supported. Not supported.
Use subscription images from Alibaba Cloud Marketplace Supported. Not supported. Not supported.
Apply for ICP filings for websites that are deployed on 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. Not supported.
Create instances by calling API operations Supported. Supported. Supported.
Use Alibaba Cloud Security, CloudMonitor, and Server Load Balancer (SLB) for free Supported. Supported. Supported.

Cost-effective combinations of billing methods

In addition to subscription, pay-as-you-go and preemptible instance, Alibaba Cloud provides some combinations of billing methods for different ECS resources to reduce costs. You can use a proper combination of billing methods based on your business requirements.
Billing method Applicable resources Description References
Reserved instance
  • Compute resources (vCPUs and memory)
  • Image
Reserved instances are coupons that can be used to offset the bills of pay-as-you-go instances. Reserved instances
SCU
  • Disk
  • Snapshot
Storage capacity units (SCUs) are storage resource plans that can be used to offset the bills of different pay-as-you-go storage resources. Storage capacity units
Data transfer plan Public bandwidth Data transfer plans are effective and economical solutions that can be used to offset the bills of IPv4 data transfers generated by pay-as-you-go instances. Data Transfer Plan