How To Master Understanding Of Your AWS Bills and Tools You Can Use?


AWS provides you with an unlimited amount of cloud and various services. Still, it does not change the fact that it can have spikes in your all-over cost if your AWS resources are not kept in check. A lot of focus is paid to understanding the various services like EC2, CloudWatch, etc. But there is little attention paid to how to read your AWS bills. I will explain how to read your AWS bills and the tools you can use to lower your overall bill.

To view your current or past AWS bills, you must open the Bills pane in the Billing and Cost Management console. Then you must choose the month you want to view your bill from the drop-down menu. As you are always charged on your usage basis, you must check your AWS bills often. AWS Bills are finalized at the beginning of each month, and after finalizing, you can download a PDF version of your bill and any tax invoices applicable to your bill.

Pricing Structure

With the wide variety of services provided by Amazon Web Services, the prediction and management of costs for large deployments can be very complicated. AWS has a pricing structure based on three essential points. These are:

  • Pay as you go
  • Payless by using more
  • Save when you reserve

I will explain each of these points for your better understanding.

Pay as you go

AWS leases computing resources to turn capital expenses into operating expenses, and it lets its users pay for them hourly.

You should leverage “Pay as you go” only for the workloads with unexpected peaks or scalability needs. This is because AWS has an On-Demand pricing scheme, which is expensive even for small workloads.

Pay less by using more

You are discounted on your total cost when you use specific service features and spend more than $500,000 on AWS upfront.

You establish yourself in the Amazon ecosystem when you increase your usage of AWS. You must balance your desire for discounts with the need to maintain a healthy, multi-cloud strategy.

Save when you reserve

Amazon EC2 is the basis for most AWS, and it provides discounts of around 30% to 50% on AWS bills if you reserve instances in advance. (approximately 1-3 years in advance)

You must consider the workload on-premises before purchasing reserved instances. It will be cheaper if you use the same effect unless there is a need for the flexibility provided by the cloud.

Ways in which AWS bills show your cost structure

AWS tailors its cost in a well-structured manner and provides several cost datasets to understand your AWS usage better. AWS Billing and Cost Management offer the following datasets for better cost management of users. These include:

  1. Unblended costs
  2. Amortized costs
  3. Blended costs
  4. Net unblended costs
  5. Net amortized costs

I will explain the above datasets briefly to give you a rough idea of how AWS provides a well-structured cost.

Unblended costs

This is vastly used by most of the AWS users and is presented on the Bills page. It is the default option for analyzing costs using AWS Cost Explorer. It is also the default option for setting custom budgets in AWS Budgets. This represents the usage costs charged to you on a cash basis of accounting. For most users, this is the only dataset they need.

Amortized costs

When Unblended costs make little sense, Amortized costs come into the picture. It shows the costs on a rather accrual basis than a cash basis. This cost dataset is most useful for those who have purchased AWS Reservations such as Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances. If you are using unblended costs as your cost dataset, you might encounter a spike if recurring fees are charged on the first day of a month since savings plans and Reservations often have upfront or recurring monthly fees associated with them. Amortized costs help distribute these recurring costs evenly across the month. If you seek to gain insight into the effective daily costs associated with your reservation portfolio, amortized cost datasets are potent tools.

Blended costs

Users who want to merge their billing under a single paying account can focus on this unit. The way these are calculated makes it unlikely for people to use them. In this dataset, each account’s service usage is multiplied against a blended rate, which is an average rate of on-demand usage, Savings Plans, and Reservation related usage. Member accounts consume this in an organization for a specific service.

Other costs dataset

In rare case scenarios, AWS users can take advantage of specialized discounts. The net unblended costs dataset gives the total cost after applying discounts. The net amortized costs dataset adds additional logic to amortize discount-related data besides your Savings Plans or Reservation associated charges.

One should choose cost datasets carefully. If you are using Savings Plans or Reservations, you will benefit from Amortized costs; otherwise, you must select the unblended cost dataset. If you are operating at scale or have a specific use case, you might go for other cost datasets like net unblended or net amortized datasets.

AWS Cost Management Tools

AWS provides you with a set of tools for cost management and optimization, free of cost. These tools can save you a suitable amount of money on AWS, provided you familiarize yourself with these tools, use them to gain data, make decisions, create rules, and use automated actions.

Some tools are, namely:

  1. Billing and Cost Management Console
  2. AWS Cost Explorer
  3. AWS Budgets
  4. AWS Trusted Advisor
  5. Amazon Cloudwatch

Now I will briefly explain each of the above tools work and how they can help you with cost management in AWS bills.

Billing and Cost Management Tool

The Amazon Console billing section gives access to all your activities, including what services you are consuming on AWS. It helps you optimize your usage structure so you can manage AWS effectively and reduce your cost if appropriately used. You must use tagging to organize services by project or department. This tool lets you merge AWS accounts and create a single billing entity for each project’s separate budget.

AWS Cost Explorer

This tool gives you an overview of usage, costs, and returns on investment for AWS. It shows you data for the past 13 months of AWS usage and predicts your future expenditure. This tool also helps you to create customized views to help analyze costs and identify areas for improvement of your AWS bills.

It also provides you with an API so you can access the data via your analytics tool.

AWS Budgets

This tool lets you set and enforce the budget for specific services and receive notifications in the form of emails or messages from Simple Notification Services (SNS) when the budget reaches or exceeds the set limit. We can specify an overall cost budget and even set it to specific data points, such as several instances per data usage. The dashboard of AWS Budgets provides similar views to those of AWS Cost Explorer, showing how services are being used according to the set budget and how you can optimize your AWS bills.

AWS Trusted Advisor

It is a tool that provides guidance based on specific services in AWS. Trusted Advisor checks these five areas, and one of those includes cost optimization. It offers automated optimization recommendations related to:

  1. Underutilized EBS volumes
  2. Unassociated elastic IP addresses
  3. Idle load balancers
  4. Idle Database instances on Amazon RDS
  5. Load utilization of EC2 instances
  6. Redundant route 53 latency resource record sets
  7. EC2 reserved instance optimization and lease expiration
  8. Underutilized Amazon Redshift clusters

Amazon Cloudwatch

It lets you set alarms based on a variety of metrics captured from your AWS usage. It is used for AWS bills optimization, and you can set limits as to when you want to be alarmed. This way you are having strict rules set for your AWS Bills strategy!

How can Cloudanix help you?

At Cloudanix, we have several recipes that can help you lower your AWS bills. We can also make you aware of an anomaly in real-time in your AWS bill. Sign up for a free trial and we can help your company save money on your AWS bills.

Know more about

  • Understanding AWS Cloud Compliance.
  • AWS Events and Changes You Should Track For Your AWS Account Security and Operational Excellence.
  • FAQs

    How to pay monthly AWS bills?

    1. To access the AWS Billing console, go to
    2. In the navigation pane, select Payments.
    3. From the Payments due table, choose the invoices you want to pay.
    4. Select Complete payment. On the Complete payment page, enter your card's CVV in the Summary section, and then click on Verify and pay.

    What is an AWS bill?

    In the AWS Billing console, you can effortlessly check and view your AWS spending, pay and view invoices, handle billing preferences and tax settings, and avail of supplementary Cloud Financial Management services.