Google Cloud credits are an incentive offered by Google that help you get started on Google’s Cloud Platform for free. Like Amazon and Microsoft, Google is trying to make it easy and in some cases free to get started using their Cloud Platform or certain services on their platform that they believe are “sticky” – which is beneficial if you’d like to try the services out for personal use or for a proof-of-concept. There is both a spend and a time limit for Google’s free credits, but then they also offer “always free” products that do not count against the free credit and can be used forever, or until Google decides to pull the plug, with usage limits.
1. Google Cloud Free Tier
The most basic way to use Google Cloud products is the Google Cloud Free Tier. This extended free trial gives you access to free cloud resources so you can learn about Google Cloud services by trying them on your own.
The Google Cloud Free Tier has two parts:
- A 12-month free trial with a $300 credit to use with any Google Cloud services.
- Always Free, which provides limited access to many common Google Cloud resources, free of charge.
12-Month Free Trial
The Google Cloud 12-month free trial and $300 credit is for new customers/trialers. Be sure to check through the full list of eligibility requirements on Google’s website. (No cryptomining – sorry!)
Before you start spinning up machines, be sure to note the following limitations:
- You can’t have more than 8 cores (or virtual CPUs) running at the same time.
- You can’t add GPUs to your VM instances.
- You can’t request a quota increase.
- You can’t create VM instances that are based on Windows Server images.
Your free trial ends when 12 months have elapsed since you signed up and/or you have spent your $300 in Google Cloud credit. When you use resources covered by Always Free during your free trial period, those resources are not charged against your free trial credit.
At the end of the Free Trial you either begin paying or you lose your services and data, it’s pretty black and white, and you can upgrade at any time during your Free Trial with any remaining credits being applied against your bill.
Google Cloud Always Free
The Always Free program is essentially the “next step” of free usage after a trial. These offerings provide limited access to many Google Cloud resources. The resources are usually provided at monthly intervals, and they are not credits — they do not accumulate or roll over from one interval to the next, it’s use it or lose it. The Always Free is a regular part of your Google Cloud account, unlike the Free Trial.
Not all Google Cloud services offer resources as part of Always Free program. For a full list of the services and usage limits please see here – a few of the more popular services include Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, Cloud Functions, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Big Query and more. Be sure to check the usage limits before spinning up resources, as usage above the Always Free tier will be billed at standard rates.
2. Google Cloud for Startups
Google is motivated to get startups to build their infrastructure on Google Cloud while they’re still early stage, to gain long-term customers. If you work for an early-stage startup, reach out to your accelerator, incubator, or VC about Google Cloud credit. You can get up too $100,000 in credit – but it will come at the price of a large percentage of equity.
Options that don’t require you to give up equity include Founder Friendly Labs, StartX if you happen.
3. Education Offerings
Google offers several options for students, teachers, and researchers to get up and running with Google Cloud.
- GCP Credits for Learning – Faculty can apply for $100 in credits and $50 per student. This offering is intended for students who are learning GCP for career purposes.
- Research credits – Research faculty can apply for $5,000 in credits for Google Cloud resources to support academic research, or $1,000 for PhD candidates. The research can be in any field. Learn more here.
There are also several offerings related to making education accessible without associated credits. See more on the Google Cloud Education page.
4. Vendor Promotions and Events
Various vendors that are Google Cloud partners run occasional promotions, typically in the form of a credit greater than $300 for the Google Cloud Free Trial, although we’ve also seen straight credits offered. For example, CloudFlare offers a credit program for app developers.
Also check out events that might offer credit – for example, TechStars startup weekends offers $3,000 in Google Cloud credits for attendees. Smaller awards of a few hundred dollars can be found through meetups and other events.
Google Cloud Credits do offer people and companies a way to get started quickly, and the Always Free program is a unique way to entice users to try different services at no cost, albeit in a limited way. Be sure to check out the limitations before you get started, and have fun!