AWS Credits for startups

AWS Credits for startups
Photo by Mathieu Stern / Unsplash

For startups, AWS activate is the main way to get free AWS credits.

Within Activate there are two main programs:

  1. Activate Founders targeted at small businesses, bootstrappers and early stage startups.
  2. Activate Portfolio - targeted at venture backed startups and startups going through accelerators

Below we cover the main details for both.

Activate Founders ($1,000 for one year)

If you’re not associated with an Activate Provider (e.g. VC firm, accelerator), Activate Founders is the program for you. If you later get funding or go through an accelerator, you can do Activate Portfolio too.

Just getting started? Activate Founders is for you

Key benefits:

  • $1,000 credits to be used in one year
  • $350 in Developer support credits (valid for one years)
  • Partner discounts

Key criteria

  • Not have received Activate credits previously
  • Less than 10 years old

How to apply

  1. Log in to AWS. If you do not have an AWS account, you can create one for free
  2. Once logged in, click here and select the Founders program.
  3. Complete the application form in full and submit.

It takes about 7-10 working days for your application to be processed

AWS Activate Portfolio (up to $100,000)

This is the program for startups who probably have some external funding. You must be ‘associated’ with an Activate Provider - typically a VC firm or a startup accelerator.

Raised money? Activate Portfolio could be for you

Key Benefits:

  • Up to $100,000 of credits (valid for 1 or 2 years on case by case basis)
  • Up to $10,000 in AWS Business support credit
  • Partner discounts

Note - the exact details of Activate Portfolio benefits are on a case by case basis and will be detailed in your welcome email.

Examples of Activate Providers

Key criteria

  • Must not have exceeded $100,000 USD in AWS credits from Activate previously
  • Associated with an Activate Provider
  • Less than 10 years old
  • New to the program - you can re-apply for additional credits as you grow though. Up to $100,000 total limit.
  • Series A at most in terms of funding

How to apply

  1. Make sure you have your Activate Providers Org ID
  2. Log in to AWS. If you do not have an AWS account, you can create one for free here
  3. Once logged in, click here
  4. Select the Activate Portfolio tier
  5. Complete the application form in full and submit.

It takes about 7-10 working days for your application to be processed

Activate - things to be aware of

Below is my rough summary of some of the most relevant terms & conditions (as of Feb 2022) & FAQs. Definitely not legal advice!

Things to be aware of
  • Use them or lose them - there are no refunds etc.
  • Only specific cloud services e.g. not Mechanical Turk
  • You can’t mine crypto!
  • You can’t sell your credits on
  • Don’t do anything shady or illegal with your credits
  • You can’t say or imply that AWS support or endorse you
  • If you find bugs or security issues with AWS, you can’t disclose them publicly
  • Startups building on AWS China Regions are not eligible for AWS Activate. If you are building on AWS China Regions, please apply for the AWS Activate China program here
  • AWS credits issued by Activate are not impacted by previous AWS credits you may have received through other programs including AWS EdStart.

One more option for EdTech startups

EdTech founders have more options

AWS run an ed-tech specific program EdStart. For the entry level EdStart Innovators, you can get $500 of credits.

For the EdStart Members programme, credits are offered on a case by case basis.


For more information on building your startup with AWS, check out our guide: AWS For Founders