IBM / ibm cloud

IBM Cloud Free Tier Explained: And Best Practices

The IBM Cloud Free Tier offers:

  • No-Cost Access: Users can start with no fees or upfront commitments.
  • Initial Credit: Provides a USD 200 credit for trying various IBM Cloud products.
  • Always-Free Products: Includes access to select IBM Cloud services that are always free.
  • Limited-Time Trial: A 30-day trial with 2GB of runtime and container memory.
  • Additional Credits: Opportunity to earn more credits based on spending.

Introduction to IBM Cloud Free Tier

IBM Cloud Free Tier

IBM Cloud Free Tier: A Gateway to Cloud Innovation

The IBM Cloud Free Tier is a cornerstone offering designed to democratize access to cloud resources.

It is a launchpad for individuals, developers, and businesses to explore and experiment with cloud technologies without financial barriers.

Overview of IBM Cloud Free Tier Offerings

  • Range of Services: The free tier includes various IBM Cloud services, from databases to AI and machine learning tools.
  • Accessibility: It’s designed to be easily accessible to anyone looking to start their journey in cloud computing, from students to seasoned professionals.

Significance in Cloud Adoption

  • Encouraging Experimentation: By removing the cost barrier, IBM Cloud Free Tier allows users to experiment, learn, and innovate without the risk of high expenses.
  • Fostering Learning and Development: It’s an invaluable resource for learning new skills, trying new ideas, and understanding cloud services.

Getting Started with IBM Cloud Free Tier

Step-by-Step Guide to Sign Up

  1. Visit IBM Cloud Registration Page: Go to the IBM Cloud registration page to start the sign-up process.
  2. Create an Account: Fill in the details to create your IBM Cloud account. This straightforward and user-friendly process requires basic information like email and password.
  3. Verify Email: Once registered, verify your email to activate your account.

Initial Setup and Exploration

  • Accessing the Dashboard: After logging in, you will be directed to the IBM Cloud dashboard, your central hub for accessing cloud services.
  • Exploring Services: Browse through the catalog to explore the available free services. You can find detailed descriptions and instructions for each service.
  • Activating Services: Choose and activate the services you’re interested in. The free tier typically includes limited but functional versions of various IBM Cloud offerings.

Starting with IBM Cloud Free Tier is a straightforward process, opening up a world of possibilities in cloud computing.

Whether you’re learning new technologies, prototyping projects, or testing applications, the free tier provides a solid foundation without the financial commitment.

Features and Services in the Free Tier

Key Features and Services in IBM Cloud’s Free Tier

  • Cloud Functions: Offers serverless computing, allowing users to run code in response to events without the need to manage servers.
  • Watson APIs: Access to select IBM Watson services like Watson Assistant and Watson Discovery for AI and machine learning projects.
  • Cloudant Database: A fully-managed NoSQL database service, ideal for web and mobile applications.
  • Kubernetes Cluster: Limited use of a Kubernetes cluster to manage containerized applications.
  • Limitations and Restrictions: The free tier services often come with usage limits, such as compute hours or the amount of data storage.

Comparison with Other Cloud Providers

  • AWS Free Tier: Offers services like AWS Lambda, Amazon S3, and Amazon RDS with certain usage limits.
  • Google Cloud Free Tier: Includes services like Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Storage, and Firebase with restrictions on usage.
  • Azure Free Tier: Provides access to Azure services like Azure Functions and Azure Cosmos DB with specific limits.

Best Practices for Maximizing IBM Cloud Free Tier

Top 5 Recommendations

  1. Monitor Usage Closely: Monitor your resource usage to stay within the free tier limits.
  2. Leverage Documentation and Tutorials: Use IBM Cloud’s resources to understand how to efficiently use each service.
  3. Optimize Resource Allocation: Be strategic about resource allocation to maximize the utility of the free tier.
  4. Start Small and Scale: Before scaling up, begin with smaller projects to understand the limitations and capabilities.
  5. Stay Informed of Changes: IBM Cloud may update its free tier offerings, so staying informed helps in maximizing benefits.

Tips on Managing Resources

  • Set Alerts: Use IBM Cloud’s monitoring tools to set alerts for resource usage to avoid unexpected charges.
  • Regularly Review Services: Review the services you are using and deactivate any that are not used to conserve resources.
  • Plan Ahead: If a project is expected to exceed free tier limits, plan your budget for potential costs.

Utilizing the IBM Cloud Free Tier effectively requires a balance of strategic planning and continuous monitoring.

By adhering to these best practices, users can make the most of the available resources without incurring additional costs.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Identifying and Avoiding Common Mistakes

  1. Exceeding Usage Limits: Monitor your resource usage to stay within the free tier limits. Unexpected overuse can lead to charges.
  2. Ignoring Service Restrictions: Be aware of the restrictions on each free tier service, such as compute time or storage limits.
  3. Forgetting to Deactivate Services: Remember to deactivate services you no longer use to avoid incurring charges.
  4. Overlooking the Duration of Free Tier: Some services might only be free for a limited time, like 30 days. Be mindful of these time limits.

Understanding Billing and Avoiding Charges

  • Check Billing Regularly: Review your billing dashboard in IBM Cloud to track your usage.
  • Set Up Billing Alerts: Configure billing alerts to be notified when you’re close to exceeding free tier limits.
  • Familiarize Yourself with Pricing: Understand the pricing structure for services beyond the free tier to avoid surprises.


  1. What services are available in the IBM Cloud Free Tier?
    • The free tier includes various services, such as IBM Cloud Functions, Watson APIs, and Cloudant Database, each with specific usage limits.
  2. Are there any usage limits on the IBM Cloud Free Tier?
    • Yes, each service in the free tier has defined usage limits, such as the number of API calls or the amount of storage.
  3. How can I upgrade from the free tier if I need more resources?
    • You can upgrade your account or individual services through the IBM Cloud dashboard, typically transitioning to a pay-as-you-go or subscription model.


The IBM Cloud Free Tier is a valuable resource for individuals and organizations looking to learn, develop, and test in the cloud environment.

It offers a risk-free way to explore various cloud services and develop innovative projects. However, users should be mindful of the common pitfalls associated with free cloud resources.

By leveraging the IBM Cloud Free Tier, you can gain crucial cloud experience, test new ideas, and potentially lay the groundwork for future scalable cloud solutions, driving growth and innovation.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.