How To Create a Free AWS Account

Codecademy Team
Explore AWS with a Free Tier account!

In this tutorial, we will explain how to create an AWS Free Tier account. The sign-up process involves the following:

  • Creating a root user account
  • Selecting an account type
  • Payment, billing, and identity verification
  • Choosing a plan
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

A fear many people have about using AWS is the cost. While some users may pay for AWS services, with careful use, it can be completely free. In addition, if a small number of resources are used for paid features, it can cost as little as a few dollars a month.

In AWS, there is only one account owner (root user). Additional users that are created by the root user are known as IAM users. IAM users can be configured as “admins” and be given the ability to create other IAM users. The root user is given full access to resources in the AWS account, while IAM users are granted permissions that are set in place by the root user. In addition, the root user’s sign-in credentials can be used for account recovery and other administrative functions.

Step 1: Creating An AWS Account

Let’s get started by creating the root user account.

  1. Let’s visit the AWS homepage.
  2. Upon clicking the button, “Create an AWS Account,” you will be prompted for an email address and a name that will be used to create the root user (this can be changed in the future).
  3. Next, we’ll select “Verify email address.” A verification code that’s sent to your email address will need to be entered, then we can select the “Verify” button. After creating your password, we can select “Continue.”

AWS signup page

Note: You can click on the images in this tutorial to view them at a larger size.

Selecting Account Type

Now we need to select the account type. There are two types of accounts: business and personal. Although they’re functionally the same, it is best practice to use a personal account for learning and development, and a business account for work or professional purposes.

  1. For this article, we will be creating a personal account by selecting the “Personal - for your own projects” radio button.
  2. After this, a phone number, country/region, and address are required for validation purposes.
  3. Finally, we’ll mark the checkbox to indicate that we have read and agreed to the terms of the AWS customer agreement and then select “Continue (step 2 of 5).”

Contact information page

Payment, Billing, and Identity

The next step asks for a credit card, but no charge will be taken from you upon entering this information. If your account usage stays below the AWS Free Tier limits, you should be free from any payments. More detailed pricing information can be found through each AWS Free Tier feature page under “Pricing.”

  1. We will input our credit or debit card information.
  2. Then, we will select “Verify and Continue.”
    Billing page

The next step is to confirm your identity using a verification code.

  1. You can do this through text message or a voice call to receive the code — whichever is best for you.
  2. We’ll enter that code into the captcha text box, select “Verify Code,” and once verified we can select “Continue.”

Security check page

Selecting a Plan

AWS provides different plans with additional services like 24/7 support, best practice advisors, and additional guidance. With each higher-tiered plan, there are more services and additional costs.

On the next page, you can select a support plan for your business or personal account. There are five support plans available. For this article, we will be choosing the “Basic support - Free” plan. You can learn more about the different plans and features available by navigating to the Compare Support Plans page.

  1. We will choose a plan by marking the corresponding radio button.
  2. Then, we’ll select “Complete sign up” to finish.
  3. Amazing! You just finished setting up your AWS basic account. You should see a message from AWS that says your account is being activated, after which you will get an email once that is complete.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) provides an additional layer of protection on top of your username and password.

MFA Set Up

Let’s set up Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

When we first log in to our AWS account using root user credentials, we’re brought to the console home. Here, we can see recently visited services, supplementary learning material, and other service-related information.

  1. From the console page, we will navigate to the dropdown menu in the header where your account name is, and choose “Security credentials.”
    Selecting "Security credentials" in the drop-down menu.
  2. Next, we’ll select “Multi-factor authentication (MFA)”, then “Activate MFA.”
    Selecting Multi-factor authentication in the Security Credentials menu
  3. For this tutorial, we’ll choose “Virtual MFA device” from the list of options, and select “Continue.” However, you can choose another option if it suits you better. Make sure to keep the generated QR code up for the following three steps.
    Choosing "Virtual MFA device" from the list of Multi-factor authentication options
  4. Now, we’ll choose a preferred supported virtual authenticator application. If you don’t have one yet, you’ll need to download and set up an account for one.
  5. On the authenticator app, we’ll add a new app.
  6. Then, we’ll select “Scan a QR code” and scan the QR code on your screen.
  7. In AWS, let’s enter the two consecutive MFA codes into the fields available. If all steps were done correctly, you should get a message that says you successfully assigned virtual MFA.

When logged in to the AWS Console with MFA enabled, you will be prompted for your username and password (the first factor is what you know) and for an authentication code from your AWS MFA device (the second factor is what you have):
Logging in with MFA

Together, these two factors boost security for your AWS account settings and resources. You can enable MFA for your AWS account and for individual IAM users you have under your account. MFA can also be used to control access to AWS service APIs.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You have successfully created your AWS Free Tier account and learned how to set it up with some basic services and features. Let’s summarize what we’ve learned and accomplished in this article. In this tutorial, we signed up for an AWS account by:

  • Creating a root user
  • Set up payment information and billing
  • Selected the free-tier AWS support plan
  • Set up MFA for account security

Well done!