Billing accounts


Billing accounts#

Cloud providers have different ways of attaching a source of money (a credit card or cloud credits) to the resources we get charged for.


A Billing Account is the unit of billing in GCP. It controls:

  1. The source of funds - credit cards, cloud credits, other invoicing mechanisms

  2. Detailed reports about how much money is being spent

  3. Access control to determine who has access to view the reports, attach new projects to the billing account, etc

  4. Configuration for where data about what we are being billed for should be exported to. See the “Programmatic access to billing information” section for more details.

Multiple Projects can be attached to a single billing account, and projects can usually move between billing accounts. All cloud resources (clusters, nodes, object storage, etc) are always contained inside a Project.

Billing accounts are generally not created often. Usually, you would need to create a new one for the following reasons:

  1. You are getting cloud credits from somewhere, and want a separate container for it so you can track spending accurately.

  2. You want to use a different credit card than what you use for your other billing account.


AWS billing is a little more haphazard than GCP’s and is derived partially from the well-established monstrosity that is LDAP.

We will not dig too deep into it, lest we wake some demons. However, since we are primarily concerned with billing, understanding the following concepts is more than enough.

  1. An AWS Account contains all the cloud resources one may create.

  2. An AWS Organization is a way to group multiple AWS accounts together. One AWS Account in any AWS Organization is deemed the management account. The management account sets up access control, billing access, billing data export, etc for the entire organization.

Each AWS Account can have billing attached in one of two ways:

  1. Directly attached to the account, via a credit card or credits

  2. If the account is part of an AWS Organization, it can use the billing information of the Management Account of the organization it is a part of. This is known as consolidated billing

So billing information is always associated with an AWS Account, not an AWS Organization. This is a historical artefact - AWS Organizations were only announced in 2016, a good 9 years after AWS started. So if this feels a little hacked on, it is because it is!

A pattern many organizations (including 2i2c) follow is to have an AWS Account that is completely empty and unused, except for being designated as the management account. Billing information (and credits) for the entire organization is attached to this account. This makes access control much simpler, as the only people who get access to this AWS account are those who need to handle billing.


We currently have no experience or knowledge here, as all our Azure customers handle billing themselves. This is not uncommon - most Azure users want to use it because they already have a pre-existing strong relationship with Microsoft and their billing gets managed as part of that.