How to estimate your AWS costs

By Blue Matador on October 9, 2020

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is pretty much ubiquitous these days, with everyone from tiny startups to large enterprises using the cloud service to run their apps, websites, and processes.

For small businesses, being able to predict your budgets is paramount. Unfortunately, AWS costs can be very difficult to forecast.

In this blog, we’ll go over the pros and cons of the tools available to help you estimate your AWS costs.

AWS Cost Explorer

Cost Explorer is a proprietary AWS tool that allows you to analyze your past costs and usage to project yourCloudCore-AWS-Bill-Surprise future costs. 

Pros of AWS Cost Explorer: 

  • The tool is free to use if you use the AWS interface. Alternatively, you can set up the Cost Explorer API, but that will run you $0.01 per paginated API request. You also cannot disable the API once you’ve set it up.
  • It gives you a good idea of your high-level cost metrics.
  • It can give you recommendations based on your usage, e.g., suggest that you purchase more storage volume if you’re running out.

Cons of AWS Cost Explorer:

  • It’s difficult to drill in to specific costs: you can't break down your costs by resources, region, or service, so if you’re trying to figure out what specific process is driving a sudden boost in costs, you’re out of luck.
  • The recommendations aren’t always relevant.


AWS Pricing Calculator

Input the services your company uses as well as your usage metrics into the AWS Pricing Calculator, and it will estimate your costs based on service and groups as well as totals.



Pros of AWS Pricing Calculator:

  • AWS Pricing Calculator is free to use.
  • It’s a way to get a rough estimate of costs. Particularly handy to get an idea of what your costs will be before you set up a specific service.
  • Compare expected costs between regions at a glance.

Cons of AWS Pricing Calculator:

  • Extremely manual. Relies on data you have to input yourself. It does not allow for bulk import.
  • It does not analyze your current or past usage, but instead creates the cost estimate based on “a normalized monthly time frame.”
  • You may not have all the data you need to get an accurate estimate. Do you know the duration of each of your Lambda requests? Do you know how much data you’re transferring between regions every month? If not, you’re not getting the complete picture.
  • The tool is still being built, and as a result, not all AWS services are available.


Blue Matador Cloud Cost Optimization BlueMatador-Logo-StackedResource Tool (Cloud CORE)

Cloud CORE is a free, secure, open-source tool that uses read-only IAM user access to analyze your recent usage. You can then project costs based on your past usage.

Pros of Blue Matador Cloud CORE:

  • Cloud CORE is automated. Just set up an IAM user with read-only access and Cloud CORE will pull your usage data.
  • It’s secure. Your credentials are stored locally; Blue Matador does not collect them.
  • It’s open-source. You can view the project on Github.
  • Cloud CORE uses real-time data to project your costs. That means you’ll get the most accurate view possible of your estimated costs.
  • You can analyze your costs by specific resource to get the full picture.

Cons of Blue Matador Cloud CORE:

  • The tool is under active development, so not all AWS services are available. It currently supports API Gateway, CloudWatch, DynamoDB, KMS, Kinesis Data Streams, Lambda, and SNS.
  • Requires use of your sensitive AWS credentials, though the tool never collects or transmits that data.



Getting an accurate picture of your future AWS costs can be complicated. Hopefully these tools can help you forecast your AWS spend.

Blue Matador monitors more than just your AWS costs. Our monitoring tool is like having an AWS expert monitoring your services 24/7. We monitor dozens of AWS services, and it's all automated. Start a free 14-day trial.

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