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If I'm going to use the free tier, why do I need to enter my credit card information? How can I be sure I won't be charged for it while I'm using it?

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This is an Amazon TOS customer service question, probably best asked over on Amazon's copious AWS support forums. –  Fiasco Labs Dec 25 '12 at 5:27
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2 Answers 2

Your first question has already been answered above. As for your second question, afaik there is no way to be absolutely sure that you won't get charged. You have to be cautious when you experiment with AWS and always verify if the service you're using is covered by the free tier. A good way to prevent unpleasant surprises is to set up a CloudWatch alarm, which will notify you if your billing charges exceed a certain amount (you can put something low like $5).

See http://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2012/05/10/announcing-aws-billing-alerts

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Do something you manage to advertise that goes viral, expect charges. –  Fiasco Labs Dec 25 '12 at 22:18
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The free tier isn't unlimited. If you go over the limits, how do you expect them to charge you?
From the terms:

When your free usage expires or if your application use exceeds the free usage tiers, you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates (see each service page for full pricing details).

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To add to what Su' has said, Amazon also doesn't restrict your use of your AWS account to that single micro instance and it's resources. You can use all other services such as creating extra storage on S3, move your DNS to Route 53 and so on. It also helps prevent abuse of their system. I've mistakenly created large instances and simply removed them. Amazon bills you for what you use. –  Anagio Dec 25 '12 at 11:31
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