Removing Your Azure Spending Limit or Azure Billing Limit; Understanding What This Means
*11/4/13 – New announcement of email billing alerts (among others). This features is in Preview, you can find it here on the Microsoft Azure Preview page listed as Billing Alert Service. Email billing alerts are NOT available for Commitment plans (pre-pay or 6 & 12 month agreements).
*10/10/13 – Please see update below for MSDN users only.
If you have been reading my other articles, you have probably noticed a focus on pricing with Azure. The biggest mistake I made was removing the price limit from my account and had no idea that you could not re-enable it or that my bill could go so high so quickly. I begged, I pleaded, I Tweeted, I tried to call in favors from “softies”, I contacted support, but alas, I lost and ended up with a bill of for almost $700 for under 7 days of use. Obviously this is a big bummer, but I haven’t stopped using Azure. However, I have tried to learn from my mistakes. Now I hope to educate others so they won’t make the same mistake I did.
Any links you see in your Azure account that are in regards to a “spending limit” or “change your spending limit” or “remove your spending limit” should make you take a moment of pause.
Unfortunately it does not notify you when you remove the spending limit that you cannot re-enable it:
Even more of a bummer is that language of “I authorize Microsoft to charge my current….” isn’t very specific to what you have just done either. If you do this, you literally have just set “no limit” on your account. You could be charged hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a very short time if you didn’t know what you were doing.
The following image is difficult to understand what you are about to agree to:
As of now, the only way I know of to remedy this issue is to create a brand new Azure account, set your spending limit higher and hope you don’t need to remove it again. I found a product on the Azure marketplace recently titled “Auto-Refill” however I am not sure if this gives you the ability to reset a limit vs. just automatically remove the limit when you are about to run out of your budget.
If you are not using Azure for a dev /test or budgeted scenario and need your machines to be on all the time, then this issue might not be as big of a deal to you. Larger companies usually have larger IT budgets and understand what they are getting into. For the “little guy” though, well, you can see how it can affect us.
The moral of the story is, think twice before you do it. I am not saying to avoid using Azure but it would be very nice if Microsoft put the feature in your account to change your monthly spending limit as needed.
10/10/13 – Update for MSDN users. I was notified that there is now an option for MSDN users to be able to remove their limit for just one month/current month vs. removing it forever. Although I see this feature in my MSDN account, I don’t believe it allows you to set a limit. So, the issue of possibly having a massive bill for that one month you remove the limit still exists. In my non-MSDN accounts I don’t see any options to do set/change/re-enable my spending limits at all. Please see Scott Guthrie’s blog post for more information on this.
http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/spending-limits/ – notes regarding not being able to re-enable a spending limit
Auto-Refill product – not sure if this helps this situation however