Set up billing with $300 Google credits to explore Terra

Allie Hajian

If you've never logged into the Google Cloud console to set up billing, you are eligible for $300 in free Google Cloud credits you can use for working in Terra. Read on for step-by-step instructions for how to access the credits and FAQs about using the credits on the Terra platform. 

For more information about Google's free credits and Free Tier, see their documentation here.

Conditions for Google credits free trial eligibility

  • You haven't previously signed up for the Free Trial
  • You've never been a paying customer of Google Cloud, Google Maps Platform, or Firebase

If you're part of a broader organization that uses Google Cloud this likely means your email will not be eligible for the $300 credits. 

Three steps to get $300 Google Cloud credits to use in Terra

Setting up billing directly lets you have full control over your billing and is a good option if you are comfortable working in the Google Cloud console. You can use a personal credit card or bank account (and get reimbursed, if your work on Terra is grant-funded) or institutional credit card or other account.

If you have been using a third-party reseller, but want to set up your own Google Cloud Billing account, follow the directions below. 

Step 1. Set up a Cloud Billing account and accept $300 free trial credits

The first step is to set up a Google Cloud Billing account using your Terra user ID in the Google Cloud console.

Note: You'll need to give some additional information to Google, as well as verify your Cloud Billing account with a credit card or bank account. Google will notify you before your credits expire and will not charge your credit card without your direct permission. 

1.1.  Go to the Google Cloud console at (make sure to sign in with your Terra user ID!). If you haven't already set up a Google Cloud Billing account, you'll be greeted with an invitation to activate your free trial in the banner at the top of the page: 

Screenshot of Google cloud console page with activate button to start free credits (at right) highlighted

1.2. Click the activate button and follow the instructions to sign up for a Cloud Billing account and get your credits.

To verify you're a person and reduce fraud, you'll need to confirm with a one-time verification sent to a cell phone, and give a credit card, PayPal account or bank account to verify your identity.

Don't worry! You won't be billed until you explicitly turn on automatic billing!

Screenshot of GCP free credit welcome screen highlighting sentence that you won't be charged without permission

1.3. You can verify the Google Cloud Billing account in the Billing page. You should see My Billing Account in the top left. That's your new Google Cloud Billing account! 

Screenshot of Billing page on GCP console with My Billing Account highlighted

Google will create a Google project, My First Project, funded by your free credits, which you can see in the My Projects tab.

Screenshot of Billing page on GCP console with My First Project (under My Projects tab) highlighted

Step 2. Link Terra to your Cloud Billing account on Google

This step lets Terra and Google communicate about cost and billing. 

2.1. When logged into Google Chrome with your Terra user ID, go to the Google Cloud Console Billing page.

2.2. Select the checkbox beside the Google Cloud billing account you will use for Terra.

2.3. On the right panel, below Permissions, select the Add Principal button.

2.4. Add under New Principal in the form.

2.5. In the dropdown, select the Billing role Billing Account User.

2.5. Click Add.

2.6. Don't forget the Save button!

Add Terra as Billing account user screen capture movie (G9_May9_2019.gif)

Note: "" will appear in the list as "" This is expected!

Step 3. Create a Terra Billing project

Once you've accepted your Google credits and linked your Google Cloud Billing account to Terra, you'll be able to create a Terra Billing project. You need a Terra Billing project to create a workspace to work in Terra. These Billing projects are internal to Terra, and act as a passthrough for Google Cloud costs. 

3.1. Go to your Billing page from the main navigation (three horizontal lines at the top left of any page) and click on the + Create button at the top left. 
Screenshot of Billing page with Create Terra billing project button at top highlighted

3.2. Name your Billing project.

3.3. Select My Billing Account from the dropdown ("My Billing Account" is the default name for your GCP free credits and it should be the only option) and click the Create Billing project button.

Next - Hands-on practice in a showcase workspace template 

Once you have a linked Google Cloud Billing project, you're ready to try your own analysis on the Terra platform. As a first step, see if one of these curated showcase workspaces is close to your use case. Each one includes extensive documentation as well as sample data that can be run as-is. To make a template you can practice in, make your own copy under your new Terra Billing project.

To see how to make your own copy of a workspace, see  this video.

Google Cloud free credits FAQs

What can I do with my $300 Google Cloud credits in  Terra?

Your Google Cloud credits will cover anything that has a cost in Terra - such as moving and storing data and running interactive or running a workflow analysis. Use of the credits is not restricted to specific analyses or workspaces. Read about Terra costs and billing structure here.

You can use Free Trial credits for all Google Cloud resources, including Google Maps Platform usage, with the exceptions below.

What Google Cloud limits are there when using a free credits account?

  • You can't add GPUs to your VM instances.
  • You are limited to four workspaces at a time (this is because free tier is limited to five Google projects - each workspace has its own Google project and there is a non-Terra project created for you when you register for free credits).  

If you try to create an additional workspace, you will get this error.

 Screenshot of project quota error message you get when creating too many workspaces
 To create more workspaces, delete one that you no longer need.

  • Free tier users can't request a quota increase.
    For an overview of Compute Engine quotas, see Resource quotas.
  • You can't create VM instances that are based on Windows Server images.

To perform any of the actions in the list above, you must upgrade to a paid Cloud Billing account.

How long will my $300 credits be available?

Your credits will be available once you accept them in the Google Cloud console. Credits will be available for three months, or until you have used up all $300, whichever comes first. You will get a notice from Google Cloud before your credits run out. 

How do I track how much I’ve spent?

1. Log into Google Cloud console at

2. Go to Billing in the dropdown menu of the main menu navigation (three horizontal bars at the top left).

3. You should see a summary of funds and time remaining on your free credits in the right column.
Screenshot of free credits remaining at the right hand side of the Billing Overview page in GCP console.

You can also get a number of different detailed Google Cloud billing reports by choosing Reports and selecting your free credits. 

What happens once the credits expire?

Once your credits run out or expire, you will be notified by Google Cloud that you have no available credits. You can Upgrade to a paid account, and any additional costs will be charged to the credit card or bank account you gave when signing up.

Your credit card or bank account will not be changed unless you expressly give permission

To learn about upgrading to a paid account, see this Google Cloud documentation

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1 comment

  • Comment author
    Ro Fe
    • Edited


    perhaps you can help if google is not too keen doing it...

    When I try to setup a free trial account it fails with billing account error.

    Google says in UK it accepts Paypal as payment source linked to a billing account however it fails endlessly. It fails on the google end as after the unsuccessful link attempt i need to clear google from my Paypal account.

    When I try to contact google, a chat bot says "You are not administrator of any billing account", what is not surprise because this is what is failing and this is why I try to reach google.

    Another way to contact google is to complete a form, however it has a mandatory field "billing account". How can i provide a billing account identifier when it fails before i get one?

    It is a catch22.

    I am not happy to upload my bank card, identity card, etc to google, so would stay with Paypal "payment" method. 

    Looking forward to your response.




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