Plan and manage costs for Azure Cognitive Services

This article describes how you plan for and manage costs for Azure Cognitive Services. First, you use the Azure pricing calculator to help plan for Cognitive Services costs before you add any resources for the service to estimate costs. Next, as you add Azure resources, review the estimated costs. After you've started using Cognitive Services resources (for example Speech, Computer Vision, LUIS, Language service, Translator, etc.), use Cost Management features to set budgets and monitor costs. You can also review forecasted costs and identify spending trends to identify areas where you might want to act. Costs for Cognitive Services are only a portion of the monthly costs in your Azure bill. Although this article explains how to plan for and manage costs for Cognitive Services, you're billed for all Azure services and resources used in your Azure subscription, including the third-party services.


Cost analysis in Cost Management supports most Azure account types, but not all of them. To view the full list of supported account types, see Understand Cost Management data. To view cost data, you need at least read access for an Azure account. For information about assigning access to Azure Cost Management data, see Assign access to data.

Estimate costs before using Cognitive Services

Use the Azure pricing calculator to estimate costs before you add Cognitive Services.

Azure Pricing calculator for Cognitive Services

As you add new resources to your workspace, return to this calculator and add the same resource here to update your cost estimates.

For more information, see Azure Cognitive Services pricing.

Understand the full billing model for Cognitive Services

Cognitive Services runs on Azure infrastructure that accrues costs when you deploy the new resource. It's important to understand that more infrastructure might accrue costs. You need to manage that cost when you make changes to deployed resources.

When you create or use Cognitive Services resources, you might get charged based on the services that you use. There are two billing models available for Cognitive Services: pay-as-you-go, and commitment tier.


With Pay-As-You-Go pricing, you are billed according to the Cognitive Services offering you use, based on its billing information.

Service Instance(s) Billing information
Computer Vision Free, Standard (S1) Billed by the number of transactions. Price per transaction varies per feature (Read, OCR, Spatial Analysis). For full details, see Pricing.
Custom Vision Free, Standard
  • Predictions are billed by the number of transactions.
  • Training is billed by compute hour(s).
  • Image storage is billed by number of images (up to 6 MB per image).
  • Face Free, Standard Billed by the number of transactions.
    Speech service Free, Standard Billing varies by feature (speech-to-text, text-to-speech, speech translation, speaker recognition). Primarily, billing is by transaction count or character count. For full details, see Pricing.
    Language Understanding (LUIS) Free Authoring, Free Prediction, Standard Billed by number of transactions. Price per transaction varies by feature (speech requests, text requests). For full details, see Pricing.
    QnA Maker Free, Standard Subscription fee billed monthly. For full details, see Pricing.
    Language service Free, Standard Billed by number of text records.
    Translator Free, Pay-as-you-go (S1), Volume discount (S2, S3, S4, C2, C3, C4, D3) Pricing varies by meter and feature. For full details, see Pricing.
  • Text translation is billed by number of characters translated.
  • Document translation is billed by characters translated.
  • Custom translation is billed by characters of source and target training data.
  • Decision
    Anomaly Detector Free, Standard Billed by the number of transactions.
    Content Moderator Free, Standard Billed by the number of transactions.
    Personalizer Free, Standard (S0) Billed by transactions per month. There are storage and transaction quotas. For full details, see Pricing.

    Commitment tier

    In addition to the pay-as-you-go model, Cognitive Services has commitment tiers, which let you commit to using several service features for a fixed fee, enabling you to have a predictable total cost based on the needs of your workload.

    With commitment tier pricing, you are billed according to the plan you choose. See Quickstart: purchase commitment tier pricing for information on available services, how to sign up, and considerations when purchasing a plan.


    If you use the resource above the quota provided by the commitment plan, you will be charged for the additional usage as per the overage amount mentioned in the Azure portal when you purchase a commitment plan. For more information, see Azure Cognitive Services pricing.

    Costs that typically accrue with Cognitive Services

    Typically, after you deploy an Azure resource, costs are determined by your pricing tier and the API calls you make to your endpoint. If the service you're using has a commitment tier, going over the allotted calls in your tier may incur an overage charge.

    Extra costs may accrue when using these services:

    QnA Maker

    When you create resources for QnA Maker, resources for other Azure services may also be created. They include:

    Costs that might accrue after resource deletion

    QnA Maker

    After you delete QnA Maker resources, the following resources might continue to exist. They continue to accrue costs until you delete them.

    Using Azure Prepayment credit with Cognitive Services

    You can pay for Cognitive Services charges with your Azure Prepayment (previously called monetary commitment) credit. However, you can't use Azure Prepayment credit to pay for charges for third-party products and services including those from the Azure Marketplace.

    Monitor costs

    As you use Azure resources with Cognitive Services, you incur costs. Azure resource usage unit costs vary by time intervals (seconds, minutes, hours, and days) or by unit usage (bytes, megabytes, and so on). As soon as use of a Cognitive Service (or Cognitive Services) starts, costs are incurred and you can see the costs in cost analysis.

    When you use cost analysis, you view Cognitive Services costs in graphs and tables for different time intervals. Some examples are by day, current and prior month, and year. You also view costs against budgets and forecasted costs. Switching to longer views over time can help you identify spending trends. And you see where overspending might have occurred. If you've created budgets, you can also easily see where they're exceeded.

    To view Cognitive Services costs in cost analysis:

    1. Sign in to the Azure portal.
    2. Open the scope in the Azure portal and select Cost analysis in the menu. For example, go to Subscriptions, select a subscription from the list, and then select Cost analysis in the menu. Select Scope to switch to a different scope in cost analysis.
    3. By default, cost for services are shown in the first donut chart. Select the area in the chart labeled Cognitive Services.

    Actual monthly costs are shown when you initially open cost analysis. Here's an example showing all monthly usage costs.

    Example showing accumulated costs for a subscription

    • To narrow costs for a single service, like Cognitive Services, select Add filter and then select Service name. Then, select Cognitive Services.

    Here's an example showing costs for just Cognitive Services.

    Example showing accumulated costs for Cognitive Services

    In the preceding example, you see the current cost for the service. Costs by Azure regions (locations) and Cognitive Services costs by resource group are also shown. From here, you can explore costs on your own.

    Create budgets

    You can create budgets to manage costs and create alerts that automatically notify stakeholders of spending anomalies and overspending risks. Alerts are based on spending compared to budget and cost thresholds. Budgets and alerts are created for Azure subscriptions and resource groups, so they're useful as part of an overall cost monitoring strategy.

    Budgets can be created with filters for specific resources or services in Azure if you want more granularity present in your monitoring. Filters help ensure that you don't accidentally create new resources that cost you more money. For more about the filter options when you create a budget, see Group and filter options.

    Export cost data

    You can also export your cost data to a storage account. This is helpful when you or others need to do more data analysis for costs. For example, finance teams can analyze the data using Excel or Power BI. You can export your costs on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule and set a custom date range. Exporting cost data is the recommended way to retrieve cost datasets.

    Next steps