Using Credits

This document describes the basics of using credits with CircleCI. If you are on the legacy CircleCI container-based plan you may want to consider consulting the document on using containers. If you want to switch from using containers to using credits, please open a support ticket requesting so.


The CircleCI credit-based usage plans enable you to only pay for what you use, while also providing flexibility in customizing and scaling your team’s CI solution. Credits are consumed by the second at varying rates according to what build configuration you use.

The right plan for you and your team will depend on several factors:

  • How many users are on your team
  • How much support you need (community support, standard support, or premium support)
  • If you want access to different machine-types
  • If you need features such as Docker Layer Caching, concurrent builds, or build history

Let’s look at how a Performance plan might use credits. With the Performance plan you have:

  • 50,000 credits/month ($30 monthly value)
  • Scale up to 80x concurrency
  • Build on Linux, Windows and macOS
  • Access to larger compute
  • Docker layer caching

In this example, your team is divided into several groups working on different projects; some projects are larger while others are smaller and need less resources from a CI configuration. With credits it’s possible to specify exactly where and when you need to maximize machine resources. For example, your team might use a large resource_class (with 4 vCPUs and 8gb of memory at a rate of 20 credits/minute) to speed up a build for a bigger project, while only using the small resource_class (1 vCPU, 2gb Memory, 5 credits/minute) for a smaller project that may not ship code as frequently, or where build time is inconsequential.

Consider taking a moment to look at the CircleCI Pricing page to learn about what each CircleCI plan offers and how credits are distributed across different machine types.

Configuring your credit plan

To set up your desired plan, go to Settings > Plan Overview in the CircleCI web application. From there, select the plan that best fits your needs.

Free plan

As with the CircleCI legacy container plan, CircleCI also supports a free-tier with the usage-based plan. You can still make use of many key features offered by CircleCI:

  • Using Orbs
  • Workspaces
  • Dependency Caching
  • Windows/Linux builds

The free usage-based plan offers 2,500 build credits across medium-type machines per week (which offers 2 CPUs, 4gb of memory.) With this combination, credits are used at a rate of 10 credits/minute and there is no limit on user seats.

Performance plan

Upgrading to a performance plan offers several improvements over the free plan:

  • Access to all machine sizes for Docker/Linux based machines
  • Access to medium sized MacOS machines (4 CPUs, 8gb Ram at 50 credits/minute)
  • Scalable user seat count (at 25,000 credits for the first three users and 25,000 credits for each additional user)
  • Access to Docker Layer Caching
  • No queuing
  • Support

Open source credit usage

Organizations on our free plan get 400,000 free credits per month for Linux open source builds. Using our free plan and keeping your repository public will enable this for you.

If you build on macOS, we also offer organizations on our free plan 25,000 free credits per month to use on macOS open source builds. For access to this, contact our team at

Docker layer caching

Docker Layer Caching (DLC) is available for 200 credits per job run. DLC is only available on the Performance Plan. Read more about DLC in this document.


Am i charged if my build is “queued” or “preparing”?

No. If you are notified that a job is “queued”, it indicates that your job is waiting due to a plan or concurrency limit. If your job indicates that it is “preparing”, it means that CircleCI is setting up or dispatching your job so that it may run.

If you find that jobs are “preparing” for quite some time, you may be able to reduce it if your jobs use the docker executor; try using more recent docker images to decrease preparation time.

Questions and comments

Consider reading our section on Billing in our FAQ. For any further questions, do not hesitate to open a open a support ticket.

Help make this document better

This guide, as well as the rest of our docs, are open-source and available on GitHub. We welcome your contributions.