Just Get RID of the CREDITS!!!!

01-11-2018 07:31 AM
Status: Open
Occasional Contributor II

I am an Esri Business Partner. I have had conversations with every one of my clients about credit usage.




In a world of ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Portal, Level 1 Users, Level 2 Users, Server Roles, WebApp Builders, Concurrent licensing On/Off/On. THERE IS ALREADY ENOUGH CONFUSION. 

Please. Please. for my sanity.   Just get rid of the credits.

Either you have access to the tool or not. Go ahead and use the Freemimum model it's fine we're used to it. 

Own that it is the Worst Idea Ever and lets move past it. downwithcredits‌


Please See my responses below for more clarification...


Tags (1)


I like your enthusiasm and find credits and all additional things added to AGOL confusing as well. But, it seems to me that Esri has simplified things a little bit the last time I checked. It is easier for me to understand how many credits I am using for what processes when I look at things like View Status

I get a much better understanding of what I have used and what things 'cost'. So maybe Esri is addressing this confusing issue with a small slope towards simplicity.

In any case, what do you propose in place of credits? You mention freemium, but what is removed with the freemium option?


Hi Micah,

Just FYI, this link may help clear up the confusion about credit usage in ArcGIS Online,

ArcGIS Online | Service Credits 

Hope this helps,


Adrian and Derek; 

Thank you both for your comments. They are similar to the ones I've gotten on Twitter. Please don't misunderstand the purpose of this post. I Understand Credits - how they are budgeted, allowed and used. 

My Idea and suggestion here is born out of frustration of my clients. Believe me I have shown them both of your suggestions and that has helped ... to a degree. 

I want you to see the larger picture here, this isn's a solution that a help document or video will fix. 

Talk To Users. 

Average, Ordinary, not on Geonet, not engaged, non GIS, I-already-have-a-full-time-job-doing-something-else users. They don't understand credits or what they are for, they only understand the fear of losing/using credits. Why? Because thats how it was portrayed in the beginning. (before you say "No it wasn't" - yes, yes it was) 

Our -And I'll put myself in your Esri shoes here- Our Clients, these beautiful people, have enough confusion with Named Users, Licensing, Server Roles, domains, databases, Rest endpoints, versions, updates, EA requirements, Server Manager, Geoevent Manager, Portal Admin, Federation, SSO, LDAP, SSL, CA, URL, LMNOP. ... etc..

My suggestion is to do away with Credits completely. Turn them off. 

If a user is not licensed for a task, product, analysis or action. PUT A LOCK ON IT. We are already used to that with ArcTools. We understand what that means, Again; the freemium model. 



Well written. 


I totally agree. Nicely written. I am a GIS coordinator that works with Minnesota teachers and students to use GIS. I have been a part of, or coordinated, more than one hundred workshops. Fortunately for K-12 teachers they do not have to worry about the credits, but if Esri ever makes that a reality they will stop using quickly. It is confusing for those folks and I am glad I don't have to spend a couple hours every week trying to explain, or point them to documentation that they don't want to read because of their everyday workload. When GIS is not your main business purpose, these types of things will always remain confusing.


This Just Happened again. Bringing it up to the top. 

No joke: Here's a Real, Honest question from a Very Experienced (+10 years) GIS user: 

Has ESRI done anything in regards to cities having issues with budgeting for unknown future credit usage?

Do you know how much cities are typically budgeting for credits?

I withhold name because I respect the user and want to make the point that these questions are constant and real. I Wish Esri would talk to their users. These local Gov folks are CONCERNED about BUDGETING MONEY FOR CREDITS!!! How messed up is that? I mean, good on them for thinking about the unknown when it comes to budgets. But: @Esri, You want people to use your software? Dump the credits.


Our -And I'll put myself in your Esri shoes here- Our Clients, these beautiful people, have enough confusion with Named Users, Licensing, Server Roles, domains, databases, Rest endpoints, versions, updates, EA requirements, Server Manager, Geoevent Manager, Portal Admin, Federation, SSO, LDAP, SSL, CA, URL, LMNOP. ... etc..

Thats exactly what our organisation is concerned about - hard to administrate and work with ESRIs Software and License Park.

Hard enough to convince clients/users/administrarors to use the new Stuff, even harder if credits have to be considered. On top different Services/Storage options have different amount of credits - counfusion guaranteed - maybe at least an Information in the Layer describtion would be helpful, how much credits will a Layer cost per month ... e.g. right beside the data-size Info


Hi Micah and All,

Perhaps a better approach than documenting your constant frustration, is to offer Esri alternatives to the current model. Maybe, they should offer an unlimited credit usage plan for a certain dollar amount. In addition, it could potentially be scaled at different price points for education, public, and private sectors. I work for a private company and would consider paying a higher annual fee than to have to approach each region as to how many credits they think their users will need in the upcoming year. That being said, you should offer Esri an alternative way to monetize high usage, instead of asking for something that everyone knows will never change.



GISer since 1994

Autodesk and Esri


I'll offer an alternative.

Credits are a cost abstraction, plain and simple. That is, they serve no purpose other than hiding the true cost of performing a workflow from an end user.

If you break down the cost, a bundle of 1,000 Esri Service Credits will cost you $100. So each credit has a market value of 10 cents. Now, if you look at Esri's Credits by Capability breakdown, you'll see that Geocoding cost 40 credits per 1,000 records. That would be $4 per 1,000 records.

Now, if you tell a user that geocoding their dataset is going to cost 40 credits they might hesitate, but probably not. If you tell them it's going to cost $4, they're less likely to do so because they understand that monetary value. It's much easier to tell your supervisor "I need to spend $50 to perform this workflow" than it is to tell them "I need to spend 500 service credits to perform this workflow.". In the case of the former, the supervisor will question the value of the operation. In the case of the latter, the supervisor's response is going to be something along the lines of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

For instance, take these two versions of an Analyst asking their supervisor for permission to perform an operation.

"Mr. Bigglesworth, you told me you wanted me to geoenrich the entire 8-million record customer dataset with 100 demographic variables. I can do that, but it's going to cost 80,000,000 service credits. Are you sure you want me to do this?"


"Mr. Bigglesworth, you told me you wanted me to geoenrich the entire 8-million record customer dataset with 100 demographic variables. I can do that, but its going to cost $8,000,000. Are you sure you want me to do this?"

You see, Mr. Bigglesworth doesn't know about or care about Service Credits - nor should he. He's got world domination on his mind. He can't be bothered with the nuances of Service Credits. So, while 80,000,000 is a much bigger number than 8,000,000, the fact that they are 'Service Credits' hides from Mr. Bigglesworth the fact that his wallet is about to take a serious hit if he approves.

There are a few other things Esri could do to really address this issue:

  1. Creating an option for Organization Administrators to prevent users from putting their organization into a negative credit balance.
  2. Creating an option for Organization Administrators to assign credit allowances to Group Owners and allow those Group Owners to allocate them to their Group Members allowances as needed.
  3. Create an option for workflows that use more than n-credits to require approval from an Organization Administrator or that user's Group Owner if we want to play off of item 2.
  4. Create an option for users to see a 'free sample' result of what their data result will be if they execute the operation. This is not a simple PNG representation but a true sample of their data run through the given operation and the result displayed in an embedded table or map so that they can visualize a sample of the result at no cost. Purpose of this functionality being preventing users from wasting credits on operations that do not produce the results they want. Perhaps this would only be needed if the user is about to expend an abnormally large amount of credits based on usage patterns. 
  5. Credits should NEVER expire. 
    • Both subscription-based and purchased credits should roll over year to year so long as the organization is active. In both cases, real money was spent by the organization to obtain those credits. Last time I checked, money doesn't expire. If through a combination of subscriptions and additional credit purchases, I somehow obtain 1,000,000 credits in 2018, there should be no reason I have to use all of those credits by 2020. I paid for them through my subscription costs and purchase orders. A use/lose policy is nothing but greed.
    • Esri might make the argument that Service Credits need to expire so that the fluctuating cost of running infrastructure and facilitating operations can be accounted for. Well, to that argument I'd offer that they have the power to adjust credit costs by operation as needed with whatever frequency they like. But Service Credits, should never, ever, ever expire.
  6. Create tools to more effectively manage AGOL/Portal Content for non-developer administrators. Esri charges credits for data storage but other than the Python API, the GUI based tools offered to administrators in AGOL/Portal do not allow them to quickly identify services which are consuming large amounts of credits through attachment storage, feature storage, tile storage, etc. Org Admins who are not developers need powerful, intuitive, GUI based tools to effectively manage their organization content. The Python API is great, but you can't expect an Org Admin to use Python to manage the Org. Some who are more technically inclines will and that's fantastic. I use it all the time. The truth however, is that saying 'Python API' to everything Org Admin related is just a cop out to creating real web-based GUI administrator tools.
  7. Finally, if Esri really wants to get serious about this issue, as Micah Williamson‌ states - just get rid of service credits all together and price operations and storage in cold, hard U.S. dollars.

I 100% agree with you Micah!  Luckily we've gone with an EEAP at my agency so we have plenty of credits now, but I had quite a bit of apprehension running a few processes early on because I had no way of knowing how many credits I was going to end up using until after I'd used them.