Credit Card Required for Free Account

I’ve been using Cloud9 for the better part of a year now to teach my students how to create web apps. It is an amazing program that allows me to teach certain concepts that would be practically impossible any other way. Unfortunately, it appears that users must now supply credit card info in order to create a free account. Is there any way around this? I would love to continue using and introducing my students to this tool, but I’ll probably end up using something else unless they are able to create accounts without a credit card.


I am curious about this as well, I just went over this in my class and this “Verifying the authenticity” is vague BS. Its a free account that people are using to do simple dev work. What exactly is being verified by my providing a credit card to you to subsequently compromise when you are hacked? Which is you have not noticed is happening pretty frequently these days.

There are plenty of ways to validate the identity of users without asking them for a credit card.


Thanks for asking about this and for being patient here. This was not done to be vague, secretive, or lucrative. If you want it straight and to the point, here are the main reasons:

  • Prevent bots
  • Prevent DDOS
  • Prevent Phishing
  • Give us more time to make the IDE better

…but if you’re at this page then I’m guessing you want more details so read on :smile: If you’ve been in the community the past few months, you know that malicious and non-malicious (misunderstanding the purpose of C9) abusers have become more frequent. Behind the scenes, we’ve been optimizing how we handle abuse so you don’t have to worry about that.

Ultimately, abusers are a distraction that slow progress on highly requested IDE features, which isn’t good for legit Cloud9 users. The reactionary measures we’ve put in place are good but we now require credit cards to prevent abuse from the start.

Education is one of the most important use cases that exist for Cloud9 and we’re looking into how this affects that specifically. More to come on that.


A couple of points to make.

First I completely get what you are saying (I think) and in fact I might have been someone you could call an abuser. In that to demonstrate how to set up a Cloud9 account to my class I did in fact set up a second free account. And it did admittedly occur to me that I was not sure why anyone paid for an account when they could just set up 5 free ones (I have subsequently deleted the second account).

Second and more importantly I want to take a moment to note this is one reason I like Cloud9 (Even though I am extremely new to this community). MOST of my experience with other programmers has been an abrasive experience, and my own tenor is often molded expecting that type of abrasiveness back. It is refreshing to see a well worded, cordial response from someone and this is one of the reasons I feel like c9 is a great community.

While I would absolutely like to see a better verification method than asking for a CC (As it IS a liability to store that information, and really to do so for no reason other than validating identities is a pretty big risk) I do have a CC I can use and honestly was probably just going to sign up for a subscription anyway as I do think this is a great product.

Thank you for the reply Brady!


Hi bradydowling,

Thank you for reply in this.

I’m a lecturer in a technical college. My main purpose is Rails education for students.
I’m going to use Cloud9 as Free Plan for my lecture because I wish they share their codes in GitHub as their public repositories in my lecture.

I think it’s a great product for us because we can have homogeneous Rails environments despite our OS environments are mixed (Mac and Windows).

But in my lecture yesterday, my students met this trouble when they tried to fill credit card information while making new their accounts.
The critical problem is that they have no credit cards.

Of course I can try to acquire my budget for your Universities plan.
But it will be difficult because I’m just a part-time (not regular) lecturer. I have limited authority for our budget.

What is the best solution?

Yuki Fujiwara


I work with middle and high school students who obviously don’t have a credit cards. They do have Google accounts through our school district though. Any chance you could allow users to sign up for a free account using a Google Education account without asking for a credit card. It seems like that would meet your needs without excluding younger users.


Hi Mike,

Thank you for your post! I would like to respond to the part where you mentioned that storing the credit card information is a liability and therefore not the best verification method: We as Cloud9 do not store any credit card information. This is done through a third-party payment system, which meets all the legal requirements for storing such data (also known as PCI compliance). I understand this is something that probably more of our users worry about, so I will add it to our payment page for future reference.



Hey Cloud9 team!

I normally teach coding workshops to kids 12-17 using C9 but I found out today during my workshop that you require a payment method in order to make an account now. This unfortunately renders my regular curriculum a little bit broken and forcing me to adapt another IDE such as Codepen.

Why is a credit card required for C9 even though the free plan won’t charge you ever? Please give an option for other educators and I to circumvent this issue as I really love using Cloud9 as for an IDE and haven’t found anything that beats it.


I have the same problem.
I´m a german student and teach my friends in C++ and discovered yesterday C9. I registered and all worked.
Today the others wants to register and we cant register…
We don´t have credit cards… And i don´t want to use or some other things
I want to use C9!!!


Thanks Dana, I mentioned the Payment card storage specifically because of PCI. My primary role is payment card compliance and network security, so I have a pretty good understanding of the challenges around protecting this and other sensitive data. While I get that you use a 3rd party to store it (Pretty much everyone does), a data breach at that payment vendor would still negatively impact c9 hence my confusion around why something that is really a pretty big liability would be the verification method of choice.

Still I do think I understand the need for a better verification method so you can police the ‘free’ account better, but hope there are ongoing high level discussions around how to get access for users that legitimately have no way to provide a credit card to validate the account.

Diversity is a strength, and I would hate to see that compromised by excluding people who can be a valuable member of the c9 community simply because they cannot conform to a single accepted validation method.



This really makes the c9 ide unusable here, where most people don’t have access to credit cards.



This credit card requirement stopped me from trying your service. (I don’t just hand out my details and nowhere is it specified which CC processing company you are using.) Bummer.

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At the sign-up, I find the credit-card step really repulsive.
I wanted to convert people to Cloud9 (main argument was full Ubuntu VM at your disposition for dev purpose and for free), but they don’t own a credit card (too young) or they don’t want to risk losing money (even if you say that the service is free).
Would you roll back this change if there were any other possibility to prevent abusers to sign up ?


This is tragic. I am teaching minors to code and collaborate, and I can no longer use C9. Is this seriously the best solution you could come up with?


I’m about to teach a 2-week camp to high schoolers on how to program and develop websites and applications, and this has forced me to look elsewhere.

To prevent all of those bad things, why not:

  • Use a captcha
  • Require email verification
  • Require phone verification
  • Automatically delete free tier accounts after a certain period of being unused
  • Automatically lock accounts that show signs of malicious activity (nmap, email spamming, hosting malware, etc.)
  • Automatically lock accounts that break any of the user agreement policies

There are other options, and most people are able to realize that asking for credit card info is simply a way to hold user information hostage. Why even offer the free plan in this case? Why not give a 7 or 14 day trial of the free account and then require a credit card afterwards? Even that would be more acceptable.

All of this being said, I understand that C9 is a business and businesses need to make money. The fact that C9 offered a free plan in the first place is great; this is just an unfortunate turn of events.


Requiring a CC completely kills the possibility of c9 being used in k12 education, as students don’t have credit cards and teachers won’t be willing to put down their own for every student. Unless there is some kind of workaround for minors, come September my fellow teachers and I will be forced to use another service. It’s a shame - because we really like c9.


Great way to Prevent bots

Thanks for adding this its Great way to prevent bots but there are still a lot of accounts that can use bots can you please clean up and ask every account for CreaditCard and C9 will be clean of spammer and bots users&makers

So, I’ve found a decent way around this.

I, for example, am teaching a class to 10 high school students. So, I bought a cheap $25 Visa gift card from a local grocery store and used it to sign up for 10 student accounts so they can use the free plan.


Hi all,

Thank you again for the feedback and all the updates (including your workaround @Nezteb :thumbsup:). I just wanted to keep you posted and let you know that we have a proposed solution for this for educational users. It’s probably a couple weeks out so it should be good by the time most schools start back up for the school year. I will post all updates I hear about right here but feel free to continue to post feedback and experiences here.




We are really sad with this change that require credit card to have a free account.

We are a small startup here in São Paulo (Brazil) that is using C9 to help students prepare themselves to internships in software development. We are creating a video course with many exercises. Those exercises are meant to be done by the students using C9. We already have 7 students testing our course and everything is (or was :frowning: ) going very well.

We have already made a bunch of videos using C9 to show on practice the concepts being taught in order to make the students comfortable to use C9. We will launch our course in 1 week and a half and requiring a CC completely kills what we are creating because the majority of our students don’t have a CC.

As software developers know, having the same development environment for every developer is much more productive and easier to work. We believe this also happen in a learning environment. We have given the same course not using online tools like C9 and we always had problems with university computers, students notebooks, even trying to run VirtualBox VMs in different and old machines results in trouble. Furthermore, this allow students to use a tablet, mac, windows, linux or whatever to learn. They just need the browser to watch the videos and do the exercises.

The university account is not possible for us, it is too much expensive after converting USD to BRL considering the amount we intend to charge for our course.

I really hope to hear good news from C9 in the next days about this.

In the meantime, we will try to find a pre paid credit card like @Nezteb suggested.