Microsoft offers some methods to gain some credits to know the Azure products for purpose of studying or development like AWS offers free tiers services in the first 12 months. Let’s go over the known ways to obtain these free credits:
$200 free trial for 30 days
Microsoft offer this credit for new eligible accounts. That means only a single person will obtain this credit. Multiple account will not work like in AWS. During the first 30 days you can launch Linux/Windows VMs, Web/Mobile Apps, Networks and Active Directory accounts dropping from the $200 credit. Azure will not charge you above $200 unless you change your subscription to “Pay-as-you-go”. It’s good because that can save your money in case of you forget some VM up for weeks like I’ve done before in AWS (gracefully AWS rewarded me this considerable amount of money considering I was new in the service). A valid credit/debit card is required to obtain the credit. Along the $200 credit MS allow the usage for 12 months of 25 Azure products including 750 hours of Linux VMs, 250GBs of SQL DBs and 10 App Services. More information about the $200 credit and about these 25 products can be found here.
$100 credit for Students
Microsoft offers for students older than 18 years a $100 credit to be used with the Azure products. The eligibility is made through the university e-mail address. No credit card is needed. The 25 free products for 12 months is also available. Official information and activation can be found here.
Visual Studio Professional/Enterprise/BizSpark/MPN/MSDN subscription
If you or your employer pays for a Microsoft Visual Studio Professional license you should be able to use $50/month credits in Azure. That credit renews each month while the Visual Studio license is active. If you own either a Enterprise license or is part of BizSpark startup Microsoft program or is a Microsoft Partner (MPN) that credits increases to $150/month and may reach until $1000/month depending of the level the partner you’re . Official information and activation can be found here. MSDN license also provides an Azure credit of $100/month. This is easy to activate and no credits card is required. That can be activated by accessing the My Account menu in the MSDN page by clicking at ‘Activate Windows Azure’. Official information and instructions can be found here.
These are the current ways I know is possible to earn some credits to start to develop or study in Microsoft Azure. If you found some improper or outdated information feel free to tell me.