Utility computing is a form of computer service whereby the company providing the service charges the users for using the system resources. In this paper, we present system-optimal and user-optimal price-based job allocation schemes for utility computing systems whose objective is to minimize the cost for the users. The system-optimal scheme provides an allocation of jobs to the computing resources that minimizes the overall cost for executing all the jobs in the system. The user-optimal scheme provides an allocation that minimizes the cost for individual users in the system for providing fairness. The system-optimal scheme is formulated as a constraint minimization problem, and the user-optimal scheme is formulated as a non-cooperative game. The prices charged by the computing resource owners for executing the users jobs are obtained using a pricing model based on a non-cooperative bargaining game theory framework. The performance of the studied job allocation schemes is evaluated using simulations with various system loads and configurations. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.