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Google Maps pay-as-you-go billing starting June 11

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Edit: Google have moved the effective date of the new pricing, and the $200 free monthly credit, to July 16th. Google is launching the new Maps, Routes and Places functionality on June 11th. To provide you with an additional month of lead time, the new terms and pricing won’t go into effect until July 16th. Read more here.

Google announced in May a massive revamp of its Google Maps business. The upcoming Google Maps Platform brings with it streamlined API products, a simplified customer experience, a single pricing plan with pay-as-you-go billing, free support, a single console, and new industry solutions. Great right? Of course there is a catch… Starting on June 11 2018, you’ll need a valid API key and a Google Cloud Platform billing account to access the core Google Maps APIs.

What does this mean for developers and website owners?

It certainly looks like we can expect an improved service from Google which is great news. As part of this new initiative, Google is combining the 18 individual Maps APIs currently on offer into three core products: Maps, Routes and Places. Developers can sleep easy as Google promises their existing code will continue to work without any changes as well.

However, many website owners opt to hire a developer to maintain their content on their behalf and choose to stay away from anything web related. This upcoming update means many developers will need to call clients up and ask them to either A) set up a Google account and guide them through the process and/or B) ask for their card details to set up their billing account – not ideal.

Then there’s the change in price and usage. If your website relies heavily on Google Maps (an estate agent for example), the $200 credit (roughly 28,000 dynamic maps loads) isn’t going to last long. Compared to the old structure, there’s a +1400% price increase and a -96.6 % usage decrease in free map loads… Yikes.

If you rely on the Google API and simply allow this day to pass you, you may find services disrupted somewhat. You can no longer use the APIs unless you create a billing account and hand-over your credit card information to Google. This is applicable to all users – even those who have a simple map embedded on their website’s contact page.

On the positive side of things however, customer support is now going to be free for all now

So moving forward, what are the available options?

  1. Get moving and set up client Google Accounts and billing, no seriously, get moving!
  2. If you can do without the dynamic options, switch to the standard embedded version, which remains completely free if your usage is low enough.
  3. Remove Google Maps and opt to use a static image and/or link to Google Maps perhaps.
  4. Panic, run around in circles for a few minutes, jump ship, and use an alternative:
    1. OpenStreetMap
    2. Bing
    3. Mapbox


Further thoughts on this show that it’s not fantastic news for those who have built around the Google Maps API previously, one such user on Reddit comments:

We have build an app that relies heavily on Google Maps, and we easily get around 500-1000 calls in a day for Place(Nearby Search), on their pricing page it says “Up to 5000 calls ” under free-tier per month and $40.00 per Thousand Calls after that, same for Place text search which is separate. So the Place search alone will cost my company thousands of dollars A MONTH. I think we must start our transition to Mapbox real soon. LuciferSeventeen

It seems a lot of users aren’t happy. When you consider the new cost, combined with the drastic change in usage allowance AND that a lot of information within Google Maps is provided for FREE by Local Guides – I’d have to somewhat agree. However, the fact that the basic embedded version remains free (at least for now) is great for those who simply want to show an interactive map on their website.

Can I still use Google Maps Platform for free?

Yes. Starting July 16, 2018, when you enable billing, you get $200 free usage every month for Maps, Routes, or Places. Based on the millions of users using our APIs today, most of them can continue to use Google Maps Platform for free with this credit.

I only use a map for show where I’m based, will I be charged?

No. The credit system only comes into play if you’re using anything above the standard embedded version. To clarify:

  • Embed refers to a basic Maps Embed API request that uses map or a map with a marker. This does not include the Directions mode, Street View mode, or Search mode. These requests are free of charge.
  • Embed Advanced refers to an advanced Maps Embed API request that uses the Directions mode, Street View mode, or Search mode. These requests are charged. User interactions with the map, such as panning, zooming, or switching map layers, do not generate additional map loads.
  • Dynamic Map SKU refers to a web page or application that displays a map using the Maps JavaScript API. A map is created with the google.maps.Map() class. Any user interactions with the map, such as panning, zooming, or switching map layers, do not generate additional map loads. The creation of a Street View panorama is no longer charged as a map load, it is charged as a “Dynamic Street View”.

Can I set usage limits?

To protect against unexpected increases, you can also set daily quotas, maximum daily billable limits, or maximum daily usage limits.

To find out more, visit Google’s User Guide

If your business depends on Google Maps APIs, you can check out Google’s Guide for Existing Users. You’ll be able to check if you fit within the $200 free monthly credit before the launch date.