Attention fellow web-warriors! You may have gotten an email from the folks at Google Maps this past week. They are implementing a few changes, and it may have an effect on your website’s maps should you use Google Maps API. We know that you have questions:

  • Will I have to start paying for my site’s maps?
  • What do I have to do to retain connectivity?
  • How will these changes apply to me?

Let us translate everything into plain English for you.

So what has changed? Aside from the name, you’ll find a few things different about the Maps tool. The first and most significant change is Google’s new requirement for a payment method to be on file in order to use the full version of Google Maps API. Should you not have billing information on file, your site will still display Google Maps, but in a lower quality version riddled with watermarks. If you’re a serious business, you probably want to avoid this. We know having to give away personal payment information is a bit off-putting, but Google’s new model of Maps usage necessitates it. There are a few different levels of usage for Google Maps Platform, including a “free” level.

But why would a free account need payment information? Think of it like a safety harness when climbing. We know you’re not going to fall, but what happens if you do? It’s good to know that there is something in place to save you from your slip. The same logic applies to the new Google Maps Platform. The “free” level credits $200 worth of Google Maps API requests to be used over the course of a month. Most accounts do not exceed this amount of usage per month, so they will not end up paying anything anyway. This amount of cash translates to roughly 28,000 maps requests, a number that many sites don’t even come close to approaching monthly. As you may have guessed by now, your preferred method of payment would be charged in the event your site uses more than its credit. By Google’s way of thinking, having a card on file can help you easily scale your growth alongside Google without any interruptions in service because of billing discrepancies.

But what if your website suddenly goes viral, and your per day Google Maps API requests skyrocket? Are you going to be charged a small fortune by Google to use their maps, even though you didn’t intend to use as much as you did? This is certainly possible, but thankfully Google has put in place a few tools in the form of alerts and quotas to help you manage and monitor your usage. If you never want to exceed the $200/month level of use, I would recommend checking these out and setting up your personal parameters.

If you’re looking for one of the 18 Google Maps APIs and can’t find it, it may be because Google did away with it or consolidated it into one of the three blanket API types: Maps, Routes, and Places. Explore the new options to figure out if the new APIs will do what you need them to.

It should be noted that there is a lot of chatter on the web about the $200 monthly credit that Google is giving the free Google Maps Platform accounts. Some are speculating that this credit will be revoked once the attention on Google Maps Platform lessens, making users pay for the professional version of Maps API regardless of usage. This has caused a quiet uproar, considering that the change implies a 1400% price increase based on requests, and a lot of people are worried that will be enough to tank their site. The requests limit for Maps API went from the former 25,000 per day to 28,000 per month on the free accounts, so there is much more room for overuse.

These changes take effect June 11th, so you still have a bit of time. If your site uses Google Maps, be sure to check your usage and start thinking about options should you be over the limit.

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