Google recently (in July of 2018) made a change to the Google Maps API, transitioning it from a free to a paid service. While anyone may continue using the Google Maps website for free, access to the back-end API, which many popular WordPress plugins and other web libraries use to display maps, is no longer free. You’ll know if you’re using the API rather than regular, free Maps access if you’ve had to insert an “API Key” from your Google account into your web site configuration. Unfortunately there is nothing ITaP can do about this situation.
Those who wish to continue using the Google Maps API must register a credit card with their Google API account in order to continue using the service. Typically, colleges and departments will want to discuss this with their business offices. As of November 2018, once a credit card has been entered, you will get a free quota of API requests each month to go through before you are charged. To the best of our understanding, you can optionally set limits to prevent your card from ever being charged or to keep it from being charged over a certain amount, but keep in mind that your site’s Maps features will stop working after that point. The free quota is supposed to be sufficient for “low traffic” sites.
You can learn more about the Google Maps API and their policies at Google’s FAQ site. If you are having any issues with Google Maps, the Google Maps API, billing, or anything related to your Google account, you will need to contact Google Support directly.
While ITaP cannot make any recommendations about free or lower cost alternatives, the following options exist and may meet your needs:
- If you only want to display one map, such as your office location, follow Google’s instructions to generate an embed code and use that instead.
- Linking directly to a specific location (or dropped pin) at maps.google.com does not use the API, and is free. Google provides documentation about generating Google Maps URLs based on street address or latitude/longitude.
- Other mapping services, such as OpenStreetMap (OpenStreetMap Documentation), could be a good alternative where it’s possible to use them.