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4 Best Google Maps API Alternatives

You can use the Google Maps API to build your own product locator, but it may not be the best choice. Here are four great alternatives to Google Maps API.

Google has established itself as a reliable, efficient provider of web applications with a host of tools, such as Google Search, Gmail, and Google Docs, that make life easier for millions of people every day. Among these tools, Google Maps is a household name and a go-to choice for individuals looking for directions. Brands can leverage the power of the Google Maps API to create their own store locator, enabling local customers to find nearby stores that carry a brand’s products.

However, with Google's recent hike in prices for the Maps API, some brands may be rethinking their reliance on this service. In July 2018, Google introduced a pay-as-you-go model for developers with an API key and a Google Cloud Platform billing account. The new pricing model for Maps API decreased the number of free visits and increased pricing by an estimated 1400%. Creating a billing account comes with a $200 credit for the first 28,000 visits free per month rather than 25,000 free per day, and charges apply after exceeding the $200 credit. This updated pricing model has led many to explore alternative solutions to the Google Maps API, especially those seeking a turnkey product locator solution.

In this post, we'll provide a comprehensive overview of the Google Maps API, its popularity among developers and DIY store locator builders, and highlight four potential API alternatives. We'll also dive into why a turnkey product locator solution is often the smarter choice for many brand owners. So, let's get started!

Google Maps API: What Is It, and Why Is It So Popular?

The Google Maps API allows your website to communicate directly with Google Maps to access the features it needs to power a simple store locator. Google Maps is compatible with just about every internet-enabled device imaginable, uses world-class mapping data, works with over 80 different languages, and has an interface that’s instantly recognizable to most users. 

The Google Maps API has two main categories of users: professional developers and brand owners with the time, desire, and tech savvy to build a basic product locator from scratch. For these users, Google provides a number of developer resources, including their own guide for building a simple store locator using Google Maps.  But this solution isn’t for everyone. Setting up even the most basic store locator requires some HTML and Javascript know-how. If you’re not familiar with the basics of these coding languages, or don’t have time to learn, using the Google Maps API for your store locator might not be the most viable option.

The Downside of Using Google Maps for Your Store Locator

Unlike many of Google’s tools, the Google Maps API isn’t free for everyone. If you exceed 28,500 map loads per month, you’ll have to pay a fee. Google has also decreased the number of features included with the free version, which has driven many professional developers and DIY brand owners to search for other options. 

Furthermore, following the steps in Google’s official guide to use the Google Maps API to create a basic store locator renders a simple, unattractive interface. To create a store locator that elegantly blends into the look and feel of your website requires the help of a professional developer with the expertise to handle the advanced backend coding needed to customize the look of the store locator. 

Finally, this simple store locator will help you find a store location close by, but that’s about it. So its ideal use case would be a small chain of stores with only a few locations that don’t change much. Advanced features like which stores stock particular products will require the help of a professional developer to enable. 

4 Alternatives to the Google Maps API

Fortunately, there are some great free options that integrate well into most store locators. Here are four of the best free maps APIs to consider when looking for alternatives to the Google Maps API.


Free requests: 100,000 per month

Switching to Mapbox from Google Maps is a breeze, and for those with coding knowledge, Mapbox provides a guide for building a store locator with Mapbox GL JS. At Grappos, we rely on Mapbox for our custom store locator because of its unmatched features:

  • Customizable maps with various styles, markers, and overlays
  • Geocoding services to convert addresses to coordinates
  • Real-time traffic and ETA calculations
  • Support for mobile platforms with offline maps and SDKs
  • Open-source tools for developers and designers


Free requests: Unlimited

OpenstreetMap is the only open-source mapping solution on the list, powered by a community of mapping websites, engineers, open-source enthusiasts, and apps. Here are some key features of OpenstreetMap:

  • Worldwide coverage with community-contributed data
  • Real-time updates and corrections from users
  • Customizable maps with various styles and overlays
  • Support for geocoding and routing services
  • Free to use for both personal and commercial applications


Free requests: 1,000 per day

With near-daily mapping updates, HERE provides spot-on mapping accuracy, making it a top alternative to Google Maps API. Check out some of the key features of HERE:

  • Worldwide coverage with real-time traffic and road data
  • Robust geocoding and reverse geocoding services
  • Customizable maps with various styles and overlays
  • Integration with Amazon Location Services for map rendering, geolocation, and search features
  • Mobile SDKs and offline maps for Android and iOS


Free requests: 50,000 free tile requests and 2,500 free non-tile requests per day 

TomTom offers more than just satellite navigation, with additional mapping functionality that surpasses Google Maps. Check out some of the key features of TomTom's mapping service:

  • Real-time traffic updates and density information
  • Advanced routing capabilities with multiple waypoints
  • Customizable maps with various styles and overlays
  • APIs for geocoding and routing services
  • Global coverage with street-level mapping data

Choosing the Right Store Locator for Your Brand

Free maps APIs like the one offered by Google Maps can be used to create a free, basic product locator. But for most brands, the limitations outweigh the benefits. Professionally designed product locators, on the other hand, include powerful features packaged in an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. Here are just a few reasons why a turnkey store locator is a better alternative to a free maps API for most brands.

Learn How to Add a Store Locator to Your Website →

Seamless integration 

The very best product locators are the ones that match the look and feel of your website to a tee. A product locator should look like it is part of your website, not a noticeable add-on.

Get inspired with these Store Locator Examples →

Powerful features that enable consumers to locate your products easily

The core mission of a store locator is to connect local consumers with products close by. Store locators use technology to create a search experience far beyond just basic mapping. Advanced features like automatic geolocation use the user’s location to connect them with the closest store that carries exactly what they’re searching for. Once they’ve located the product, directions can be sent to their phone with all of the store’s contact details right at their fingertips. 

Actionable analytics reporting capabilities

Product locators are capable of collecting a wealth of data about users and where they’re located. Knowing who is searching for what products, and where, can help businesses better understand which of their offerings are the most sought after and observe variations in regional or local trends.

Support social media marketing and local SEO efforts

Product locators aren't just for websites. You can also share product locators via your social media pages and create unique locator URLs to support your marketing efforts.  

No separate billing hassles

Store locators like Grappos don’t require you to have a separate billing account or API keys for mapping. It’s all included in your monthly subscription. 

Don’t Overcomplicate Your Store Locator Solution

The Google Maps API can be a viable solution for those with coding experience, time to build a product locator from scratch, and the ability to spend additional resources when consumer searches exceed the free monthly search limit. But for most brand owners, commercially available product locators are a better choice. With more robust features, analytics capabilities, and a thoughtful user interface, they make life easier for everyone. 

Grappos offers a beautiful, easy-to-use store locator solution. Want to see the Grappos store locator in action? Get a demo.

Eric Kunisawa

Founder & CEO

Eric Kunisawa is the founder of Grappos. He's been successfully helping businesses connect customers with their products since 2008.

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