Accessing YouTube APIs: Pricing, Quotas and Keys

Feb 20, 2024 ยท 2 min read

The YouTube API allows developers to integrate YouTube functionality into their own applications. This enables uploading videos, managing playlists, searching content, etc. But is using the YouTube API completely free or are there costs involved?

API Access is Free Up to a Point

The good news is that Google does provide free access to the YouTube API for non-commercial use cases. So if you're building a small hobby project, you can access all the API endpoints without paying anything.

However, Google does enforce daily request quotas on free usage to prevent abuse. For example, the YouTube Data API v3 has a default limit of 10,000 units per day. Each API call deducts from that quota and if you exceed it, your API calls will fail until the quota resets the next day.

Get an API Key for More Quota

To increase your daily allotment beyond the defaults, you need to register your application and get an API key from Google. This gives you up to 50 million units per day which is likely sufficient for most non-commercial apps.

The key also allows usage monitoring and locks API access to your specific app. So make sure to restrict the key and not publish it publicly.

Pay for Increased Allowances

If your application has a large user base or commercial use case, you may need allowances beyond the free quotas. In that case, the YouTube API offers paid plans for increased quota, more API endpoints, advanced tools and analytics.

Paid access comes with SLAs, enterprise support options and credits for Google Cloud Platform if you need to scale server-side processing.

Watch for Changes and Restrictions

While the free YouTube API access is generous, Google could introduce more restrictions or rate limits at anytime. They have done so in the past to combat abuse.

So if you're building a commercial application, make sure to plan for and budget the potential API costs down the line. Having a billing account set up makes it easier to upgrade if needed.

The key takeaways around YouTube API pricing:

  • Free for non-commercial use within request quotas
  • API keys grant higher daily quotas for free
  • Paid plans available for increased allowances
  • Quotas and access could change over time
  • With the proper keys and transition to paid if required, the YouTube API enables awesome video integrations.

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