Snagged an Apple Store, iTunes or Apple Music gift card this holiday season? You might be wondering exactly what you can buy with it.
This of course depends on exactly which gift card you’ve received. Apple’s credit is versatile for several things. Here’s a guide to what each gift card can be used for. We also have a few recommendations for things you might want to pick up.
Which Gift Card Do You Have?
There are three types of gift card sold by Apple: iTunes, Apple Music, and Apple Store. These cards can only be redeemed in the same country they were purchased in. So, a U.S. gift card will only work on the U.S. iTunes Store, or in a U.S. retail location, or an online outlet.
An iTunes gift card can only be used for buying software, music, and other similar downloadable products. Think of it as Apple’s credit for virtual products. iTunes gift cards credit the iTunes account associated with your Apple ID, and can be used against in-app purchases.
Apple Music gift cards can only be used to redeem an Apple Music subscription. They’re only available for three and twelve month purchases. When your gift card runs out your account will be charged as normal, unless you turn off auto-renewal in your Apple Music settings.
The Apple Store gift card is only good on Apple’s own website, over the phone, or in a physical retail location. It can be used against any purchase in-store, whether it’s Apple hardware, a third-party accessory, or boxed software. You can use it online or over the phone by quoting the code on the back.
Spending Apple Store Gift Cards
You don’t need to “redeem” an Apple Store gift card, just spend it at a store like cash. Unless specified, there’s no expiry date on an Apple Store gift card. Here are a few ideas for spending your store credit.
A New iPhone, iPad, or Mac
Even if your gift card doesn’t cover the cost of a new Apple gadget, you can use your credit against any purchase. That means a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, or other pricey Apple product will be cheaper if you use your Apple Store credit against it.
The new iPhone 7 is great and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro can help you get real work done. Apple’s brand new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is so pricey that a gift card is almost a pre-requisite to make the price less eye-watering. If you’ve been considering a big purchase for a while, an Apple Store gift card might be the perfect excuse to go right ahead.
Get an Apple Watch
The new Apple Watch is waterproof to 50 meters, twice as bright as its predecessor, and slots gracefully into everyday life. Siri on your wrist is super-useful and it’s a powerful tool for tracking physical activity and workouts. Despite all this many users are unsure when to pull the trigger and buy one.
Starting at $369, the Apple Watch Series 2 isn’t cheap. It’s also not that expensive, especially if you’ve got a nice discount courtesy of an Apple Store gift card. Maybe you’ve already got an Apple Watch, and want to buy a new band to replace your old one? You can use your gift card for that too.
Consider an Apple TV
Looking for a media streamer, set top box, or way to watch content from your iOS or macOS devices on your TV? Maybe you want to use AirPlay to send music to your digital receiver? The latest Apple TV improves on the older model in leaps and bounds, complete with rechargeable slimline remote and its own App Store.
Starting at $149 for the 32 GB model (which is plenty for most users), a new Apple TV is a great addition to any 1080p setup. Just be aware that there’s no 4K version available yet.
Or Buy Accessories
Most of what Apple sells in its physical and online retail stores is third party accessories. This includes headphones and speakers, like the new Beats Solo3 with W1 chip ($300) and Bose SoundLink II ($130) Bluetooth speaker. You can get Mac accessories like the Magic Trackpad 2 ($130) or a keyboard cover for your MacBook Pro ($25).
Also, for sale are game controllers like the SteelSeries Nimbus and PXN Speedy which work with iOS, Mac, and tvOS (Apple TV) devices. If you’re low on space and considering a more utilitarian purchase, grab a hard drive like the LaCie 4 TB rugged Thunderbolt ($380) or maybe something a little cheaper.
Also Consider: Apple Care
If you recently received a new iPhone, iPad, Mac or similarly pricey piece of hardware, you can visit an Apple Store and pick up AppleCare. Best of all you can use your gift card against the purchase. Though the policy and price differs depending on the device you’re buying it for, it’s a pretty worthwhile investment particularly for iPhone owners.
Using Your iTunes Credit
To use an iTunes Gift card, you’ll first need to redeem it. Once you’ve redeemed the credit, it’s added to your iTunes account and can’t be transferred. Any purchases you make will be subtracted from that balance. You can redeem iTunes credit using an iOS device or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.
Redeem on an iPhone or iPad
- Launch the App Store.
- On the Featured tab scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Redeem.
- Tap Use Camera to redeem by scanning the barcode, or enter your code manually using the option at the bottom of the page.
Redeem via iTunes for Mac or Windows
- Launch iTunes and choose Music, Apps, or Films from the drop-down in the top left.
- Click on the Store tab and scroll to the bottom of the page.
- Under the Manage heading, click Redeem.
You can check your balance too. On an iPhone scroll to the bottom of the Featured tab and your balance will appear alongside your Apple ID. On iTunes for Mac or Windows, you’ll find it in the top-right corner of the Store tab.
Buy iOS or tvOS Apps & Games
Perhaps the most common use for iTunes credit these days is to buy mobile apps and games. Considering the relatively low cost of items on the App Store, your credit will likely last you a while. As previously mentioned, in-app purchases can be made using iTunes credit too.
If you’re looking for some fun games to play now, Super Mario Run (free, $9.99 to unlock) is a good place to start. Reigns ($2.99) is a cheeky roguelike adventure game of swiping left and right, perfect for quick blasts on your iPhone. Hitman GO ($1.99) is another must-play mobile game, especially if you’re a fan of the console titles.
You may also want to use your credit against some genuinely useful apps. Ulysses ($24.99) is the gold standard of iOS word processors, and a gift card would probably help take the sting out of its high-ticket price. CARROT Weather ($5.99) is a hyperlocal weather forecast bot that’s built on Easter eggs and snark. Tweetbot 4 ($9.99) is probably the best Twitter app you can buy, while Reeder 3 ($4.99) is the ultimate iOS RSS reader.
Buy Mac Apps & Games
iTunes credit also works on the Mac App Store. The apps and games you’ll find there are quite a bit more expensive than their mobile counterparts. But as they are more powerful, you can get real work done.
You might be able to get a nice discount on Apple’s pro-level video editor Final Cut Pro ($300) to bring it within your price range. If you’re looking for a good image editor but don’t fancy Adobe’s subscription model, Affinity Photo ($40) is modestly priced and sufficiently powerful. Or if you’re looking for a text editor to get some serious blogging done, Desk 3.0 ($14.99) won’t break the bank.
We usually recommend you avoid buying games from the Mac App Store, but the selection has certainly grown over the last year or two. If you’re one for narrative-driven first person mysteries, you can’t go wrong with the beautiful Firewatch ($20) which is worth every penny. Mini Metro ($9.99) is a fun strategy puzzler about managing real life public transport infrastructure, while Steamworld Heist ($30) is a turn-based tactical shootout game with a bit of a twist.
Music, Movies, TV
You can also buy media on iTunes, which is what the service sold when it was first established. Buy albums from your favorite artists, or even use your iTunes credit against an Apple Music subscription (just be aware you’ll have to cough up yourself when the credit expires).
You can also choose to buy or rent movies and TV programs, the latter of which is much cheaper. Once you’ve redeemed an iTunes gift card, you can also use it to buy content via your Apple TV.
Don’t Forget Books
If you use your iPhone or iPad as an eReader, you can also use iTunes credit in the iBooks Store on both a mobile device or Mac computer. That includes graphic novels, non-fiction, interactive books, but not necessarily audiobooks (you can find those in the regular iTunes store alongside music and TV though).
Struggling to find something to read? We’ve got a few tips to help you find something that interests you.
iTunes credit is one of the many ways to give the gift of entertainment, while an Apple Store gift card can bring a pricey new gadget within reach of your budget. The best thing about Apple’s credit is that it’s so versatile. If you want to buy a few iPhone apps, rent a movie, and start an Apple Music subscription, go for it.
So, what will you be spending your Apple and iTunes gift cards on this year? Let us know in the comments!