Many developers target the US App Store first and foremost, and due to licensing restrictions, sometimes it’s the only place you can download new apps for a long time.
To get access to those apps, you’ll want a US iTunes account – but that’s trickier than it sounds as Apple is not eager to accept international PayPal accounts or credit cards. You need to jump through some hoops to create a US iTunes account and add funds to it, but if you know how, anyone can download and enjoy apps from the US App Store.
Why You Can’t Just Change Your Account’s Country
Maybe your first instinct is to switch locales by changing the country of your current iTunes account. However, that’s not a good way to go. It may save you the trouble of creating a new account, but Apple doesn’t allow you to retain purchases made in another locale. In other words, you’ll lose access to products you purchased in your current locale.
However, switching between accounts does not remove already downloaded products from your device. So, you can keep managing local apps with your current account and manage US apps with your US account. Just switch accounts when you wish to update or install new apps from a different locale.
And, in case you were wondering, you can switch accounts on your iDevice by going to the App Store, scrolling all the way down and tapping your account name at the bottom. Afterwards, just sign in with the other account.
Create a US iTunes Account without a Credit Card
You’re normally required to enter a credit card or other US means of payment while signing up for an iTunes account. However, there is a way to create a US iTunes account without specifying any means of payment. Jeffry Thurana did a very detailed write-up on creating an iTunes account without credit card in 2011, but we’ll swiftly go over the steps again.
You’ll need iTunes open on your Mac, or iTunes for Windows ready to go – once you’ve done that, go to the iTunes store. If you’re logged in with another account, first sign out. You can do this by clicking on your user name in the top left corner.
Next, switch to the US iTunes store. You can switch store locales by scrolling all the way down in iTunes and clicking on the flag icon in the bottom right corner.
Don’t try to create a new account just yet. To avoid entering a US credit card, we’re going another route. Go to the App Store section of iTunes and select a free app – any free app will do. You can select any of the apps on the main page, or browse the top free apps in the right sidebar. I’ve selected one of the most popular free games in the iTunes store at the moment of writing. On the app’s page, click the Free button to start downloading.
iTunes will notice that you are not logged in and ask you to either log in, or sign up for a new account (which is what you want to do). Select Create Apple ID to start the signup process.
Proceed as usual until you arrive at the payment screen. You’ll notice there’s an extra option under Payment Type: None. Select that option to keep from having to add a US credit card to your account. If you have a US iTunes gift card, you can redeem it here to add some initial funds to your account. You don’t have to do this now, we’ll be going over it in the next part of the article.
You’ll also need to add a US billing address. The easiest way to get this is by signing up for a free ViaBox account. ViaBox will give you a valid US address and telephone number and you can even use their service to order physical US-only products (for a fee). Technically, any valid US address will work in this field.
Add Funds with a Gift Card
As mentioned above, Apple does not accept any international credit cards or non-US verified PayPal accounts. If you’re only going to download free content from the App Store, that’s no big deal. We showed you above how to create an account without adding a US means of payment. If you do want access to paid apps, you’ll need some funds. The easiest way to do that is to buy a US iTunes Gift for yourself. These prepaid cards range from $10 to over $100.
As you might expect, you can’t buy these cards directly from Apple because (ironically) you don’t have any funds on your US account. Don’t try to buy them with your other account either, because these gift cards are linked to your region. Instead, you should buy from an unofficial reseller. There are many websites selling US gift cards and the like, but for the sake of safety I recommend using eBay. On eBay you can take the seller’s reputation into account, many of which have positive reviews ranging in the tens of thousands.
Every reseller takes a small percentage, but in my experience eBay is often the cheaper option as well as the more reliable. I purchased a $10 iTunes Gift on eBay for €9 from a German seller and received my code the very same day.
Redeem & Done!
After receiving your code, just redeem it in iTunes or on your iDevice. Go to the iTunes store and click your account name, or select the Redeem link in the right sidebar. Enter your code, and you’re set. While your funds remain sufficiently high, Apple will not badger you for an alternate means of payment. You can purchase apps, books, music and video content in the US iTunes Store. (If you’re looking for app recommendations, we suggest these incredible iPhone apps.)