Apple iTunes Gift Cards FAQ: 7 Common Questions, Answered
iTunes is Apple’s marketplace for all sorts of media, software, and entertainment. If you’ve been given an iTunes gift card, you can use it to purchase apps, books, music, movies, and more.
If you’re not familiar with iTunes or have never received an iTunes gift card before, you might have a few questions about how to use it and what to buy. Let’s address some of the most common iTunes gift card questions.
Note that with the release of macOS Catalina, Apple has removed iTunes in favor of individual apps, such as Apple Music and Apple Books. iTunes is still available on Windows, as well as individual apps on iOS.
What Is an iTunes Gift Card?
An iTunes gift card (usually labeled as an App Store & iTunes card) is pre-purchased credit for Apple’s various digital services. This includes the iTunes Store—Apple’s media and software marketplace where you can buy music, movies, apps, and more. You can also use iTunes gift cards to subscribe to Apple Music and other Apple services.
Be aware that iTunes gift cards are different than Apple Store gift cards. Apple Store gift cards let you purchase physical Apple products, like an iPhone or MacBook, at Apple’s physical or online stores.
iTunes gift cards are available as physical cards, as well as digital codes delivered via email. The gift card don’t expire, and once the credit is applied to your account, it won’t expire either.
You can only redeem your card in the same iTunes Store from which it was purchased. Thus, a US gift card is only good in the US App Store.
How to Buy an iTunes Gift Card
You can buy an iTunes gift card in the following ways:
- At the Apple Store online.
- On an iPhone or iPad: Launch the App Store app, tap your user icon, then choose Send Gift Card by Email.
- Using a Mac running macOS Catalina or higher: open the Music app, click iTunes Store in the sidebar, and choose Send Gift.
- On older versions of macOS or a Windows PC with iTunes: Click the Store tab, then choose Send Gift.
- At physical retail locations like the Apple Store, supermarkets, and convenience stores.
iTunes gift cards are a good way to pay for items if you don’t have a credit card, or are traveling and want to make a purchase on another country’s iTunes Store. When needed, you can often find these online from secondary sellers.
If you’re lucky, you can find discounted iTunes gift cards for cheap. Just be cautious when browsing gift card deals, as scams are prominent in this area. Review some important tips on how to recognize free gift card scams to keep yourself safe.
Speaking of safety, you should know that many common phone scams demand gift cards as payment for outlandish claims, such as overdue taxes or ransom payments. These are never legitimate, so if a caller demands that you buy thousands of dollars of iTunes gift cards for some reason, just hang up.
How to Redeem iTunes Gift Cards
To redeem your iTunes gift card on an iPhone or iPad:
- Launch the App Store.
- On the Today tab, tap your user icon in the top-right corner.
- Choose Redeem Gift Card or Code.
- Use your device’s camera to scan your gift card, or enter the code manually.
To redeem your iTunes gift card on macOS Catalina and later:
- Launch the Mac App Store and click on your name in the left sidebar.
- Choose Redeem Gift Card at the top-right.
- Login with your Apple ID and password if needed.
- Use your webcam to scan the card or enter the code manually.
To redeem your iTunes gift card on a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes:
- Launch iTunes.
- At the top of the screen, choose Account > Redeem.
- Sign in with your Apple ID and password if needed.
- Enter your gift card code to redeem it.
How to Check Your iTunes Gift Card Balance
Your iTunes gift card balance is also known as Apple ID credit, since you can use it for many Apple services.
To check your iTunes gift card balance from an iPhone:
- Launch the App Store.
- On the Today tab, tap your user icon in the top-right corner.
- If you have iTunes credit, it displays below your name.
To check your iTunes gift card balance on macOS Catalina and later:
- Launch the Mac App Store and click on your name at the bottom of the left sidebar.
- If you have credit tied to your Apple ID, it will show below your name.
To check your iTunes gift card balance on a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes:
- Launch iTunes and ensure you’re signed in under Account > Sign in. You’ll see your Apple ID at the top of the dropdown list if you’re signed in.
- Click on the Store tab and look for your balance in the top-right corner.
If you don’t have a balance, you won’t see a value in any of these places.
When you redeem your iTunes gift card, the balance is transferred to your Apple ID account. If you’re not sure if you’ve used a gift card already, try redeeming it.
What Can You Buy With an iTunes Gift Card?
Once redeemed, you can spend iTunes credit on these services:
- Apps and games from the iOS App Store and Mac App Store, including Apple Arcade subscriptions.
- Music, TV shows, and movies from iTunes or the Apple TV app.
- Books from Apple Books.
- Subscriptions that normally charge your iTunes account, such as Apple TV+ or Apple News+.
- iCloud storage space upgrades.
Can You Use iTunes Gift Cards for Apple Music?
You can use your iTunes gift card to pay for an Apple Music subscription. Redeem your card as described above, then start an Apple Music subscription using the Music app on your iPhone, Mac, or Android phone. On a Windows PC, you can subscribe to Apple Music using iTunes.
As long as you have credit on your Apple ID, your subscription will deduct from that balance. Once it runs out, you’ll be charged on your primary payment method instead.
Can You Use iTunes Gift Cards for In-App Purchases?
Yes. As mentioned above, all digital purchases you make with your Apple account will automatically use your Apple ID balance first. This means you can use your iTunes balance for in-app purchases, including both subscriptions and one-time purchases.
Beware of any in-app purchases that charge a payment method directly (like ride-sharing apps or food delivery services) since they will charge the credit card you have on file for that particular merchant instead.
How to Use iTunes Gift Cards Instead of Credit Cards
When you sign up for an Apple ID, you’re given the opportunity to add a payment method. However, you don’t have to add a credit card to your account. If you prefer, skip the step of adding a payment method, then redeem gift cards to add credit to your account instead.
Remember that iTunes and Apple services will always use your iTunes balance before charging your credit card. There’s no way to buy an app or pay for a subscription with a credit card to preserve your iTunes balance.
For example, if you get $100 iTunes gift card as a present and you have an ongoing Apple Music subscription, your subscription will use that balance over time until it’s all gone. Once you’re out of credit, your subscription will use your default payment method again.
Can You Use iTunes Gift Cards in the Apple Store?
No. iTunes gift cards must be redeemed for digital Apple services on the App Store, iTunes, Apple Books, and similar. Apple Store gift cards are a separate product used for Apple hardware. They are usable at physical Apple Store locations, as well as Apple’s online store.
How to Add Funds to Your Apple ID Without Gift Cards
If you have a credit card attached to your Apple ID, you don’t need to buy gift cards for yourself. You can add funds to your Apple ID account by charging your payment method.
To do this on your iPhone:
- Open the App Store.
- Tap the Today tab, followed by your profile picture in the top-right.
- Select Add Funds to Apple ID, choose an amount, and complete your purchase.
On a Mac or Windows PC:
- Open the App Store on macOS Catalina. Launch iTunes on an older Mac or a Windows PC.
- On a Mac, choose Store > View My Account. On Windows, select Account > View My Account. Sign in again if needed.
- Scroll down to the Apple ID Account section and choose Add Funds to Apple ID.
- Choose the amount you want to add and walk through the steps to complete payment.
How to Use the iTunes Pass
If you don’t have a payment method on file with your Apple ID but don’t want to buy gift cards for yourself, Apple also offers a service called the iTunes Pass. This lets you add credit to your Apple ID by visiting an Apple Store or other participating retailer.
To create an iTunes Pass:
- Open the iTunes Store app on your iPhone.
- Scroll to the bottom of the Music page and tap your Apple ID. Sign in if you’re not already.
- Choose View Apple ID.
- Select Add iTunes Pass to Wallet.
- You’ll see a preview of the pass. Tap Add in the top-right to send it to your Wallet app.
Now, you can open the Wallet app to view your iTunes Pass. When it’s open, show it to a store employee and let them know how much you’d like to add to your balance. They’ll complete your purchase in the store and you’ll have access to the credit right away.
A World of iTunes Entertainment Awaits
Now you know what iTunes gift cards let you buy, how to use them, and where to check your balance. In short, since iTunes gift cards add credit to your Apple ID, they’re good for pretty much any digital service Apple offers. Whether you want to buy paid apps, subscribe to Apple Music or Apple News+, or get more iCloud storage, iTunes gift cards let you pay for it.
If you’re not sure what to buy, we have you covered. Check out great uses for your iTunes or Apple gift card , including some hardware ideas if you have an Apple Store card.
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