Are you wondering if you can use an iTunes gift card for Apple Pay?
You cannot use an iTunes gift card with Apple Pay. You can only use specific credit cards or debit cards from banks that have authorized their cards to be used with Apple Pay. iTunes gift cards are exclusively to pay for Apple products, services, or subscriptions, electronically or at Apple stores.
Though an iTunes gift card may work almost like a credit card, and though the iTunes gift card and Apple Pay are operated by the same company, making the gift card work with Apple Pay almost defeats the purpose of the gift card.
Let’s look at why you can’t use an iTunes gift card with Apple Pay and what you can do with that gift card instead.
Why Can’t You Use An iTunes Gift Card For Apple Pay?
Apple Pay is a convenient service that allows you to link a credit or debit card with your Apple account to make non-Apple payments.
For example, linking a credit card or debit card with Apple Pay on your iPhone will enable you to make payments at point-of-sale machines by tapping your phone against the card machine. The transaction amount will be deducted from your bank account.
Apple Pay also allows you to make payments online, eliminating the need to always have your credit card details with you. The essential factor is that your bank must support Apple Pay for you to link your card with the service. Otherwise, you will be unable to use it.
So while Apple Pay is an Apple service that’s used to pay other companies for products or services, an iTunes gift card (or an App Store or Apple Music gift card, as it’s known today) is almost the exact opposite. You make a payment at a regular retailer to put money into a gift card that will be used to pay for Apple products or services.
You can use an Apple gift card to load credit onto your Apple ID that you can use to purchase music, apps, movies, or ebooks, or to pay for a subscription, like iCloud or Apple Music or other app subscriptions.
The critical differentiating factor here is that Apple Pay is used to pay for external products or services, while any Apple gift card is used to pay for Apple services. So, careful consideration will tell you that the two services are entirely different, and loading your iTunes gift card into your Apple Pay would not make sense at all.
What Can You Use An iTunes Gift Card For?
iTunes gift cards don’t exist in the same form anymore. Apple is abandoning iTunes little by little, replacing it with the App Store for apps, Apple Music for music, and Apple TV for movies and TV shows.
These separate services all have their own gift cards, though, for the most part, they can be used interchangeably if you link them with your Apple Wallet or Apple ID.
You can use an Apple gift card to pay for any of the following:
Music On The Apple Music App
You can purchase songs or entire albums on the Apple Music app using your iTunes gift card (this was also the original purpose of the iTunes gift card).
Apps On The App Store
You can purchase premium (non-free) apps, make in-app purchases, or pay for app subscriptions using the credit from an iTunes gift card. This is because Apple apps also used to be distributed using iTunes.
Movies And TV Shows
You can buy or rent movies or TV shows using the Apple TV app (or Apple TV unit) using an iTunes gift card. Movies and TV shows were also once part of the complete iTunes service.
Apple Subscription Services
As Apple started moving away from iTunes and separating it into different services, it went hand-in-hand with the emergence of a more subscription-based business model.
For example, you can either purchase albums on Apple Music or pay a monthly subscription and listen to as many songs as you like as often as you like without ever owning them through the Apple Music service.
The same applies to Apple TV+, a video streaming service offering many movies and TV shows that you can watch if you pay a subscription. And then we also have iCloud, of course, which is the original Apple subscription service.
You can pay for all of these subscriptions using iTunes or other Apple gift cards.
Devices From Apple Stores
This differs from country to country and does not necessarily apply everywhere, but it’s worth checking out. Apple will allow you to use gift card credit to buy actual Apple devices from an Apple Store in many countries.
For example, you can use gift card credit to buy a new iPhone or Apple Watch if your local Apple Store supports this feature.
Loading Gift Card Credit Onto Your Apple ID Or Wallet
You can load gift card credit onto either your Apple ID or Apple Wallet app. The two are for entirely different purposes, and each has its uses.
Adding Gift Card Credit To Your Apple ID
Whenever you add credit to your Apple ID, this credit can immediately be used to pay for Apple services like Apple Music, Apps, movie purchases or rentals, or subscription services like Apple Music or iCloud.
If you have credit on your Apple ID, this credit will be used first before any outstanding balance will be deducted from your bank account through a debit card or credit card.
You can quickly load credit on your Apple ID from a gift card by following the following steps on devices like an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:
- The gift card will have a 16-character code on the back, usually located underneath a label. Remove the label by peeling it off or gently scratching off the coating using a coin.
- On your Apple device, open the App Store app.
- Tap on your profile picture, using in the top right-hand corner. If you haven’t logged into your Apple ID yet, do so now.
- Tap on “Redeem Gift Card or Code.”
- You can choose to use the camera or to enter the code manually.
- If you choose to use the camera, just point the camera at the code revealed on the back of your gift card. The balance from the gift card will be added to your Apple ID.
- If you prefer, or if you’re experiencing problems with the camera method, you can choose to enter the code manually.
Once it’s all done, you will notice a balance on your Apple ID. Even though it was added through the App Store, that does not mean that you can only use it for apps.
The balance will also be visible if you go to Settings and choose your Apple ID. Any electronic Apple services that you purchase will automatically be deducted from this balance first.
Adding Gift Card Credit To Your Apple Wallet
The Apple Wallet is a convenient place to keep all of your cards that you want to use with Apple Pay, but it can also hold gift cards. This is helpful if you’re going to save gift card balances to use later, for example, if you want to save up to purchase an Apple Watch or the next generation iPhone.
Note that Apple seems to be moving towards unifying the Apple ID credit and Wallet credit. It’s unclear how much longer adding gift cards to the wallet will still be a viable option since the Apple Wallet has already stopped mentioning gift cards.
To add credit to the Apple Wallet, simply follow these steps:
- Remove the label from your Apple gift card to reveal the 16-digit code on the back.
- Open the Apple Wallet app on your iPhone or other Apple device.
- Tap on the circled Plus sign in the top right corner.
- Select the option to add an Apple Gift Card.
- Choose to add the card number manually or use the camera to capture it.
- Once the number is captured, your Gift Card balance will be stored in the Apple Wallet and kept there until you are ready to spend it.
Apple Pay is a brilliant concept, and it makes paying for day-to-day products and services a lot easier. You no longer need to be concerned if you forgot your wallet at home; your phone can do the heavy lifting instead.
But Apple and iTunes gift cards cannot replace the use of credit or debit cards with Apple Pay. They have their benefits, but paying for day-to-day goods is not one of them.