How to Turn Off In-App Purchases on iPhone

Avoid a surprisingly high bill from Apple

If you've ever played a super-addictive game like Candy Crush Saga, you're familiar with in-app purchasing—and all the money you end up spending on your favorite games. If you want to cut down on your costs, here's how to turn off in-app purchases on iPhone.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 12 and higher.

What You Need to Know About In-App Purchases on iPhone

Many iPhone apps let you buy extra features, functionality, content, in-game expansions or resources, or character upgrades. They let you do this from within the app, rather than going to a separate store, using in-app purchases.

Having the option of in-app purchasing can be useful and fun (and it's an important way for app developers to earn money to keep making great apps), but useful and fun won't be the first words that come to mind if you buy things without realizing it. If you do buy without meaning to, you can rack up a large bill from Apple.

This is a particular concern if you have a child using your iOS device and they accumulate huge in-app purchase charges without asking you.

Luckily, you can turn off in-app purchases in all of your apps to prevent this from happening.

Illustration of a finger pointing at a button, and a person stopping the button being pushed
 erhui1979 / Getty Images

How to Turn off In-App Purchases on iPhone

To turn off in-app purchases on the iPhone and other iOS devices, follow these steps:

  1. From your home screen, open the Settings app.

  2. Tap Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions. Then, move the Content & Privacy Restrictions slider to on/green.

    Screen Time settings on an iPhone
  3. Set a restrictions passcode, which is a 4-digit code that locks these settings. Choose a passcode you'll remember, but don't share it with people you don't want making purchases. If they know your passcode, they can re-enable in-app purchases. Enter the passcode twice to set it.

    If you're turning off in-app purchasing because a child uses the iPhone, make sure the passcode isn't the same as the one you use to unlock the device.

  4. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases > In-app Purchases > Don't Allow.

    Turn off in-app purchases on iPhone
  5. If you change your mind and later want to restore the ability to make in-app purchases, come back to this screen and turn off the Content & Privacy Restrictions toggle switch.

As long as this setting is enabled, it's impossible to make in-app purchases on this iPhone.

Setting up an iPhone to use by your kids is about more than just turning off in-app purchases. Learn all about it in How to Set up an iPhone or iPod Touch for Kids.

How to Find In-App Purchases on iPhone

If you've got some charges that you don't recognize in your Apple ID account, or in an email from Apple, you can figure out if they're from in-app purchases. Just follow these steps:

Screenshots of the App Store app, showing purchase history
  1. Open the App Store app and tap your photo or icon in the top right corner.

  2. Tap [your name] at the top of the screen. Enter your password, or authenticate using Touch ID or Face ID, if prompted.

  3. Tap Purchase History.

  4. Scroll through the list of purchases. In-app purchases are labeled In-App Purchase. Tap a purchase to get more information.

How to Find In-App Purchases Using iTunes

If you prefer to view your account using the iTunes Store, you can find in-app purchases using these steps: 

These steps also apply to the Apple Music app that replaced iTunes on macOS (Catalina) 10.15 and up.

  1. Under the Account menu, click View My Account and enter the password for your Apple ID.

    Turn off in-app purchases on iPhone
  2. In the Purchase History section, click See All.

    Turn off in-app purchases on iPhone
  3. Review the recent purchases for ones that look suspicious or unfamiliar.

How to Request a Refund for In-App Purchases from Apple

In the past, your success or failure with contesting in-app purchases was a toss-up. There's no way for Apple to know that the purchases were made accidentally by a 6-year-old rather than a 36-year-old who now wants to get out of paying the bill.

But Apple has made the process easier. To request a refund, follow the instructions on this Apple web page. You'll need to have your order number (which you can find using the instructions in the previous sections). 

There's no guarantee that you'll get every purchase refunded—for instance, if Apple sees that you have a habit of buying and then asking for your money back, they're less likely to give it to you—but it never hurts to try.

Apple used to provide an option to control your kids' spending on in-app purchases and at the iTunes and App Stores. Apple discontinued the iTunes Allowance feature in 2016. To control kids' spending, use Family Sharing, which lets you approve kids' purchases before they go through.