I Just Got an iTunes Gift Card, Now What?

One of the most popular iPhone- and iPad-related gifts — whether it's given for a birthday, the holidays, or any other occasion — is an iTunes Gift Card. They provide a chunk of cash that can be used to buy any of the great media and other content at the iTunes Store, App Store, Apple Books Store, and more. If you’ve never used the iTunes Store or App Store, or an iTunes Gift Card, before, you may not be sure what to do with your present. Luckily it's really simple.

Read on to learn how to get up and running with your gift and shopping at the iTunes or App Stores in no time.

The Basics: Install iTunes

buying music at itunes, step 1
The homepage of the iTunes Store. iTunes copyright Apple Inc.

If you've got an iTunes gift card burning a hole in your pocket, you're probably anxious to get started buying stuff right away. Before you do that, though, you need to make sure you've got the basics covered.

If you primarily use an iOS device — the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad — you can skip this step. The iTunes Store, App Store, and Apple Books apps that come pre-installed on those devices are all you need. You can move on to the next step.

On the other hand, if you're using a desktop or laptop computer, the first thing you have to do is install iTunes. That program is your gateway to all the music, movies, TV shows, and other great things you can buy with your gift card. If you don't already have iTunes, you can learn how to get it by reading these articles:

If you're interested in using your gift card on ebooks from the Apple Books Store, use the Apple Books program that comes pre-installed on all modern Macs. Apple Books doesn't run on Windows.

The Basics: Get an Apple ID

reset apple id password
image credit Richard Newstead/Moment/Getty Images

Whether you're using a gift card or just a regular credit or debit card, in order to buy things from Apple — from the iTunes, App, or Apple Books Stores — you need an account. In this case, the account is called an Apple ID. 

You may already have an Apple ID. It's used for all kinds of things — iCloud, FaceTime, Apple Music, and much more — and you probably have created one when you set up your device.

If you've got already one, great. You can skip this step. If not, follow the steps in the linked article to create your Apple ID.

Redeem Your Gift Card

iTunes gift card
image credit: Apple Inc.

Now it's time for the good stuff! In order to add the money stored on the gift card to your Apple ID, you need to redeem the card. You can do this either on a desktop computer or use an iOS device, whichever you prefer. Either way, follow the steps in the linked-to article to transfer the money from the gift card to your account so you can start shopping.

Buy Something at iTunes, App, or Apple Books Store

install apps removed from the app store
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Part of what makes the iTunes Store so useful — and fun — is the huge amount of content in it. From 50 million-plus songs, tens of thousands of movies, TV episodes and ebooks, and over 1 million apps, the selection is virtually endless.

Get step-by-step instructions on how to buy different kinds of content at the iTunes and App Stores in these articles:

In this era of Spotify and streaming music, a lot of people don't buy songs anymore. Instead, they prefer to subscribe to streaming services. A standard iTunes Gift Card can't be used to pay for for an Apple Music subscription. There are, however, Apple Music Gift cards that can be used for that. If you have a preference, make sure the people giving you gifts know it.

Once the gift card funds are used up, you can cancel your subscription or keep paying for it with a debit or credit card. 

Sync Purchases to Your Device

stop iphone auto sync in itunes
image credit: heshphoto/Image Source/Getty Images

Once you've bought content, you need to get it onto your iPod, iPhone, or iPad and start enjoying it!

If you made your purchases directly on an iOS device, you're all set. All of your purchases downloaded directly to the appropriate app on your device (songs are in Music, TV episodes in Videos, books in Apple Books, etc.) and are ready to be used.

If you made your purchase using iTunes on a desktop or laptop computer, read these articles: