I Just Got an iTunes Gift Card, Now What?

How to add to and use your account balance with Apple

Apple iTunes Store cards
abalcazar / Getty Images

One of the most popular iPhone- and iPad-related gifts is an iTunes Gift Card. Each card provides a chunk of cash that you can use to buy content from Apple's various shopping apps. 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.

Here's how to get up and running with your gift and shopping at the iTunes or App Stores in no time.

These instructions apply to iTunes 12 and later.

The Basics: Install iTunes

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 — the iTunes Store, App Store, and Apple Books apps that come pre-installed on those devices are all you need.

But if you're using a desktop or laptop computer, the first thing you have to do is install iTunes. You can use this program if you're a Mac user or if you prefer Windows. It's your gateway to all of the things you can buy with your gift card.

If you're interested in using your gift card on e-books 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.

View of the iTunes Store
Image Courtesy of Apple

The Basics: Get an Apple ID

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

You may already have an Apple ID. Apple uses it for all kinds of things, including backing up and storing data with iCloud, making calls with FaceTime, and Apple Music. And you probably created one when you set up your device.

If you already have one, you're all set. If not, you'll need to create one.

Create Your Apple ID page on Apple's website

Redeem Your Gift Card

To move 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, you'll need to sign in to iTunes and use code on the back of your card at the Redeem link to add the money to your account.

iTunes on a Mac with the Redeem link highlighted

Buy Something at iTunes, App, or Apple Books Store

The iTunes Store has 50 million-plus songs; tens of thousands of movies, TV episodes, and e-books; and over 1 million apps and games for you to spend your gift card on. And many of these products have separate stores. Make sure you're looking in the right place for the media you want.

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. You can't use a standard iTunes Gift Card to pay for for an Apple Music subscription. However, Apple Music Gift cards are available for that service. If you have a preference, make sure the people giving you gifts know it.

Apple Music Gift Cards
Example of an Apple Music gift card. Image Courtesy of Apple, Inc.

Sync Purchases to Your Device

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 or your devices automatically sync using iCloud, you're all set. All of your purchases go directly to the appropriate app on your device. Songs are in Music, Movies and TV episodes go to the Apple TV app, and you'll find books in Apple Books. Open the appropriate app to check out your purchase.

If you made your purchase using iTunes on a desktop or laptop computer, however, you may need to transfer them to your device to start using them. You can do this by syncing your phone or tablet to your computer.