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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Managing In-App Purchases and Subscriptions

Many apps and games—especially ones that are free to download—offer ways for you to spend money after you’re using them. These opportunities to spend come in two forms: subscriptions and in-app purchases.

Subscriptions are fairly straightforward: subscribe to Netflix for $8/month and you’ll be billed every month until you cancel.

In-app purchases are a bit different (though if you’ve encountered them on the iPhone and iPad, you know what they are). They’re one-time purchases you make in apps to improve your experience. For instance, a game might offer in-app purchases to give your character more in-game money to spend or to unlock a new set of levels, whereas a productivity app might add features or remove advertising after an in-app purchase.

In-app purchases are billed to the credit card on file in your Apple ID and, because it feels like you’re barely buying anything at all, can add up quickly.

Make In-App Purchases

Every app that includes in-app purchases handles them a little differently, but the broad outlines of how to buy items in games roughly follow these steps (using Offroad Legends 2 as an example):

  1. After you’re in the game, look for options to upgrade, buy, or unlock. In this case, it’s Unlock Cars. Select that option.
  2. Find the thing you want to buy and select it.

  3. Log in to your Apple ID by entering your password and clicking OK.

  4. The screen that appears specifies what you’re buying and for how much. If you’ve changed your mind, select Cancel. To continue with the in-app purchase, select Buy.

  5. The in-app purchase is complete, and the new item you bought is now available for you to use in the game.

Turn Off In-App Purchases

If you like to keep tight control of your budget—and especially if you have children in the house who might be tempted to buy things in apps without realizing the cost—you might prefer to disable all in-app purchases. This restricts your ability to buy things in some apps, but it will save you money, too.

To disable in-app purchases, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Settings.

  2. Select General.

  3. Select Restrictions.

  4. In the Parental Controls section, select the Restrictions menu to toggle it to On.

  5. Set a four-digit passcode and then confirm it; this protects your Restrictions settings from being changed.

  6. In the iTunes Store section, select In-App Purchases to toggle it to Block.

Manage Your Subscriptions

If you’ve subscribed to anything on your Apple TV (or on your iOS device), and are billing that subscription to the credit card in your Apple ID, you can change or cancel that subscription on the Apple TV. The exact options depend on what’s offered by the service—some allow you to upgrade to higher levels of service, others just have one and thus only let you cancel.

To change or cancel your subscriptions, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Settings.

  2. Select Accounts.

  3. Select Manage Subscriptions.

  4. Sign in to your Apple ID.

  5. On the screen that appears is a list of all the apps that you have paid subscriptions to. Select the app whose subscription you want to manage.

  6. The screen that appears details what kind of subscription you have, how much it costs, and gives you the option to cancel it. In most cases, subscriptions are month-to-month and automatically renew (though some are annual). To cancel the subscription, select Turn Off Automatic Renewal.

  7. Confirm your choice by selecting Turn Off.

Your subscription will continue through the end of its current period (for instance, for a monthly subscription, it continues through the end of the current month) and then cancels and you’re no longer charged for it.

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Last Update: November 17, 2020