iTunes Gift Certificates Not Accepted at Canadian App Store

You can't use an iTunes gift certificate to buy applications on the Canadian App Store. I've experienced this myself, but never really looked into it before now. But it's true. There's even a thread about it on Apple's Discussion Board.

Highlights include the difference in iTunes App Store Terms of Service between the US:

"10. PAYMENT METHODS. The Service accepts credit cards, payment through your PayPal account, and iTunes Cards, iTunes Store Gift Certificates, and Allowance Account balances as forms of payment."

And Canada:

"10. PAYMENT METHODS. The Service accepts credit cards as the form of payment."

Further down, we get what's purported to be a response from Apple on the issue, which includes:

Due to tax laws and commerce restrictions for software in Canada, customers residing in Canada may only purchase games and applications using a credit card.

So, not only do we get hosed on data rates, don't have access to US TV networks on iTunes (nor Hulu, etc.), not only do we have to pay more to "upgrade" music to iTunes Plus, but if by some miracle some kindly soul gives us an iTunes Gift Certificate, we can't even use it on apps?


UPDATE: As of June, 2010, iTunes Gift Cards can now be used to buy apps in iTunes Store Canada.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Cracky Birthday to You! CrackBerry.Com Turns Two!

Next up →

iPhone 101: How to Swipe to Delete Email, SMS, or Media on your iPhone

Reader comments

iTunes Gift Certificates Not Accepted at Canadian App Store


I downloaded an app on my iPhone and had a credit in iTunes and it did not take away from that credit when I got home to check my account.

I don't have a CC to get apps with, but at shoppers drug mart in Atlantic Canada you can get a Vanilla Pre-Paid Mastercard. I use that to get paid apps that I really want. I believe they come in $25, $50 and $100.

Uh...this isn't true at all. I use gift cards all the time to buy apps. It might be in the TOS but it's just not true - I don't have a credit card with my account (used a gift card to register it) and I have about 20 or 30 paid apps on my iPhone. This is also true for all of my friends. We all live in Canada.

great...I just recieved a $25 iTunes gift card...I had planned on downloading Beejive to begin with...
so what exactly can I do with the gift card then?

"great…I just recieved a $25 iTunes gift card…I had planned on downloading Beejive to begin with… so what exactly can I do with the gift card then?"
Use it to buy apps. This info is incorrect. I buy apps with my Canadian account in Canada using Canadian gift cards all the time - I set up the account with a gift card and don't even have a credit card nor have ever used one online. This info is just wrong.

I know the info is NOT wrong. Those of us who setup their accounts with Credit Cards cannot use gift cards toward apps. I think the reason that it's working for ya is because you setup your account with a gift card in the first place, but again, I am not so sure if that is the correct reason to why you can use a gift card in Canada.
All I know is that I setup my account with a credit card and I CANNOT use a gift card towards apps (so does all my friends in Canada).

Howzis?: Canadian asks mostly US audience to explain Canadian tax law...? ;-)
Rene, we don't even understand our OWN tax law...
Maybe this is a problem of tax law based on where item was sold, vs where item will be redeemed? (Card sold in Canada, redeemed via US site, and Canada Revenue gets no GST?
Perhaps Cards cross borders too easily?

It's been like this since day one, and it sucks ass. Borrowed a credit card for Netshare, but beyond that it's only free apps for me. :(

I also live in Canada and I have never registered a credit card with Apple Canada. I created my account using a iTunes gift card. When it comes time to by an app there is a spot to enter a gift card number, when I put in my iTunes gift card number my account balance increases, but I am NOT able to use this balance to buy apps.
I am awaiting to try a pre-paid credit card.
This following is an excerpt from the email from Apple support.
Dear Walter,
I'm so glad you are interested in the iTunes Store. You can use any of the following payment methods to pay for your iTunes Store purchases. Please note up front, however, that prepaid Gift Cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover may be rejected if you try to add them to your account.
American Express
Corbelino Carvalho
iTunes Store Customer Support

This is absolutely true. I have an Itouch not a phone, but I couldn't even buy the paid upgrades to the Ipod without a CC. When I spoke to someone at Apple they said that something in Canadian law prohibits selling software online without a CC. This is bull, because I've bought games and content from both Nintendo and Microsoft from game consoles with pre-paid cards.

I got a $25 card from my sister, said "Great! I can download some apps for my iPhone!". Tried it last night and, because my credit card is no longer valid on that account, said "credit card declined"---but I have this nice $25 balance that the app store is NOT seeing.
I don't download music and now I 'have to' to get my money's worth from this card.

I am quite unimpressed with the fact that I cannot by apps with my redeemed itunes card,because I live in Canada. I now have $50 balance that was intended for apps. This is brutal, now I want my money back. I do see a few people who say that they can buy apps from Canada with a gift card, any special instructions?

Same thing happened to me, I have only used gift cards so far to buy music, but when I tried to buy a game it spit out that I had to use a credit card etc. This really sucks, and it should be made much more clearer than what is there. There is no warning until you try to buy it.

figured it out!! finally, you see us old itunes users only had one choice in the beginning... credit cards! which still does nt make sense why can t i download apps with a itunes cards and have a registered credit card?.
well if you like me are stuck with this dilemma and can t figure why others can buy apps with a itunes card . here's what you do , start a new account with itunes, buy a gift card redeem, do not fill out the credit card info and there you go, you can download what ever you want!
stupid, way to go around things, see ya

@Ryan: That doesn't work for me. I signed up with a gift card and still can't purchase. I've given no credit card info.

Ya im pretty upset that us Canadians can't buy apps with itunes gift cards! They really need to do something about it because a lot of people are wasting there money on gift cards thinking that they are getiing apps.
I had to waste mine on TV shows.

Wow if i knew that you couldnt use an itunes card to buy games i would NOT have wasted 25 bucks on it. it should say somewhere on the card that you can use it to buy everything except for apps.. non-refundable.. ill non-refundable you!

Well I got $10 back from apple. I downloaded the 3.0 update for free. I suggest everyone does it. And guess what, I'm gonna use my friends jailbroken iPod and download every single apple made app and the upload it to the web

Well if i cant use my itunes card at the canadian apps store and i am registered as a canadian then how do i get onto the american app store to by my apps this is stupid !!! HELP PLEASE!

jgunner Says:
June 20th, 2009 at 6:48 pm
Wow if i knew that you couldnt use an itunes card to buy games i would NOT have wasted 25 bucks on it. it should say somewhere on the card that you can use it to buy everything except for apps.. non-refundable.. ill non-refundable you!
It says it right on the back of the itunes card "Not redeemable for all purchases such as iPod games and App store purchases."
Wish I had read that before I bought a $50 card to go with my brand new iTouch... sigh 50 new songs now I guess...

I just noticed a new "Redeem" button on new page of the apps store.
Is this now working for Canadian customers?

I just purchased an itunes gift card, and i was ready to buy some apps for my iphone, although, no matter how many times i tired, i couldnt get an app or a game, and the only thing i could buy was music and videos.
so i read somewhere that you cant buy apps with itunes cards in CANADA!
but then i read a solution, and they said that you would just have to make an new itunes account with the US store, and get another itunes card... is this true ? please help!

Alright so bought a gift card last night to download some apps on my touch, and ran into the same problem as it sounds like all of you ran into, it wanted me to register with a CC, and then I read articles like this all over the net.. After the fact of course.. But dumb question.. They say that we can't buy them because Canada has different tax laws right? What is the difference between the buying a song and an app, the tax laws are the same are they not? So if this was a true reason, you should not be able to buy anything with a gift card, plus shouldn't it come with a warning that it isn't good for apps and games? Since it says right on the front "Get the latest music, movies, tv shows, and more." What is the and more if it isn't games, apps, updates, or anything like that? Thats my rant and an apple rep will be getting the same one in about 10 mins..

This has happened to me aswell... It makes sense that the laws want to tax the crap out of us bu hopefully apple could work something out. There missing out on a lot of Canadian revenue.

yup, I fell into the trap too. While it is not Apple's fault Canadian taxes are messed up, it is Apple's fault that they didn't find a way around it like Nintendo or Sony, or that they didn't make it clear on the card that it can't be used for apps.
So... I'm gonna jailbreak my iPod and Crapple can be damned.

I live in Canada also and I just wanna say that i bought a $25 and $15 gift card yesterday to buy some apps and games for my itouch and like Oroka said they dont even make it clear you cant use the gift cards for games or apps so now i have $40 worth of credit on my itunes account thats only good for music and video????? WTF is that, why dont they make it clear that if you live in canada and buy an itunes card you can only use it for MOVIES AND MUSIC....THEY SHOULD BE TELLING PEOPLE THESE THINGS DONT YOU THINK???

I just got off the "chat mode" in iTunes support.
I was told that I can only purchase apps using a CC and cannot buy apps through a prepaid card.
When I asked if it was different money I received a reply that it is in the terms and conditions that I signed when setting up an account.
This sucks.

Wish I'd found this page BEFORE I bought a gift card! I used it to create an account without entering any credit card info, but I wasn't able to download the paid software update or any paid apps. Guess I'll find some music or movies to waste it on... At least I only got the $15 card!

Lostgame is having some kind of awesome glitch!
I live in canada and started an acount with an iTunes card of 25 bucks.
It wouldn't let me buy apps so I contacted the apple store support.
They said you need a credit card to buy apps because we r CANADIANS!!
It's soooooooooooooooo unfair.
Especialy when u don't own a credit card.

If you can't buy software form apple via pre-paid cards, then how is it that I can buy games from Xbox Canada via pre-paid cards... (same also with my Wii) WTF is Apple lying about then? Why did I buy an Apple with razor blades hidden in it?

It all boils down to the fact that Apple does not want to have to pay the Canadian taxes. That is it, plain and simple! I know this from my sister working for Apple (through a temporary service), and it is taught in training classes to state that it is "due to international tax laws", which it really is. If it is phrased that way, it is not a lie. Apple does not want to pay the taxes for the apps, and the don't want to alienate their customer base by being honest with them.
Let me give you a little more information: many, many Apple agents are employees of temporary agencies, working in call centers that are full of nothing but temp workers. They are required to take 3-4 chats at a time. When you answer one of the surveys after a chat, email, or phone call, anything less than 4, out of a scale from 1-5, can get the agent fired. If you state that you hate Apple policy and give a "Meets Expectations" or lower on any section of the survey, it is counted against the employee. Apple does not care if you place in the notes that you loved the agent but are unhappy with Apple's policies. They are so concerned with their JD Powers standing that they don't give a crap about all the temporary workers they have through Volt and Kelly Services, and other agencies!

Ive bought and used US itunes cards here with no problems. You just have to switch to the US store in itunes before entering the code. I great place to get itunes gift cards is Great service, quick delivery!

thank u all 4 warning me,i was going 2 buy one now i have no choice unless jailbreaking it

I have been in contact with Apple iTunes Support and I must admit they were very nice to deal with. However, I got the same response, "Due to tax laws and commerce restrictions for software in Canada, customers residing in Canada may only purchase games and applications using a credit card." HUH!? Give me a break, it's all money fergawdsakes!! I have spent lots of money over the years to buy from iTunes, but I will not spend another penny until I have access to all the Apps in the Store! Why in the world would I buy something that is not 100% fully functional? I have better things to spend my money on than being made a fool of!

BTW, one more thing people. If by chance you happen to be in an Apple Store, mention to the sales person that you will not be purchasing any more iTunes Cards until this policy is changed. Xmas is coming. Any chance they may get the message!?

Apple is very evasive about this issue which leads me to believe that they are not making any effort towards making apps and other itnues more easily accesible to thousands of Canadian customers.
It has been determined that there are no valid legal reasons to prevent them from doing so - they have apparantly just chosen not to bother.

I could not agree more Ashley. It is really a shame that a company like Apple that takes so much pride in customer service can really treat a select group(Canada!?) with such disdain. It is honestly going to take a huge group effort to not purchase iTunes Cards to really show Apple that people are not happy. I love Apple products, but I am really beginning to feel like my money and time is not at all appreciated.

Just picked up an itouch and have used istore account exclusively with gift cards with music on my nano. This is absolute crap that some vague legal issue is being touted as rational for not honouring Canadian transactions that provide money for a product within existing systems of exchange. Why does Apple want to force loyal consumers into a creditor/debitor relationship by assigning privs based on credit commitments? Will definetly reconsider blind trust and naive loyality to Apple products in the future.

I do believe that this is a call for us to take action. This is total bullshit, and they know it. We need to do something about this, even starting a petition or something. I know that petitions don't normally do much, but, we can't not try.
Someone start a petition on , I'm no good at writing statements.

I too fell for this b.s! Apple needs to put something on the cards to warn Canadians they can't be used for apps and software. Why are they allowed to sell a crippled product
in Canada vs a fully functional one in the US??

well gift cards in canada are total crap/... no apps to buy with them ... cant use it... but prepaid cc... they arent set up for... hint: thy wont charge your card for 2 days... only to see if its active...(charge 1 dollar to do this)... so charge it up ppl! you can get all the free apps ypu want after that 1 dollar is charged to it, lmao... apple, your not that bright!

just throw the card away and get a new one after !requires you to start a new account... but hey, all the free apps for 2 days that you can get, not a bad trade off... ppl, i hate apple for this gift card fiasco... i think its well deserved...

hope this helps you all in this time of crisis... at the holiday season, no less good goin apple! losers

well thats garbage . Tried to put a game on nieces new ipod , out 25 dollars . was going to buy my 4 boys same ipod for their birthdays , so not now . Apple loves to screw canadians , never buying another Apple product again .

The first Canadian Telco who takes this issue on with Apple and solves it becomes a hero. I can see the nice Media headlines now: "TELUS/BELL/ROGERS Frees Millions in trapped iTunes Credits for Canadians"
People reading this - forward this to anyone you know that works for a Canadian Telco. No way us as individuals will be able to take this on as effectively as a telco who can represent thousands of their iPhone customers at once.

This is BS!
So you're telling me that I just wasted a bunch of money buying my wife and sister iTunes gift cards this Xmas so that they can load up their iPhone with games, etc?
Nowhere on the iTunes gift card does it indicate that it cannot be used for App purchases. I only discovered this BS myself when I redeemed a gift card today, bought an app, and it charged my credit card instead of depleting my credit balance! I can't believe this.


I've recently bought a 15 dollar gift card, and I can't use it on any apps without the "Billing" box to pop-up on me... Is this a glitch, or true? (Read a lot of the comments, I'm unsure..)
But eh, it won't let me download "Call of Duty Nazi Zombies", please tell me if otherwise.

I know this same law used to prevent the distribution of cards to get money on a PSN account
But they have now been selling them well over 6 months
So what I don't understand is,
Why does it still not allow the use of Itunes gift cards? I believe it is not the law stopping Itunes now, but their inefficiency and pure idle laziness that is stopping app distribution in Canada.

This is such BS, today i bought an Itunes card worth of $25, i wanted to buy the $15 one but they were sold out, so i wanted to buy that Video Recording App for 99 cents and it tells me i need a CC, i tried using my Itunes card numerous times but it kept rejecting me. Like WTF i'm only 15 and i dont have a CC, i just want to buy games and the video recorder. We Canadians need to solve this problem, Apple is ripping us off, plus this worked before last year. I think we should write a petition to Apple Canada or else if they reject us we will all move to the GOOGLE phone... lol Maybe haha

I complained to the Better Business Bureau yesterday and got a call from Apple Relations today! Don't know if I will get my money back for those stupid gift cards but they did ask how much I had and said they will get back to me. Complaining to Apple got me nowhere but I got a reaction once I contacted BBB. You can do it online and it only takes a couple of minutes.

I have an idea: Change ur itune account ur region to USA, that's all, but now, i redeemed my $25 itune card into my f*** canadian account, and it tells me to spend the $25 if i want to do any changes to my account!!!

Another thing to take into consideration is that Steve Jobs maintains an absolute zero-tolerance policy towards customer dissent and dissatisfaction. The last time that an Apple client base complained to Jobs on an issue they just get screamed at and berated in return.

Ok, people keep saying that they should warn you about it, THEY DO!! It's on the back of the card! Of course, I didn't read the back of the card till I found I had a problem trying to dL apps... =(. But I love my iPod touch still. I think it's unfair that Canadians can't use iTunes cards for apps, but Americans can, but do you really think that apple is gonna pay any attention to our complaints? It's all about the money. And, just wondering, cuz I've heard different answers, can you use a MasterCard Vanilla giftcard to buy apps?? I don't wanna waste more money than I already did on an iTunes card to buy one and not have it work.

I know what to do, everyone stop buying apps!!! Even if u have a CC don't buy apps cuz if apple Canada can't make any money from people with CC that won't buy apps they will have to change there policy to let Canadians buy apps with iTunes gift cards and dont buy iTunes gift cards untill they change there policy
P.S. Repost this anywhere u can

The back of my $15 gift card says nothing nothing about not being able to buy apps, only that it's "redeemable only in Itunes store for Canada", "subject to full terms" and see a link to
All this for a lousy $.99 app to add a video camera to my iPhone
: (

The only way to use a gift card for apps if you live in Canada is if you set up your account with a phony American address.

Canada has iTunes app store cards .... Use them it still isn't fair but it's better then nothing.

My son and daughter both have Ipod Touch. We had placed a Vanilla Mastercard on both (the prepaid ones you can get at shoppers etc) and they could download apps and everything else. Now my son's card has depleted and someone bought him a itunes gift card (he only wants songs with it) however, now I can't get the None option to come up in payment information. It simply wants me to continue using the card and will not allow me to take it off. Anyone run into this and if so what is the solution?
Personally, the tocuhes and Iphones are neat, but with all the crap I would go Crackberry anyday!
If someone could please email me at to let me know what to do to get this CC info off that would be great!

Okay, so while complaining is a nice option, I'd like to find a way around this.
1. Prepaid creditcards? Has anyone used one for apps and does it work?
2. App Store Cards. Do these work in Canada?
3. US Address? Can you fool your iPhone?

I'm pissed that I can't buy apps with my itunes card cause I don't own a credit card and I don't see why we cant what's the reason i mean WTF in the USA u can buy apps with pretty damn much anything!

MY kids live in Maine and while they were here visiting me, my oldest wanted to buy a i tunes card, she could not use it on her american itunes account.which is kinda stupid apple is apple and it should not matter, anyway i had to wait until i had brought her back home to maine to buy her a gift card......APPLE that SUCKS..with all the revenue that your company acquires you think you could fix the problem....i guess i will have to jailbreak my pod....hahahaha

You would think that apple would get their heads out of their butts an do something about this! They are missing out on tons of cnd revenue from people like us that are making the mistake of buying these itunes card for apps and games! I for one will not be wasting my money on itunes gift cards anymore until they fix this! If they even attempt to!

Also we should start a site for cnds boycotting the itunes gift cards until they fix it i bet thousands if not hundreds of thousands of cnds would join and apple would have to fix it!

UR BOTH RIGHT~! Yes it is true you can use gift cards to buy apps in canada and It is also true that You can't Buy them using Gift cards bc and it was already mentioned that IF YOU SET UP UR ACCOUNT WITH A CREDIT CARD YOU CANNOT USE GIFT CARDS TO PAY FOR APPS But if you set it up using a Gift card you're ALL SET TO GO! But...................And IVE YET TO try this but going to this afternoon so I will Reply and let you know how it goes! If you go Into Ur Billing information and CHANGE ur Payment method to NONE instead of master card or ......card and then Redeem a New Gift card to that account as payment method instead of credit card you MIGHT JUST BE ABLE TO USE THAT GIFT CARD TO PURCHASE APPS.......... URS TRULY GMANTOO!!

I really had a good store to buy itunes these itunes gift cards are for people that can't buy in the itunes USA store.. its reliable and fast one and ofcourse they are legit..
I bought my itunes gift card from

Hi guys. I just got a 64GB iPad, and I went to shoppers drug mart and got a $25 gift card for my birthday. It works perfectly fine in the Canadian iTunes store. Click redeem in the store, then when it has your amount of money that you got, then you go to the app store and buy your apps. The iTunes card actually claims that you can't use it in the app store but you can. Not the iTunes card itself, the apple gift card. Hope this helped.

Hi there. I have been asking my friends about a site identical to this and I could not find it. But this internet site was much better than what I have been searching for, for several years. This site is extraordinary and I appreciate it.

Just a little something i'd like to mention.
I've heard from a few friends that their gift card doesn't work. However, there IS an "App Store" gift card, although it's very hard to find.
I hope this helps...

Ok so my bestie is buying me a iTunes card and she said it dosent work on apps cuz that's just cheez so I went searching for answers but on here it has an update and says they do work as of Now so is that real or not?

This is really pathetic.. my aunt got me an itunes card she lives in america... and now i cant download anything?? the only way is to use an american account... this is not good apple pleasethis doesn't make any sense..... i need this itunes card... but i guess not ):

It's really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.