Alessio enjoys writing about cell phones, apps, and other technology and the way they can help making everyday life easier.
Despite being Google mostly known for iconic products like the search engine and Gmail, one of the most powerful email services in the world, the company headquartered in Mountain View is a leader in several aspects of technology, including mobile phones. Android operating system is one of the most used in the world and this popularity is extended also to Google Play, a large online store where to buy apps for Android devices and digital content, just like it happens with iTunes and Apple.
Google Play & Gift Cards
Being Google owner of one of the most popular alternatives to iTunes, specifically crafted for most of the phones and tablets running Android operating system, it may not surprising to find that the company, just like Apple, offers the ability to its users to buy specific gift cards to be spent on their digital stores. iTunes cards have always been a popular way to use cash in order to buy songs, movies and apps on Apple devices: Google allows to do the same by purchasing the Google Play gift cards.
What Can You Purchase With a Google Play Gift Card
A premise to Google Play gift cards is that, in the past, they were good for purchasing songs on Google Play Music: this digital store doesn’t exist anymore and so these can no longer be used to purchase songs. Despite this, they can be still used to pay for YouTube Premium and YouTube Music, two services that allow to enjoy additional features like ad-free experience or offline video caching and, most importantly, unlimited listening to songs available on YouTube Music. At the fact, YouTube memberships are the most popular alternatives to Spotify Premium and so, while Google Play gift cards cannot be used anymore as an alternative to purchasing digital songs on iTunes, they can still be used in order to access a service which is one of the most known alternatives to Spotify: Google has simply turned its focus from a purchasing based model of music to a subscription based model, following also the actual trends.
When it comes to other content, Google Play gift cards always allow their users to purchase digital books and movies, plus, of course, paid apps on the Play Store for Android devices, without forgetting the ability to subscribe to some digital newspapers (in the past it was also possible to purchase magazines on Play Newsstand, a feature that no longer exists).
|Google Play gift card||iTunes gift card||Netflix gift card||Spotify gift card||Amazon gift card|
Yes (both subscriptions and single purchases)
Yes (both purchase/rent and subscriptions)
(Only purchase or rent)
Yes, both purchase/rent and subscriptions
Yes (both purchase/rent and subscriptions)
No (iTunes & Apple Store Cards used for purchasing Apple products in official stores are two separate things)
Yes (all Amazon products)
Google Play Gift Cards on Non-Android Devices
The first problems start when one wants to purchase digital content on a specific store, finding later that this store is not supported on their device. It is familiar, for example, the fact that movies purchased on iTunes cannot be watched on Android devices, even if they can be still watched on PCs with iTunes software installed. The same, one cannot use a Google Play gift card in order to purchase apps on an iPhone, being the Play Store only available on Android devices. Moreover, while iPhone users can still download and use YouTube and YouTube Music on their devices, they can buy subscriptions only through iTunes payment system. Does that mean that an iPhone user cannot use a Google Play gift card, in case they get one for whatever reason? The answer may be surprising to some people but… yes, iPhone users can redeem a Google Play gift card.
How Can an iPhone User Redeem a Google Play Gift Card
Redeeming Google Play gift cards is possible even for iPhone users, with two main premises:
- they cannot be used, of course, for purchasing apps, being Play Store available only on Android devices;
- they can be redeemed only while browsing Google services through Chrome or Safari, while apps can be still used to play content.
This essentially means that iPhone users can redeem Google Play gift cards while browsing Google Play website on their mobile browser, then use them in order to pay for movies, subscriptions to YouTube or books they can enjoy later even through the official iPhone apps for YouTube or Google Play Books and Movies.
There are some steps an iPhone user should perform in order to be finally able to redeem their Google Play gift card:
- Open the Google Play Store o a mobile browser like Safari or Chrome where Google Account has been previously logged in;
- Click on Redeem on the left column;
- Type the gift card code in the box that appears, then confirm the operation.
1. Buy Google Play Movies & Books on iPhone
After having redeemed Google Play gift card, it’s the time to use it. By still using the browser and the Google Play Store page previously loaded, look for Movies or Books at the left column, then open the store specific for the desired content. Search for the desired book or movie, then proceed with the purchase. While using the browser, it is possible to use Google Play balance with no issues. Only after having purchased content, it is possible to get back using iPhone official apps for Google Play Books and Google Play Movies in order to enjoy the new content with no limitations: browser must be used only when physically making the purchases and this is the only difference with Android devices, where also the purchase can be performed through an app: at the end of the purchase, content will be enjoyable in any case with no limitations on the official apps for iPhone. This means that, despite the additional step of opening browser, Google Play gift cards can be fully used by iPhone users for buying digital content, with the only exception of apps.
2. Buy YouTube Subscriptions on iPhone
The other opportunity of using Google Play balance after having redeemed a gift card is to subscribe to YouTube Premium or Music in order to enjoy unlimited listening to music or other perks like ad-free YouTube browsing or offline caching features in order to watch videos without internet connection. The steps involved are the following:
- Open the mobile version of YouTube in the mobile browser (Safari or alternatives like Chrome) - if iPad is used, also the regular version of YouTube can be loaded;
- Click on user avatar at the top right, then on Purchases & Subscriptions;
- Select the desired YouTube subscription, proceed with the purchase and select Google Play Balance in the payment form, in order to spend your previously loaded gift card balance.
After having performed all the previous steps, it is then possible to use YouTube and YouTube Music official apps for iPhone and enjoy the new subscriptions.
It is possible to redeem and use a Google Play gift card balance on an iPhone, even if this requires some additional steps. In no way an iPhone user should be discouraged from using the balance of a gift card in case they get it, for example, as a gift by someone.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2022 Alessio Ganci