Alessio has reported security vulnerabilities to Google and Apple. He also has a past as a web developer and web server administrator.
Despite being the Mountain View company generally known for iconic products like the search engine and Gmail—one of the most efficient email services in the world—Google is a leader in several key sectors of tech development, including mobile phones.
The Android operating system is one of the most used in the world. This popularity also extends to Google Play, an online store for buying apps on Android devices and digital content, like iTunes on Apple devices.
Google Play and Gift Cards
Google is the owner of one of the most popular alternatives to iTunes—crafted for most phones and tablets running the Android operating system. It may not be surprising that Google, like Apple, allows users to buy gift cards to spend in their digital stores.
What Can You Purchase With a Google Play Gift Card?
A premise to Google Play gift cards is that, in the past, they were commonly used for purchasing songs on Google Play Music. Now that is no longer possible, as this digital store does not exist anymore. But cards can be redeemed for YouTube Premium and YouTube Music subscriptions. These allow enjoying an ad-free experience, offline video caching, and unlimited listening.
Google has simply turned its focus from a purchasing-based model to a subscription-based one, following the actual trends. Google Play gift cards also allow purchasing digital books, movies, paid apps on the Play Store, and subscriptions to digital newspapers.
|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 from a specific store, finding later that this store is not supported on their device. For example, movies purchased on iTunes cannot be watched on Android devices, even if they can still be played on PCs with iTunes software installed.
At the same time, one cannot use a Google Play gift card to purchase apps on an iPhone, as the Play Store is 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 the iTunes payment system.
Does that mean an iPhone user cannot use a Google Play gift card whenever they get one for whatever reason? The answer may be surprising, but 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 caveats:
- They cannot be used, of course, for purchasing apps, being Play Store available only on Android devices;
- They can only be redeemed while browsing Google services through Chrome or Safari, while apps can still be used to play content.
This means that iPhone users can redeem Google Play gift cards while browsing Google Play website on their mobile browser. They can pay for movies, subscriptions to YouTube, or books they can enjoy later even though the official iPhone apps for YouTube or Google Play Books and Movies.
There are some steps an iPhone user should perform to redeem their Google Play gift card:
- Open the Google Play Store on a mobile browser like Safari or Chrome where your 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.
After redeeming the Google Play gift card, it’s time to use it. Here are a couple of good options available to you:
1. Buy Google Play Movies/Books on an iPhone
By still using the browser and the Google Play Store page previously loaded, look for Movies or Books in the left column, then open the store specifically for the desired content. Search for the wanted book or movie, then proceed with the purchase.
While using the browser, it is possible to use Google Play balance with no issues. You can then get back to using iPhone official apps for Google Play Books and Google Play Movies to enjoy the new content with no limitations. A browser must be used only when physically making the purchases: this is the only difference with Android devices, where also buying stuff can be performed through an app.
At the end of the purchase, the content will be enjoyable in any case with no limitations on the official apps for iPhone. This means that, despite the additional step of the opening browser, Google Play gift cards can be fully used by iPhone users for buying digital content, except for apps.
2. Buy YouTube Subscriptions on an iPhone
The alternative way to use a gift card is to subscribe to YouTube Premium or Music. The steps involved are the following:
- Open the mobile version of YouTube in the mobile browser (Safari or alternatives like Chrome)—if an 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 and proceed with the purchase. When prompted for the payment method, select Google Play Balance to spend your previously loaded gift card balance.
After performing all the previous steps, it is 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 it requires additional steps than on an Android phone. In no way should an iPhone user should be discouraged from using the balance of a gift card in the event they receive 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