In surprising news, iTunes gift cards can now be used to buy Apple products. That’s huge: iTunes gift cards have gone on sale regularly in the past (they may not now) and were previously limited to be used for music / movies / apps / etc. If you were hoarding a stash of iTunes cards, your purchasing power just climbed big time. If you were counting on discounted iTunes gift cards to cover your streaming purchases, that ship has likely sailed unfortunately as warehouse retailers have already pulled them off of their websites.
Now all Apple & iTunes gift cards are equal
Previously, Apple sold iTunes gift cards that were limited to being used through iTunes and Apple gift cards which could be used to buy hardware in Apple stores. Beginning today, all of your iTunes / Apple gift cards are consolidated into one Apple balance that you can use on both hardware and software (and it looks like Apple will be selling one unified gift card moving forward). The change is already effective, so any iTunes gift cards you have now can be used to pay for products on the Apple website or in the Apple store.
Note that the website has a limit of 8 gift cards to be used at a time, but you can add the gift cards to your account balance to put them together and use in one shot.
Why this is huge
Doctor of Credit has an excellent analysis of why this is a deal. I encourage you to go see his post. I’ll recap and add key highlights that make it exciting or potentially exciting:
- Your current iTunes balance just skyrocketed in value
- Any iTunes gift cards you currently have increased in value
- Cards offering streaming bonuses or rebates may offer those things for iTunes purchases, so you may be able to use those credits / bonus categories toward buying Apple devices (indirectly)
- Grocery store gift card promotions (whether fuel points or discounts) could be a lot more interesting if iTunes cards are still available for sale / included
- It is likely possible right now to redeem Chase points for a grocery store purchase of iTunes gift cards (with the current short-term opportunity there) and use them to buy a phone or computer at a value of up to 1.5c per point (and maybe even stack that with increased fuel points promos)
Short term opportunities
Just my opinion here, but looking at the new design and info on the Apple website, my strong bet is that they are intending to phase out iTunes gift cards altogether and so opportunities to get deals on those gift cards will likely be temporary. Maybe grocery stores and office supply stores will then stock the new unified Apple gift card – it’s hard to say.
In the short term, I imagine stores already have ads / sales planned and plastic in stock that won’t come off the shelves right away. For instance, I’m sure Kroger is likely selling iTunes gift cards right now with 4x fuel points. I expect we’ll continue to see offers to buy $50 in select gift cards and then $10 in free groceries at one chain or another for a while. Stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar likely won’t change any planned sales in the near-term.
I doubt we’ll see $100 iTunes gift cards for $80 or $85 as we have from Costco, Best Buy, office supply stores, etc. In fact, as Stephen reports at GC Galore, they are no longer available at Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s Wholesale, et al.
As Doctor of Credit notes, there will likely continue to be some great opportunities at Amazon for at least a while as well. With opportunities to get as much as 20-40% off when using at least 1 Citi point / Amex point / Chase point / Capital One point to pay (these offers vary but come around often), there should be some great opportunities to save big on iTunes gift cards in the short term. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they stop offering iTunes gift cards as stock runs dry — or go the way of Costco and others and pull them entirely — but for the time being there will be an opportunity there.
This could also make Happy gift card sales more interesting in the short term since some of them can be used in places that sell iTunes gift cards, though we haven’t seen great discounts on those cards as of late.
This is an exciting change for those with iTunes gift cards or access to discounts on them. I suspect that those cheap iTunes gift card opportunities will likely dry up shortly, but this makes for an exciting short-term change nonetheless. I’ve personally been sitting on some old iTunes gift cards for a long time meaning to resell them and I’m glad I waited as I imagine that resale prices are set to increase substantially. Overall, this is great news for those who can take advantage.