Tip: Making allowances for underage iTunes users

Australian Macworld staff
8 April, 2010
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Today’s tip is a good one for any Mac fan with kids who share your enthusiasm for shiny white and aluminium gadgets. Without a credit card, the most popular way for children to access iTunes store content is to pre-purchase gift cards. But getting them from a store can be such an almighty pain that you may have resorted to giving their iTunes account full access to your own credit card.

So how do you stop your little angels downloading a mess of angst-ridden godhelpus and quickly burning a several-hundred-dollar-hole in your pocket?

There are ways to set up their accounts so that they don’t require free and unlimited access to your credit card. Travel to the iTunes Store’s Home page and click the Buy iTunes Gifts link. On the resulting page you’ll find options for purchasing gift certificates, gift cards, and allowances. (You can also give specific music, TV shows, movies, and apps.)

Gift certificates are a quick and easy way to give your kids — or anyone for that matter — some cash to spend on the store. You can email the certificate or print it out (but all that’s really needed is the coupon code attached). Pretty easy. Until your kid wants more money to buy the latest Miley Cyrus single.

An easier option is the less publicised iTunes Allowance. With an allowance you can set aside a certain amount of money that your kids can spend each month — from $20 to $100. When you sign up for this allowance you’ll also be asked to use or create an Apple ID for your child. This account can’t be used to purchase items that exceed the value of that month’s allowance. And you’re welcome to suspend the allowance any time you like. (Which could always be a good punishment whenever they’re misbehaving in the future.)

An allowance can also be a good way to keep yourself on an iTunes budget. Although iTunes doesn’t allow you to create an allowance for the account you normally log in with, there’s nothing to stop you from creating a second iTunes account (with a different e-mail address but the same credit card) and setting up an allowance for your primary Apple ID with this new one.

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