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How to set a monthly iTunes allowance for your kids

Getting your kids an iOS device this holiday season? You'll be interested to know you can set an iTunes allowance for their Apple ID.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

There are plenty of iOS devices on holiday wish lists this year. Which means there's bound to be plenty of iOS devices under trees, waiting for anxious kids to unbox and begin using them.

On the other side of those iOS devices are parents, like you, trying to figure out how to limit the amount of spending on games, apps, books music and movies their kids (or perhaps themselves) can do in iTunes.

Today I found a feature in iTunes I didn't know existed; the ability to set up a monthly iTunes allowance for specific Apple IDs. Brilliant! It turns out this feature has been around for a while, considering its Apple support page was last updated in 2010.

This is what you'll need to do in order to set up an iTunes allowance.

Click to enlarge Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET
  • Launch iTunes and navigate to the iTunes Store homepage. On the right side, you'll see a listing titled "Buy iTunes Gifts." Click on it.
Click to enlarge Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET
  • Scroll down until you find the allowances section. Click on Set up an allowance now.
Click to enlarge Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET
  • The rest of the process is pretty simple. Enter your name, the recipients name, set a monthly limit (your Apple ID will be billed this amount on the 1st of each month), and enter the recipient's Apple ID. If one doesn't exist, you can create a new Apple ID on the next page.

That's it. Now your account will be billed for the amount you selected (between $10 and $50) and credited to the Apple ID you entered during setup. You can always go back and cancel the allowance by visiting your Account page in iTunes.

Sure, a family can just share an Apple ID, and iOS restrictions can be put in place. But as soon as your kids learn your password(s), your credit card will be in trouble. Setting up a separate Apple ID and setting an allowance seems to be a sure way of reducing any damage the kids can cause to your wallet.