Why can’t I get a refund on iTunes?

iTunes has a strict no refund policy when it comes to digital content purchases like music, movies, TV shows, and books. Once you buy something on iTunes, you cannot request a refund. This policy is in place for several reasons.

Licensing Restrictions

One of the main reasons iTunes does not offer refunds is due to licensing restrictions imposed by content owners. When you buy a song, movie, or other digital content on iTunes, you are purchasing a license to access that content, not ownership of the content itself. The licenses iTunes secures from media companies and artists often do not allow for refunds after purchase.

For example, if you purchase an album on iTunes, the record label sets the terms of the license agreement, which likely prohibits refunds. iTunes must abide by these licensing restrictions as part of its agreements with content providers. Offering refunds could violate contractual obligations and cut off iTunes’ supply of media.

Prevents Fraud and Abuse

Another reason behind the no refund policy is that it prevents fraudulent returns and abuse of the refund system. Digital goods like apps, music, and books are easy to copy and share illegally. If refunds were allowed, people could buy content, copy it, share it with others, and then request a refund. This would enable deceitful customers to access paid content for free.

The no refund policy deters this kind of abuse. It ensures that customers cannot get paid content for free by requesting refunds after consumption. While the vast majority of customers are honest, the potential for fraud means iTunes must take a strict stance on refunds.

Instant Delivery

The immediacy of delivery and access is another factor behind the no refunds rule. When you make a purchase on iTunes, you can download the content instantly. There is no waiting or shipping time. This immediacy makes refunds less practical compared to physical goods.

For a physical product ordered online, you may wait weeks for delivery, leaving time to cancel the order or initiate a return shipment. But with digital downloads, you gain instant access. It would not make practical sense to allow refunds on content that a customer has already accessed and used.

Prevents Buyer’s Remorse Returns

iTunes’ no refund policy also aims to prevent “buyer’s remorse” returns. Buyer’s remorse happens when a customer makes a purchase and later regrets it or changes their mind. With physical goods, buyers can simply return unwanted items for a refund. But for digital goods, that can be impractical once the buyer has accessed the content.

If refunds were allowed, iTunes could be inundated with returns from fickle customers who experienced buyer’s remorse. The no refund policy discourages these kinds of returns and creates a sense of permanence around purchase decisions. Customers know they cannot get a refund, which prompts more thoughtful purchasing behavior.

Usual Policy for Digital Content

iTunes’ lack of refunds is standard across most digital content stores. Whether it is Google Play, Amazon Video, Xbox Live, or the Playstation Store, digital content purchases are typically final sale. This is simply the customary model for digital media. Customers expect that digital purchases will not be refundable in the same way as physical goods.

Is There Any Way to Get a Refund on iTunes?

While iTunes technically does not allow refunds, there are a few limited scenarios where you may successfully get your money back on an iTunes purchase:

  • Refund for accidental or unapproved purchases. If you can show you did not intend to make the purchase or it was made without your authorization, such as by a minor, iTunes may refund the charge as a one-time goodwill gesture.
  • Refund for defective or non-functioning content. In rare cases where downloaded content is faulty, corrupted, or will not play properly, you may be able to get a refund by reporting the issue.
  • Refund for subscription renewals. iTunes subscriptions, like Apple Music, allow you to turn off auto-renewal up to one day before the renewal date and get a full refund of the renewal.

Aside from these exceptions, iTunes does not offer or approve refunds in most situations. The terms and conditions you agree to when making purchases strictly prohibit refunds on digital content.

Best Practices to Avoid Requesting an iTunes Refund

Because iTunes refunds are essentially impossible for ordinary purchases, it’s wise to employ some best practices to avoid buyer’s remorse or purchasing mishaps that would lead you to want a refund:

  • Research apps, music, movies before buying. Don’t make impulse purchases. Read reviews and descriptions beforehand.
  • Use Wish List feature to keep track of items you may want to buy later.
  • Set password requirements for purchases or disable one-click buying.
  • Be cautious when letting children use your iTunes account to prevent unauthorized purchases.
  • Turn off auto-renewal for subscriptions so you don’t get charged unintentionally.

Why Apple Sticks by the No Refund Policy

Apple has maintained its no refund policy for iTunes and App Store purchases for more than a decade. And it does not look likely to change this policy anytime soon. There are a few reasons why Apple remains strict about not offering refunds:

  • Refunds can be subject to abuse and fraud, as outlined earlier.
  • Allowing refunds chips away at the sense of ownership and permanence of digital purchases.
  • Refunds can enable buyer’s remorse returns, which are problematic for digital goods.
  • Processing and administering refunds has overhead costs.
  • Content providers like record labels mandate no refunds as part of licensing deals.

For these reasons and more, Apple maintains that all sales are final for App Store and iTunes transactions. The company believes this yields the best user experience and prevents problematic behavior that could run rampant with easy access to refunds.

Is Apple’s Refund Policy Fair?

The no refund policy for iTunes and App Store purchases remains controversial. Critics argue that consumers should have recourse if they are dissatisfied with a digital purchase. They see the no refund policy as draconian and unfair compared to physical store return policies.

However, others contend that Apple’s policy is fair given the reasons outlined above. The immediacy of digital downloads means allowing refunds is not very practical. And content licensing deals prohibit refunds in many cases. The company must balance consumer satisfaction with sustainability of the iTunes business model.

While the policy is restrictive, Apple does warn customers upfront that “all sales are final.” Consumers must agree to these terms when setting up an iTunes account. So there is full disclosure of the no refund policy before any purchases are made.

Will Apple Ever Change its Refund Policy?

It seems unlikely that Apple will change course and start offering broad refunds on iTunes and App Store purchases. However, there are a few scenarios where they could make some changes:

  • Regulatory Pushback – Governments are taking a closer look at App Store policies, so regulatory pressure could eventually force Apple to ease restrictions like the no refund rule.
  • Class Action Lawsuit – If enough consumers band together, a class action lawsuit could compel Apple to allow refunds in limited cases.
  • Competitive Pressure – If rivals like Google begin offering digital refunds, Apple may revisit its stance, though this scenario seems doubtful currently.

Barring any major external pressure, Apple seems intent on sticking to the no refund policy for the foreseeable future. For now, consumers should understand that iTunes and App Store purchases are final sale transactions.

Alternatives to iTunes Refunds

If you made an iTunes purchase that you are unhappy with and really want your money back, what options do you have? Here are a few alternative paths to explore:

  • Dispute the charges with your credit card company. You may be able to file a chargeback or purchase protection claim.
  • Sell unwanted iTunes gift cards at a discount on sites like CardCash or Raise.
  • Sell or trade iTunes content you do not want via sites like Listia.
  • Consult Apple support to see if your specific situation qualifies for an exception or one-time refund.

While iTunes does not issue refunds, exploring these alternatives provides some options to potentially recoup the cost of unwanted purchases.


In summary, iTunes and App Store purchases are non-refundable except in very rare circumstances. This no refund policy stems from licensing restrictions, preventing fraud and abuse, the immediacy of digital delivery, deterring buyer’s remorse returns, and aligning with standard practices for digital marketplaces. While controversial, Apple stands behind this policy to uphold a fair and sustainable marketplace for digital content.

Consumers should educate themselves about the no refund rule and modify purchasing behavior accordingly. Do proper research beforehand, set passwords and parental controls, and turn off auto-renewal where possible. While iTunes refunds are nearly impossible to obtain, being a smart, cautious shopper can help avoid situations where a refund request would be necessary.