PSA: App Store and iTunes Gift Cards to be Discontinued in Singapore; Use Balance by 31st March 2024

Update: Apple ID balances will be refunded to your credit or debit card on file with your Apple account after 1st July 2024. Gift cards redeemed after that will automatically be returned to your credit or debit card after a few weeks. See this support article from Apple for more details.

An email was sent out by Apple today to targeted individuals:

Apple has discontinued the sale of the App Store & iTunes Gift Card in Singapore. This includes both in-store and digital App Store & iTunes Store Gift Cards.

We encourage you to spend your store credit balance fully by March 31, 2024.

Email from Apple, 6th March 2024

While it instinctively seems like a scam email, I have written in to Apple’s chat support which has confirmed the validity of this email:

I’m not sure how accurate this particular customer service support staff is and it could be an elaborate scam, but so far the email seems legit: the email address used is from an Apple domain and the links in the email point to official Apple webpages.

Was good for Kris+ promos

App Store and iTunes Gift Cards were a decent area of spend to clock card rewards. iStudio used to sell them, offering bonus 3 miles per dollar via Kris+ while the wallet app itself has been giving good spending promos over the past couple of years. Since the gift cards don’t expire, it was an occasional option for me to rack up rewards when a good spend promo comes along and I didn’t have an immediate need to buy anything.

Things have changed drastically. Apple’s gift cards have in recent months disappeared throughout Singapore retailers and Kris+ bonus rewards for iStudio have been cut to 1 mile per dollar. Even the Kris+ spend promo is so lacklustre this month I merely posted about it in the chat group instead of writing a full post for it.

Seth
Seth

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This is terrible practice

While not stocking gift cards moving forward is well within reason, making all balances unavailable after 31st March 2024 is a terrible, anti-consumer move and I say this as an Apple fanboy enthusiast.

It is even more unacceptable that I only learnt about this because Ombre posted about this in the off-topic chat group, and even after searching through my email inbox I was unable to find any such email notifying me of the impending change. You would think this would be an easy thing to do considering how enthusiastic they ar ein trying to get me to sign up for Apple Arcade.

Thankfully, I was prudent enough to pare down my stash by using them up and selling/giving them away over time so I’m left with just S$90, but even then it is going to be an annoying affair getting rid of this balance with such short notice.

Separately, I think this highlights the risks of holding things like prepaid cards and vouchers. While Singapore has strict regulations over financial institutions, such things tend to be unregulated even though they are technically monetary products.

Apple damages its own reputation

More details remain murky: are Apple Gift Cards – the ones you use in-store to buy Apple hardware – also subject to this? The email does say “in-store” which possibly refer to store-bought iTunes cards, but it’s something to be concerned about if you do have Apple Gift Cards lying around.

Queenie Tan from the chat also mentioned that someone else from Apple Support assured her that the balance can continue to be used, but I’m not sure anyone wants to take a roll on that dice if the balance amount is big. Hopefully we can get some clarity soon, but in any case I’m posting this now rather than later so those affected can have more time to react.

Lastly, I’m not sure what is more damning to Apple’s brand – the fact that they just released multiple computer models for sale with paltry 256GB storage and 8GB RAM, or the fact that they are pulling this entirely unnecessary stunt.

Apple needs to do these things:

  • Clarify if these changes are indeed happening and if so, communicate these changes prominently
  • Allow everyone with gift cards to claim the value with a reasonable deadline
  • Allow balances to remain usable after the deadline

Until then, I suggest finding some way to offload your App Store and iTunes Gift Card balances and stay subscribed for updates.

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