Promo Codes: What are they and how do they work?

by Moms With Apps on October 12, 2010

This week we explain promo codes and how they are redeemed in the iTunes App Store. After noticing how many of our Facebook fans are interested in promo codes to trial free apps, it seems necessary to explain what they are and why they are helpful. Special thanks to Suren from Mobicip, Madhavi from MazeArt, Jill from SmartyShortz, Jayne from Let’s Bead Friends, and Julie from Snow Globe Maker for providing content for this post. Readers, please let us know if you have more questions so we can keep the article relevant and useful.

What is a promo code? A promo code is a special code that can be used to download a particular app for free in iTunes. It looks something like this: WJH3KW3A9EFR. Developers receive an allotment of promo codes for every app they launch.  They send these codes to bloggers, reporters, and users who are reviewing or testing their products. Codes expire after four weeks from the time they are requested by the developer, so it is important to use them promptly. Also, each promo code is unique and can be used only once.

Why should I care? Promo codes enable you to download an app for free. Most apps are pretty inexpensive, but as your app library grows, having access to a free download can help expand your selection while getting to know new apps and developers.

How do I get them? Many of our Moms With Apps developers have been offering promo codes to our Facebook Fans as part of their app marketing efforts. If you are interested in checking out a particular app, follow the app developer on Facebook and Twitter so you’ll be informed of promo code giveaways and free app offers. You can also try writing a developer directly to request a code. Their contact information is listed within the iTunes app description.

What can I do in exchange for getting a free promo code? Developers are always looking for honest feedback for their application so that they can incorporate suggestions in their next update. If you do get a promo code from a developer, please return the favor by taking time to give them feedback and/or a review in iTunes. If you would like some improvements or see crashes, contact the developer directly with the detailed nature of the problem. Constructive interactions from customers are very much appreciated.

How do I redeem them? You can redeem a promo code directly from your iPhone or iPad, or from your computer.

From your iPhone/iPad:

1. Open the “APP Store” app.

2. Select Featured from the bottom panel, then New from the top menu.

3. Scroll all the way down to find Redeem.

4. After you select Redeem, enter your code. Once the code is approved, your app will start to download automatically.

Here is the screenshot of redeeming from your iPad:

From your computer:

1. Launch iTunes.

2. Click on the little home icon on the top bar, or click on iTunes Store.

3. From the Quick Links menu on the right, click Redeem.

4. Enter your promo code. Once the code is approved, your app will download to your app library automatically. Next time you synch with iTunes, the app will be transferred to your iPhone or iPad.

OK folks – did this help??? Please leave a comment letting us know. This post will be a work in progress until we all become experts in promo code redemption. Good luck and see you around on Facebook!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Kay October 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Thanks for the info! I was totally lost on this process, and happened to find how to redeem a code by “accident” – but it’s great to have the info readily available if I get the chance to get another code!!!!

susantiner October 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Thanks for explaining how to do this from the iPhone and iPad devices. I usually redeem codes through iTunes on my Mac but it’s nice to know you can redeem directly on the devices as well.

Bitar cristina October 14, 2010 at 8:37 am

Great info!!! I tried to use a code but i couldnt . It seems it only works for US app store :(

Avril Webster October 14, 2010 at 11:20 am

Thanks for all that info. Just to say that as far as I know, the promo codes are only available for users in the US and unfortunately are not available to the rest of us!

Moms With Apps October 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm

@Bitar @Avril, I need to investigate a solution for opening US itunes accounts if you reside outside of the US so that you can redeem promo codes. It has come up before. Once we have an idea of a solution I can update the post to apply globally. –Lorraine

Lynette Mattke October 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Yes! Thank you, that is very helpful.
If only we could convince Apple to let the codes be valid for other iTunes stores besides the US! The solution you mention, Lorraine, is to set up a US iTunes account if you live outside of the US, but that’s a lot of steps (plus you need a payment option, I believe) to redeem a review code.

Nichole October 24, 2010 at 2:37 am

I love the reviews as I’m always looking for great apps for my 2yr old son to occupy and educate him in a pinch. However I cannot use the free promo codes because I’m in Canada. Itunes really does need to change this—if I can purchase the app why can’t I also get the occasional free app? Please asks them to consider all the momma’s regardless of where they live to take advantage and try out new apps and support other momma’s (and daddy’s of course) !

danielle December 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Thank u for the explanation and the steps, we r new parents to the ipad, it is for our son….. This a great site!!!

Andrea December 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Your post on how to redeem was very helpful!!! I am now playing with the anagram app.

Nicola Petty January 15, 2011 at 12:02 am

You will be happy to know that Promo codes can now be used at other stores as well as the US app store. You can’t gift an app between stores as yet, or so I believe.

Anita Pottinger February 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm

I tried to claim a promo code on the computer and my redeem is not where you guys posted. Mine is on the bottom under Manage. Hope this helps others! :)

Jenny May 3, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Really helpful! Thank you!

Curious May 4, 2011 at 10:15 am

You talk about the honor code when claiming these codes in a posting on Facebook…I have a question. Is you intention that someone grab a code and immediately post a comment that they’ve taken it? Or post after they have redeemed a code (to be certain that the code has worked for them)?

It’s not clear and I think it’s causing some confusion, at least on my part, on your postings for the free codes. Some people grab a code, redeem it and then report; meanwhile, others are “claiming” the code in the comments and then going to try it, only to find it has been used by someone else in the very brief interim that it took them to post a comment claiming it and then try to redeem it.

Which is the preferred method…I’ve redeemed a code and then gone back to post that I had redeemed it only to find someone else had “claimed” it at the same exact time.

Moms With Apps May 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Hi Curious, good question. I used to encourage folks to “claim” then “redeem”, but too many codes were snatched in the interim. What I’m doing now is encouraging “just go for it” and redeem what you can. If you are successful, go back and state which code you redeemed so others know it’s taken. –Lorraine

rCarbee September 4, 2011 at 7:29 am

Thank you! This information was very helpful and too easy! rCarbee

MEJ January 16, 2012 at 7:08 am

Hope I get a chance to try this. Thanks for posting- very helpful & it looks easy too!

Anthony March 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

We’ve been using a great service called redeem-now.com. I’m not in any way connected with this, but as an app dev, it’s really useful, as when we send promo codes to people, they’re often unsure what to do. Redeem-now gives a one click solution to this, and it’s completely free.

Brittany May 12, 2012 at 8:12 am

So do you hand out promo codes if not where can I find them

Moms With Apps May 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

We hand out codes intermittently on the MWA FB page, and on the App Friday FB page: http://www.facebook.com/AppFriday

Laraib July 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

Very interesting post and very useful indeed!!

Betty Rich September 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I won a moderately expensive assessment app that was given away in a drawing, but on my i-Pad, a message box comes on that says “Update Required–This app requires iOS 5.” How do I get the update?

Betty Rich September 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I am correcting my e-mail address in my previous post. Sorry.

Moms With Apps September 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

Hi Betty, when you synch your device with iTunes you should see the option to do a software update for your device. If you are running an older version of the iOS operating system on your device, that message is telling you that the app requires a more recent version of the operating system. –Lorraine

Lusi September 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I see that apple doesn’t allow promo codes for IAPs. How have people in the Moms with Apps community dealt with that?

Moms With Apps September 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Some make two versions, a free + IAP, and a PRO full price all inclusive.

LindaP April 5, 2014 at 3:21 pm

You made promo codes much easier to understand. Now that I get it I can’t wait to see what I can select. Yay! Thanks for clearing up the confusion.

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