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Beware! Apple’s letting subscriptions auto-renew even after a price increase

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Apple’s App Store just updated its rules (opens in new tab), and it’s bad news for anyone that has, or could have, any sort of paid subscription. The new rules let developers raise the price of its subscriptions, and auto-renew them as well, without your express permission.

Apple is calling this an “auto-renewable subscription price increase” and claims there are some conditions that developers will need to follow. Those conditions say that any prices that increase by more than 50% won’t qualify. Weekly and monthly subscriptions are also limited to a $5 increase, while annual subscriptions can’t raise prices by more than $50.

Subscriptions that exceed these caps will not auto-renew, and users will be asked to opt-in for the price changes. Ignoring an opt-in warning means your subscription will lapse, and you’ll lose access after the next renewal point.

An opt-in will also be triggered if subscription prices are raised more than once per year. That should stop dodgy apps repeatedly raising the price by small increments over the course of several months.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about this change, though Apple has only just made it official. TechCrunch (opens in new tab) reported that the change was in the testing phases last month, while developer Max Seeleman received one of the price change notices back at the end of March (opens in new tab).

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Apple does say that it will warn users about price increases, via email, push notifications and in-app messages. And judging from Seeleman’s tweet, that notice is going to be pretty prominent. So it’s not like you’ll be completely in the lurch when renewal day comes around — provided you pay attention to the warnings that come up on your device. 

That said, while there may be a button to review your subscription preferences, it requires more effort to cancel a subscription compared to refusing to opt-in and letting it lapse. 

Personally it feels like a jerk move on Apple’s part, especially given the fact the cost of living has gone through the roof in recent months. If anything, now is the time to crack down on any sort of hidden costs, and make sure people are clued in to every penny they’re going to have to pay

For the time being you’re just going to have to keep an eye out for these notices, and make sure you don’t dismiss them without thinking; otherwise your credit card bill is going to get a little thicker.

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.