Charges and apps

Key points about charges and apps

  • When using some apps you may find there are costs or charges you're not immediately aware of.
  • App charges may be as a one-off payment or as an ongoing paid subscription.
  • Some apps offer in-app purchases. These are goods and services sold inside the app.
  • Always make sure you understand the charges before you make any payment.
  • Learn more about charges and apps.
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Paid apps

Apps that are not free, will require you to make a payment. Payments may be:

  • one-off payment – where a single payment is made for the ongoing use of the app. You're not expected to pay again.
  • a subscription charge – which is a recurring payment, eg, a monthly subscription.

Apps that are not free should be upfront about their charges and give you a clear idea of the costs in the app store summary. If it's unclear in the app, check if the app has an associated website. The costs may be outlined there. Always make sure you understand the charges before you make payment.

Be aware that some apps may change their payment plan. For example, an app that was initially free may introduce charges to use some features. The app developer should be clear and explicit about any changes to pricing.

Image credit: Canva

However, there are instances when you may find yourself paying charges when using a 'free' app. This can happen particularly with limited period free trials and in-app purchases.

Free trial for a limited period

Some apps offer a free trial for a limited number of days. Some of these may then go on to charge you once this period is over. Before signing up to a free trial take the following steps:

  • Check the fine print. Always read the terms and conditions of the app before signing up. It can lengthy and full of legal jargon, but should include the timeframe of the free trial, the cost of the app after the free trial period has ended and how you can cancel the app.
  • Search online for reviews of the app and the app developers. It’s not fool proof, but it can let you know what experience others have had.
  • Always be careful of who you’re giving your credit card details to. A common tactic is to roll the free trial subscription over to a premium subscription once the free trial period has ended. Sometimes this is done without you knowing.
  • Mark the date on your calendar for the end of limited time offers. That will remind you to cancel the app before payments begin. The timeframe of the free trial should be in the fine print of the terms and conditions.
  • If you don’t understand it, don’t agree to sign up. The terms and conditions of the offer should be written in a way that you can easily understand. If you can’t easily understand them, be wary.

Read more about unwanted subscriptions and trials. (external link)

In-app purchases

An in-app purchase is any fee you're charged after the initial cost of downloading the app (if there is one).

  • Many free apps have in-app purchases where you can buy goods and services from inside the app, eg, add-ons, subscriptions and premium features. 
  • Some apps may be free to download and let you access basic features for free, if you're willing to put up with advertisements.
  • Accessing premium features or an ad-free version instead often means you have to pay more. 
  • Developers often use in-app purchases as a source of income.
  • Before downloading an app, read the app summary in the App Store and Google Play to see if it has in-app purchases. Read more about in-app purchases and how to prevent them(external link).  

Shopping safely online(external link) Netsafe NZ
Tips to avoiding scams(external link) Netsafe NZ


Security and privacy of health apps [PDF, 359 KB] Healthify He Puna Waiora, NZ, 2019
Staying safe online(external link) Netsafe, NZ, 2018

Disclaimer: The NZ Health App Library is a free consumer service to help you decide whether a health app would be suitable for you. Our review process is independent. We have no relationship with the app developers or companies and no responsibility for the service they provide. This means that if you have an issue with one of the apps we have reviewed, you will need to contact the app developer or company directly.

Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.