Manage Google Play budget and purchases on Android phone

It is easy to be carried away with a phone and spend more than you think or want to. Take control, set a Google Play budget, manage Google Play subscriptions and payments on Android phone.

Apps and in-app purchases are too easy and too tempting to buy with a tap and you can easily lose track of how much you have spent. A few power-ups, in-game gold, coins, diamonds or whatever the currency, and they soon mount up. It can be a shock at the end of the month when you see your credit card bill or bank account.

How many times have you heard the story of a child with a phone racking up a huge bill for their parents because they had access to in-app purchases? Don’t lend your phone to a child or buy them a phone without locking down the payments. It is you that will foot the bill if they go wild and buy everything they can in games.

Fortunately, there are settings in Google Play Store on Android that can help with limiting the amount you can spend or how much your child can spend on their phone. For example, you can set a Google Play budget that reminds you when you are spending too much. You can view and manage Google Play subscriptions, and you can require biometric authorization for payments, such as your fingerprint or face.

Let’s take a look at Google Play purchases, payments, budgets and subscriptions. Take control and don’t let spending get out of hand.

1 Google Play Store

Google Play Store on an Android phone
Google Play Store home screen

Open the Google Play Store on your Android phone and press your account picture in the top right corner. This is where all settings and payments are configured.

2 Google account options

Google Play Store account screen
Google Play Store account screen

The account screen has many options and there are two sections that interest us here, Payment and subscriptions, and Settings. Let’s look at Settings first and look at the other section afterwards.

3 Google Play Store settings

Google Play Store settings screen on an Android phone
Google Play Store settings

If we want to limit payments, accidental purchases and in-app purchases, we can do this with Authentication. Press the down arrow to the right of Authentication to expand the section.

4 Google Play authentication settings

Google Play Store purchase authorization
Google Play Store authentication settings

First, turn on the Biometric authentication switch. This means that either a fingerprint or face ID is required for Google Play purchases, in-app purchases and so on. It will prevent someone else, such as a child, from buying anything themselves. They would be forced to ask you to authorise it with your fingerprint or face and it stops them racking up huge bills on your account without your knowledge.

Second, press Require authentication for purchases.

5 Close the payment loopholes

Google Play Store purchase authentication
Google Play Store purchase authentication

There have been cases where a parent authenticated an app purchase and then the child went on a spending spree and the parent got a huge bill for in-app purchases. Requiring authentication only every 30 minutes is convenient for you, if you are buying several apps, books, music and so on, at once. However, don’t forget a child can do the same if you authenticate an app purchase and hand them back your phone.

Never choose the Never option!

Set Purchase authentication to For all purchases through Google Play. It not only stops extra purchases from children who use your phone, it also makes you stop and think about your own purchases. You can’t accidentally purchase too much or without thought. You have to consider it and physically do something, like press the fingerprint sensor, to actually make a purchase. It adds a pause and prevents an impulse buy.

6 Google Play Payments and subscriptions

Google Play Store payment settings on an Android phone
Google Play Store payments and subscriptions

Return to your account screen (step 2), and press Payments and subscriptions. There are three useful items here, Payment methods, Subscriptions, and Budget and history. Let’s look at each of them.

7 Google Play payment methods

Google Play Store payment methods
Google Play Store payment options

You must have at least one active payment method to make purchases in the store and in games. Don’t add any methods and you, or anyone else, will not be able to buy anything. Let credit cards expire and they cannot be used.

Swipe up to get to the bottom of the screen and there is a More payment settings option. Press it and you are taken to the payments section of your Google account in a browser where there are controls to add, remove or update payment methods.

8 Manage Google Play subscriptions

Google Play Store subscriptions on an Android phone
Subscriptions in Google Play Store

Return to the Payments and subscriptions screen (step 6) and press Subscriptions. OK, so I don’t have any, but if I did, this is where they would be listed and you could see them and, if you wanted, cancel them. I’m not a fan of subscriptions, so my list is empty.

Keep checking this screen to make sure you have not accidentally subscribed to an app when you thought you were paying a one-off fee. That $9.99 app might have sounded reasonable at the time, but if if you did not notice that it was actually $9.99 a month, then that’s different.

I have also seen weekly subscriptions. When purchasing an app or service, you might assume that $2.50 is a cheap subscription and quickly agree to it, but if you forget to notice that it is weekly and not monthly, then that’s $130 year!

9 Check Google Play app purchase history

Google Play Store budget and history on an Android phone
Google Play Store purchase history and budget

Return to the Google Play payments and subscriptions screen and press Budget and history. In the lower half of the screen is a list of transactions. All transactions are listed, even free ones, so you can easily check what has been purchased and how much it cost you.

If you do not see a budget in the top half of the screen, press the Edit budget link and set one.

10 Set a Google Play budget

Google Play budget setting on an Android phone
Google Play budget setting

Here you can set a budget, which is the amount you want to spend each month. Enter it and tap Save. Setting a Google Play monthly budget does not stop you buying things. It is not a hard limit and you can spend as much as you want. However, when you get close to the budget limit, you will see warnings. Basically, it just adds a friendly notification that you have spent more than you intended this month.

Google Play on the web

Did you know that you can access Google Play Store on the web in a browser on your computer? In addition to browsing the store and installing apps, you can view and manage subscriptions and payment methods. Click the links in the sidebar.

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