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I have purchased apps from Google play store which were recurring charges and I've purchased some with one-time cost. I don't see an indicator from Google Play to distinguish between $1.99 one-time charge or $1.99 per month charge.

How does one know the full terms of the purchase? How do I distinguish the contracts?

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For apps there are is only one possibility to start a subscription:

If Google Play Store asks you before you download an app if you want to purchase an app for a certain amount of money, then this is an one-time fee. To my knowledge apps can only have a one-time-fee or they are free (to be downloaded).

Repeatable fees are are usually billed as in-app-purchase. That means you open the app and at some point the app can ask you if you want to start a subscription. That will open a Google Play dialog containing the price, when the subscription starts and so on.

in-app-purchase can also be a one-time payment. But that is then visible in the Google Play payment dialog.

Active subscriptions can be viewed in Google Play Store app in section Payments and Subscriptions. The same is possible in the web interface which also has a section Payment and Subscriptions

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  • I got the Aloha browser from Google Play Store... It hits me every month.. and I don't recall how GPS presented it.
    – TheGeeko61
    Commented May 28 at 20:36
  • Thank you for you full answer. I can rest easier...
    – TheGeeko61
    Commented May 28 at 20:37
  • @TheGeeko61 Aloha browser is free to download and once you have installed and started it it can ask you to start a subscription.
    – Robert
    Commented May 28 at 20:45
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    The easiest way to avoid bill shocks like this is to not give Google your credit/debit card details. Instead buy - in a supermarket - a Google Play card, and then load that to your Google Play account. That way, if there is an-app payments, the payment can't be taken from your credit/debit card. Once your Google Play credit is exhausted, then the transaction will be declined. The same applies to Apple, etc
    – CSM
    Commented May 29 at 10:56
  • Note also that if there is a way to pay for in-app stuff like a subscription that's through a website or similar rather than through the actual app, it might be cheaper. Google and Apple tend to charge app developers for using their payment services. And if I recall correctly, Apple has even been in anti-trust lawsuits over how they forbid app developers from helping users find the cheapest option.
    – Arthur
    Commented May 29 at 20:41

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