I've noticed a trend (at least on the Google Play store) of application prices ending in x.99, while 'donation' apps usually end on the dollar. I see the reasoning behind the psychology that makes a user purchase a $0.99 item over one that costs $1.00, but why the trend to keep the prices on the dollar for donation items?


3 Answers 3


We want it to feel cheap when we buy but not when we give.

  • 26
    Nice answer, but is there any evidence that this is true?
    – Abe
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 6:24
  • 8
    That's a very catchy and clever answer, but can you back it up? I want to believe you're correct, but I have nagging doubts. Please try to convince me.
    – iconoclast
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 14:47
  • 3
    I would posit that anyone who donates on a regular basis could self-validate this assertion - it resonates with me on a deep level. We may have to look past UX to fundraising psychology for research to support it. I would enjoy digging a bit deeper also, but I'm on vacation without a reliable internet connection. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 15:26
  • 1
    I feel like the upvotes to the answer are evidence enough it is correct. I personally would prefer to keep it the elegant one-liner it is, but I'm new to UX and am not sure if this would be a breach of the philosophy. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 16:16
  • 2
    The Psychological Pricing wikipedia page has some relevant information.
    – Zelda
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 18:21

The psychology behind the $0.99 was explored in depth in Priceless: The Hidden Psychology of Value, which if you ask for my humble opinion, is a life-changing book. Partly the reason for such price tags is that it translates for many as a 'sale' price. Against it, is that it is typically associated with 'hard sale'.

The donation payment system is in its core anti-capitalist, thus anti-commerce, and so prices are accordingly just simple (distinguishing themselves from any sale or hard sale like prices).

  • 5
    +1 for the first paragraph. But how are donations anti-capitalist? If they took the money without permission that would be in opposition to capitalism and a free market, but if you give of your own volition that seems like it is perfectly in keeping with a free (as in freedom) market.
    – iconoclast
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 14:45
  • 3
    Heh... it's not anti-capitalist at all, but it's against the silly capitalist strawman that's become popular recently. Ironically, basically it's people who can't separate "money" and "personal gain", but who simultaneously talk about how good they feel about throwing their livelihood behind a particular cause.
    – jkerian
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 15:18
  • 4
    Exactly: communism (e.g.) forces you to "give", capitalism gives you the freedom to choose. Free software (e.g., again) is very much in keeping with capitalism, despite the PR campaigns to the contrary coming from Redmond.
    – iconoclast
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 17:04
  • 4
    "Competitive markets, capital accumulation, voluntary exchange, and personal finance are, however, not capitalism, and are often a part in non-capitalist systems". Donations are not anti-capitalist. Capitalism != freedom, by a long shot (perhaps ask people whose ancestors were slaves quite how close to the core of capitalism one finds "freedom").
    – supervacuo
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 20:44
  • 5
    It seems the only agreement here is that "Capitalism is whatever I defined it to be".
    – Lie Ryan
    Commented Aug 18, 2012 at 17:45

I know this question is old, and the purpose of misleading prices has been covered, but I don't see any explanations about why donations are round amounts.

Simply put, taking donations as whole numbers is more convenient for charities.

They don't charge taxes or give change, so they list preset donation amounts without fractions of whole numbers (eg, cents) to make accounting easy, unless of course they accept coin donations in real life as well.

Asking for whole numbers is also more convenient for making donations. If you're using a web app to make a custom donation, it's easier to only have to enter one or two digits for the amount of dollars for example. In the real world, it's easier to only have to hand over one or two bills and maybe a handful of coins.

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