Holiday gifting: Retailers with the best and worst return policies

The 21 Best Return Policies from Top Retailers

Holiday gifting: Retailers with the best and worst return policies

With more and more shopping happening online these days, a good return policy has become essential. When you can’t examine or try on the product you’re buying, you need to know that you have options beyond just taking the financial hit.

Plus, who hasn’t received a gift that wasn’t quite right and been curious about how to return it?

Regardless of why you’re no longer keen on keeping what you’ve purchased, there are a few key elements to a good return policy. Being able to easily return items without a receipt is always a plus, while having a long return period is another key. You should also look for flexibility.

The best return policies will offer multiple methods for returns, as well as options for store credit if you don’t meet the return criteria. We’ve scoured all the top retailers to find the best return policies out there. Here’s how to cash in:

1. Trader Joe’s

Where grocery stores are concerned, Trader’s Joe’s return policy is arguably one of the best. They offer no-hassle refunds across the board, regardless of the reason. The best part? No receipt, no problem.

While there doesn’t seem to be an official return policy listed on the Trader Joe’s website, we confirmed with a local store that if you don’t a product or were sold something that has gone bad, you can indeed get a full refund or store credit, with or without a receipt, and with no time limit.

2. JCPenney

The JCPenney return policy is inarguably solid. If you have a receipt, you can snag an exchange or refund via the original payment method — unless you paid with PayPal, in which case they’ll cut you a check.

Gift receipts are a little different. Your options are an exchange or a JCP gift card. Those without a receipt aren’t luck though.

You can still get a merchandise voucher for whatever the item’s lowest selling price was within the last 45 days.

Some restrictions do apply. Check the JCPenney return policy for stipulations around fine jewelry, appliances, electronics, furniture, mattresses, and more.

3. American Eagle

American Eagle’s return policy offers free in-store returns on all purchases, even if you bought the item online. The same goes for the American Eagle exchange policy. When returning or swapping out an online purchase, the retailer asks that you bring along your delivery invoice and whatever credit card you used to make the purchase.

If you don’t have the invoice, the AE return policy will give you a gift card equal to the current price, instead of crediting your card. You also have the option of shipping your items back, but you’ll be on the hook for postage. When we checked with AE about their return timeframe, we were told the window is limitless as long as the item is in good condition with the tags still attached.

4. Target

If you’re looking to pull off a Target return without a receipt, you’re in luck! The retailer says it can usually track down receipts in their system.

Target’s return and exchange policy offers a 90-day window — or one year for Target Owned Brand items — so long as they’re in new, unopened condition.

Additionally, most purchases made with a Target REDcard are eligible for an extra 30 grace period.

There are some stipulations to Target’s return policy without a receipt, though. For example, you’ll receive a Target gift card instead of a traditional refund. Additionally, there are restrictions on select categories.

As for the Target electronics return policy, you have 30 days to make a return or exchange. However, for electronics purchases made between November 1st and December 25th each year, that refund clock doesn’t start until the day after Christmas.

5. Walmart

According to the Walmart return policy, the store’s official position is that all non-receipt returns are subject to a refund verification process. That said, most items can be returned with or without a receipt either in-store or online within 90 days of purchase. Pretty easy.

Things get a little tougher at Walmart if you’re offloading a contract cellular device or other electronics. You need to do so with a receipt within 14 or 15 days, respectively, to get your refund.

6. Amazon

Amazon’s return policy makes the process pretty easy and hiccup-free. You can return the majority of unopened, new items sold and fulfilled by Amazon within 30 days of delivery for a 100% refund. They also offer extended returns during the holiday shopping season.

The best part is that you can handle everything online, opting for either a refund or Amazon credit. However, while some items qualify for free returns, if the return isn’t due to an Amazon error, the shipping fee will be deducted from your refund.

Amazon also assures that “Non-digital products purchased using Alexa are eligible for free returns. To return a product purchased using Alexa, process your return as normal in the Returns Center. We’ll automatically refund you any shipping charges applied to the return. You should see the shipping refund within 7 days of receiving your product refund.”

7. Costco

The Costco return policy is an impressive one. The biggest draw is that you can return most items with no receipt for a full refund whenever you want. There’s no time limit. Merchandise purchased in-store can be returned at any Costco warehouse, and you can also send back orders with free shipping.

There are some exceptions. Electronics, for example, must be returned within 90 days of receiving the item. And the store made headlines for allegedly terminating one woman’s membership due to excessive returns.

8. Ulta

When it comes to returns, beauty products are always a bit iffy. The Ulta return policy, however, allows you to return products that didn’t meet your expectations within 60 days of the purchase date.

You typically don’t even need your receipt if you’re an Ultamate Rewards Member or have an account. But if the associate can’t verify the original purchase price of the product, your refund will be issued via in-store credit equal to the item’s lowest selling price from the last 90 days. You’ll be asked to show your driver’s license as well.

One big perk to Ulta’s return policy? If you received a free gift with your order but end up returning the purchased items, you get to keep the freebie.

9. Sephora

Beauty lovers will also appreciate Sephora’s relaxed approach to returns. The store offers full refunds on purchases returned within 60 days, but don’t panic if you happen to wait longer. You’ll still be issued store credit for returns made within 61 to 90 days of your purchase date.

10. Kohl’s

Kohl’s has earned its reputation for hassle-free returns. Customers have up to 16 months from the time of purchase to cash in on full refunds.

If you don’t have a receipt, but you paid with a Kohl’s card or another major credit card, the store can usually locate the purchase in its system and credit your account.

If you go beyond the 16-month time frame, you can expect a merchandise credit or corporate-issued refund.

11. Nordstrom

The Nordstrom return policy is a generous one. Since the store is able to locate purchases in their system, it can usually offer a return via the original payment method — with or without a receipt. There’s also no time limit for exchanges or returns at Nordstrom. The only exception we could find was for special-occasion dresses: the tags must still be attached in order to return.

12. Macy’s

According to the store’s website, Macy’s gladly accepts many merchandise returns within 180 days of purchase as long as the items are in their original condition. One exception? Last Act items must be returned within 30 days of purchase. Online returns are free by mail, but keep in mind that original shipping fees are non-refundable.

13. Ikea

Furniture usually gets a bad rap for returns, but Ikea actually makes it reasonably easy.

Its return policy states that if you change your mind or simply aren’t satisfied with your purchase, you can return it and get a full refund within one year.

You’ll have to prove the purchase, but if you’ve lost your receipt, the retailer says it can locate it in its system. If not, they’ll still give you a merchandise credit for the lowest selling price on the item from the last 365 days.

14. Home Depot

At Home Depot, most new, unopened merchandise can be returned within 90 days of purchase. The retailer will even do its best to locate purchases in its system if you’re missing your original receipt.

Store cardholders enjoy a more generous return window, with 365 days to bring back unwanted items. Even better, cardholders’ receipts are saved in the system for an entire year for added convenience.

15. Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond goes above and beyond with easy-breezy returns. Minus a few exceptions, you can bring back any item along with your receipt within one year of purchase for a full refund.

No receipt? The store will try to locate a record of your purchase using your credit card, order number, registry number, etc.

If it can’t find it, you’ll get a merchandise credit for 80% of the item’s current selling price (the deduction accounts for the possible use of a coupon).

The store is even more generous with its exclusive brand items. If the product is defective, you have up to five years to return it (or longer, depending on its warranty).

16. Bath & Body Works

Bath & Body Works has a relaxed return policy that lets you return unwanted merchandise at any time as long as you have your original receipt. Lost your paperwork? The store will still accept up to $250 in items without receipts within 90 days, with the exchange or merchandise credit the lowest selling price of the item within that timeframe.

17. REI

REI promises to stand behind everything they sell. According to the store’s website, “If you’re not satisfied with your REI purchase, you can return it for a replacement or refund within one year of purchase.

” One exception is outdoor electronics, which must be returned within 90 days of purchase. The retailer’s 100% satisfaction guarantee applies to REI Outlet purchases as well (although REI Garage Sale items are final sale).

Just note that REI’s guarantee doesn’t cover ordinary wear and tear, or damage caused by improper use or accidents.

18. Zappos

Feeling indecisive about your latest Zappos purchase? No worries. The store gives its customers a very generous 365 days to return any item that they’re not 100% satisfied with as long as it’s in its original condition. Just print out a free return label and send it back via the retailer’s easy return process.

19. Bloomingdale’s

At Bloomingdales, shoppers have 365 days to return most purchases. Final Offer items must be returned within 30 days instead, while some departments have special return policies of their own ( dresses, for example). Refunds are issued through the original form of payment or as merchandise credit if you’re missing your receipt. The item just needs to be in sellable condition.

20. Lands’ End

According to the Lands’ End return policy, refund requests received within 90 days of purchase will be issued via the original form of payment, while those processed beyond 90 days will be issued via store credit. The same is true for returns that lack proof of purchase, so you never have to stress over a misplaced receipt.

21. L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean made some big changes to its beloved lifetime return policy this year, but it’s still one of the best around. The store promises, “If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.”

The retailer is also honoring its original policy by ensuring that products purchased before February 9, 2018 are not subject to this one-year time limit. That being said, you will need your proof of purchase for a refund or exchange.


What are some of your favorite store return policies? Let us know in the comments!

Our editors strive to ensure that the information in this article is accurate as of the date published, but please keep in mind that offers can change. We encourage you to verify all terms and conditions of any product before you apply.


Holiday gifting: Retailers with the best and worst return policies

Holiday gifting: Retailers with the best and worst return policies

‘Tis the season of gift receipts.

It happens every year and, in fact, a whopping 77 percent of consumers anticipate they’ll have to make returns after Christmas this year, according to a study from commerce resource Oracle Retail.

With this statistic in mind, you might want to consider which retailers will give you an easy time when returning an unwanted gift versus the ones that will be more difficult.

FOX Business searched through the return policies of several popular retailers to help you figure out if you’ll need to head back to the mall or post office on Dec. 26 or if you’ll be able to make a return at your leisure.


Retailers with no time limits

The following retailers are often considered the best by shoppers because they allow returns whenever needed, even if you’ve lost your receipt. Though, some exceptions may apply depending on the item.

Costco, Staples and MAC Cosmetics are a few of the most generous since free shipping for online purchases is included. wise, Costco, Nordstrom and Sam’s Club will give you your money back instead of store credit.

  • Bath & Body Works
  • Big 5 Sporting Goods
  • Costco
  • J.C. Penney
  • Joann Fabric and Craft Stores
  • MAC Cosmetics
  • Nordstrom
  • Sam’s Club
  • Staples

Retailers with 365-day return policies

The following retailers will give you a whole year to figure out if your Christmas gift is right for you, but not all policies are absolute. Exceptions for certain products exist at BJ's Wholesale Club and Recreational Equipment Inc.

Receipts are required for returns at Ikea and Recreational Equipment Inc. (though REI members can usually bypass this). Bloomingdale’s will apply store credit for items that are returned without a receipt.

Bloomingdale’s and Zappos offer free shipping while L.L. Bean will consider extensions beyond 365 days for defective items.

  • BJs Wholesale Club
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • L.L. Bean
  • Ikea
  • Recreational Equipment Inc.
  • Zappos


Retailers with 180-day return policies

The following retailers will allow you to take half a year to decide on a return, no receipt required, though some exceptions do apply. Bed Bath & Beyond and Michaels offer store credit for returns, and the former also asks for some form of proof of purchase. Both provide free shipping for online orders.

Kohl’s keeps the holidays in mind and offers return extensions for items purchased on select dates.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Kohl’s
  • Michaels

Retailers with 90-day return policies

The following retailers let you have three months with an item before you return it to a store.

Nearly all of them allow you to make a return without a receipt except for Crate & Barrel and Menards, which asks customers to re-print a receipt at a kiosk if it’s misplaced.

The rest will offer store credit, except for Macy’s, Home Depot and Walmart, which are the few that’ll give you your money back.

Lowe’s, Macy’s and Walmart provide free shipping for online returns, though Lowe’s makes exceptions for major appliances, power tools, paint and trailers. Macy’s and Walmart offer holiday extensions for select items.

  • Cabela’s Bass Pro
  • Crate & Barrel
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Lowe’s
  • Macy’s
  • Menards
  • Target
  • Home Depot
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Walmart


Retailers with 60-day return policies

The following retailers let you take two months to decide on a gift return. Each will let you return an item without a receipt as well for store credit except for Anthropologie, which only accepts exchanges under this circumstance.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will also allow this, though an employee may ask for ID. The company also offers free shipping for online orders. DSW is another generous destination that’ll allow you to return an item after 60 days for store credit.

  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Anthropologie
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • DSW
  • Express
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Ulta


Retailers with 45-day return policies

The following retailers will allow you to return an item within a month and a half. Foot Locker and Kmart require a receipt to honor a refund, though the latter gives a little more wiggle room for holiday extensions on select items purchased within a specific timeframe. Lane Bryant and Pier 1 Imports accept returns even if you don’t have a receipt for store credit.

Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy are the friendliest for returns with its cash refund (regardless of receipt), free shipping and holiday extension offerings.

  • Banana Republic
  • Foot Locker
  • Gap
  • Kmart
  • Lane Bryant
  • Old Navy
  • Pier 1 Imports

Retailers with 30-day return policies

Friends spending the weekend in the shopping mall

A 30-day return policy is pretty standard in the world of retail, so customers get a month to decide if they an item enough to keep it. Oftentimes, these policies are no-frills, but there are a few retailers that offer a friendlier return policy than others.

Burlington, HomeGoods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Zara will accept returns without a receipt for store credit while H&M does the same with a required exchange. Jet, Neiman Marcus, Ross Stores (ID may be required) and Sherwin-Williams will refund money for returns brought in within a month of purchase.

GameStop, Jet, Sephora and Zara offer free shipping for online orders. Neiman Marcus does as well, but only within the first 15 days of the purchase date.

For gifts that were purchased early in the season, holiday extensions apply at Amazon, H&M, Neiman Marcus, Newegg, Sears and TJ Maxx. Holiday extensions are also available at Marshalls along with a 10-day extension for online orders. A restocking fee is charged for items returned to Newegg.

  • Ace Hardware
  • Amazon
  • Big Lots
  • Burlington
  • Dillard’s
  • Dollar General
  • Forever 21
  • GameStop
  • H&M
  • HomeGoods
  • Jet
  • Marshalls
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Newegg
  • Overstock
  • Pottery Barn
  • Ross Stores
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Sears
  • Sephora
  • Sherwin-Williams
  • TJ Maxx
  • Wayfair
  • William-Sonoma
  • Zara


Retailers with less than 14-day policies

Shopping in the vintage store

The following retailers urge shoppers to make returns as soon as possible with 14-day policies that leave little wiggle room. If you’re not in love with your gift, its best to take it back the moment you realize how you feel.

  • Apple
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Lululemon


Need To Return A Gift? These Stores Have The Best And Worst Policies

Holiday gifting: Retailers with the best and worst return policies

There’s a good reason UPS dubbed Jan. 2 as the unofficial “National Returns Day.” Today, Americans are expected to return 1.9 million packages through the UPS network alone ― a 26% increase from last year’s peak returns day.

Perhaps you’re experiencing post-holiday buyer’s remorse, or you ended up with a few gifts that just aren’t for you. Either way, there’s a good chance you need to make at least one return. But not all return policies are created equal. Here are some of the best and worst store return policies, according to retail experts, so you know what you’re in for before hitting the returns line.

Companies With Great Return Policies

There are many retailers with generous return windows and lenient receipt requirements. These five stores, however, have become known for their exceptional return policies.

This wholesale retailer has an excellent return policy, according to Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews. “For most items, you can return anything at any time, no matter how long it’s been since you purchased it. And being able to return items bought online to your nearest store (even if it’s not carried there) makes the process easier as well,” she said.

Though it’s a good idea to hang onto your receipt, some stores are able to look up your purchases your membership number only.

The big exception to keep in mind is electronics, which have a limited return window of 90 days. “Still, that’s pretty generous and should be more than enough time to test items before needing to return them, if that’s what it comes to,” Ramhold said.

L.L. Bean was long been known for its rather astonishing return policy, which offered a lifetime guarantee on products and allowed customers to return purchases at any point, no matter the condition.

“Unfortunately, that policy has changed now, but the store still has a great policy,” Ramhold said. Customers have up to one year to return purchases for a full refund.

(This new policy applies to anything purchased after February 18, 2018.) However, the company will still accept returns after the one year cutoff for items that are defective due to the materials or craftsmanship.

Proof of purchase is required for returns.

Nordstrom’s return policy stands out because it considers every return on a case-by-case basis, with the ultimate objective of making customers happy. That means there’s no return window to adhere to, or limitations the item purchased.

If you don’t have a receipt or record of sale, Nordstrom will offer a return in the form of a gift card valued at the current sale price, provided you provide identification.

Keep in mind that you can’t return Nordstrom merchandise to Nordstrom Rack locations.

Kohl’s makes returns easy whether or not you have a receipt, according to Lisa Sims, an e-commerce expert and author of several books including “Keep That Receipt.” If you don’t have a receipt, your purchase can be found using the debit or credit card that was used for the transaction.

If your payment method cannot be found when you’re returning without a receipt, you’ll get a Kohl’s gift card.

There’s also no specific time period for returns, though the refund amount can be reduced depending on the return date, whether Kohl’s Cash was used, and whether the items were seasonal.

“Walmart is another retailer with a good return policy,” Sims said. Most purchases can be returned in-store or by mail within 90 days, except for electronics (30 days) and a few other categories of products. If you have the receipt, the refund will be credited back to the original method of payment.

But if you don’t have a receipt, you may still get refunded in the form of a Walmart gift card. “The drawback is that the return line after Christmas is extremely long,” Sims said.

Fortunately, in this post-holiday period, Walmart has extended the window for returning items that usually must be taken back within 14 or 30 days.

Watch Out For These Stores’ Tricky Return Policies

On the other hand, some popular retailers have surprisingly restrictive return policies. Below are a few examples of tricky policies to keep in mind.

If you need to return an item to Best Buy, you’d better do it quickly. Unless you’re a My Best Buy Elite or Elite Plus member, you usually have, at most, 15 days to return items. “Additionally, unless the purchase and return are from the same state in select cases, or it’s unopened, you’ll also have to pay either a $45 restocking fee or 15% of the item purchase price,” Ramhold said.

Fortunately, Best Buy has extended its holiday return window: Most purchases made in November and December can be returned through Jan. 14, 2020, though this excludes cell phones, tablets, wearables, AppleCare monthly plans and major appliances.

This online-only fast fashion retailer may be popular among 20-somethings with an eye for trends, but the return policy is anything but attractive. Except in limited cases, returns can only be refunded for store credit, and the return shipping costs are your responsibility.

Returned items need to be in pristine condition with the original tags attached. Bodysuits, swimwear, undergarments, beauty products, cosmetics and accessories aren’t eligible for returns, nor are any items with prices that end in $.00, .96, .97 or .

98, as these are considered final sale.

Usually, customers have 30 days to make returns, though the company has extended the return window for purchases made between Nov. 28 and Dec. 25 through Jan. 11th, or within 45 days of the ship date, whichever comes later.

Considering that it’s one of the few physical bookstore chains left, you’d think Barnes & Noble might offer a more generous return policy to keep shoppers happy. Customers have 30 days to make returns.

If you paid with PayPal, your refund has to be in the form of a Barnes & Noble Gift Card or in-store credit. Items also have to be in their perfect, original condition and shrink-wrapped products can’t be opened.

Online orders must be returned with the original packing slip and shipping fees aren’t included in the refund.

If you received a gift from Barnes & Noble that included a gift receipt, you have 60 days to make a return for store credit.

Though Kmart is known for its low prices, the return process can be more hassle than it’s worth. Non-members have just 30 days to return most items, but only with a receipt.

Certain items such as movies, software and video games can’t be returned if they’re opened, unless they’re defective, in which case you can exchange for the exact replacement.

Upholstered furniture and mattresses have a seven-day return window.

But there is good news for holiday shoppers: For items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 that usually have a 30-day return window, Kmart is extending the return period through Jan. 31.

Finally, Apple may be known for its sleek, innovative products, but its return policy isn’t exactly impressive. Customers only have 14 days to return products, as long as all the accessories, packaging, documentation and receipt are included.

“Even if it’s a gift, you must have a gift receipt in order to return something,” Ramhold said. “Additionally, for any cash, cash equivalent, or check transaction over $750, you’ll have to wait 10 business days to have a refund check mailed to you.

” Returns using a gift receipt are refunded in the form of an Apple gift card.

How To Make The Returns Process Easier

No matter how forgiving you think a store’s return policy may be, there are a few tips you should keep in mind to streamline the return process and ensure you get back all of your money.

Understand the return policy specifics. Whether you’re the gift buyer or recipient, it’s a good idea to take the time to read the seller’s return policy.

You’ll want to find out if your item can be returned or exchanged, as well as how long of a window you’re dealing with. Keep in mind that the holiday season can affect return policies.

“To reduce holiday shopping stress, many retailers have extended returns windows or lenient policies,” said Marcos Sainz, chief technology officer for Returnly.

Keep a paper trail. Ramhold recommends holding onto all relevant documentation related to a purchase, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.

That includes the receipt, invoice, email or anything else involved in the purchase.

“The more you can show when trying to make a return, the easier you’ll make it on the clerk and the more ly they’ll be to help you out with it,” Ramhold said.

Check online before running to the store. You may not have to battle the post-Christmas crowds to return a purchase, even if you originally made it in person. Many retailers are working to improve the customer experience by offering easy online returns. Some will even issue an instant online credit before receiving the return, according to Sainz.

Return items as soon as possible. The last thing you probably want to do after surviving the holiday shopping rush is head back to the mall and deal with returns.

However, even with extended policies, it’s best to take care of returns sooner rather than later.

“The longer you wait, the more you risk the window closing and then you’ll be stuck with something you don’t want or can’t use,” Ramhold said.

Be kind. “Remember, the holiday season and returns rush can be stressful for everyone,” Sainz said.

Whether you’re dealing with a customer service rep at the return counter, over the phone or via online chat, the person helping you has probably helped countless customers before you.

Your patience may be running thin, but so is theirs. “Being polite, even when you’re frustrated, can go a long way when judgment calls are required,” Sainz advised.


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