The Costco return policy is the stuff of legend. It’s better than the Walmart return policy, which gives you 90 days to return most items. And it even beats the Target return policy, which stretches to an entire year when you buy their store brands. Costco’s return policy is so famous that the plot of the Netflix series “Good Girls” hinges on the warehouse club’s incredible flexibility.
But when you have the best return policy, it can be taken advantage of (which I never condone). Maybe you’ve heard of the people who tried to return a broken printer that Costco hasn’t sold for eight years. Or what about the Costco member who attempted to return a dead Christmas tree in January? Or the person who tried to return a package of steak — without the steak?!
I’m not suggesting you be like these people. But I do think it helps to know what you can and can’t do when it comes to the Costco return policy (and the Costco price adjustment policy, too). While you can return most things anytime, I’ll also tell you about the items that you can never return, and a few things that actually have a deadline (like TVs and major appliances).
1. Is there a time limit for returning items to Costco?
The official Costco return policy gives you a “Risk-Free, 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.” This means that as a card-holding Costco member, you can return (almost) anything, anytime. There is no time limit.
Why is the Costco return policy so liberal, you ask? They’re trying to nudge you off the fence of buying something with the promise that if you get home and regret your purchase, you can bring it back for a full refund.
TIP: Not a Costco member yet? Get a basic membership for $60 a year.
2. Can I return anything to Costco, even if I don’t have a receipt?
The Costco return policy without a receipt is the same as it is with a receipt. No joke — you don’t need a receipt in order to make a Costco return.
This is because Costco tracks all of your purchases on your membership account. You will need your membership card or member number to complete the return, though. But even if you don’t have your receipt, Costco will still be able to find the digital version of the transaction.
3. What condition do items need to be in to be returned to Costco?
There is no rule about this. You don’t even need the original packaging. You do need all the parts and pieces that came with the item, but it doesn’t really matter what condition the item is in as long as it’s all there.
In fact, there are stories of very, very used Costco chicken coops being returned for a full refund, so whatever condition your item is in, I wouldn’t stress too much about it.
TIP: I share even more krazy Costco return stories at the end!
4. Can I get a refund if something goes on sale at Costco?
Yes. If you bought something online at Costco.com and you notice that the price dropped within 30 days of your purchase, you can fill out a price adjustment form on their website. Once they process your request, you’ll receive a Costco credit toward your next purchase.
There is an asterisk with this policy, though. They’ll only price-match online orders to other online prices. A quirk with Costco online shopping is that online prices are always higher than in the warehouse — even for members. And Costco.com won’t match in-store sale price adjustments.
TIP: Costco.com is shoppable for non-members, but even members will pay an increased rate online.
5. Are there any exceptions to Costco’s return policy?
There are a few exceptions to Costco’s return policy. Not many, though. And the few exceptions that do exist come with nuance — meaning that you might be able to return the item under some circumstances but not others. Let’s take a look.
Can I return food at Costco?
In the Costco world, you can return any food (even Costco prepared meals) for a full refund. Yes, that even includes food that’s already been opened.
So, next time you try a Costco sample and want to buy it, you’ll have literally nothing to lose.
You can’t return expired food, though, so be sure to return food right away if you decide you don’t like it or don’t want it.
Related: Don’t forget to check out our picks from the Costco Coupon Book each month when you’re making your shopping list.
What is Costco’s electronics return policy?
Electronics only have a 90-day return period at Costco. But if you have a manufacturer warranty that extends beyond 90 days, Costco will honor it.
Here’s the list of items classified under the 90-day electronics return policy:
- Major appliances
- Computers and tablets
- Aerial cameras (drones)
- MP3 players
- Cell phones (your return is processed through your specific carrier instead of Costco)
Since printers aren’t technically named in the list, people have had success with returning them past the 90-day window.
What is the Costco Tire Center return policy?
Tires don’t fall under the return-whatever-whenever policy. For tires, you’ll have to return them within the Costco Tire Warranty window, which is five years. This warranty covers treadwear damage and tire failure.
TIP: Other Costco products considered to have a “limited useful life expectancy” fall under this same warranty policy. The only other item Costco is specific about is batteries, but there may be other items as judged by the manager on duty.
Can I return gift cards at Costco?
Surprisingly, you can return most gift cards you purchase at Costco.
However, if you bought a Costco Shop Card (which is essentially just a gift card for Costco purchases), you won’t be able to return that.
TIP: You can use a Shop Card to get into Costco without a membership.
Can you return alcohol and cigarettes to Costco?
It really depends on where you live. Some states have laws that prohibit the return of alcohol and/or tobacco products. And even within the same state, your county or municipality may have different local laws that regulate alcohol and tobacco sales and returns.
Basically, if Costco is allowed to give you the money back for your margarita mix and cigarettes, they’re not against it. But there are a lot of areas in the country where they just can’t. Because it would be against the law.
Can I return Costco Travel purchases?
Costco Travel will help you cancel your trip if you need to, and they won’t charge you a fee to cancel. But you’re still subject to cancellation policies and fees set by specific airlines, hotels, and cruise lines.
No-shows are nonrefundable, with no exceptions.
6. How long do you have to return mattresses at Costco?
Mattresses fall under the “return it anytime” category. But a few thoughts — first, mattress return stories at Costco are the stuff of Reddit lore. Costco employees and managers hate it when people return mattresses that have been clearly used, and they’re not shy about sharing their feelings on the interwebs.
That said, it’s still fair play to return a mattress, and literally every mattress seller in the U.S. lets you try out a mattress for at least 30 days (some for up to a year). How many of us buy a mattress, sleep on it once, and wake up knowing we can’t put a ring on it? It happens! So chill out, Costco.
TIP: If you want to buy a Costco mattress but are shy about returning it, buy it from Costco.com so you can process the return online instead of going into a store. Costco will pick the mattress up at your house. Rule of thumb: If your item was delivered by a freight carrier, it’ll get picked up the same way it was delivered (curbside, threshold, or white glove).
7. Can you return sofas to Costco?
For furniture, like sofas, the answer is ditto from the above mattress tip and for all the same reasons.
It’s hard to tell in the warehouse if you’re going to love that couch forever and ever. And technically you have forever and ever to make the return. But if you want to err on the side of politeness, try to make the return as soon as you know you don’t want it.
8. What is Costco’s jewelry return policy?
Jewelry falls under the “Risk-Free, 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.” So, yes, you can totally return jewelry to Costco after 5 years. Or however many years.
But there is an extra paperwork burden if you bought a diamond over one carat. In that case, you’ll need both the IGI and GIA reports that came with your order.
Costco will have to send any jewelry weighing more than one carat out to a fulfillment center for verification before they can process your return, and verification can take up to 48 hours.
To start this process, take your jewelry to a Costco warehouse, or contact Costco at (800) 774-2678 with this information handy:
- Your name.
- Order confirmation number.
- Phone number.
- Reason for your return.
- Whether or not the credit card you used to purchase the item is still active.
TIP: If you’re purchasing gold bars or bullions from Costco, you’re not going to be able to return them. Ever.
9. Where do you return contacts at Costco?
If you need to return a contact lens order or glasses, walk right on by the general returns line at the warehouse. Instead, take your return to Costco’s Optical department, where the line is much shorter.
They can process any optical returns right there — even if you made your original purchase online.
10. Can you return your Costco membership?
Yes. If you’re not happy with your Costco membership for any reason, return it for a full refund. Of course, you’ll lose any rewards you’ve earned — which can be particularly important if you have an Executive Membership where you earn 2% back on all your purchases.
Also, if you have a Costco credit card, it’ll get canceled when you cancel your membership. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t cancel your membership over the loss of the perks, but know that you’ll lose access to those cash-back benefits.
TIP: When you close a credit card, your credit score may also take a hit.
11. Can I return items I bought online to a Costco store?
Anything you order from Costco online can be returned in person at a warehouse. Or you can return it via mail through their website. The best part is that return shipping is free, and you’ll even get the initial shipping and handling charges returned to you.
Items you buy in the warehouse can only be returned in warehouses. It doesn’t have to be the same store you bought the item from, but you can’t return it through Costco.com.
TIP: Costco doesn’t do curbside pickup, so obviously they don’t have curbside returns.
12. Can I return an item if I bought it at a different Costco store?
Yes, you can return your Costco warehouse and Costco.com purchases at any Costco store. It doesn’t have to be the same warehouse where you bought it — your membership gets you into any Costco location.
13. How do you contact Costco customer service?
To be real with you, Costco customer service is a lot easier to interact with in person compared to over the phone. The reps are all friendly and helpful, but it can take a hot minute to get a real person on the phone.
That said, if you want to call, there are different numbers for different departments:
- The number to call for Costco.com orders is (800) 955-2292.
- If you’re calling about membership or an issue you ran into at the warehouse, the number is (800) 774-2678.
- The number for Costco Technical Support is (866) 861-0450.
- Customer service for mail-order pharmacy prescriptions is (800) 607-6861.
- Costco Travel can be reached at (877) 849-2730.
- Call (800) 788-9968 for Business Center orders.
And there’s a slew of different numbers you might have to call for home improvement installations. You can find them all here.
You can also chat with a representative on Costco’s website, but customer service hours are limited to 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT.
14. What are the craziest Costco return policy stories?
I usually feel a mix of awe and pity when I read about Costco’s craziest returns. This one was all pity.
Here is the story about the returned chicken coop, from a Reddit user who claimed to have worked in the Costco returns department for eight months:
“The thing was covered in chicken ****. Everyone stared as the guy and his family brought it in…Naturally, the front-end manager gave him a full refund.”
- Someone returned vitamins they had bought four years ago; vitamins have a shelf-life of two years.
- Hawaiian Costco workers report tourists returning beach chairs, umbrellas, ice chests, and boogie boards en route to the airport.
- A classic: The woman who returned a six-year-old printer.
TIP: I’ve heard of memberships getting canceled for too many returns, but there’s no hard and fast rule for the maximum number of returns that will jeopardize your membership. Yet another reason not to abuse the system.