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Costco Return Policy: Here's Exactly What You Can and Can't Do

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Costco's return policy is legendary, surpassing the Walmart return policy's 90-day window and the Target return policy's year-long guarantee on store brands. Heck, their return policy is so famous, it even fueled a plot line in the Netflix series "Good Girls." 

But with great power comes responsibility — and the occasional abuse of the best store return policies. Remember the guy who returned an eight-year-old printer to Costco? Or the member who returned a Christmas tree in January? There's a line — sort of.

This guide clarifies your Costco return rights and what to keep in mind. While most items are eternally returnable, there are some exceptions to the rule and even a few permanent no-gos (like Costco gold bars and Shop Cards). And I'll fill you in on a related hack for claiming a Costco price adjustment if you notice a price drop after you make a purchase.

For more smart shopping tips, savings hacks, and Costco coupons, download the KCL app or text HACKS to 57299.

Costco Return Policy

Costco offers a generous satisfaction guarantee. You can return most items at any time, even after years of ownership, for a full refund back to the original form of payment. This applies to both membership purchases and purchases made with a Costco Shop Card.

You can even return third-party gift cards and prescriptions to Costco, which is something that the Sam's Club return policy doesn't allow.

Costco will accept your returns for any reason, even if you're just unhappy with the product. There is no requirement that the item be unopened or in its original packaging, and you don’t even need a receipt (since Costco can easily look up your purchase history using your membership number).

"Once, an employee talked me into trying the K-cups that were their brand. They insisted, 'Try a few and if you don’t like them, bring it back for a refund.' I didn’t like them. I felt terrible returning them, but no questions — they refunded the full amount and apologized because I didn’t like them." - Tanya G., KCL reader

Some exceptions to the anytime return policy do exist, though. With electronics and major appliances, you only have 90 days to request a refund. However, Costco extends the warranty on major appliances to two years, so you may be able to return them outside of the 90-day window, depending on the specific warranty terms.

Costco doesn't accept returns on a few specific items in particular. Items you can never return to Costco include Costco Shop Cards, personalized items, special-order items, Costco gold bars, airline items, and live performance event items. And tires and batteries may have a limited warranty instead of a return policy.

Depending on local laws, you might not be able to return alcohol and cigarette purchases to Costco, either.

How to Return an Item to Costco

costco kirkland trail mix and receipt at merchandise return

In-Store Returns

Bring the item you want to return to any Costco warehouse along with your membership card and receipt (if you have it). A customer service representative will process your return and issue your refund.

Online Returns

You can start a return online for items you purchased on You will need to log in to your account and navigate to your order history to begin the return process. Costco will provide a prepaid shipping label for online returns.

Online Returns In-Store

You can also return items purchased online at any Costco warehouse. Bring the item you want to return along with your packing slip or proof of purchase.

Tips to Hack the Costco Return Policy

A person pulling gold fish crackers and tide from a shipping box.

1. Return your membership if you don't end up liking it.

If you’re not happy with your Costco membership for any reason, you can 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.

Remember that if you have a Costco credit card, it’ll get canceled when you cancel your membership.

2. Make online returns in person to get your refund faster.

Just bring your online return back to any Costco warehouse location, and they'll refund your purchase immediately (including shipping and handing fees).

3. Get a refund if something you buy later goes on sale.

Costco occasionally lowers prices on items after you've purchased them. If you spot this happening within 30 days, head back to the store with your receipt and they'll happily issue you a refund for the difference under the Costco price adjustment policy. This is especially handy for big-ticket items!

There is an asterisk with this policy, though. They’ll only price-adjust in-store prices to other in-store prices, and online prices to other online prices. That's because in-store prices are typically lower than Costco online prices to account for shipping and handling costs.

4. Bring back opened food for a refund anytime.

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.

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