Keeping track of different stores’ return policies can feel a bit like playing whac-a-mole — especially when it comes to holiday shopping returns.

This year, many companies expanded their return policies, and I think some of that generosity will stick throughout the 2020-21 holiday season. Store return windows will likely be longer and they’ll come up with creative options for how returns can be done — but strict exceptions, like to electronics and Apple products, will hold.

Here’s what you need to know about holiday shopping returns this year.

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1. Tons of stores have a special extended holiday return policy.

Some stores have yet to announce their exact return policy extensions for the 2020-21 holiday season, but I included their 2019-20 holiday return window because it’s almost certain the time frames will either stay the same or expand (not shrink).

Here’s a list of stores that extend their return windows around the holiday season:

  • Amazon will allow for returns until Jan. 31 on purchases made between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.
  • Apple allowed for returns until Jan. 8 on purchases made between Nov. 15 and Dec. 25 in 2019.
  • Best Buy allowed for returns until Jan. 14 for purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 the previous year.
  • Nordstrom has no return limit — you can return something anytime, though whether or not it’s accepted is up to associate discretion. If you don’t have a receipt, they’ll ask for ID and you’ll get store credit.
  • Target maintains its regular 90-day return window throughout the holidays (Target RedCard holders get an extra 30 days on top of that), but loosens its electronics policy — normally 30 days and just 15 days for Apple products — so that the countdown doesn’t start until December 26. This applies to items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25.
  • Walmart maintains its regular return policy over Christmas, but the return window for electronics — which normally must be returned within 14 days or 30 days of purchase, depending on the item — won’t start until Dec. 26.
  • Wayfair purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 have until Jan. 31 to be returned for a full refund.

 

RELATED: Retailers That Let You Return Used Items for a Full Refund

 

2. Don’t be surprised if there’s a delay in getting your refund.

If you’re returning something by mail, be prepared for both delayed return shipping and refund. This might just be the new normal 🤷🏼‍♀️.

 

3. But do download a delivery monitoring app like Paribus to protect yourself from delayed online orders.

Paribus can help get you compensated if your shipment arrives late!

Here’s how it works: Paribus tracks your shipments (via guaranteed delivery dates in your inbox) from stores like Amazon and will send you a message that says “Action Required: Paribus detected a Late Delivery!” if something appears to be askew. They will even send a pre-filled form to Amazon’s customer service.

The best part? They offer this service and charge you nothing!

Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.

 

RELATED: Paribus New Delivery Monitoring Service Is a Game-Changer

 

4. Which companies do free return shipping by mail? These ones.

Here’s a list of retailers who do prepaid shipping labels for returns by mail:

 

 

5. Dick’s Sporting Goods does curbside returns and hopefully other stores will, too.

Dick’s Sporting Goods — I love them for this — does curbside returns. Simply park in one of their designated curbside parking spots, call the store, and a manager will come out and help you.

Best Buy did curbside returns in most states during the COVID-19 lockdown, so while no one at my local store seemed certain whether or not this would continue during and after the holidays, I have high hopes.

 

6. Some stores will pay for a mail return for something you bought in person.

Yes — some stores are doing prepaid return labels for items bought in store, and I suspect more will follow suit. (Which makes sense because, you know, we’re in a pandemic.)

Here are the retailers we know are currently paying for returns by mail for items you bought in person:

 

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What You Need to Know About Holiday Shopping Returns in 2020