Christa Geraghty | 

Return Policy Hacks You'll Wish You'd Known Sooner

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Before you shop at any store, be sure to look at each store’s return policy. Without a few useful return policy hacks, returning an item could mean the difference between you getting a full refund to losing some bucks! Whether it’s a sweater your great aunt gifted you for Christmas or something you bought for yourself, no worries, ’cause I’ve got a few return policy hacks that rock year-round.

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1. Look for 100% satisfaction guarantee return policies from your favorite retailers.

Customers standing at the counter inside Bath and Body Works

Because of the Bath & Body Works 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, you can return used items at any time if you’re not satisfied with the quality and get a full refund with a receipt.

If you don’t have the receipt and they carry the item in store, you can get an exchange. If they don’t carry the item in the store anymore, you can get store credit for a portion of the cost of the item.

Bath & Body Works will even exchange things like lotion or candles that are no more than half used for a different scent without a receipt.

The Costco Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee pretty much allows you to bring back just about everything, including a used eight-year-old printer. While crazy generous, if you abuse the Costco return policy, they have the right to revoke your membership. Here’s a list of other retailers that have a 100% guarantee:


2. Request an email receipt for in-store purchases.

Someone checking yes to receiving an email receipt on a POS system at home depot

That way, even if you lose your paper receipt or — gasp! — cut the tags off something you end up wanting to return, you will get back the full amount you paid for it.

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


3. Contact a store’s customer service.

1-800 number on a cell phone with a laptop out of focus in the background.

Some stores have different customer service numbers for their brick-and-mortar stores and their online store. Hobby Lobby and are the perfect example that shows how hard it is to get help with your return.

To find out about the online returns process, you’d call (800) 888-0321, which is listed in the Hobby Lobby return policy. This is the retailer’s customer service number for all things

If you have a question about returning your item to a physical store, you call the store directly or call Hobby Lobby store customer service at (855) 329-7060, which is not listed in the store’s return policy.

Kind of odd, but important to know, so you don’t wait on hold for ten minutes only to be told to call a different number.


4. Watch for exclusions in a store’s return policy.

Jcpenney mattress section

Some items, like mattresses, aren’t returnable at all at Macy’s.

Get ready to put a ring on it when it comes to gift cards, food, gourmet gifts, Beauty Boxes, lamps, wall art, mirrors, furniture, and mattresses. According to Macy’s Return Policy, none of these items can be returned. At all.

Stores with exclusions include:

RELATED: Walmart Wants to Let You Do Returns from Home


5. Expect to lose shipping costs with some return policies.

Macy's online order bag with two towels.

When you buy stuff online, be sure to pay attention to what will be refunded. Stores like IKEA and Micheals don’t give you back your shipping if you return an item you bought online. So unless you got free shipping when you bought the item, subtract shipping from your refund. Here are a few more stores that’ll keep your shipping fees:

  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Home Depot
  • JCPenney
  • Kohl’s
  • Lowe’s
  • Macy’s
  • Sephora



6. Mail back your in-store purchase for your refund at no cost.

A Walmart package sitting on a doorstep

Yep, if you can’t get back to the store you bought an item from, check to see if you can return it by mail for free to get your refund. Not many retailers offer this option, but I found a few that don’t charge for mail returns on in-store purchases:

  • Apple
  • Lowe’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Walmart


7. Sell your gift card at if you’d rather have cash.

woman holding 5 gift cards

Got a gift card back instead of your original form of payment from a return, and you’d rather have the cold hard cash? Sell it on Depending on the brand, demand, and the card’s value, you can earn up to 92% cash back. Yes, you’ll lose a few bucks, but it’s better than having a gift card you’ll probably never use.

RELATED: Gift Card Hacks You Should Be Using


8. Pay attention to extended holiday return windows.

The holiday return policy sign at the front entrance.

Many retailers relax their holiday return window for items bought during the holiday season, typically starting November 1. Although the exact dates for holiday returns aren’t known yet, here are stores that have announced extended returns this year or are known to have extended their return window in the past.

  • Amazon (bought Oct. 1 – Dec. 31) until Jan. 31, 2021
  • Apple
  • Best Buy (bought Oct. 13 – Jan. 2) until Jan. 16, 2021 excluding third-party contract items (e.g., cell phones, cellular tablets, wearables, AppleCare monthly plans, etc.), holiday products such as artificial trees, decorations, lights, and major appliances
  • GAP (bought Nov. 1 – Dec. 24) until Jan. 15, 2021 or 45 days after purchase, whichever is later
  • Kohl’s (bought Nov. 1 – Dec. 25) until Jan. 31, 2021
  • Macy’s (bought through Dec. 31) until Jan. 31, 2021
  • Nordstrom Rack (bought Oct. 12 – Dec. 24) until Feb. 7, 2021
  • Office Depot/Office Max (bought Oct. 1 – Dec. 24) until Jan. 14, 2021 or as the policy allows (whichever is later)
  • Old Navy (bought Nov. 1 – Dec. 24) until Jan. 15, 2021 or 45 days after purchase, whichever is later
  • Target (bought Oct. 1 – Dec. 25) 30-day refund period starts Dec. 26, Apple products (excluding mobile phones) bought Oct. 1 – Dec. 25, the 15-day refund period starts on Dec. 26
  • T.J. Maxx (bought Oct. 11 – Dec. 24) until Jan. 24, 2021
  • Walmart
  • Wayfair (bought Nov. 1 – Dec. 31) until Jan. 31, 2021


Don’t Look Up! Here are the articles I mentioned:

Retailers That Let You Return Used Items for a Full Refund
Walmart Wants to Let You Do Returns from Home
Gift Card Hacks You Should Be Using


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