Amazon has tons of great deals, especially if you’re a Prime member, but sometimes things you buy just don’t work out. Dealing with Amazon returns is not exactly something I look forward to. And even though boxing a thing up isn’t the most difficult or time-consuming activity I could think of, something about it inspires sheer procrastination in me.
If this sounds familiar to you, I have good news. Amazon has a few tricks up their sleeves for making returns more convenient.
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What is Amazon’s Return Policy?
For most items you have 30 days from the date of delivery to return it. Nearly everything you buy on Amazon can be returned, but they do have a short list of exceptions, including gift cards, downloadable software, and—in case you’re feeding an iguana—live insects. Some Amazon sellers have different return policies, but anything that’s eligible for Prime will have the regular 30-day Amazon policy. For more info, here is Amazon’s full return policy.
First: Look out for the new ‘Frequently Returned’ tag to avoid buying something you’ll return later.
Since March 2023, Amazon has been alerting customers about items that get returned a lot. They added a “frequently returned item” badge to let people know that a particular product has a higher return rate compared to others in the same category — regardless of who the seller is.
They’re doing this to help customers make better buying decisions and avoid the whole returns process altogether. You must be logged into your Amazon account to see the badge on a product page.
You’ll find the frequently returned item tag just below the “About this Item” section of the product listing.
Where Can I Return Amazon Packages for Free?
In April 2023, Amazon made changes to their return policy. Amazon shoppers now receive a $1 Amazon return fee popping up when they make certain returns at a UPS store. Fees apply when shoppers have a Kohl’s, Whole Foods, or Amazon Fresh location that’s closer than the UPS store. Find out more about the Amazon return fee. That said, there are still plenty of Amazon drop off locations and return centers where you can bring your items to return them without a charge.
Here are all the places you can drop off Amazon packages for free:
- Whole Foods
- Amazon Hub Locker
Now on to the tips to make your Amazon returns a breeze.
1. The Amazon return policy gives you 30 days from delivery to make your return.
Amazon’s standard return window is 30 days from delivery.
But there’s a pretty simple workaround worth trying if you’re looking to make an Amazon return after 30 days.
Go to your orders in your Amazon account and select any order you’ve received within the last 30 days. Initiate a return on that item (even if you don’t want to return it). Amazon will then show you additional items you’ve ordered in the past few months in case you want to add them to your return. With this method, I’ve found I can return items I’ve received more than 45 or 60 days in the past. Select the item you want to return, then unselect the original item on which you initiated the return. Voila.
2. For most items, Amazon returns are free when you drop them off at UPS.
When you initiate an Amazon return, you’ll see different return options depending on the seller, item, and reason for return.
For items sold and fulfilled by Amazon, you get at least one free return option, most frequently a drop-off at a UPS store. They do have exceptions, like for items weighing over 50 pounds. And, as mentioned earlier, Amazon shoppers now will get charged a $1 fee for returning items to UPS that they’ve changed their mind about or bought by mistake.
Even for items sold by third parties, you usually won’t have to pay return shipping fees, but it all depends on the seller’s policy. Keep in mind, third-party sellers can also have a return window shorter than 30 days.
Amazon has a whole chart that explains return costs of single and even multiple items.
TIP: Each Amazon return label links to a specific return. To make sure that you receive the correct refund, don’t include items from multiple orders or shipments in the same box.
3. You can drop off many Amazon returns at Whole Foods for free.
You don’t need to package your return or print a return shipping label when you select Whole Foods drop-off for your Amazon return. Whole Foods Market will pack, label, and ship your return for free. Just bring your item in its original packaging.
Choosing this option helps Amazon reduce packaging waste by fitting more items into a single box, thus reducing shipping containers and trucks on the road.
Start your return online and Amazon will send you a QR code. Show the code on your smartphone to the associate at Whole Foods.
4. Or drop off your Amazon returns at Kohl’s — you don’t even need a box.
To make an Amazon return at Kohl’s, the process begins just the same. Open the Amazon app and follow this process: Orders → Return or Replace Items → Reason for Return → Select Kohl’s Dropoff.
Amazon will send a QR code to your email. Show it to the Kohl’s associate when you hand over your items unboxed, just like at Whole Foods.
5. Or try an Amazon Hub Locker return.
To get started with a Hub Locker, select “Amazon Hub Locker” in the Amazon Return Center. You’ll get a code to enter at your nearest Amazon Locker.
Once you reserve it, your locker remains available until the store closes on the following business day.
Package up your return and attach the return label. Follow the instructions on the Amazon Locker screen to finish.
Related: Learn more about how Amazon Hub Lockers work.
6. The Amazon holiday return policy gives you more than three months to return items purchased after Oct 11.
Many major retailers like Walmart begin their extended holiday return policies on Nov. 1. But Amazon starts almost a whole month earlier, on Oct. 11, 2022. You can return items purchased on or after Oct. 11 any time before Jan. 31, 2023.
Extended holiday return policies essentially freeze the start of the standard return window until after December holidays. Amazon uses Dec. 25 as the end date, just like many other retailers. So this Amazon holiday return policy works by suspending the 30-day standard return window until Dec. 26, giving you until Jan. 31 to make returns. Amazon’s extended return policy is one of the very best.
7. Some things can never get returned.
Amazon won’t accept a few items for returns — ever. Here are the items to know about:
- Items classified as hazardous materials or that use flammable liquids or gases (contact the manufacturer directly for service, warranty, return, and refund information)
- Live insects
- Downloadable software products and open software
- Online subscriptions after they have been accessed
- Gift cards (except as required by law)
- Prepaid game cards (World of Warcraft, Xbox 360 Live, Wii Points, etc.)
- Some jewelry orders
- Some health and personal care orders
- Grocery products (with exceptions for Amazon brand items. See Tip #15)
8. And others that can be refunded but not returned.
Some categories like pet items are not eligible for return, but you may still get a refund. Always look on the listing page for the return policy before making a purchase. Beneath the “buy now” button, you’ll see the return policy listed plainly. Many pet products have the following return policy: “This item is non-returnable, but if the item arrives damaged or defective, you may request a refund or replacement.”
Should you decide to return the item, your return will work in the same manner as any normal return, except instead of directing you to a return label and a drop-off spot, Amazon will let you know they’re processing your refund and they don’t need the item sent back. Like all returns, “returnless refunds” are tracked in your account, and abusing or taking advantage of this policy could get you banned.
The following categories are among those that give refunds without requiring you to mail the item back:
- Grocery items (including Amazon Fresh items) and wine
- Amazon Photos and printed products
- Pet food and similar products
- Unboxed, expanded, and full-size mattresses
9. Amazon exchanges will ship even before you send the original item back.
If you prefer an exchange to a return, here’s how they work.
Select the item you want to exchange and the reason for the return as usual. The item you wish to receive in the exchange will ship immediately with the same shipping speed that was used on your original item. Amazon will provide you with a return label so you can send the original item back. You have 30 days to return the original item before being charged for both the original and exchange items.
If the item you’re exchanging costs less than your original purchase, Amazon will refund you the difference. If the new item costs more, you’ll be charged for the difference in price.
10. Amazon’s electronics return policy will charge a 15% fee if you misrepresent the condition.
So technically Amazon gives you 30 days to return electronics, just like everything else. But there are a few potential fees you’ll incur when returning open-box electronics if you’re not careful.
For any electronics refund, you’ll have to report the condition of the item and the reason for your return. If you say that a computer didn’t work when you bought it, Amazon may test the computer. If they find out you misrepresented the condition of the computer, they’ll charge a fee of 15% of the item’s selling price.
And if any computer returns to them damaged or missing parts or in otherwise unsellable condition, the buyer will get charged an even higher restocking fee.
Generally speaking, Amazon’s return policy for electronics is as good or better than any other competitor’s. The full month to make returns is double that of some stores:
- Apple’s return policy allows 14 days to return electronics
- Best Buy’s return policy allows 15 days to return electronics
TIP: Before returning items on which you’ve saved personal information, such as laptops, cameras, or other electronic devices, erase this information completely.
11. Amazon’s return policy for baby items? 90 days.
Baby items including diapers, wipes, and gear have a 90-day return policy instead of the standard 30 days. The return window begins on the day the shipment is delivered, not the day you placed the order.
Baby items are not eligible for free return shipping. The buyer will pay return shipping fees in most cases.
You’ll have to return breast pumps unused in their original condition with the factory seal and packaging intact.
12. The Amazon return policy for gift registries gives you 90 – 365 days.
All returns of gifts through Amazon registries are eligible for a longer return window.
- Gifts purchased from a Baby Registry can be returned within 365 days of delivery.
- Anything purchased from your Amazon Birthday Gift List as a gift can be returned within 90 days of delivery.
- Gifts purchased from your Amazon Custom Gift List as a gift can be returned within 90 days of delivery.
Baby items purchased by the registry owner can be returned within 90 days. Items purchased by the owners of other registry types are still subject to the standard 30-day Amazon return policy.
13. Amazon’s return policy for mattresses is 100 days.
Mattresses that have been opened and used may not be refunded, but you can request a refund if you’re not satisfied. You have 100 days to make your request for a refund.
Amazon does accept returns of unopened mattresses in their original packaging. If the mattress weighs over 50 pounds, the buyer will be responsible for return shipping.
14. Some Amazon brands have a lifetime satisfaction guarantee.
Amazon’s owned brands have an unlimited lifetime warranty. If you’re not completely satisfied with any of these brands, Amazon will give you a refund. And in most cases, Amazon won’t ask you to return the item.
These Amazon brands are guaranteed for life:
- Buttoned Down
- Core 10
- Moon and Back
- Peak Velocity
15. And other brands still have a 1-year satisfaction guarantee.
Amazon grocery brands will refund you if you’re not satisfied, and you’ll never have to send the items back. Their policy reads, “We’re proud of our products. If you don’t love them, we’re happy to give you a full refund up to 365 days after you receive the product.”
Amazon grocery brands are the only groceries for which you can receive a refund. Wickedly Prime, Amazon Elements, Happy Belly, Mama Bear, and Presto all offer a full-year satisfaction guarantee.
In addition to grocery brands, these additional Amazon brands have warranties of a year or more:
- AmazonBasics brand carries a standard 1-year warranty.
- AmazonBasics lightning cables are guaranteed for life.
- AmazonBasics luggage comes with a 3-year warranty.
- AmazonBasics lightbulbs come with a 3-year warranty.
- AmazonBasics Gel-Infused mattresses come with a 10-year warranty.
- Stone & Beam furniture products come with a 3-year warranty.
- Ravenna Home furniture products come with a 1-year warranty.
- Rivet Furniture products come with a 1-year warranty.
- Pinzon products come with a 1-year warranty.
16. If you can’t make a return, see if your item qualifies for Amazon Trade-In.
Once your item passes its returnable window, you’re generally out of luck. But certain tech and devices like tablets, Kindles, phones, security equipment, and more may be eligible to trade in. You’ll get Amazon gift cards and a discount offer for a future purchase in return. It’s not going to make you rich, but it’s nice to get something for items you’d otherwise throw out.
Related: Find out all the details about how Amazon Trade-In works.