Joanie Demer | 

How Apple Return Policy Works: Open Box, iPhone Returns, Gifts, & Exchanges

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The Apple return policy is pretty straightforward. The return window is short, but the rules are reasonable. And because your Apple purchases are attached to your email address, it’s pretty much impossible to lose your receipt.

Read on to learn how the return policy works with phones, Apple Watch and even apps. And how you can even return Apple products you received as a gift.

Let’s get to it.


1. The Apple return policy window is only 14 days.

While this 2-week return window is short, it’s also pretty standard for the Apple brand across all retailers. Best Buy return policy and Target return policy both have a 15-day window on Apple products. Walmart return policy is the only one from a major retailer with a more lengthy return window of 30 days for electronics, including Apple.

Keep in mind the 14-day window from Apple is 14 days from the date received, so if you order and the item takes a week to get to you, you technically have three weeks from your order date to initiate a return.


2. Even open-box items can be returned during the first 2 weeks without any fees.

Apple is excellent when it comes to accepting returns of open-box merchandise. As long as you have the original packaging, including any accessories, manuals, and documentation, Apple stores will accept open-box returns within the 14-day return window.

Careful what you read online. There are some reports that Apple charges a 25% open box fee and a 15% restocking fee on closed box returns. This is a Singapore policy. In the U.S. Apple does not charge restocking fees for open-box returns. They only require that for returns, all items are repackaged with all the cords, adapters and documentation that were included when you received it.


3. If you don’t have a receipt or proof or purchase, you can return Apple items ‘as a gift’.

Apple stores and the website track your purchases via your email, making it pretty difficult to find yourself in a position where you don’t have some kind of a receipt for an Apple purchase. But, if for whatever reason, you need to make a return and you don’t have a receipt, return it as a gift and get store credit or an exchange for a product of equal value.

All you’ll need is the serial number of the item in order to start your return. If you’re online, go to your Apple account page and select “Return a Gift” to get started, or you can take your item to any Apple store and ask if it’s eligible to be returned as a gift.

And if the store-credit option doesn’t work for you, try calling 1 (800) MY-APPLE so they can search for your purchase by gathering some information from you.


4. Apple’s extended holiday return policy starts on Nov. 1 and gives shoppers until Jan. 8 for returns.

The start date for the holiday return policy has been either Nov. 1 or Nov. 14 for the last few years. In 2021, items purchased at the Apple store between Nov. 1, 2021, and Dec. 25, 2021, could be returned any time through Jan. 8, 2022. For online purchases, as long as the received date was between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, the same extended return window applied.

All other terms and conditions of the regular return policy, like requiring a receipt and all packaging and accessories still apply.


5. Apple iPhone return policy is separate from your wireless service cancellation.

Every wireless carrier has a different service cancellation policy. So even though this may be obvious, returning your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch may not automatically cancel or reset your wireless account. You’ll need to contact your wireless service provider to ensure you’re also closing the wireless service plan that accompanied your device.


6. Apple Watch return policy isn’t really any different from the main policy.

Apple watches don’t have a separate return policy except for the Edition collection. Those Apple Watches from the Edition collection may only be returned or exchanged if in its original, undamaged and unmarked condition after passing inspection at Apple’s offsite facility.


7. You can only return items to the Apple Store if you bought directly from Apple.

You need to purchase your items online or at an Apple retail store. If you purchase an Apple product from a licensed reseller or at another retailer (say Walmart or Best Buy), you’re subject to the respective retailer’s return policy, not Apple’s.

That said, you could try to return an Apple product bought elsewhere to the Apple Store — as a “gift” (see Tip 3).


8. Some items aren’t eligible for returns at all.

The items you can’t return to the Apple store are:

  • Opened software*
  • Electronic Software Downloads
  • Software Up-to-Date Program Products (software upgrades)
  • Apple Gift Cards (includes App Store & iTunes Gift Cards)
  • Apple Developer products (membership, technical support incidents, WWDC tickets)
  • Apple Print Products

*You can return software, provided that it has not been installed on any computer. Software that contains a printed software license may not be returned if the seal or sticker on the software media packaging is broken.


9. Online Apple returns are free through FedEx.

Apple magic mouse and return label next to a shipping box.

One great thing about the Apple return policy? Return shipping charges are covered by Apple. Schedule a pickup or drop off your return at FedEx after going through the easy online return process and the shipping charges will not be deducted from your return price.


10. And did you know you can return app purchases for 14 days too?

Have you ever paid $0.99 (or more) for an app only to have it be a total piece of crap?

Many folks don’t know that Apple will actually give you your money back within 14 days of purchase.

Just visit the App Store support page and tell them you want your money back


11. Apple offers price adjustments in the rare cases where they actually drop their prices.

AirPods in the Apple Store.

While Apple stores seldom have sales and discounts, they do offer a 14-day price adjustment period. Plan to pay attention to this when buying items like cases and watch bands that will go on sale a few times per year.

If Apple reduces their price on any Apple-branded product within 14 calendar days from the date you receive your product, you can visit any Apple Retail Store or call 1-800-676-2775 to request a refund or credit of the difference between the price you paid and the current selling price.

You must contact Apple within 14 days of the price change. So, if you buy a watch band on June 1, and its price drops on June 14, you have until June 28 to request the adjustment. Apple may require you to have the product with you when requesting the price adjustment.

Apple’s price adjustment policy excludes limited-time price reductions, including special sales like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

And if you’re a business or a reseller, you should know this price protection can only be applied to 10 units of any particular product.

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