Brynne Conroy | 

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

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The Apple return policy is pretty straightforward and the rules are reasonable, but their standard return window is incredibly short — just 14 days. Compare this to the Amazon returns policy, where you get a full 30 days to return your Apple purchases.

But Apple has a few hidden perks in their return policy I need to tell you about, like how you can actually return unwanted App Store purchases, and how they’ll never charge a restocking fee for open-box items. Another bonus for the Apple return policy? Because your Apple purchases are attached to your email address, it’s near impossible to lose your receipt — even if didn’t check out with Apple Pay.

Read on to learn how the Apple return policy works for iPhones, Apple Watches, and even App Store purchases. Plus, I’ll also show you how to get a refund on Apple refurbished products.

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1. How long do I have to return an item to Apple?

a couple walking into a busy apple store

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

While Apple’s two-week return window is short, it’s also pretty standard for the Apple brand across all retailers. For example, the Best Buy return policy and the Target return policy each have a 15-day window for returning Apple products. Walmart and Amazon are the only retailers with a longer return window of 30 day for electronics (including Apple products).

Related:Stores with the Best Return Policies

What is the Apple holiday return policy?

Under the holiday return policy, any items purchased at the Apple Store between Nov. 3, 2023, and Dec. 25, 2023, could be returned any time through Jan. 8, 2024. For online purchases, as long as the received date was between Nov. 3 and Dec. 25, the same extended return window applied.

All other terms and conditions of the regular return policy still apply during the holidays. And if you buy at any other time of year, you’re subject to the regular 14-day return window.

2. What do I need to return an item to Apple?

Someone looking at an iPhone 14 in its box

You have to be thorough when you’re planning to make an Apple return. In addition to the item itself, make sure to have all of these things with you:

  • Any accessories that came with your purchase.

  • All cords.

  • All adapters.

  • Any documentation that came with the product — in or outside of the box.

  • Your original receipt.

Related: We can teach you our best tricks for finding Apple discounts.

What if I lost my receipt?

Whether you shopped in an Apple Store or on, all of your Apple purchases are tracked using your email. This makes it darn near impossible to lose your Apple receipt. But, if for whatever reason, you need to make a return and you don’t have a receipt, you can return the item as a gift and get store credit. You can also do an exchange for an Apple product of equal value.

To initiate a gift return, you’ll need the serial number of the item. 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.

Again, though, it’s gonna be really hard to lose your receipt with Apple.

Related: We found all of the stores that accept returns without a receipt.

Can I return an item that I used or opened?

Apple is excellent when it comes to accepting open-box returns. As long as you have the original packaging — including any accessories, manuals, and documentation — the Apple Store will accept your open-box returns within the 14-day return window. (As long as you haven’t broken or otherwise damaged the item after purchase.)

Now, there is one sticky exception I should warn you about. If you purchased Apple software and the software license is on the outside of the box, you won’t be able to return it once it’s opened. When the software license is not outside the box, you’re allowed to return opened software, but only when you cite not agreeing to the licensing agreement as your reason for return. (If you already installed the software on your computer, they consider that as your “agreement,” so you can’t return it.)

3. What’s included in the Apple return policy?

A person opening an iPhone 11 box next to a stack of Apple products.

Almost everything in the store falls under the standard Apple return policy. That includes things like:

  • iPhones

  • Macs

  • iPads

  • AirPods

  • Apple Watches (except for the Apple Watch Edition series, see Tip #4)

4. Are there exceptions to the Apple return policy?

An Apple gift card held outlay hand in front of other Apple products.

Yes, certain products aren’t covered by the Apple return policy — meaning you can’t return them. We’ve already talked about opened software, but other things you can’t return include:

  • Apple gift cards

  • Electronic software downloads

  • Software upgrades

  • App developer products

  • Apple Print products

Can I return refurbished products?

If you bought Apple refurbished products directly from Apple, yes, you can return them. But you have to request the return within 10 days of delivery.

Can I return an Apple Watch from the Edition collection?

You can return an Apple Watch from the Edition collection, but it’s a more involved process. It’s especially important that the watch is in original (read: NEW!) condition. Apple’s gonna put it to the test at one of their offsite facilities, so if there’s any damage or wear, they will catch it.

Did you know you can return App Store purchases, too?

Many folks don’t know that Apple will give you your money back if you have any of these problems with a purchase from the App Store:

  • I didn’t mean to buy this

  • A child/minor made purchases without permission

  • I didn’t mean to sign up for a subscription

  • I didn’t intend to renew a subscription

  • My purchase doesn’t work as expected

  • In-app purchase not received

  • Other (interpret this as you may)

To return something from the App Store, just visit the support page and tell them you want your money back. It’ll take two days for them to review your request. If it’s approved, you’ll get a refund to your account.

TIP: The Apple return policy doesn’t include a specific timeframe for returning App Store purchases, but the sooner you make the request, the more likely it is to be approved.

5. Can I return an item that I bought online?

A person taking an iPad pro out of a shipping box with another Apple product inside.

Yes, you can return an online purchase to a physical Apple Store location.

Alternatively, you can return your online order via mail. To start this process, log into your Apple account and visit the Order Listing page. Then click “Start a Return.” They’ll guide you through the process to initiate your return and print your free return shipping label. You can either take your package in to be delivered or arrange for someone to pick up the delivery from your home.

TIP: While Apple does offer free return shipping, you won’t be refunded any original shipping charges.

6. Does Apple charge restocking fees?

AirPods in the Apple Store.

No. Be careful with what you read online because there are lots of rumors about this. Some people mistakenly claim that Apple charges a 25% open-box fee and a 15% restocking fee on closed-box returns. That rumor is not entirely false — but it’s only true if you live in Singapore.

In the U.S., Apple does not charge restocking fees for open-box returns.

7. How long until I get my refund from Apple?

It all depends on how you paid. If you paid with a debit or credit card, it’ll take up to 5 business days to get your refund. Any delay after that is likely because of your bank’s policies — not Apple’s.

If you made your purchase with cash, you’ll get the cash back right then and there. At least most of the time. If you paid $750 or more in cash, you’ll have to wait 10 days for a check to arrive in the mail. (The same rule applies if you made your purchase with a check.)

Did you pay with Apple Pay? Your refund will be initiated immediately, but it may take up to 48 hours to see that reflected on your account balance.

If you’re returning with a gift receipt, you’ll be issued an Apple gift card right on the spot.

Related:Is the Apple Credit Card Good?

8. What if I need to return, like, a lot of Macs?

If you purchased 10 or more of any Apple product — like a bunch of Macs for your classroom using the Apple teacher discount — you have to make the return at the Apple Store location where you originally made your purchase. If you purchased 9 or fewer products, you can return them to any Apple Store in the U.S.

Related: Don’t miss out on the Apple student discount. Teachers and parents can claim it, too!

9. Will Apple cancel my wireless service when I return my iPhone?

A person looking at her cell phone.

No. Apple and your cell phone provider are two separate entities, and Apple isn’t responsible for canceling or moving your cell service when you return an iPhone. You are.

Every wireless carrier has a different service cancellation policy. You’ll need to contact your wireless service provider to ensure you’re also closing the wireless service plan that accompanied your device.

TIP: This policy also applies to Apple Watches and iPads that are linked to a cell provider.

10. Can I return my iPad to Apple if I purchased it at Walmart?

A display of Apple ipad products at Walmart

No. Anything you return to the Apple Store must have been purchased at the Apple Store. If you buy 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.

In the case of Walmart, that actually works in your favor, as Walmart has a longer return policy for Apple products than Apple does.

11. Does Apple do price adjustments?

While Apple Stores seldom have sales and discounts, they do offer a 14-day price adjustment period. Pay attention to this policy when you’re purchasing items like phone cases or watch bands that usually go on sale a few times per year.

Here’s how the policy works: If Apple lowers 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.

The important thing to remember is that you must contact Apple within 14 days of the price change. So, if you bought a watch band on June 1, and you see that the 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.

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.

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

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