With more and more shopping happening online these days, a good return policy has become essential. When you can't examine or try on the product you're buying, you need to know that you have options beyond just taking the financial hit. And even if you are shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, who hasn't had second thoughts about an item?
Regardless of why you're no longer keen on keeping what you've purchased, there are a few key elements to a good return policy. Being able to easily return items without a receipt is always a plus, while having a long return period is another key. You should also look for flexibility. The best policies will offer multiple methods for returns, as well as options for store credit if you don't meet the return criteria. We've scoured all the top retailers to find the best store return policies out there. Here’s how to cash in.
Where grocery stores are concerned, Trader's Joe's return policy is arguably one of the best. They offer no-hassle refunds across the board, regardless of the reason. The best part? No receipt, no problem. While there doesn't seem to be an official return policy listed on the Trader Joe's website, I confirmed with my local store that if you don't like a product or were sold something that has gone bad, you can indeed get a full refund or store credit, with or without a receipt, and with no time limit. Music to my ears.
JCPenney Return Policy
The JCPenney return policy is pretty solid. If you have a receipt, you can snag an exchange or refund via the original payment method -- unless you paid with PayPal, in which case they'll cut you a check. Gift receipts are a little different: your options are an exchange or a JCP gift card. Those without a receipt aren't out of luck though. You can still get a merchandise voucher for whatever the item's lowest selling price was within the last 45 days. Just keep in mind that there’s a 180-day time limit for returns.
Some restrictions do apply. Check the JCPenney return policy for stipulations around fine jewelry, appliances, electronics, furniture, mattresses and more.
The American Eagle return policy offers free in-store returns on all purchases, even if you bought the item online. The same goes for the American Eagle exchange policy. When returning or swapping out an online purchase, the retailer asks that you bring along your delivery invoice and whatever credit card you used to make the purchase.
If you don't have the invoice, the AE return policy will give you a gift card equal to the current price instead of crediting your card. You also have the option of shipping your items back, but you'll be on the hook for postage. One other note: you’ll need to keep the tags on and return your items within two months for a refund.
If you're looking to pull off a Target return without a receipt, you're in luck since the retailer says they can usually track down receipts in their system. Target's return and exchange policy offers a 90 day window -- one year for Target Owned Brand items -- so long as they're in new, unopened condition. Additionally, most purchases made with a Target REDcard are eligible for an extra 30 days.
There are some stipulations to Target's return policy without a receipt, though -- for example, you'll receive a Target gift card instead of a traditional refund. Restrictions also apply across a wide array of categories.
As for the Target electronics return policy, you'll only have 30 days to make a return or exchange. However, for electronics purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, that refund period begins the day after Christmas.
According to the Walmart return policy, the store's official position is that all non-receipt returns are subject to a refund verification process. That said, most items can be returned with or without a receipt either in-store or online within 90 days of purchase. Pretty easy.
Things get a little tougher at Walmart if you're offloading a cellular device or other electronics, as you'll need to do so with a receipt within 15 days.
I'm personally a big fan of Amazon's return policy. As a Prime member who typically ends up returning things probably once every few months, I've found it to be an easy, hiccup-free process. According to Amazon, you can return the majority of unopened, new items that are sold and fulfilled by them within 30 days of delivery for a 100% refund. They also offer extended returns during the holiday shopping season.
The best part is that you can handle everything online, opting for either a refund or Amazon credit. However, while some items qualify for free returns, if the return isn't due to an Amazon error, the shipping fee will be deducted from your refund.
The Costco return policy is pretty impressive. The biggest draw is that you can return most items with no receipt for a full refund, whenever you want. There's no time limit. Merchandise purchased in-store can be returned at any Costco warehouse, and you can also send back Costco.com orders with free shipping. There are some exceptions. Electronics, for example, must be returned within 90 days of receiving the item.
Beauty products are always a bit iffy when it comes to returns. The Ulta return policy allows you to return products that didn't meet your expectations, but you'll need a receipt. From there, you can get a full refund within 60 days, or if you're beyond the 60-day mark, you can still get a store credit. Another upside: if you received a free gift with your order, but end up returning the purchased items, you can keep the freebie.
Kohl's has earned its reputation for hassle-free returns. Customers have up to 16 months from the time of purchase to cash in on full refunds. If you don't have a receipt, but paid with a Kohl's Charge card or other major credit card, the store can usually locate the purchase in their system and credit your account. If you go beyond the 16-month time frame, you can expect a merchandise credit or corporate-issued refund.
The Nordstrom return policy is a generous one. Since the store is able to locate purchases in their system, they can usually offer a return via the original payment method -- with or without a receipt. There's also no time limit for exchanges or returns at Nordstrom. The only exception I could find was for special-occasion dresses; the tags must still be attached in order to return.
Furniture usually gets a bad rap for returns, but Ikea actually makes it pretty easy. Their return policy states that if you change your mind or simply aren't satisfied with your purchase, you can return it and get a full refund within one year. You'll have to prove the purchase, but if you've lost your receipt, the retailer says they may be able to locate it in their system. If not, they'll still give you a merchandise credit for the lowest selling price of the last 365 days.
What are some of your favorite store return policies? Let us know in the comments below!
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