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11 Stores with the Best Return Policies

No receipt? No problem. These retailers make returns easy.
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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.

Trader Joe's

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.

American Eagle

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.

Target

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.

Walmart

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.

Amazon

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.

Costco

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.

Ulta

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

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.

Nordstrom

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.

Ikea

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.

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What are some of your favorite store return policies? Let us know in the comments below!



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About the Author
Marianne Hayes Contributor

Marianne Hayes is a freelance writer, wife and mother in Tampa Bay. After earning a degree in journalism and creative writing from the University of Central Florida, she spent nearly a decade getting lost in New York City and Los Angeles before making her way back home again in 2014. Marianne's writing has appeared in a variety of publications including The Huffington Post, Forbes.com, LearnVest, The Daily Beast and more. When she's not writing, Marianne is usually cruising her local bookstore with her two daughters.

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Last time I tried returning a couch that was wobbly out of the box from IKEA, I had a hard time. First, they said the packaging was opened... well, how would I have known that it was wobbly without assembling it first? It took lots of convincing from me for them to finally issue a store credit to me. It was very hectic.
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Love Costco - it's my favorite store for many items. Lots of clothing and shoes have free returns on Amazon's site - always a bonus when buying sized items.
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Target and WalMart have the WORST return policies! How in the world did either of these make this list...clearly the author has never actually tried to return anything at any of these stores...
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Quote from john.slc06
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Target and WalMart have the WORST return policies! How in the world did either of these make this list...clearly the author has never actually tried to return anything at any of these stores...
I don't mean to argue or contradict your comment, but could you share your bad experience? Or what specific return policies do you resent?

I've made a few returns at Target and Walmart and both were pretty good overall. At WM it's good to come early morning or late at night - CS desk closes 10pm - to avoid long waiting in lines.
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KOHLS should not be on that list. Returning items with a receipt and credit card at KOHLS is a nightmare. Our KOHLS experience has been extremely traumatic. And the KOHLS CASH they give you isn't a "gift". It is a manipulation to get you to spend more money, and get less money when you make a return.
And why do they scan your license when you supplied the receipts and credit card? That is a lot of personal information. Many of us will never shop at KOHLS again.
Sorry, I don't want to offend the writer of the article. I agree that KOHLS advertises a great return policy. That has not been our experiences.
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Last edited by justducky333 April 26, 2018 at 12:04 AM. Reason: Don't want to offend writer
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Had a couple of bad experiences with ikea returns when I've been not at fault and had a receipt. Turns me off to their store and I buy elsewhere.
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Opened Wal-mart air mattriesses can only be exchanged for another air mattress regardless of within return window, having receipt, credit card payment, etc. Argued with Csm over this for over 2 hours. What I did was returned the air mattress and got another one (since I was forced to), went to another Wal-mart days later and return the new unopened one for store credit. Never had a problem with Target over a return.
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Poorly researched article.
Just picking one store, Walmart, the article fails to mention you need a divers license to return without a receipt, the limit is I believe $30 (used to be $50), you will get a gift card for the return, and you can only make 3 such returns within a 6 month period. Put some effort into your work next time, please.
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amazon and khols is great on returns. never had a problem with them. Walmart and target give you the 3rd degree and make you feel like a criminal. have never returned anything to the rest of the list so cant comment.
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"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."

Another way of saying ZERO day return policy on many opened electronics. I think it's fair to say most stores take unopened items back... big whoop.
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Last edited by marinemerchant July 10, 2018 at 08:09 AM.
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Ikea does not take back items without a receipt (not even for store credit). If Ikea's policy is what you say, then individual stores seem to not honor it, based on my experience & the experience of others who have made comments.
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It's unfortunate that a significant number (not everyone, of course) of people like to abuse these kinds of policies. A relative of mine works at Nordstrom in cosmetics. She says there are a number of customers who think nothing of using a product for several months, bringing it back almost empty, and then returning it with the excuse "Oh, it made me break out". Of course, the salesperson takes the commission return hit at that point for this blatantly fraudulent action, but that's the store's policy.
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@Marianne Hayes
I am surprised you did not include Bloomingdale's. I joined their free Insider club and i get 365 days to return a product. I bought a nespresso machine from their website and didnt like the flavor, it was a 5 min painless call to get a prepaid return label
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Quote from justducky333
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KOHLS should not be on that list. Returning items with a receipt and credit card at KOHLS is a nightmare. Our KOHLS experience has been extremely traumatic. And the KOHLS CASH they give you isn't a "gift". It is a manipulation to get you to spend more money, and get less money when you make a return.
And why do they scan your license when you supplied the receipts and credit card? That is a lot of personal information. Many of us will never shop at KOHLS again.
Sorry, I don't want to offend the writer of the article. I agree that KOHLS advertises a great return policy. That has not been our experiences.
100% agree that Kohl's has no business being on this list. While they do allow returns, their policy is to make it a challenge and when return accepted, give the absolute lowest return value possible. As mentioned, the Kohl's cash $10, or whatever value you may have thought you had is never actually as much as you hoped, and Kohl's works to get it both ways when you buy and later return something on promo. For example:
  • Buy a $60 and $40 item during a 20% off sale.
  • With $10 Kohl's cash how much do you expect to pay?
  • I'd expect $70, but Kohl's takes 20% off the Kohl's cash too, so you pay $72.
  • So you've then paid $43.20 and $28.80 for those same products.
  • Go return them both (with receipt and ID the digitize each time and anything else they may shake you down for) and you'll get the same $72 back, and $8 back in Kohl's cash.
  • Where'd my other $2 in Kohl's cash go? And when I go to spend it on something else inevitably on sale, I lose even more value.
  • That's also assuming I have a receipt. If not, I receive $0 Kohl's cash, the treat you like a criminal shakedown is even worse, and the go out of their way to find the lowest selling price in the last 90 days to refund it to you for that.

I'm not saying that any one of the above techniques is out of line, but combining all of them should be proof enough as to why Kohl's has no business even being on a write-up about stores with the best return policies...

But at least they're not Best Buy in kahootz with TRE for their returns. Last time I went into one for a return they had a fingerprint scanner in use as part of the policy!
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