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Top 10 Stores with the Best Return Policies

best return policy

There are a number of ways to save money when shopping, like seeking out sales, using promo codes and stacking coupons. But have you ever considered that a retail return policy could ultimately be what makes or breaks your shopping budget?

We’ve all purchased something defective, ill-fitting or that we just didn’t like at least once; finding out it’s too late to return it — or that you’ve once again lost the receipt — can be a huge blow to your savings. However, buying from a retailer with a flexible return policy can help you avoid this expensive problem.

Whether it’s a huge return window or a no-receipt-no-problem policy, these stores continue to be praised by customers as having the best return policies.

Best Return Policies

kohls

1. Kohl’s Return Policy

The rabid attraction Kohl’s customers have to the department store is understandable: Pretty much everything is always on sale, “Kohl’s Cash” is thrown around like dice in a casino and their return policy is one of the best in the business:

“Return any item, anytime, for any reason. Have your receipt? You’ll get a full refund or even exchange. No receipt? No problem. We’ll give you a refund, an exchange or Merchandise Credit.”

It’s that simple. Kohl’s gives you a full year to return an item with a receipt — after that, you can still bring your item back at any time for a credit or exchange.

zappos

2. Zappos Return Policy

Zappos is amazing: They sell about a zillion different shoes, shipping is always free and it rarely takes more than a couple of days to receive an order. Then there’s the Zappos return policy: If you decide you don’t like something, it doesn’t fit, etc., you have 365 days to send it back — and again, shipping is free!

It’s strongly preferred that you return items with the original packaging/receipt, but losing this stuff isn’t the end of the world. As Zappo’s return policy states, “If an extreme circumstance comes up and you do not have the original packaging, which includes the LPN bar code, please print out the Confirmation Page (the final page of the return process) and include it in your shipping box. This is considered a courtesy for our wonderful customers.”

Like books are to Amazon, shoes are just a fraction of what you can buy from Zappos. The online retailer also offers a huge inventory of clothing, home goods, handbags and accessories — their prices aren’t always the most competitive, but with free shipping both ways and an excellent return policy, it may be worth your while to do more shopping on this site.

macys

3. Macy’s Return Policy

Macy’s may not offer an unlimited window of time for returns, but it’s pretty darn close. With 180 days (six months) to make a return, customers have plenty of time if they decide they don’t want to keep their purchases. It’s also nice that online orders can be returned to any store so you don’t have to deal with repackaging and mailing returns. You won’t, however, be refunded the shipping from Macys.com to you unless the return is due to damage or an error on the store’s behalf.

target

4. Target Return Policy

Most items purchased at Target have a decent 90-day window for returns, while certain things (mostly electronics) get 45 days. What’s really great about Target’s return policy, however, is that if you lost your receipt but paid with a debit or credit card, they can look up the purchase electronically and issue you a refund anyway. And if you have a serious case of absentmindedness like me, every year you are allowed to return up to $70 worth of merchandise without any proof of purchase at all (i.e., receipt, tags) and still get a gift card.

I didn’t believe it either, but I recently had to test the policy and attempted to return a $65 item that I not only had no receipt for, but had also paid for in cash. They still took it back, no questions asked, and refunded me a Target gift card for the full value. Luckily, my torrid obsession with Target means store credit is just fine with me.

 

Nordstrom

5. Nordstrom Return Policy

I’d expect any place where you can pay $138 for a t-shirt to have a great return policy, and Nordstrom truly meets that expectation. There is no time limit on when you can make a return — show up three years later with that tee you never wore and you’ll have the full value returned to you.

rei

6. REI Return Policy

Granted, REI is a special kind of store for a special type of person — namely, the outdoorsy, highly-active, let’s-go-camping-and-white-water-rafting kind of person. Nonetheless, this store has one of the best return policies of any retailer. According to their site, “If you’re ever dissatisfied with an item, you may return or exchange your REI.com or REI-OUTLET.com purchases at any REI store or through mail order.” In other words, you can take it back any time, for any reason.

Even better, REI members don’t need a receipt because the store keeps a record of all member purchases. Even if you go hiking once a year or are just a recreational runner, joining and buying your gear from REI may be well worth it if you ever need to make a return.

ll bean

7. L.L. Bean Return Policy

The “Guaranteed to Last” policy at L.L. Bean means you can return anything, anytime, no matter what condition it’s in. Shredded, stained, older than the family dog — if your purchase is no longer in top shape, L.L. Bean will allegedly take it back for a refund, repair or exchange. Of course, in the more extreme case, you have to ask yourself whether you’re really deserving of a refund on a well-used, 20-year-old pair of boots.

L.L. Bean Visa Cardmembers also get free return shipping if returning by mail.

trader joes

8. Trader Joe’s Return Policy

Trader Joe’s is a small, privately-owned grocery store chain that specializes in selling “innovative, hard-to-find, great-tasting foods.” Even so, they must recognize the fact that foods described as “innovative” and “hard-to-find” are sometimes considered to be mostly weird-tasting by some. That’s why they offer returns on everything they sell, even if it’s opened. If you try it and don’t like it, just bring it back for a full refund. A trusted source also told me that an employee at our local TJ’s was willing to take back moldy cheese forgotten in the back of the fridge.

whole foods

9. Whole Foods Return Policy

Whole foods gets a bad rap for its high prices and snooty atmosphere, but one thing the store does have going for it is its excellent return policy. Like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods customers rave that the store is always willing to take any item back, even if it’s been opened or used.

costco

10. Costco Return Policy

Like many of the above retailers, you can return just about any item to Costco at any time, whether it be days or years later. You don’t even need a receipt, because all purchases are associated with your membership, and any shipping and handling charges you may have paid on an online purchase will also be refunded. Costco does place a limit on electronics with a 90-day window for returns, though it’s comparable, if not better, than many major specialty electronics retailers.

Remember that stores are in no way obligated to offer returns at all unless the product is defective in some way. Any return policy offered is a courtesy to customers. That said, it’s nice when a store offers a generous return policy, especially to those of us who tend to forget and/or lose just about anything semi-important. Whenever you’re considering a large purchase, be sure to check the store’s return policy — including catches and restrictions — so you don’t have a problem if you do end up having to return it.

Let us know what other stores deserve to be on this list!

 

Share This Article

  • http://debtsucksblog.com Jake from Debt Sucks

    No love for Walmart? I returned 2 curtains that I didn’t need and a bicycle computer that didn’t work yesterday. Easy peasy.

  • Damion Judkins

    Did everyone notice that “Toys ‘r’ Us” did not make the list?

    I was given a gift that had “Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive” printed on the outside of the unopened box and I could not get them to take it for even the cheapest price they sold it in 6 months. Not even for exchange. They even had one on the shelf, so it was not like it was dated.

    we don’t shop there anymore.

  • Kathleen

    I agree Toys r us is the worst! I hate that store. They won’t take ANYTHING back without a reciept no matter what.

    • Megan P.

      Not true. I worked at TRU. They can accept returns without a receipt. They just need an ID and you’ll receive store credit for the cheapest sale price from the last six months or so (to prevent people from buying things on-sale, then returning it for full price over and over. People try. All the time.) Most likely, the person who told you they wont were misinformed, because absolutely no one is trained properly at that place. Always ask for the highest manager if the worker keeps insisting. They are supposed to return things without a receipt.

  • http://freefrombroke.com Glen Craig

    LL Bean is awesome! As are Zappos and Trader Joe’s. By allowing the customer to try things out they build up brand loyalty. Great companies.

  • mary

    Target has a big sign up saying anything opened is not returnable. i was considering buying some Bose earphones, but even those, if opedned (so you can try them) are not returnable. the young salesman said it does depend who is at the return counter or I could say it was defective….not very encouraging.

  • Rex

    I’m surprised Lowe’s wasn’t on this list. I worked there in 2011 and I had returns from as early as 2004, they still had the receipt and we took it back no questions asked, if you didn’t have a receipt we still took it, but for Merchandise credit

  • david

    Sports Chalet out here in California. Indefinite return policy as long as you have your receipt. Those boxing gloves you bought 5 years ago, you still have the receipt, you can return them.

  • Ana

    Ulta gives you 90 days, and they will take back products you don’t like. I was told that if the stretch mark oil I bought didn’t work I could bring it back for a refund, no matter how much I used. :) I think you may have to have receipt or at least an ulta card…

    • Ann Starr

      Ulta is horrible they wanted to give me $30 for a $150 item that was never even marked down to $30 they said its now their new policy its whatever the computer tells them to give.

  • P. Sharma

    Home Depot has a great return policy, too! 90-day policy on items, and you don’t even have to have the receipt. They can look it up with your credit/debit card. Also, if you don’t have a receipt OR you paid cash OR it has been longer than 90 days, no worries, they’ll issue you store credit. I returned a defective item over a year old and they gave me store credit (I did feel a little dirty about this one).

    Best Buy has the WORST return policy. They track returns using your Driver’s License, whether you have the receipt or not! Unbelievable!!! They outright ban you from returning items. I’ve had a 90-day ban for simply returning 3 defective products within a 3 month period. This is after I’ve spent well over $5000 in items during this same period. It’s arbitrary and they don’t explain their banning policy. But most people don’t know how you can get around it. Simply have your wife/mother/father/ or any one else return it for you and they will return it. So their ban is not based on the product, but on the person returning it. Boo Best Buy!!!

  • friendly241

    Target has changed their policy, I think you need to find out what it is, they are not that generous any more

  • Brennan

    REI and The North Face are bar none the best

  • Ann Starr

    To me Norstrom is the best. Even without a receipt They will always give you the option for cash, Gift card or they will even put it on any credit or debit card!!!

  • Eyanosa

    Bed, Bath, & Beyond should have been first on this list. No time limit, no receipt required. This is even better than Kohl’s because they only give you 1 year with a receipt, BB&B gives you until the company shuts down or the world ends (whichever comes first.

    Then there is also Staples, whom is very similar to BB&B, and also Office Depot, but only when it comes to a receiptless return. I returned an Office Desk Chair to them 4 months later (Office Furniture is normally 14 days). Told them I had no receipt and they gave me back my money. The store manager said they are suppose to give you store credit, but most managers allow cash refunds on anything under $150.

  • Kelly

    Paragon in NYC is the worst. This retailer sells outerware costing up to a grand and only gives you thirty days to return or exchange the merchandise. Small chain… Small minds= poor customer service.

  • Annie

    You are an idiot. Target has the worst return policy… Almost any store can look up your purchase if you paid with a credit or debit card… If you want to return something over 70 dollars without a receipt and paid with cash they won’t even let you return it for store credit

  • Annie

    Nordstrom should no doubt be number one. Victoria’s Secret also has a good return policy

  • James

    I just had the best experience with a company called Experience Headphones. They have a 365-day return policy. Hassle free. Friendly staff. I love companies that value their customers! It’s about time!

  • Emily M

    You should update the Macy’s profile. They have actually changed their policy to no time limit on a return.

  • KEL

    Walmart is the worst. They brag about their “no receipt” returns policy, but they will only provide store credit without a receipt unless the purchase is made online. Recently, I tried to return something to Walmart, and I was informed that they needed to see my ID for any purchases worth more than $10. I showed them my driver’s license, and they told me I had written them a “bad check” in the past and should clear it up with their collections agency. First of all, I don’t write checks. Second, I do not connect my checking account to a credit card, and my bank subtracts all payments right away. If the money isn’t in my account, the payment can’t go through. So, I spent 20 minutes on the phone with Walmart’s collections agency, who confirmed that they have no bad check on file for me. I asked them to clear my account or at least inform the cashier that I don’t have any bad checks on file, and they said I would have to submit an appeal and go through some sort of lengthy process to get my $20 in store credit back. Then they gave me another number to call to get more information about what to do. When I called that number, I got the message that that number had been disconnected. Worst experiences with returns in my entire life. Unbelievable.