Amazon’s Holiday Return Policy: What You Should Know Before You Shop

Close up of a young woman buying presents online.
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Originating as an online bookstore, Amazon has grown to be one of the largest retailers in the world. When a company is so massive, it needs clearly articulated return policies to keep everything running smoothly — particularly around the holidays. Here’s a look at Amazon’s holiday return policy and how it compares with both its competitors and the retailer’s own standard return policy.

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What Is Amazon’s Holiday Return Policy?

Like many retailers, Amazon slightly alters its standard return policy over the holidays to allow shoppers extra time to return gifts and other purchases if they’re not happy with the products. What is Amazon’s new return policy? Generally speaking, you have until Jan. 31, 2023, to return any items shipped by Amazon.com between Oct. 11 and Dec. 25, 2022. This policy varies a bit for certain categories of purchases — or for items not shipped by Amazon.com.

Can you return Amazon items after 30 days? The Amazon return policy for most of the year extends for just 30 days from receipt of a shipment, so this extended holiday return window, of up to 91 days, gives those shopping in November and December extra time for returns.

Are There Any Exceptions to Amazon’s Holiday Return Policy?

The Amazon return policy doesn’t cover returns from third-party sellers. You must contact your seller directly to make return arrangements.

What Other Gifts Can You Return to Amazon?

Amazon Renewed products may have a return policy extending up to 90 days, although those sold by Marketplace sellers carry the standard 30-day return policy.

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Wedding Registry gifts can be returned within 180 days. Gifts purchased from a baby registry enjoy a 365-day return policy, while baby items, in general, carry a 90-day return policy.

Wickedly Prime, Amazon Elements, Happy Belly, Mama Bear and Presto! products have a 365-day return policy.

Amazon has the same 30-day return policy for electronics that it has for most goods, which is longer than the 15-day return window of many of its competitors.

What Is Amazon’s General Return Policy for Electronics?

Nonworking or unopened laptops, desktops or tablets — excluding Kindle E-readers and Fires — purchased from Amazon.com can be returned within 30 days for a full refund. Computers that are damaged through customer misuse or otherwise misrepresented as to their condition may face a restocking fee of 15% or higher. Items purchased through Marketplace vendors are subject to their vendor’s return policy.

Amazon-branded devices, including Fire TV devices and tablets, Echo devices and Kindle e-readers can be returned within 30 days of receipt if in new condition.

Televisions shipped without Enhanced Delivery should be in new and unopened condition, while those shipped with Enhanced Delivery can be in like-new condition.

What Can You Not Return to Amazon?

In spite of the generous return policy, Amazon does have a fairly extensive list of items that can’t be returned, including the following:

  • Gift cards, except where required by law
  • Hazardous materials, including flammable liquids or gases
  • Live insects
  • Any product missing the serial number or UPC
  • Downloadable software products
  • Online subscriptions after they have been accessed
  • Prepaid game cards — World of Warcraft, Xbox 360 Live, Wii Points, etc.
  • Some jewelry orders
  • Some health and personal care items
  • Grocery products
  • Open software
  • Items with special shipping restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation — as indicated on the product detail page
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Is Returning an Item to Amazon Free?

Returning items to Amazon is not always free. Amazon has an explicit policy regarding restocking fees. Even standard returns may be subject to a restocking fee if they fall outside of the return window.

Type of Return Restocking Fee
In original condition from Amazon.com, past the return window 20%
In original condition from a third-party seller, within the return window Up to 20%
Opened CDs, VHS tapes, vinyl records, DVDs or cassette tapes 50%
Damaged or used items At least 50%
Open software or video games 100%

How To Return an Item to Amazon

Amazon has different return policies depending on how and where your item was purchased. Generally speaking, Amazon returns are easy.

For items purchased from Amazon.com, you can visit the online Returns Center. If your item is eligible for a return, you’ll receive a return postage authorization and label that you can print and attach to your package. Simply ship the prepared and sealed package and Amazon will do the rest. Sometimes, depending on the item, you’ll be able to just take it to a nearby postal carrier, they’ll scan a QR code and you’ll be good to go. No packaging or postage is required.

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A common question you might have is “Can I return an Amazon item if I’ve opened it?” Although some products have different requirements, in most cases, Amazon will accept returns on open or used items.

If you received a package that was marked as a gift at the time of purchase, you can return it through the same process if you have the order number. Otherwise, you’ll have to contact customer service.

You’ll get your refund within two to three weeks, although Amazon usually completes refunds within seven days of receipt and processing of your claim.

Physical Store Returns

Amazon used to exist entirely online at Amazon.com, but now the company has some physical stores, including Amazon Books. If you purchase in any of the company’s physical locations, including Amazon 4-star and Presented by Amazon, you can return items in-person for 30 days. Exceptions include magazines and gift cards, except as required by law. Some Amazon.com purchases can also be returned in a physical store, although the company suggests you visit the Online Returns center first to check eligibility.

Seller Return Policy

When you order from a third-party seller, you’ll send your return back to the seller, rather than to Amazon. Seller return policies may vary.

Tips for Returning Items to Amazon

As far as retailers go, the Amazon return policy makes returning items fairly easy. With a few clicks on the company’s website, you’ll have your pre-printed mailing label, and your shipment will be ready to go.

To make things easier for yourself, it’s a good idea to keep your original box and packaging until you are absolutely sure that you are keeping an item. If you decide you want to return it instead, you can simply reuse the same box to ship your item back to Amazon.

You can track the status of a refund under “My Orders” in your Amazon.com account.

Exchanges

Under certain conditions, you can use the Amazon online Returns Center to exchange an item. Exchange requests must meet the following requirements:

  • It’s added in a quantity of one to the cart.
  • It’s shipped and sold by Amazon.
  • It’s not an Add-on Item.
  • It’s not identical to the item being returned.

How Does Amazon’s Return Policy Compare With Other Major Retailers?

Here’s a look at how other retailers stack up when compared with Amazon.

Retailer Holiday Return Policy General Return Policy
Amazon Items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 can be returned up until Jan. 31 of the following year 30-day general return policy
Costco Same as general return policy Essentially unrestricted: 90 days for electronics; limited returns for select products like tires and batteries; state-specific returns for alcohol; no returns for cigarettes or custom products
Walmart Most items purchased in-store or online from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2022, are returnable until Jan. 31st, 2023. Marketplace seller participation varies. 14-90 days in most cases
Target For all electronics and entertainment items, excluding Apple products, purchased between Oct. 6 – Dec. 25, the 30-day refund period will start on Dec. 26 and must be returned by Jan. 24. 
For all Apple products, excluding mobile phones, purchased between Oct. 6 – Dec. 25, the 15-day refund period will start on Dec. 26 and must be returned by Jan. 9.
For mobile phones purchased in-store or online via Order Pickup between Oct. 6 – Dec. 25, the 14-day refund window starts on Dec. 26 and must be returned by Jan. 8.
90-day general return policy with an extra 30 if you paid with the Target RedCard; 14-30 days for electronics; up to one year for Target-Owned Brands
Best Buy Most purchases made Oct. 24 through Dec. 31, 2022, have an extended return period through Jan. 14, 2023, excluding items purchased with a third-party contract Generally 14-15 days; up to 45 days for elite members; restocking fee of $45 for cell phones and 15% of purchase price for certain electronics

What’s the Bottom Line on Amazon’s Return Policy?

Amazon’s holiday return policy is more or less in line with that of other major retailers. Essentially, you’re given until the end of January to return any eligible items purchased from Nov. 1 until the end of the year, which should be more than adequate for most holiday shoppers. As always, be wary of the list of prohibited returns and mind the restocking fees that apply to specific situations.

Sam DiSalvo contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Nov. 4, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.
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