24 Outlets with the Best Return Policies

Best Return Policies featured

A store’s return policy greatly affects a consumer’s purchasing decision. In fact, in a survey conducted by Invesp, 67% of consumers go through the returns page before actually making a purchase. Returns reflect the store’s guarantee or assurance that their product is of high quality and that if the product they sold proves otherwise, they are willing to reimburse at the store’s own expense. It can keep a customer’s loyalty or drive them away with a single bad return transaction. In the same survey, 92% answered that they would surely return and buy again from a store if the return transaction is easy and hassle-free.

Customers are more likely to purchase from a store knowing that they have the option to return for an exchange or a refund if they are not satisfied with the product they bought. This is particularly true with online purchases where customers can’t try the product out personally and rely only on photos and item descriptions posted on the site. It does not, however, make it any less appealing to customers in brick-and-mortar shops.

However, between online stores and brick-and-mortar shops, the former receives a load more of returns than the latter. At least 30% of products purchased online are returned by consumers, while in the case of brick-and-mortar shops, only 8.89% of the items bought are returned. This is primarily because products bought online seldom meet the expectations of the buyer because of inaccurate product information.

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According to Appriss Retail, the total value of merchandise returns for the year 2019 alone amounts to $309 billion. Out of the said amount, $41 billion is accounted for by online sale returns. It makes you wonder why returns amount to this big. Well, there are various reasons why customers return purchased items. The reason could be any of the following:

  • The customer made a mistake in purchasing and checked out the wrong item.
  • The customer is returning a gift that he or she received but does not fit, or they just prefer something else of equivalent value.
  • They simply changed their mind or are not satisfied with the quality of the product.
  • The mistake is on the seller’s part. It sent the wrong item or mistakenly switched customer’s orders with each other.
  • The time has passed for the customer’s need for the product due to delays in shipping.
  • The customer found the same product in a brick-and-mortar shop and decided to buy it right there and then.
  • The product was recalled by the manufacturer or as directed by authorities to do so.
  • The expectations of the customer for the product were unmet due to inaccurate product information.
  • The fraudulent practice of “wardrobing” wherein customers use the item they purchased only once or a few times before returning them.
  • Upon purchase, they already have the intention of returning the item in mind.
  • The product was damaged due to mishandling during shipping or defective because of failure to do a quality check before packaging.

It cannot be denied that returns are an essential part of all aspects of commerce, especially in retail, may it be online or in brick-and-mortar shops. That is why all businesses have established business practices, policies, and rules when it comes to handling returns from their customers. In terms of returns, stores may allow the exchange of items of comparable value, give store credit for the next purchase, or offer complete refunds, subject to deductions for processing and restocking fees. While most stores accept returns, some still maintain an “all sales final” policy and do not accept returns, exchange, or give refunds at all.

Some specifically listed items are never allowed for returns. These include:

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  • perishable goods,
  • pre-ordered personalized items that meet the buyer’s standards,
  • goods that the buyer has damaged,
  • products opened with or without the original packaging,
  • items that raise public health concerns

As long as the reason for the return is not the seller’s fault, they are not obligated to accept the same and can always decline. However, some outlets go the extra mile of being lax and accommodating when it comes to returns to keep a good relationship with their customers and to keep them coming back to their store.

On the other hand, you cannot blame other sellers for imposing strict return policies or altering their existing generous policies because some customers commit fraud. Return fraud can come in different forms. “Wardrobing” or renting is one of the most common types of fraud committed by customers. It is when customers purchase an item to use it only once and then return the item. Clothing items, most of the time, are the target of this type of fraud.

Other types of return fraud include:

  • returning stolen items from the same or different store,
  • changing the original price tag to a higher one so they can get a higher refund,
  • returning an item with a different receipt at a higher price so they can profit.

Even though acceptance of returns is not mandated by federal law, store owners must disclose their return and refund policies or the lack thereof to their customers. Different return and refund laws govern different states, but what most of them have in common is the directive that sellers must conspicuously display their return policy—or the lack thereof—within the store, on the receipt, on their website, or in any accessible platform.

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In California, for example, unless full cash, exchange, or store credit is given back to the customer within seven days from purchase, business establishments are required to post their return and refund policy. Failure to do so, the 7-day period is automatically extended to 30-days. While in Florida, failure to post that the business does not accept returns or refunds will entitle the customer to ask for the same within 20 days from the date of purchase. While some states are strict when it comes to the requirement of posting, New Hampshire, on the other hand, is not.

Every store has their unique return policy, which forms part of its marketing strategy to attract more customers and keep them coming back to their store. Some are strict, while others are generous and lenient when it comes to handling returns. If the store policy is not contrary to law, the former will always prevail.

Things to look out for when searching for a store with a good return policy are: (1) if the full purchase price is considered for a refund, store credit, or exchange for a similar or different item or if you have to shoulder other fees, (2) the period within which such return is allowed by the management, (3) what items are allowed or accepted for returns, and (4) under what circumstances or conditions are they credited.

Here are the outlet stores with the best return policies, both online stores, and brick-and-mortar shops, across the US. Explore our list using these quick links:

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American Eagle
Bath & Body Works
Costco
JC Penny
Lands’ End
Nordstrom
Patagonia
Trader Joe’s
Bloomingdale’s
IKEA
LL Bean
REI
Target
Zappos
Bed Bath & Beyond
Kohl’s
Lowe’s
ULTA
Home Depot
Walmart
Sephora
Amazon
Athleta

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American Eagle

Time Period:No time limit
Requirements:Proof of purchase (receipt, delivery invoice, order confirmation, or credit card used to purchase)
Terms:Full refund
Return Conditions:Tag should be intact, and the item must still be in good condition. Swimwear and other types of underwear must still have the hygienic liner for it to be accepted.
Cost of Return:Free in-store returns including items bought online   Shipping fee is not included in the refund.
No-Receipt Policy:Exchange the item or be refunded with a store credit or gift card equivalent to the item’s current price.

If you have been overcharged, you can also ask for a refund from them, and they will return the difference from what you paid and the real price.

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Bath & Body Works

Time Period:No time limit
Requirements:Original receipt
Terms:Full refund
Return Conditions:Even if opened and used
No-Receipt Policy:Items amounting to $250 only and returned within 90 days will be accepted for exchange of item or store credit equivalent to the item’s lowest price within the same period.
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Costco

Time Period:No time limit 90 days for gadgets like televisions, refrigerators, other major appliances,  computers, smartphones, smartwatches, and cameras.
Requirements:Proof of purchase, membership number
Terms:Purchase price refund
Cost of Return:Free shipping
No-Receipt Policy:Full refund if they can find your purchase in their records using your membership number.

Costco does not offer returns for several items like cigarettes and alcohol, limited warranty for products such as batteries and tires, and customized products which match the customer’s request cannot be the subject of a return.

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JC Penny

Time Period:No time limit 60 days for jewelry
Requirements:Sales receipt
Terms:Exchange of item or full refund
Return Conditions:Dresses for special occasions must be in the same condition when it was bought and the green return tag still attached.
No-Receipt Policy:Returns are accepted for exchange or refund equivalent to the lowest price of the item for the past 45 days.
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Lands’ End

Time Period:No time limit
Requirements:Proof of purchase
Terms:Exchange for a similar product or cash refund equal to the purchase price   If a return is made within 90 days from the date of purchase, a refund will be issued in the same manner it was paid.   If the return is made beyond 90 days from purchase, a refund will be issued in the form of store credit.
Return Conditions:Any condition
No-Receipt Policy:If no records can be found of the subject purchase, the amount to be refunded will be determined by the company in the form of store credit.
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Nordstrom

Time Period:No time limit 45 days for clothing items
Requirements:Receipts
Terms:Refund the same as the mode of payment made during the purchase.
Return Conditions:Clothing must still have its original tags and must not have been worn yet.
Cost of Return:Free shipping
No-Receipt Policy:If no record of your purchase can be found in their system, they will instead give you a gift card corresponding to the present price of the item you intend to return.

Every return is dealt with differently depending on the circumstances surrounding the return, and they will find a way to accommodate your return within limits allowed by their policy.

It must be noted that online purchases must be returned online as well and cannot be made in-store while in-store purchases must be returned to the same branch where the item was bought.

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Patagonia

Time Period:No time limit
Requirements:Invoice, packing slip, credit card or debit card
Terms:If an item is returned after more than a year after the date of purchase, you will get store credit for it instead.
Return Conditions:Item must be in a new-like condition with the tags intact. If the reason for the return is because of fit or color, the timely return is a must. Sale items are also covered.
No-Receipt Policy:You will be refunded in the form of store credit equivalent to the purchase price.

They also offer repairs at a reasonable charge for items that are damaged due to normal wear and tear.

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 Trader Joe’s

Time Period:No time limit
Requirements:None
Terms:A full refund or store credit
Return Conditions:Any condition

Trader Joe’s will accept any returns made by its customers for any reasons. Sealed or unsealed, just because you changed your mind, you don’t like what you bought, what have you, Trader Joe will accommodate them.

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 Bloomingdale’s

Time Period:365 days/1 year 30 days for “Final Offer” items
Requirements:Receipt
Terms:Returned items are refunded in the same mode as when it was paid if returned within 90 days.   Items returned from the 91st day to the 365th day will be given store credit only.   Mattresses must be returned within a year from delivery for a one-time exchange.
Return Conditions:Returned items must be in a condition that would render it fit for resale.   Dresses and other clothing items must still have their tags attached.
Cost of Return:Free returns on online orders
No-Receipt Policy:You can have the lowest price of the item in the past 180 days credited in your favor as a merchandise credit, which you can use for your next purchase.
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IKEA

Time Period:365 days/1 year
Requirements:Proof of purchase
Terms:Refunds will be issued in the same mode it was paid during purchase.
Return Conditions:Abused, soiled, or damaged items will not be accepted.   Exchange for mattresses will only be allowed once and should be made within a year from the date of purchase.
No-Receipt Policy:If your purchase is listed in their records, you will get a full refund.   If not, you will get a store credit equivalent to the item’s lowest selling price for the past year.
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LL Bean

Time Period:365 days/1 year
Requirements:Proof of purchase
Terms:Refund to the same mode of payment made during purchase or store credit.
Return Conditions:Any condition   Lost or damaged items even through natural disasters, as well as stained and soiled items, are not allowed as returns   Defective items returned after one year due to material quality or craftsmanship will still be accepted.

Returns are also accepted through the mail, so a personal visit to their actual store is not necessary. LL Bean reviews every return made and resolves them on a case to case basis, and if they find that the return is not acceptable, they have every right to decline the same.

LL Bean used to have a lifetime return policy, but due to abuses made by other consumers, it was forced to commit to a one-year return period instead. Items brought before February 9th, 2018, are still covered by the lifetime return policy as long as you can provide a dated proof of purchase.

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 REI

Time Period:365 days/1 year Ninety days for outdoor electronics such as cameras, emergency communication devices, GPS-enabled devices, bike trainers, etc. 30 days for used products Any time for defective items due to manufacturer’s fault.
Requirements:Receipt or packing slip
Terms:Replacement or refund
Return Conditions:Damaged items and items that have depreciated through normal wear and tear or those caused by accidents or fault of the customer are no longer accepted for returns.  Final sale items from REI Garage Sale can no longer be returned.
No-Receipt Policy:For members, you might have to return the item in their establishment so that they can personally look it up in their system and give you a refund or store credit.   For non-members, you are out of luck as they do not accept returns without a receipt or slip.

Whether you bought the item online or at a brick-and-mortar shop, you have the option to return it via mail or in their store as long as you have a proof of purchase.

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 Target

Time Period:365 days/1 year for Target-owned brand items 90 days; for other items 30 days for electronics, 15 days for Apple products except for mobile phones, 14 days for mobile phones.
Requirements:Receipt or packaging slip
Terms:Refund or exchange
Return Conditions:Item must be unopened and still in new condition   Damaged or opened items will be denied.
No-Receipt Policy:Your purchase can be checked in their system using the details of the credit card, check, or gift card used.   Some returns without a receipt are entitled to a Target gift card instead of a cash refund.   Most, however, may be denied an exchange or refund.

Items bought from their online store can also be returned in their brick-and-mortar shops. You need only bring the item to any branch and present the packaging slip to the staff in charge of accepting returns.

An additional 30-day grace period is also extended to Target REDcard holders and members to make a return.

The 30-day time period for returns of electronics doesn’t start running until the day after Christmas for purchases made from November 1st to December 25th.

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 Zappos

Time Period:365 days/1 year
Terms:Full refund
Return Conditions:Must be unused, the same condition when bought, and in its original packaging. Security tags must still be attached for some items.
Cost of Return:Free return shipping

To process your return, you only need to print a copy of their store’s free return label and mail it back through their easy return process.

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Bed Bath & Beyond

Time Period:180 days 120 days for mattresses strictly for a one-time exchange 90 days for electric and battery-operated items 30 days for tech products and “as-is” or seasonal items.
Requirements:Proof of purchase, receipt, the credit card used, order number, registry number.
Terms:Full refund or exchange of an item No refund on shipping and delivery charges.
Return Conditions:If you have a receipt, you can return a product in any condition it is in   Item must be in new condition if you don’t have a receipt.
Cost of Return:Shipping fee
No-Receipt Policy:If the item is returned within 180 days and there is a record of your purchase in their system, you will be able to get a full refund.   If there is no record, you can either exchange the item or be given store credit equal to 80% of its current selling price. 

Some items are also not allowed to be returned. These items are those that can no longer be sold again to other customers like baby products with tampered seals, special or customized items, opened breast pumps, and similar products.

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Kohl’s

Time Period:180 days 30 days for premium electronics
Requirements:Valid receipt
Terms:Refunds may be limited
Cost of Return:Processing fee
No-Receipt Policy:The store will help you find a record of your purchase so that you can be refunded.   If no record is found, you will be given a store credit equivalent to the lowest price for the past 13 weeks.

Kohl’s also offers a special holiday return in which purchases made from November 1st up to the December 25th of premium electronics may be returned until January 31st as long as it is still in its original packaging and with a valid receipt.

One should also take note that although online purchases can be returned in-store, the same is not true for in-store purchases. Kohl’s does not process returns of in-store purchases via mail.

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 Lowe’s

Time Period:180 days 30 days for specific items like televisions and electronics, liquid paint, major appliances, and outdoor power equipment to name a few.
Requirements:Proof of purchase, original receipt
Terms:Cash refund, exchange, store credit   Shipping fees are not refundable.
Return Conditions:Items must be in new and unused condition.
No-Receipt Policy:Your order will be tracked through the mode by which you paid your purchase or through your phone number.   If they cannot track it, they will still issue store credit in your favor at the item’s current price at their discretion.
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ULTA

Time Period:180 days
Requirements:All original components
Terms:Full refund in the same type as that of payment if the return is made within 60 days or exchange
Cost of Return:None
No-Receipt Policy:Ultamate Rewards Member or account holders need only have their purchase verified to determine the purchase price for refund.   If the same cannot be verified, you will get a store credit equivalent to the lowest price of the item for the past 90 days.

Ulta is known for shipping freebies together with your purchase, and the upside is, you don’t need to return the same together with the actual item you are returning.

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Home Depot

Time Period:90 days; 30 days for rugs and furniture, One year for plants
Requirements:Receipt
Return Conditions:Item must still be new and unopened upon return.   Plants can be returned; dead, or alive.
No-Receipt Policy:The store will search for the record of your purchase in their system so that you can be entitled to store credit.

Being a store cardholder will make things easier and hassle-free for your return transactions as they will save a copy of your receipt for every purchase in their system. This way, you need not worry about keeping your receipts.

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 Macy’s

Time Period:90 days 60 days for clothing items, small electronics, and personal care items 60 days for jewelry and watches 30 days for the Last Act and Locker Room by Lids items 30 days for area rugs purchased online 14 days for Apple products and other designer brands Seven days for area rugs purchased in-store.
Requirements:Proof of purchase
Terms:Refund in the same mode the purchase was paid or store credit if from gift receipt.
Return Conditions:Items must be in its original condition with its original tags and still marketable.  Cosmetics and fragrances, even if unused or slightly used, can no longer be returned.   Clothing items must never have been worn or altered.   Rugs must be unused and still in its original state for it to be accepted as a return.
Cost of Return:Free
No-Receipt Policy:You can no longer get a full refund. Instead, you will be given a store credit equal to the item’s lowest price in the immediately preceding 180 days.

Since customers have abused the store’s previous return policy, Macy’s shortened the period by which one can make a return to 90 days from the date of purchase.

Like Kohl’s, items bought in store can only be returned in-store while items bought online can be returned either by mail or in-store as well.

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 Walmart

Time Period:90 days; Thirty days for electronics such as tablets, laptops, speakers, computers, etc. 14-15 days for cellular devices, One year for all trees and shrubs
Requirements:In-store receipt or order number
Terms:Exchange or refund, in the same manner, it was paid
Return Conditions:Complete including the original packaging and all accessories.   Items with special return periods must be returned with a receipt to qualify for a return or exchange.   Cellular phones must be undamaged while open or unlocked phones can only be exchanged to an item of greater value and never with a cash refund.
Cost of Return:Free
No-Receipt Policy:Subject to a verification process to qualify for a refund upon submission of a valid ID, credit card used upon purchase, e-mail, or phone number.   The options available are either exchange, cash refund if less than $25, or gift card or store credit if $25 and up.
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 Sephora

Time Period:30 days to get full refunds; 31-60 days for store credit only
Requirements:Receipt or gift receipt
Terms:A full refund, store credit, or exchange
Return Conditions:Item to be returned must be in new condition or gently used condition.   Gift cards can be returned in exchange for the same value in the form of store credit.
Cost of Return:Free. No return or handling fees.

You do not have to worry about immediately spending your store credit as Sephora’s merchandise credit does not expire. However, the same cannot be converted to cash, is non-transferable, and can only be used in its brick-and-mortar shops.

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Amazon

Time Period:30 days from delivery; Extended returns for holiday season
Terms:100% Refund or Amazon credit
Return Conditions:Item must be unopened and still in new-like condition   Gift cards and magazines are not accepted returns.
Cost of Return:Shipping fee if the return is due to buyer’s fault
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 Athleta

Unlike other stores that only accept returns if the item is unused, especially when it comes to clothing, Athleta allows you to try them on and use them during a workout. If the athletic wear doesn’t work out for you, then you are free to return them any time. This is what they call the “give-it-a-workout guarantee.”

The website on the Official Guide to Government Information and Services has provided consumers guidelines when making returns. First, one must be aware or has read about the retailer’s return, exchange, and refund policy, if he or she will be paying for processing or restocking fees and shipping, within what period is returns allowed, or if they accept opened items for return. One must also have the proof of purchase readily available for presentation to the store. Everything that is included in the packaging must be returned with the tags and instruction manuals.

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If you have complied with the above guidelines, your return transaction will surely be hassle-free.

The takeaway is always to make it a habit to know the store’s return policy, never hesitate to ask, or to clarify matters about it. It could just save you time, money, and effort.