10 Stores With the Best Return Policies

When in search of the best gifts, don’t forget to plan for those that might not work out. Your recipients won’t have to worry about signing away their firstborns to make a return at these stores.

Even the most thoughtful gift-giver can’t get it right all the time. In fact, from 10 to 15 percent of holiday sales are returned or exchanged, said Randy Allen, an associate dean for the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

To ensure your loved ones are able to exchange that too-small sweater or return their extra toaster, consider shopping at one of these 10 stores.

1. Nordstrom

Among department store return policies, Nordstrom is the gold standard. They have been known to take back any item at any time, receipt or no receipt. There’s no return counter: Approach any sales associate. If you need to return something by mail, they even provide postage-paid labels.

The only exception to the rule involves special occasion dresses. Unfortunately, too many people have bought dresses, worn them and returned them to the store. Now, Nordstrom has a slightly different policy regarding these items so don’t expect to go out for a night on the town and then recoup your money the next day (not that you would do that, right?). The store also reserves the right to refuse other returns on a case-by-case basis as well.

As a final note, don’t make the mistake of confusing Nordstrom with sister discount chain Nordstrom Rack. The return policy at Nordstrom Rack isn’t too bad – you have 90 days to return unused merchandise so long as you have the receipt, original tags and a photo ID – but it is nowhere near as generous as the Nordstrom policy.

2. L.L. Bean

Another store offering a no-holds-barred return policy is L.L. Bean. The company says its products are “Guaranteed to Last” and will take back items at any time for any reason.

However, be aware you will pay a $6.50 return shipping fee unless you are an L.L. Bean Visa cardholder. Or, if you live near one of the retailer’s outlet or store locations, you could always make your return or exchange there.

3. Macy’s

Macy’s is another department store that places few limits on returns and exchanges. It promises easy returns, and the gift return policy posted online says you can return merchandise at any time to the store.

The only catch is you can’t return a gift for cash. If you have a gift receipt, you get the full purchase price credited back to you in the form of a Macy’s gift card. If you don’t have a receipt, you still get a credit but it will be for the lowest selling price of the last 180 days.

4. Costco

Selling everything from caskets to cucumbers, Costco says it stands behind its products 100 percent. You can get a full refund on anything. The only caveat is that these items must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a full refund: Televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, touchscreen tablets, iPod / MP3 players and cellular phones.

For online purchases, the company provides UPS postage-paid labels. Customers can also return items directly to their local Costco warehouse and receive a refund that includes shipping and handling.

5. Zappos

You don’t need to worry about buying the wrong shoes online if you make your purchase from Zappos. The shoe retailer gives you 365 days to return unused products and will pay for the return shipping. That means if those strappy heels don’t look quite as cute on you as they do on the model, you can send them right back, just don’t wear them to the party first.

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  • ariont

    As someone else said, REI. Also, Bed, Bath and Beyond has a lifetime return policy I’ve put to the test.

  • April

    Glad to see that Sears isn’t on the list! I went to exchange a shirt that was purchased online and even with the order confirmation number and receipt number they couldn’t figure out how to do it. After 20 minutes we left the shirt on the counter and walked out. We will never shop there again.

  • Costco’s return policy is ridiculously good.

  • Trishy66

    Target is absolutely horrible! I’m surprised it made this list at all. They are tighter than tight on any return and give you 20 questions before they even consider. Terrible and rude on returns.

  • Jim Culver

    In my experience (3 times in the past 2 years), Target has the worst return policy. The latest was I bought a DVD movie. It did not work at all. I returned it for a replacement, which they did not have in stock. So, they told me I must purchase an equal amount from the SAME department before I left the store. No gift card would be issued. The previous time, I was returning a steam cleaner for my mother without a receipt. I HAD to purchase $178 worth of items before I left the store. Needless to say, I had to give my mother $178 cash.
    I’ll never go back to Target.
    Jim Culver

  • James

    There are a lot of companies with great return policies: Zappos and Experience Headphones 365-day return/exchange come to mind.

  • Suzy

    Sephora has a great return policy too! Return any product at any time, no matter how used it is, with the receipt for a full refund. If you don’t have the receipt but you have their Beauty Insider card, they can find your item in your account and refund you that way too (but I think you need the original packaging for this option.) I shop here for how loyal their return policy is to their customers.

  • Jake

    REI is also one of the best!

  • Tom

    L.L. Bean, Costco, Amazon are all great. But shipping things back always has the hassle of packing and taking to the shipper. At Walmart stores they rarely questions a return with a receipt and even without one it takes many returns. Now if VW only had such a policy :(

  • LagunaLady27

    I shop the most from the top two as well as Life is Good. Guess why? Customer service and quality merchandise are the two yardsticks I use. Someone wants my money? Then act like it.

  • Georgia Wessling

    I have also had good luck with Walmart’s. You do have to have your receipt, but I keep mine for awhile. I have returned several things, the biggest being a bicycle with no problems.

  • Georgia Wessling

    I’ve also had good luck with HSN.

  • Jack Mabry

    Walmart does a great job on returns. I had a pair of their hiking shoes that had some problems, and they gave me full credit for them, even though I had worn them for several months. The return was quick and easy. Could not have been more satisfied.

  • Ann Stone

    Target are real bastards about returns, and they sell a lot of flimsy junk, too.

  • Heather

    Eddie Bauer actually gave me a brand new sweater after my kittens chewed holes in it! I didn’t even ask for a replacement – I just took the damaged sweater back to the store so I had an easy reference to buy it again. The sales clerk saw me carrying the damaged one and immediate found the replacement for me and didn’t charge me for the new one!

  • CJ

    purchased tv(westinghouse) from Bestbuy. Sound went out and was told it would be replaced by grade A refurbished. I was to obtain a box,ship it myself and insure without reimbursement. TV was 32 inch. Box had to be purchased from Uhaul at $20.00. This took place within the year after purchasing. Decided not to send but I will report to Better Business Bureau, Seven on your Side, Consumer Protection.

  • Rebecca P

    I agree with you about Wal-Mart. I have never ever had a problem returning any item I bought from them, whether it was purchased online or in-store. I have also found Lowe’s to have a very liberal return policy.

  • nichole

    I don’t know what you’re smoking but Target’s return policy is one of the worst. No receipt no help whatsoever no exchange nothing. Lame. They should NOT BE ON THIS LIST. Not to mention the extreme hassle you get if you do have a legit return. Mean faces annoyed workers. I purposefully do NOT shop at target because of their sh***y return policy.

  • Ana

    i think walmart should be there. target sucks Well I don’t think target should be there they have horrible return policy I had a vacuum and it was Brenda newe with box and everything but I did not had the receive so I wanted to exchange for the same one I had to pay 50 for the difference

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