12 Tips for Gracefully Returning Holiday Gifts

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Here's your guide to delicately and cleverly turning unwanted gifts into cash, store credit and more.

Gift cards are America’s favorite holiday gift. When the National Retail Federation surveyed adults who plan to celebrate the 2016 winter holidays, 61 percent said they wanted to receive gift cards and certificates. Other popular gifts include:

  • Clothing and accessories: 54 percent
  • Books, CDs, DVDs or videos: 40 percent
  • Consumer electronics: 32 percent
  • Jewelry: 23 percent
  • Home decor: 23 percent
  • Personal care or beauty items: 21 percent
  • Sporting goods: 19 percent
  • Home improvement items: 17 percent

It can be difficult to know exactly what loved ones want for the holidays. So, if you have received the wrong item, here are 12 tips for returning unwanted gifts.

1. Adjust your expectations

If your gift included a gift receipt, you’re golden. If not, be realistic. A merchant is more likely to offer store credit than cash back.

2. Suss out the situation

When the gift you’ve received is a mystery — there’s no gift receipt and you don’t know where it came from — you might need to ask the giver.

Tact and caution are in order. You don’t want to hurt the feelings of someone who was kind enough to give you a present. It’s also possible Aunt Birdie found your socket set on the sales rack for a rock-bottom price she’d rather not disclose.

Here’s where your powers of intuition come in. If you think the gift-giver might be offended, ask yourself if it is worth returning the gift. Either way, be sure to first make it clear how much you appreciate the giver’s thoughtfulness.

3. Leave packaging intact and do your research

Leave tags on merchandise and return only items in unopened packaging and in unworn, pristine condition.

Before setting foot outside the house, go online to learn stores’ return policies. Find out if rules are different for items purchased online.

4. Don’t wait

Holding onto Hanukkah gifts until April only makes returns harder. Return gifts in the first two weeks of January if possible. That’s when merchants are most likely to still have your gift item in stock. It’s also when they’ll be most receptive to your plea for cash back or credit without a gift receipt.

5. Avoid store rush hours

Plan to make returns early in the day or during slow periods, especially if you want to avoid waiting in long lines, or if your return requires a conversation or extra attention from clerks.

6. Return gifts to their stores of origin

Generally, you’ll have an easier time returning an item to the store from which it came. Even if you don’t have a gift receipt, the merchant might be able to track down your purchase through electronic records.

If you don’t know where a gift came from, try taking it back to a store where you are a frequent shopper or have a loyalty card. (Make sure the store carries the item you’re returning, though.) Store loyalty counts for a lot these days and some stores bend over backwards to please loyal customers.

7. Bring your ID

Stores might ask for a couple of pieces of identification, including a driver’s license or government-issued ID. So, be prepared. Store returns are a huge source of fraud. The National Retail Federation says fraudulent returns cost retailers billions of dollars annually.

8. Treat return receipts like cash

When you return a gift for store credit, the merchant will give you either a paper receipt for credit or a card with merchandise credit stored on it. Either way, treat it like cash. If you lose it, it’s gone. Few if any merchants keep accounts of credit due customers.

9. Read the fine print

If you’ve received store credit for a return, find out how long you have to spend it. Some stores allow returns made only within six months or a year. Others have more generous policies.

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,978 more deals!