Stress-Free Gift Returns and Exchanges

Returning Gifts Without a Hassle

Cashier talking to a customer

The end of the holiday season can bring great sales—but long lines for gift returns.

How can you easily return or exchange gifts?

  • Read the fine print. Hop online to research retailers' return policies before heading to the store. Check to see if they allow returns without receipts or to see if they have restocking fees or return shipping costs. If your gift was purchased online, find out if you're allowed to return it to the physical store. Some stores don't accept items that were purchased online.
  • Make it snappy. Many stores impose a time limit for returns. For example, some allow you to return items within 90 days of purchase, while other stores give you 30 days—or as few as 14. If you try returning an item after the time limit has expired, chances are the store won't accept the return, or may give you store credit only.
  • Include gift receipts. Tuck the gift receipt into the package when you give a gift—including this slip of paper allows the recipient to make hassle-free returns or exchanges.
  • Organize your receipts. Group and staple your receipts with the person’s name on top. Include a description of the item at the top to make it easier to find when searching. Place them in a pouch that will fit in your purse or create a “Gift/Return Receipt” file to keep them organized.
  • Keep gift packaging intact. It's tempting to try out a new toy or gadget, but resist the urge to remove tags and be sure to open the packaging carefully. You have a better chance of returning or exchanging an item in its original, undamaged packaging.
  • Gift Card Returns. Most stores typically don’t allow returns for gift cards. However, they may allow returns on third-party gift cards within a short period of time after purchase with a receipt.
  • Returning Electronics. Most items in original packing and in new condition can be returned within 90 days for a refund or exchange. Video games and DVD's if opened can only be exchanged for the exact same title, otherwise if you have your receipt and it has not been opened they can be returned for a refund. Many stores will give you store credit if you don't have a receipt.

Discover more ways to shop for your family and friends as well as tips to shop safer during the holidays.