Walmart, Target, Macy's & More: Guide to Gift Return Policies


gifts under treeSure, you're grateful that your sister-in-law or great aunt thought of you this year, but did you really need a pair of polka dot socks or a critter cap? Every year, this post-gift-giving week is the one in which we're stuck with several items we'd rather return for something we will actually wear or use. As much as I admit I'm terrified by the crazy lines at the mall, I'm devising my plan of attack for returning and exchanging certain gifts -- and impulse buys I bought for myself while gift-shopping! -- as we speak.

Part of that game plan is knowing what the stores return policies are before heading there, so as to avoid argument or anguish once face-to-face with a store employee! It's always wise to have a receipt, gift receipt, and your photo ID. But here, all you need to know about returning to Walmart, Target, Macy's, J.C. Penney's, Sears, Best Buy, and more ...  

Walmart: Most items can be returned within 90 days with a receipt -- exception for some electronic and regulated items. If you don't have a receipt, you can return in store for cash refund (if under $25), store gift card or sometimes an exchange. Must be returned in original packaging.

Target: If you have the credit or debit card used to make the purchase originally, some Target stores can reprint your receipt or help you do the return by looking up the purchase with your card. They make it really easy, which is great! The other official need-to-knows? Your item must be returned in new and unused condition within 90 days of purchase, with the exception of: computer hardware, cameras/camcorders, giftcards, prepaid cell phones, and prepaid cards, which have to be returned within 45 days. Music, movies, video games, and software can only be exchanged if unopened. All returns must have receipt or gift receipt. And remember to bring your photo I.D.!

Barnes & Noble: The book giant has a pretty straightforward return policy for most of its products across the board. You have two weeks (14 days) to return just about anything that came from the store or the site, including a NOOK. Just bring the item and your receipt to your local B&N bookstore for a refund to the original form of payment or, if you have a gift receipt, for a refund as a gift card. Items that aren't accepted for returns include: NOOK Books, magazines, downloadable PDFs for SparkNotes products, gift cards, and shrink-wrapped items that have been opened.

Best Buy: Depending on what you're looking to exchange or return, you have a different window of opportunity. For computers, monitors, projectors, camcorders, digital cameras, iPads, tablets, and radar detectors, you have 14 days. For all other products, it's 30 days. (Reward Zone Program Premier Silver members have 45 days for all other products.) Bring the original receipt as well as your valid photo ID for all exchanges, returns, price matches and warranty repair services.

J.C. Penney's: The department store recommends says bringing your order to one of their 1500 jcpenney stores or service center is the quickest and easiest way to return merchandise and receive an immediate refund or credit. An original receipt dated within 90 days of the purchase is required for return/exchange of merchandise for a full refund of the purchase price on the original method of payment. Debit card transactions will be refunded as cash. If you don't have a receipt, the price refunded will be the lowest on sale price within the last 30 days. A refund will be issued only in the form of a Merchandise Return Voucher or a credit to the customers' JCPenney charge card.

Macy's: Gift returns will receive store credit. You can return most purchased items, both in store and online. Don't forget your merchandise and an invoice/receipt or confirmation email. Time frames vary depending on the item you're trying to return. And you can't return food/gourmet gifts!

Sears: Return in original packaging with receipt or email confirmation. Must be within 90 days for most items. Home electronics, air conditioners, gas-powered equipment, jewelry and watches must be returned within 30 days. Video Games, CDs, DVDs, computer software and sports/toy collectibles can only be returned unopened. Customized jewelry can't be returned or exchanged. Return in form of original payment method. Most purchases made from 11/13/11 to 12/10/11 have extended 120-day return time frame, which sounds like good news! And fine jewelry, consumer electronics, and mattresses have an extended 60-day time frame.

Do you plan to make a return or exchange this week?


Image via Jimmie/Flickr

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nonmember avatar darlene Bartlet

we tried to return a wii game to wal-mart. we even had the receipt an they wouldnt take it back. yes we opened it but the game was to hard for my 8yr old grandson. but it was not damaged. but they say at wal-mart that the customer is always right. well not in Monroe, ga.


Target returns are never that easy- if you don't have a receipt, which some gift givers don't share- it's a nightmare. And you can only do 3 returns per year w/o your reciept. At least that's how they roll here in Bham.

momav... momavanessa

Yeah, My husband bought me a microwave from Walmart for Christmas and when put it on the counter and was setting it up we found out the door will not close!!! It would  just bounce back open!! So We put it back on the box and just going to wait a few more days! There is way to many people returning stuff right now!! Good thing my husband still has the receipt! Usually looses them the same day!

nonmember avatar Dee

If you are returning something ,please beware that you are not the only person in the world to do so. We have customers coming in with other stores items and wanting to exchange them. If you want respect from the sales clerks,give them respect..Rudeness and being ugly will not get you anywhere.AND be aware that the sales personal do not make the return policies but are forced to comply by the company rules. Thanks~

buffa... buffalove23

Best buy's policy is different during holidays...after like the middle of November you have till I think January 24th or 30th to return the item.

ashjo85 ashjo85

Our Target lets you look up the receipt on their computer with a credit/debit card. Saved my butt a few times! I'm not good at keeping track of receipts.

nonmember avatar emmecj

Without a receipt, Target will only allow you to return (for a store credit) $70 per year, in it's original packaging with photo ID. Anyone know if Walmart has a limit?

nonmember avatar AI

Reading the return policy is crucial. Clerks do not have the authority to override store policy, so don't be rude or give them a hard time if they tell you as much. Just about anywhere, clothes can only be returned unwashed and unworn unless defective (the manager will usually need to authorize that). Video games, movies, and music can only be returned if unopened, otherwise you can exchange for the *same* item (assuming yours was defective). The reason for this being that it is far to easy to pirate these and then try to return them. Most anything that is in some sort of packaging can only be returned unopened (some stores will do a return if defective, but most will want to offer exchange or store credit). Returns without any kind of receipt or way to look up a receipt will always be near impossible for cash. Most stores will offer store credit at best for the lowest selling price within a certain time frame, same goes with returns after the allotted time. Also, be patient and polite. Yelling and harassing the clerk won't get you far.

Lebea... Lebeaglemom

Walmart-Games can not be returned if open just exchanged for same thing. Once you open it you own it.

Yes walmart has a limit 3 returns w/ in 45-60 days w/o receipt.

nonmember avatar Lashawn

“Your page is sweet, your graphics are great, and whats

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