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Amazon, Best Buy and More: How to Return a Gift and Get Your Money Back

If you're looking to return or exchange a gift you don't want, there's a specific holiday return policy and timeframe to follow.

Robin Mosley Former CNET writer
Robin Mosley (she/her) formerly wrote commerce deals for CNET about beauty, fashion and other essential gear. Before that, she freelanced for Healthline, Simply Recipes and Nerd Street. She is a Chicago native living on the East Coast who is a fan of all things beauty, food, gaming and tech. When she isn't writing, she's at a restaurant, shopping online or making YouTube gaming videos.
Robin Mosley
4 min read

Not every gift is perfect. Whether it's something that was a little different than you expected, it doesn't work the way you imagined (or at all) or it's something that you already have, there's no need to stress. Retailers know that these things are going to happen around the busy holiday season and make exceptions through holiday return policies.

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If you want your money back or prefer credit in-store, you have to follow the specified timeframe that each retailer established. Since many of these return policies end in January, though, you'll likely have to act fast. 

From Amazon and Walmart to Best Buy and Target, we've gathered a few big retailers' holiday guidelines for returning unwanted and defective merchandise. We will continue to update this list as we come across additional lists. If you're curious about what to do with the money or store credit you get back, check out the gadgets you didn't know you needed like this nifty tablet holder

Purchase date: Oct. 11 through Dec. 25
End of return policy: Jan. 31

More info: To determine if a product sold by Amazon has a longer return timeline, locate the product type here. If the product type isn't listed or doesn't state another return time frame, the standard 30-day return policy applies.

Purchase date: Between Nov. 4 and Dec. 25
End of return policy: Jan. 8

More info: All other terms and conditions provided in the Apple online store sales and refunds policy are still applicable. Items purchased by carrier financing are not eligible for extended returns and are subject to the standard return policy. All purchases made after Dec. 25 are subject to the standard return policy.

Purchase date: Oct. 24 through Dec. 31
End of return policy: Jan. 14

More info: This policy excludes items purchased with a third-party contract (such as cellphones, tablets, mobile hotspots and wearables as well as AppleCare Plus plans). Holiday products (artificial trees, lights, decorations and so on) are also excluded.

Purchase date: Oct. 1 through Dec. 31
End of return policy: Jan. 31

More info: This policy states that items sold and shipped by Walmart can be returned or replaced by mail within 90 days of receipt. If an item you received from Walmart is damaged or defective, you can return it by mail or replacement or at any Walmart store for a refund.

Purchase date: Starting Nov. 1 up to 180 days after purchase (depending on the item)
End of return policy: Most items that qualify for return under the 180-days policy can be returned with or without a receipt. Premium electronics and watches and beauty are the exception during the holiday season. Electronics items and watches purchased after Nov. 1 can be returned by Jan. 31 and must come in the original packaging (for electronics and watches), while beauty products must be new or gently used. Both categories require a receipt or valid account/tender lookup. Check out the rest of the return policy for more.

More info: Kohl's may be able to help find your original purchase to process a refund. If Kohl's is unable to find it, you may still be able to return the items as a non-receipted return.

Purchase date: Within 90 days of purchase (with exceptions)
End of return policy: 30 through 90 days 

More info: You'll want to check the entire policy here for details of what you can return. Here's what you can't return:

  • Gift cards and store credits
  • Whole house and stationary generators
  • Utility trailers
  • Cut flowers and floral arrangements
  • Labor, delivery and/or installation services
  • Product samples (paint, flooring, fabric and wallpaper)
  • Custom products 

Purchase date: Nov. 13 through Dec. 24
End of return policy: Jan. 23

More info: During the holiday season, Staples is extending its regular 14-day electronics and furniture return policy. All shoppers can return products that are purchased as gifts. Returns made using a gift receipt must follow Staples' return policy and are limited to an in-store credit only. The receipt barcode must be intact and readable to process a return.  

Purchase date: Oct. 6 through Dec. 25 (refund period will begin on Dec. 26) for electronics and entertainment items.
End of return policy: Jan. 8, Jan. 9 and Jan. 24 (depending on the product) 

More info: All electronics and entertainment items (excluding Apple products) must be returned by Jan. 24. All Apple products (excluding mobile phones) must be returned by Jan. 9. Mobile phones purchased in-store or online via pickup must be returned by Jan. 8.

Purchase date: Starting Oct. 3 within 90 days of purchase
End of return policy: Jan. 31

More info: Shipping and delivery fees are non-refundable. Items that are purchased in a store must be returned to a store. And items purchased online can be returned by mail or to a store. Read more on this policy.

Purchase date: On or after Oct. 15
End of return policy: Jan. 15

More info: Must come with an original or gift receipt. The full policy is here for more. 

Purchase date: Oct. 1 through Dec. 24
End of return policy: Jan. 14 (or as the policy allows, whichever is later).

More info: Items returned in our stores will have faster refund processing times. Items returned with an original register receipt, e-receipt, packing slip or order confirmation will follow these guidelines found here.

Purchase date: Oct. 28 through Dec. 2
End of return policy: Jan. 31

More info: Sephora offers an extended period for in-store exchanges, store credit in the form of a Sephora merchandise credit for returns made in-store or online credit for returns made by mail. Any purchases made after Dec. 2 will follow normal return policy guidelines.