10 Best Holiday Retail Return Policies

In the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, selecting gifts can be based on price, color and size. But for the pickiest people on your gift-giving list, maybe the gift return policy outweighs what's on the price tag.

In the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, selecting gifts can be based on price, color and size. But for the pickiest people on your gift-giving list, maybe the gift return policy outweighs what’s on the price tag. Last year, GoBankingRates.com looked at the best return policies at the nation’s top retailers. No drug stores, supermarkets, or restaurants were included in the review.

Here are the 10 stores with the best policies, according to the website.

10. Apple

Whether you’re updating a family member’s phone or picking up a new iPad cover, Apple extends its return policies by an additional week during the holidays. If the techie in your family is particular about what color iPod nano they receive, upon return they can get a gift card to use in the store or online.

9. Kohl’s

Shoppers have up to a year to return their gifts to Kohl’s to receive full credit, and beyond the one-year mark can return items for store credit. So if you receive your third Rachel Ray nonstick frying pan, you have plenty of time to return it. Not to mention, Kohl’s is known for its regular sales, so chances are you’ll be able to get even more for the value of your gift.

8. Macy’s

Santa’s favorite shop on 34th Street is also a favorite amongst holiday shoppers for its return policy. With no set time limit on returns with gift receipts, you can display the ugly vase your aunt got you when she comes for Easter, then return it after all the deviled eggs are gone.

7. The Home Depot

For the not-so-handyman, a tool set may not be Christmas miracle needed to fix the leaky faucet. But Home Depot will take returned gifts for 90 days after purchase. Even if you don’t have a receipt, you can still get store credit with a valid photo ID, but it will be for the lowest amount that item has sold for.

6. Target

Few people have the strength of will to leave Target without purchasing anything. Turns out their return policy is just as good as their bargains. According to GoBankingRates.com, “Returns can be performed in-store or online at no additional cost to customers, as long as mail-in returns are accompanied with a prepaid label from Target’s website. Returns require either a packing slip, the credit card used to make the purchase or a printed receipt from Target’s online return center.” A bullseye right to the consumer’s heart.

5. Walmart

Usually, electronics purchased at Wally-World must be returned within 15-30 days of purchase. But during the holidays, the return window opens on December 26th, not the date of purchase, for these limited-return items. For everything else in the store, the usual 90-day return policy remains in place.

4. REI

Like Macy’s, REI has a one-year window for returns. But it’s not just unopened, unused gifts that they’ll take back. Under their 100% satisfaction guarantee, boots that aren’t as waterproof as hoped or wool socks that itch too much can be returned even after they’ve been used once or twice … with valid proof of purchase, of course. Just be careful, REI Outlet has the same policy, but it’s good for only 30 days after purchase.

3. Zappos

Buying shoes for someone else can be tricky, especially online. Zappos, though, tries to make the process as easy as possible, and it honors its hassle-free shipping policies for gifts! So just in case Mum can’t remember your proper shoe size, you’ll have no problems with free shipping on returns with the e-retailer.

2. Nordstrom

Nordie’s return policy is unique in that there really isn’t a return policy. As long as the item in question doesn’t have excessive wear and is carried by the retailer, the department store will work on a case-by-case basis to ensure that customers are happy. Timelines are also not an issue, but for cash refunds, a government ID is required.

1. Costco

For many, Costco is either an island of bulk-savings heaven or a pit of shopping hell. No matter what your version is, though, the wholesale retailer does have a very flexible return policy: 90 days on electronics, and no time limit on other non-food items. There are also no issues with returning online purchases at the brick-and-mortar store. For gift recipients, another bonus is that refunds can be given by check or cash, not limiting you spending it inside the store. It is not recommend trying to return a half-eaten churro, though. They do have their limits.

Bonus: The Worst Retail Return Policy (next page)

1. Sears

Merchandise at Sears is divided into different return-period tiers, meaning purchases from the same store may have 30-, 60- or 90-day return windows. In addition to that confusion, the original packaging and original receipt or packing slip are required. Even then, some items are not eligible to be returned. Bah Humbug!

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GoBankingRates.com's full report here.