christmas presents
You opened them. Now you want to return them. Here's what you need to know. Pixabay

When it comes to holiday gifts, it’s the thought that counts. Of course, it helps when the thought comes with a gift receipt so the recipient can get what they truly want. Whether you got a gift that you just aren’t into or are afraid of giving the wrong thing, it’s important to know that the purchase can be returned.

Big box retailers are no strangers to taking back purchases, especially after the holiday season when returns and exchanges are common. It’s important to know the policy of the store before you try to take an item back, so here’s an idea of what you can expect when trying to return a gift.

Best Buy

Best Buy has a tiered return policy, so the return period will vary depending on the member’s status at the store.

The standard return policy provides 15 days from the date of purchase to return the product.

Best Buy offers two tiers of its Elite membership program, which is determined based on how much the customer spends at the store on an annual basis.

My Best Buy Elite Members—people who spend $1,500 or more during a calendar year—get 30 days for returns and My Best Buy Elite Plus members—those who spend $3,500 or more in one year—get 45 days.

While those return periods apply to most products, the exception is smartphones. Best Buy offers just 14 days to return a smartphone and other devices that require activation regardless of membership status.

For the holidays, Best Buy extends its return window to account for the fact that some items won’t be opened until after the standard return period has already expired—again, with a tiered system to allow regular customers a wider window for returns.

Purchases made from Oct. 29 through Dec. 30 have an extended return period through Jan. 14, 2018. My Best Buy Elite Members get until Jan. 29 to return items. My Best Buy Elite Members can return items up to Feb. 13.

Smartphones and devices that require activation remain the exception to the rule for the extended return period. Those items still must be returned within 14 days of the date of purchase.


Walmart’s return policy provides more flexibility. The big box retailer generally accepts all returns within 90 days of purchase with or without a receipt. Purchases made on can be returned at a brick and mortar location or via mail.

There are exceptions to Walmart’s 90-day rule. Like Best Buy, Walmart requires cell phones and other devices that require activation to be returned within 14 days of purchase with a receipt.

Most large electronics, including drones, computers, cameras, tablets, GPS, video game consoles and prepaid cell phones have a 15-day return period and require a receipt.

Those big-dollar tech items do have an extended return period for the holiday season. Any of those products purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 will be subject to the 15 day return period starting De. 26—meaning the recipient of the gift will have until Jan. 10 to return the item.


Target operates much the same as Walmart in terms of return policy . The company will allow the return of most unopened products for 90 days from the date of purchase, provided there is a receipt.

Like Walmart, Target tightens the window for return with tech products. Most electronics must be returned within 30 days of purchase and a receipt must be provided. Drones and cell phones or other products that require activation must be returned within 14 days of purchase.

Target has extended that window for the holiday season, setting the 30-day return period for electronics to start on Dec. 26. The 14-day return period for drones and phones also begins on Dec. 26. The extended holiday return window applies to all products purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25.


Apple’s return policy allows for 14 calendar days to return a product. The product can be returned to a physical Apple Store location or shipped back to the company using an online return form.

Like most retailers, Apple has extended its return window for the holidays. Items purchased from the company between Nov. 15 and Dec. 25 can be returned through Jan. 8, 2018—a 14-day timeframe for returns from Christmas day.


Amazon’s return policy is a little tricky because it is primarily a market for third-party sellers.

Generally speaking, Amazon offers a 30-day return policy on unopened items that the company sells directly. Items that have been opened or are missing parts might come with a restocking fee that will be taken out of the refund.

Amazon also often offers a 30-day return policy for products fulfilled by third-party sellers, though some of those marketplace sellers have their own return policies. Amazon recommends viewing the seller’s profile page to see its specific policy for returns.

Amazon does require all third-party sellers to provide a return address within the United States and a prepaid return label to ship back a product or provide a full refund without requiring the product to be returned.