Finance

Got holiday gifts to return? Here’s why you shouldn’t delay

The woman packs the box to return the item.

Image source: Getty Images

You don’t want to miss your chance to get your money back.


Key points

  • Many retailers are extending returns for holiday purchases.
  • Your ability to return goods may be reduced.

If you’ve done a lot of holiday shopping this year, you’re not alone. Whether you’ve been buying gifts for your kids and family members or treating yourself to purchases you’ve been saving up for, chances are you’ve racked up a pretty big credit card tab along the way.

But what if some of the things you bought during the holiday season didn’t work out? Maybe you decided to treat yourself to a new pair of boots, only when they arrived at your door, they didn’t fit. Or maybe your kids don’t like their new electronics and want to trade them in for something else.

The good news is that most retailers offer an extended holiday return period. But that window may be closing sooner than you think. If you need to return holiday shopping, now is the time to go.

Don’t lose

Chances are you’ve worked hard to save up for holiday purchases, or you’ve stretched your budget or given up other things to afford them. The last thing you want is to be stuck with useless items because you missed the return deadline.

Now, the amount of time you have to return holiday gifts and purchases depends on the retailer. It’s best to sort through your returns, see which stores or locations they’re coming from, and then look at each retailer’s return policy so you know what you’re dealing with.

In some cases, you may be able to return items to a local store and receive a refund on the spot. In other cases, you may have to send them back and wait for a refund. Either way, there’s a deadline after which retailers won’t accept holiday returns, so make a list of those deadlines so you don’t miss them.

In the meantime, here are some holiday return guidelines from popular retailers you may have shopped at:

  • Target will accept returns on most electronics and entertainment items purchased between October 6 and December 25 until January 24.
  • Walmart will accept returns on most purchases between October 1st and December 31st until January 31.
  • Amazon will accept returns on most items purchased between October 11th and December 25th January 31.

Read the fine print

Many retailers will allow you to return holiday purchases at no charge. But some retailers do charge a return shipping or restocking fee. It’s important to see if you’re going to be subjected to one, as this could lead you to keep the item you’re worried about.

Let’s say you bought your daughter a $20 sweater that she likes but doesn’t love. Your first inclination may be to return it and get your money back. But if you’re going to be charged a $10 restocking fee to return that sweater, you might decide to keep it, because at that point it’s actually a $10 purchase.

You can also avoid shipping costs in some cases by returning items to the store instead of via courier. So it pays to read the fine print and see what options you have.

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