Your Complete Store Guide, Calendar to Returning Christmas Gifts

Check this store return policy calendar if you're in a holiday gift hangover.

BySusanna Kim
December 25, 2014, 9:41 AM
PHOTO: Your complete store guide, calendar to returning Christmas gifts.
Your complete store guide, calendar to returning Christmas gifts.
Getty Images

— -- Ready, set, go. You've decided that you don't like your Christmas gift and now it's time to head to the store to return your gift. But not all return policies are made equally.

It's best to read the fine print before you buy your treats and gifts, especially because some websites like Amazon charge you for return shipping, unless the company made an error. Note that retailers reserve the right to change their return policies.

Online return policies can differ from in-store policies, so double-check a store's latest information before you try to return an item. Note that gift receipts from stores like Williams-Sonoma only entitle you to a merchandise credit.

Here's your complete holiday return guide:

1. Amazon

Cost: Not free

Holiday deadline: Jan. 31

Items shipped by Amazon.com typically have a 30-day return policy, but during the holidays the company has a return deadline of Jan. 31. 2015, for items shipped between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. Items shipped from sellers other than Amazon.com have the same holiday return policy unless the seller states otherwise.

If you return an item using the return label and the reason for return is not a result of an Amazon.com error, the cost of return shipping will be deducted from your refund. "If you choose to ship the item on your own, you'll pay the carrier at the time you ship your return," according to Amazon's website.

There are some items that have exceptions to the return policy, including baby items, which can be returned within 90 days of receipt of shipment (except for baby clothing sizes 0 to 24 months).

2. Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy

Cost: Free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Customers can return Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy website items for free when using prepaid return shipping labels. For items bought in stores, customers have up to 60 days to return items at Banana Republic and Gap, while Old Navy customers have 90 days. Online items from the three brands can be returned within 45 days. Online items can be returned to stores unless they are marked "Mail Only."

3. Best Buy

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Holiday deadline: Jan. 15

Holiday purchases in November and December can be returned through Jan. 15, except mobile phone carrier contracts. Otherwise, you can return or exchange almost everything within 15 days for a full refund, Best Buy says online. Bring your item with all contents and packaging, proof of purchase and ID.

If you join the free My Best Buy program, you can reach Elite and Elite Plus status for an extended return and exchange period of 30 or 45 days, respectively, on most purchases.

You can return or exchange mobile phones within 14 days for a full refund, regardless of whether you're a My Best Buy Elite or Elite Plus member.

"Avoid shipping charges and receive a refund more quickly by returning your items to any Best Buy store within the United States," Best Buy's website says.

4. Costco

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Costco has one of the most liberal return policies, allowing returns with a receipt without deadlines. The exceptions, which require a return within 90 days, include televisions, computers, cameras and other electronics.

5. GameStop

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Cash purchases over $150 are subject to a refund by check issued from the GameStop corporate office within 14 business days. Customers with a gift receipt will only receive an exchange or a gift card of equal value. Handling costs are non-refundable, unless it's GameStop's error, which requires calling 1-800-883-8895 for a handling credit.

6. J.Crew

Cost: $5

Online items returned to stores: Yes

J.Crew accepts returns of unworn merchandise purchased in its retail stores within 30 days of original purchase. J.Crew phone and Internet purchases, excluding fine jewelry, may be returned to stores within 60 days of original purchase. Or you can ship an item for $5 using J.Crew's shipping label, or ship on your own on your dime.

7. Kmart

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

About return deadlines, Kmart's website only states, "The number of days that you have to make a return or exchange varies."

Kmart will pay for shipping if it's the company caused an error only.

8. Nordstrom

Cost: Free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Nordstrom famously doesn't have a time limit on returns. You can return online items with a postage-paid return label that the company provides.

9. Office Depot and OfficeMax

Cost: Not free

Holiday deadline: Jan. 14

Any item purchased between Oct. 1 and Dec. 24 can be returned until Jan. 14, or as the policy allows, whichever is later. Furniture, for example, needs to typically be returned within 14 days. You can return online items in stores or by contacting 1-800-GO-DEPOT.

10. RadioShack

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes, with exceptions

RadioShack accepts online returns within 30 days of delivery for a refund, minus the shipping and handling.

11. Sears

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Holiday deadline: Jan. 24, with exceptions

For holiday returns, select items purchased between Nov. 9 and Dec. 24 have extended policies until Jan. 24, depending on the item. A 15 percent restocking fee is charged on electronics returned without the original box or used.

12. Sports Authority

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Holiday deadline: Jan. 31

Sports Authority's normal 30-day return policy has been extended for holiday purchases between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. The holiday return deadline is Jan. 31.

13. Staples

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Holiday deadline: Jan. 17

The returns period for electronic and furniture products from Staples stores and Staples.com between Nov. 23 and Dec. 24, will be "until the later of Jan. 17, 2015, or 14 days from the purchase/order date," according to Staples' website.

14. Target

Cost: May be free

Online items returned to stores: Sometimes

Most unopened items can be returned within 90 days. Target says on its website, "Shipping charges may be refunded depending on the reason for your Target.com return. If your shipping charges aren't refunded, please call Target Guest Services at 1-800-591-3869 to see if you're eligible for a refund."

15. Walmart

Cost: Not free

Online items returned to stores: Yes

Walmart will issue a credit for return shipping costs if the company made an error. Walmart.com and store purchases can be returned within 90 days of receiving an item or purchase, respectively. Though electronics sometimes have exceptions.

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