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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Be educated on all of the different ways to return a gift.

By now you’ve had time to organize all your Christmas gifts and there may be a few that you are wondering what you’ll do with, that didn’t fit or that just aren’t your thing.  It might feel a little tacky, but it’s okay to return items that you know you won’t use and then use the credit toward something else or get a refund if you were given a receipt.

Time Periods for Returns

For most stores, the time frame for returns is within 90 days of purchase with a receipt.  Be careful though because certain items like electronics may have shorter return periods.

The Value of a Receipt

Receipts are very helpful in the return process! If you aren’t sure where yours are, you may want to start looking now. If they got lost in the holiday hustle & bustle, it’s not the end of the world.  Many stores like Walmart will allow you to get a cash refund or store credit for items returned in store. You may need your driver’s license handy for returns without a receipt because most stores limit the number of times you can do that type of return.

One tricky part about returns without a receipt is that you may not get the full value back. If an item is on sale or being clearanced after the holidays, the store may only offer pennies on the dollar for your return. If you don’t know where the item was purchased, remember that many items are sold at several retailers, so it doesn’t hurt to check the return value at a few stores.  You can even check online to see which stores carry which products. If you are really unhappy with the current return value, but don’t need the item, consider donating it to charity instead.

Restocking Fees

Beware of restocking fees.  You may not receive the full value of the item back if they charge for restocking.  Many stores no longer do this, but you will see stronger policies against open packages or missing tags as retailers try to minimize losses.

Online Returns

Online sales are more popular than ever and lots of retailers including Walmart, Toys R Us, Target, and Best Buy will allow you to return online purchases to a store, or you can request a return label to ship the item back.  You may have to pay for return shipping, so keep that in mind.  If the product is defective, most retailers will waive the return shipping fee.

Non-Returnable Items

Some stores, like Best Buy for example, have guidelines for non-returnable items. Things like earbuds and microphones, pre-paid cards and digital subscriptions, personalized items, open computer software, movies, music and video games can be exchanged for an identical item but not for a refund.

More Helpful Return Tips

  1. Don’t open the box.
    In the rush to open all those gifts, slow down and take a look before you open the box. If you think there are any you would want to return put them aside. Many stores don’t except items that were opened.  If you do open it, try to make sure all the pieces stay inside.
  2. Save the Receipts!
    It never hurts to just tell the person that gave it to you that you need a new size or want something slightly different.  Ask if they still have the receipt.
  3. Check the date on the receipts. Make sure you return them within those 90 days.
  4. Skip the lines and wait a few days after Christmas!

For more specifics, be sure to review the return policy at the stores you are headed to:

Walmart Return Policy
Toys R Us Return Policy
Target Return Policy
Best Buy Return Policy
Kohl’s Return Policy
Dick’s Sporting Goods Return Policy
Old Navy Return Policy

If you received gift cards for stores you don’t frequent there are options for you too! A number of sites allow you to sell, exchange your trade your gift card for one to another store.

Remember: These are all important to keep in mind when you are giving gifts too! Including a gift receipt (which most retailers offer) can make the return process much easier for everyone involved and prevent your heartfelt gift from going to waste.

What are your best tips for making the most of your returns?

    • Guest

      My best advice/tip on returns is to “re-gift” instead of return.  Like Jenny posted, sometimes you don’t get the full value on the item.  Save them for birthdays, etc. …just be sure to give it to someone who didn’t see that it was given to you.  I have a re-gift closet that I use. It saves money and time and it’s not being cheap at all.  They are still really nice gifts that someone else may love.  We get so many arts/crafts things that we just don’t get to use.

      • Squinkle99

        Amen! I regift all the time!

    • Anonymous

      Also, something I didn’t know about the return policy at Target: If you don’t have a receipt, they give you a gift card for the amount that it was LOWEST in the past 90 days. Not what it’s currently selling for, but the lowest price. Meaning if they had a special for $16 3 weeks ago but it’s back up to $25 now, the computer system will only give you the $16 + tax. Just be aware.

    • Anonymous

      Also, something I didn’t know about the return policy at Target: If you don’t have a receipt, they give you a gift card for the amount that it was LOWEST in the past 90 days. Not what it’s currently selling for, but the lowest price. Meaning if they had a special for $16 3 weeks ago but it’s back up to $25 now, the computer system will only give you the $16 + tax. Just be aware.

    • Anonymous

      Also, something I didn’t know about the return policy at Target: If you don’t have a receipt, they give you a gift card for the amount that it was LOWEST in the past 90 days. Not what it’s currently selling for, but the lowest price. Meaning if they had a special for $16 3 weeks ago but it’s back up to $25 now, the computer system will only give you the $16 + tax. Just be aware.

      • couponmama3

        I’m surprised you could return anything w/o a receipt to Target. Unless their policies changed, our Target won’t accept a return unless you have the receipt or the card it was purchased with. A lot of times I’ll use my credit card at Target if I think I may need to return something, in case I lose my receipt. Returning to Walmart is much easier…

        • Anonymous

          Without a receipt, Target will give you a gift card or an exchange. But if your Target doesn’t allow that, they are in the wrong. Target can look up your receipt if you have the credit card you purchased it with, yes, or if you, for some reason, know your receipt number. You can’t return electronics without a receipt or the CC, though.

          • Laura

            Another thing with Target, a few months ago they had a 50% off comforter clearance, lots left so I wanted to hold out for 75%…but they only had one left in queen size, so I bought it. The next week they went to 75% so I took in my receipt to see if they’d refund the difference as they do with sale items. But they said they don’t do that for clearance but said I could return it for refund, the re-buy it at the new cheaper price.

            I couldn’t get back to the store for about 10 days, then I returned it. When I tried to re-buy it wouldn’t scan, the register just said this item is no longer sold by Target. So the cashier typed in the price on the clearance tag, which was the 50% price. I said uh, nooo those were 75% off but she said if an item won’t scan their only option is to use the price on the sticker.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/emilyrosekelly/status/134349373990633472 Erkelly

        Yea last Christmas we spent it with my parents who live a few states away. They got us a few big items from Target (activity table for baby and wii balance board). I went to Target to return them so I could re-buy them where I live. But no can do! They were only going to give me a fraction of their value because they were on sale on Black Friday. So we somehow had to fit them on the plane with us back home. Thanks Target for being so helpful!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7VJODX3PT23QZWRW5ATLQ655ZU Beth

      HEADS UP for Toys-R-Us!!!  If you buy online and return t the store, you ONLY get store credit-even with a receipt!!  Found this one out the hard way!  I had to buy an item online b/c the store was sold out in order to get the deal.  Target had it $40 cheaper a few weeks later so I planned to return original to TRU.  I had the reciept.  The manager said it is the policy to only give store credit for online purchases.  I followed the link in this story to check and sure enough (in the fine print) it states you’ll get store credit.  Don’t buy online from there unless you have to do so.

    • JenneyG

      Jenny I saw you on the 6pm news tonight talking about how to return gifts. I told my husband I know this lady even though I’ve never see you in person. Cool…

    • Guest

      I used to deal with all the returns and trying to get receipts from people…it’s just awkward!  And I ended up keeping or regifting all of the things people bought that I just didn’t want or couldn’t use…such a waste!  So, a tip for next year: make very, very specific Christmas lists, with lots of options, and do everything possible to encourage family to use them!  Generally, if there are lots of options, people are willing to use a list, especially if you’re hard to buy for.  For one side of the family, I made a registry with  Crate and Barrel; they were able to take advantage of free shipping since everything was from one site, and I actually received useful gifts that I love!  It may not work for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a try on your next gift-giving occasion. :)  Returns are a pain, even when you bought the item, and there are no hurt feelings this way.

    • Amy

      I’ve got to say, Books-a-million has the worst return policy out there. You have to return the item within 30 days from the purchase date BUT they make you order far in advance for the holidays. So, in order to get something by Christmas, I had to order 41 days in advance. Notice a problem? Well, that was fine since I was sure I bought the right item EXCEPT they shipped the wrong item (audio book 1 in a series instead of book 2). After fighting with them for weeks, they finally agreed to return the item but I would have to pay shipping which is half the price of the item. If you plan on buying from BAM, buy the item in-store or somewhere else so you can avoid the headache they are giving me.