The Costco Return Policy: 7 Ways To Make It Work For You

December 6, 2016 by Kyle

(Updated 1/17/18) The Costco return policy is so darn good that it deserves it’s own article. So here we are today! While I’ve talked about some of the better retail return policies in the past, Costco’s policy is easily the best of them all. Here is exactly how it works and what you need to know to take full advantage.

The Costco Return Policy: 7 Ways To Make It Work For You

What Exactly is the Costco Return Policy?

Costco calls it their “Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee” and with very few product exceptions, they’ll refund you the purchase price if not completely satisfied. Pretty much everything in the warehouse is returnable with no time limit. No questions asked.

This guarantee also includes your Costco membership. You have 364 days from the date you sign-up to try out the membership and see if it works for you.

If not completely satisfied, you can get a full refund on your membership cost.

See Also: How to Essentially Get a $55 Costco Membership for Free

Can Product Packaging Be Opened or Missing?

Yes. You do NOT need the original packaging or product manual in order to return the product to Costco. But, you do need all of the parts and accessories that came with the product.

This is a wonderful feature, especially when you’ve had a product for a while and no longer have any of the original packaging.

Can You Return Food to Costco?

Yes, you can return produce, food (opened or unopened), and anything else you’d put in your mouth, to your local Costco. No questions asked. Makes for a great reason to try new products and see if your family likes them.

Just be aware that Costco is tracking all of your returns and if they think you’re abusing the return policy they might flag your account.

Bottomline: Don’t abuse the Costco return policy as it’ll eventually go away, and hurt all members, if more and more folks abuse it.

90-Day Return Policy on Electronics

Due to some abuse from shoppers in recent years, Costco has shortened their return window on electronics from unlimited days to 90 days.

You now have 90 days from date of purchase to return televisions, tuner-free displays, projectors, major appliances, computers, tablets, cameras, camcorders, MP3 players and cell phones.

The 90-day policy is still fairly liberal and simply keeps Costco members from bringing back 5 year-old HDTV’s that now have a yellow picture. (For example)

Do You Need Your Coscto Receipt?

No, you don’t need your receipt to return anything to Costco.

Simply take your Costco membership number, and the item you want to return, to the customer service desk. They’ll be able to look up all of your past purchases and quickly find evidence of your purchase and issue your refund.

I was also told be a Costco rep that you return gifts as well. She told me that if the item was given to you as a gift, all you need is the gift-givers membership number to get your refund.

See Also: 12 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco

What Items Can’t You Return to Costco?

Here are the handful of items that you can’t return to Costco for a full refund.

  • Alcohol – Bottoms up on any wine, beer, or liquor as you can’t return them to most states in the U.S. and thus all sales are final. Opened or unopened, it doesn’t matter.
  • Cigarettes – Light ’em up, or throw them away, as you can’t return them to any Costco location.
  • Diamonds – Any diamonds 1 carat or larger must be returned with all original paperwork. A Costco Graduate Gemologist will inspect the diamond and issue a jewelry credit memo that allows you to purchase a different diamond.
  • Limited Lifetime Products – Think car tires and batteries. These are sold with a product-specific limited warranty.
  • Special Order Kiosk – While you can’t return special orders, you can get a warranty repair or replacement due to failure to meet product specs.
  • Custom Installed Programs – The same as above.

Pretty limited list when you consider the thousands of products Costco stocks on a daily basis.

Can You Return Items Bought Online to Costco?

Yes, just bring in the item and your receipt to your local Costco and they’ll process your refund.

Also, Costco now has a handy Online Return Form to make your purchases even easier to return.

Strangest Items Ever Returned to Costco

I loved this article from Clark Howard that breaks down some of the strangest returns that Costco employees have seen over the years.

Some of my favorites include an empty bottle of wine that gave the lady a headache, a package of opened underwear, a used chicken coop, and a broken 15-year old pressure washer.

Also, a woman was able to return a dead Christmas tree in January and get a full refund. Crazy.

Moral of the story? Be smart and don’t abuse Costco’s liberal return policy as it’ll end up costing us all.

Ask the Reader: How often do you use the Costco return policy? Any smart tips I may have neglected to mention?

By Kyle James

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59 Comments on "The Costco Return Policy: 7 Ways To Make It Work For You"

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Wally Butler



Why are you writing in all CAPS like a jerk& it says right on the Costco website they refund memberships 100% guarantee… So why are you being a dick towards kyle


They will not give my son the refund because he has no membership. I work during the hours they are open. So he offers to get the refund.i gave all info like receipt and my membership card and they still refused to refund everything. When to minor need membership, my son lives under my roof and offered to help his mother. And they still refuse cash was paid.


It’s all a matter of liability. There is NO way for any of the employees to KNOW 100% He IS your son and they are not going to take that chance… Banks won’t let a spouse deposit cash into the other spouse Acct and if you are not the holder of an Acct when depositing a check, you won’t be getting a receipt for that receipt either, don’t borrow a card from your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/roommate/or any other close personal friend and expect to be able to give it back to them later…Costco confiscated it at the register if they notice you don’t look like the photo. As for work hours, Costco is open 7 days a week and you don’t have to go to the Costco you bought the membership from, I’m pretty sure there’s at least 15-20min during any of the 7 days that you could take care of it, it’s all a matter of How Bad Do You ReALlY want your $$ back…

Gail K

How did you manage to buy it if it’s so impossible for you to get there?


Membership is key word. You are, he is not.


I tried to return a product past the manufacture guarantee and they told me costco only allows returns up to the manufacture warranty length. they said they do not know why people get the idea costco will except returns. They will never except a return beyond the manufacture warranty.


This tracks with my experience today. I tried to return some HP printer ink that had apparently “expired”, so was told they were unable to accept the return – even though I was buying new ink to fit my new printer. My old printer died, so I was unable to use the ink I had set aside for it. So now I have purchased $150 worth of new ink, and am sitting on 2 unopened packages of ink that is useless to me just because it is past its “expiration” date. Doesn’t seem like the most liberal return policy to me.

Gail K

Electronics is 90 days. Printer ink is probably included in that.


If your mayonnaise has set on the counter and is two years expired would you expect them to accept that?


Well yes I would expect that…the story says they took a 15 yr old pressure washer back


I would not try to return things like that but they say in this article a woman was refunded the cost of her Christmas tree she returned dead in January.


Does anyone know if in order to get a refund does your membership have to be active? What if it expired and haven’t renewed yet?


I don’t believe Costco is that lenient on returns. I was in line behind a woman turned away who wanted to return unopened buns. She said she over bought for a party the day before. She had her receipt. The clerk told her she could not accept food items. This was last fall. Granted I don’t know how many times the lady had made returns, but the look on her face told me she wasn’t one to abuse the policy…she had 2 kids in tow…


Returning a bakery item because you bought too much is nuts. It can’t be resold, so it will be trashed and there’s nothing wrong with it. If it were inferior, moldly, etc., they’d accept it.


I would think this was common sense. You should never attempt to return baked goods unless you can prove that they were defective in some way.


I was told by a Costco employee that they get reimbursed by vendors for products that are no good, so I would think they would accept the buns because even though they can’t sell it, they would be able to get reimbursed. Also, they told me they will refund your Square Trade extended warranty if you don’t use it!! 🙂


Definitley not working in my situation. I bought a Kirkland signature BBQ $1200 and after the first 5 years the pipes blew out and they would not refund it nor even replace the parts for me. Corporate said it’s up to the manager at the store to make that desicion and when I asked him he said pipes blow out after 3-5 years and he wouldn’t do anything for me. 35+ years a member never returned anything.


Try different Costco


Five years sounds like the average life span of a BBQ.

my name

what about Google play e gift card codes?? that have been used already and was unsatisfied because lost ability to use the currency purchased with the e gift code

your name

Hey that’s my name!


Why is it that unopened bottles of alcoholic beverages cannot be returned? I just overbought some for a party, so will I have to consume them all myself?


Fake news- not completely accurate info:
Costco says they will only take back items the store manager feels he can resell. Store manager said “our stock holders don’t like us taking hits by taking items back”. Then don’t advertise 100% satisfaction.

We tried to return some unopened food items (hamburger buns, cookies, water bottles, etc). Also tried to return some of their salsa that we didn’t use or open but had popped open due to a poor manufacturing seal; we obviously didn’t want to feed to our guests. It was visibly apparent the tubs hadn’t been opened and the lids popped but Costco didn’t refund or swap or abide by the so called 100% satisfied bs policy; nope, they wouldn’t take these items back either.

After extensive “discussion”, store manager eventually took about half of some of the items back leaving us with the other half. Seemed to be a very random determination on what he eventually agreed to take back. So maybe call their policy a “50/50 if you’re lucky (and argue until the guy gets fed up)” policy.

Prices weren’t even that great and we could have gotten similar items in bulk from another store. We bought bulk for a party because of how costco advertises their return policy; what a waste.


We bought our son a mattress when he moved to finish college. He started complaint about it about ft er year, but was really busy. So I called costco a few months

later and was told that we would have to deal with the mattress company, not them because by then, he had had it for a bit more than 18 months. The mattress company wouldn’t do anything. Just a very sagging mattress and my son is thin. We bought from costco because we thought the larger purchase would be covered. That was a big chunk of money for a college kid.

mike schnebel

Hi…I bought an emergency generator at Costco that I never opened at all and still as I bought it…can I return it to Costco even though i bought it 4 years ago?


Costco has a great return policy that I’ve used with great success. I bought Kirkland nonstick pots and pans that were guaranteed to not flake. I was careful and didn’t use metal utensils on them and after almost three years they started flaking. I called and asked if I could just exchange them and was told to bring them in and return them for a full refund and I could get any new set I wanted. My refund was for the purchase price, too, not the lowest price they sold them for. I got a new set of Kirkland all stainless pots and pans, paid the $20 difference after my refund and I’ve had them for about 5 years now and I love them.
I’ve never had any problem returning anything and the employees have always been super nice.

John C.

Coffin bought online wheeled instore warehouse via shopping cart. Used slightly ?
Unknown. A decade ago fonny.


I return wine all the time to costco, open and unopened. Not sure where you alcohol policy statement comes from, Kyle.


My brother and I would always laugh at the people around New Years who return those huge, fancy Xmas trees for refunds. You’d have to be a pretty cheap mofo to pull that off each year.


My friend returned a 5 year old humidifier and Costco refund him. Cheapo…


I’ve been wanting to say this..all these years I was told that returns without a receipt is not a problem since all purchases are tracked. One day, I purchased an item for the first time to try it out and but didn’t like it and returned it some weeks later without a receipt. On the receipt, we didn’t receive full price and the person said all he did was to scan my membership and if I have the original receipt, bring it in for adjustment. We found the receipt and brought it back, we were told that usually you get the lowest sale price when returning without a receipt. The item was currently on sale. I was certain that this isn’t true unless it is Macy’s or JCPenney. Anyway, they gave us the adjustments but tax difference wasn’t taken into consideration.. meaning I lost out on tax.
Keep your receipts!


About the returns.. I would advise customers to keep their receipt. I normally return with a receipt if I have them but I don’t usually care to keep it since Costco keeps track of purchases. Few months ago, my wife and I return an item we purchased for the first time for about 3 weeks, and didn’t like it without a receipt.

The Costco’s flaw when I found out was they refunded is less than what we paid for. My wife saw the return receipt and assure me that we paid full price. The Costco return rep said all he did was scanned my membership and that’s how much I paid for. I asked that if I find the receipt, will they honor the adjustments and yes they will. Luckily,we found the receipt and surely enough my wife was right. She is always right. We brought the receipt back and explained the situation, here’s the problem, the item was on sale with a discount when we returned it. One of the returns rep that was around when we explained the situation said that returning without a receipt will get me the lowest sale price.

I think she doesn’t know Costco policy or may have worked in another retail in the past. They went ahead and made the adjustments but not the tax difference..but I didn’t care about that and just didn’t want to get stuck dealing with this and holding up their line as their returns process is usually slow enough.

My advise us to keep your receipt and pay attention to how much you are getting refunded when returning something. I emailed Costco but didn’t hear back for a month and pushed for an answer and it went nowhere.


I have a 6 month tablet that I would like to return but I’m not sure if they would let me…so I just wanted to ask…the tablet is not broken or anything


I bought a security camera set from last November. I just finally opened the box. The unit is bigger than I anticipated (Costco doesn’t have this product on display). Do you think I can send it back to The system has not been used or installed. Most of the system are still in the box unwrapped.


My friend received a box of diapers for her babyshower from costco but she does not have a costco where she lives and is needing a bigger size. She is not a member but can she still return or exchange the diapers?


I went in to buy a new printer because the last one I purchased at costco was 2 years old and stopped working.

I didn’t k ow about the return policy at the time, so When I mentioned I got my old one at Costco the guy in electronics said I could return my old one.

He even said he did a return for a 5 year old hot tub.

Sure enough I brought my printer back without the box, CD, papers or receipt and they just scanned my membership card and gave me a full refund.

My next thing is some old pillows that have lost their fluff.


My Husband bought a total gym about 8 months ago!!! Can we take it back for a refund? We still have the box.


Bought a drone two weeks ago used it twice the thing fell out of the sky during play and didn’t land like it was supposed to when the battery is low. The drone isn’t broken but the blade protectors are. In addition the 2 batteries it came with don’t charge. Can I return it?


I work for Costco, anyone that says it’s up to the manager on what to bring back is either lying or at some fucked up Costco. Call corporate if they won’t take items back, 90% of items are guaranteed just for simple satisfaction. I’ve seen Christmas trees, grills, 10 yo vacuums, cracked TVs, mattresses, fans, so much food it’d make you sick just thinking about it, and even one time saw a kitchen sink. It says in your membership agreement they have to accept anything that is not electronics or like Kyle said in local laws (alcohol and cigarettes).

Mike johnsonm

Can i return something for my sister. I have the receipt and I’m a member


I never write comments on sites but I have to just say how thankful I am to not work in customer service. Dealing with crazy people like above who actually somehow believe they are in the right. Or maybe the obvious common sense of returning things without being an asshole about it just isn’t in their brains. But come on. I call bullshit. . The dude who “returns wine all night he time”? Like you think that’s ok? That’s embarrassing you even admit that. & im sure the store knows who you are and what a crazy cheap ass you are. Bc you know your just ripping them off. Why don’t you just steal it so you save yourself the gas money on the retun. Duh. My fav though is the mom who had to call the store for her college aged son to complain about his mattress. I can just picture this lady giving Costco a piece of her mind be her “skinny” son should not of had a mattress wear out after a year in college. Lady… come on. Sounds like your son had an active college year. Did it ever occur to you maybe his “skinny” body wasn’t the only body enjoying the Costco mattress you bought him?! Seriously… He was prob having gang bangs on it for a year then his mommy went up there yelling at the poor Costco workers. & lady feeling entitled and mad enough to complain about Costco not returning your open salsa that randomly opened all by itself 🙄🙄 in the same return of bakery cookies & rolls? Costo I’m sure knows you too. Sounds like you need to learn to shop better or not blame Costco for buying too many cookies. Stop by a church or something and donate them. Would you wanna buy bakery items someone returned? & I put $20 on you actually took a few out to gobble up in the parking lot bf you stood in line for 1/2 your day to return. Again, like Doug’s bs wine scam. You might as well just get a big bag & steak it all. Save everyone the hastle. Employees will prob see you guys doing it and be relieved you might spend less time in customer service. These are also the lovely folk that will literally run you over with their cart for a free taste of a 1/4 piece of a bagel bite. Guys—- go get a piece of pizza for a $1 and return the crust saying it made you full. Uggh… sorry but really… don’t do stuff like this. It’s not cool. 🙈🤮✌️


& Andrea… the gym your husband has had for almost a year? Really? The good intentions of getting super fit is pretty much the majority of revenue by the fitness community. If it’s not defective (which you would of noticed bf 8 mos) then why should they take it back? Honestly, not even meaning to be mean. But I can’t understand why so many of these crazy comments feel like it’s ok to be able to have a bunch of food, some cookies, chips and salsa.. wash it all down with some fancy wine then pretend to work it off on the brand new gym equipment… then pack up all this used now garbage shit & think you should get money for it. What if everyone did that. Grow up & play fair guys.


& Cmid.. you work there and are advocating for people to call corporate if they are questioned about returning some of the nonsense you mentioned!?? Costco should fire you for trying to promote taking advantage of what they are trying to make a good policy. There just isn’t a proper way to also include in their policy “Costco reserves the right to call you out for just being a complete and total asshole about this.” I bet you get to take home the crazy peoples returned food.


Haha, Kate. Wholeheartedly agree. Some nerve, these people.


It’s sad to hear of so many accounts that sounds like people are taking the return policy for granted. We love shopping at Costco and appreciate the generous return policy, but sadly those who abuse it will cause the liberal policy to end.

I would have to agree with the comments that it appears to be dependent upon the store or manager if the policy is honored. I had a small refrigerator that was purchased at that needed to be returned. While in a local Costco my husband inquired at the return desk if we could return the refrigerator and he was told no because we had had it for a few years. I was baffled when I learned of this because my understanding was of the liberal return policy. I in turn called customer service and explained the situation and was told that they would not only accept the return, that they would also arrange for free pick up of the item if we boxed it up. I was told that they no longer sold that model and if I wanted a refund instead.
Sure enough, UPS was sent after we boxed it up and we received full refund for the item. I was informed however, that it is up to the store manager if they will accept returns for items purchased online. Yet, the store manager my husband spoke to said she could not accept the item because of the age of the item which is not consistent with the Costco policy for non electronic items.

I appreciate the liberal policy and do not abuse it. I actually have a printer that I purchased from Costco that the wireless printing feature stopped working and I never bothered to return it because I have another wireless printer that works fine. I just used the broken wireless printer by connecting it directly to another computer instead. FYI: This was before they shortened the return policy window for electronic items.

There once was a lady in line who had a very full cart of children clothing she was returning and some had very obvious signs of wear. The cashier asked the customer if the items had been worn because they were not to accept returns of worn items. This is probably not an actual policy but it was obvious that she was trying to get over that I’m sure did not fair well with the cashier. Sadly those who abuse the return policy will probably cause the liberal policy to eventually end.

Jose Gomez

I bought a small car jumper that also charges your phone. I finally had to use it and I was right. Too small to jump a car. Over 2 years and just returned it last weekend full refund.

Anthony Hernandez

I bought a sun force solar spot light 4 years ago a d it just stop working. I was winderi ng if I can still return it?


Purchased a Kirkland item via Amazon but it’s not a returnable item to Amazon (vitamins). Don’t see anything in the Costco Return Policy regarding Kirkland items purchased elsewhere?