(Updated 9/16/19) 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.
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.
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
Can You Get Cash When Returning Items Bought with a Debit Card?
Thanks to reader Olivia, if you buy items with your ATM card you might be stuck with a Costco cash card when returning something.
This is especially true if the item is a gift and the person returning it has the original receipt but not the ATM card.
Great information if you regularly buy gifts with your ATM card as you might want to use a credit card or cash to make returns easy.
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 Costco.com receipt to your local Costco and they’ll process your refund.
Also, Costco now has a handy Online Return Form to make your Costco.com 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