Trader Joe’s Return Policy: 4 Things That Make it Ridiculously Awesome

February 6, 2017 by Kyle

(Updated 1/18/18) A good return policy is a beautiful thing. It let’s you shop freely without worrying about getting stuck with something you don’t need or want. So when I recently discovered just how awesome the Trader Joe’s return policy is, I knew I had to write about it. Here is everything you need to know about Trader Joe’s liberal return policy.

Trader Joe's Return Policy: 4 Things That Make it Awesome

1. The Trader Joe’s Return Policy is Risk-Free

From the Trader Joe’s site, “Try it. We think you’ll like it. If you don’t, bring it back for a full refund.”

Awesomely, Trader Joe’s is totally cool with you buying any food or drink and taking it home to give it a try.

Don’t like it? Simply bring back whatever you have left and you’ll get a full refund, no questions asked.

Trader Joe’s wants you to buy stuff and try it completely risk-free. Half-eaten box of chips or a frozen entree, it doesn’t matter, they’ll take it all back.

See Also: The Best Buys at Trader Joe’s According to Employees

2. You Can Return Alcohol to Trader Joe’s (Even If It’s Open)

There is some debate on this question. Some places like Costco will often not let you return alcohol, but Trader Joe’s will take back all wine, beer, and liquor.

It can even be opened and half empty, they’ll still take it back, no questions asked.

Some state laws require Trader Joe’s to NOT offer a cash refund on alcohol, but rather an exchange for a different bottle of wine or 6-pack of beer.

Their policy makes for a great way to “taste test” wine and beer at home and return it for an exchange if you don’t like it.

3. No Receipt is Required

No receipt is required for a Trader Joe’s return.

This is because many of the items at Trader Joe’s are made specifically for the store and have the TJ name right on them.

In other words, it’s pretty obvious to the employee that you’re returning something you bought from them.

If it’s a more expensive item like vitamins or alcohol, you should definitely hold on to your receipt as it will make your return go much smoother.

4. TJ’s Return Policy…the Fine Print

Like any return policy, there is some fine print you need to understand. Here is what you need to know:

  • Returning With Receipt – When returning items to Trader Joe’s with your receipt, you’ll get back the full purchase price to whatever form of payment you originally used.
  • Returning Without Receipt – When returning items without a receipt, you’ll get back the lowest advertised price. Your refund will then be issued as a store credit to a Trader Joe’s gift card.

Ask the Reader: Have you ever taken advantage of Trader Joe’s return policy? If so, was it an easy process?

By Kyle James

Photo credit to Eric Fischer.

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Carol Y
Carol Y

Well, I’ve never tried the open-container return (tho mentally bookmarking for later), but I have returned an open package of bread that was questionable. No questions asked, even exchange at the register.

Laura B.
Laura B.

I have to say that I have made one return to Trader Joe’s and it was a bottle of olive oil. It had a cork in it instead of a screw-on top. On the way home, it tipped over in the bag and when I got home (about three hours later) the olive oil had leaked out all into my trunk (probably 2/3 of the bottle).

When I returned it (with the receipt), I explained to the clerk what had happened, stating that I did not get it out of the car immediately. She made a smart comment regarding the fact that I shouldn’t have left it in the car and that they can’t control it turning over in my car. I was sort of surprised at the comment as I felt shamed for asking to return it. But they did allow me to exchange it.

Everyone at my local Trader Joe’s (Lexington, KY) is always very nice and helpful (even this particular lady) so I was a bit taken back. I felt like the bottle maybe should have been secured a bit better and given that there was (in my mind) an ‘issue’ with the product (packaging) that I had a bit more of a reason to return it other than ‘I just don’t like it’.

But the reason I am seeing this article is because I Googled ‘Trader Joe’s return policy’ because I just purchased salsa that I very much dislike and remembered reading this article. Unfortunately it drudges up the one association of returns that I’ve had with TJ which was not awful, but certainly not with the cheerful, ‘stand by our policies’ demeanor that I expect from TJ.


I would clear it up with the manager and let he or she know that this incident put them in a different light in your mind, as it was a packaging problem.
Perhaps in a letter if face to face isn’t for you.

Mo Betta Salsa
Mo Betta Salsa

I, too, am here after I googled “TJ’s return policy” because I purchased some ridiculously awful salsa. After looking at the ingredients for their serrano salsa fresca and discovering some truly bizarre ingredients (ginger, cinnamon, mace?!) I spat it out and thought, WTH, this is going back IMMEDIATELY. Thanks for your assurance that when TJ’s makes such a terrible error in judgement I can send it back for a refund.


Yes, they are true to their word.

Ev B.
Ev B.

I called the store after being double charged for an item and they gave me a refund over the phone. Also had a bottle of wine splinter at the top when opening and they took it back without hesitation.

TJ s sucks now
TJ s sucks now

They have changed their return policy. I tried to return something that was unopened with receipt today in Chicago and they refused to refund my money. Coporate greed rears its ugly head.


I’m not sure if the return policy is different now? but I used to work at Trader joes for a few months earlier this year and the return policy was very lax – any item with a barcode could get refunded even if it was completely empty. Additionally, at least at my location, all the non-spoiled food was collected every evening and brought to a local food bank! I’ve never worked in a food industry where corporate actually allowed us to do that and it made me happy.


Will bookmark this and update you all tomorrow with the result, because I plan to return a bag of frozen turkey meatballs that I made 3 of and can’t even eat the last one, it’s so gross. :/


I even returned a can of Trader Joe’s tomato paste about 2 years later for cash back. I love those guys especially for how liberal and lenient their return/exchange policy is.


Wanted to return 3 items my wife bought for me to “get healthy”. Fish oil, psyillium husks, and St John’s wort. I had no receipt but the items were unopened and had been purchased within a week. Trader Joe’s would not take any back, saying they were in some kind of list. Horrible customer service