The Best Return Policies in the Known Universe

Updated March 21, 2024 by Kyle James

Some stores make it a total pain in the butt to return stuff. Some make it so easy you want to only shop with them in the future. You’d think more stores would take notice of just how important a customer-friendly return policy is, especially in terms of repeat customers and more importantly, satisfied customers. I did some research and came up with the eight best return policies in the known universe.

The Best Return Policies in the Known Universe

1. Costco Wholesale

For a long time Costco had the single greatest return policy to ever exist.

But like any really good thing, it got abused by some shoppers so they had to dial it back. But it’s still REALLY good.

Here is the skinny:

  • 90 day return policy on electronics. No questions asked. This use to be unlimited days but people would bring back their HDTV a year after buying it, say it was broken, and upgrade it to the newest model.
  • All other consumer goods: 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. This means if you buy a Keurig coffee maker and it breaks down 14 months after you bought it (and it will), you can bring it back into Costco for a full refund. I know because I did this exact thing.
  • Do you need the original receipt? No, because all purchases are tracked on your account membership.

Membership refund tip: Also, if you’re unsatisfied with your annual membership for any reason you can get a full refund at any time.

2. Kohl’s

The Kohl’s return policy often doesn’t get the credit that it deserves.

But it’s pretty dang awesome:

  • Their website sums it up best: “Return any item, anytime, for any reason.” Um, yeah, I guess that’ll work.
  • Don’t have the receipt? You can still make an even exchange, take a merchandise credit or get a corporate refund.
  • The only negative with their policy is they now require you to pay return shipping charges when making a return via the mail.

How about a gift receipt only? You’ll score merchandise credit good for anything in the store.

See Also: All 37 VERY Popular Retailers That Offer Extended Holiday Returns

3. L.L. Bean

Have you ever heard of a clothing store saying that they’ll take back any item, at any time, if you’re not completely satisfied with the quality of the item? Well, thanks to the L.L.Bean Guaranteed to Last program, you have now.

  • Update: In recent years, they have changed their lifetime policy to 1 year return from date of purchase. Apparently too many shoppers were abusing their “lifetime” policy.
  • After 1 year, L.L.Bean will still consider letting you return the item if the reason for the return has to with poor craftsmanship or defective materials.
  • Their 1-year policy even extends to user error and abuse. If you are extremely hard on a pair of chinos and they rip, call them up and they’ll replace them saying, “Our chinos don’t rip, a new pair is in the mail.”

Pretty amazing policy that was first instituted back in the 1960’s.

4. Macy’s

The Macy’s return policy is also excellent and has a nice wrinkle for online purchases.

Here is how it works:

  • Have the original receipt? They’ll take it back within 30 days and give you a full refund in the original form of payment. Doesn’t matter how long ago you made the purchase.
  • Lost the receipt? Not a problem, they’ll bend over backwards to try and find your purchase info by accessing your account, gift registry, or by using a customer return label. If they can find it, you’ll get a full refund.
  • If they can’t find proof of purchase, you’ll still get store credit for the item’s lowest selling price within the last 180 days. Not to shabby.

When shopping at, if your product arrives and has been damaged during delivery, you can take it to any Macy’s location and they’ll not only refund the purchase price but any shipping costs that you incurred.

5. Nordstrom

Nordstrom prides themselves in their excellent customer service and you often pay for it through higher prices.

But nonetheless, their return policy is hard to beat:

  • Free returns, with no time-frame, either via mail or in-store. Pretty cool that they let you return your items via the mail for no extra charge. Really makes it risk-free when shopping from the Nordstrom website.
  • Be aware that Nordstrom now tracks all returns and will ban you if you take advantage of their policy.

Even makes sense to buy a couple different sizes knowing that you can return the ones that don’t fit for free.

See Also: 45+ Stores That  Offering FREE Shipping on Christmas Shopping (NO Minimum)

6. REI

REI has the famous “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” policy which essentially let’s you “try out” their products risk free.

Here is how it works:

  • REI Co-op members get exactly 1-year from date of purchase to return any product for any reason for a full refund or exchange, no questions asked.
  • Non-members still get a liberal 90 day return policy.
  • The only exception to this policy is outdoor electronics which must be returned within 90 days of purchase.
  • You can return or exchange any product to one of their retail locations, regardless of whether you bought it online or by phone through their product catalog.

REI-Outlet items are handled a little bit differently as you only have 30 days to request a full refund or product exchange.

7. Target

The return policy at Target is pretty bodacious as well.

Here is what you need to know:

  • Target offers a fairly liberal 90-day return window. The following items have a shorter 30-day return policy: netbooks, laptops, eReaders, tablets, cameras, camcorders, digital audio players, GPS systems, video game hardware, personal DVD players, and no-contract cell phones.
  • Almost all online purchases can be returned to a Target store.
  • All purchases can be returned online for free by using their online return center.
  • Interesting note on Christmas gift purchases. For items purchased between 11/1 – 12/25, the refund period does not begin until 12/26.
  • Also, Target’s in-house kid’s clothing brand, Cat & Jack, has an even better return policy that allow for returns up to 365 days after purchase.

If you are returning an item without a receipt they have the ability to look up your purchase in their computer system and issue you store credit.

8. Zappos

Zappos revolutionized the online return policy years ago and it has since become their trademark.

Here’s how it works:

  • Not only will they ship your order for free, but they’ll allow you to mail it back for free if you are not satisfied for ANY reason.
  • You have exactly 365 days to return your item. Product must be in the same condition you received it and in the original packaging.
  • They also give you the option of doing a free exchange if you need a different size.

Order some shoes and apparel, try them on at home, and ship back what you don’t want for NO extra cost.

Ask the Reader: Have you ever used any of these return policies to your advantage? Tell me all about it. Also, am I missing any good store return policies? Let me know and I’ll be sure to add it to this list.

Happy savings.

By Kyle James

Photo credit to Jori Samonen.


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My comment is about nordstrom, they say you may try different size and return the one it didn’t work. But they didn’t mention how long will take until they process the return and they will refund you. You how long I will tell you for ever and you keep calling every day asking for your money. So frustrated. And unorganized company.


I HATE Target SO MUCH now I cannot even bear to see their tv ads or drive by and see the bullseye (which is across from the park where I used to take my grandkids until it got so unsafe).
I have spent thousands of dollars there, and my family even more! Last Christmas I went to buy several pair of men’s sweatpants, shirts and hoodies for my ever cold terminally ill husband. The selection was terrible. When got home the fit was poor and the first pair shrunk. Went back 2x to exchange, but still no stock. Got slammed by life events and did not get back again until 100 days after purchase. Most were in stock then, but on sale. Return clerk was a horribly rude parody of a 1950’s “Bon March” clerk (the worst ever!!).
He/she was also dressed like a freak with multicolored hair, unprofessional clothes, etc.
PLUS. in the men’s department was a skinny drug addict gangbanger with his full bottom showing (covered by thin dirty underwear). I realized later he was shoplifting but I did not actually see it). This is in a store where the shopping mall has had armed robberies, assaults, attempted kidnapping of children, stabbing of employees, etc.
I was only given back the sale price instead of the retail price I paid. Then I had to pay more for the larger size!
I have spent thousands, my family together has spent tens of thousands at Target, and because I am getting to be an un-savvy old lady now (should have just returned the junky product the first week) I had hours of my time wasted, was treated rudely, cheated financially when I no longer can afford that, and put in danger from a gangbanger (while Target refuses to participate with the other stores in the mall to hire security).
I have been so mad for all these months. I am driving ten times as far to shop elsewhere.
Last night in bed I was trying to compose an email to their customer service and I got so worked up and upset again about the whole experience I had a very severe Angina attack and almost had to call 911.
See those signs that say how much they give back to the community? Well that just proves they are charging buyers TOO MUCH.
Plus all the identity information breaches!
90 days is NOT a good return policy.
Nordstrom would NEVER treat a customer so badly.
I hope everyone who has been treated this way stops shopping there like I have. I am trying to get my whole family to stop also, and one branch has joined my boycott.

Dr. C

Wow. I would feel bad for you, but I, too am a freak with multi colored hair. Must be a gang banger, huh? Try again, I am a doctor.


Omg bragging about being a Doctor pathetic


I honestly don’t feel bad once an upset customer say’s, “I’ve spent so much money here” Or “I come here ALL the time” (basically saying they deserve to be treated differently/special) because I wouldn’t treat a customer differently even if they were barely a patron at our establishment. I don’t work at a clothing store, but I know that stock rotates and if it doesn’t fit, return at and buy something later. Don’t blame Target.


Is there an updated version of this list or are these still the same now, in December 2015


I got reply from Kohl, challenging their advertised return policy, copy here:

Help to return the ring.

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email (Lilibeth S.) 12/22/2015 01:26 AM
Dear Surindra,

I’m so sorry if the store didn’t accept your return. We apologize but we can no longer process a return on your order since it was placed on 02/09/13. The order is no longer on our system and we are unable to make a credit to the order anymore.

We apologize for any inconvenience this issue has caused you.

Lilibeth S.


PS: I have original receipt.


Don’t forget what you just said, Costco is keeping track of your returns…so if you return too much then they may limit or stop you in one way or another. I can’t place an order online anymore cuz they said I returned to much (the only way I even found this out was calling in, my order was cancelled without any notification).


I used to work at Macy’s and while I don’t think it’s the best place to work, I can attest to their generous return policy. A lady returned a Coach handbag that had been sitting in her closet for SEVEN YEARS! We of course took it back, no problem. Just make sure when you buy whatever from them that you try to hold on to either the receipt or the tag with the little Macy’s sticker on it that is added at checkout.


What about gifted boots? A friend gave me a pair of boots she bought online. They are still in the box but no macys tag nor does she have a receipt. Problem is the calf is way big for me. Can I exchange them?


Nordstrom rack will NOT take anything back for return or exchange without the receipt!!! Even with tags that say their name .


I returned $70 worth of merchandise at kohls in 2016. Some were my daughter items they didn’t wear. I wasn’t sure how old they were. One item was purchased in 2011 and the other two were purchased in 2014. The gave me a merchandise credit. I was so embarrassed. They were kind and told me they could resell them. I received what they sold for at sale price. They are an amazing company. Macy’s, and bed bath and beyond are terrific as well!

Jessica Deratany

I just wanted to throw out a shout out for home depot! They have the most amazing return policy. I do a lot of business there and have taken back some questionable returns and they always take them. They have my home store loyalty!


I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this one, but Bed Bath & Beyond has a great return policy!


Did Kohl’s change their return policy as of 12/1/2017? I’ve always known their return policy is “return anything, anytime for any reason” but now the website says something else? I’m terrified!