Costco Return Policy: 12 MUST Knows Before You Shop In The Warehouse

Updated September 4, 2020 by Kyle
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The return policy at Costco is so darn good that it deserves it’s own article. While I’ve talked about some of the better retail return policies in the past, Costco’s policy is arguably the best of them all. Here is exactly how it works and everything you need to know to take full advantage.

Update: I originally wrote this article back in 2016 but recently went through all of the 100+ comments and tried to answer all of your return policy questions. I hope you find this resource helpful.

The Costco Return Policy: 12 Ways To Make It Work For You

COVID-19 Update:

As of 7/10/20, Costco is NOT accepting returns on the following high-demand items:

– Bottled Water

– Toilet Paper & Paper Towels

– Sanitizing Wipes

– Rice

– Disinfecting Spray

 They are doing this to keep shoppers from stockpiling them and returning stuff later if they don’t use them.

Also, for the Costco food court lovers out there, they are limiting their menu and not letting you sit down to eat, you gotta take your chow with you until further notice.

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 $60 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.

Update: A comment came in saying that a lady was refused her return of unopened buns that she bought the day before. So it seems your mileage may vary when it comes to returning food.

Keep in mind that most food items will be discarded by Costco, even though they’ll get reimbursed. If you’re buying bakery items you can always freeze them for later use if you overbuy.

Bottom line, don’t abuse their 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 and Appliances

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 Costco 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.

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 for this information: 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 easier.

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 and has to be verified via the Costco fulfillment center before you get your refund.

A Costco Graduate Gemologist will inspect the diamond and issue a jewelry credit memo that allows you to purchase a different diamond or get your money back. Could take up to 5 business days.

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.

How About Returning Gifts to Costco?

Yes, you can return items to Costco that were given to you as a gift.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a member or not, you can walk in and return stuff.

But keep in mind that if you DON’T have the receipt you’ll need the membership number of the person who purchased the gift for you.

Can Someone Else Make a Return For You?

If they are not listed on your membership then NO they will not be able to make the return on your behalf.

You’ll have to find the time to make the return yourself.

Can You Make a Return Beyond the Manufacturer’s Warranty?

From some recent comments I have received it seems Costco will not take back an item if it has gone beyond the manufacturer’s warranty.

The example in the comments section was HP printer ink that had “expired”.

In this case, Costco would not take it back.

Can You Return Something If Your Membership has Expired?

No, Costco will only let you return items if you have an active (and paid) membership.

Can You Return a Mattress to Costco?

Yes, but if you try and return a mattress that you’ve had over a year you’re going to end up dealing with the store manager.

The manager will take a look at your buying history to decide if you spend enough at Costco to make the return worthwhile.

It’s been suggested that you return it to a Costco out of your hometown as you might make some enemies returning a nasty old mattress.

Can You Return Car Tires?

Yes, Costco basically gives you 30 days to test out your new tires.

If you don’t like them for any reason they will let you return or exchange them for a new set.

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 their return policy? Any smart Costco tips I may have neglected to mention?


By Kyle James

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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?

Linda

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?

Asolo

We bought an air purifier 2 days ago, first day and the puppy already got to the cord! It still works, can I exchange it?

Paul Reed

Why on earth would anyone think that an item you bought from one retailer could be returned at another retailer? Good grief.

Chris

Because Kirkland signature is the Costco store brand. They are Kirkland signature, meaning that the product sold on Amazon was made “by”Costco. It’s a fair question.

Melody Smitt

Wow, I’ve not experienced any of the issues described. Costco has refunded everything I’ve attempted to return, without original packaging or a receipt… including blueberries that went moldy after a day (opened), a couch that had cushions that deflated after a month, and a Vitamix ($400) a year after purchase and that I used daily. It overheated and stopped working the week of thanksgiving- returned and given a new one no questions asked. Like most retailers, it probably depends on how YOU approach them, politeness, and who is working that day behind the counter.

Bhullar

Now you need the original reciept and within 30 days at costco in Rancho Cordova

Tom

I have a few pairs of Dockers that are unworn with tags on but I gained some weight and now they don’t fit anymore. They won’t take them back saying it’s been 5 years and they no longer stock them.

Jess

Costco is amazing. I specifically buy as much as possible from them with the knowledge that my purchase is assured. I don’t hesitate to buy that $100 toothbrush my dentist recommended, knowing that if it breaks on me, Costco has my back. I have used their return policy many times over the years and have never had a problem. I don’t return food items, that just seems silly to me. Even certain electronics up to a year old they have taken back, when they start to malfunction. I appreciate knowing that I can get a replacement on my favorite BT speakers and headphones especially. Honestly, just read the return policy for your local Costco, and If you’re not a dick about it they will always help you when they can.

I hate knowing that people abuse the policy, don’t ruin it for the rest of us, please!

Katrina Milam

I returned one of those dolly carts they sell for $100 that I had had for 7 years and they took it back. Then again, I don’t abuse the policy. I rarely even return things except for recliner chairs for some weird reason. Anyway, the dolly was on recall anyway so maybe that is why they took it. I love these guys. I’d never abuse the returns, because I really love the company. Have you ever even had a rude cashier in there? I haven’t. I’m only on this site trying to find out if the return policy applies to major appliances, if so that’s a really good reassurance for someone wanting to know their next washer isn’t going to be a lemon.

hesire

Bought nosey tires last April. Took my car in to get oil change and tire rotation and to check transmission or dricetrian. Drivetrain was fine just noisy tires. Want to return after 5 months and they are hesitant. Can tires be returned? I took them off my car and have put on a new set.

Jenny Hsu

will rotten avocados purchased 10days get refund

Victoria

I have a pair of diamond earring, that my hisband won at a work raffle a couple of months ago. They jave mever been worn or taken out of the box, and we have the Costco item authenticity paper. Is there a way to return them?

GDH1

I bought a generator and it didn’t perform as I expected. I called and ask if they would take it back a couple months later. I had already put gasoline and oil in it. I was very surprised and happy that they refunded my money with no problems. I for one have always appreciated that Costco goes out of their way to accommodate returns, many times when I think they would not.
I’ve never understood why individuals take advantage of this by bringing back something they have had for more than a year.

Jaclyn

I ate half a marble cake and then it started to mold before the best before date, returned it for a full refund with no problem. An employee also told me I could buy perfume and return it if I didn’t like it.

lou onanian

I purchased a bottle of French rose wine for Christmas Eve. But, something is wrong with it. It is musty and undrinkable. My daughter could also not drink it. So. If there are no alcohol returns what do I do with this terrible product? How do I at least complain and let Costco know? Wines sometimes do go wrong…

Olivia Shaw

With the receipt, my son tried to return a gift I gave him. Since the purchase was made using my ATM card, and he did not have my card, the Costco clerk refused to give him a cash refund. Instead, she gave him a store credit. I spoke to two store clerks who tried to explain to me the rationale for this policy. This policy is only good for the store. The receipt was proof of the purchase and giving him a store credit in no way protects my interest. The store got their money at the time of the purchase and the receipt was proof! Fortunately, it was a small purchase but had it been a large purchase, he would have not been able to look elsewhere for the item. I will never buy gifts from Costco’s again!

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