Have you ever tried to read and understand the Walmart return policy? If you have, you know it’s a hot mess and VERY hard to understand. It’s actually 5 separate web pages trying to detail how their return process works. Who’s got time for that? Not me. Why Walmart doesn’t condense it all to a single page…I have no idea. So I figured I’d take the bull by horns and do the work for you. Here’s exactly how the return policy at Walmart works so you can quickly find the answers to your questions and get on with your life.
How Many Return Days Are Available?
For the vast majority of in-store Walmart purchases, you have 90 days to bring the item back for a full refund.
To make the process go quickly, keep the original packaging, manuals, and receipt.
How Is My Refund Processed?
Your refund will typically be issued back to your original form of payment, but does NOT have to.
From current Walmart employee John, “Stuff paid with debit card, or check can go back to cash.”
He also said, “Credit, Debit, Check, or Cash can always go back to a gift card.”
What Items Have Less than a 90-Day Return Window?
With the following items, you have less than 90 days to return it:
14 Days: Post-paid cell phones.
30 Days: Most electronics including TV’s, laptops, PCs, tablets, drones, video game hardware, GPS units, camcorders, and digital cameras. Also, includes air conditioners, dehumidifiers, evaporation coolers, generators, and pressure washers.
60 Days: Prescription glasses.
1 Year: Perennial plants, shrubs, trees, and bulbs.
Unopened Alcohol and Tobacco: Must be returned to the store you originally purchased the item(s) at. This one also depends on the state that you live in as some states have laws in place prohibiting the return of alcohol.
Is There Anything I CAN’T Return?
The following items CANNOT be returned:
- Pepper Spray
- Gas Powered Recitational Vehicles
- Tires That Have Been Put on Your Car
- Trading Cards
- Prescription Rx
- Sex Toys
- RV Sewer Lines
- Some Medical Equipment – Includes bedpans, bath seats, and breast pumps.
- Software that was delivered by mail
- Diabetic supplies
- Alcohol and tobacco products must be returned unopened, with a receipt, to the original store only.
You also can’t return gold bars and silver coins which I had NO idea Walmart even sold.
Is There a Holiday Return Period Extension?
For 2021, purchases made between November 1st and December 25th (that come with a 15 or 30 day return policy), your window for returns doesn’t start until December 26th.
All other items with a 90-day return window still have the same 90 days from date of purchase to make the return.
Can I Return Food Items In-Store?
You can return foods items within 90 days ONLY if you have your receipt.
I was told by a Walmart manager that if you don’t have your receipt you CANNOT return food under any circumstance.
This policy applies to frozen foods as well.
Also, thanks to commenter John, “This may vary by state/store. But food is exchange only without a receipt to prevent any sort of WIC/EBT fraud. Also usually only for the same item.”
What’s the Walmart Return Policy Without Receipt?
This is where their return policy gets a little bit awesome.
If you’ve lost your receipt, and who hasn’t once or twice, you can still bring the item back for a refund.
I’ve been told that they let you make 3 no-receipt refunds within a 45 day period.
If you get denied, you’ll have to wait and try again in a few weeks.
Here’s the skinny on no-receipt refunds, along with your options…
Valid Government Issued ID – You gotta have one and it can’t be tampered with in any way.
Straight Exchange – Simply swap out the item.
Cash Refund – You can only get a cash refund if the value of the item(s) is $10 or less. It should be noted that a cash refund is often left up to the manager’s discretion.
Gift Card – Returned item(s) must be greater than $25 to qualify for a Walmart gift card.
What States Allow Me to Return a Walmart Gift Card?
This was a surprise to me. The following states actually allow you to return a Walmart plastic gift card (or Walmart eGift card) for cash.
California – Card must have a balance of $10 or less with original balance above $10.
Colorado – $5 balance or less.
Massachusetts – $5 balance or less.
Maine – $5 balance or less.
Montana – $5 balance or less.
New Jersey – $5 balance or less.
Oregon – $5 balance or less.
Washington – $5 balance or less.
Puerto Rico – $5 balance or less.
Texas – Card must have balance of $2.50 or less with original balance above $5.
Rhode Island – $1 balance or less.
Vermont – $1 balance or less.
I’ll add new states to this list as they become available.
What About Returning Online Purchases?
Great question, glad you asked.
Here’s what you need to know about returning items bought at Walmart.com.
First off, the same return window applies to online purchases. (See above for more details on return days)
You can either return, exchange, or replace your item to your nearest Walmart or you can return it via the mail.
Keep in mind that items bought online using the “Pay with Cash” feature must be returned in-store only.
If you want to return via snail mail simply visit this page and start the return process.
Customers can complete the returns process in just two simple steps:
1. Initiate the Return: Using the Walmart App, select the Walmart transaction and item(s) to return and follow the prompts to start the return process.
2. Finish the Return at the Store: At the store, fast-track through the line via the Mobile Express Lane at the Customer Service Desk.
Scan the QR code displayed on the card reader with the Walmart app, and then hand the item to the associate.
Additionally, Walmart announced that customers returning select items will see an option in the Walmart app allowing them to instantly receive their refund without even making a trip to the store to physically return the item.
This offer will initially be available on select household items, such as shampoo and color cosmetics.
Who Pays the Return Shipping Charges?
Surprisingly (in an awesome way), Walmart will pick up the shipping charges as long as the item is eligible for a return.
This makes sense for defective items, or if Walmart sends the wrong product.
They’ll even pay the shipping costs if you simply decide you don’t like the item.
I even started a chat session with Walmart to verify this information as their website does NOT make this clear.
Also, as the chat operator noted above, the item must be sold directly by Walmart and not a Marketplace seller.
How Do I Return a Gift Bought From Walmart?
First off, you can’t return a gift via the mail, you must bring it into a Walmart location.
If the gift was mailed to you, be sure to bring-in the packing slip or receipt to initiate the return.
This is the only way you can qualify for cash back.
If you don’t have either, try to get the sender’s email address or order number.
If neither can be located, you might be stuck with store credit which is obviously better than nothing.
Can I Return Items to a Different Walmart Store?
While it seems this shouldn’t be a problem, many shoppers have had their return refused and were told to take items back to original store of purchase.
From the comments section, this happened to someone returning plants as well as a necklace.
Since the item was NOT stocked at that location they couldn’t process the return.
Keep this in mind if you regularly shop at different Walmart locations.
Also, if you try and return bakery, produce, meat, or frozen food to a Walmart location that does not have those sections your return will be denied.
This is a food safety issue as the store doesn’t have any place to store the items until disposal.
Can You Return Items Bought Out of Country to a U.S. Walmart?
I’ve received different answers to this question. Some stores will take the return, some won’t.
It’s best practice to call ahead and ask your particular store if they’ll process your out of country return.
Who Pays Return Shipping If You Refuse Delivery?
If you’ve ever had something large shipped to you, you’re probably aware that it’s smart to refuse delivery if the packaging or item is damaged when it arrives.
If you do this with a Walmart delivery you may be stuck paying the return shipping fee UNLESS it’s damaged in some way.
If it’s an “over-sized item” and you refuse delivery, even though there is nothing wrong with it, you’re probably on the hook for the return shipping costs.
Conversely, I’ve been told that if you refuse delivery on smaller items Walmart will pick up the tab.
What’s the Policy on Split Purchases?
Big thanks to commenter Maria for explaining how Walmart handles returns when you split your payment method on the original purchase.
She said, “When returned with receipts and meeting all requirements, Walmart will put your entire refund on a gift card.”
She said her purchase was made with a partial payment on a gift card and the balance was on her Visa credit card.
Can You Return a Mattress or Air Bed?
Mattresses bought at Walmart can be returned but ONLY with a manager’s approval.
As for air beds, if the air bed is still factory sealed, and you have your receipt, you can return it within 90 days of purchase.
Opened air beds, with a receipt, can be returned within 90 days for a Walmart gift card.
Can I Return Furniture That I Already Put Together?
Did you buy a desk, dresser, or entertainment center, take it home and build it, only to realize it’s not the right size or defective in some way?
You absolutely can return it but you’ll have to disassemble it, pack it up with all the original accessories, and then take it back.
I Shattered My iPhone Screen, Can I Return It?
If you’re still within the 2 weeks, have the receipt, original box, and accessories you need to take it back to the store you purchased it at and speak with a manager.
I was told by a Walmart representative that most managers will try and work it out with you.
Can I Get a Refund on an Extended Warranty?
If you return an item to Walmart, and you bought an extended warranty for that item, you can get money back on that warranty ONLY if returned within 30 days of purchase.
They don’t process this at the store, instead you’ll get an email with instructions how to do it online.
What About Returning Tropical Fish?
Being the owner of a 50 gallon fish tank, I have personal experience with this as we often buy our fish at Walmart.
Originally, tropical fish bought from Walmart came with a 90 day return policy if they were to die, but not anymore.
The new policy is only 3 days and many Walmart locations no longer sell live fish.
I called my local Walmart to verify this information and it is accurate.
By the way, at my Walmart, I only had to bring the receipt back when/if one of the fish died which made entire proposition less stinky for all involved.
Ask the Reader: What’s your personal experience with the return policy at Walmart? Am I missing any useful information? Let me know in the comments below, thanks.
By Kyle James