Costco Return Policy: What You Need to Know

Costco return policy

The holiday shopping season is upon us once again. And there’s no better place to do your shopping than Costco – for their return policy if nothing else. Costco has the best return policy in the wholesale industry. That is if thousands of testimonials from customers are anything to go by.

There’s that absolute confidence that comes with the knowledge that you can always return your purchases for a full refund if not totally satisfied. And even more surprising: you don’t have to come with the receipt!

How Costco’s Return Policy Works

According to Costco, the return policy is “Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee”. And, they’ll return your money to you if you are not totally satisfied with your purchase. Although there are some exceptions.

Even more impressive, is the fact that almost everything you buy there is returnable. This also includes the Costco membership itself! You can try out the membership for 364 days, and if it’s not your cup of tea, you can demand – and get your money back. Nice!

It gets better. You can still return the item even if your dog has had the original packaging for dinner, together with the manual. However, you must make sure your canine family doesn’t have access to any accessories or parts that came with the product.

This feature makes so much sense because who litters their home with cartons and plastic packaging months after buying something?

When you take the item you intend to return to Costco, the sales clerk scans your membership card and then the returned item. He or she would be able to verify from their system if you made the purchase. Once the salesclerk has looked up your past purchases and confirmed evidence of your purchase, you’ll be issued your refund.

Amazingly, you can return gifts too. You don’t have to wear the ugly, outmoded shoes your Aunt Wilma got you for Christmas. Just present her membership number to collect your refund.

Costco’s return policy is so good that a lot of consumers have devised means of taking undue advantage of their leniency. People have been seen returning leftover food, used litter boxes, 15-year old mattresses, and Christmas decorations in January.

Therefore, Costco has had to review their return policy due to these abuses.

Before you run to their store, item in hand, here are the salient points you should note about their revised return policy:

You do not need receipts or original packaging

Costco is very forgiving of this common infraction. Of course, coming along with your receipt or original packaging makes things smoother, but it is not mandatory to process your refund. You’ll be asked to provide your membership details, and Costco’s clerk will go through your purchase history to verify the purchase of the returning item. If everything checks out correctly, then you’ll be refunded.


Your membership fee is returnable

You really can’t lose with Costco. If at any time, you aren’t satisfied with their membership, or you get bored, Costco will refund your membership fees to you. That’s quite generous if you ask me.

However, some people have exploited this to get free membership. They’ll shop at Costco for a year with all the attendant benefits and then cancel the membership on the 365th day. They’ll, of course, receive a refund, but that is unethical. Although legal, this practice may get you sanctioned by the now ever-vigilant Costco.


You must be a member to enjoy Costco’s Lifetime Return Policy

While you can shop at Costco without being a member, you won’t enjoy their generous lifetime return policy.


On merchandise

In the past, you could return any item at any time after purchase from Costco. And that is where their return policy shines: most things can be returned virtually at any time. Costco will accept the merchandise and refund you in full. However, this liberal policy soon drew abuse the way manure attracts flies. As a result, some electronic items and major appliances were limited to 90-day return policy.


On electronics

Costco’s revised return policy introduced a 90-day limit for electronics and appliances. These items listed below must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a full refund:

  • Televisions
  • Projectors
  • Tuner-free displays
  • Smartwatches
  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Camcorders
  • Cameras
  • Drones
  • Fridges (10 cubic Ft capacity and above)
  • MP3 players
  • Cellular phones
  • Cooktops
  • Freezers
  • Washers and dryers
  • Ranges
  • Over-the-range microwaves
  • Dishwashers

When the 90 days have elapsed, these electronics will remain covered by a 2-year warranty against faults.


On Diamonds

So, your engagement has packed up like a Chinese phone charger, and she has returned your ring. No troubles. Costco will refund you in full for the ring. If you want to return diamonds 1 carat or larger, you must bring along all the original documents (IGI and GIA certificates).

You can take the diamond jewelry to be returned and paperwork to a Costco fulfillment center where it will undergo a verification process. This usually takes about five business days. The clerk will issue you with a Jewellery Credit Memo. And within 48 hours, a Costco Graduate Gemologist will examine the diamonds for authenticity. If you don’t have the time to bring it to the fulfillment center, you can send it back through UPS.

Costco return policy receipt


On Alcohol and Cigarettes

You cannot return alcohol and cigarettes to Costco in states where these items are prohibited by law. Check with your local club to know the applicable laws.


On items ordered online

There is a particular procedure to return items ordered online from and delivered to you. You can return it to any Costco store, or you can request for it to be picked up. For pick up, you’ll have to package the product just as it was delivered to you and make it available to be picked up. A return label will also be made available to the member for easy return of merchandise.


On tires and batteries

Some items like tires and batteries were not meant to last forever. Costco sells such limited life expectancy items with a product-specific limited warranty. That means you simply can’t return your tires after using and wearing the thread-thin. However, if, for some reason, you aren’t delighted with your purchase, you can attempt to return them. The decision to accept your returning tires lies with the manager at your local Costco Tire Center.

Fortunately, the lovely folks at Costco offer a 5-year Road Hazard Warranty to protect you from tire failure and tread wear damage up to 60 months after purchase.


On custom products

Customized items or items bought through special orders can’t be returned for the apparent reason that they are designed to individual specifications. Some of these items include photo gifts, custom cards, mugs, calendars, throw pillows, and other merchandise that you can put an image on.

However, if the items fail to meet specifications, they can be returned under warranty for repairs or replacement.


Costco Trade-In Policy on Electronics

You can trade-in your electronics such as MP3 players, tablets, smartphones, computers, projectors, TVs bought at Costco. The process is simple. You go to their website and find the value of the electronic merchandise you wish to return. You’ll then ship the items (Costco pays for shipping). Upon receiving the electronics, Costco will send you a Costco Cash Card of equal value to the returned used electronics.



Despite these exceptions listed above, Costco probably has the best return policy in the industry. This plays a significant role in making Costo America’s most beloved warehouse club. Costco had a whopping 90% annual membership renewal rate in North America for 2018.

Costco’s generous return policy becomes even more valuable in the coming holiday season. Although they do not have any special return policy for the holidays, however, even competitors’ holiday return policies can’t hold a torch to Costco’s regular policy. You can shop with confidence secure in the knowledge that you can easily return whatever it is you bought. All without presenting a receipt or original packaging and without time limits.

Amazing right?

The fact is, their return policy is so good that some consumers tend to abuse it. People have been known to “borrow” large screen HD TVs for the super bowl and return it afterward. Someone even returned a dead Christmas tree!

Because of these abuses, Costco now flags customers who return items too often. When they flag you, your items won’t be accepted for return any more. In some cases, they may even cancel your membership!. While this helps to protect the return program, some people who have genuine reasons to return items may be affected.

Founder, writer, thinker and digital marketing addict. He is passionate about self-development, personal finance, and the stock market. He believes that financial knowledge combined with self-discipline is the key to achieving financial freedom. An avid golfer and a 15 handicapper.

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