Since opening in 1983, Costco has developed an almost cult-like following thanks to its sprawling aisles that offer both value and convenience. From electronics and luxury items to fresh produce and household basics, Costco has become synonymous with great deals and outstanding customer service.
But with so many shoppers hitting up Costco everyday, it can be easy to overindulge or have a change of heart after making a purchase. (Has anyone else bought the giant teddy bear and immediately regretted it? No? Just me? Cool.)
Thankfully, Costco is known for having one of the most generous return policies around, so if you have a change of heart or suffer from buyer's remorse, you'll likely be able to return a purchase without having any issues. It's so generous, in fact, that shoppers have occasionally had their memberships revoked for abusing the policy. Still, there are exceptions and fine print around the retailer's return policy. Here are 17 things you need to know about Costco's return policy.
- What Is Costco's Return Policy?
- Costco's Return Policy On...
- What Costco Products Can't Be Returned?
- Does Costco Offer Price Adjustments?
- How to Return a Costco Product
- The Bottom Line
What Is Costco's Return Policy?
Offering a risk-free 100% satisfaction guarantee, Costco's return policy is rooted in the company's commitment to ensuring that members are fully content with their purchases. If, for any reason, a member is dissatisfied with a product, they can typically return it for a full refund, no questions asked. These products include:
- Some electronics (see below for exceptions)
- Most jewelry (see below for exceptions)
However, there are still exceptions to this broad policy. Certain items, such as electronics and jewelry, might have specific return restrictions or time frames, while items like tobacco and alcohol typically cannot be returned.
While the overarching theme of Costco's return policy is centered on customer satisfaction, it's always a good idea to be aware of any item-specific nuances before making a return. Here are other things Costco shoppers should know regarding the store's return policy:
What Are the Policy's Time Limits?
Costco generally allows returns at any time with a few exceptions. Electronics must be returned within 90 days of purchase, and items such as diamonds, tires, and batteries may have specific return conditions or limitations. As such, we recommend checking with your local Costco about a specific item's return policy.
- Can you return an item you purchased two years ago? Yes — though, as mentioned, there are some exceptions. Aside from electronics, most items can be returned years later.
Do You Need a Receipt?
No, you don't typically need a receipt for returns at Costco. The store can look up your purchase history using your membership number. However, having a receipt can expedite the process and make it more seamless and stress-free. If, for any reason, you are unhappy with your Costco membership, you can also cancel it at anytime and receive a full refund.
Does the Return Need To Be in Its Original Packaging?
No. In fact, you can even return items that have been opened or partially used. That being said, try not to abuse the system like this person who returned the remnants of a ribeye steak in the form of "a container of bones and fat." So, while it's helpful to have the original packaging, Costco does not strictly require items to be unopened to honor a return.
What About Online Purchases?
Online purchases from Costco can be returned either to any Costco warehouse or by initiating a return online through Costco's website. If returning in-store, it can be helpful to bring the order confirmation for faster processing. If you choose to return online, you'll be guided through the return process on it's website.
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Costco's Return Policy On...
Note that while Costco's return policy applies to most items, there are still exceptions to the 100% risk-free, satisfaction-guaranteed policy, including:
If you're unsatisfied with your Costco membership, you can cancel it at any time and receive a full refund for the membership fee. Costco stands by its risk-free, 100% satisfaction guarantee not only for the products it sells but also for its memberships. To cancel your membership, you can call Costco's Member Services Center, or speak with a team member at any Costco warehouse.
Eyeglasses purchased at Costco's Optical department come with a satisfaction guarantee. If you're not completely satisfied with your eyewear, you can return them for a "repair, replacement, or refund." However, it's always a good idea to consult with the specific optical department at your local Costco for any unique policies or changes to its eyeglass policy.
Generally, Costco adheres to its generous return policy when it comes to mattresses — allowing members to return a mattress at any time if they are not satisfied with it. Since mattresses can be hard to transport once they're opened, Costco also offers a pick-up service for mattresses that were bought online. To schedule a pick-up, call your local Costco for details.
When it comes to electronics, Costco's policy allows a 90-day return limit. The policy is more restrictive for these items to account for the rapid depreciation and advancements in technology. Here's a full list of electronics that Costco will not take back after the 90-day window expires:
- Computers (including laptops, desktops, and tablets)
- Touchscreen tablets
- MP3 players
- Mobile phones
Note: For members with questions or needing assistance with their electronics, Costco offers a Concierge Service that provides technical support, addresses troubleshooting issues, and guides members on the use of their products. The service is free and available exclusively to Costco members.
Costco has a specific return policy when it comes to diamonds. If you're not satisfied with your diamond purchase, you can return it within 48 hours and receive a Jewelry Credit Memo. Note that diamond returns over 1.00 carat are subject to verification of the product's condition by a Costco gemologist and must be returned with all the original paperwork (IGI or GIA certificates).
Costco has specific guidelines for returning Apple products. Before making a return, customers must ensure the device is unlocked and perform a factory reset to help protect private user data and restore the device to its original settings. Detailed instructions on how to carry out this process are provided through specific links on Costco's website.
Costco's return policy for vacation bookings differs from its return policy for merchandise. While Costco itself does not charge fees for changes or cancellations, travel bookings and services — once confirmed — may carry restrictions, fees, or penalties set forth by the airline, hotel, or cruise. The specifics of these terms can vary based on the travel provider, package, or booking details.
Members looking to change or cancel their travel bookings should review the specific terms and conditions provided at the time of booking, and may also want to reach out to Costco Travel customer service for assistance and clarity on their particular situation.
Tires and Batteries
Costco's return policy for tires and batteries is tailored to the unique nature of these products.
- Tires: While Costco strives to ensure customer satisfaction, the return of tires depends on factors like wear and use. If there's a defect or issue related to the tire's quality or installation, Costco will generally address it. However, tires that have been used extensively or damaged due to road hazards might not be eligible for return.
- Batteries: Costco offers a warranty for their batteries. If a battery fails during the warranty period, it will typically be replaced. The length and terms of the warranty can vary based on the specific battery type and brand.
In both cases, members are advised to consult with the respective department at their local Costco or refer to specific product warranties for more detailed information.
What Costco Products Can't Be Returned?
Despite Costco's generous return policy, there are a few items that cannot be returned due to their nature, value, or other reasons. Here's a complete list:
- Special Order Kiosk and Custom Installed Programs: Items that are tailored or customized for individual buyers, like personalized jewelry or custom prints, typically cannot be returned unless there's a defect or error on Costco's part.
- Cigarettes and Alcohol: For legal reasons, most Costco locations will not accept returns on cigarettes or alcohol. However, this can vary by state or region due to local laws. Check with your local store to see if they accept returns of this kind.
- Airline and Live Performance Events: Event tickets, travel bookings, and certain service reservations cannot be returned, but might be subject to exchange or modifications based on availability and specific terms of the bookings.
- Digital Content: Items like downloadable software, movies, or music typically cannot be returned once accessed.
- Gold Bullion/Gold Bars: Due to the volatile nature of gold prices and its unique market dynamics, gold bullion and bars are generally not eligible for returns.
- Shop Cards (gift cards): Once purchased, gift cards cannot be returned, though their balance remains redeemable for products.
Does Costco Offer Price Adjustments?
Yes, Costco offers price adjustments for items purchased in-store or online. If an item you purchased goes on sale within 30 days of purchase, you can request a price adjustment. This means you can get a refund for the difference between the price you paid and the new sale price. To receive a price adjustment, go to the customer service desk at the Costco where you bought the item, or click on the "price adjustment request" option on Costco's website if the item was purchased online.
Note that Costco does not offer price matching with other retailers, nor does it match prices between in-store purchases and those on Costco.com.
How To Return a Costco Product
To return an eligible product bought at Costco, there are two options. You can bring the item you wish to return, along with your receipt if available, to the customer service desk at any Costco warehouse. If you don't have the receipt, the store can look up the purchase using your membership number.
For items purchased on Costco.com, you have the option to return them to any warehouse or initiate the return process online. If returning a specific product type, such as electronics or jewelry, be sure to check the specific return guidelines and time frames as mentioned above.
The Bottom Line
Costco's return policy is designed with the customer's satisfaction in mind. Whether you bought an item in-store or online, returning it is pretty straightforward and easy. However, certain items such as electronics, jewelry, and alcohol are subject to specific guidelines and may not always be eligible for return.