Tips to make easy gift returns

Gift returning season is on. Two out of three consumers will return something this season. And some retailers are extending their return policies.

Too big? Too small? Not quite right? You can take it back. But first, keep the packaging intact, the tags on, and the gift receipt to get the full value paid.

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"If you don't have the correct documentation, it might be possible they give you an inflexible store credit that can be only be used in-store," said Kristen McGrath with

Need to ask the gift giver for the receipt? It can be done politely.  

"A polite way might be to say, it wasn’t quite the right size or quite the right color. But you love what they chose and just want to get a different version of it," suggested McGrath.  

And here's a secret worth trying: If you just don't have the receipt, some retailers might look it up if you have the sender's email address or phone number.

"Policies vary. Often that’s a process you might need to go in person if the retailer has a brick and mortar store. There might be ways they can verify that purchase," said McGrath.


If you return a gift by mail, keep the shipping receipt or tracking number, so you know it arrived.  

Better still, save shipping costs by returning gifts in the store if you can. And several retailers are giving you more time this year.

"We saw that trend starting last year with COVID and this year retailers agree equally generous by lengthening those return windows," McGrath said.  

Walmart is giving you 90 days from December 26 for items purchased between November 1 and Christmas.

It's 90 days for Target too, for gifts purchased since October first.

You have until January 31 to return gifts bought on Amazon since October 1.

Best Buy will take gifts back until January 16 bought as far back as October 18.

And if you return gifts soon, you can take advantage of after holiday sales.

"You can reward yourself with something you do want and get it on sale," said McGrath.


If you received a gift card you know you probably won't use, you can sell it on one of several gift card sites, such as Raise, Gift Card Granny, CardCash, and CardPool.

"You likely won’t get the full value of your gift card back. But if you’d rather have a little extra money in your pocket to get something you do want, that’s totally an option," explained McGrath.  
But keep in mind, while you won't get the full value of the card, you can turn around and buy a different gift card that you will use at a discount, and break even.

There are other reselling platforms that can help you sell items if you're not able to return them, such as Facebook MarketPlace, eBay, Mercari, or Poshmark. You can also trade the gift with someone you know, or re-gift it. Just make a note of who gave it to you so you don't accidentally give it back to them.


You can resell a cell phone, too, on sites like Gazelle, SellCell, and Buback Boss.