The holidays are approaching — and the retailers are in tight competition for your dollars. In order to convince you that they’re the place to buy from, they are not just dropping prices on their products; they’re making it a lot easier to have those products shipped and to return them if the person you bought the laptop or gaming console or phone for doesn’t like it.
In fact, most retailers are offering special holiday season policies for shipping and returns, recognizing that a) most shoppers are spending a great deal right now and wouldn’t mind saving a bit on shipping, b) many people will start getting nervous about getting their packages before the holidays so faster shipping is better (and free faster shipping is better yet), and c) since most of these are gifts that won’t be given until the end of the year, a two-week return policy won’t be useful to somebody buying a gift in November.
So here (in alphabetical order) are the current shipping and return policies for a selection of major online retailers. Not all have specific holiday policies, but some have shipping and return policies that are just as good or better. We will keep an eye on these sites and update any changes we find as the holidays get closer.
Hopefully, knowing more about how much you’ll spend and how much leeway you have to make a return will help lessen your holiday angst somewhat.
Note: due to the pandemic, most, if not all, retailers are offering (or insisting on) no-contact delivery where delivery personnel will either leave the parcel outside your door or get verbal confirmation from a safe distance. So it’s a good idea to track your packages so you’ll know when they’re due to arrive.
Shipping: Prime members get free same-day delivery on qualifying orders over $35 in qualifying ZIP codes. Otherwise, the usual next-day or two-day deliveries apply, depending on the product. Non-Prime buyers will find shipping options on the order page of each specific product.
Returns: During the holidays, items shipped by Amazon between October 1st and December 31st can be returned until January 31st. (This applies to both Prime and non-Prime buyers.)
Shipping: If you buy directly from Apple, two-day shipping is free on most items, and in-stock Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, or Apple TVs usually get free next-day shipping.
Returns: According to Apple’s website, items bought at the Apple Online Store that are received between November 10th and December 25th are returnable up to January 8th (normally, Apple gives you 14 days to return a product from time of receipt).
Shipping: B&H offers free standard shipping (that’s one to seven business days) for most items and free expedited shipping (one to three business days) for items over $49.
Returns: B&H allows purchases bought after October 19th, 2020, and before January 1st, 2021, to be returned or exchanged through February 1st (with the usual exceptions of non-returnable items such as computers or TVs whose packaging has been opened).
Shipping: Best Buy is offering free standard shipping on orders costing $35 and up (with some exceptions). If you’ve spent $35 or more, there is also the possibility of next-day delivery, depending on the item and when the order was placed.
Returns: Purchases made from October 13th, 2020, through January 2nd, 2021, can be returned through January 16th. This doesn’t include items that come with a third-party contract, such as phones and wearables (which have a 14-day return period), or holiday products, such as tree decorations, and major appliances, which have a 15-day return period. There are exceptions: cellphones, cellular tablets, and cellular wearables have a 14-day return period; major appliances have a 15-day return period. My Best Buy Elite members have until January 16th or 30 days from receipt, whichever is longer; Elite Plus members have until January 16th or 45 days from receipt, whichever is longer.
Shipping: Costco quotes its shipping fees during checkout; fees depend on the product and the shipping method.
Returns: Costco generally has an open return policy, except for electronics such as TVs and computers, which have a 90-day return window. There are other exceptions, which are listed on its return page.
Shipping: Most of Dell’s products come with free standard shipping.
Returns: Dell offers a 30-day return policy with some exceptions; a restocking fee of up to 15 percent may be charged.
Shipping: DJI offers free shipping on purchases of $159 or more. Otherwise, shipping fees are specified on the order form.
Returns: DJI offers returns within 14 days of receiving the purchase.
Shipping: GameStop is offering free shipping on orders over $35.
Returns: GameStop is accepting any products purchased between November 1st and December 24th for return by January 15th. The packages must be unopened, and you must have the receipt.
Shipping: To qualify for free shipping in the US, your order total must be at least $35 before taxes and after any discounts are applied. (In Canada, the total must be $45 CAD; in Singapore, $40 SGD.) Separate, multiple orders cannot be combined to receive free shipping.
Returns: You have only 15 days to return an item you bought from the Google Store (30 days for a Nest Thermostat).
Shipping: For many items, standard (three- to six-day) shipping is free; priority and next-day shipping is often available for an additional fee.
Returns: Purchases made between November 1st and December 25th may be returned until January 15th; you may have to pay a restocking fee of up to 15 percent.
Shipping: Most products sold through the online Microsoft Store include free two- to three-day shipping.
Returns: Eligible products purchased from October 1st through December 31st can be returned through January 31st.
Shipping: Many of Newegg’s items come with free shipping; check the individual product page.
Returns: Newegg’s extended holiday return policy allows customers to return products until January 31st; you have to look in the “Warranty & Returns” tab on the product page to find out if it’s covered.
Shipping: According to the Sam’s Club FAQ, the shipping cost for most items varies based on the item’s size, weight, shipping method, and delivery address. Plus Members get free shipping on most online items.
Returns: Sam’s Club has no specified return period; some return periods may be stated for specific products.
Shipping: Sonos offers free shipping on all of its products.
Returns: Sonos gives you 45 days to return a purchase and even offers free return shipping.
Shipping: Free two-day shipping if you spent $35 or more or use your RedCard.
Returns: You’ve got 90 days to return most unopened items, or a full year if it’s a Target brand. (Exceptions will be noted on the receipt.)
Shipping: For eligible orders of $35 or more, you can get free next-day delivery in eligible ZIP codes or free two-day delivery, or free standard shipping.
Returns: Many items purchased between October 16th and December 25th have extended return dates. Items that usually have a 14-day return window will have a final return date of January 8th. Items that have a 30-day return window will have a final return date of January 24th. Items that have a 60-day return window will have a final return date of February 23rd. (There will be no change for items with 90-day return windows.) This doesn’t apply to Walmart Marketplace (i.e., third-party) sellers.
Update November 17th, 3:25PM ET: Updated to include information about Microsoft’s and Apple’s holiday return policy.