The Best Tips for Returning Things Over the Holidays

black friday shopping thanksgiving
Shoppers line up at a department store on Thanksgiving Day.
Rex Shutterstock

With the holidays looming right around the corner, many are already dreading having to go back to a store to return, say, those too-tight shoes or an item that just might not be you.

Whether you did your holiday gift shopping too fast or received an unnecessary present from a relative, you might end up with at least one holiday gift that you cannot use. Money-saving consultant Andrea Woroch gave us five tips for making the most of that gift return receipt, when returning gifts or shopping for others.

1. Brush Up on Return Policies

It may seem obvious, but you should read the return and exchange conditions of the store where you plan to make a return. “Review deadlines and note these in a calendar as you could get stuck with the item or a much lower exchange rate because of late-season discounts,” Woroch said.

2. Mind the Restocking Fees

For larger items such as electronics and even some shoes in boxes, stores may charge as much as 15 percent to repackage them if they are returned. Be aware of this and do not open any items if you happen to know you’ll want to return them, Woroch advised.

3. Hold Off on That Trip to the Store 

In the rush to spend gift cards or take advantage of Black Friday deals, many people often purchase things that they don’t end up using. “Give yourself time to think about what you really need and look ahead to upcoming celebrations or events you have that you may be able to apply that gift card toward,” Woroch said.

4. Your Credit Card Company May Help 

“If you’re missing receipts or attempting to return past a limited-time period, call your credit card company,” Woroch advised. Some companies may be able to track the purchase or, if a store still doesn’t accept the items for return, take them back.

5. Sell What You Can’t Return 

If you still can’t arrange for a return, Amazon or eBay can be your friends. Woroch suggested selling rather than hoarding items that you don’t intend to use. “If there’s something that just wasn’t right or you don’t have a receipt, consider selling those items online to make [some] money back,” she said.