With the holiday season right around the corner, everyone is double-checking their lists and figuring out the best places to fulfill those orders. Thankfully, there are often a number of options when it comes to retailers that have what you want. Because of this, online retailers aren’t just dropping prices to compete with each other, but offering more generous shipping and return policies for their products.
Most people will still be doing the majority of their shopping online this year, which means that most retailers will be offering free shipping for anyone who spends a set dollar amount. However, this sudden surge in online shopping does increase the possibility for delays as online retailers become flooded with orders and their logistics struggle to keep pace. While this may not be the case across the board, we’d recommend getting your orders in early wherever possible.
Below, we’ve collected the current shipping and return policies for a number of major online retailers. Very few of them have policies that pertain specifically to holiday shipping, but we’ll be keeping tabs on them and updating our alphabetical list accordingly.
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: like last year, the vast majority of online retailers quote no-contact delivery for their products due to the ongoing pandemic. So, unless your package is listed as “signature required,” we recommend that you track your packages closely to make sure you know precisely when they’re due to arrive.
Shipping: Prime members get free same-day delivery on qualifying orders over $35 in qualifying ZIP codes. If you aren’t in one of those ZIP codes, 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, 2021 and December 31st, 2021 can be returned until January 31st, 2022. (This applies to both Prime and non-Prime buyers.)
Shipping: If you buy directly from Apple, shipping is free on all orders; however, how fast you will get your item can vary. 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. This policy can fluctuate based on the item you’re purchasing.
Returns: Apple’s holiday return policy allows for products that are received between November 1st and December 25th to be returned through January 8th. Any purchase made after December 25th is subject to the standard return policy, and all the usual terms and conditions apply. Please note that this only applies to items that were purchased directly from Apple or an Apple retail store. Otherwise, you need to follow the specific retailer’s policy.
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 18th, 2021 and before January 2nd, 2022 to be returned or exchanged through February 1st, 2022 (with the usual exceptions of non-returnable items such as computers or TVs whose packaging has been opened).
Shipping: Best Buy is offering free next-day shipping on orders costing $35 and up (with some exceptions). However, this delivery policy is based on product availability, what you purchased, and when you purchased it. Best Buy clearly states that there are limitations on its next-day deliveries during Thanksgiving week, for instance, and that larger appliances, like TVs, require a scheduled delivery with different terms.
Returns: Purchases made from October 18th, 2021 through January 2nd, 2022 can be returned through January 16th, 2022. This doesn’t include items that come with a third-party contract, such as phones, cellular tablets, 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 window. 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. Finally, Best Buy Totaltech members have until January 16th or 60 days from receipt, whichever is longer.
Shipping: Costco doesn’t offer free shipping and quotes its shipping fees during checkout; fees depend on the product and the shipping method. However, the wholesale retailer does offer a variety of delivery options, including “white glove” service for larger appliances.
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 (no minimum purchase necessary). The delivery window can vary based on your order, but Dell does offer expedited shipping options as well as a delivery date estimate based on your ZIP code upon checkout.
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 $149 or more. Otherwise, shipping fees are specified on the order form. Shipment times can vary for each product depending on availability.
Returns: DJI offers returns within 14 days of receiving the purchase, provided it remains in like-new condition or suffers from some type of manufacturing defect.
Shipping: GameStop is offering free shipping on orders over $35. It also offers same-day delivery in certain locations if you order from your local store at least three hours before closing.
Returns: GameStop hasn’t listed its holiday return policy yet, but games and other electronics can be returned within 30 days provided the packages are unopened and you have the receipt.
Shipping: All orders made between October 19th, 2021 and January 31st, 2022 qualify for free shipping with no minimum. Just note that this applies to the lowest-cost shipping available, which may not be the fastest.
Returns: All purchases made via the Google Store between November 26th, 2021 and December 10th, 2021 can be returned through January 10th, 2022. Any purchases made from December 11th through January 31st, 2022 can be returned up to 30 days after it was received. Google has also waived its restocking fee for anything returned between October 19th, 2021 and January 31st, 2022. (The standard return policy lets you send a product back up to 15 days after receipt of the item, except for Nest thermostats, which have 30 days.)
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: HP is currently applying its standard return policy, which allows for most products to be returned up to 30 days from delivery. There are exceptions, and some items may be subject to a restocking fee of up to 15 percent.
Shipping: Most products sold through the online Microsoft Store include free two- to three-day shipping with express shipping available for an additional fee.
Returns: Eligible products are currently still subject to the standard terms of sale listed on the Microsoft website. This allows for a 30-day return window from when the product was purchased.
Shipping: Many of Newegg’s items come with free shipping and are processed from its warehouse within two business days; for details, check the individual product page.
Returns: Newegg’s standard return policy allows for a return or replacement request 30 days after the invoice date. 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. In-stock items will typically ship within the same day.
Returns: Sonos gives you 45 days to return a purchase and even offers free return shipping.
Shipping: Target offers two-day shipping if you spend $35 or more or use your RedCard.
Returns: Target gives you 90 days to return most unopened items, 120 days if you used your RedCard, or a full year if it’s a Target brand. (Exceptions will be noted on the receipt.) The retailer also offers free return shipping for any returns made via mail.
Shipping: For eligible orders of $35 or more, Walmart provides free next-day delivery in eligible ZIP codes, free two-day delivery, or free standard shipping.
Returns: Many items purchased between November 1st, 2021 and December 25th, 2021 have extended return dates. Any item bought during this time with a return window of fewer than 90 days begins its return period on December 26th, 2021. This means the cutoff for an item with a 14-day return policy is January 9th, 2022. (There will be no change for items with 90-day return windows.) Please note that the return policy doesn’t apply to Walmart Marketplace (i.e., third-party) sellers.