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Buying Electronics at Costco? Don’t Get Burned by This Important Rule

A woman standing in an electronics store facing a wall of TVs.

Image source: Getty Images

There are a lot of good reasons to buy your electronics at Costco. For one thing, it’s good for your budget — Costco’s prices are often competitive. Indeed, you can often save money shopping at Costco for your big-ticket electronics.

Often, another good reason to shop at Costco is the return policy. Costco’s policy is very generous, giving you more or less forever to return a great many purchases.

When it comes to electronics, however, the return policy may not actually be a good reason to choose Costco. That’s because many electronics fall under a much more restrictive policy.

Most electronics have 90-day return window

Costco’s return policy is generous, but it isn’t unconditional. Many types of expensive electronics have a much more limited return window of just 90 days.

The list of items that fall under this restriction include:

  • Televisions
  • Projectors
  • Computers
  • Touchscreen tablets
  • Smart watches
  • Cameras
  • Aerial cameras (drones)
  • Camcorders
  • MP3 players
  • Cellular phones (return details vary by carrier service contract)

The 90-day return window also applies to major appliances, such as:

  • Refrigerators above 10 cubic feet
  • Freezers
  • Ranges
  • Cooktops
  • Over-the-range/under-counter microwaves
  • Range hoods
  • Dishwashers
  • Water heaters
  • Washers and dryers

The good news is that a lot of electronics and small appliances aren’t on these lists. For example, vacuums, headphones, and mixers are all missing from the lists. That means they likely fall under the full return policy without the 90-day limitation.

How to tell which items qualify for longer returns

If you’re not certain whether a specific item has a limited return policy or not, you can simply look up its listing on costco.com. Each item page will have a section for Shipping & Returns that will spell out the specific terms for that item.

Typically, if the page doesn’t list a specific return window, the item probably falls under the general 100% satisfaction guarantee.

For example, if I look up the iPad Air, I can scroll to the Shipping & Returns section to see: “Costco will accept returns within 90 days (from the date the member receives the merchandise) for this product.”

In contrast, if I go to the page for the KitchenAid 6 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer, there is no language that limits the length of the return window. As such, it’s likely eligible for the full satisfaction guarantee.

If you’re still concerned about an item’s specific policy, you can always contact Costco to ask about that specific item.

What to do if you’re past the return window

It’s not uncommon for electronics to go wonky seemingly the day after the return window ends. At this point, you could try to get Costco to take it back — but that’s unlikely, since it’s against store policy.

Instead, you’ll need to rely on the product’s warranty. On the plus side, most electronics tend to have warranties of at least a year, and sometimes up to three. (Be sure to read up on the warranty before you buy!)

Your credit card may also help you in some cases. A few premium rewards cards offer extended warranty coverage that adds an extra year onto the manufacturer’s warranty when you use your eligible card to pay for a purchase.

Top credit card to use at Costco (and everywhere else!)

If you’re shopping with a debit card, you could be missing out on hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. These versatile credit cards offer huge rewards everywhere, including Costco, and are rated the best cards of 2024 by our experts because they offer hefty sign-up bonuses and outstanding cash rewards. Plus, you’ll save on credit card interest because all of these recommendations include a competitive 0% interest period.

Click here to read our expert recommendations for free!

We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Brittney Myers has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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