7 Surprising Costco Purchases You (Usually) Can't Return

Costco will take back just about everything it sells. But there are a few exceptions.
Last updated June 22, 2022 | By Olivia Christensen | Edited By Chris Kissell
Costco Wholesale location

FinanceBuzz is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Costco has a famously generous return policy. You tried a new pasta sauce only to find out you didn’t like it? Return it. You threw the receipt away the minute you unloaded your Costco haul? That’s fine. Costco customer service will take your item back.


There are a few notable limits to Costco’s generosity in this regard, however. You might want to double-check this list before trying to return certain things to your local Costco.

Costco shopper? Take this short survey to help us find the best and worst Costco in America.

Customized purchases

EmotionPhoto/Adobe Pink wedding cake

Costco will not accept returns on personally customized products. This applies to items such as keepsakes you might order from the photo center and birthday cakes you’ve ordered with a special message written in the frosting.

If Costco created the product according to your specifications and you don’t end up needing it, you’re probably out of luck if you’re looking for a full refund.

Electronics

mandritoiu/Adobe TV aisle in a Costco store

Costco will take refunds on electronics, but only if you return them within the 90-day return window. This policy applies to computers, tablets, smartwatches, cameras, drones, and MP3 players which can be an especially good deal if you pay with a Costco rewards credit card

Keep that timeline in mind if you try to get ahead of your holiday shopping by purchasing gifts more than 90 days before you give the gift.  It’s also something you might want to factor in when you're deciding whether or not to purchase a warranty for your device at checkout.

Cellphones

Tada Images/Adobe 5G sign is seen among Samsung Galaxy mobile phones

Because Costco sells its phones out of kiosks through a third-party company called Wireless Advocates, the retailer’s cellphone return policy depends on the cellphone carrier you choose.

Costco partners with Verizon, AT&T;, and T-Mobile. So, if you have any doubts or concerns about your choice next time you buy a new phone from Costco, make sure you get the full details on your carrier’s return policy.

Major appliances

DigitalGenetics/Adobe home appliances collection set

Costco’s return policy on major appliances — ranging from ranges to dishwashers and water heaters — is the same as the policy for electronics. That means you have 90 days from the time you receive the item to return it.

Considering some of Costco’s competitors only give you 48 hours, this is actually quite generous.

Diamonds

Piman Khrutmuang/Adobe Jeweller hand polishing and cleaning jewelry

If your Costco diamond is 1 carat or larger, you can still return it. But there are a few hoops you’ll need to jump through first.

You need to have all the paperwork you received when you purchased the diamond. Before you get a refund, Costco will give you a Jewelry Credit Memo, which is a promise to give you a full refund after the diamond has been fully authenticated by Costco’s gemologists. Once Costco has verified that the diamond is not a fake, the retailer will issue you a full refund.

Cigarettes and alcohol

JackF/Adobe  alcohols in a store shelf

If you are trying to return a crate of wine after a canceled party and the clerk at customer service tells you “no,” it isn’t personal. While there are a lot of surprisingly acceptable and weird Costco returns, Costco’s policy is not to accept returns of tobacco and alcohol where it is illegal to do so by law.

While this can be inconvenient at times, maybe it's a sign that you should throw another party.

Tires, batteries, and other items with a limited life

Adriana/Adobe Michelin brand for sale inside a local Costco Discount store

When you buy items like batteries and tires, there is some expectation that over time they will wear out. Because of this, Costco won’t commit to accepting the return of your two-year-old tires.

Depending on the product, there may be a limited warranty that comes with your purchase. If you have gone past the warranty window, however, you can always try begging the store manager for a little mercy. You never know how it might turn out.

Bottom line

dennizn/Adobe costco receipt

All in all, Costco is generally very cool about returns. In addition to taking advantage of some smart Costco shopping hacks, you can even return your membership for a full refund if it’s not working out for you.  

Just remember to keep the receipts for your big diamond purchases, buy only the alcohol you intend to drink, and circle back for a performance review on your Costco appliances and electronics within 90 days. Keep those things in mind, and you should be in the clear.

SurveyJunkie Benefits

  • Over $1 million paid out to Survey Junkie members monthly
  • Completing three surveys a day can earn you up to $40 a month
  • Trustpilot rating of 4.5/5 with over 30,000 reviews

Author Details

Olivia Christensen Olivia Christensen is a freelance writer and columnist whose work has been featured in HuffPost, Business Insider, and more. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and three kids, and when she isn't writing, she's probably hiking.