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Costco’s Return Policy: What You Can’t Take Back

Costco is renowned for its generous return policy, often cited as one of the best in retail. Shoppers love the warehouse for its broad array of products from bulk groceries to electronics, and even items like gold bars. Equally attractive are the store’s competitive prices and the famous Kirkland brand items. However, even Costco has its limits on what can be returned.

Understanding these restrictions can save you from potential frustration and ensure you make purchases with confidence. Below, I’ve highlighted five key categories of items that Costco does not accept for returns, helping you to navigate the complexities of their otherwise accommodating policy.

1. Precious Metals: Gold and Silver

Costco offers unique products, including gold and silver bullion, bars, and coins. These high-value items are non-returnable and not eligible for price adjustments. This policy is understandable, given the frequent fluctuations in the prices of precious metals on the global market. If you’re investing in these items at Costco, be sure you’re ready to commit for the long haul.

2. Tickets for Sports and Events

From discounts on entertainment like Cirque du Soleil to savings on sports events, Costco provides a variety of tickets. However, these tickets are typically nonrefundable. If you purchase a ticket for an event that later gets canceled, Costco’s policy generally requires that you seek a refund directly from the event organizers, not from the store. This is a standard practice among ticket sellers due to the complexities involved in event management.

3. Custom and Special Order Items

Custom items, whether it’s furniture tailored to your specifications or a special order appliance, are generally final sale at Costco. This policy ensures that consumers are deliberate about custom orders, which are made to individual specifications and cannot easily be resold. The only exception to this rule is if the product does not match the agreed specifications like color or size. In that case, Costco allows for returns.

4. Gift Cards and Costco Shop Cards

Gift cards are popular for savings at Costco, often available at a significant discount. However, once purchased, these cards cannot be returned. This includes both third-party gift cards and Costco’s own Shop Cards. Before stocking up on gift cards, ensure that you or the recipient will definitely use them, as any unused balance remains with the card.

5. Tobacco and Alcohol (Varies by State)

Costco’s policy on returning alcohol and tobacco products varies significantly depending on state laws. In some states, returns of these items are prohibited outright, while others might allow returns of unopened products under certain conditions. Because these regulations are often subject to local laws, it’s essential to check with your local Costco for specific details.

Additional Items with Return Restrictions

Besides these non-returnable items, Costco also imposes limitations on other products. Major electronics and appliances may only be returned within 90 days. Diamonds over 1.00 carat must be returned within 48 hours. Meanwhile, products like tires and batteries are subject to specific return guidelines that can vary by location.

Costco is vigilant against return policy abuse; excessive returns can lead to restrictions or even revocation of membership. It’s important for members to use the return policy responsibly to avoid such consequences.


While Costco’s return policy is indeed generous, it’s not without its exceptions. By understanding the items that cannot be returned and those with specific restrictions, shoppers can make more informed decisions and avoid potential issues at the return counter. Always review the return policies for particular items, especially those that represent larger investments or are unusual purchases. With this knowledge in hand, you can continue to enjoy the many benefits of shopping at Costco while avoiding pitfalls.