What Does Costco Do With Returned Items [Per Category] & How To Check Return Status

While Costco operates an extremely customer-friendly return policy, most customers have no idea or wonder what it does with returned items. Do they sell these items or return them to their manufacturers? Different answers apply to different scenarios. 

Returns undergo various processes at Costco, depending on the condition of the package. Those that arrive in good condition undergo repair (if there is a need), are restocked, and sold at a discount. 

For those that are already opened or feature significant blemishes, Costco will likely return them to the manufacturer or liquidation auctions. Please note that the item category also matters. 

Read on to discover what happens to different types of returns at Costco, items that are ineligible for return, and how to track the status of your return. But first, what is Costco’s Return Policy? 

What is Costco’s Return Policy? 


Customers enjoy a 100% satisfaction guarantee, which means most items purchased in-store or online can be returned for a replacement or full refund. There is also no return deadline for most items. The only exceptions include select electronics or appliances. 

You can return items without their receipts and original packaging as long as you go with your Costco membership card. This way, the customer representative can track your purchase easily. 

What Does Costco Do with Returned Items? 

Here is a breakdown of how Costco processes returns for different item categories: 

1. Clothing or fabrics

Costco will not restock clothing returns if the item has been opened. Such clothes go to liquidation auctions, where they are sold alongside other products (in bulk).

2. Electronics or appliances

Costco restocks and sells open box returns involving electronics and appliances at full price if they appear very new and work properly. Otherwise, they will have to sell them at a discount in the “open box category”. 

When an appliance does not meet any of these standards, it will be sent to the manufacturer for scrapping and refurbishing. Costco can also choose to send the item to a liquidator while a replacement or refund is being prepared. 

3. Damaged returns

Costco returns these items to the supplier or manufacturer if they cannot restock or sell them at a discount for credits. It can also dispose of or donate such products to charity if they are entirely unusable. 

4. Food and perishables

Most food and perishable returns are disposed of due to health and safety regulations. The only exception is canned foods. They get restocked and sold if they are still intact and have not expired. 

Costco returns bread to the vendors for credits. Other perishables like vegetables, frozen meat, milk, and eggs are disposed of immediately. 

5. Furniture 

Costco restocks and sells furniture returns if they arrive without any defect. The defective ones or those unsuitable for sale usually go to their vendors or nearest company that refurbishes and sells furniture. 

What Items Are Not Eligible for Return at Costco?

You cannot return cigarettes and alcohol to Costco. In addition, products with short life expectancies or warranties, like tires and batteries, are not eligible for return after their warranty period. 

You cannot return items like Apple products, Google Play gift cards, optical accessories, tickets, and other digital products. 

How to Return Items to Costco [In-store + Online]


Returning an item in-store 

  1. Go to the Costco official website and use their warehouse locator to find the nearest Costco warehouse.
  2. Drop off the package when you are free. 
  3. Ensure you go with your Costco membership card or receipt. 
  4. Costco will begin to process your full refund (including shipping and handling charges) or replacement once it receives the item. 

Returning an item online 

  1. Log in to your Costco account on the website or app 
  2. Navigate to the “Orders and Returns” tab 
  3. Select the order or item you want to return and click on the “Return items” button next to it. 
  4. Follow the prompts to complete this process. 
  5. You will receive a confirmation email from Costco with a return label you can attach to the package. 
  6. You can schedule a pickup for a return if you reside in eligible locations.
  7. Costco will provide further (special) instructions for heavy shipments. 
  8. The process for a full refund (including shipping and handling fees) or replacement will begin once the item gets to Costco. 

What Happens If You Return Too Many Items to Costco? 

While Costco offers one of the best return policies as a retailer, your account will be flagged if you keep returning expensive items after using them. Unlike Walmart and other retailers, Costco may not issue return warnings.  

How to Check Your Return Status at Costco 

You can check the status of your return-to-replacement order by following these steps: 

  1. Go to Costco.com 
  2. Navigate to tongue top-right corner of your and select “Orders & Returns”
  3. You will prompted to sign in to your account 
  4. Click the “View Order Details” button next to the order in question to know its status. 


How long does a Costco refund take?

7 to 10 business days. Contact Costco customer service if nothing appears on your financial statement after 10 business days. 

Can you buy Costco online and return it in the store?

You can shop and return items online or drop them off at the nearest Costco outlet. Your return will be processed for a replacement or a full refund. 

Can you order from Costco without a membership?

Yes, but you can only do it online (at Costco.com) and a 5% surcharge will always apply to every checkout. 

What do you do if you forget my Costco card?

You need your Costco membership to shop in-store. Members who do not have theirs can go to the membership desk with their ID to print a temporary or new card (if the previous one is lost.) 

In a Nutshell 

Costco is one of those popular retailers that accepts most items and issues a replacement or full refund. The only exceptions to this return policy are cigarettes and alcohol. Costco does not accept such returns. 

Similar to this exception are items that come with warranties. Examples include batteries, tires, and digital products. Costco expects you to return these products within their warranty period. 

Returning them after warranty expiration may limit or affect refund or replacement possibilities. Aside from this, Costco restocks and sells most returns at a discount. Those that do not fall into this category go to liquidators or manufacturers for credits. 

I hope you found this guide helpful. For further reading on return policies, please see Walmart’s open-box policy

Thanks for reading.