Apple's return program just got even more generous for the holidays

Apple store
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has long had one of the best return programs around, and now it's even better as the company and its customers get ready for the holidays.

While Apple already gives people up to 14 days to initiate a return for items that they don't want, the company has now started to extend that timeframe as the holidays roll around in order to give people the chance to return or exchange unwanted or unneeded gifts. As a result, (almost) anything bought from Apple between November 3, 2023 and December 25, 2023 can be returned all the way into January.

That means that even if you don't receive your gift for a few days after Christmas Day, you'll still have plenty of time to initiate a return to Apple should you need to.

Easy returns

Apple announced the additional return time via its website, saying that "eligible products at the Apple Store Online that are received between November 3, 2023 and December 25, 2023, may be returned through January 8, 2024." However, there is one exception with Apple also noting that "iPhone purchases that are carrier-financed with T-Mobile are not eligible and are subject to standard return policy." Anyone who buys something after December 25 will also have the usual 14 days to return items, which is obviously less, but still a decent amount of time to decide whether your new product is right for you.

There are of course other caveats to consider, beyond Apple's assertion that T-Mobile iPhones aren't included. These caveats apply to all of Apple's sales, not just over the holiday period, and are worth taking into consideration — because they include something a lot of people buy as gifts — gift cards.

Apple's list of ineligible items includes the aforementioned Apple Gift Cards as well as those that are branded as App Store Gift Cards and iTunes Gift Cards, so you've been warned. Interestingly, Apple Developer products including the annual membership aren't included, too.

Buying with confidence

None of this is to say that Apple's return program isn't great, because it very much is. And it's during the holidays that it truly comes into its own. No longer must family and friends worry that they might not buy the right iPhone 15 case, for example, because there's a return program in place if they do.

But this program can also be used by people who aren't quite sure what size MacBook Air to buy, or whether they need that extra RAM in their MacBook Pro. Those people can buy one model and then effectively take it for a test drive for a few weeks to make sure that everything's as they'd hoped — you can't do that at most retailers, that's for sure. In terms of return requirements, Apple just says that "the item you're returning is repackaged with all the cords, adapters, and documentation that were included when you received it." Do all of that, and you're good to go.

One good example I can think of here is the Apple Watch. There will no doubt be a ton of those bought this year and knowing which size to get can be tricky — especially if you're buying as a surprise gift. For those people, these return windows can be a godsend. Now you can buy with confidence, something Apple no doubt knows is more likely to make people buy from an Apple Store than their local big box retailer instead.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.