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What Is a Gift Receipt?

By S. McNesby
Updated May 16, 2024
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A gift receipt is issued by a retailer at the point of purchase, just like a regular receipt. The main difference between a regular cash register receipt and a gift one is that the gift version does not include price information for the purchases. A gift receipt may or may not list the items purchased by name; different retailers include different amounts of information. Such receipts allow the purchaser to buy and give a gift without revealing the price paid. The recipient of the gift is able to use the receipt to return or exchange the item if needed.

When a purchase is completed, most stores offer the customer an itemized receipt of the items purchased. This receipt usually includes a description of each item, the price paid for each, and any coupons or savings deducted from the cost of the item. The receipt also includes a total amount purchased and the form of payment used. A regular store receipt allows the customer to keep a record of the items purchased and acts as proof or purchase in the event of a return.

In contrast to a regular receipt, gift receipts contain less information. Depending on the issuing store, the receipt may include a list of the items purchased, without prices or a total. Some stores simply include a barcode that can be scanned in the event of a return, without purchase or price information. Gift receipts of either type are useful when purchasing a gift for an occasion, event, or holiday.

A gift receipt can be included in a birthday, holiday, or other package, and allows the recipient to return or exchange the item if needed. The recipient can avoid the embarrassment or hurt feelings of asking the giver for a receipt if a return or exchange is required. A gift receipt also masks the amount of money spent on the gift and does not disclose if an item or items were purchased on sale or with a coupon.

During holiday shopping seasons, gift receipts are often automatically given along with basic receipts. Many stores issue receipts in this manner in the months of November and December. During other times of the year, the purchaser can request a gift receipt at the point of purchase. If several gifts have been purchased at the same time, the buyer may need to request additional copies of the receipt at the register.

How Do Gift Receipts Work for Merchandise Returns?

Exact return policies vary by store, but in most cases, when you use a gift receipt to return merchandise, instead of being offered cash or a refund back to the credit card the gift was purchased on, you will be offered store credit. You can then use the store credit to purchase something else in the store.

Alternatively, you may be able to exchange the gift for another item; however, if there is a price difference, you will either have to pay the difference or be refunded the difference in store credit, depending on which item was more expensive. Most retailers accept returns with a gift receipt for 15 to 30 days after the date of purchase or the date of the holiday during the holiday shopping season.

How To Return a Gift on Amazon Without a Gift Receipt

If you received a gift from Amazon that you want to return, but the purchaser did not mark the item as a gift, check the box for the packing slip. This slip should have a number labeled "Order ID." Log in to your Amazon account. If you don't have an Amazon account, create one. Go to the Returns Center. Enter the order number from the packing slip and click search.

Select the item or items you want to return and then the reason for the return. If the items were purchased from a third-party seller, that seller will have to approve your return request. Choose how you want to return the item and follow the instructions on the screen. When Amazon receives your return, you will get a gift card for the purchase price of the returned merchandise that you can use to purchase something else on Amazon. However, the returned item must be in the same condition it was in when you received it and any merchandise over $2,000 can only be refunded to the original payment method.

If you don't have the order number, but you have the tracking number from the shipping box, you can call Amazon customer service and a representative can use the tracking number to look up the order and process your return. The information from Amazon's site says that if you do not have the order number or the tracking number, you have to contact the purchaser and ask them for the information. However, other sources indicate that customer service may be able to look up the order with other information, such as the name and email address of the person who sent you the gift.

Can I Return a Gift to Walmart Without a Gift Receipt?

Walmart accepts gift returns without a receipt; however, these items can only be exchanged or refunded to a gift card, unless the item costs less than $10. Items valued under $10 are refunded as cash.

Can I Return a Gift to Target Without a Gift Receipt?

If you don't have a packing slip or a gift receipt, you can return a gift from Target, but you will receive a merchandise return card that can only be used for in-store purchases.

Is It Rude To Ask for a Gift Receipt?

Many gift givers include a gift receipt so that the recipient can return or exchange a gift if they want without having to ask them for a receipt. However, some gift givers may not include a gift receipt for a variety of reasons. In these cases, if you want to return or exchange your gift, you either have to ask the gift giver for a receipt or take a chance that the store the gift was purchased from, if you know what store that is, will let you return the gift without a receipt.

Some people may consider it rude to return gifts and may react poorly to your request. Others may be fine with it. It may help to explain why you want to return or exchange something. For example, if the gift is a clothing item that doesn't fit or something you already own, most people understand the desire to exchange the gift for something else. However, if you simply do not like the gift, you should weigh the potential of hurt feelings against the value of exchanging the gift for something you want. Take into consideration how well you know the person and what their general attitude about gift giving is. If you decide not to return the gift, you can consider regifting it or donating it to a charity.

FAQ on Gift Receipts

What is a gift receipt and how does it differ from a regular receipt?

A gift receipt is a type of receipt that you can provide along with a gift, which allows the recipient to return or exchange the item without seeing the price you paid. Unlike a regular receipt, a gift receipt omits pricing information to keep the cost discreet. It typically includes details like the description of the item, the store where it was purchased, and a barcode for returns or exchanges.

Can a gift receipt be used to return an item for cash?

Generally, a gift receipt does not entitle the holder to receive cash back. Instead, it allows the recipient to exchange the item for another product or to receive store credit or a gift card for the value of the returned item. The specific return policy varies by retailer, so it's important to check with the store where the gift was purchased for their exact terms.

Is it possible to obtain a gift receipt after the purchase has been made?

Many retailers allow customers to request a gift receipt at the time of purchase or shortly thereafter. If you've forgotten to ask for one during checkout, it's often possible to return to the store with your original receipt and ask for a gift receipt to be printed. However, policies can vary, so it's best to inquire with the specific retailer for their procedure.

How long is a gift receipt valid for returns or exchanges?

The validity of a gift receipt for returns or exchanges is typically governed by the retailer's return policy. This can range from a few weeks to several months after the purchase date. It's crucial to check the retailer's return policy, which is often printed on the receipt or available on their website, to understand the timeframe in which a return or exchange must be made.

Do all stores offer gift receipts?

While many stores offer gift receipts, it is not a universal practice. Availability can depend on the retailer's policies, the type of store, and sometimes the specific items purchased. For instance, small boutiques or specialty shops may not provide gift receipts, whereas larger chain stores often do. It's advisable to inquire about the availability of a gift receipt before completing your purchase if you intend to give the item as a gift.

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Discussion Comments

By feasting — On Jan 03, 2013

@StarJo – I tend to give unique gifts to people, and I'm always paranoid that they won't like them, so I get gift receipts for them. I have no idea whether or not anyone has used them, but I suspect that a few have.

Most people tend to stick to the gift registry when buying someone a present for a baby or wedding shower, but I like to pick out something special that isn't on the list. However, I do offer a gift receipt in case they want to exchange what I got them for something they had already registered for without my knowing.

By StarJo — On Jan 02, 2013

I think that gift receipts are so handy! I always appreciate getting one, especially from my cousin who buys me unique gifts that are sometimes too strange for my taste.

By Perdido — On Jan 02, 2013

I never think to ask for gift receipts when buying Christmas gifts. I generally do most of my shopping in one trip, and it could get a little complicated.

If I buy twenty gifts at one store at one time, then dividing each purchase up into gift receipts would be very frustrating for the cashier, I'm sure. It would also make the people in line behind me very impatient and angry.

However, if I buy a really expensive gift among all the other gifts, I don't mind asking for a gift receipt for that one item. I'd want the recipient to have the option of exchanging it for some other really nice gift.

By lighth0se33 — On Jan 01, 2013

Strangely enough, my local gift shop does not offer gift receipts. They are very small and not very computer savvy, so they aren't set up to offer special receipts.

They don't even have barcode stickers on their items. The prices are written on slips of paper that are tied to the gifts, and the cashier uses a calculator instead of a cash register!

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