If you recently got a gift that wasn't what you wanted, you might be heading back to the store hoping for an exchange or store credit.

Experts suggest before heading out you should read the return policy carefully.

If the purchase was through Amazon you may be in luck - the online giant accepts returns through January 31st for most items purchased in the last two months. 

For big box stores, Nordstrom and Costco have the most generous return policies.  With a few exceptions they won't need a receipt and there's no time limit.

Bed Bath & Beyond changed their return policy time limit back in July, so now you only have a year from the date of purchase.

Kohl's "hassle-free" return policy doesn't have a time limit except for some electronics. Premium electronics must be returned within 30 days in the original packaging.

Macy's gives 180 days for most returns.

Target and Walmart give you 90 days for most returns; however for electronics Target allows 30 days and Walmart allows just 15 days.

Best Buy and Apple also have brief windows for returns.  Best Buy's 15 day return can be extended to 30 or 45 days if you join its My Best Buy Elite or My Best Buy Elite Plus rewards program.  Apple allows 14 days for returns and refunds.

Pro tip: Consumer Reports suggests bringing your driver's license when you head out for returns because large chains like Best Buy and Victoria's Secret have systems to detect abuse, and they'll want to run you through their database.