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  • Writer's pictureJordan White DipPFS

How to get free return postage with PayPal

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

When buying stuff online, delivery and returns charges should always be factored in. A win for me is getting both for free.

With delivery charges, a retailer usually chooses from 3 options:

  • Free delivery on everything

  • Free delivery when you spend a certain amount

  • Various delivery charges based on the order amount

When it comes to returns, retailers usually have 2 options:

  • Offer to pay for the buyer’s return postage costs

  • Make the buyer pay for the return postage costs

Many retailers offer a free return service for peace of mind. It’s effectively a marketing tool to convince the potential buyer that their purchase is risk-free. So if you buy something and don’t like it, you won’t be out of pocket from paying to return it.

But that’s not the case with all retailers.

PayPal now refunds your return postage costs

PayPal introduced a service in 2017 that pays for your return postage costs if the retailer doesn’t offer a free returns service.

I used it recently and was impressed at how quick and easy it was. And I’m surprised that for something that’s existed for 4 years, I’d never heard of it.

Follow these steps to claim a refund on your return postage

1) Activate the return shipping refund service

Log into your PayPal account and activate the service

2) Get up to 12 returns per year

These returns can be to retailers anywhere in the world. Each return has a maximum refund of £15.

So if you do order something with an expensive return fee, bear in mind the £15 limit.

2) Pay for your item with PayPal

You are only eligible for free returns if you made the original purchase with PayPal.

3) Return your item to the seller as per their instructions

Follow the returns process as per the retailer’s instructions.

If you’re returning something and can afford to upgrade to a recorded delivery that keeps you within the £15 limit, it’s worth doing that for extra peace of mind.

Take a picture of the following:

  • The proof of postage/receipt with refund amount

  • The return packaging showing address of the seller

It’s really important to have proof of these otherwise your refund could get rejected.

4) Click on ‘Activity’ at the top of your PayPal account

Find the purchase that you have just returned.

Click on it and you’ll see an option to ‘Request return-shipping refund’ at the bottom left of the order details.

5) Complete the details on the return shipping form

At this point you’ll need to upload the pictures you took of the seller’s address and the postage costs to return the order.

6) Submit your proof of return

It will take up to 5 working days for PayPal to assess your claim and issue a refund.

I had my refund after 3 days and that was when I forgot to take a picture of the seller’s address on the parcel! Luckily my receipt had the postcode of the seller.

The refund is paid into your PayPal account under the name TELUS International Europe.

Times when PayPal return refunds are handy

1) When ordering through a small or independent retailer

If you order something from a small or independent retailer, they may not be able to offer a free returns service.

But sometimes a small seller might have a really unique product, or you might just want to support small businesses.

Many large retailers offer a free returns service because they’re able to absorb the costs. It’s harder for smaller retailers to do this.

Don’t forget that any online purchase will give you certain legal rights. So make sure you’re aware of them.

2) Ordering on eBay

PayPal is commonly used for eBay purchases.

But lots of sellers don’t offer free returns. If PayPal is still your go-to payment method for eBay, then the PayPal return service is great.

Times when PayPal return refunds might not be best

1) On items over £100

While PayPal does offer its own form of protection for buyers, it’s not as secure as protection offered by Section 75.

Section 75 protection means that if you pay for something on a credit card worth over £100, your credit card company is liable for any issues, including giving you a refund, if the retailer didn’t fulfil your order properly.

With PayPal, they do offer some pretty decent protection, but it’s not a legal protection.

Things get confusing if you link a credit card to PayPal.

You’d assume you’re still covered by Section 75, right? Wrong. The mere act of going via PayPal removes your legal rights regarding Section 75. This is because you’ve paid via PayPal instead of paying the retailer directly.

So if you’re buying something over £100, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of paying directly to the retailer and potentially losing money on a returns cost, or paying via PayPal and getting your return postage refunded but with less protection on your whole purchase.

2) Returning an item you’ve already exchanged

Under PayPal’s terms and conditions, you can only get one refund of return postage for each PayPal transaction ID.

So let’s say you order some clothing and you return something for an exchange.

  • You pay for the return and get your refund from PayPal.

  • You then receive your exchanged item – something in a different size, for example.

  • That exchanged item is also not what you want, so you have to return it too.

The exchange will be linked to the original PayPal transaction in your account. Which means you can’t claim a second return’s refund from PayPal.

For other limits on refunds, take a look at the terms and conditions.

Key takeaway

If you’re looking to save money on postage, PayPal’s returns refund service is a handy little trick to know about.

It’s easy to do and gives you a bit more peace of mind.

Just bear in mind any limitations that might be specific to your purchase.


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