2017 Holiday Shipping Deadlines You Need to Know
Black Monday, Cyber Friday, Green Wednesday Evening -- whatever, they're all done and gone and now it's time to PANIC. How long do you have to order things before it's too late for Christmas morning? Is it still possible to get free shipping? Are you totally screwed?
If you want your packages by Christmas Eve, you're quickly running out of time. Here are the days to keep in mind when ordering, for all the major players in online commerce. Not every site agrees on the deadline dates, so be sure to check carefully when you shop. And scroll down for the days you need to send packages via the major delivery companies like FedEx, UPS, and the US Postal Service (USPS).
These dates work for the contiguous lower-48-states of the U.S.:
- Dec. 15: Free Shipping ($49 minimum)
- Dec. 18: Standard Shipping (Free with Prime)
- Dec. 22: Two-Day Shipping (Free with Prime)
- Dec. 23: One-Day Shipping (In select cities, only for select items—but this is also Free for Prime members!)
- Dec. 24, 9:30 a.m. local time or earlier: Same-Day Delivery (In select cities, Free with Prime)
- Dec. 24, 9:00 p.m. local time or earlier: Two-Hour Delivery (In select cities, requires Prime Now)
- Dec. 25: Gift code purchases
For Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico deadlines, plan to ship earlier: Dec. 7 for free shipping to Hawaii and Alaska (P.R. is non-applicable); Dec. 10 for Standard or Expedited Shipping to Alaska and P.R., Dec. 11 for same to Hawaii, as well as Priority shipping to Alaska and P.R.; and finally Dec. 15 for Priority to Hawaii.
Amazon Books locations, plus Whole Foods stores, will be open Christmas Eve.
If you buy direct from Apple.com, two-day shipping is always free on in-stock items, and it's one day for in-stock iPhones. Ordering a customized Mac computer (or customized anything) isn't included -- it won't arrive on time for Dec. 24. There is two-hour delivery in some select locations for $9.
For "effortless returns," you have until Jan. 8, 2018 to return any devices purchased between Nov. 15 and Dec. 25, 2017.
- Dec. 20: Free, two-day shipping on in-stock Apple products
- Dec. 21: Free one-day shipping of in-stock iPhones or Next Day shipping on other products
- Dec. 24: In-store pickup
Best Buy offers free shipping on everything, all season long (with caveats for special orders, in-store-only items, etc.) right up to Dec. 25 itself. In-store pickup works, too, but remember that brick-and-mortar locations are all closed on Christmas Day itself.
As of this writing, Best Buy hasn't updated its shipping deadlines page for 2017, other than to indicate it's too late for timely shipping to Guam, the Virgin Islands and APO/FPO addresses. But here are some safe bets when you're shopping online:
- Dec. 18: Free Standard Shipping
- Dec. 20: Expedited Shipping
- Dec. 21: Express Shipping
- Dec. 24: In-Store Pickup (or actual "shopping")
- Dec. 25: E-gift Cards purchased at BestBuy.com
The Holiday Hub at GameStop spells out when you need to order, with a countdown for how many days you have left. You get free shipping on orders over $35. In-store pickup means no extra shipping charge, but while GameStop is open on Christmas Eve, it won't be open on Christmas Day itself.
- Dec. 13: Value Saver
- Dec. 17: Ground
- Dec. 18: Two-Day Expedited
- Dec. 19: One-Day Shipping
The dates below require orders by noon local time. Newegg Premier members (it's $19.99 for three months, $29.99 for six months, or $49.99 for a year) get expedited, three-day shipping and free returns.
- Dec. 13: Super Eggsaver shipping.
- Dec. 14: Large items
- Dec. 19: Business three-day shipping
- Dec. 20: Business two-day shipping
- Dec. 21: Business one-day shipping
Don't be afraid to buy from ToysRus or BabiesRUs just because it filed chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this year. It's business as usual for the retailer as it fights through financial woes. It's worked out for other companies, after all.
Free holiday economy shipping requires a minimum of $29 on qualifying items. Shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other territories, and APO/FPO boxes costs between $7.99 to $39.99 depending on the location and timeframe you need.
- Dec. 18: Free Economy Shipping (four to six business days)
- Dec. 20 by 3 p.m.: Expedited Shipping (two to three business days)
- Dec. 20 by 11:59 p.m.: Express Shipping (one to two business days)
Target is offering free standard shipping (three to five business days) on qualified orders, and even on returns, until Dec. 23. That doesn't mean your order will show up by Dec. 25, just that it's free until then if you use the REDcard. A minimum purchase of $25 is required. This is good for all 50 states (with a few restrictions), even APO mailboxes. Here are the dates to ship to guarantee you'll get it by Friday, Dec. 22 (the last business day before Christmas):
- Dec. 13 by 12 p.m.: Standard Shipping to Hawaii and Alaska
- Dec. 18: Standard Shipping
- Dec. 19 by 12 p.m.: Premium shipping (two business days)
- Dec. 22 by 12 p.m.: Express Shipping (one business day)
Look for items marked "Holiday Shipping Delivery" and they're all specifically eligible to show up before the holiday.
Walmart now offers free, two-day shipping on any order over $35 (it killed the old ShippingPass feature that was similar to Amazon Prime). Or pick up for free in the store anytime, plus free returns online or in-store. Some items have limited return windows, but for the holidays the return window extends to Jan. 10, 2018 (for 15-day return items) or to Jan. 25, 2018 (for 30-day return items) automatically.
- Dec. 13: Freight (for large items)
- Dec. 19: Standard
- Dec. 21: Rush
- Dec. 24: Free In-Store Pickup until 8 p.m.
Look below and see the Christmas miracle that is FedEx actually doing same-day delivery on the big day itself, Dec. 25. Of course, that'll cost you a massive amount of cash, so don't use it unless you must.
- Dec. 15: Ground
- Dec. 18: FedEx Home Delivery
- Dec. 19: Express Saver
- Dec. 20: FedEx 2-Day and 2-Day AM
- Dec. 21: FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, and First Overnight
- Dec. 25: FedEx SameDay and SameDay City (Priority & Standard)
According to the Holiday Calendar at UPS.com, Dec. 22 is the last day for "normal" pick-up and delivery from UPS before it goes into holiday mode. There's no action from UPS on Dec. 24 or 25, except for Express Critical services. (It's also shut down from Jan. 1 to 2, 2018.)
- Dec. 18: UPS 3 Day Select
- Dec. 20: UPS 2nd Day Air
- Dec. 21: UPS Next Day Air and UPS 2nd Day Air (Saturday Option)
- Dec. 22: UPS Next Day Air (Saturday Option)
Check out the U.S. Postal Service's shipping deadlines below, or get even more info on its site. That includes Alaska and Hawaii deadlines, like having to send first class to those states by Dec. 20 and Dec. 15, respectively. The dates below are for the contiguous 48 states.
- Dec. 14: USPS Retail Ground
- Dec. 19: First-Class Mail Service
- Dec. 20: Priority Mail Service
- Dec. 22: Priority Mail Express Service