Buying glasses can actually be a lot of fun—trying on frames is like having a mini-fashion show for your face. But it can also be incredibly expensive, with traditional glasses costing upwards of $400 depending on the kinds of frames you want, your prescription, and lenses. And, how do you know which frames are in style and which you should pass by? Here, our guide to buying stylish glasses at reasonable prices.
If you want to buy in-store
While your local optical shop, eye doctor or optometrist may be convenient for you to get to, prices there can be higher than at the big retailers like Costco, Target and Walmart, which now offer optical services. At Costco Optical, you'll pay around $50 for an eye exam, which is about 50% cheaper than what you'll pay at the eye doctor. In a Consumer Reports survey on buying glasses, Costco topped the list in terms of customer satisfaction.
- How much will you pay for glasses at one of these big box retailers: Frames average around60-80, with designer frames costing more. Single vision lenses cost around20, more for progressives and other kinds of lenses.
- Pros: Convenient locations, you can try on lots of frames, they accept some kinds of insurance.
- Cons: Selection may not be as big as at other glasses stores, prices may not be as low as online.
One more thing to note, If you're heading to a traditional glasses store like Lenscrafters or Pearle Vision, always check out their web sites beforehand to see if they offer any coupons or discounts.
If you want to buy online...
Buying glasses online can be 70 percent cheaper and there are many sites to choose from, which makes it an option worth considering. Glasses web sites have made the process very easy to navigate, allowing you to do things like upload your prescription as well as a photo of yourself to see how you virtually look in different frames. The downside? Most online sites don't send you multiple frames to try on, and many don't accept insurance. You'll also need to have your prescription, and you'll need to know your pupillary distance (the distance between your two pupils), which can be difficult to measure. (To get an exact measurement, ask your eye doctor to do the measuring.) Online sites are also better suited to people who have uncomplicated prescriptions.
If you're considering buying online, always look into the site's return and warranty policy.
- Cost: frames and lenses can start as low as6.95 for single-vision lenses
- Pros: Lower cost, you can shop from home, loads of styles to choose from.
- Cons: Can't try on frames, many don't take insurance, better for straight-forward prescriptions.
If you're considering buying online, these sites are our top picks
Warby Parker - This retailer, which has its own frames rather than carrying the traditional designer brands, has become a favorite for stylish, inexpensive glasses. The site is easy to use, and unlike most other online glasses sites, Warby-Parker has an at-home try-on program that allows you to order five frames, try them on, and send back the frames you don't like. The company also has a social-responsibility program and for every pair purchased, a pair is given to someone in need. There are also 14 Warby-Parker stores nationwide.
- Cost: Frames with single-vision lenses start at95
- Pros: Low prices, stylish choices, at-home try-on program, easy-to use site
- Cons: Don't accept insurance
Glasses USA - This site offers designer brands and price-matching, so if you see the same frames cheaper, they'll match the price and then take off an additional 10 percent. Get 30 percent off your entire order if you become an American Grandparents Association Premium Member.
- Cost: Frames with single-vision lenses start at around50
- Pros: Low-price guarantee, free shipping and returns
- Cons: Don't accept insurance, no tool for seeing how you look in frames
Coastal.com - This site offers designer glasses and contacts at up to 50% off. They've got great coupons, such as $40 off your first pair of glasses over $99 (Code: FIRST40). At Coastal.com you can upload a photo of yourself to see what you look like in different frames.
- Cost: Frames start at49 plus the cost of lenses, which start at39.
- Pros: Free shipping on all glasses
- Cons: You can't try on frames, they don't take insurance.
Glasses.com - Here you'll find thousands of designer styles touted at 50% off what you'll pay elsewhere. The site is well-organized, you can try on one pair at home, and if you sign up for their emails, you'll get $20 off your first purchase of $100 or more.
- Cost: Frames start at around60 plus the cost of lenses.
- Pros: Lots of styles to choose from, free shipping and returns, try on one pair at home, they're partnered with Lenscrafters so you can go in for a free adjustment.
- Cons: You can't see how you look in multiple pairs, don't accept insurance
Zenni Optical - The site has a lot going for it—super cheap prices, with frames (including lenses) starting at $6.95, an easy search tool and great how-to videos. You can also upload a photo of yourself to see how you virtually look in different frames.
- Cost: Frames with lenses start at6.95
- Pros: Great kids section, easy-to-use site
- Cons: Shipping and returns are not free, doesn't accept insurance
BonLook.com - This site offers fashionable frames in a chic environment. You can upload a photo or use your web cam to see how you virtually look in frames. All frames have helpful reviews from previous buyers.
- Cost: Frames with lenses start at99
- Pros: Stylish frames, free returns and free shipping on orders over50, helpful customer reviews
- Cons: Don't accept insurance
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