How to Save Money on Glasses and Contacts

A Complete Pair of Glasses for Under $20? Yes, It's Possible!

How to save money on glasses and contacts

No matter how valuable your vision insurance is, you’re likely to be on the hunt for cheap glasses and contacts from time to time. Whether you’ve broken the pair your insurance allots at an annual discount or you simply want another pair of specs or contacts, finding a deal is essential. However, it can be difficult to locate discounted eyewear without a few resources.

Consider the following tips when you’re seeking inexpensive glasses and contact lenses.

Online Retailers Offering Discounted Glasses

You’ll find several websites that offer high-quality, discounted glasses, including the frames and lenses. In many cases they’ll even ship the glasses to you for free. Be sure you have a copy of your vision prescription from your doctor before you visit these sites. The following are a few of the standouts, but there are multiple discount eyewear sites online that offer glasses at a discount without the need for vision insurance:

Zenni Optical. Zenni is one of the trailblazers in this category, with scores of frames (both sunglasses and clear eyeglasses) that will run you as low as $6.95 up to about $46 at the time of this writing. Many single-vision, untinted lenses are completely free with the purchase of frames, which you’ll be able to select after uploading your prescription to the site. In the end, you can get through the site without paying more than $20 for a complete pair of prescription glasses.

One of the most appealing features of this site is the ability to upload your photo and then “try on” each pair of glasses to see what they would look like on you. This alleviates the hesitation that many people have toward online frames shops because they’re worried that the glasses won’t suit them. The glasses I’ve seen from this website have been well-made and durable, and the site offers trendy and current styles. This website allows you to select from a variety of frames, then choose the lenses you want (either tinted for sunglasses or clear for eyeglasses) and the prescription power. You’ll upload your prescription to the website and the company will make the glasses and ship them to you.

This site also allows you to upload your photo to try on the frames so you can see how they’d look on you. The frames really do start at $39 each, and at the time of this writing, the most expensive pair was $89. Then you’ll go on to select your lenses, which are usually free for single-vision lenses but you’ll have to pay an add-on cost for progressives or bifocals (typically under $100). I have ordered from this site, and the glasses are just as high-quality as those you’d buy from an optical shop. They arrive quickly and are well-packaged.

Additional coupons: You can typically find online promo codes for additional discounts off of your and Zenni Optical orders. For instance, at the time of this writing, RetailMeNot has over a dozen coupon codes listed that can help you save more money on your orders with both eyecare retailers.

The downside: One issue to remember about these types of discount eyewear sites is that if you have a problem with the frames or lenses, you can’t simply drive over to the optometrist and have the glasses adjusted. In addition, you won’t have an optician available to advise you of all the options such as scratch and anti-glare coating. However, if you’ve worn glasses in the past, you may already know about the pros and cons of the eyeglass add-on options.

Check These Sites for Discounted Contacts

If your search for discounted eyewear extends beyond glasses, you’ll want to check out the retailers that can help you score cheap contact lenses. Note that the discounts won’t be as deep as they are on glasses—no retailer is going to sell you a pack of contacts for $8—but you will likely get a better deal than what your optometrist offers you.

Lens Direct is a great site with a wide variety of contacts at discount prices. Shipping and handling is usually very low or completely free, and the site typically lists promo codes in banner ads at the top of the page that can help you save more on your order. You’ll select your lens, upload your prescription, and you should have your new contacts within a week. One advantage to this site is it offers 24/7 customer service in case you’re struggling with what to order, or you need to ask whether there’s a comparable lens to what you need.

Another great site is Price Smart Contacts. This retailer works about the same way as Lens Direct, but you won’t always find the discount codes right on the site. Instead, head over to a coupon site like RetailMeNot or to find promo codes that can get you further discounts.

If you have any trouble reading your prescription, be sure and verify the details with your optometrist or with the contact lens retailer before you make your purchase, because many discount contact lens sellers will not accept returns. Therefore, submitting your order with the right prescription information is absolutely essential.