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12 Tips to Buy a Great Mattress at a Bargain Price – Buying Guide


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A few years back, my wife and I purchased a new queen-size mattress. Previously, we’d slept on secondhand mattresses, either salvaged from our childhood homes or bought used.

We knew buying a high-quality mattress would be an expensive proposition. And we didn’t expect to settle on the first mattress we found. But we were both surprised by the sheer range of choices available on both ends of the budget scale. Eventually, we purchased a memory foam mattress using a friend’s $100-off referral code.

We learned plenty about buying a mattress along the way, and it can help you get a better deal on your next mattress. Keep these tips in mind to ensure you get the most value — and best night’s sleep — for your investment.

How to Get the Best Price on a New Mattress

Getting a better deal on the best mattress for your budget is about more than finding the best price. When it comes to durable goods like mattresses, value is a nuanced concept. That’s why it pays to have a mattress buying guide that includes more than just traditional deal-hunting strategies. Follow these tips the next time you go mattress shopping.

1. Check Out the Mattress Return Policy

Most mattress manufacturers and reputable online direct-sales vendors offer no-risk trial periods. Dissatisfied customers can return mattresses for full refunds during that period, but some last longer than others. For example, Leesa gives you 100 days (just over three months) to try a mattress.

I’ve seen no-risk trial periods as short as 60 nights and as long as 365 nights. A new mattress is a major investment, one you hope and expect to last many, many years. So you owe it to yourself to take your time to ensure you make the right call. All other things being equal, go with the mattress with the more generous trial period.

Another potential catch is the cost of a return. Some traditional retailers charge restocking fees ranging from 10% to 20%, which can add up on a mattress purchase. Free returns are increasingly common, but you may have to pay return shipping fees too. Before you buy, look into the company’s return policy.

2. Read the Warranty’s Fine Print

Mattress warranties tend to stretch to 10 years, though 15- to 25-year terms are better. Many direct-sales vendors offer lifetime warranties. But manufacturers that sell through mattress stores may be stingier.

Mattress warranty terms vary significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Generally, warranties from traditional manufacturers like Sealy and Serta are less comprehensive and may require out-of-pocket fees for inspection or service. Covered repairs are free, but there may not be as many covered repairs as you hope.

As painful as it sounds, read your mattress’s warranty cover to cover. A subpar, exclusion-riddled warranty could mean paying hundreds or thousands to buy a new mattress. The best warranties make you pay little to nothing to repair or replace your existing one.

3. Understand How Material Affects Cost

Natural latex is costly and time-consuming to produce. As such, latex mattresses can cost anywhere from $700 for a basic twin to more than $6,000 for a premium king, according to direct-to-consumer mattress manufacturer Purple.

But you should still consider buying one if your budget allows. Latex has some key advantages over all-foam or innerspring mattresses. They have better edge support, a higher initial firmness level, and better airflow, which could justify the added cost. Just set realistic pricing expectations.

4. Drive a Hard Bargain

Specialty bedding stores are like car dealerships. The sticker price is just the starting point for negotiations. Sales associates expect you to haggle. They’re getting paid to be there whether they work on commission or not.

Pay attention to your local mattress store’s holiday blowout sale ads on TV and the Web. When a store marks a product down by 50% and still profits from the sale, that product was overpriced to begin with.

You don’t have to be an expert negotiator to drive a hard bargain. Insist on the same discount shoppers got at last week’s clearance sale. If the salesperson says no, walk out. There are other places to buy a mattress.

5. Search for Model-Specific Coupons and Discounts Online

It’s not as easy to negotiate mattress deals online. Some direct-sales vendors may not be willing to budge on price at all. But don’t let that discourage you from seeking discounted mattress-and-bedding packages online.

Search for terms like “[mattress brand] coupon” or “[mattress brand] deal.” Often, the first hit will be an Amazon listing boasting an instant discount, such as $100 off a $499 mattress.

Mattress vendors routinely offer meaningful discounts on quality bedding products. For example, the Saatva Zenhaven mattress comes with an enticing discount opportunity. Take $200 off the list price (roughly $2,400), good for nearly 10% off. Coupons, deals, and discounts like this are out there, and it’s worth looking for them.

6. Look for Exclusive or Under-the-Radar Deals

Some mattress deals don’t show up in Google searches. Even if they do, they may be limited to certain buyers.

Some mattress brands are retailer-exclusive. For instance, you can only find Novaform at Costco warehouse clubs and Costco.com. To buy it, you must pay Costco’s $60 annual membership fee first. That’s a sound financial decision for some. Costco discounts products as aggressively as any other big-box retailer. So if your Novaform mattress costs $60 less than a comparable competitor, that covers the cost of your Costco membership for the year.

7. Always Check Amazon Before You Buy

Amazon’s store brand, AmazonBasics, offers a vast inventory of mattresses designed to match the quality and comfort of name brands at lower price points. Compare Amazon pricing with name-brand pricing on similar mattress types before buying.

8. Think Twice About the Box Spring

Box springs can be important. For example, they:

  • Provide a sturdy level surface for softer innerspring mattresses, particularly as they age
  • Reduce wear and tear on older mattresses
  • Provide support, potentially improving sleep quality and reducing back pain and morning discomfort
  • Raise the height of the bed, allowing for more comfortable entry and exit

You need a traditional metal bed frame to hold a box spring. Otherwise, they’re too low for easy entry and may not provide adequate support.

If you’re purchasing a traditional innerspring mattress, you can buy a box spring at the same time. It may even be part of a discounted package deal, such as 20% off the combined cost of the mattress and box spring. If you’re buying in person, the sales associate will recommend getting both. You can find decent box springs for $50 new, and nicer models cost $100 or more.

But don’t take the bait without ensuring you need one. Platform beds don’t require box springs. They’re built higher and have adequate built-in support, usually wire mesh, slats, or a solid wooden platform. All-foam mattresses (including gel memory foam mattresses) are resilient enough without box springs for support. But you may still want one if your bed is too low. For hybrid mattresses, which have a foam layer and innerspring system, don’t require a box spring, but it could enhance comfort and add height.

9. Consider the Mattress Accessories

Buying a new mattress is expensive enough. Why spend more on accessories many people can do without?

But accessories could increase the useful lifespan of your mattress, delaying a replacement purchase for years.

For example, a mattress protector reduces biological buildup and disperses body heat. Microbiologist Philip Tierno tells Insider (formerly Business Insider) a protector can add five or 10 years to a typical mattress’s life. If you spend $50 to $100 for a mattress protector that lasts as long as the mattress, that’s $7 to $14 per year of extra life. Tuft & Needle sells its queen-size version for about $70.

10. Consider Total Value

Sticker price is only part of the equation. As you narrow your affordable mattress options, consider the value of each offer.

For example, say you’re down to two queen-size memory foam mattresses. One costs $700 for the mattress only, and the other is $900 for the mattress, two pillows, and a mattress topper (pillow-top comfort layer). Despite the higher price tag, it’s worth taking a long look at the $900 mattress since the package is worth $1,200.

And free shipping and returns are so common in the modern mattress business there’s no reason to pay for either.

11. Test Before You Buy or Inspect on Delivery

Brick-and-mortar retail is facing a reckoning. But specialty bedding stores and mattress warehouses aren’t going away anytime soon since most people prefer to test mattresses in person.

Even if you want to buy online, visit at least one showroom to test as many brands as you can. There’s no substitute for trying a mattress yourself.

If you can’t get to a mattress showroom, buy from any reputable online vendor. They give you at least two risk-free months to try your new purchase. But carefully inspect your mattress for flaws and defects once it’s out of the wrapping.

12. Buy Used (Really)

Buying someone’s old mattress isn’t as gross as it sounds if you stick with above-board retailers and ask the right questions. But avoid Craigslist, Nextdoor, or your neighbor’s yard sale.

Start your search for reputable retailers with private consumer-advocacy resources. For example, the Better Business Bureau fields and publishes customer complaints. Your state’s consumer protection agency, department of labor, or attorney general may publicize legal or regulatory actions taken against sketchy retailers as well.

Also look at verified reviews on business directory sites like Yelp and Google Maps. Pay special attention to patterns of complaints about service, quality, and honesty.

According to the International Sleep Products Association, federal law requires mattresses made with used stuffing to have special tags. Otherwise, the laws related to selling used mattresses vary by state. Where it’s legal, mattress sellers must generally sanitize or disinfect the mattress.

But mattress retailers don’t always follow the law. If you encounter a bargain-basement mattress that’s not marked as used, ask the retailer. If they admit it’s used, take your business to a merchant that plays by the rules.


Final Word

Buying a new mattress is expensive. Expect to pay at least $200 for a basic twin spring mattress and $350 or more for a memory foam mattress of the same size. Larger mattresses cost more, but discounts can bring the price down.

Fortunately, competition forces physical and online mattress merchants to fight for the sale. That’s why negotiation is par for the course. Even inexperienced negotiators can talk a mattress salesperson down. If not, find a more cooperative one.

You might not learn to love the mattress-buying process. And you may still want to get it over with as quickly as possible. But you’ll probably be good enough to get the best mattress your budget can bear.

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