The 6 Best Places to Buy Contact Lenses Online for 2023 – CNET

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Even with vision benefits, contact lenses can cost you a pretty penny. If you’re looking for affordable contact lenses, you likely know that your eye doctor or local optical shop is probably the most expensive way to buy them. Instead, you’ll want to buy contact lenses online to get the best deals.

There are many online stores that offer every contact lens brand you can think of, often at discounted prices or with rebates. We’ve rounded up some of the best places to buy contacts online below. Our best overall pick for best online contacts retailer is Warby Parker. However, by shopping around you can get the most savings and find a store that lets you use your
insurance
to help offset the cost.

So, ready to ditch the frames and dive in? Here is where you can find contacts at an affordable price.

Read more: Best Online Glasses and Contacts Deals: Savings You’ll Have to See to Believe

Best places to buy contact lenses online

Portrait of several boxes of contacts.

Scout by Warby Parker

Shipping Info Free, takes 5-7 business days (most brands)Return Policy 30-day hassle-free returns or exchanges on unopened productsInsurance Accepted YesNumber of Contacts Brands Around 8

Warby Parker doesn’t just sell affordable and stylish eyeglasses — the company sells contact lenses too. You can pick from Scout, Warby Parker’s own contact lens brand, or get contacts from Acuvue, Biotrue, Air Optix, Dailies and other major brands.

A three-month supply of Scout daily contacts (a total of 90 lenses) starts at $47, which is a good deal for daily contact lenses. Depending on where you shop and the brand you use, prices online can vary from $60 to $200. You can get a six-day trial pack of Scout contact lenses to see if you like them before committing to a full supply.

Depending on your vision insurance, you may be able to use your benefits to pay for your Warby Parker contacts purchase. If your insurance company doesn’t directly work with Warby Parker, you can instead file a claim with your insurance to be reimbursed for any qualified orders.

Pros:

  • Competitive pricing
  • Wide variety of brands
  • Accepts most vision insurance providers

Cons:

Screenshot of the Lens.com homepage.

Lens.com

Shipping Info $10, takes 5-7 business daysReturn Policy 30-day free returnInsurance Accepted Considered out-of-network by most providersNumber of Contacts Brands 25

Lens.com‘s prices are often lower than other shops for prescription contact lenses. It has an impressive selection of brands — including Acuvue, Air Optix, Dailies and Biofinity Toric for astigmatism — plus it takes returns and covers the cost of shipping unopened boxes back. 

Lens.com is an out-of-network provider for vision insurance, so you can’t use your benefits to directly pay for your order. However, you can submit the receipt to your insurance company for reimbursement/ (Always check with your insurance company to see what it covers.)

Pros:

  • Wide range of contacts brands 
  • User-friendly checkout process

Cons:

  • Is an out-of-network provider

Screenshot of the 1800 Contacts home page

1800Contacts

Shipping Info Free, takes 5-7 business daysReturn Policy Free returns and exchanges on unopened products (or if prescription changes)Insurance Accepted YesNumber of Contacts Brands 11

As one of the best-known contacts stores, 1800Contacts stocks all of the most popular brands, and you can even get hard contacts through its call center. One CNET editor praised the company for providing customer service that went above and beyond.

1800Contacts price-matches any competitor, so if you find a better price, you can let the company know and it will do its best to match it (with some restrictions).

Like Lens.com, you can text or email your contact lens prescription, which speeds up the ordering process. 1800Contacts also offers discount contact lenses for students and free shipping on all orders, and allows you to update your prescription through an online test (only available for adults between 18 and 55 years old). You can also buy colored contact lenses from 1800Contacts. If you need to exchange your unopened lenses for any reason, 1800Contacts will cover the shipping cost. 

Pros:

  • Accepts vision insurance with a valid prescription
  • Ships internationally

Cons:

Screenshot of the ContactsDirect homepage.

ContactsDirect

Shipping Info Free, takes 7-10 business daysReturn Policy Free 6-month return on unopened productsInsurance Accepted YesNumber of Contacts Brands 14

A popular source for cheap contact lenses among my fellow CNET editors is ContactsDirect, because it often sends out coupon codes to customers. It has a wide selection of lens type options, including multifocal lenses, colored contacts, soft contact lenses for dry eyes and toric lenses for astigmatism. 

ContactsDirect offers returns on products that were purchased within one year if your eye vision changes and you need a vision correction from your doctor. ContactsDirect (and 1800Contacts) also sells contact lens solution.

Pros:

  • Accepts vision insurance
  • Offers coupons and discounts

Cons:

  • Cannot combine insurance and coupons

Screenshot of the Eyeconic homepage.

Eyeconic

Shipping Info Free, takes 8 business daysReturn Policy 30-day free returns or exchangesInsurance Accepted YesNumber of Contacts Brands 20

Eyeconic has a wide array of contact lens brands to choose from, including Acuvue, Air Optix, Biotrue by Bausch and Lomb and Extreme H2O. Like others on this list, it offers free shipping and free returns.

Pros:

  • Accepts VSP, MetLife and Cigna Vision vision insurance
  • Consumers report having an easy checkout process
  • Wide range of selections available

Cons:

Screenshot of the GlassesUSA.com homepage

GlassesUSA.com

Shipping Info Free, takes 7-10 business daysReturn Policy 30-day free returns or exchanges on unopened productsInsurance Accepted YesNumber of Contacts Brands 19

Last but not least is GlassesUSA.com, which sells both contact lenses and glasses and will price-match other sellers. Like every other retailer on this list, GlassesUSA.com has all of the popular lens brands, including Acuvue, Biofinity and more, and offers free returns and free shipping on prescription lenses.

Pros:

  • Bifocal, progressive and multifocal lenses selections are available
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Offers sales and discounts

Cons:

  • Accepts only select insurance providers.

How to order contacts online

Buying contact lenses online is just as safe as buying them from your eye doctor, as you get the same lenses you’d find at the optical shop. The process requires a little extra effort than getting them from your eye doctor, but you’ll be rewarded with savings.

To get started, you just need to follow a few easy steps.

  • Have your contact lens prescription
  • Search for the brand and model of contacts from your prescription at any of the stores above to find your specific lenses. Disposable contacts are sold in boxes, and most online shops give you a deal if you buy a six or 12 month supply, rather than one box at a time. 
  • During the checkout process, you’ll enter your prescription information to select the correct lenses and then submit verification of your prescription. Most stores allow you to upload an image or PDF of your prescription, or you can opt for the company to contact your doctor to verify it. This process can take as little as a few minutes or up to a few days if the store contacts your doctor. 
  • Once that process is complete, your order will be finalized and cleared to ship directly to you.

How to save money on contact lenses

Pro tip: Right after your contact lens exam, it’s almost always worth it to get a year’s supply of your current prescription. Regardless of whether you’re buying daily disposable contacts, monthly lenses or even multifocal contacts, buying in bulk will help you save money.

If your prescription changes sometime during that year, many of the retailers above will allow you to exchange unopened boxes with a new prescription. You don’t have much to lose by buying a full year supply. Though it can be a higher up-front cost, you’ll save money over buying one box at a time. 

Tips to buy contacts online

If you are considering buying contacts online, keep these things in mind to ensure you make a safe purchase.

  • Be sure to have a valid prescription from your eye doctor. Whether you buy in a store or online, a prescription is required to ensure you get the correct prescription strength.
  • Shop around at different online contacts retailers to find the best deals and look at customer reviews.
  • Double- and triple-check the details on your order before placing.
  • Make sure you have (or also purchase) all of the care supplies you need to ensure the safety and longevity of your contacts.

Best online contacts FAQ

Is 1-800 Contacts legit?

Yes. 1-800 Contacts is a real online retailer. They are accredited by the Better Business Bureau and all lenses are FDA approved.

Are contacts safe to buy online?

Most online retailers that sell contacts are safe. Just be sure that they fulfill your exact prescription.

Can I order contacts online with an expired prescription?

No. It is illegal to sell contact lenses to anyone without a valid prescription.

Do you need a prescription to buy contacts online?

Yes. Contact lenses are medical devices that require a prescription for you to purchase them — either online or in person. Before you start shopping, you’ll first need to get an eye exam and contact lens prescription from your optician or optometrist. An eye doctor can help you determine the best prescription lenses for your specific needs, whether that’s daily contacts, soft lenses, hard lenses, lenses for astigmatism or multifocal lenses.

What’s the best place to buy contacts online?

With so many stores to choose from, how do you pick where to buy your contacts online? Here are some things to consider: 

  • Price: Do some comparison shopping to figure out which store has the best price for your specific lenses. Prices can change often due to sales, promotions and manufacturer rebates, so the store that had the best deal last year might not have the lowest price now.
  • Return policy: Many of the stores above allow you to return unopened boxes of contacts if your prescription changes. Check the terms of the store you’re thinking of buying from to understand your options.
  • Insurance coverage: Some online contact lens stores allow you to pay through your vision insurance, some do not. If that’s important to you, look for shops that accept your benefits.

Is it expensive to buy contacts online?

Contact lenses can be expensive. But you can save money by shopping for contacts online.  

Disposable contacts will cost you more money in the long run over a pair of glasses. For example, Acuvue Oasys, one of the most popular brand of soft lenses, average around $25 to $40 for a box of 12 lenses at the stores above. That box of 12 is enough for three months (one lens per eye, thrown away every two weeks). That adds up to around $160 per year for contacts. 

The full retail price for a 12-pack of Acuvue Oasys is listed as $90 on Lenscrafters.com, so you stand to save quite a lot of money by shopping around online.

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