Buying contact lenses online is easy, but will you get the best value? Here's how to decide where to purchase.
Buying contact lenses online can be very convenient: it takes just a few clicks of your mouse or taps on the screen of your tablet or phone. But before you buy contact lenses online, consider whether it's really the best option for you.
Your eye doctor, optical stores and large warehouse-style retailers like Costco and Sam's Club also sell contact lenses. Is one of those a better option? To find out, read "Where's the Best Place to Buy Contact Lenses?"
If you're planning to buy contacts online, the first thing to know is that there are dozens of Internet contact lens sellers. But they are not all created equal.
Buying contact lenses online is easy, but make sure you are getting the best value.
Even when a website looks credible, it's sometimes hard to know who is behind it. Internet contact lens sellers range from large, publicly traded companies like 1-800 Contacts and Walmart to back-room operations with no full-time staff.
Although smaller operators may post attractive prices on their websites, they might not offer the service and selection you're looking for.
Some have little or no inventory and may buy lenses from the manufacturer only after you place an order.
Using Online Contact Lens Shopping Sites
You can compare online prices for contact lenses by using price-comparison websites such as Google Shopping, BizRate, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com and Yahoo! Shopping. Entering a brand name will pull up listings with prices, as well as links to sellers.
The downsides: All sellers may not be included, and listings may not reflect recent price changes, specials, rebates or availability. Also, the per-box prices listed may factor in high-volume discounts (such as for a year's supply of lenses). If you are ordering only a three-month supply, you may have to pay a higher per-box price than what's shown on the price-comparison site.
Comparing prices for contact lenses online can be difficult, because sometimes prices include rebates, and sometimes they don't. Also, include shipping costs in your calculations, as these can vary significantly among online contact lens vendors.
An advantage of price-comparison websites is that they may introduce you to contact lens sellers that you wouldn't otherwise have found. Plus and this is a big benefit they often include user reviews to help you judge unfamiliar sellers.
Comparing Places to Buy Contacts Online
When evaluating online contact lens sellers, size matters, for two reasons:
- Large contact sellers generally have more lenses in stock, so they may be better able to ship your lenses quickly. For example, 1-800 Contacts, the largest online contact lens seller, says it maintains an inventory of more than 15 million lenses.
- Large contact lens sellers may be more stable companies. You want to be sure that the company you buy from will be in business tomorrow, in case you need to return or exchange a product or you have difficulty with a credit card transaction.
The company you choose to buy your replacement contact lenses from doesn't have to be huge. You just want to make sure you're not doing business with a basement operation.
After evaluating online contact lens sellers for trustworthiness and customer service, you'll want to make sure you pay the right price for your lenses. When comparing prices:
Finally, factor in rebates, and perhaps compare prices with traditional "brick-and-mortar" optical stores and your eye doctor's office. To learn more about comparing prices and getting the best value including information on vision insurance plans, rebates and private label brands read "Where's the Best Place to Buy Contact Lenses?"