7 ways to get discount eyeglasses

woman wearing glasses holding a piggy bank with money

It’s easy to find quality discount eyeglasses if you know where to look.

Jen Smith, founder of the budget blog Modern Frugality, used to spend hundreds of dollars buying glasses from her eye doctor until she learned she could save a bundle purchasing her eyeglasses online

Jen Smith sports the glasses she purchased at EyeBuyDirect.com.

After spotting a friend in cute $6 frames, Smith ordered a pair of glasses from an online eyeglasses store. 

Smith’s glasses, with premium frames and digital screen protection lenses, cost just $118. (When Smith price shopped, her eye doctor quoted her $500 for just the lenses.)

“Buying from an online store allows you to get glasses that are trendy and well-made without the price tag of the ones at your optometrist's office,” Smith says.

Want to get your new pair of eyeglasses for less? Here are seven tips and tricks for saving money on glasses: 

1. Shop for eyeglasses online

Shopping online can be one of the best ways to get discount designer eyeglasses, especially if you have a fairly simple prescription (you'll need a valid RX to order). Online eyewear shops offer a wide range of frames for less than $20, and bargain hunters can find frames for as little as $6. 

Why are glasses so much cheaper online? It’s partly because optical shops need to pay retail space rent and the salaries of staff members who do frame fittings and sell eyeglasses. 

“There are so many hidden costs that go into buying glasses from a brick-and-mortar store,” Smith says. “And you eliminate all of that when you buy online.” 

NEED A NEW PRESCRIPTION? Find an eye doctor near you and schedule an appointment.

2. Buy glasses around holidays

Many retailers hold seasonal sales around holidays such as Memorial Day or big events like back-to-school season. 

For example, the annual Vision Days sale at LensCrafters starts in August and offers half-price glasses for kids under 21 and 50% off lenses with the purchase of frames for adults. 

Check the calendar to spot opportunities to save on glasses with seasonal discounts.

3. Hunt for deals on glasses

Do some scouting online to find discounts on designer frames. 

Some online retailers offer buy-one-get-one specials, better known as BOGO, which let you get two pairs of glasses for the price of one. 

Online retailers will send you coupons and deal alerts if you subscribe to their email lists, Smith points out. 

She signed up and then postponed her purchase until a 40% off coupon landed in her inbox. “I waited for a discount that was really worth my time,” she says. 

4. Join the club

Some retailers will offer you discounts for being a member of a club or organization. 

For example, LensCrafters offers special discounts for members of AAA and AARP

AAA members get 30% off eye exams and half off lenses with the purchase of frames. 

AARP members can get an eye exam for a $50 copay plus 30% off a complete pair of glasses with lenses and frames. 

The discounts aren’t limited to AAA and AARP. Many employers offer employee discount programs that give employees, their families and retirees 10% to 50% off services and products including eye care and eyewear.

5. Don’t pay the sticker price

You may be leaving money on the table if you’ve never asked your eye doctor for a price break. 

A Consumer Reports survey found that most buyers don’t negotiate, but more than 25% of those who requested a discount saved $100 or more on eyeglasses. 

You should definitely bargain with your eye doctor, says Kelley Long, a personal finance coach and CPA. 

“I do this by showing what I could pay for the glasses elsewhere, and they always price match,” she says. 

The catch is most eye doctors will only price match for the exact same frames, she says. 

If you’d rather not deal with price matching, you can simply ask for a better deal. “They may give you a small discount if you ask,” she says. 

6. Keep your old frames

One good way to cut the cost of glasses significantly: Get new lenses put in your old frames. 

This money-saving solution can work well if you have a pair of frames you love that’s still in good shape. 

It’s also smart if you’re buying glasses for a child whose vision changes frequently as they grow.

7. Get a tax break on glasses

Do you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA)? You can use your FSA or HSA to pay for glasses

Both types of accounts allow you to save and use pre-tax money for medical and vision expenses, including eyeglasses. 

Paying with pre-tax dollars can save you 25% to 35%, according to Optum Bank. 

It definitely makes sense to use your FSA funds to buy new glasses, says Logan Allec, CPA, of Money Done Right

“FSA is use it or lose it,” he says, since unused funds don’t roll over to the next plan year. 

But since HSA funds stay in the account and grow tax-free, you’ll need to weigh your need for glasses now against the benefit of keeping that money in your account for the future, he says. 

If you’re unsure about paying with your HSA, Long suggests paying out of pocket and keeping the receipt so you can reimburse yourself later if you need the money.

Bottom Line: Keeping an eye out for coupons, deals and opportunities to save can help you get discount eyeglasses at a fraction of retail cost without sacrificing style or quality.

READY TO SHOP FOR DISCOUNT GLASSES? Find an optical store near you or shop online.

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