The results of my search for low-priced contact lenses

by Karen on February 1, 2009

I agreed to let my optometrist write my prescription for newer lenses instead of the older ones I’ve been using. I like that the new ones are monthly instead of bi-weekly lenses. I also found they were more comfortable than my old lenses, and the office assured me that they would end up costing roughly the same amount per year as my old lenses.

However, I made sure I would be able to change my mind. Since the lens brand is part of the prescription, they told me they could only write it for a certain brand. I was nervous about finding a good deal on the newer lenses, though. I made sure that if I decided after doing some comparison shopping that the new lenses were just too expensive, I could call the optometrist’s office and have them write me a new prescription for the old lenses. They said that would be fine.

Before I left the office, I had them price a year’s supply of contacts with my insurance discount and any rebates. The original price was $250 for a year’s supply or $62.50 per box. A 20 percent discount through my insurance would bring the total to $200.

There was also a $50 mail-in rebate for a year’s supply. However, I would need to mail in my receipt and proof of purchase, and then wait for a check. With discounts and rebates, the total would be $150 or $37.50 per box. Not great, but I guess it could be worse.

When I asked for my prescription, the manager of the optical office said I should let him know if I found a lower price. He said sometimes he’s able to match prices. Good to know, though I didn’t end up taking him up on it.

Next I checked at 1800-contacts.com (which  powers WalMart.com contact lens sales). I was not impressed at all. Their price was $50 per box. They offered an automatic $30 discount for a year’s supply, which would bring the total to $170 or $42.50 per box.

Today I checked Costco. The regular price was $32.25 per box. They also offered an electronic rebate of $20 for a year’s supply. The final price was $109 or $27.25 per box. That’s $90 less than I would have paid out of pocket at the optometrist’s office, and $40 less after all the discounts and rebates they offered.

For the record, I also priced my old lenses just for comparison’s sake. A year’s supply at Costco would have cost $112. So I actually saved $3 by going with the new, high-tech lenses. :)

It seems like a lot of money in a lump sum. However, since they’re monthly lenses, it works out to about $9 a month. It doesn’t seem too expensive when you think about it that way.

I feel bad for all those years that my parents ordered my contact lenses directly through the optometrist. Even with discounts and rebates, it’s usually just not the best deal.

I was also surprised to find out that 1800contacts isn’t as great a bargain as I thought. I think a lot of people order through them without shopping around, because they market themselves as the lowest-priced contacts dealer. 1800contacts were actually more expensive than the optometrist’s office, though. Just thought that was interesting.

Just remember, there’s almost always a better deal out there if you’re willing to do some leg work.

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{ 2 comments }

1 FFB February 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Interesting indeed! I found 1800contacts to have a much better price than my local Cohen’s. And I like that they had free shipping and I could return/exchange unused contacts. But the next time I need to renew I’ll definitely check out BJ’s an other options out there.

FFB’s last blog post..How A Bill Becomes A Law – Some Friday Fun

2 Katie L. February 2, 2009 at 10:37 am

Thanks for sharing your findings! I need to get new contacts soon and I probably would have just gone through 1800-contacts – I’ll certainly be shopping around now!

Katie L.’s last blog post..Tropical Fruit Salsa

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