Buying a mattress is generally an unpleasant experience, with the kind of high-pressure salesmanship associated with buying a used car. Comparison shopping is all but futile; many mattresses from different brands or lines are essentially the same inside. Shoppers anxious to make a good investment -- considering how much time they spend lying in bed and the importance of sleep for physical and mental health -- can easily overspend. Certain Serta, Simmons, and Royal-Pedic models cost upward of $4,000 and are hardly the fanciest available. Constant "blowout" sales offering 50 percent or more off the list price suggest substantial retailer markups.
By contrast, a growing number of online mattress sellers price their products under $1,000. They keep costs low by bypassing showrooms and commission-driven sales. The best ones offer high-quality products with free shipping, long test periods, free returns, and 10-year warranties. Cheapism.com compared the offerings from six companies with predominantly 4- and 5-star ratings in online reviews.
Boutique online retailers generally sell foam mattresses, often a combination of high-density polyurethane (memory) foam and latex foam. Casper, Tuft and Needle, Leesa, and Yogabed take a one-mattress-fits-all approach and offer a single product in different sizes.
Mattresses from Helix Sleep are customized along four dimensions -- feel, support, temperature regulation, and point elasticity -- based on answers to a short questionnaire. For couples, both partners can take the survey and the middle point can be used, or the mattress can be split into two sides (which costs another $100 for queen size and larger).
The cheapest option is a foam mattress from Signature Sleep. With 4.5 out of 5 stars based on thousands of Amazon reviews, the 8-inch Signature Sleep Memoir may be a good option for some frugal consumers. A 12-inch version represents a step up in comfort and still offers significant savings over other companies' products.
|Signature Sleep Memoir
|Tuft and Needle
How Does Shipping Work?
Mattresses bought online are rolled and vacuum sealed for shipping. When unpacked, they expand slowly, reaching their general form within a few minutes, although some may take days to reach full size. They sometimes have a strong odor that can take several days to dissipate.
Five of the retailers featured here offer 10-year warranties that cover defects in material or workmanship. Signature Sleep has a one-year warranty and, thus, may be better-suited for a guest room or buyers who know they're moving soon and will not be able to take a bed with them.
Dissatisfied customers can return mattresses to many online sellers for a full refund within the first 100 days. Mattresses returned in good condition are often given to local charities, although in some places laws require that they be recycled or thrown out.
Does One Size Really Fit All?
Buying a mattress online can be nerve-racking; it's a product many shoppers are inclined to try before buying. Testing a mattress at home for weeks or even months is likely the best way to see if the mattress is a good fit, and many online retailers make this easy.
But if customers' experiences are a good indication, it is unlikely a mattress purchased online will need to be returned. There might be some slight differences between the products, but all the mattresses listed here consistently earn positive reviews from consumers -- with expectations somewhat narrowed by the fact that the buyers had already decided on a foam mattress (as opposed to a traditional innerspring or other type of mattress).
Online mattress retailers do not have the same negotiable prices and clearance sales found at the local mall. But many offer $50 to $75 off with the use of a coupon code or referral from a "friend" (there are many people eager to supply one online). Some also include add-ons such as a pillow or set of sheets with a purchase.