The 8 Best Places to Buy Contacts in 2021

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Best Places to Buy Contacts

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

While eyeglasses require considerably less maintenance, contacts tend to be more adaptable to our usual day-to-day activities like showering, driving, and exercising. Combine that with the fact that contacts give wearers a wider field of vision, there are plenty of reasons to consider tackling the contact lens learning curve.

That said, there is a learning curve to wearing contacts. The right prescription, type, and fit are all key to finding success with your contact lenses. And then there’s buying them: with options available through your doctor’s office and online, how do you know if you’re shopping for the right contacts from the right places?

“To determine which contacts are best for you, it’s important to speak to your eye doctor regarding your contact lens routine,” explains Dr. Vanessa Hernandez, optometrist at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York City. You'll want to take into account how often you want to dispose of them, how many hours per day and how many days per week you will wear your lenses, any allergies or problems with eye dryness, and if you plan to sleep or shower in them. Once you've determined your contact needs, you'll be better prepared to find the best retailer for you.

We researched dozens of online contact retailers and evaluated them for reviews, shipping speed, site experience, pricing, product selection, customer service, and return policies. Each of the retailers chosen in this article was determined to be the best of these factors. We also did a comprehensive testing review on both 1-800 Contacts and Coastal Contacts.

Here are the best places to buy contacts online.

Best Overall: Discount Contact Lenses

Discount Contact Lenses
  • Wide selection of lenses

  • Generally lower prices

  • Regular chances for cost savings

  • Return policies vary by product

  • Out-of-network insurance reimbursement only

You still get most contact lenses that you’ll find on other sites, but at a more affordable price when you order from Discount Contact Lenses. Most packs ring in at well under $100, while other companies offer lenses in the triple digits.

In addition to the actual contact lenses, you can also find a range of eye care products on the site, like solutions and cases for your contacts, as well as sunglasses and reading glasses. If you don’t need better eyesight, but you do want colored contacts, this site offers that too—all at prices that won’t break the bank.

Price: Average $30 to $50 | Subscription Orders: Yes | Shipping Time: Standard (5-7 business days)

Best Budget: AC Lens

AC Lens
  • Always 20 percent off first order

  • Over 42 brands to choose

  • Affordable prices

  • Free shipping only with $99+ orders

  • Out-of-network insurance reimbursement only

With more than 42 brands to choose from, you’ll find the best contact lenses for you—and all at an affordable price. New members also get 20 percent off on all contact lenses, so you save a little money with your first-time order.

Because the company has been around since 1995, they’ve got the system down, with easy navigation to order contacts online. If you do have a question, you can give them a call as well. Keep in mind, you do have to spend $99 to get free shipping with an online order at this site. 

Price: Average $30 to $50 | Subscription Orders: Yes | Shipping Time: Standard (5-7 business days)

Best for Convenience: 1-800 Contacts
  • Flexible return and exchange policy

  • Next-day delivery

  • In-network insurance and FSA/HSA spending options

  • Automated shipments on your schedule

  • Some returns may be store credit, not money back

If you want to make sure you get a fresh set of lenses every month, then the page should get a spot on your bookmark list. You can easily input your prescription information—and update it at any time—and you'll automatically get your contacts when you need them, without even thinking about it.

If you decide not to do the subscription and realize you're out of lenses, you can also order a set for next-day delivery. Better yet, if your Rx changes and you still have some lenses left, you can send back the remaining unopened boxes for money toward your next order.

What Our Editors Say

"I've been ordering my contacts from 1-800 Contacts for over 10 years. I don't wear them regularly, which means sometimes my daily lens Rx changes or the lenses expire before I need to use them. Their customer service has always made it easy for me to exchange for what I need, which I really appreciate." — Nicole Kwan, Editorial Director of Verywell Health 

Price: Average $40 to $60 | Subscription Orders: Yes | Shipping Time: Standard (5-7 business days)

Best One-Stop Shop: LensCrafters

Ray-Ban 0RX5154
  • Wide variety of brands and styles

  • Many types of insurance and HSA/FSA accepted

  • Eye exams and lenses at same location

  • Limited variety of pack sizes

  • 30 days for returns or exchanges

Get your eye exam and prescription and order contacts (and glasses, if you want them, too), all at Lenscrafters locations across the country. The vision care center offers a few different brands, and your eye doctor can easily suggest which would be best for you. Choose from different pack sizes, from a few dailies to a three-month supply of monthlies. You can also find contacts for different conditions like astigmatism or multifocal lenses.

Besides the option to buy in-person, you can also easily order contacts online from Lenscrafters—a good idea if you’re just looking for a renewal and want to get it done quickly.

Price: Average $50 to $80 | Subscription Orders: No | Shipping Time: Ground (5-7 business days)

Best for Buying Only Online: Coastal

Coastal Contacts
  • Price match guarantee

  • Easy reordering process

  • Offers colored lenses and other options

  • Some restrictions on returns and exchanges

  • No online eye exam offered

Known for their buy-one, give-one glasses, you can find more than just a pair of spectacles at Coastal. They also offer contact lenses, which you can easily order (and re-order) when you need them. If you aren’t sure how, they have an online chat option so a rep can help you out. They offer a price match guarantee, too, so you can get them inexpensively.

Coastal also offers colored contact lenses and “enhancers” that simply magnify the natural color of your eyes.

Price: Average $50 to $70 | Subscription Orders: No | Shipping Time: Standard (3-5 business days)

Best for Scoring Deals: Walgreens

  • Free standard shipping on all lens orders

  • Frequent discounts and rebate offers

  • Wide selection of brands

  • Returns are not accepted unless there is damage or error

  • Prices vary widely across brands and styles

Order popular brands like Dailies, Acuvue, or Bausch & Lomb (among others) for your everyday contact wearing. The Walgreens website often offers discounts on lenses—in fact, right now you can snag a 20 percent off deal on all contact lenses that the retailer sells.

Besides keeping contacts budget-friendly, Walgreens also offers tons of options for you to choose the right set. You can get daily disposables or pairs you toss after a month or a week—opt for colored lenses to change your pupil hue or focus on multifocal if you need better sight near and far.

Price: Anywhere from $40 to $100 | Subscription Orders: No | Shipping Time: Standard (3-4 business days)

Best Subscription Service: Web Eye Care

Web Eye Care
  • Free shipping

  • Flexible subscription plan for changing shipping window

  • Text notifications about shipping and delivery

  • Customer pays postage for returns

  • Prices vary widely across brands and styles

Web Eye Care has a great selection of popular contact lenses at incredibly affordable prices, and their subscription service makes the contact-buying experience hassle-free—you can even reorder with Alexa.

If you're someone who waits by the window to watch for your package delivery, sign up for SMS notifications so you know exactly what's going on with your order (and shipping is free!). Life happens, and if you need to postpone or change your subscription, logging into your account to change the timing is a breeze. Want to cancel? Just text, email, or call and they take care of you right away.

Price: Anywhere from $40 to $100 | Subscription Orders: Yes | Shipping Time: Business Day Ground (5-10 business days)

Best for Easy Returns:
  • Most comprehensive return policy

  • Selection comparable to competitors

  • 24/7 customer service online

  • Out-of-network insurance reimbursement only

  • No online eye exam option

Filled the wrong prescription? Don’t like the way your lenses feel? No matter why you have to return your contacts, you can do so at any time—and for free. They’ll cover the cost of shipping them back, all you have to do is make sure to call the customer service center first (or email them) before packing them up. The rep will tell you what to do to get your order back, including the paperwork to fill out. It’ll take just two to three business days after you submit everything to get the cash back on your card. 

In addition to the great return policy, you have lots of brands to choose from and that customer service team can help you out with any questions you have before your order.

Price: Average $30 to $50 | Subscription Orders: No | Shipping Time: Standard (5-7 business days)

Final Verdict

Most people who need their vision corrected can benefit from wearing contact lenses, although they aren’t for everyone. There are cost, lifestyle, and comfort concerns to consider, and you need to be able to both correctly care for your contacts and keep up with regular eye exams in order to safely wear them.

If you’re sensitive to many lenses, daily disposables may be the best choice for you—you’ll get a fresh pair to wear and throw away every day. Many people, however, prefer the convenience of extended-wear options, which let them pop a new pair of contacts in and forget all about them for weeks at a time.

Discount Contact Lenses is a great place to look for your next pair of contacts. They offer a wide range of prices and prescriptions, and have subscription options that make getting your prescription easy. If you're not looking for a subscription service, and would rather have a one-stop-shop purchase, LensCrafters is your best bet.

AC Lens

Verywell Health / Sarah Vanbuskirk

What to Look for When Buying Contact Lenses

Prescription: If there’s one singularly important takeaway about buying contact lenses, it’s that you need a current eye prescription before shopping around. Why?

  1. Contact lenses are medical devices. Wearing ill-fitting or incorrect lenses could actually damage your vision. You should get an eye exam once per year and verify or update your contact lens prescription accordingly. Credible vendors won’t fill prescriptions for contact lenses that are more than one or two years old.
  2. Speaking of credible vendors, per the Federal Trade Commission, it’s illegal to sell any kind of contact lenses to someone without a legitimate prescription. This includes cosmetic lenses, like ones that simply change the color of your iris without correcting your vision. 
  3. You may need a different type of contact lens based on your vision like if you’re near-sighted versus far-sighted or have astigmatism in one or both eyes. This is something only an eye doctor can tell you based on an eye exam. Sometimes different eyes need different accommodations, too, so knowing your specific vision needs for both your left and right eyes is critical.

If you already wear glasses, you can’t use your glasses prescription to buy contacts. Contacts correct your vision in a totally different way than glasses—including measurements for the curve and diameter of your eye—so you need a prescription specifically designed to work for contacts.

Lifestyle: Whatever your normal day-to-day optical needs are, there’s probably a lens type to suit them.

For example, people with severe seasonal or environmental allergies might want to choose daily disposable lenses; over time, longer-wear lenses may accumulate too much microscopic dust, pollen, and debris to be kept in place comfortably. On the other hand, if you work long shifts, unpredictable hours, or travel frequently, lenses that can be worn for one month at a time—through every activity including sleep—could be better for you.

Convenience: Since contacts are a bigger inconvenience than glasses in terms of maintenance, you probably want to minimize the strain on both your budget and your supply.

“Convenience is a big factor and if you prefer to purchase your supply throughout the year, online retailers can offer more flexibility and mail your supply quarterly,” says Dr. Hernandez.

On the other hand, you may be more limited when committing to auto-deliveries from a particular company. 

“Subscription-based contact lens services offer convenience as well as peace of mind,” says Brad Brocwell, optometrist and vice president of clinical operations for Now Optics, “[but] the disadvantage is some subscription-based sites only offer their own private label contact lenses, which may not be the best choice or modality for some customers.”

Legitimacy: Look into all your available options to find a seller that will offer you the most affordable contact lenses, and do some research to make sure that the seller is maintaining a high level of quality service. 

Specifically, you should verify that:

  • the company only sells contacts approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA);
  • the company requires a current prescription from customers;
  • the company is not plagued with poor online reviews and/or complaints to consumer regulation boards;
  • and the company does not make unauthorized changes to your prescription or attempt to sell you a similar but cheaper or lesser-known brand than the one your doctor prescribed.

“Companies who offer to change the prescription without a visit to the eye doctor will often use a subpar contact lens that uses outdated technology and materials,” explains Dr. Hernandez, “which increases the risk for complications and infections in contact lenses.”

Safety: Most people can safely wear contacts without damaging their vision, but there are rare cases when contacts aren’t compatible with your eyes. This includes medical conditions that cause excessive dryness or inflammation, certain kinds of allergies or infections, or if you work around a lot of environmental debris. 

Also, keep in mind that correct maintenance of your contacts is hugely important; your contacts are only safe to wear if they’re being cleaned, stored, and disposed of properly. Failure to maintain your contacts can easily lead to eye infections that could, if left untreated, damage your vision temporarily or even permanently. 

1-800 Eye Contacts
Verywell / Sarah Vanbuskirk

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you need a prescription to order contacts?

    You should have a prescription from your doctor. If a website claims you can order contacts without a prescription, you should steer clear—it’s not a legitimate retailer. The FDA has mandated that contact lenses cannot be sold without a valid prescription. Even if you are only ordering contacts for cosmetic reasons, like wanting to change your eye color or the physical appearance of your eye, you still need a current prescription from an eye doctor.

    You also need to make sure you’ve told your doctor about wanting to wear contact lenses (either along with or instead of glasses). Contact lens prescriptions are different from eyeglass prescriptions because contacts are inserted into your eyes and are considered medical devices. You won’t be able to order contacts with a prescription for eyeglasses.

  • How often should you replace your contacts?

    That depends on the style of contacts you and your doctor agree on. With the exception of gas permeable or scleral lenses, which can last for years with proper care, most contacts have a shelf life of three months at the most. That doesn’t apply to all lenses, however: if you’re opting for daily disposables, weekly, or monthly lenses, you’ll need to follow the replacement schedule outlined by the manufacturer of your contacts.

What the Experts Say

“The most popular and arguably the healthiest contact lens option is the daily disposable lenses. They offer the benefit of a fresh clean lens every morning for an everyday wearer, convenience for the part-time or occasional wearer, and are also great for first-time wearers and younger patients that might lack a little responsibility.”Brad Brocwell, optometrist and vice president of clinical operations for Now Optics

Why Trust Verywell Health

Mallory Creveling is a health and fitness writer and ACE-certified personal trainer living in Brooklyn, NY. She previously worked on staff at Shape magazine for more than four years and worked as the associate health editor at Family Circle magazine for nearly two years.

Additional reporting for this story by Sarah Bradley

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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  1. Federal Trade Commission. Contact lens rule.