Sometimes I’m a Genius: Discount Shopping for Contacts

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Y’all, life is tough being visually challenged. Contacts and glasses are a necessary evil in my life. Before this year, I was on my mom’s very great flex spending plan so I never had to worry about footing the bill for these things. My money could go to better things like, you know, Senegalese clotheses.

I asked my mom if she would go through my new insurance policy with me so I could make smart decisions about where I am going to go to purchase my 2014-2015 supply of contacts. I didn’t realize how expensive contacts were and how much planning needs to go into finding the best bang for your buck.

Here are few tricks I’ve learned about shopping on a budget for those necessary, budget-busting evils like contacts.

  1. Know your insurance policy, what providers are in your network and how much is covered. Mine covers a certain monetary amount and then after that it covers a percentage of what’s left-over. It’s important to know this to know what kind of budget you’re working with. This saves your from missing something you could reimburse or the frustration or paying for something out of pocket that you didn’t realize you were responsible for.
  2. Know what contacts work best for you and your lifestyle. Monthly contacts don’t work for me because I don’t wear contacts enough. On average, a one year supply of dailies lasts me 20-months. Please note: monthly contacts are good for 30 days from your first wear not good for 30 wears. There’s a difference. If you wear contacts everyday, these might be a good choice for you. If not, discuss your options with your optometrist and she what they recommend for your eyes and lifestyle. This can help reduce cost and waste.
  3. Unless you’ve done your research, be patient and don’t buy your contacts the day of your eye exam. I know it’s fun. The excitement of a new pair of glasses or a new supply of contacts is great (NERD), but please do your research on your options before you get stuck paying double. **SEE BELOW.
  4. Research rebates and the rules! Acuvue always has great rebates. Their standard rebate is $50 or $100 off your year supply. There are strict qualifiers though- for instance you must buy the product in a store. You can’t get a rebate for a product you bought online. See if the brand you’re looking for has a rebate by calling customer service or googling “your brand name + rebate.” **NOTE: If you’re really dependent on this rebate, please read the fine print before taking the plunge!
  5. Speaking of rebates, check point-earning sites or cash-back sites like SwagBucks or EBates.com (GREAT ONE, thanks Kristin!) for partnerships. Sometimes there are special offers through these search domains that give you points if you go through their website to shop online. The more points you have the better the rewards. Rewards are often times gift cards/certificates to partnering stores (like Starbucks). Also, it’s rare that there would be a Groupon for contacts or glasses, but rare doesn’t mean impossible!
  6. Free Shipping: Most online retailers will give you free shipping if your order is over $50.  Trust me, your order will be over $50. Double check that so you don’t debate over a $3 difference between two online stores and get stuck with a $40 S&H fee you assumed was free.
  7. How Low Can You Go? While a lot of retailers with physical locations do not advertise that they do price matching, ALWAYS ask. Know what their policy is. Generally, it is before rebate prices or manufacturers coupons.
  8. Please be careful using online sites. There are a plethora of contact retail sites out there. I am not an expert on what the laws are regarding selling contacts, but know where your contacts are coming from. If you wouldn’t buy prescription pills online from a little known source, maybe don’t by them from lesser-known websites. Know that going through third-party dealers means you probably won’t have much of a warranty or much help after purchase. Check on their rules and regulations as well.

Here are some examples I used while researching Acuvue 1 Day contacts in the 90 count pack.

1-day-acuvue-moist-90-pack-contact-lenses-lg

  • LensCrafters: You’re killing me smalls. One box (45-day supply) is marked at $69.95. Year supply is $559.60. If someone doesn’t have a flex spending plan to pull from or insurance, I don’t know how they do it. The good thing about LC is they do price matching. They will even call around for you if you tell them which places to check. If you have had a recent eye exam and purchase these contacts in a store, there’s a $100 rebate available on the Acuvue rebate site. Dropping the final cost to $459.60, averaging at $1.26 per day. Holy expensive batman…
  • 1-800-Contacts: I can’t tell how I feel about this place... I will say I am impressed with their Unbeatable Price Guarantee policy. Not only do they match prices, they go 2% lower in the price. Normally, price per box is about $70. But, if you buy a year supply, PPB is dropped down to $57.49. Bad news, you can’t use a rebate with it because you bought it online. And since LC’s initial cost is  before the “rebate,” 1-800’s price is lower so you can’t use the 2% decrease. If you’re a returning customer, this is as low as it goes. Good news,  if you’re a new customer you get an automatic $25 off your purchase. And like most other places, shipping is free for purchases over $50. The sales price before taxes is $424.92 averaging at $1.16 per day.
  • Walgreens- Is this a new thing? Has Walgreens always sold contact lenses? I found out that Walgreens has a 20% off promo code until 4/30/2014 (SEASONS20) for any contact lens purchase. They also have my contacts listed at $62.99 per 45 days. This is the second lowest price I’ve found. Bad news, ’cause there always is some, the Acuvue Rebates specifies that it is only valid for in-store purchases. Unless I am mistaken, which I may be, Walgreens does not carry these contacts in store. Good news, this is the lowest price available without insurance. The final price would be $403.14. Price per day: $1.10. 
  • Pearle Vision: For those who eat Pearls for breakfast... I just want to say, my initial total came out to be $719.76. You’re funny Pearle Vision, but for real though. There was absolutely nothing on their website about contact discounts, rebates, etc. I’m not even going to do the math on this one. Free shipping for orders over $50. You can keep your $50 and I’ll keep my arms and my legs, thank you!

While I try to be a loyal customer to LensCrafters, I may just have to go to Walgreens for this one (if they are covered in my network for contacts). Thanks for reading and learning with me!

What are some ways you’ve found to help budget in the necessary evils of life?

Is there another site you and your family use?

Mary Lou

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3 comments

  1. Love this! You are a bargain shopper. And now I think I’m really thankful I got LASIK. Contacts have gone up! I always bought mine at Target Optical through our insurance because they were so much less than my eye doctor.
    I’m a few months from having to buy real glasses again. I’ve had a 7 year reprieve.

    1. That’s awesome! I meant to give you a shout out under the deals section. I have talked to a few people who have gotten Lasik. One said it didn’t work for him. I’ve had the same prescription for probably 7 years now. I should look into it! Did it hurt at all?

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