In fifth grade, I started getting headaches due to excessive squinting in class. A quick trip to the eye doctor confirmed my suspicions: I needed glasses. At first they were just for seeing the board in class, but my vision declined with each appointment and soon I was a full-time four-eyes. When kids started calling me Harry Potter in middle school (my glasses were dark and round), I begged my mom for a new, more stylish pair of glasses. Even with cuter frames, I still hated wearing glasses.
The pain ended freshman year of high school when my parents bought me contacts for Christmas. Best. Present. Ever. Ditching the glasses was a freeing experience — no more worrying about smudges, bad weather, or matching outfits. I could rest my head on my arm, go swimming, wear sunglasses, and, most importantly, I could see! Each year during winter vacation, my mom would take me to the eye doctor to renew my prescription and order my new contacts. Now that I’m out of the house and paying my own bills, the responsibility falls on me… and dayum is it expensive!
As a young and thrifty student, I don’t want to spend $400+ per year on eye appointments and new contacts. Thus the need for comparison shopping, promo codes, and cash back.
If you’re like me and don’t have vision insurance, saving on the eye exam is pretty straightforward. I do a Google search for local eye doctors and call every one within driving distance. No joke. Some are the same shop with multiple locations, so those can be crossed off the list. It takes less than an hour to call for all the price quotes, and you can save $50-$100 on an eye appointment. In my area, the Walmart Vision Center had the most reasonable pricing, but it will vary by location.
What about the contacts themselves? It’s more complicated, but a little bit of time can save a lot of money! Follow these tips and comment to let us know how much you saved!
1.) Take your prescription to go.
Get a price quote for a year supply of your contacts, but don’t buy them yet. Just ask your eye doctor for a copy of your contacts prescription, and you’ll be able to order from any store you want.
2.) Search for online dealers.
You can use Google, but I like to search using Ebates or ShopAtHome, because they post the cash back percentage next to each vendor. Let’s see what it looks like on Ebates:
Not all of the returned searches are relevant, but you can see that there are a few different options for comparison shopping.
3.) Compare starting prices.
Select a couple vendors and search for your brand of contacts to find the price per box. I chose VisionDirect.com, Coastal.com, and 1800Contacts.com. You don’t necessarily have to check every site and try to get the absolute best deal on the web, but you want to compare a few prices and make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Since I’m ordering a year supply of contacts, they will cost $17.99/box at VisionDirect.com.
Uh oh. For my Acuvue 2 contacts, Coastal.com lists the price per box as $21.95, which is $4 more than VisionDirect.com
1800Contacts.com is out — their price per box is the highest of the three.
All three sites offered free shipping, so we won’t have to consider shipping costs in our price analysis. Based on price alone, VisionDirect.com offers the cheapest price for my Acuvue 2 contacts.
4.) Check for cash-back opportunities and promo codes.
Now that I know VisionDirect.com has the best price for my contacts, I want to see if I can get cash back or save additional money with promo codes. Ebates and ShopAtHome are great options, but you can also check for bonus offers on your cash back credit card. For example, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall and ShopDiscover have many cash back options. For promo codes, both Ebates and ShopAtHome will list promo codes for each vendor. You can also check RetailMeNot or simply Google the name of the vendor and the term “promo code” or “coupon.”
When I was shopping, Ebates was offering 8% cash back from VisionDirect.com, and listed a promo code for an additional 25% off for new customers. Yippee!
5.) Sit back and enjoy the savings!
While I don’t know for sure if I got the absolute best deal everrrr, I do know that I saved a ton of money on my contacts! Check out my receipt — I saved $51.98 off the original price by purchasing a full year of contacts and using the 25% off new customer promo code. I saved even more when you consider the prices other merchants were charging for my contacts. Plus I’ll be getting 8% cash back (about $8.80) from Ebates. So if I see a slightly better deal next week, I’m not going to worry about it, and neither should you!
Don’t mind the MS Paint spray painting, sometimes I like to kick it old school.