Is it time to replace your worn-out mattress? If you’ve been hunting online, you may have noticed more “bed in a box” options sprouting up. While the convenience of getting a mattress shipped to your door has obvious appeal, what are the pros and cons of doing so, and how can you gauge whether it’s the right choice for you?
Here’s what to consider if you’re thinking of buying a bed in a box:
You Won’t Be Able to Test It Out Beforehand
While it’s not as large a purchase as say, a house or a car, buying a new bed is an investment nonetheless. Depending on its size, material and quality, a mattress can cost anywhere from $200 – $5,000. A high-quality one should last anywhere from 7 – 10 years, sometimes even longer.
The obvious major downside to buying a mattress online is that you won’t get to try it out in person, points out Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing with DealNews. Because a mattress is a large purchase and getting the wrong one could result in poor sleep quality, back and neck pain or other health ailments, it’s not recommended to get one without testing it out first. After all, you want to get the best sleep possible, so decide whether you’re okay not testing it out in person.
Review the Return Policy
While you won’t be able to try it out beforehand, the good news is that the “bed in a box” retailers – Casper, Tuft & Needle, Cocoon by Sealy and Dream Bed, to name a few – have liberal return policies. Many offer a “100-night trial policy.” If you decide that the mattress, foundation or base isn’t right for you, then you can send it back for free and receive a full refund.
But it’s a hassle regardless, explains Sakraida. “If you purchase a mattress, unload it, set it up and then realize you don’t like it, there might be significant effort on your part to return it, even if a delivery person comes to pick it up,” she says.
So be sure to read up on the return policy before you hit the “buy” button. Plus, you’ll want to mull over whether returning it will be more trouble than it’s worth.
Most of the “bed in a box” companies offer several choices. Casper offers three main types of mattresses, while Tuft & Needle features only two. Depending on how you look at it, this could be a positive or a downside. If you tend to feel overwhelmed when given too many options, you may find that having just a few different types of mattresses to choose from simplifies the process. Conversely, it could seem limiting if you like lots of options.
Make Sure It Has a Good Warranty
Whether you choose to try out the bed in a box route or buy one at the store, there are things you aren’t able to notice right away. “While there are some immediate things you can learn about a mattress, such as the firmness, there’s much you won’t know until you consistently sleep on the mattress for a while,” says Sakraida.
For example, it’s tough to tell right off the bat whether the mattress is good at dissipating heat or if it tends to trap it while you sleep, she explains. The mattress may also lose its firm edge over time, making it easier to roll off while sleeping. “These are things you can’t learn from a single ‘lie down’ in a store, which makes the in-person experience a little misleading,” says Sakraida.
Knowing this, you’ll want to make sure the mattress has a solid warranty before buying. Warranties normally cover manufacturing defects and structural failures. Some may be non-prorated, which means the manufacturer will cover the entire cost of replacement if anything goes wrong. Others may be prorated, so you may have to pay out of pocket to cover part of the cost. Some warranties may be a combination of both – for instance, non-prorated for the first 10 years, and then prorated for the remaining 5 years.
If you’re leaning toward the bed in a box, do your homework and read plenty of reviews online. “To avoid being swayed by anything that’s overwhelmingly positive or negative, opt for sites that have a large number of reviews so that assessments average out to a truer picture,” says Sakraida.
Aggregate sites, or sites with a bunch of reviews from several trusted sources, are a good place to start. For example, you can hunt for reviews and compare prices on aggregate sites such as NexTag, Shopzilla and PriceGrabber.
Buying straight from the manufacturer? Sakraida suggests to look for an unaffiliated site to scour reviews. Consumer Reports is a reputable site that offers unbiased product reviews. And while Wirecutter does contain affiliate links, they typically perform thorough product testing.
While scouring websites for reviews, keep in mind the things that are important to you. It’s easy to get caught up in the nitty-gritty and give all factors equal weight. “Sometimes others will give big accolades or demerits for things that don’t matter as much to you, so you’ll want to keep those things in perspective,” says Sakraida.
Hunt for Sales
If you want to score a deal, shop during a major shopping holiday weekend such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day. That’s when stores most likely will offer discounts, explains Sakraida. While online “bed in a box” companies may not offer the same promotions during a major holiday, see if you can snag a coupon off digital coupon sites such as RetailMeNot.
You might also get wind of promotions and sales by signing up for email lists. To avoid getting bombarded by spam, use an email account that’s just for spam, newsletter signups and promotional offers.
In your quest to buy a new mattress and deciding whether buying a bed in a box online is the best choice for you, doing your homework and carefully weighing the pros and cons will steer you in the right direction.
What features are you most interested in when it comes to mattress shopping? Let us know in the comments below!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.