The Absolute Cheapest Ways to Get Eyeglasses and Contacts

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Jeepers creepers, where’d you get those peepers? For many of us, seeing requires glasses or contact lenses. However, these items aren’t covered by most insurance policies — unless you pay extra. So, many of us are stuck paying out of pocket.

In this podcast, we’re talking about how to get more for your money when you buy glasses or contact lenses.

Note: This episode was recorded Nov. 25, 2020. Some details (such as pricing) may have changed since its recording. However, we felt the content is still relevant and useful to share with our listeners.

As usual, host Stacy Johnson is joined by financial journalist Miranda Marquit. Listening in and sometimes contributing is producer Aaron Freeman.

Remember, even though we sometimes talk about money and specific investments on this show, don’t take them as recommendations. Before investing in anything or making any other money moves, do your own research and make your own decisions.

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What’s the deal with the eyeglasses racket?

Companies mark up their glasses by a lot. They can get their supplies cheap and charge you more. You could be paying 50% to 2,000% more when they get to you.

What can you do? Not much. It’s tough to shop around when many places where you buy glasses, and many of the individual brands of glasses, are actually owned by one company: EssilorLuxottica. This company owns nearly every brand you’re familiar with, from Ray-Ban to Versace, as well as many retails outlets, from LensCrafters to Sunglass Hut.

  • Both the L.A. Times and The Guardian offer insights into the near-monopoly for eyeglasses.
  • We also talk about how a lobbying group for optometrists spent millions lobbying against federal laws that allow you to keep your prescription.
  • The good news is that these laws have largely failed. You have the right to a copy of your prescription so you can shop around for the best prices on eyeglasses and contact lenses.

How to get your eye exams, glasses and contact lenses for cheap

So, how do you get the best deals? Miranda talks about getting a discount for buying a two-year supply, plus a rebate. It usually amounts to half off when all is said and done, and it’s super convenient.

Here are some other ideas for saving money on your peepers:

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About the hosts

Stacy Johnson founded Money Talks News in 1991. He’s a CPA, and he has also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Miranda Marquit, MBA, is a financial expert, writer and speaker. She’s been covering personal finance and investing topics for almost 20 years. When not writing and podcasting, she enjoys travel, reading and the outdoors.