I’m right now shopping for a new mattress. Of course, I’m deeply attached to my old mattress—we have been together for nearly two decades. But it’s time. My back aches every morning, and there is a noticeable "valley" running right down the middle on both sides of the mattress. So I’m currently researching the heck out of mattresses. I'm learning a lot! If you’re in the market for a new mattress, I hope you can learn from these tips as well!

Consumer Reports: most popular brands/retailers 

Consumer Reports asked more than 17,000 mattress consumers which brands they liked best. These three brands and retailers far outranked the rest in nationwide consumer satisfaction.

3 Most popular brands:

  • Tempur-Pedic
  • Original Mattress Factory
  • Select Comfort

3 Most popular retailers:

  • The Original Mattress Factory (winner for both service and selection)
  • Costco (winner for lowest prices)
  • Sam's Club (winner for second lowest prices)

How to test 

It can be nerve-wracking to pick a new mattress! The good news is, Consumer Reports survey results show that 78% of those same 17,000+ shoppers say any new mattress (even one they are less than fully satisfied with) is better than their old mattress. Having said that, testing is still an important part of the shopping process.

  • What to do: Plan to spend at least 15 minutes testing each mattress on your comparison list. Spend 5 minutes in each of your top 3 sleeping positions. Any less time and your body won't be able to sufficiently relax for you to get a good "read" on potential comfort.

How to bargain

Bargaining for a mattress isn't like bargaining for other consumable goods. This is because there is no set "industry standard" to bargain against. Rather, bargaining is about starting low and going lower. Here’s how to proceed.

  • Wait for sales. Do not buy a mattress unless it’s already on sale. Daily Finance states that mattresses are one of the most price-inflated of all consumer goods, so you need prices to deflate on their own first before you can come in range of a reasonable price to bargain against.
  • Aim for a 50% price reduction. Yup, you read that right. To bolster your courage, Consumer Reports states 72% of customers who choose to bargain achieve a price reduction.
  • Ask for freebies. Whether you achieve your goal in price reduction, ask for freebies anyway. These might include a free box spring or foam pad, free disposal of your used mattress, a free frame, free linens, free pillows—you get the idea.
  • Avoid frou-frou "extras." By this, I mean don't get upsold on extras you won't see, like a pretty mattress pattern or super-soft surface threads (once the linens go on, you’ll never feel the mattress's surface again). Instead, focus on overall construction—number of coils, softness or firmness (depending on what you prefer), and tight weave (to keep interior pads in place).
  • Only buy if the mattress comes with a "comfort warranty" as well as a traditional warranty. The comfort warranty is your only source of recourse if—even after testing it in-store—you get home and discover the mattress is not comfortable.
  • Don’t get hung up on price (cheap or expensive). Surveys show that mattress preference is so individual it is impossible to quantify preference in terms of price. Pricing can also have as much to do with store profitability requirements as with comfort. Start cheap and test several different brand names…adjust as needed.

3 Mattress retailers to consider

If you’re a member of Costco or Sam's Club, you may want to check out their offerings as well!

1. The Original Mattress Factory

TOMF prides itself on "eliminating the middleman" to offer factory-direct mattress pricing. But you should still plan to bargain before you buy!

2. Mattress Firm

I bought the mattress I sleep on now from Mattress Firm. It has lasted nearly 20 years. I have been very happy with the mattress and box spring (it has survived countless moves intact and still kicking) and would totally consider buying from them again. Plus, they have lots of sales and discount offers.

3. Mattress.com

Since Mattress.com is an online-only discount retailer, it might make sense to visit a brick-and-mortar store to do your mattress testing before you buy online. Having said that, this company has a lot of great discounts and offers!