1. Take inexpensive designer frames to your doc
A friend of mine desperately wanted a pair of designer frames. She went from vision center to vision center trying to find a pair of frames from Coach, Kate Spade or another high-end brand that she could afford, but never had any luck—until we hit the outlet mall and spotted Coach sunglasses for $59 at Nordstrom Rack. She took them to her eye doctor who was able to replace the lenses with a prescription set. She ended up paying about 50 percent less than if she had bought a pair of designer glasses at the vision center!
If you’ve been dreaming about owning a pair of designer glasses, consider scoping out stores like T.J.Maxx, Off 5th, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Marshall's and Nordstrom Rack, where you can often find big-name glasses for up to 50 percent off the original retail price. However, be aware that not all frames can be fitted with prescription lenses—if they’re too curved or weak your eye doctor may tell you that they’re a no-go, so be sure to save your receipt.
2. Shop online
Though I love online shopping, glasses are one thing I never considered purchasing online. How could I buy glasses without trying them on? As it turns out, most online eyeglass retailers have good return policies, and some will even send you several pairs to try on! One of the top online retailers for inexpensive glasses is 39DollarGlasses.com, which offers numerous glasses for—you guessed it, $39! Each pair of $39 glasses comes with prescription lenses finished with a scratch-free coating and 100 percent UV protection. They also offer a virtual "try-on" service that allows you to upload a photo of yourself and try on frames. Other sites that offer inexpensive eyeglasses include Warby Parker, which will send you up to five frames to try at no cost, Frames Direct, Coastal Contacts, and Optical4less.com, which offers eyeglasses for as low as $15.
3. Take advantage of offers and coupons
Here at KCL, we don’t just post deals for drugstores and grocery stores—we often post deals and coupons for eyeglasses, as well! In fact, in the past we’ve posted coupon codes for free Lily Pulitzer glasses, free designer eyeglasses, and even free children’s glasses. But one of the best deals we run on KCL is through Coastal Contacts, who offers a free pair of glasses (just pay shipping) to new customers! You can view all of the eligible frames and get all the details here.
In additional to KCL, check out Offers.com, a coupon-code site that has a category dedicated specifically to eyeglasses. They offer deals at various retailers for Buy One Get One Free frames, $95 glasses and even 70 percent off select pairs!
4. Replace your lenses
If it’s time to get new glasses because your prescription has changed, there’s no need to get an entirely new pair. Instead, consider keeping your current frames and just replacing the lenses. Frames have a much higher markup than lenses, so most retailers will try to steer you towards a whole new pair. But depending on your prescription, you may be able to replace your lenses for as low as $30. If your frames are starting to look a bit beat up, many retailers will offer services to repair any damage such as chips or scratches on the frames. This can be done at the same time as the lens replacement, making your old glasses almost new again!
5. Take advantage of replacement offers
If you plan on purchasing new glasses because you scratched your lenses or maybe your little one put them on the dog (who flung them across the room), you may be able to take advantage of replacement offers as opposed to purchasing a new pair. Many vision centers such as LensCrafters and Walmart offer repair and replacement services. In fact, LensCrafters will offer minor repairs and replacement of screws or nose pads at no cost, and Walmart offers a 12-month replacement guarantee for broken and damaged lenses. Instead of assuming your glasses are garbage, give your vision center a call and find out what your options are!
6. Purchase ready-made reading glasses
Depending on what your needs are, you may be able to grab reading glasses for as low as a few bucks at discount stores. You have probably seen reading glasses on spinners at stores like Walgreens, CVS and even Dollar Tree. These glasses are usually less than $8 a pair, and work well for many people. I’ve known quite a few people who buy them at the dollar store and, since they’re so cheap, purchase several pair at a time to keep in their cars, purses, and at the office.
However, both lenses will be the same prescription, so if your eyesight is very different in each eye, these may not work for you. If you decide to give these glasses a try, make sure you pay careful attention to the stickers. The glasses will have signs or stickers indicating their power, and most will range from +1 to +4 diopter, in increments of +.25. Try the lowest power of +1 first, and then work your way up to find the right pair!
7. Shop warehouse clubs
If you belong to a warehouse club such as Sam’s Club, Costco, or BJ’s, you’re in luck! These retailers often offer prescription eyeglasses for much lower than traditional vision centers. Sam’s Club boasts that members pay an average of 33 percent less at their vision center than at traditional retailers, and that frames alone average 8 percent less. Another advantage of warehouse clubs is that they often run promos or specials, as well. In the past, Sam’s has offered $40 off any second set of eyeglasses and BJ’s occasionally offers $20 off any eyeglass purchase. Stack those deals on top of their already low prices and you can snag a quality pair of glasses for a lot less. If you don’t belong to a warehouse club but have been considering joining, look into getting a one-day pass to check out the vision center and see if it’s worth the cost.
8. Use your FSA
Flexible Spending Accounts are a wonderful tool to help you get more for your money when it comes to medical and vision expenses. Not only do you have money set aside for such expenses, but since you can contribute money from your paycheck to your FSA before taxes are taken out, you end up saving even more. If you use a Flexible Spending Account, you can use this money toward items such as eye exams, contacts, tinting, and prescription eyeglasses. If you don’t participate in one, it is definitely worth inquiring as to whether your employer offers this service to get enrolled for next year!