Best Budget Mattress

Shopping for a new mattress on a budget can be difficult. You still want a quality mattress, even if you can’t afford the most expensive model.

However, most sleepers don’t need the most expensive mattress available. There are plenty of fine mattresses for under $1000, and you can even find a few decent ones for under $500. With a little bit of searching, you can find your best mattress at an affordable price.

In this guide, we cover what to look for in a budget mattress and what you can expect from mattresses in various price ranges. We go over the main types of mattresses available and how to find a mattress that suits your sleep style. Finally, we give a few tips on how to keep your new bed in excellent condition, no matter what you paid for it.

Our Recommendation: Zoma Mattress

Best Budget MattressWe created the Zoma Mattress to help sleepers achieve better, more restorative sleep. Our goal is to help people perform better in their everyday lives.

Our Zoma Mattress stands at 11 inches, divided into three distinct layers of foam.

Two inches of gel memory foam make up the mattress’s first layer. The gels keep you cool and make the foam more responsive to your movements, while the memory foam works to isolate motion and contour to your body for pressure relief.

You’ll find our Triangulex™ technology in the first layer as well. The mattress is solid in the middle to give support where it’s most needed, but the bed segments into triangle-shaped cutouts in the shoulder and leg areas to offer added pressure relief and breathability.

The mattress’s second layer is 2 inches of our responsive Reactiv™ foam. Reactiv™ possesses a similar feel to latex, giving the bed some springiness and acting as a buffer between the soft comfort layer and the support core underneath.

The third and final layer is the bed’s base, a 7-inch layer of Support+ foam. Support+ foam gives the bed its shape and durability.

Encasing the bed is our mattress cover, made with polyester and elastane. The elastane promotes breathability by creating more air channels as the cover stretches.

The queen size Zoma Mattress is $750 with free shipping. The bed comes with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty. If at any point in your sleep trial you decide to return your mattress, we will work with a local partner to pick it up and issue you a full refund.

What to Think About When Buying a Budget Mattress

Price may be the foremost concern on your mind, but it’s not all you should think about as you weigh mattress choices. You should also think about how you expect to use the bed and look at a mattress’s construction to determine its quality.

Expected Usage

How long and how much you expect to use a mattress can help you determine the right budget. If you’re shopping for a guest bed or a short-term use mattress, you can invest less money than you would for a mattress you want to use regularly for several years. A high-quality mattress can last 8 to 10 years and typically costs between $700 to $1,000.

Layers

Foam mattresses typically have two to four layers. A basic foam mattress has only two foam layers— a top comfort layer and a bottom support layer. Some foam beds include a transition layer as well, which can add more responsiveness, support, and pressure-point relief.

The top layer of a foam mattress should be at least 2 inches thick. Anything thinner may be uncomfortable to lie on and might soon wear out. The bottom layer should be sturdy enough to ensure the top layers don’t sag.

Foam Density

A foam layer can be low density, medium density, or high density. The foam’s density is measured by how much it weighs per square foot. The more weight it has, the denser the foam is. We should note, though, low-density foam is not the same as low-quality foam. That said, low-density foam can wear out quicker than higher-density foam, as it’s not always as durable.

Foam densityWeight per cubic foot
Low density3 pounds or less
Medium density4 to 5 pounds
High density6 pounds or more

Coils

If you’re considering a hybrid or innerspring mattress, you’ll want to look at the quality of the coils. When it comes to coil quality, pay attention to the coil count and coil type.

Coil count refers to the number of coils in a mattress. The coil count affects the support and firmness a mattress offers. A decent queen mattress should have at least 400 coils.

Possible coil type in a mattress include continuous coils, knotted coils, and pocketed coils. We recommend the pocketed coil system, as each coil is wrapped in fabric or foam to prevent motion transfer.

Thickness

The thickness of a mattress can alert you to its likely durability, support, and comfort. Thickness can affect price, as well, since more material goes into a thicker mattress.

A good mattress is between 10 and 14 inches thick. A mattress less than 10 inches thick may not provide sufficient support. Most sleepers do not need more comfort than what a 14-inch mattress can provide.

Side sleepers and heavier sleepers often sleep better on thicker mattresses. For side sleepers, a thicker mattress can provide the plush give they need to comfortably sink into the mattress. A mattress for a heavier sleeper needs more material to better take on weight.

What to Expect From a Budget Mattress

A mattress’s materials and features change its price. A more expensive mattress might have cooling features, edge support, or lumbar support. A low-priced mattress might be made with low-quality materials.

What to Expect From a Mattress Under $1,000

We recommend a mattress under $1000 for shoppers on a budget. It’s not the constraint you might think it is, as it still leaves you with a wide variety of mattresses to choose from.

You can find quality memory foam, innerspring, hybrid, and even a few latex mattresses in this price range. Of the four, we recommend a memory foam mattress, as a good one can last about eight years.

Typically, you will find higher-quality mattress options online. Online mattress companies have fewer costs to cover, as they’re usually not paying for a physical storefront and its upkeep. An online seller can offer a good mattress at a lower price than what you would find at a mattress store.

We recommend choosing a mattress with a sleep trial and no-hassle return policy, as well as a warranty that lasts at least 10 years. All three of these policies are a sign of the company’s faith in its product.

What to Expect From a Mattress Under $500

It may take some searching, but you can still find a decent mattress for less than $500. Most of the mattresses you can find in this price range are foam mattresses, though you can find a few inexpensive hybrid and innerspring mattresses.

You cannot expect the same durability from an under $500 mattress that you would get from an under $1,000 mattress. To meet the lower price point, mattress companies use lesser quality coils and foam. The foam may fall apart and the coils may wear out within a few years.

A mattress costing less than $500 may not provide some sleepers with needed support. This is not only because of lower quality materials but also because the mattress is probably made with fewer materials. Many mattresses in this price range fall short of our recommended thickness of 10 inches or more.

An inexpensive mattress may do fine for someone younger or in good health, but it may not be the right choice for an older sleeper or someone with chronic pain issues.

You can still find a lower-priced mattress with a sleep trial, return policy, and warranty. However, in this price range, the warranties may be shorter than the standard, lasting 3 to 5 years instead of the usual 10 years.

What to Expect From a Mattress Under $100

Your choices here are typically a second hand mattress, an air mattress, or a thin polyfoam mattress, all of which we recommend avoiding if you can.

With a secondhand mattress, you’re often left wondering how clean the bed truly is. You might buy a bed filled with bed bugs, dust mites, and other allergens. While you can pay to clean the bed, it will typically cost a few hundred dollars to do so— money you could put toward a brand new mattress instead.

You may not get enough support from a used mattress. The price may be cheap, but is it worth it if you only get a few months or a year out of your mattress? If you’re considering a second hand mattress, remember warranties are non transferable and apply only to the original buyer.

You can buy an air mattress for under $100, but it may not be a bed you can rely on. You might wake up early one morning to find your mattress sprung a leak in the night, deflating around you while you slept. While you can patch up an air mattress, it’s not guaranteed to stick, and you may be shopping for another bed sooner than you would like to.

Our recommendation for a mattress under $100 would be a new polyfoam mattress, but even this has its drawbacks. The beds sold at this price are thin, often 6 inches tall or less. A bed this thin cannot provide most sleepers with the support they need for a restful night of sleep.

A foam mattress this cheap likely will not come with a manufacturer’s warranty or return policy. So if you buy one and are unhappy with it, you have no option but to buy a new one.

Setting a Budget

Once you know what you can expect from each price range, it’s time to set your budget.

Our recommended budget for a queen-size mattress is between $500 for $1,000, and up to $1,500 if you can stretch your budget that far. Higher-priced mattresses can last you at least 6 or 7 years.

To get the best prices on a new mattress, we recommend shopping online during big sales days. Some of the best sales days for mattresses are:

  • New Year’s Day
  • President’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • The Fourth of July
  • Labor Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday

Mattress Types

A budget can limit the type of mattress you can buy. However, you can find the four main types of mattresses at affordable prices if you do a little bit of searching.

Memory Foam

A memory foam mattress is built with layers of foam. Despite the name, you’ll only find memory foam in the bed’s top layer(s). Memory foam responds too well to a sleeper’s body to provide complete support on its own, so the bottom layer(s) contains a more supportive foam.

By contouring to your body, memory foam offers a balance of pressure relief and support. A memory foam mattress is our recommendation for sleepers with a chronic pain issue such as hip pain, as the bed soothes existing pain and prevents pressure buildup from causing more pain.

If you share a bed, memory foam might be the best type of mattress for you. The material provides better motion isolation than any other kind of mattress.

The main problem with traditional memory foam is its tendency to trap body heat, which can cause you to wake up. Many manufacturers fix this problem by adding cool gels to the foam as it’s made. These gels absorb body heat, keeping the mattress cool. Other companies add graphite, copper, or charcoal for a similar effect.

A good memory foam mattress can last about seven years, while a high-quality memory foam mattress can last eight to ten years.

Latex

A latex mattress is similar to a memory foam mattress, with a few key differences. The material molds to your body like memory foam does; however, while latex is more breathable and springier, memory foam isolates motion better.

There are two types of latex— natural and synthetic. Natural latex is made with rubber tree sap and synthetic latex is made from the organic compounds styrene and butadiene. The process to create natural latex makes it one of the more eco-friendly mattresses available.

A natural latex mattress typically comes with a high price tag. However, it might be worth it if you can afford it, as natural latex can last up to 15 years.

If you’re interested in buying a latex mattress, we recommend checking if it’s made with natural or synthetic latex. Synthetic latex has a shorter expected lifespan than a natural latex mattress. You might want a latex mattress with a pillow top, as many sleepers find latex is firmer than they expected.

Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are inexpensive and easy to find. Most mattress stores and some furniture stores carry innerspring mattresses. Coils act as the bed’s support, with air passing between the coils for a cooling mattress.

However, innerspring mattresses typically rank low when it comes to customer satisfaction. An innerspring mattress cannot conform to your body like an all-foam or hybrid mattress can, which can cause parts of the body to go unsupported and allow pressure to build up. We do not recommend an innerspring mattress for anyone with a chronic pain issue.

Innerspring mattresses can lack durability, as well. The coils may sag in as little as five years, leaving you in need of a new mattress.

Hybrid

To qualify as a hybrid, a mattress must have a coil support system and at least 3 inches of foam. Often the coils are wrapped to better isolate motion.

A hybrid mattress is bouncier than a memory foam or latex mattress. A hybrid mattress can be a good choice if you don’t want to “sink” into your mattress (as opposed to the cradling feel of a foam bed).

However, hybrids can be some of the more expensive mattresses on the market, and they might not be worth the money, as on average a hybrid mattress lasts about six years.

Mattress Firmness

Every sleeper has a firmness that suits them best. You can discover your perfect firmness level by considering your sleeping position and your body type.

When you go to sleep your body weight presses down on a mattress, affecting its feel. A heavyweight sleeper puts more pressure on a bed, while a lightweight sleeper puts less pressure on a bed.

You qualify as a heavyweight sleeper if you weigh more than 230 pounds and as a lightweight sleeper if you weigh less than 130 pounds. A firmer mattress can better accommodate a heavy sleeper, while a softer mattress suits a lightweight sleeper.

Mattress companies determine labels such as “medium-firm” or “medium-soft” by using the firmness scale. The firmness scale runs from 1 to 10, with 1 as the softest and 10 as the firmest.

Firmness Scale RatingFirmness Description
1Extra soft
2 and 3Soft
4Medium-soft
5Medium
6Medium-firm
7 and 8Firm
9 and 10Extra-firm

The firmness scale can vary slightly from company to company, so it’s always good to double-check a firmness rating by skimming mattress reviews and customer feedback. See if anyone complains about a bed being firmer or softer than expected.

Sleep Styles

Your sleeping position can influence how well your spine stays aligned and determine what mattress firmness is right for you. If you’re unsure what your preferred position is, keep track of what position you tend to fall asleep and wake up in.

Sleeping positions are not static and you might shift between different positions in the night. If you fall asleep and wake up in different positions, you might want to consider a medium mattress to better accommodate your various sleeping positions.

Side Sleeping

Side sleeping can promote better blood flow, help the brain clear out waste proteins, and reduce pressure on the heart. Side sleepers need a soft mattress, however, to keep pressure from building up in their shoulders and hips.

A soft to medium mattress can keep side sleepers from waking up with sore hips and shoulders. We recommend memory foam mattresses for side sleepers who need pressure relief. A second pillow between the knees can keep the hips better aligned.

Back Sleeping

Back sleeping evenly distributes body weight and naturally keeps the spine aligned. A sleeper’s arms and legs are more at rest than they would be in the side sleeping position.

Back sleepers should consider a medium-firm to firm mattress. A second pillow to elevate the knees can reduce pressure and prevent back pain.

Stomach Sleeping

We do not recommend stomach sleeping and suggest sleepers try resting on their backs or sides instead. Stomach sleepers often wake up tired, with pain in their lower back and stiffness in their necks.

Sleeping on the stomach shifts gravity to the torso. If gravity pushes the torso too deep into the mattress, the spine moves out of alignment.

Stomach sleepers can help keep their spine in place by sleeping on a firm mattress, with a pillow resting under their stomach for extra spinal support.

Sleep Trial, Warranty, and Return Policy

When you’re looking at mattresses, check to see if there’s an attached sleep trial, warranty, and return policy. Some lower-priced mattresses do not come with all three policies, to keep the price down. However, we highly recommend the purchase of a mattress with all three attached.

Sleep Trial

The trial period you have to test out a mattress is the sleep trial. Sleep trials come standard with most online mattresses, and some in-store mattresses offer them as well.

Sleep trials typically last between 90 to 100 days, but some are as short as 60 days and others last an entire year. Many sleepers need a month to completely adjust to a new mattress, so a decent sleep trial covers the first 30 days at least.

Warranty

Warranties cover any damage or defects that go beyond the expected use of a mattress. These can include:

  • Sagging beyond an inch
  • Coils poking out of the mattress
  • Torn seams
  • Cracks or splits in the foam
  • Damage to the mattress cover’s zipper

Many mattress warranties last 10 years, although some extend to 20 or 25 years. A few mattresses even come with a lifetime warranty. After the first decade, a mattress warranty is typically prorated, meaning you will pay part of the repair or replacement costs.

We advise reading through a warranty to check what actions can void it. Spilling on the mattress, keeping it on an improper foundation, or failing to rotate it regularly are all potential grounds for a void warranty.

Return Policy

Reading through the return policy should tell you how and when you can return your mattress. Some of the questions  the return policy should answer include:

  • How do you start a return? Is it through the website, or with an email or a phone call?
  • When can you make a return? Some brands ask you to wait a set time before you make a return. You may also have a limited amount of time to ask for a full refund.
  • Can you ask for a full refund or is it exchange only? Will you be refunded the difference if you exchange for a cheaper mattress?
  • Is it on you to ship a mattress back, or will the company pick up? Or do you donate the mattress instead, and show the company a proof of donation?
  • Is there a restocking fee, or any other hidden fees?

If any questions are left unanswered, reach out to customer service. Our advice is to find a company that makes returns easy by picking up the mattress at your door.

Taking Care of Your Mattress

By taking the time to care for your new mattress, you can stretch out its usability and save yourself from shopping for a replacement.

Some tips to take care of your mattress include:

  • Keep a mattress cover on your bed.
  • Avoid eating and drinking in your bed, as crumbs and spills can break up the mattress’s materials.
  • Change your bedding every week. This prevents dead skin, germs, and allergens from accumulating in your mattress. Wash the bedding in hot water to better kill any lingering bacteria or dust mites.
  • Vacuum and spot-clean your mattress every month.
  • Rotate your mattress at least once a year and up to every three months.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good price for a mattress?

In general, we recommend a budget between $500 to $1,000 for an inexpensive queen mattress and up to $1,500 if you’re willing to invest for added quality.

What is the best time of year to buy a mattress?

Some of the biggest mattress sales happen on Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and of course Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can also find some good deals at the beginning of the year, as companies work to clear out older stock.

Don’t worry about having to wait for the next big sale, though. Many company websites offer coupon codes for first-time buyers.

Did We Help?

Mattress shopping shouldn’t break the bank. So our goal in writing this guide was to inform you of what your mattress options are, no matter what budget you’re working with.

When it comes to shopping on a tight budget, we recommend looking for a mattress between $500 to $1,000 if you can afford it. And while you can find decent mattresses for $500, our advice is to stay away from mattresses costing less than $100 if you can. More often than not, the mattress simply isn’t worth its low price.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

Sarah Anderson, Editor-in-Chief Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson is a sleep, health, and wellness writer and product reviewer. She has written articles on changing and improving your sleep schedule, choosing the right mattress for chronic pain conditions, and finding the best pillow for you. Sarah Anderson has her Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to working for Zoma, she wrote for a variety of news publications.

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