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How to buy a mattress online: 5 tips to help you shop smarter

How to buy a mattress online: 5 tips to help you shop smarter
(Image credit: Getty)

So you’ve decided it’s time to upgrade your mattress, but how do you buy one online, and what are the key things to consider? At first it can seem confusing, but with the best mattress online brands, it’s getting easier. And many of these mattresses come on a generous trial period, so you have plenty of time at home to ensure you've made the right choice. Plus, you can return a mattress, hassle-free, if you decide it’s not the one for you. 

Lots of the top mattress manufacturers offer lengthy trial periods, plus free shipping and returns. Purple, for example, offers a 100-night trial, and regularly runs sales. In fact, take a look at our guide to the best Purple mattress deals to find the latest offers. 

Other brands, like Saatva, offer a ‘white glove delivery’ service where they will remove your old mattress while delivering your new one. Like the sound of this? Then take a look at our guide to the best Saatva mattress discounts. You may even find a great offer among the best Amazon Prime Day mattress and bedding deals.

In our guide to how to buy a mattress online, we’ve rounded-up five tips to help you shop smarter so that you make a great choice. After all, how are you meant to know if a mattress is right for you if you can’t take it for a test drive? When you think about it though, being able to test a mattress from the comfort of your own home makes more sense than going to a showroom and lying, fully clothed, on top of a handful of mattresses.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind… 

1. Figure out what you’re looking for

How to buy a mattress online

(Image credit: Vlada Karpovich from Pexels)

Your ideal mattress will naturally differ to ours - mattresses are incredibly subjective - which is why when we recommend mattresses, we do so for different types of sleeper or health needs. If you’re a side sleeper, it’s likely that a mattress designed for back sleepers isn’t going to be your best pick. You should also consider your personal preference when it comes to the firmness of your mattress, and set a specific budget so you can identify the ideal option within that bracket. 

And if after reading this you decide you aren't quite ready yet to buy a new mattress, take a look instead at our round-up of the best bed toppers.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering buying a mattress online:

Why do you want to replace your old mattress?

As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you’re considering buying a new mattress, there’s probably a problem with your current mattress. Identify what about your current mattress isn’t working for you - perhaps you used to live alone and now share with a partner, in which case a regular twin mattress may not be giving you both enough space. 

It could be the case that your mattress is contributing to poor quality of sleep. Hot sleepers can feel easily coddled if they don’t opt for a breathable mattress, and can spend sleepless nights overheated and uncomfortable. If that’s you, read our best cooling mattress guide before shopping online. 

Whatever the issue is, keep an eye out for a mattress that remedies your specific dilemma so you know exactly what to look for when buying a mattress online.

What is your budget?

Believe it or not, a top rated mattress can cost upwards of $3,000. For some, this is a worthwhile investment. We spend roughly a third of our lives in bed, so it’s worth spending the right amount to get the ideal mattress for you. That being said, you can totally find a great mattress for around the $500 mark if you know where to look. 

Both Casper and Leesa mattresses are known for being affordable online mattress options, and you can check out our Casper vs Leesa mattress feature to find out which budget mattress in a box is better for your needs. Or you could head straight to our round-up of the best Casper mattress deals to save money on this already affordable mattress range.

When setting a budget, it’s also important to decide on what size you need. A twin mattress is always going to cost less than a cal king from the same brand, so even if you have a more modest budget you can find a relatively high-end (in terms of quality) mattress if you’re looking for a smaller model. 

How long does it need to last?

We know the answer to this is likely “as long as possible”, but not all types of mattresses are designed to last. In our guide on how often to change a mattress, we’ve pointed out some of the key differences in lifespan for different types of mattresses. If you’ve got your heart set on something which has a shorter-than-average lifespan, it’s definitely worth weighing up how important it is to you to buy a long-lasting mattress.  

2. Do your research 

How to buy a mattress online

(Image credit: Casper)

Maybe we’re a bit biased on this one, but we think reading reviews is an essential step in buying a mattress online. We’ve reviewed countless mattress brands to help everyone get that perfect night’s sleep, and you can check out our guide to the best mattress online to find our top ten picks for couples, side sleepers, back pain, and even allergy sufferers. 

If you live alone and don’t plan on sharing your mattress, you probably won’t need a mattress designed to isolate any night movements to your half of the bed. For couples though, this is a game-changer. 

Another thing to consider is the delivery of your new mattress. If your bedroom is up a lot of stairs, a mattress in a box could be your new best friend. When buying a mattress online, you’ll find that many of the top retailers are ‘mattress in a box’ specialists. This means your mattress will arrive in a compact package. When taken out and unrolled, this will take at least a day to take its proper form and lose its slight odor (off-gassing is perfectly normal, so don’t worry if you experience this). 

Memory foam also has the reputation of retaining heat more than a traditional spring mattress, which could be offputting to those in search of a breathable mattress. We wouldn’t let this deter you from considering a box mattress though. Our top pick of cooling mattresses, the Purple Mattress, comes in a box and still offers plenty of breathability. 

3. Always check the warranty and trial period 

How to buy a mattress online

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A mattress is a big investment, so make sure you’re prepared in case something goes wrong. We recommend giving your new mattress a full month before making your mind up, because the process of adapting to a new mattress can be difficult and sometimes uncomfortable. After this trial period, you want to make sure you can still return your mattress if you don’t absolutely love it. 

Online mattress retailers know that their trial period matters, which is why many of them offer a 100-night trial. Some, like Nectar mattress, even offer a full 365-night trial. You probably don’t need that long to make up your mind, but it’s reassuring to know that you have plenty of time to make your mind up.

When it comes to a good mattress warranty, some companies like Saatva, which makes the stunning Saatva Zenhaven, cover your mattress for a full 20 years. A coverage of 10 years is common, but still a great offering to protect you from any mishaps. 

4. Make sure you’re getting the best deal 

How to buy a mattress online

(Image credit: Getty)

There are few things we love more than a great mattress, but one of them is a great mattress deal. We’ve even dedicated entire guides to the best Casper mattress deals and the best Purple mattress deals, so if you’ve opted for one of those brands you’re definitely in luck. We also cover flash sales from top brands and second-hand online retailers, so check out our latest deals to find the best savings right now. Whatever the best deal right now is, you’ll find out here. 

5. Order, and plan for its arrival 

How to buy a mattress online

(Image credit: Leesa)

Once you’ve found your perfect mattress, it’s time to plan for its arrival. That means finding a new home for your old mattress - maybe in a spare bedroom, or with a friend in need (be sure to check out our guide on how to clean a mattress before parting ways with your old one!) 

Depending on where you live, there could also be a local authority that will collect and recycle your old mattress. This is definitely a great eco-friendly option, but it could cost you. If you have reservations about your new mattress it’s definitely worth holding off on disposing of it. If you do end up returning your new mattress, you could find yourself sleeping on the couch if you don’t keep your old one handy for at least a little while.

Make sure your bed frame is a perfect fit for your new mattress ahead of its arrival, and remember that if you order a mattress in a box you’ll need to sleep on your old mattress at least once more when your new mattress arrives, because these can take over 24 hours to fully unfold.