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Best place to buy contacts online for 2021

You can save money by shopping online at these reputable sites.

For people with a vision problem who don't want to wear eyeglasses, contact lenses are just the ticket. Further, over the past few years, contact lens technology has advanced significantly. This goes beyond contacts that change your eye color -- there are contacts designed for extended wear, multifocal contact lenses and so much more.

The main issue for contact lens wearers is that contact lenses are expensive (trust us, there really is no such thing as "cheap contacts"), so saving money is a priority when it's time to replenish your stocks. It doesn't help that a lot vision insurance plans limit how often you can use your benefits and will only cover either contacts or glasses -- not both. If you're paying out of pocket for contacts, there are a multitude of online stores offer cheaper prices than what you'll typically pay at your local optical shop or optometry office. Just be sure to get an eye test first!

While you might not save hundreds of dollars when you buy contacts online the way you would buying glasses online, you're still likely to find a good deal at an affordable price. Pro tip: a good way to save when buying contacts online is to buy in bulk -- you'll usually get better discounts and rebates. Right after your contact lens exam, it's almost always worth it to spring for a full year's supply of your current prescription. Most of these online stores also allow you to return unopened boxes of lenses if your prescription changes after an eye exam.

Below are our picks for the best place to buy contacts online. We'll update this list periodically as new options become available. Note that you'll need to get an eye test and contact lens exam from your optometrist or optician first. Your eye health is important, even more so if you suffer from ailments like dry eye or astigmatism. Further, an eye doctor can help you in your search for the best prescription lenses, whether that's soft contact lenses, daily contacts, contacts with colored lenses or multifocal lenses. They can also tell you if you need to skip contacts altogether and get eyeglasses, either from an optical shop or online. 

As such, all of these shops require a valid vision prescription from an eye doctor to dispense contact lenses, and they can help with prescription verification during the online retailer checkout process. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please shout out your preferred place to order contact lenses online at an affordable price -- especially when it comes to colored contact lenses -- in the comments to help others find it.

Read more: Best audio glasses and sunglasses for 2021

Scout by Warby Parker

Warby Parker, the company that made a name for itself by offering affordable and stylish eyeglasses, has now launched its own contact lens brand, Scout. The company promises that these daily contacts are breathable and offer superior comfort because they are made of a material that is supposed to stay moist all day. The contacts also come in space-saving packaging that's virtually flat and easy to transport.

A three-month supply of Scout daily contacts (a total of 90 lenses) costs $110, which isn't the cheapest price you can find for daily contacts. Depending on where you shop and the brand of daily contacts you use, prices online can vary from $60 to $200. You can get a six-day trial pack of Scout contact lenses for $5 to see if you like them before you commit to a full supply.

Warby Parker also sells name-brand contacts on its website and in its retail stores.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Personal story time: I found Lens.com too many years ago to remember now and it has been my go-to choice for cheap contacts. I keep coming back because its customer service is great and the prices are usually the lowest I can find on prescription contact lenses. It has an impressive selection of brands -- including Acuvue, Air Optix, Dailies and Biofinity Toric for astigmatism -- plus it takes returns and even covers the cost of shipping unopened boxes back. 'Nuff said.

Does not accept vision insurance, but you can submit your receipt to your insurance company to get reimbursed (and always check with your insurance company to see what it covers).

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

One of the best-known contacts stores, online retailer 1800Contacts, stocks all of the most popular brands, and you can even get hard contacts through its call center. One CNET editor praised it for the customer service for going above and beyond.

Like Lens.com, you can text or email your contact lens prescription, which speeds up the ordering process. 1800Contacts also offers discounts for students and free shipping on all orders, and allows you to update your prescription through an online test (only available for adults between 18 and 55 years old). Finally, you can sign up for a subscription, which sends you lenses when you need them.

Accepts vision insurance with a valid prescription.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

A popular source for contacts among my fellow CNET editors is ContactsDirect because it accepts our company's vision insurance and often sends out coupon codes to customers. It has a wide selection of lenses, including multifocal lenses, colored contacts, soft contact lenses for dry eye and toric lenses for astigmatism. And it offers returns on products that were purchased within one year if your eye vision changes and you need a vision correction from your doctor. ContactsDirect (and 1800Contacts) also sells contact lens solution.

Accepts vision insurance.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Coastal is a one-stop shop for both contact lenses and prescription glasses. What makes it so appealing is that it has a price match guarantee that includes the total cost of a purchase (including fees and shipping) from another authorized online contact lens retailer -- some conditions apply. It has a wide selection of lenses, including non-prescription colored contact lenses, offers free returns and has a subscription program.

Does not accept vision insurance, but you can request reimbursement from your insurance company.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Eyeconic has a wide array of contact lens brands to choose from, including Acuvue, Air Optix, Biotrue by Bausch and Lomb and Extreme H2O. The site will help you find an eye doctor or clinic. Like others on this list, it offers free shipping and free returns.

Accepts vision insurance.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Last, but not least is GlassesUSA.com. Like with Coastal, you can order contact lenses and glasses through the site, and it offers deep discounts if you order both. Like every other retailer on this list, GlassesUSA.com has all of the popular lens brands and offers free returns and free shipping on prescription lenses.

Does not accept vision insurance, but you can request a reimbursement from your insurance company.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.