If you're buying a new bed but you're on a budget, the eye-watering prices of some mattresses can be enough to keep you awake at night. They can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to a few thousand or more.
But are the cheaper mattresses any good? And what price do you really need to pay to get a decent one? If you're looking to buy a cheaper mattress to sleep on every night, you want to make sure you're not going to end up with buyer's regret.
We'll talk you through mattress pricing – including how to get a good deal – and for CHOICE members, we'll reveal the best mattresses on a budget. If you just want to get straight to the best products, you can jump straight to the results now.
How much is a 'cheap' mattress?
More than half of the queen-sized mattresses we test fall in a 'mid' price range of about $1000 to $2000. This is because when we select mattresses for testing, we check current market figures to see what's selling well and focus on the highest-selling big-brand models. We try to include products that fit within the budget of average consumers.
"Mattresses aren't exactly cheap, but we found that models around this price point often strike a good balance between price, quality and performance," CHOICE mattress expert Peter Zaluzny says.
"However, mattresses that cost less than $1000 do earn a CHOICE Recommendation from time to time."
We found that models around the $1000 to $2000 price point often strike a good balance between price, quality and performance.Peter Zaluzny, CHOICE mattress expert
At the other end of the scale, there are expensive, premium mattresses costing $5000 to $6000 or even $10,000 or more – and that's before you've even bought a bed base to put it on. Prices that high may be beyond most people's bed budgets – there are definitely cheaper options out there from various brands.
Looking to pay $250 or less?
IKEA sells a few queen mattresses around the $200 to $250 mark and Aldi sells its popular 'Mattress in a box' a couple of times each year, also costing about $250 for the queen-sized bed in a box.
Another less well-known brand that sells mattresses at a cheaper price point is Art & Science.
Sales periods like end-of-financial-year (EOFY), Boxing Day and Black Friday are great times to pick up mattresses on the cheap, with many brands and retailers offering significant discounts. If you can put off buying your new bed until sales season, you may find more options within your budget.
Why do some mattresses cost more than others?
Our expert testing hasn't found any clear-cut answer to this question. We find that more expensive mattresses definitely don't always perform better than cheaper models.
Generally speaking, factors that influence price may include what the mattress is made from, where it's made and the quality of its materials.
We find that more expensive mattresses definitely don't always perform better than cheaper models
Our experts caution against being too influenced by clever marketing – what tends to show in our testing is that however many bells and whistles a mattress is claimed to have, it doesn't always lead to better comfort and support.
How to save money on a new mattress
Peter's first tip is that you should never pay full price for a mattress. Don't be afraid to haggle. While you probably can't knock down IKEA on the price of a $250 queen mattress, it's definitely possible to save hundreds on mid-priced mattresses.
You should never pay full price for a mattress
"CHOICE has been buying mattresses for years for our tests and we've found many retailers have a lot of room to move when it comes to price," says Peter. "Online and instore sales are pretty frequent too, so there's really no reason to pay the recommended retail price for a mattress.
"If you're confident and have done your research, you can usually shave a decent amount off the price tag by haggling. Just ask them 'what's the best you can do?' and start from there."
More tips for buying a mattress on a budget
- Research, shop around and compare price – it's a competitive market and there are deals to be found.
- Don't just shop at traditional retailers or on the showroom floor. Consider buying a mattress in a box as well – there are many new online retailers that offer this type of product, which has given consumers more options.
- Mattress-in-a-box manufacturers frequently have sales as well. If you're looking at a particular model but it's too pricey, wait a couple of months and keep checking the website.
- Consider a double instead of a queen or king.
- Buy in bulk or as part of a bed package/bundle deal. Some retailers may give you a discount if you buy more than one mattress (either for a guest room, or go in with a friend), or if you buy the mattress as part of a bedroom furniture package, or mattress-and-bed bundle deal.
- Check CHOICE mattress reviews to see which cheap mattresses perform better in our testing.
How we put mattresses through their paces
CHOICE experts recently reviewed 44 of the latest mattresses, assessing each one on factors such as changes in firmness over time, and whether you can rely on it to deliver the same standard of comfort over its lifetime.
Our extensive expert testing shows you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to get a good mattress
We also look at things such as how well they repel sweat, and how saggy or bouncy they are, to give each product a final CHOICE Expert Rating (its overall score). Find out more about how we test mattresses.
The good news is that our extensive expert testing shows you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to get a good mattress. In fact, many of the more expensive models are not necessarily worth forking out for.
We spoke to people who recently bought a mattress and also to CHOICE experts to find out how to get the best prices, what to look for and if it's really possible.
Best cheaper mattresses in our testing
The detailed results of our mattress review, plus the affordable mattresses that are recommended by our experts, are available exclusively to CHOICE members.
If you're not yet a member, join CHOICE to access thousands of independent reviews from our state-of-the-art labs.
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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.