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You need a new mattress, but your budget is the equivalent of pocket lint in the world of traditional mattress retail. Don’t resign yourself to eating ramen noodles for the next ten years. Listen close. You can get a mattress for under $500. No really, you can. It’s not a cot or a sleeping bag either.

It might take some finagling, but this budget is doable, we promise. Don’t stop believing (you sang it, didn’t you?).

What Can I Expect From A $500 Mattress?

Mattress retail can be a nightmare. They take a mattress and mark it up three times what it’s worth to make a profit, and you can negotiate, but it’ll still be expensive. A few years ago, mattress companies got smart and cut out the middleman. Now, you can find a mattress on the internet with all the same premium materials that those showroom mattresses have, but without the price hikes.

More than likely, you’ll get a safely compressed mattress that arrives at your front door. You won’t have to wait on a traditional delivery van, and you won’t have to spend a ton in delivery fees. This might be inconvenient if you were hoping someone would help you set your mattress up, but it’s better for your wallet in the long run.

What Kinds Of Materials Do They Use?

Many mattresses at this price point are foam. Memory foam can be inexpensive to make, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice any of your contouring or supporting layers. Some of the mattresses may be innerspring or use micro coils as well.

Even lower cost mattress companies use breathable cover materials infused with things like gel or charcoal for cooling properties. They also use things like green tea for odor protection or latex for dust mite resistance.

You might not get every type of premium material that you need, but it is possible to find quality materials that regulate your temperature and don’t feel like you’re sleeping on a couch bed.

Do I Have To Order A Mattress Online?

Of course not, but it’s more challenging to find a mattress for this price point in a store, especially if you’re looking for one of the larger sizes. You can have success if you negotiate or go during a major sales event.

Some big box stores also carry mattresses. They may be more affordable without you having to buy a mattress sight unseen.

Let’s be clear, however. Many internet mattress companies have built-in protections for their customers. Most of them offer a minimum sleep trial of 90 nights, but quite a few have more nights built in. You have time for your body to adjust to the new mattress, and for the bed to break in before deciding to return it. Way more generous than most showrooms.

You also have the warranty. All of the online mattress companies offer a warranty of some kind against defective mattresses. You’re protected from most abnormal wear and tear.

What’s More Important: Size Or Features?

If you think you need a large mattress to be happy, you might consider a few reasons you’re thinking of upgrading. You might find that a different type of bed, rather than a bigger one, solves your issue.

For example, if you think that more space means that you and your partner won’t sleep as hot because you won’t be sharing body heat, you might be disappointed. Mattresses that aren’t breathable are going to be warm at any size. Instead of upgrading, consider investing in a bed that has cooling technology meant to regulate your temperature and return the mattress as soon as possible to the ambient temperature of the room.

Another common sleep issue is motion transfer. Sometimes couples think that if they get a bigger bed, the position changes of each sleeper won’t wake the other up. Again, you’ll be disappointed if you don’t consider whether a mattress has good motion isolation. You may just need a less responsive mattress or one with more motion isolation (such as all memory foam).

If you have to have a larger size, consider some things that might make a mattress more affordable.

  • Retail versus direct-to-consumer – Companies that don’t rely on third-party retailers are able to offer mattresses at much more affordable prices. There’s no middleman and no commission to pay.
  • Distribution – companies that own their manufacturing sites can often pass those savings along to their customers. Also, if a company outsources to factories overseas, that can cut the cost of the mattress as well. If you don’t want to support a company that outsources manufacturing, look for one that owns the entire manufacturing line from start to finish.
  • Minimum prices – If you really want to go with retail, pay attention to mattress companies that require merchants to sell mattresses for more than a certain amount. If there’s no minimum cost, you might be able to negotiate down to the price you want.

Top 6 Recommended Mattresses Under $500

Tuft And Needle

Tuft And Needle uses a straightforward mattress design to contour to and support your natural curves. The company started like a few others with one founder highly unsatisfied with a mattress purchase. Since then, they’ve simplified buying a mattress and made it a lot more affordable.

You have 100 nights to try out the mattress. You have plenty of time for the mattress to break in and for your body to adjust. If you decide to return it, it isn’t difficult. Tuft and Needle will pick the mattress up for free and refund your money.

You’re also protected by a ten-year warranty. If you find your mattress has a defect and shows wear and tear outside of regular use, you’re covered. Makes sure your mattress is sufficiently supported, so you don’t void that warranty.

Our Top Pick

The original Tuft and Needle full bed is an excellent option for a single person who wants cooling relief during the night and needs a medium firm support system. It uses just two layers of high quality, responsive foam.

The company created the foam based on customer feedback. The more weight you put on it, the more it responds and conforms to your body. The bottom layer is a dense support foam that prevents your body from sinking too far into the mattress.

Great For: Combination Support And Heavier Sleepers

Tuft and Needle’s construction supports heavier sleepers, and it’s also suitable for a few different sleep positions. If you change positions frequently throughout the night, this one is a good one.

Zinus

Zinus Cooling Hybrid Gel Mattress

Zinus started to improve the sleep patterns of snorers. Now, the company has expanded into several different types of sleep issues including hot sleepers and those who need odor regulation.

Zinus’s mattresses are made in factories overseas, so you do save a lot of money buying one. You have a few different choices in innerspring and foam mattress styles. There’s something for everyone.

You have 100 nights to sleep on the mattress before deciding if it’s the one for you. Try to sleep on the bed for at least a few weeks before deciding, but if you do want to return it, it’s simple. The company will pay to have it returned and issue a full refund.

You’re also covered by a ten-year warranty for mattress defects. Be sure that your mattress is adequately supported, but most abnormal wear and tear is covered.

Best Cal King Mattress Under $500

The Zinus Green Tea memory foam pressure relief mattress is infused with green tea to prevent odor and bacteria. It uses cooling layers that are breathable. ActivCharcoal helps absorb odors, so if you’re a particularly sweaty sleeper, you’ll get some relief.

The ten-inch mattress uses a layer of contouring foam with a layer of transition foam. It has excellent motion isolation and edge support. You can choose the thickness of the mattress if you want to save some more money, but we think the ten inch is the sweet spot.

Great For: Sweaty Sleepers And Combination Support

If you’re particularly sweaty, you’ll appreciate the tea and charcoal for odor management. Also, if you tend to change positions frequently throughout the night, this is a good mattress.

Lucid

Lucid is another company operating within the budget spectrum of mattress companies. They have a few different options for you including a range of firmness preferences and both memory foam and latex options.

You’re covered by a ten-year warranty for mattress defects just in case the mattress doesn’t last. For most people, this type of budget mattress is excellent for a guest room or sometimes mattress, and most should see plenty of life if it’s the main mattress.

If you’re on a super extreme budget, you can get as low as a five-inch mattress, but we wouldn’t recommend that one.

Best King Mattress Under $500

The Ten Inch Plush Memory Foam mattress is on the softer side. It has two layers of foam that contour to your curves and fill in any pressure points. The dense bottom layer provides support and structural integrity while maintaining edge support.

The cover material is premium Tencel which wicks heat and moisture away from the body. The gel infused layer works with that to prevent heat from building up in the mattress. You shouldn’t feel any significant temperature changes with this memory foam.

The bottom foam is open cell, which further circulates air so that you have a more refreshing night’s sleep.

Great For: Side Sleepers And Hot Sleepers

It’s on the softer side so side sleepers will have a little more give around the shoulder and hip area. If you need a firmer mattress, you may want to try one of their other choices. They have plenty still within this range.

Dreamfoam

Dreamfoam offers a line of mattresses in memory foam, latex, and hybrid options. The company gives you some options for your firmness levels and mattress thickness. Most of their beds are budget models, but they all offer options for common sleep issues including temperature regulation and allergies.

You have 120 days to try out the mattress before deciding if you’re going to buy it or not. You have time to allow your old aches and pains to fade and the mattress to break in. You can return it hassle-free for a full refund.

You’re also covered by a ten-year limited warranty against mattress defects. If your mattress is adequately supported and still shows wear beyond the normal range, the company will replace it.

Best Queen Mattress Under $500

Dreamfoam’s Ultimate Ten Inch Gel Memory Foam mattress uses layers of gel foam to keep you cooler than the average memory foam. It’s on the firmer side, so if you’re a stomach or back sleeper, this is a good one for you. It’s also lighter than some queen mattresses at around 80 pounds.

The cover is a cotton knit fabric that’s very stretchy. It’s breathable and allows air to circulate around your skin freely. You should be able to sleep more refreshed than you would with traditional memory foam mattresses.

Great For: Stomach And Back Sleepers

The firmness rating of this one means you’ll sleep on top of the mattress rather than in it. This should give stomach and back sleepers plenty of structure so that spines stay aligned and not overextended.

Eight

Eight’s central claim to fame is the high tech mattress offerings that allow you to track your sleep habits and quality. That said, their line of original mattresses are great budget items. They offer the same contouring and support with premium materials as the Plus line, but at a more affordable price.

You have 100 nights to try out the mattress before deciding if it’s right for you. If it isn’t, you can return it at no cost to you and receive a refund.

If you decide to upgrade to the high tech version later, we think it’s an exciting concept. However, for your budget purposes, the low tech mattresses are an excellent choice.

Best Full Mattress Under $500

The Saturn is a three layer memory foam mattress that uses a two-inch layer of contouring foam followed by a two-inch layer of transition foam. These layers conform to your body and fill in pressure points and gaps so that your spine stays straight. It also helps the lower lumbar region to decompress.

The six-inch dense support layer is excellent for maintaining structural integrity and edge support. You don’t feel like there’s a sweet spot in the middle of the mattress and if you share it with a partner, no one’s fighting over prime real estate.

Great For: Combination Support And Back Pain

If you frequently switch positions during the night or you have back pain, the contouring layers of the bed should alleviate both the pain and the constant position switching.

Nectar

Nectar is consistently one of the best bed in a box mattresses out there. It uses simple memory foam layers for cooling and contouring.

One of the best parts about Nectar is the sleep trial. You have a full year to test out the mattress to decide if it’s the one for you. Sleep on it for a few weeks before you decide so that the mattress has time to break in and you have time to adjust. Even after a few weeks, you have a long time to assess if the bed is genuinely improving your sleep quality.

You’re also protected by a lifetime limited warranty against mattress defects. The company will repair or replace any mattress with issues that fall outside the normal wear and tear of a bed as long as it is supported and not used for anything crazy.

Best Twin Mattress Under $500

Nectar uses a tencel cooling cover that’s more efficient than cotton at wicking away heat and moisture. Underneath are two layers of gel-infused foam that works with the cover materials. A layer of transitional support foam is next. It isolates motion and eases your body to the support layer.

The bottom is a dense support foam that gives the mattress structural integrity and provides edge support. The mattress can support a variety of sleepers including some larger than average.

Great For: All Sleep Positions And Hot Sleepers

If you change positions frequently, this twin can support you in whatever position you choose. It has plenty of give for side sleepers while still supporting back and stomach sleepers. Plus, the edges don’t show a lot of compression (good news because the twin doesn’t have a lot of space to lose).

Our Thoughts

Would life be easier if you had triple your mattress budget? Sure. Is it impossible to get a good night’s sleep under $500? Absolutely not. Keep in mind the balance between features and size, plus the types of materials the company uses. Now that mattresses have moved online, you can cut out the middleman and still get a quality mattress on a shoestring budget.

Be sure to shop around and take advantage of sleep trials. You’ll be on your way to outfitting your bedroom and having plenty left over for the accessories.

Are you a thrifty shopper? Let us know your biggest shopping win in the comments below.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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