Best Mattress For The Money – A Curated List Of The Top Mattresses Chosen By A Veteran Mattress Expert

Our CEO has designed hundreds of mattresses sold in retail stores and on e-commerce sites. Knowing how to choose quality ingredients and understanding components, durability, and performance can make or break a promotional grade foam bed sold on many online stores vs. a luxury grade, premium model. The fact is, most mattresses sold online are gigantic profit centers for the manufacturer, wholesalers, distributors, affiliate marketers, and brick and mortar stores.

“Most ‘bed in a box’ type mattresses sold online are manufactured at a fraction of the retails cost, using poor quality materials that are designed to last for a short period of time, virtually assuring that you will be shopping for a new mattress within a year or two”, says legendary bedding designer Marc Anderson, creator of The Mattress Buyer Guide.

A mattress typically selling for $600-$800 can be built by a third party fabricator for a big name e-tailer (most online companies farm out their manufacturing, rarely having a company employee in the facility, and they rely on a manufacturing team that might be thousands of miles away from corporate headquarters) fo as little as $100. 

Most online mattress retailers use third party fabrication houses to build their product and have little control over day to day operations and quality control of their own product.

Let’s say you find a well known brand name online. You’ve got friends who own them (probably purchased within the last year), you see ads on Facebook, subway trains, billboards, we’re talking penetrating marketing that keeps the brand in your head. Suppose you want to buy their middle of the road mattress and the price after the “coupon discount” you found on social media brings the price down to $799.

Seems like a deal, doesn’t it? And, truthfully, you can buy a great mattress for around that price. We’ll give you our list farther down, but first check this out. Some of the components used in your queen mattress you’re buying for $799 are likely imported from China, generally the thicker bottom layer, or what the industry calls the “foundation” or “base” layer.

The base or support layer is generally around 6” thick and takes up a good bit of the overall thickness of the bed, and consumes a lot of the visual “perceived value” of the mattress. So, if the mattress is let’s say 10” thick, the first 6” of the bed is already built out. The foam used for this portion of almost any mattress purchased online. In a queen size, a 6” slab of polyurethane foam used for this layer typically costs the manufacturer around $30, but if bought in large “buns” or blocks of the material that is further trimmed down to American sizes, the cost can be as little as $10. 

Typically, a “bed in a box” style mattress has a middle layer, and then a top or “finish” layer which gives the bed its distinctive feel or sensation. For example a memory foam mattress typically has a 6” layer of inexpensive polyurethane foam on the bottom, then a slightly less firm 2-3 layer of what is called “transitional foam”,

and finally a 2” layer of a slightly better quality layer of urethane foam, or “visco-elastic foam” which is the pressure relieving foam that offers the “melt-in” sensation commonly called memory foam.

A typical “bed in a box” mattress sold online has 3-4 layers of either foam or foam and pocketed coil layers, and the cost and quality of the components can vary greatly, creating the ultimate “Buyer Beware” situation.

These two layers will typically cost a manufacturer about $40-60. So, the foam components of a typical 10” mattress can cost as little as $70, before you put the outer fabric on the item. The outer covering depending upon the fabric used can vary a tremendous amount. “I’ve put covers on a 10” queen bed for as little as $15”, says Marc Anderson, referring to a simple cotton and polyester blended material that has a decent pattern or “taped edge”, referring to the piping that trims the edge of the mattress, giving it a stylized and well appointed look.

Bottom line, if a manufacturer is really squeezing his costs, he can build a queen sized “bed in a box” product for as little as $125, and to make any money at all, needs to turn it around for $750 to pay everyone off, from the foam factories, to the third party fabricators who laminate the beds and shape them to U.S. sizes, the textile manufacturers, the design and sewing team, the box and packaging companies, the labor cost to compress and roll the product for shipping, the fulfillment company that actually handles the shipping, the sales people woven into the process, the online sales staff and support team, and the crippling cost of advertising and marketing.  “The consumer pays of all of it. It’s a lot of overhead and generally the quality is marginal at best”, Marc states.

The online mattress industry is notorious for “paying the middleman” along with fabricators, textile manufacturers, affiliate marketers, and upper management.

But, there are companies that intentionally design a well made mattress. A higher end foam mattress may include far more expensive components, with higher densities, often foams manufactured in well respected American factories using little scrap or filler ingredients.

These higher density foams are firmer but provide better support, and because of their more tightly woven “cellular matrix”, do not fail or collapse after short term use. “I’ve worked with higher end polyurethane, memory foam, and latex materials that can last 50 years without collapsing, bucketing, or indentations. And these materials really don’t cost that much more, but add an exponential amount of quality to the bed”, says Anderson. “The trick is just to have someone who knows the biology of the industry steer you in the right direction to hit that sweet spot”.

That is why Marc created this web site, having the intention of creating a heavily vetted and hand selected list of Trusted Dealers who build higher quality foam mattresses that have durability, superior comfort, and a solid trial period and warranty, for roughly the same price as a promotional grade or vastly inferior bed. “It’s little like rocket science, but it’s information that any consumer can locate on their own, if you really care about it or want to spend the time studying polymer foams and figuring out the right cake recipe to create a super comfortable mattress that appeals to everyone”, he adds. “We do it for you, and we only give you a handful of retailers that meet our heavy vetting process”.

“It’s becoming more difficult for a manufacturer, especially the big players who are now being squeezed by hundreds of emerging online mattress companies, to hold their positions in the marketplace. They need more money for advertising and marketing, and there’s only one place to suck that money out- the materials used in the production of their beds”, Anderson claims.

There are a select handful of online mattress retailers we review and recommend. Companies that don’t shake you down at the checkout page.

scams and tricks are always in play in the bedding industry

There are chemicals a manufacturer or foam producer can use which can stretch the volume and increase the yield of a given component. “There are chemical foaming agents that simply produce larger bubbles and vastly increase the volume of material, which makes the cost plummet, along with lifespan and durability”, states Anderson, referring to one of many scams and tricks used in the manufacturing process of foam mattresses.

So, what are the best mattresses you can buy online, without paying thousands more? While you can buy super luxury mattresses that can cost upwards of $2,000, there is a tight little marketplace of retailers that transcend the price point and quality problem by employing a few tricks fo the trade. For one, they may have their own factories so they don’t have to farm anything out, literally saving half of the cost and allowing much better materials and fabrics to be used.

Building your own mattresses in a facility you own and control gives you the ability to have access to quality control, better assembly and manufacturing processes, and faster delivery times to the consumer. 

These companies can also buy direct from a foam manufacturer because they likely have larger storage capability, and can buy in much larger quantities at bigger discounts. They may have in-house sewing and textile department and not rely on third party fabricators for their outer covering and quilting, which can drive the cost through the roof if you farm it out.

We’ve created our Trusted Dealer page to give you a handful of batch-built mattress options that craft a well made mattress for a reasonable price, generally under $1,000 for a highly rated and well reviewed mattress option, companies that offer bullet proof warranties and trial periods, and offer easy return policies if you don’t like the mattress. Carefully vetted by Marc Anderson himself, and industry veteran who engineered and designed over 150 mattress for his brick and mortar stores across the country and his online stores since 1994. Here are his recommendations for the “Best Of The Best” mattress options where the manufacturers don’t skimp on ingredients and take pride in their workmanship. If you don’t see a company on our list, it’s because they didn’t make the cut. 

Tricks And Tips That Help You Underpay For A Mattress, And The Killer Move That Opens The Door To A Deep Discount And Free Stuff…

We’re all used to the retail routine, whether we walk into a brick and mortar store, or shop online. Obviously, trying to negotiate for a discount at a Wal-Mart is impossible, just is asking for discount on organic apples would be at Whole Foods. You may have a coupon, but that is the extent of your power, pretty much.

Surprisingly, though, haggling for a better price is standard practice when buying a diamond or a car. In fact, if you didn’t haggle for these items, you’d find yourself in an awkward conversation with a sales person who’s expecting a little back and forth. The same applies when mattress shopping.

I’ve created dozens of mattresses and sold them on both my online e-stores, and in my brick and mortar stores. When pricing my own mattresses, we always had a strategy. It wasn’t because I was trying to rip people off, but rather to create a sense of urgency for a customer to buy when my salespeople offering discounts off of the “retail” price, or “list price”. Once you budge off of the retail price when dealing with a warmed up buyer who needs a mattress, you grease the rails for closing the sale.

So the formula wold work something like this, and this formula is pretty typical when shopping brick and mortar or online, even today. A retailer will produce and offer a typical mattress and price it at let’s say $1500. The tag on the bed in the store displays it as the top tier price. The same applies online. 

We would even showcase the retail price as the “special discounted price” or the current holiday special price, whatever. You have to remember, the mattress industry is competitive, like a knife fight in a dark alley. So, we had to survive.

In my retail stores, the sales people were trained to present the features and benefits, and online, the product had a thorough list of bullet points, a pitch and description, a video, and lots of customer reviews who LOVED our model. Picture and graphics on my sites always had an attractive model snuggling with pillows and a thick and sumptuous comforter, always with eyes closed.

The internet versions of interacting with a salesperson is a live chat. Don’t EVER pay the price shown on a web site until you have chatted with a sales person, just as you would in a retail store. Remember that the retail price is never, ever the bottom line.

In my stores, customers who didn’t ask for a discount within 10-15 minutes were told by the attending salesperson, “you know, I could probably sell you this model for a lot less”, just as our chat team was trained to respond to any customer online with a similar response if they did not type in a request for a lower price. You have a captive audience, and you want to close the sale fast…and furiously.

The response from the sales person, in person or in a chat, was the same. “The retail price is $1,500, yes, but I think I may have one or two coupons left for the day that will get you another $300 off”, was the first nudge to the customer. If that did not work, we start tossing in “spiffs”. Spiffs are free gifts, plain and simple. Pillows, mattress protectors, a free foundation, free setup and delivery, air purifiers, endless arrays of products.

Resist on the the first offer, I always say. Get quiet, ask a few more questions, let the salesperson know you like the bed and that you really want it, but be clear that you’re still “concerned about the pricing”, and the free stuff will follow, every time.

Buying a mattress requires just little skill on your part. Don’t seem to eager, and keep digging for deeper discounts. On our $1500 mattress example, we could sell that product for $600 and still double our money, every time.

My best advice is to consider that any price you are shown, before coupons or discounts are provided, are twice what you should be paying. Even bigger bed in a box companies online will not let you get away without buying a bed. If you are talking to a rep in a chat, let them know that if they can help you out a bit  more, you’ll write a great review. To the mattress retailer, this means that, for a better price, you’ll put some skin in the game.

So, to sum it up…here’s your tactical game with a mattress salesperson, whether brick and mortar or online:

  • Don’t be over enthusiastic initially. Seem quasi-interested, and in a brick and mortar store, let the sales person know that you’re just “nosing around”. In a chat, ask a random question first, “how long does it take to get a bed delivered? I’m just kind of nosing around right now”…

  • Walk around, look at several models. Get on them and show interest. Online, leave a pause in your response time on the chat. I’d say two minutes. Your chat agent will have a set time limit on the next question, “Can I help you select a mattress today?”

  • Let the retail sales person or the chat agent offer you a better price. If they don’t, within 8-10 minutes, then move in for the kill. “I really like the Excelsior bed you have, but I really can’t afford it. Can you give me a better deal?”

  • If the response is, “no, that is our best price”, immediately indicate your disappointment. “Oh well, I understand..just thought I would ask”. This response introduces empathy and sympathy into the sales conversation. At this point the sales person or chat agent knows you are emotionally affected by taking the mattress away from you.

  • Here is the killer move that opens the door to a deep discount. Tell the retail store salesperson, “Ok, thanks, I actually saw a mattress online I like. I might just go home and look at it again”. Or, if you are chatting with an agent online,”Ok, thanks, I actually saw a mattress at a retail store I like. I think I’m going to drive over and check it out. These two responses are like gold. If you are going to get a discount, this is where they will open up.

  • If a sales person or online chat agent receives a rejection response, they are responsible for getting the deal closed. They may or may not be making a commission, but a quota is hanging over their head, for sure. If they comeback with a counter offer, don’t get eager. Tell them “I don’t know”. The cue here is that the sales person or chat agent is getting warmer, but not quite hot.

  • Odds are, you will get a deeper discount at this point. If offered a discount, remember to be initially skeptical, but respond with something like this..”I’ll tell you what, if you can toss in two pillows, free delivery, and a mattress protector, we are done”. The sales agent is likely going to offer one, maybe two spiffs to toss in. If you follow this technique, to the letter, I guarantee you that you will be rewarded. You just learned the proper haggling technique for mattress shopping. Good luck, and go try it out!!