All about cheap mattresses

A new mattress is a big investment. After all, we spend about a third of our lives in bed. While a new mattress is most definitely a big investment for your well-being, it no longer has to empty your bank account. This may seem surprising given the price tags at your local mattress store, but technology has made it easier than ever to find a good, cheap mattress for under $500.

The reason that high-quality, affordable mattresses are more accessible than ever is due to the recent boom in direct-to-consumer mattress sales. Mattress companies are now selling their products online and shipping directly to the consumer. Eliminating the middleman (a brick-and-mortar mattress retailer) cuts costs dramatically. This means that consumers now have access to great mattresses at lower costs than before.

Learn more about what to look for when buying a mattress with a tight budget, and see our picks for the best cheap mattresses under $500.

(Note: Prices apply to Queen mattresses only. Larger sizes may exceed $500.)

Brand/ModelHighlightsTrial Period/Warranty Mattress TypePrice/Discount Our Review
LUCID 12-Inch Gel Infused
Ventilated gel memory foam, luxury fabric cover, 25-year warranty25-year warrantyMemory foam$399.99
Buy yours from Amazon
Zinus Green Tea
12" mattress, green tea extract to maintain freshness, good for heavier sleepers10-year limited warrantyMemory foam$289.00
Buy yours from Amazon
Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated
Sleeps cool, good pressure relief, stretch-knit mattress cover for breathability and comfort 10-year limited warrantyMemory foam$299.00
Buy yours from Amazon
DynastyMattress Cool Breeze
12" mattress, 3" of cooling gel, 30-year warranty, pillows and mattress cover included30-year warrantyMemory foam$349.00
Buy yours from Amazon
Signature Sleep Memoir
Firm support, made from eco-friendly materials, easy-to-clean cover1-year warrantyMemory foam$342.99
Buy yours from Amazon
Sleep Innovations Shea
Good for side and back sleepers, 10" of foam, made in the USA20-year limited warrantyMemory foam$449.99
Buy yours from Amazon

What to look for in a cheap mattress

Shopping for a good mattress under $500 isn’t easy. There are many options to choose from, and they are not all created equal. Knowing what to look for can help you avoid picking a mattress made from poor or even harmful materials. Here’s what you need to look for when shopping for an inexpensive mattress:

  • Warranty: A company isn’t going to provide a warranty if they think their product won’t last. A warranty is a good indication of the quality and lifespan of a mattress.
  • Certifications: Certifications from third-party organizations can provide valuable knowledge on the quality of materials used in a mattress. Some certifications to look for are CertiPUR-US for memory foam, GOLS for latex, OEKO-TEX for textiles, and USDA for organic products.
  • Thickness: Thinner mattresses (6”-8”) require fewer materials, and are therefore cheaper. However, they may not provide the necessary support or comfort a sleeper needs. Thin mattresses are typically firmer and provide less support. Even if they are made with attractive materials, they may not be suitable for sleepers who prefer a soft mattress (like side sleepers), heavy sleepers, or sleepers who suffer from back, neck, and joint pain. Luckily, thick mattresses for under $500 are available.
  • Materials used: A mattress may claim to be the best cheap memory foam mattress but only contain a 1” layer of actual memory foam. Beware of filler layers that add thickness without adding value.
  • Sleep trial: Does the company offer a risk-free sleep trial? This is a sign of a reliable product and brand. It also takes the guesswork out of buying a cheap mattress.

What to expect from a mattress under $500

Cheap mattresses under $500 won’t be made of the most premium, luxury materials on the market, but this doesn’t mean you can’t find a mattress that will meet your demands for comfort and support. Here’s what you can expect from a cheaper mattress.

  • 2-3 layers: Mattresses consist of different types of layers, but the most important are comfort layers and support layers. Comfort layers are softer and on top, and support layers are denser and form the base of the mattress. Cheaper mattresses typically contain 1-2 comfort layers and a support layer. Some contain one comfort layer, one transition layer (slightly denser foam), and one support layer.
  • Synthetic materials: Synthetic materials are less expensive than natural materials, but this doesn’t mean they are less effective. Synthetic polyurethane foam (otherwise known as memory foam) found in cheaper mattresses is highly supportive and comfortable. It is one of the most effective materials for promoting healthy spinal alignment and relieving pressure points. This translates to more restful sleep and fewer aches and pains throughout the day. Another positive of memory foam is that it’s hypoallergenic. A potential negative is that it’s less breathable than other materials.
  • Foam: Cheaper mattresses are typically composed of foam. This, for reasons stated above, is certainly not a bad thing. Memory foam, gel foam, and latex are highly supportive and durable. They form-fit to the body and adjust to all its curves like innerspring mattresses can’t. Foam is also great at isolating motion. This means that you won’t be disturbed by a partner changing position. On the contrary, high motion isolation goes hand in hand with lower mobility, meaning it might be harder to change position or get in and out of bed.
  • Warranty protection: Most cheap mattresses still come with warranties that are similar to (or sometimes better than) the warranties of more expensive mattresses. You can expect some cheap mattresses to last up to 10 years.
  • Some offgassing: Mattresses sometimes emit a chemical odor when they are taken out of their packaging. This odor is caused by the offgassing of synthetic foams and usually last a few days. As most mattresses under $500 are made of synthetic foam, this effect is likely. The odor is temporary and harmless, but some find it unpleasant.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that a good, cheap mattress should meet all the industry standards of quality. This means:

  • A decent warranty and lifespan
  • Supportive foam
  • A soft cover A durable base

There are more expensive mattresses that go above and beyond (and certain sleepers may need special attributes in a mattress), but these days, a cheap mattress can provide the same support and as good a night’s sleep as any other mattress on the market.

Pros and cons of cheap mattresses

Cheap mattresses are better than just basic. Many of them are just as comfortable, supportive, and durable as mattresses with much bigger price tags. That said, most cheap mattresses are made of foam and can fall victim to some of the downsides of this material. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of cheap mattresses under $500.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Supportive
  • Comfortable
  • Motion isolating
  • Good warranties
  • Hypoallergenic

Cons:

  • Offgassing odor
  • Poor edge support
  • May sleep hot
  • May not be supportive for heavy sleepers
  • Low mobility

What type of sleeper should consider a mattress under $500?

Cheap mattresses are most appealing to those on a budget. There’s no reason to keep sleeping on a sagging mattress. In fact, old mattresses may be full of allergens and bacteria that can cause health problems. Sleepers who don’t have a lot of expendable income can still find a mattress that offers long-lasting support and comfort.

Here are some others that should consider a cheap mattress under $500:

  • Parents: Parents know that kids grow out of things quickly. This includes beds. Parents can provide their children with a comfortable night’s sleep without worrying that the mattress may only be used for a few years. Many cheap twin mattresses are available for under $200.
  • Students: Dorm and apartment mattresses are famous for their low quality, but this period of life is also the most important for getting good sleep. A small investment in a good cheap mattress can make a big difference in a student’s well-being and academic performance.
  • Hosts: People who often have friends or family staying over want their guests to be comfortable, but they might not want to spend thousands on a mattress that will only be used intermittently. A mattress under $500 is a good choice for a guest bedroom or for accommodation rented out on a short-stay vacation site like Airbnb.

There are some sleepers, however, that should not consider a mattress under $500:

  • Sleepers with chronic pain: Sleep position and mattress firmness are often at the root of chronic joint, back, or neck pain. Sleepers who suffer from these ailments may need to buy a special mattress or a mattress that offers a more specific level of support.
  • Those who sleep hot: Foams are known to retain heat. Although many of the mattresses on this list contain cooling elements, sleepers who often wake up hot may want to consider a cooling mattress. These mattresses are made with special materials which are usually all-natural and therefore cost a bit more.
  • Heavy sleepers: Heavy sleepers (those weighing over 200 lbs.) need extra support. This typically requires mattresses with more layers (especially transition layers). In mattresses with fewer layers, a heavier person’s body may come into contact with the base layer and cause discomfort.
  • Athletes: Athletes are typically heavier and need a mattress with good cooling properties. They usually need good edge support too, which foam mattresses are not known for.
  • Seniors: Older sleepers can have trouble getting into and out of bed as well as changing positions. They also need especially good support. Cheap memory foam mattresses are quite supportive, but the “sinking-in” effect that many love can cause problems of mobility for older sleepers.

The best cheap mattresses

Here are our picks for the best cheap mattresses under $500. The data in this list is based on our experts’ personal assessment of each product. Their research was informed by careful analysis of manufacturers’ specs and real-life customer reviews.

LUCID 12-inch Gel Infused Mattress

A dual-layer mattress, the LUCID 12-inch Gel Infused Mattress was designed to provide long-lasting support and cool comfort. It features a 3” gel memory foam comfort layer which is ventilated to increase airflow. Gel foam helps to regulate the temperature of the sleeper by absorbing heat and diffusing it away from the body. The 9” base layer of the LUCID 12-inch Gel Infused Mattress is thicker than the base layers of most other cheap mattresses, which indicates a higher degree of durability. This mattress also comes with a Tencel fiber mattress cover. Tencel is an all-natural material that is soft, breathable, and moisture-wicking. It is usually only found in high-end mattresses.

Highlights:

  • Sleeps cool: Ventilated gel memory foam and Tencel fibers provide a cool and breathable sleep surface.
  • Supportive: Gel memory foam has the same supportive properties as classic memory foam. The foam in the LUCID 12-inch Gel Infused Mattress is medium firm, and it’s reported to offer good pressure point relief and joint support for all sleeper types.
  • Luxury cover: The Tencel fabric cover provides a naturally soft and cool surface to the LUCID 12-inch Gel Infused Mattress. It is also removable for easy washing.
  • 25-year warranty: The LUCID 12-inch Gel Infused Mattress comes standard with a 25-year warranty that protects against manufacturer’s defects. The LUCID warranty is much longer than those of other cheap mattresses.

Zinus Green Tea

The Zinus Green Tea mattress is one of the most popular affordable memory foam mattresses. It is a 12” mattress composed of four layers of foam. The initial comfort layer is made of 3” of memory foam infused with green tea extract to help maintain freshness over time. The following layers are made of comfort foam and increase in density to provide adequate support and pressure point relief even for heavier sleepers. The Zinus Green Tea mattress is made from CertiPUR-US certified memory foam and is naturally hypoallergenic.

Highlights:

  • Supportive: With 3” of contour-fitting memory foam, the Zinus Green Tea mattress offers a good level of support. The memory foam form-fits to the body and promotes healthy spinal alignment and pressure point relief. The 12” mattress (other sizes are available) is designed to support all sleeper types.
  • Good for heavy sleepers: The Zinus Green Tea mattress has received many positive reviews from heavy sleepers (those weighing over 200 lbs). As it has four layers (more than most cheap mattresses) and 12” of height, it is ideal for supporting and those who weigh more.
  • 10-year warranty: The Zinus Green Tea mattress comes with a 10-year, worry-free warranty. If any manufacturer’s defect is detected within 10 years, Zinus will replace the mattress or issue a refund.

For more on the Zinus Green Tea mattress, read our full review.

Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated Mattress

The Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated Mattress may be the best cheap memory foam mattress for those who like to sleep cool. Sleeping hot is a common problem in cheap memory foam mattresses. Classic Brands has offered a solution by using cool gel ventilated memory foam, which has an open-cell structure to promote breathability. The comfort foam transition layers are made with an egg-crate design to enhance airflow through the mattress. The Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated Mattress is made from CertiPUR-US memory foam and is naturally hypoallergenic.

Highlights:

  • Pressure relief: The cool gel memory foam in the Classic Brands mattress has the same comforting and supportive properties as classic memory foam. It is ideal for supporting the joints, back, and neck and relieving pressure points.
  • Sleeps cool: Ventilated foam and cooling gel crystals make for a cooler sleep surface than other cheap mattresses.
  • Stretch-knit mattress cover: The Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated Mattress comes with a stretch-knit cover that enhances breathability and comfort. The stretch-knit design keeps the cover from bunching or clumping over under the sheets.
  • 10-year warranty: A 10-year, limited warranty comes standard with the Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated Mattress. It covers manufacturer’s defects.

DynastyMattress Cool Breeze

Another good cheap cooling mattress, the DynastyMattress Cool Breeze combines multiple cooling elements to provide sleepers with sweat-free nights. 3” of gel memory foam make up the comfort layer of this mattress. Gel memory foam pulls heat from the body while providing form-fitting contour support. Two identical layers of ventilated transition foam follow to increase airflow through the mattress. Apart from a solid base of support foam, this cheap mattress also comes with a washable, zippered mattress cover and two gel memory foam pillows.

The DynastyMattress Cool Breeze mattress is more expensive than the Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated Mattress, but it features an extra inch of memory foam and a total of 12” of height opposed to 10.5”, which make it a more attractive option for heavier sleepers or those who need a softer sleep surface.

Highlights:

  • Comfort: 3” of cooling memory foam provide the DynastyMattress Cool Breeze mattress with a soft comfort that isn’t found in many other cheap memory foam mattresses.
  • Sleeps cool: The gel memory foam, ventilated comfort foam, and gel memory foam pillows all help this mattress perform well when it comes to sleeping cool.
  • Pillows and mattress cover included: The DynastyMattress Cool Breeze mattress comes with a mattress cover which can be removed for easy washing. It also acts as a fire barrier. Each mattress includes two gel memory foam pillows. Cooling pillows help sleepers stay much cooler at night as well as offer additional support to the head and neck.
  • 30-year warranty: The DynastyMattress Cool Breeze comes with an impressive 30-year warranty, which is much longer than the average warranty for a cheap mattress.

Signature Sleep Memoir

The Signature Sleep Memoir mattress is one of the most affordable memory foam mattresses. Although it only has two layers, the top comfort layer is made of 3.5” of memory foam. This is more memory foam than is usually found in a cheap mattress. This mattress is made from CertiPUR-US certified memory foam and eco-friendly materials. It includes a knit mattress cover to increase breathability and comfort.

The Signature Sleep Memoir comes with a warranty of just one year, but its design and materials are quite durable. Customer reviews have indicated that it maintains its shape and support for years. In fact, this mattress has received fewer complaints regarding durability than many other cheap mattresses.

Highlights:

  • Firm support: The supportive memory foam in the Signature Sleep Memoir mattress is firmer than foams in other cheap mattresses. This helps it to remain supportive and avoid sagging for longer while providing contour support for the back, neck, and joints.
  • Durable: Firm memory foam and extra-durable support foam help this mattress stay supportive and comfortable through the years.
  • Eco-friendly: CertiPUR-US memory foam and eco-friendly materials used in the production of the Signature Sleep Memoir mattress to increase its breathability and make for a sustainable product.
  • Easy-to-clean cover: The Signature Sleep Memoir comes with a soft and breathable mattress cover. It is removable for easy washing.

Sleep Innovations Shea

The Sleep Innovations Shea mattress is pricier than the other cheap mattresses on this list, but its tailored design may be well worth it to some sleepers. This mattress was made specifically for back and side sleepers, which means it is a slightly softer option (its firmness level is about a medium, which may be too soft for stomach sleepers). It is composed of 3” of SureTemp memory foam and a 7” Support-Plus foam base layer. The unique Sure-Temp foam helps regulate a sleeper’s temperature to prevent overheating, and the base layer provides solid, durable support.

Highlights:

  • Soft support: Made for side and back sleepers, the Sleep Innovations Shea mattress offers a softer memory foam experience for those who need more of a “sinking in” feeling to fit the contours of the back, hips, and neck.
  • Unique foam: Sleep Innovations uses its own Sure-Temp and Support-Plus foams in the Shea mattress. These foams were designed for a particular function within the Shea mattress, and they can’t be found in other brands’ mattresses.
  • 20-year warranty: Sleep Innovations demonstrates its confidence in the durability of the Shea mattress by offering a 20-year warranty. This warranty is longer than that of the average cheap mattress.