Cheap mattresses aren’t just for people on a tight budget — why I’d buy one

The Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress, the best cheap mattress for pressure relief, in a tidy bedroom.
(Image credit: Zinus)

Cheap mattresses are perfect for those on a tight budget, but there's more to inexpensive beds than affordable price tags. As a sleep writer, I know that pricey beds may offer luxury, cutting-edge features, but cheap mattresses offer some fantastic benefits, too. 

In fact, the best mattress for you may not cost any more than $300 — especially if you don't need an extravagant bed with all the fancy trimmings. That's why I've rounded five compelling reasons to buy cheap mattresses outside of the low price. 

I've also included some of my favorite tips when bargain hunting, including how to choose the best cheap mattress for your sleep style. Plus, I've rounded up three of the best cheap mattresses to buy in this month's mattress sales. 

What is a cheap mattress?

The best cheap mattresses come at an affordable price thanks to a combination of low MSRPs and regular mattress sales, so you won't pay over $500 for a queen size. Most cheap mattresses are rolled up and delivered to your doorstep in a box, and often have a body-hugging memory foam design.

5 reasons why I'd buy a cheap mattress

1. The best cheap mattresses come with generous extras 

The Linenspa Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress rolled up in plastic on a bed frame

(Image credit: Jo Plumridge)

A lot of cheap mattress brands offer the same great extras, such as free shipping and returns, as the more expensive mattress brands, which means you get some generous benefits. For example, most cheap mattresses will come with a 10-year warranty, which is a standard extra in the mattress world and a good indicator of how long the mattress is likely to last.

A lot of cheap mattress brands will also offer a sleep trial of at least 100 nights (the average trial length), with some offering a sleep trial that's even longer. These trials will allow you to test out the mattress for a few months before deciding if you're happy with the purchase. 

2. Cheap mattresses make excellent guest beds 

Zinus Green Tea memory foam mattress

(Image credit: Zinus)

If you need a bed to accommodate unexpected guests, then a cheap mattress can help. Pricier mattresses, such as the best luxury mattresses and the best smart beds, need to be used everyday to get your money's worth, but the best cheaper mattresses are still excellent value whether they're used everyday or not. 

3. Cheap mattresses come in different designs

Zinus green tea memory foam mattress review

(Image credit: Zinus)

Gone are the days when budget beds only came in a cheap innerspring design. Now, cheap mattresses come in an array of designs, from memory foam to hybrid. In fact, some of the best memory foam mattresses are in the budget price tier, as all-foam beds are less expensive to make than hybrids. 

However, you can still get the best hybrid mattresses for a low price, with budget sleep brands Linenspa and Zinus producing budget-friendly hybrids.

4. Cheap mattresses are a great choice if you're unsure of your sleep needs

A woman with long dark hair feels the firmness of a mattress she is looking at

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's nothing worse than splurging on a luxury bed with deluxe features, only to discover that the features are unnecessary and the bed isn't right for your sleep position or build. While a lot of premium mattress brands offer sleep trials, some charge an extra fee for returns, meaning you'll end up paying more money.

With a cheap mattress, you won't feel cheated if you decide that the mattress isn't right for you. A lot of cheap mattresses come with the basics, allowing you to customize with the best mattress topper if you feel the bed needs some cooling features or a bit more cushioning. 

5. Cheap mattresses are great for growing kids 

A child sleeps in bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're child needs a mattress that's going to endure little heavy-duty use or will need to be replaced within a couple of years, then you'll need the best cheap mattress. Budget beds are prefect for growing kids who will outgrow their mattress quickly, as there's no point spending a fortune on a mattress that will need replacing soon. Plus, as most budget mattress have a memory foam build, kids will appreciate the soft, all-foam feel thanks to being of a lighter weight.

How to choose the best cheap mattress

Firstly, while you'll find some good quality mattresses for under $400 on Amazon, we always recommend buying a cheap mattress directly from the brand or mattress retailer such as Mattress Firm. This is because it can be tricky to know what benefits are included when buying a mattress from Amazon.

For example, many brands explicitly state that their mattresses come with a sleep trial and warranty, but these extras many not be included if you buy the brand's mattresses from Amazon.

Man looking at CertiPUR-US website on a laptop

(Image credit: CertiPUR-US)

Next, you need to make sure the mattress has a at least a 10-year warranty, a height of at least 10 inches, and a CertiPUR-US certification that verifies the mattress meets certain safety and environmental standards. 

Last but not least, make sure the bed suits your sleep style. Here's how to choose a mattress that will support your preferred sleep position and body type:

  • Side sleepers will need something to cushion joints and relieve pressure in their shoulders and hips. Go for the best mattress for side sleepers that has firmness rating between 5 and 7 (medium to medium firm). 
  • Back sleepers need a medium-firm mattress to support their hips and provide pressure relief to their back.
  • Stomach sleepers (and those who weigh over 230lbs) need something medium-firm to firm so their hips are supported and their spine is healthily aligned to avoid lower back pain.
  • Hot sleepers should also look for budget mattress with cooling features, such as springs or coils, a breathable cover, and gel foam. 

If you are considering a cheap mattress, there can be some downsides, including durability. When debating between buying a cheap mattress or investing in a luxury bed, cheap mattresses offer short-term comfort but premium mattresses can provide long-term support.

Top 3 cheap mattresses to buy today

1. 10" Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress:$299$249 at Zinus

1. 10" Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress:from $299 $249 at Zinus
Our testers for the Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress review loved the pressure relief this budget all-foam bed offered, and you can get a queen size for as low as $399 (was $499). Extras include a 10-year warranty, 100-night trial, and free shipping. 

2. 10" Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress$199$180 at Linenspa

2. 10" Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattressfrom $199 $180 at Linenspa
This hybrid mattress is now on sale, with 10% off order over $100 and 15% off orders over $300, reducing a queen size to $272 (down from $319). This budget hybrid bed impressed our testers for our Linenspa Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress review with great value for money, and reccomend it to parents who need a bed for growing kids. Be aware that this bed doesn't come with a sleep trial, but does come with 30-day returns.  

3. Siena Memory Foam mattress:$199 at Siena Sleep 

3. Siena Memory Foam mattress: from $499 $199 at Siena Sleep  
Our reviewers for our Siena Memory Foam mattress review deemed this all-foam bed to be the best mattress for stomach sleepers on a budget thanks to its firm feel and strong edge support. The regular Siena mattress sale takes up to 60% off this memory foam mattress, meaning you'll always get a queen size for under $400. Plus, there’s generous extras such as a 180-night sleep trial, 10-year warranty and free shipping and returns - some premium beds don't come with extras that good. 

Frances Daniels
Sleep Staff Writer

Frances Daniels is a Sleep Staff Writer at Tom's Guide and her role includes covering all mattress and sleep news, in addition to mattress reviews and buyer's guides, plus sleep accessories such as pillows and mattress toppers. Frances is a PPA-accredited journalist and is hugely interested in the relationship between good sleep and overall health. When not writing about mattresses and sleep for Tom's Guide, Frances enjoys writing about women's issues, health and wellbeing, the environment, and her native Wales.