I’m a sleep writer — 3 key things I'll be looking for when shopping for a cheap mattress in Memorial Day sales

The Siena Memory Foam Mattress on a bed frame in a bedroom, with pillows on top
(Image credit: Siena Sleep)

As a sleep writer, I'm aware of two things. First, how important a mattress is for your sleep. Second, how expensive many of the best beds are. The Memorial Day mattress sales are a fantastic opportunity to get a new mattress for cheap, but if you're shopping with a tight budget, it's important to prioritize your rest as much as the price tag.

When buying a cheap mattress in the sales, there are a few things to keep in mind. Is it the best mattress for your sleep? Can you trust the brand? And what are your options if something goes wrong?

With the Memorial Day mattress sales promising good beds at lower prices, I'm here to help you navigate the savings. In this guide I'll explore what a cheap mattress is and what you need to look for when choosing a bargain bed. I'll also do some of the work for you, picking out my favorite deals. Let's get started...

What is a cheap mattress?

Best mattress: Siena Memory Foam Mattress review firmness and comfort, with a person sitting on the edge of the bed

(Image credit: Siena Sleep)

We all have a different definition of 'cheap', but at Tom's Guide we class a 'cheap' mattress as any queen size bed that costs $500 or less. The best cheap mattresses are typically all-foam beds, but there are some budget-friendly hybrids available if you prefer the feel of springs. 

The rise of mattresses in a box – convenient vacuum-packed and rolled beds – has meant the availability of higher quality cheap beds has increased. However, the market is still limited. If you're searching for a specialist mattress, consider increasing your budget (or maybe try one of the best mattress toppers instead).

Durability can also be an issue for budget mattresses. I recommend replacing your mattress roughly every seven to 10 years, but you might find that a cheap mattress doesn't last that long. After a few years the bed can start to sink, and you might discover it doesn't provide the support you need.

With all that said, it is still possible to get a good mattress at a low price. I've even rounded up some of the best options for you below. But if they don't catch your eye, here's what to look for when buying a cheap bed.

3 key things I look for when buying a cheap mattress

1. Am I buying from a trusted retailer?

To put it bluntly: many budget mattresses are cheap because they aren't very good. It's hard to determine the quality of a cheap bed when shopping online, which is why my top tip for buying a budget bed is to look for one from a reputable company.

Take our favorite cheap mattress, the Siena Memory Foam. Siena is owned by Resident Home, the company behind popular bed brands Nectar, DreamCloud, and Cloverlane. Similarly, the Casper Element mattress is one of the best cheap mattresses on Amazon, and comes with the backing of sleep brand Casper.

If you're not sure the retailer can be trusted, make sure to look for reviews – the more, the better. Reading customer experiences both with the bed and with the brand can help you understand what you're getting, and avoid costly mis-purchases.

2. Does it suit my sleep style?

Budget is important when choosing a mattress, but it shouldn't be your only concern. Consider your sleep position and body type. Is the mattress deep enough for you? Is is the right firmness? Do you share a bed and could benefit from strong motion isolation? Or do you overheat at night and need a cooling mattress?

Our how to choose a mattress guide can help you navigate firmness ratings, sleep positions, and all the other features worth considering. Shopping on a budget might mean you sometimes have to compromise, but it doesn't mean you should neglect these factors altogether.

If you don't consider these aspects, the new mattress won't support your rest. Which means your budget bed might work out surprisingly expensive, as you'll have to pay for a replacement...

Two people lie next to each other in bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Can I return it if it isn’t right?

A decent cheap mattress should come with a mattress trial and a warranty, so you can return the bed if it isn't right. The industry average is around 100 nights for a trial and 10 years for a warranty, but if you're buying a cheap bed, it might be shorter. I recommend spending at least 30 consecutive nights sleeping on a new mattress before deciding whether or not it's right for you.

Many budget mattresses are found on sites such as Amazon, Walmart, and CostCo. If you're buying a bed from a third-party retailer, make sure to read the fine print. Some retailers offer a long returns period, but with the catch that your mattress must still be in the box. You can't test the bed, so it's not a true sleep trial.

As a side note, you can sometimes get a cheap mattress in a closeout sale. This happens when a brand is discontinuing a bed and looking to clear old stock. Closeout sales can offer massive bargains, but these mattresses can rarely be returned. If shopping a closeout sale, make sure you're happy with the bed you're getting.

Best cheap mattresses to buy in the Memorial Day sales

Below are three of my favorite cheap mattresses to shop this Memorial Day. Some of these beds are always under $500 for a queen, but they're still excellent deals to shop if you want a quality budget mattress.

Siena Memory Foam Mattress: $499

Siena Memory Foam Mattress: from $499 $199 at Siena Sleep
In our Siena Memory Foam Mattress review we were hugely impressed with the quality this bed delivers at such a low price. A firm all-foam bed, the Siena is good for back and stomach sleepers, and the evergreen sale means a queen is just $399 – extremely cheap for such a trusted brand. You'll also get a 180-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty, which is better than the extras offered with some more expensive mattresses.

Cocoon by Sealy Chill Memory Foam Mattress: $649

Cocoon by Sealy Chill Memory Foam Mattress: was $649 $279 at Walmart
I typically recommend buying directly from the manufacturer, but sometimes a third-party deal is just too good to ignore. During our Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress review we found this bed provides remarkable cooling at a low price. The current Walmart deal reduces a queen to just $384, and while you won't get the bedding deal or mattress trial of buying directly from Sealy Chill, this price is pretty much unbeatable.

Brooklyn Bedding Dreamfoam Essential mattress: $274

Brooklyn Bedding Dreamfoam Essential mattress: from $274 $205.50 at Brooklyn Bedding
The Dreamfoam Essential from Brooklyn Bedding is the perfect budget mattress choice if you're looking for a bed for an RV. Available in five thickness levels, an 8-inch queen is just $449.30 in the spring sale, and you'll get a 120-night trial. But if your budget can stretch to it, I recommend upgrading to the 10-inch. A queen is only $524.30, and those two extra inches provide comfortable cushioning.

Ruth Jones
Sleep staff Writer

Ruth Jones has recently joined the Tom's Guide team as a sleep staff writer, covering all things mattresses and sleep. Ruth previously worked as a sleep and mattress writer for our sister website TechRadar, and has a deep interest in sleep and how it affects our day to day wellbeing. Ruth is a self-confessed stomach sleeper with a penchant for medium-firm mattresses, and also loves a good eye mask for helping her to fall asleep easier at night.