Sometimes, splurging on a mattress just doesn’t make sense. Most foam, innerspring, and hybrid mattresses (part coil and part foam) cost more than $1,000, which is out of reach for a lot of people. If you’re furnishing a child’s room or a guest bedroom, moving frequently, or simply working with a tight budget, a decent cheap mattress can be a good compromise that doesn’t hurt your wallet—or your back. But wading through the abundance of cheap mattresses online can be intimidating. Many are uncomfortable and saggy, and they could wind up being a waste of money and effort in the end.
Over the past three years, we’ve considered nearly four-dozen foam, innerspring, and hybrid mattresses that cost less than $500 for a queen. We’ve tested the finalists in our New York City office with a group of testers of different shapes, sizes, and sleep preferences. We’ve also slept on the top contenders for at least a week each at home. Many mattresses later, we think that the Zinus Green Tea Cooling Swirl Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress and the Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress are the best bets among cheap mattresses. If you can spend a bit more, we recommend Costco’s Novaform ComfortGrande memory-foam mattress or the IKEA Hesstun (Medium Firm) innerspring mattress.
Zinus Green Tea Cooling Swirl Memory Foam Hybrid
This foam-and-coil mattress has a supportive and springy feel, good motion isolation, and decent edge support. It appealed to a wider range of testers than most of the other cheap mattresses we tried.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $307.
Of all the cheap mattresses we tried, the Zinus Green Tea Cooling Swirl Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress won over a majority of testers with its supportive and springy feel, good motion isolation, and strong edge support. This medium-firm coil-and-foam mattress should work well for people who tend to sleep on their back or stomach, or who simply prefer a firmer mattress. The springs make it noticeably bouncy, but not enough to feel unstable or wiggly. The mattress has a cloudlike pillow top that feels supportive and offers some pressure relief (though maybe not enough for side-sleepers), as well as a solid underlying firmness that makes it easy to shift positions on. It also comes with a few nice finishes such as a jacquard cover and handles on the sides for easy lifting—features that are typically found only on more expensive mattresses. The mattress comes in 10-, 12-, and 14-inch versions. Zinus offers a 100-night free trial period and a 10-year limited warranty.
Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam
This all-foam mattress offers a happy middle ground between soft and sinky, and it may work well for side-sleepers. Though it’s still supportive, it cuddles in a classic memory-foam way without making you feel stuck in place.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $414.
The all-foam Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress is medium-firm but cozy, with a classic memory-foam hug that stops short of engulfing you whole. The mattress’s soft top layer lets you sink in, while the support layers below maintain a steady underlying firmness. Participants in our group test were polarized when it came to evaluating the Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress: People who tended to like a classic memory-foam mattress thought it was the best option for the price, but others who preferred more bounce noted that it was too firm. It has good motion isolation and offers enough resilience to allow you to comfortably shift from one position to another. However, its edge support is virtually nonexistent. The mattress comes in multiple thicknesses; we recommend the 10- and 12-inch versions. Zinus offers a 100-night free trial period and a 10-year limited warranty.
This medium-firm memory-foam mattress offers a big upgrade in both quality and feel for a (relatively) small increase in price.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $600.
A longtime Wirecutter favorite, the Costco-exclusive Novaform ComfortGrande costs around $600, but we think it’s well worth the splurge. This lofty, 14-inch mattress is a great value, made from layers of foam that are as dense (and probably as durable) as those found in much more expensive mattresses. It has solid edge support and motion isolation, a flexible yet firm kind of supportiveness that lets you nestle in. According to Costco policy, you can return the mattress for a full refund at any time, and the Novaform ComfortGrande comes with a 20-year warranty (PDF).
IKEA Hesstun (Medium Firm)
This medium-firm innerspring has features that can usually be found only in more expensive models, such as curve-confirming micro-coils and a plush Euro top.
When we tested the IKEA Hesstun (Medium Firm) against more expensive innerspring mattresses, it surprised us with its combination of comfort and affordability. The nearly 13-inch Hesstun is more substantial than most budget mattresses. It feels nuanced and well constructed, and it has features that most innersprings in its price range lack, such as a plush Euro top, body-conforming mini pocket springs near the surface, and a supportive layer of more pocket springs near the bottom. IKEA gives you 90 days to exchange the mattress if you don’t like it, but in that case you forfeit a percentage of the price, and you may have to haul it back to the store yourself. The mattress comes with a 10-year warranty (PDF).