Ryan Fiorenzi
January 31, 2021

Shopping for a Mattress Online

Buying a new mattress used to be a hassle but it’s now it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever before with the ability to ship a mattress to your door in a compressed box. Finding the best boxed mattress ultimately depends on your sleeping position and your weight. Side sleepers should seek out a softer mattress to provide contouring to their body while back sleepers typically find the most comfort with a firmer mattress. Your own weight is a big factor, generally the heavier you are the more firm your mattress should be. There are also many other factors such as your sleep temperature, budget, and tolerance of inorganic materials that play into your buying decision. With a little background and education, we’ll help you find the best mattress. Currently, our top pick is the Nectar mattress available on Nectar Sleep Site

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How to Choose a Mattress

A lot goes into selecting the best mattress but here are some of our top recommendations we give to our readers about buying a mattress online or a mattress that arrives in a box.

  • Buy from a company that stands by their products - Mattress companies are willing to compete for your business and that’s a great advantage for you as a buyer. Most reputable mattress companies will offer you a truly risk free experience with their mattress. Whether it’s a long in-home trial or a money-back guarantee, you’re not fully committed when you order one and you often aren’t stuck if you want to return it.
  • Consider Your Sleeping Position - Most mattresses that ship in a box are constructed of memory foam which is generally medium to medium-firm. This is great if you’re a back or stomach sleepers but if you’re a side sleeper, especially a light sleeper you should pay extra close attention to the firmness of the mattresses you’re considering. If you're a side sleeper, read my guide on best mattresses for side sleepers for more specific information.
  • Look for CertiPUR foams  - Many quality mattresses foams are certified by a non-profit organization program called CertiPUR which aims to ensure foams found in mattresses are free of many health and environmental hazards. There are currently over 2,000 companies currently manufacturing CertiPUR mattresses according to their website.

Buying Online

Considering the size of an average mattress you may be wondering how it ships to your house. Over the last 15 years, technology was developed to compress foam mattresses into a tall narrow box allowing them to be shipped with normal parcel carriers like FedEx or UPS. The ability to ship mattresses this way comes at a great benefit to you from a cost standpoint and no longer mattress require showrooms or expensive freight shipping to transport mattresses.


If you’re worried about the return process don’t be. While many mattresses companies do ask that you try the bed for a certain period before asking for a refund they usually make it fairly hassle-free to return them. Unfortunately, by return, it sometimes does mean they are thrown away. This is a topic that is rapidly changing as some mattress companies like Purple will allow you to donate the mattress to be returned vs sending it to a landfill. We are big advocates as many non-profits and homeless shelters, in particular, can make excellent use of them. If you do plan to return a mattress ask if you can donate it for a refund instead of sending it to a landfill. In some cases, you may be able to keep the mattress even though you are getting a refund.

Budget Considerations

Mattresses in a box, while less expensive than traditional innerspring mattresses sold in stores are still a significant cost. As you are setting a budget here are a few things for you to consider.

  • Financing a Mattress Purchase - Many mattresses in a box can be financed over a period of time. Your interest rate and monthly payment depending on your credit score and ability to qualify. If you urgently need a mattress and can't afford it up front, financing the purchase can make sense. Services like Affirm or AfterPay are commonly offered during the checkout process.
  • Consider the Costs Annualized - We think your sleep something worth investing in but if you’re concerned about price or justifying the cost, try thinking of the investment as a monthly, or yearly payment (assumes typical mattress life of 7 years):

    Mattress Price

    Cost Per Day

    Cost Per Month

    Cost Per Year

















    As you can see in the table above the difference between a $250 and $2,000 mattress that both last 7 years comes out to only ~$20 difference in cost per month. While we don’t often advocate buying a $2,000 mattress, it just goes to show how small the monthly cost is considering how long a mattress can last. We think the sweet spot is around $500, which comes out to around $6 a month over the life of the mattress. At this price-point, there are a lot of great mattress options from reputable companies.

  • Extra Costs of Buying a Mattress - Make sure you don't overlook the extra costs associated with buying a new mattress. This especially applies if you are switching mattress sizes as this often requires new bed structures, sheets, and pillow sizes.
  • Promotional Freebies - On a plus side many mattresses in box companies throw in promotional extras such as pillows and sheets and other bedding when you buy a mattress. We took a look at all the current promotional freebies being offered by some of the top mattress companies:
    • Nectar - each mattress purchase includes 1-2 pillows (up to $150 value)
    • Purple - choose between sheets, pillow or a mattress protector (claimed between $99 to $129 value)
    • Layla - Intermittent promotions offering two pillows with mattress purchase

Best Mattresses in a Box

We’ve invested around 21 hours of research on creating this guide on mattresses in a box and have supplemented our own research with one interview with an industry insider and a chiropractor versed in sleeping positions and sleep-related back and neck pain. You can learn more about our review process here

Best Value and Ideal for Side Sleeping

  • A relative new-comer to the mattress space, the Nectar memory foam mattress is really great value for money and great quality.
  • Nectar really stands by their product with a 365-night home trial, forever warranty, free shipping, and returns... pretty unbeatable and truly risk-free.
  • Returns can be donated instead of thrown away
  • Includes handy packaging removal tool that protects your new mattress and makes unboxing very fast.
  • Each mattress purchase includes 1 to 2 free pillows depending on the mattress size you buy.
  • Financing Available

Best Cooling Mattress

  • The Purple mattress is a totally new approach to the mattress introducing something called hyper-elastic polymer which is like a rubbery honeycomb type material that cools and supports you in an entirely new way.
  • This new version of their mattress addresses a lot of problems reported by side sleepers in the original
  • While more expensive than many other mattress options, we think the purple mattress offers the best cooling around.
  • No VOC construction means you have less to worry about compared to memory foam mattresses.
  • 100-night trial and 10-year warranty

Best Value Runner Up

  • If you're shopping for a mattress online and worried about the firmness and not being able to see the mattress in person, the Layla is for you. Its innovative two-sided design gives you two different firmness options.
  • 120-night trial and lifetime warranty... pretty awesome.
  • Has two design features that aid in cooling; The memory foam is infused with copper which helps transfer heat. Also, while a lot of mattresses are a solid material, the Layla has significant air pockets which help circulate air.
  • Durable high-quality and breathable outer layer, an area where a lot of mattresses cut corners.
  • Frequently promotions including pillows and or nice discounts on the mattress price.
  • Financing available

Best Budget Memory Foam

  • The Green Tea mattress is a cut above the least expensive mattresses we've reviewed but low cost enough to make this our best budget pick.
  • Available in nearly every mattress size in 5 different thicknesses from a plush 12" to a firm 6" thickness.
  • Infused with green tea extract and plant oil
  • Available on Amazon, this is one of the easiest mattresses to order online.
  • Backed by Amazon's return policy, customer support and a 10-year warranty

Amazon Basics

Amazon Basics Mattress - Best Mattress in a Box

Best Budget Runner Up

  • If you consider your mattress a commodity and just want to best price, the Amazon Basics Memory Foam mattress is for you.
  • 4 Layer memory foam construction creates a soft firmness ideal for side or light-weight sleepers.
  • Available in all major mattress sizes each in three thicknesses to tailor the firmness further to your needs.
  • The price does come at a cost with a relatively short 1-year warranty.

Best for Stomach and Back Sleepers

  • The Tuft and Needle Original is a great medium firm memory foam mattress best suited for back and stomach sleepers or heavy side sleepers.
  • Great price point for a high-quality mattress from a reputable company - they were one of the first to get into the bed-in-a-box market.
  • Both Certi-PUR and Oeko Tex certified
  • 10-Year warranty and 100-night Trial

Compare Table

If you're having trouble making a decision, we gathered some key information on each of our top pick mattresses in a box below:


Key Materials



CertiPur-US Certified


Memory Foam

365 Day/Lifetime

Medium Firm


New Purple

Polymer, Foam

100 day/10-years




Memory Foam, Copper

120 Day/Lifetime

Medium, Medium Firm



Memory Foam

120 Day/10-years




Memory Foam

n/a /1-year

Medium Soft


Tuft & Needle

Memory Foam

100 Day/10-years

Medium Firm