Hearing aids are finally going online. After decades of high prices and long drives to local audiology offices, it's a welcome change for people like me.
In this article, I'm focused on one big question. What are the best ways to buy hearing aids online in 2022, and what are the pitfalls you should avoid?
Note: If you are debating whether you should buy online or go to a local audiologist, you might enjoy our breakdown of each process here.
Best Online Hearing Aid Brands
There are a lot of fly-by-night hearing aid brands online. The four brands listed below stand out from the crowd for their technology and service.
The first two brands sell prescription hearing aids but use Telehealth services so that you don’t need to leave your home. The second two brands are sold as OTC devices and do not require a prescription. OTC devices use an app to customize sound to your hearing loss.
Each of the four brands below is respected by the audiology community, has hundreds or thousands of 5-star reviews, and offers strong customer service.
I’ve tried all four brands and can vouch for their overall quality from personal experience.
If you walked up to me on the street and asked me what hearing aids to buy online, I’d probably recommend Jabra Enhance. The brand is owned by GN Hearing (one of the largest hearing health companies) and operates 100% online. Jabra Enhance hearing aids are Bluetooth-enabled, rechargeable, and less than half the cost of the same technology in a local office. The brand also offers an industry-leading 100-day money-back guarantee.
Note: This product is different than the headphone/hearing aid hybrid product, Jabra Enhance Plus.
How it works:
✔️ Start with a hearing test on Jabra’s website or send in an up-to-date audiogram.
✔️ With your test in hand, Jabra will program your hearing aids and ship them to you.
✔️ If you need further adjustments, Jabra’s hearing team will tune your program remotely.
✔️ Jabra offers 3 years of unlimited follow-up care with all purchases
Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth enabled, Behind The Ear Style
When Audicus launched ten years ago, it was the first online hearing brand to offer audiology services through telehealth. Some press outlets called Audicus the Warby Parker of hearing aids. Like Jabra Enhance, Audicus uses your online hearing test or audiogram to program hearing aids remotely and ship them to your home. There are a few things that make Audicus unique in the market.
- Audicus is independently owned with licensed products from Sonova
- The brand offers an Apple-style membership with technology upgrades every 18 months
- Audicus sells six products across a range of styles and prices (the largest selection among online brands)
How it works:
✔️ Start with a hearing test on the Audicus website or send in an up-to-date audiogram.
✔️ With your test in hand, Audicus will program your hearing aids and ship them to you.
✔️ If you need further adjustments, Audicus will make them remotely or request that you ship your device back (depending on the product).
✔️ You can purchase Audicus hearing aids upfront starting at $998 or become a “member” starting at $78
Price: Models available, ranging from $998-$3,398 per pair (see full pricing here).
Features: Full range of styles (invisible and behind the ear) and features (Bluetooth and rechargeable)
Eargo is easily the most exciting brand in the hearing health space. The CA-based brand built its tiny, rechargeable product from scratch and sells fully online. Eargo flips the script by giving you the tools to program your own hearing aids using their app. The product is effective for those with mild-moderate hearing loss, and if you need support, you can access their team of audiologists at any time. Eargo offers an excellent return policy, so they are worth trying if you are intrigued by the invisible design.
How it works:
✔️ Start by purchasing Eargo online or over the phone (or get a free sample product here)
✔️ Once the product arrives at your home, you’ll download the app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss
✔️ If you need further adjustments, Eargo has a team of licensed professionals who can make remote adjustments or provide advice
Price: $2,950 for a pair (use code SOUNDLY300E6 for $300 off)
Features: Invisible, self-programmed, rechargeable
In July 2022 Bose formed a strategic partnership with Lexie (a well respected hearing healthcare company) to release B1 hearing aids. Bose hearing aids are self-fit using an innovative app that allows hearing aid wearers to fit, program, and control their hearing aids with clinically proven, audiologist-quality results. Purchase B1 hearing aids for $899 here.
How it works:
✔️ Start by purchasing Bose online or over the phone.
✔️ Once the product arrives at your home, you'll download the app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
✔️ If you need further adjustments, Lexie has a team of licensed professionals who can make remote updates or provide technical advice.
Price: $899 or $49 per month
Features: Disposable batteries, No Bluetooth Streaming, Programming App, Behind-The-Ear Style
How To Buy Traditional Products Like Phonak, Signia and Widex Online
If you've been wearing hearing aids for long, you'll know that a few big brands make most of the devices for sale in audiology offices. You've got a few options if you are set on getting name-brand Phonak, Signia, Widex, Oticon, or ReSound hearing aids online.
Option #1 - Local Care With Pre-Negotiated Prices
The most popular option for online shopping for hearing aid wearers works like this:
- Large networks like ZipHearing and YesHearing work with hundreds of care providers around the country.
- Because of their scale, the network can negotiate uniform prices that are 30%-40% lower than what you pay when you walk into a local office.
- The network will pair you with a local provider and guarantee the price. Everything else about the exchange looks like a typical visit to the audiologist.
I'm a big fan of this model because it gives hearing aid wearers more control and better prices but still includes professional care.
Option #2 - Telehealth With Local Hearing Test
Certain brands now allow licensed audiologists to dispense their products through Telehealth services. Here's how it works:
- You will need to take a local hearing test at an ENT or audiology office (traditional manufacturers like Phonak and Widex require this step).
- A hearing professional will remotely program your hearing aids and ship them to you.
- Some hearing professionals offer long-term remote care similar to what you might expect locally.
DirectHearing.com is a known low-cost source for remote care of this kind.
Option #3 - Purchase Product Only Without Service
Traditional hearing aids from the largest prescription brands aren't available to purchase without care from a professional. Some people work around the system by buying hearing aids through an online discount retailer like DirectHearing and then bring those hearing aids to their local audiologist for future tune-ups. It's arguable whether the savings is worth the hassle of convincing a local audiologist to work with your existing equipment. At that point I might suggest a solution like Jabra Enhance.
Comparing Prices Between Care Options
$$ - Online brands like Jabra Enhance, Eargo, and Lexie are the most affordable ($799 - $2,950 per pair). They use their scale to get better rates on hardware and cut out brick and mortar costs.
$$$ - Pre-negotiated local care (between $3,000-$4,500 per pair) is slightly more expensive but offers face-to-face care and custom-mold styles (learn more here).
$$$$ - Walk-in care at a local audiologist (between $4,500-$7,000) is the most expensive and often gives more hands-on care.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Here are three mistakes that many people make when they purchase hearing aids online.
Mistake #1 - Amplifiers vs. hearing aids
The biggest thing to know is that all online hearing aids are not created equal. Most low-cost devices in places like Amazon are amplifiers instead of hearing aids. Let’s break down the difference.
The image below shows a fairly common audiogram. This person’s hearing loss is progressively worse for higher pitched sounds.
If the person with the sloping hearing loss (above) purchases “one-size-fits-all” amplifiers the highest points in their audiogram will become too loud and uncomfortable.
The image below shows what properly treated hearing loss should look like with a custom-programmed product.
In short, avoid products that aren’t customized to your hearing loss. I’ve read hundreds of customer reviews and rarely found someone satisfied with an amplifier in the long run.
Mistake #2 - Single hearing aid price vs. a pair price
This one’s pretty simple. Make sure you get prices for two hearing aids vs. one. Some online hearing sites advertise the price of one hearing aid instead of a pair. Double check that the price you see is what you’ll actually pay.
Mistake #3 - Return policies
Every hearing aid brand should offer at least a 45-day money-back guarantee. It’s a good idea to thoroughly read the return policy before you purchase. Some policies specify certain conditions that can be difficult to meet.
Take, for example, this return policy for a widely advertised amplifier. Not impossible to get your money back, but not a walk in the park either. Compare that with Eargo’s easy-to-understand return policy, and you’ll quickly see the differences.
The world of online and over-the-counter hearing aids is changing quickly. I hope this guide has helped make your search a bit clearer. Purchasing hearing aids online is very doable if you have the proper knowledge and know a few common pitfalls.
If you are looking for somewhere to start your hearing treatment journey you might like this 5 minute online hearing test.