I grew up on Walmart groceries and Faded Glory t-shirts. Walmart was a family staple, and we were there at least once a week.
150M customers walk through Walmart's doors each week, and 90% of Americans are within 10 miles of a Walmart.
That's why I'm thrilled at the news that Walmart will join Best Buy, Walgreens, and other major retailers and sell hearing aids over the counter.
Walmart has carried hearing aid lookalikes called personal sound amplifiers (PSAPS) for years, but those products offered very little customization or quality control.
In general, I don't recommend PSAPs because they rarely give the hearing benefit that people need. Walmart will still offer PSAPs, but they are adding a new class of higher-quality products with a new OTC label.
Why is Walmart carrying hearing aids now?
Until recently, hearing aids were classified as prescription devices. Finally, on October 17th, the FDA formalized a new class of OTC hearing aids. These products must meet specific quality standards and (so far) come from more reputable companies.
In this guide, I'll explain what we know about Walmart's over-the-counter hearing aid offering and the OTC hearing aid brands available at America's #1 big box store.
Let's get into it.
Walmart Now Has OTC Hearing Aids | Reviews & Brands
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Who will benefit from OTC hearing aids at Walmart?
- OTC hearing aids are appropriate for people who want lower-cost products that they can program at home without the help of an audiologist.
- OTC hearing aids are best for those with mild-moderate hearing loss. Take a free hearing screener here if you aren't sure where you stand.
- In general, OTC hearing aids offer fewer premium features and fine-tuning options than prescription devices but also significantly lower prices.
Where to find OTC hearing aids at Walmart?
Walmart has made distinguishing lower-quality PSAPS from OTC hearing aids pretty simple. OTC hearing aids are located in the vision center in most Walmart locations.
I'm a big fan of this choice because it will help customers distinguish quality products from existing amplifiers that are less suitable for most people with hearing loss.
Walmart has not shared its training process for vision center staff, and it doesn't appear that vision centers will perform hearing tests or other audiological care.
Don't expect the Walmart vision center staff to have overnight expertise in hearing health, but you can expect a basic level of product knowledge.
Walmart did announce that the locations with Health Centers will offer hearing tests and help rule out red flags related to shoppers' hearing loss. Currently, Walmart Health Centers are only available in 30 locations, but the brand plans to expand that footprint over time.
Which over-the-counter hearing aid brands are available at Walmart?
At the time of this writing, Walmart lists only two brands of OTC hearing aids. Both hearing aids come from the same parent company, hearX Group.
HearX is a well-respected player in hearing health and has emerged as a leader in OTC products. Walgreens, Best Buy, and CVS also carry hearX products.
Go hearing aids come at just $199 or $299 per pair (I recommend the $299 version). The devices are rechargeable and come with lifetime support from a hearX expert.
These products do not allow Bluetooth streaming or significant customization to your hearing loss. You can switch between a few set programs to match your hearing loss.
Go is appropriate for simple situational use, like sitting in front of the TV or having conversations in quiet environments. If you need a hearing aid that you can wear all day or in dynamic situations, you'll probably want to step up to the next level of technology.
Find Go OTC hearing aids at Walmart or shop Go directly online.
Bose Hearing Aids
Bose hearing aids are one of my favorite OTC products on the market. You can choose between B1 with disposable batteries for $849 and B2 with rechargeable batteries for $999. Neither model allows Bluetooth streaming of music or phone calls.
What sets Bose apart is that you can customize the hearing aids with thousands of combinations using the simple Lexie Hearing app interface. While traditional products require an audiologist to update your hearing aid program, the Lexie app puts that control in your hands (and smartphone).
Bose formed a strategic partnership with Lexie Hearing (owned by hearX) in the summer of 2022. As a part of that partnership, Lexie now handles all follow-up care for Bose products. Each pair of Bose Hearing aids comes with lifetime care from a Lexie Hearing expert.
Bose is an excellent option if you want solid entry-level hearing aids with enough intelligence to handle background noise.
Find Bose OTC hearing aids at Walmart or shop Bose directly online.
What's the return policy and warranty for Walmart OTC hearing aids?
- Walmart offers free 60-day returns on all OTC hearing aid products.
- Walmart OTC hearing aids also come with a 12-month parts and labor warranty.
Are Walmart OTC hearing aids good?
The OTC hearing aids at Walmart don't have some of the premium features available at a local audiologist, but they are of a reputable quality and come from a well respected company.
The Bose hearing aid, especially, is one that I suggest to anyone looking for a place to start. You can read my full review of Bose here.
If you want all the latest hearing aid technology, you still want to work with a local doctor to fine-tune a product like Phonak Audéo Lumity or Oticon Real.
Here, you can compare all available over-the-counter hearing aids in our regularly updated OTC LIVE Tracker.
Have you tried the OTC hearing aids at Walmart? I’d love to hear from you, so send me an email at email@example.com