Costco vs. LensCrafters Eyeglasses – How Much Does It Cost?

Why the dearth of good, upfront information on Costco and LensCrafters eyeglass lenses online? I don't know. But in my quest to find the best prescription eyeglass – my definition, designer frames and stylish for the cheapest price – I came across some shocking information. I'll share my eyeglass hunting experience, with detailed price and lens information, in this article.

Let's start with my trip to LensCrafters today during their special buy-a-frame-at-full-price-get-50%-off-lens promotion. I have extremely strong prescriptions (R 9.50, L 9.00), and an associate walked me through the lens options for my particular vision needs along with the prices. All the high-index lenses at LensCrafters include anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings, as well as UV-blocking treatment in the price.

Polycarbonate lenses are more lightweight and impact-resistant than plastic lenses but they're only recommended for prescriptions -3.00 and below. Not for me.

Moving on we go to the land of high-index plastic lenses where I'm sure I'll end up. The LensCrafters associate proudly says that the company offers not one high-index lens option to its customer – like most places – but three. He also says that LensCrafters is the only company in the United States that offers high-index 1.74 lenses (China and other countries have these lenses, too), and that this high-index 1.74 lens is perfect for my prescription. I'm intrigued by the exclusivity of this offer and getting the thinnest available lenses in the world, but also wary that this is going to cost me an arm and a leg.

So high-index plastic lenses are thinner than the polycarbonate lenses and also lightweight. The high-index 1.60 lenses are recommended for prescriptions between -3.00 to -5.50. Not for me. The high-index 1.67 (which I see during my research that Costco offers) is recommended for prescriptions -6.00 to -7.50. Hmm, well my prescriptions are stronger than this but probably this will do since supposedly every optical store in the U.S. other than LensCrafters only offer up to the high-index 1.67. And the high-index 1.74 is recommended for prescriptions from -7.50 and above.

Here is a helpful chart along with the recommended prescription range, original price for the LensCrafters lenses, and the 50% off price for the LensCrafters lenses.

So I chose a Dolce & Gabbana frame for $155 at LensCrafters. When I searched on Amazon to see if I could get a better deal, the eyeglass frame in the color I wanted was $123.99 + $9.95 shipping – so not that much cheaper online.

I have Aetna health insurance and it has a partnership with EyeMed Vision Care that provides me with a free eye exam, and LensCrafters is among the providers. I also called EyeMed to find out more details about the discounts that I get on eyeglasses since I don't have vision insurance per se. EyeMed says with my Aetna insurance I get 35% off of frames, $40 copay for single vision lenses, and add on 20% discount for high-index lenses.

So I decided to have an eye exam with LensCrafters since it's free with my insurance, and moved on to Costco to check out its prices. The Costco associate says high-index 1.67 lenses costs $100. I blinked twice and then asked again are you sure? Aren't there additional costs for scratch resistance and anti-reflection and UV protection? He replies no. Costco's high-index 1.67 lenses include scratch resistance and anti-reflection.

No wonder in Consumer Report's "Eyeglass store buying guide" article the trusted magazine declared that Costco topped its list of eyeglass retailers for overall satisfaction based on a survey of nearly 19,500 readers.

So long story short on this gal's designer, high-index eyeglass hunting journey:
1. Free eye exam at LensCrafters with Aetna/EyeMed insurance
2. Buy eyeglass frame at LensCrafters with Eyemed discount: $100 (original $155)
3. Buy high-index lenses 1.67 at Costco: $100 + $18 fee for bringing my own non-Costco bought frame

Total: $218 (+tax)
• Dolce & Gabbana frame
• high-index 1.67 lenses
• lenses include anti-scratch coating
• lenses include anti-reflective coating
• lenses include UV-blocking treatment

Perhaps I would consider more seriously LensCrafters' high-index 1.74 lenses if I depended on my glasses more, but most of the time I wear contacts and glasses are just my backup or to use an hour or so before bedtime.

Hope you found this article helpful. After running around and making phone calls, I feel assured that I found a bargain – albeit I need to mix-and-match services – and saved about $200 for the complete (frame + lens) eyeglass. If you're a bargain hunter like me, it's a good day indeed.

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