Quick notes:

  • Catered strongly towards new customers with little to no experience buying online.
  • Polycarbonate lenses standard – polycarbonate, a virtually shatter-proof material excellent for everyone (but even more strongly recommended for children) is the lens used in their basic pairs of glasses.
  • Name brand lenses – while the basic lenses are unbranded, there is a heavy selection of name-brand lenses, often in Polycarbonate.
  • Flex Spending Accounts – they advertise heavily that those with FSA accounts are able to use them for purchases here.
  • Re-lensing – 39dollarglasses offers a re-lensing service if you have existing frames and would like to simply have new lenses put in.
  • BBB accredited – they are BBB-accredited with an A+ rating.
  • “Worry free guarantee” – if unhappy with the glasses, you can let them know within 10 days of receiving them and they will pay for return shipping and refund your money (minus the original shipping charge). Some exclusions apply.
  • Higher end of the discount price scale (no offerings in the under-$30 range).
  • AR coating is considerably more expensive than most retailers.
  • No name-brand designer frames offered.

 

39DollarGlasses video purchase review

A look at a glasses purchase from 39 Dollar Glasses. If you would like to see the full write-up with pictures instead of a video, head to the 39DollarGlasses review page.

 

Introduction:

39 Dollar Glasses is situated in the US (New York). Pricing in USD. They sell single-vision, bi-focal, and progressive glasses. Methods of contact include online live support (8 hours a day Mon-Fri), a web inquiry form, a 1-800 and direct phone number, fax, and a mailing address listed on their site. They accept Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, and Discover. They are BBB-accredited carrying an “A+” rating.

 

Impressions:

39 Dollar Glasses has been around over a decade now (since 2000), and continues to be well-suited toward the nervous first-time buyer. At times it almost appears that they’re just as much in the “peace of mind” business as they are in the “glasses” business. The largest downside to 39 dollar glasses is the price – they’re at the higher end of the “discount lenses” scale, and don’t include a lot of freebies. On one hand, your $39 gets you Polycarbonate lenses on single-vision glasses – a good step up from the basic CR39 plastic lenses offered elsewhere. On the other hand, adding an anti-reflective coating bumps up the price of your glasses by $25, where many other retailers offer the coating for free (or at least a lower cost), although to be fair many of those other retailers are putting the AR coating on CR39. If you’re looking for Polycarbonate lenses, it’s actually a pretty reasonable deal. If you don’t mind CR39 or glass though and are looking to spend as little as possible, you may want to look elsewhere.

It’s worth noting they’ve also added a “100% worry free guarantee” which is laid out quite simply. If you don’t like the glasses you can contact them within 10 days of receiving the glasses for a refund (minus shipping) or an exchange. If you live in the US, they’ll pay for the return shipping. There are a couple lenses that are excluded (the branded UltimateViewHD and Varilux lenses only qualify for a 50% refund), but the vast majority of lenses certainly seem to be eligible.

It’s clear that 39DollarGlasses is quite proud of the reputation they’ve established over the years. The BBB logo on their site links directly to their listing on the BBB page, clicking on their ResellerRatings logo hops right over to that site, and in the past they’ve display excerpts about themselves from Readers Digest and the Wall Street Journal on the main page. They’ve also added a PowerReviews Express section for each frame (though honestly I tend to mistrust review sections on product pages as they can be prone to astroturfing, incentivization, etc). Looking through reader input I’ve received as well as other resources on the web, I get the strong impression that 39DollarGlasses makes every attempt to resolve issues when they arise.

The majority of their plastic & metal frames are $39.00 which includes single-vision lenses. They do offer a selection of other frames (rimless, bendable titanium, etc) but those generally cost more. Most of their frames are offered in 2-3 colors which vary depending on the frame selected. While they do not carry a name-brand designer line, they have maintained a consistent selection of frames to the point where if you bought frames years ago and want new ones of the same type, they’ll probably still carry them. One nicety is that despite getting a mix of $39 and higher priced frames when you first select a category, the moment you sort by price, you’ve got about 250 frames at the $39 mark. So while that initial $39 is higher than many other retailers start with, that price stays consistent rather than bumping up after a page of frames.

Single-vision lenses come free with the frame. They also offer tinted, polarized, Transitions (brand), and 1.67/1.74 High-Index lenses. Bi-focals and progressives are also offered in tinted, polarized, and Transitions (brand) variants. Up to -12 SPH is offered (no extra “high-prescription” charge). High CYL values (above +/-3.25) will require you to choose a higher index though. One thing you may notice is that many of the lenses are name-branded with names such as UltimateView HD®, Seiko®, Drivewear®, NuPolar®, Transitions®, SMARTshades® and Varilux®, the latter coming with a certificate of authenticity. Through my research, every indication has been that all their lenses seem to be crafted (and the glasses put together) in a lab located in the USA.

 

Website and Ordering:

The 39 Dollar Glasses website remains excellent – particularly for first time buyers. Much of the site is very step-by-step in a way that’s simple and non-complicated, but with a good bit of information available when desired.

As soon as you choose a frame, the next page gives some basic measurements, and includes a “SmartFit” section on the same page which lets you browse between 12 different faces (6 male, 6 female) to see how glasses look on different face shapes. They also have a PDF file you can download and print, cut out, and then put against your face and check out in a mirror if you want to get an idea of how they’ll look on you. On top of that, they’ve added the ability to upload your own picture and see how the glasses might look on you that way, known as “ExactFit”. With the flexibility they’ve added to it (while maintaining the simplicity), it is easily one of the best try-on features I’ve used. That said, it currently suffers from a bug where if you click for more info on the “PD” measurement from within “Step 3″ of the ExactFit process, you will be unable to close the PD popup. Very unfortunate that it seems to have missed testing as that will quickly frustrate a potential customer. Ignoring that issue for the moment, one of the largest concerns a new buyer typically has is “how will they look on me”, and 39DollarGlasses definitely has covered that area from a few angles.

39 Dollar Glasses has not yet implemented a mobile version of their site, so mobile users get the desktop version but without the try-on feature.

Going through each option during the order process, just about anything someone might not know is usually clickable for a small popup with information. How to read you prescription, how to take a PD measurement (they even include a printable ruler in case you don’t happen to have a junk-drawer full of them), details about each lens, etc. However, the information could use a little more depth and perhaps a few pictures to help show the differences between some of the lenses. One other issue I came across in my recent browse through is that after selecting a tint in Step 3, you’re brought to a new page to select the color. But that new page doesn’t list the previous item you just chose – it would be nice if it at least said “tint for your transitions selection”, perhaps even with some additional help there.

They do keep a “Having trouble ordering? We’re here to help” note in a predominant position along with the toll-free number. It almost gives the feeling of being hand-held throughout the process.

Checking out as a Guest is allowed, which is always a plus.

Worth noting that I never felt as though I was being bait-and-switched or pressured into something more expensive. The cheapest stuff was always selected by default, and the only thing it mentioned as a “recommendation” was the $25 AR coating. That said, the upgrades themselves are heavier in price.

The short version is that the 39 Dollar Glasses site works to keep the experience clean, simple, and elegant. I do have a few minor issues as mentioned, but to be fair, I had to look for them. Overall it was a pleasant shopping experience.

 

Pricing and Value:

The majority of plastic/metal single-vision glasses come to $39.00 complete with UV protection and scratch-resistance. Bi-focals come to $89.00 ($99.00 for progressives) and also include UV protection and scratch-resistance. Tint is offered in 7 colors (brown, grey, G-15, blue, rose, orange, yellow), but adds to the price. Transitions is offered in Brown or Grey.

Despite the basic offerings being priced higher than most other retailers, the fact that your $39.00 gets you polycarbonate lenses makes it a pretty reasonable deal. Stepping up to anything other than a non-basic lens starts to get pricey quite quickly, though you’re generally getting name-brand lenses for the money. However, this probably isn’t the place for someone simply looking for a backup pair of glasses, since you can get a basic pair of glass or CR39 lenses/frames complete with an AR coating for less elsewhere. That said, if this is your first time buying glasses online, you’re looking for polycarbonate and/or name-brand lenses, or are planning on using a FSA account, 39 Dollar Glasses is definitely worth checking out.

 

Lens offerings:

(based on $39 frames)

As you’ll see, there is a heavy emphasis on Polycarbonate lenses.

 Single vision Bifocal (+$50) Progressive (+$60)
Clear Polycarbonate (1.59) free free
Clear Polycarbonate Illumina Brand (1.59) free
Clear Polycarbonate UltimateView HD Free-Form Brand (1.59) +$59.95
Clear Polycarbonate Varilux Comfort New Edition Brand (1.59) +$99.00
Clear Seiko Brand Super High Index (1.67) +$49.95 (free AR)
Clear Ultra-high Index (1.74) +$89.95 (free AR)
Tinted CR39 (1.50) +$9.95 +$19.95 
Tinted Polycarbonate (1.59) +$19.95  
Tinted Polycarbonate UltimateViewHD Free-Form Brand (1.59)   +$69.90
Tinted Polycarbonate Varilux Comfort New Edition Brand (1.59)   +$108.95
Tinted Seiko Brand Super High Index (1.67) +$59.90  
Polarized NuPolar Brand CR39 (1.50) +$49.90 +$88.90 
Polarized NuPolar Brand Polycarbonate (1.59) +$88.90 +$98.90 
Polarized UltimateView HD Free-Form Brand Polycarbonate (1.59)   +$99.90
Polarized Transitions NuPolar Brand photochromic +$89.00 +$99.00 
Transitions Brand CR39 photochromic (1.50) +$49.90 +$88.90 
SMARTshades clearLIGHT Brand photochromic (1.58)  +$49.95 
SMARTshades Optical Dynamics Brand photochromic (1.59)   +$49.95
Transitions Brand Polycarbonate photochromic (1.59) +$88.90  
Transitions Ultimate View HD Free-Form Brand Polycarbonate photochromic   +$99.90
Transitions VI Varilux Comfort New Edition Brand Polycarbonate photochromic   +147.90
AR coating $24.95 not available $24.95
Anti Scratch free free free
UV protection free free free

Shipping adds $4.95 in the US, and $12.95 internationally.

The price charts are created by hand – if you notice any errors, please contact me.

While more expensive than a number of other online retailers, 39DollarGlasses has situated themselves well as the go-to retailer for those new to buying glasses online. Even for veteran buyers, the price is still reasonable enough and they may very well be the best place to buy glasses if looking for vast polycarbonate offerings.

 

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Curious as to how things have changed since 2006?
Here is the original writeup from many years ago…


39 Dollar Glasses
“Discount Prices on High Quality Eyeglasses”

Introduction

39 Dollar Glasses is located in New York (USA). Pricing in USD. They display a 1-800 number, direct number, fax, and have online and email support, as well as a physical mailing address displayed on their “Customer Support” page. They accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. Their site has an option when you click the “International” menu which will show prices in your local currency.

Impressions

This was one of the first sites I came across and actually looked through extensively. All I can say is wow. When you choose a frame, along-side the information, you’re shown a picture of a person wearing the frame. They also have for each frame a total of 12 pictures (6 male 6 female) of people with different shaped heads wearing the frame. If that’s not enough, you can also view a .pfd of the frame which if printed, is actual size, so you can cut it out, put it against your face, and have something of an idea of what it will look like. Want to know what the glasses will look like if tinted..? With their “SmartFit Color Selector” you can see the frames in their available colors with the available tints.

The ordering process is very intuitive and easy to use. Having trouble reading your prescription? There’s a “SmartFit Rx Help” button you can click which gives information on reading prescriptions written different ways. You can also get detailed information on any of the lenses they offer just by clicking on the name of the lens “package”.

The $39 glasses they offer are their Metal and Plastic selections with Clear Polycarbonate lenses (some of their “Kid’s Eyeglasses” are the same price as well). Stepping up to Rimless, Bendable Titanium, Semi Rimless, or others brings the price up to $89, and higher in some cases (Designer, etc)

The biggest downside is that despite the impressive website, $39 is getting a little steep for a ‘discount’ retailer, and getting anything except the Metal or Plastic brings the price up that much more. All their lenses have free scratch-resistant and UV-protective coatings, but adding an AR coating is an extra $24.95. However, to be fair, it’s entirely possible that they use higher quality frames. Many of their lenses are also made by name-brand companies like Essilor®, Sola®, Seiko®, and Transitions®. Some lenses, such as their genuine Varilux® lenses also come with a certificate of authenticity. You can get more information by visiting the “Product Info / About Our Lenses” section of their website.

This site could very well be a God-send for first-time buyers. Easy to navigate, easy to use, easy to order. A lot of thought was put into the design of their website. Unfortunately you have to plunk a little bit more money down for your investment. They seem to be well liked, they’re quite popular, and I really haven’t come across a lot of people who have had bad experiences with them. The BBBOnline.org website gives them a “satisfactory” rating, and shows a record of 2 complaints, both of which were resolved.

 

Pricing (based on a $39 pair of frames/lenses)

(package names have been abbreviated)Single Vision $39.00Bifocals $79.00Progressives $89.00
Clear
Polycarbonateincludedincludedincluded
Seiko 1.67 Super High-Index+ $49.95--
.
Tinted Sunglass Lenses
CR39 Tinted+ $9.95+ $9.95+ $9.95
Polycarbonate Tinted+ $19.95+ $19.95+ $19.95
Seiko 1.67 Super High-Index Sun Lenses (Dark Tint)+ $59.90--
.
Polarized Sunglass Lenses
CR39 Polarized+ $49.90+ $88.90+ $59.95
Polycarbonate Polarized+ $88.90+ $98.90+ $98.90
.
Clear Inside/Dark Outside Lenses
CR39 Transitions Lenses+ $49.90+ $88.90+ $59.95
Polycarbonate Quantum Transitions Lenses+ $88.90-+ $98.90
.
Anti Reflective Coating (not avail with Tinted Lenses)+ $24.95+ $24.95+ $24.95
.
Shipping
DHL Priority 3-4 day$5.95$5.95$5.95
DHL 2nd Day Express$10.95$10.95$10.95
DHL Overnight Express$16.90$16.90$16.90
USPS Global Priority$7.95$7.95$7.95

A pair of single vision lenses without any add-ons is $44.95 after shipping if you live in the US.

Website Ratings

CategoryRatingDetails
WebsiteExcellentWebsite is easy to navigate. Frames can be saved in .pdf format and printed, can be viewed on different shaped heads, and can be viewed in their available colors and with available tints. Plenty of information about lens options available. Website very well designed.
SelectionGoodAbout 30 frames (Metal and Plastic) that qualified for the $39 pricing. Others available were Rimless, Semi-Rimless, Designer, Bendable Titanium, and others. Nice children’s selection (both Kid’s and Nickelodean).
Frame InfoExcellentDimensions given, and can be seen in each color and tint. Only thing lacking was weight.
Lens OptionsGreatClear, Tinted, Polarized, and Transitions lenses all offered. Various tint colors to choose from. They also have brand name lenses like Essilor®, Sola®, Seiko®, and Transitions®. Downsides are that tints are not offered in various degrees of darkness, and because of the ‘packages’ style of offerings, you are unable to get certain configurations. For example, the only options for clear lenses are Poly and High-Index (you cannot get Glass or CR39).
ValueGood$39.00 for a discount store seems pricey when you consider the pricing of other discount stores. However, when ordering you do have a very good idea of what your frames and lenses will look like. The website itself is also quite helpful when choosing frames and lenses. That alone could make it worth the price.

 

Click here to go to the 39 Dollar Glasses purchase review

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