The cost of hearing aids is one of the main considerations if you’re looking to buy a new pair. And while it’s a straight-forward question to find out how much hearing aids cost, the answer is less straight-forward, I’m afraid.
If you want a short answer to the question of how much hearing aids cost, I recommend buying hearing aids that cost between $500 – $800. Those are the hearing aids most recommended on this website. But these are far from the only ones.
The hearing aids your doctor describes will cost significantly more: these prescription hearing aids often start at $2,000, but could easily cost $5,000 or more.
Then, there are also hearing aids that cost a fistful of dollars. According to Amazon, you can get hearing aids starting at $25.
How is it possible that a hearing aid can cost either $25 or $5,000? First of all, these two extremes are not remotely the same device. There’s a quality difference between the extremes. The story gets a lot more interesting in the middle, though. The quality difference between $500 and $5,000 hearing aids is a lot smaller than you would expect judging by the prices.
To help you understand why hearing aids don’t have to cost thousands of dollars, I’ll quickly take you through the different options out there. First, I’ll quickly explain the difference between prescription and non-prescription hearing aids. Then I’ll go through some differences and highlight the different tiers in quality. Along the way, you’ll get to know the most important options.
If you don’t care about the background information and just want an overview of the best hearing aids for less than $1,000, I won’t be offended.
Prescription and non-prescription hearing aids
The first difference you need to know is the difference between prescription and non-prescription hearing aids. This isn’t a legal difference, but a practical one. You see, up until a few years ago, only prescription hearing aids were allowed to be called hearing aids.
A doctor would diagnose your hearing problem and send you to an audiologist. This audiologist would test your hearing and prescribe one of the few available hearing aid options, based on your needs. Those prescribed hearing aids were hearing aids, and you didn’t have an alternative.
Introduction of PSAPs
Some smart companies started creating one-size-fits-all ‘hearing aids’, comparable to the way your gas station sells reading glasses. Not everyone who need reading glasses needs to see an optometrist, and in the same fashion, these companies started selling devices that would amplify sounds so you could hear them. Legally, these weren’t hearing aids, they were personal sound amplifier products. These PSAPs would soon be known as hearing amplifiers.
So the first distinction made a difference between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers. As the hearing amplifiers got smarter and smarter, they quickly evolved from simple amplifiers to smart devices that started to rival true hearing aids. Some of these advanced PSAPs are still around: the ZVOX VB20 and Otofonix Elite are prime examples.
PSAP to hearing aid
As the technology gap closed, politicians started to take notice, too. Both Trump and Biden have signed laws into effect that would make these non-prescription options a real alternative. Over time, the term hearing aid was extended to include over-the-counter and direct-to-customer hearing aids. It’s these last two types that I call non-description hearing aids – although they technically would also include PSAPs.
Now, please note that there are still differences between these prescription and non-prescription hearing aids. Audiologists can prescribe more powerful models that will combat the effects of profound hearing loss. These genuine hearing aids also have more advanced features. Non-prescription hearing aids often use slightly older features to give you a better deal.
If you’re experiencing mild or moderate hearing loss, skipping the audiologist can save you thousands of dollars. Chances are you won’t hear a difference between the best $700 hearing aids and the models you find in the audiologist’s office (most people just hear their family again). By cutting out the middleman and focusing on audio quality instead of innovative features, how much a hearing aid costs drastically changes in your favor.
Different tiers of non-prescription hearing aids
Now that you know the difference between prescription and non-prescription hearing aids, let’s explore the price differences between your options. I’ve made my own categories here: traditional hearing aids, budget-friendly hearing aids, discount hearing aids, and high-end non-prescription hearing aids.
Traditional (non-prescription) hearing aids: $500 – $800
This first category of hearing aids are your best alternative for traditional hearing aids. Although I’ve called them one-size-fits-all, these hearing aids have enough features to adjust to your needs. For example, self-fitting hearing aids use a guided setup that changes how the device works to best help you. App-controlled hearing aids allow you to change settings from your smartphone. Each one of these devices is equipped with digital sound processing chips that give you a sound quality indistinguishable from their much more expensive rivals.
To get a quick overview of the current best hearing aids, I recommend you read up on the best hearing aids for 2022 or to visit my 30-second review page. That page is an updated attempt to rank every available hearing aid according to their performance. Currently, the MDHearing VOLT MAX, Neosonic MX-RIC and Otofonix Sona are the top three.
Budget-friendly hearing aids: $300 – $500
Next, we’ve got a category with hearing aids from the same companies, but with budget-friendly alternatives. These hearing aids are a bit older, or offer less features to give you a better price. I like how Neosonic offers these budget-friendly hearing aids with the Neosonic B10 and B20, but the older ZVOX VB20 still offers a great alternative in this price range.
Discount hearing aids: $100 – $300
With the technological advances, the gap between PSAPs and non-prescription hearing aids has widened. The PSAPs still offer a fine solution if you’re on a tight budget, but they don’t (try to) offer the quality you find in the brands mentioned above. Banglijian (with the BLJ-707, for example), still is a good choice.
I know that I start this category at $100 and that it’s possible to find discount hearing aids for less. But at that point, you’re truly compromising quality for price. Do you hear more with these devices? Probably. But I hesitate to recommend a product I do not trust to offer you the benefits you need and pay for.
High end non-prescription hearing aids: $1,000+
This last category only has one brand: Eargo. These hearing aids offer the very best without a prescription, but they focus more on features than on price. As a result, some Eargo models can cost around $2,500. You buy great products with great quality and fun features, but the aspect of saving money has all but disappeared.