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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in 2022, making it easier for people to purchase hearing aids without a prescription and at lower prices than prescription hearing aids.

A person wearing an over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid they bought from a pharmacy online.Share on Pinterest
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A quick look at the best places to get OTC hearing aids

Hearing loss is on the rise in the United States, with an estimated 30 million people having hearing loss in both ears. Additionally, around 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.

This article describes the various types of hearing aids consumers can purchase online or in-store. It also explores the advantages and disadvantages of OTC hearing aids and who these devices may be suitable for.

In August 2022, the FDA approved a new category of safe, regulated OTC hearing aids that people can purchase without a prescription. These are less expensive than prescription hearing aids.

This move aims to make hearing aids more widely available to people who could not otherwise afford them or may have difficulty contacting a hearing care professional for a hearing evaluation and fitting.

The FDA defines OTC hearing aids as medical devices to treat mild to moderate hearing loss in people aged 18 years and older. These products are not suitable for people with severe hearing loss or underlying medical conditions.

OTC hearing aids are “self-fitting” or “self-programming,” which means people can adjust the device to meet their own needs.

The FDA recommends that people with a severe hearing impairment or younger than 18 years old purchase prescription devices.

Learn more about where to buy the best prescription hearing aids here.

Below are some advantages and disadvantages of OTC hearing aids.

Pros

  • OTC hearing aids are cheaper than prescription hearing aids.
  • Some brands offer remote evaluations and adjustments by an audiologist.
  • Many devices come with a smartphone app that allows the person to adjust the volume and settings.
  • People do not need a medical examination, prescription, or professional fitting.

Cons

  • OTC hearing aids are only suitable for people with mild or moderate hearing loss.
  • They are not suitable for treating hearing loss due to an injury or underlying medical condition.
  • People cannot custom-fit the device to their specific hearing needs.
  • Some devices may offer fewer features than prescription hearing aids.
  • Some stores do not offer after-purchase hearing care.
  • Most OTC hearing aids come with shorter warranties than prescription hearing aids.

People can purchase OTC hearing aids either online or in-store from the following department stores.

Read our review on the best OTC hearing aids available and how to buy them here.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for variety: Best Buy

  • Price range: $299–2,950
  • Hearing aid styles: in the ear (ITE), behind the ear (BTE), earbud
  • Services: free online hearing assessment and price match guarantee

Best Buy offers OTC hearing aids from the following brands:

The company also sells hearing aid accessories such as rechargeable cases.

Best Buy offers an online hearing assessment that people can take to determine their hearing loss level. The company also offers a customer support number that people can call for further information and help regarding their hearing loss or choosing the best hearing aid to meet their needs.

The store offers a price match guarantee.

Shipping and returns

Best Buy offers standard shipping via UPS, FedEx, and USPS. Shipping differs per order or item, but Best Buy ships orders over $35 for free.

People can make returns and refunds in-store or online. The company offers a 15-day return policy and a 1-year guarantee.

Reputation and reviews

Best Buy holds accreditation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB gives this company an A+ grade, while customers give Best Buy a rating of 1.07 stars out of 5. The company has closed 12,843 complaints in the last 3 years and 4,389 complaints in the last 12 months.

On TrustPilot, customers give the company an average rating of 1.3 stars out of 5.

Customer reviews on both sites are mainly negative and relate to after-sales care regarding faulty goods, lost items, and difficulty processing returns.

However, customer reviews regarding in-store customer service are positive. Customers state that in-store staff members have been kind, knowledgeable, helpful, and professional.

Best for hearing customization: Walgreens

  • Price: $799–999.99
  • Hearing aid styles: BTE
  • Services: access to certified hearing care professionals, hearing test and consultation, and Lexie Expert

Walgreens offers Lexie Lumen and Lexie B2 BTE hearing aids. These are only available online, so people cannot pick them up in-store.

People can receive an assessment, hearing test, and consultation with a certified hearing care professional when they visit one of the company’s hearing centers.

Additionally, people have the option of contacting a Lexie Expert via video or voice call with any questions or queries they may have.

Shipping and returns

Walgreens offers same-day delivery. Free shipping is available for orders over $35, and shipping to a person’s selected store is free.

The company offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Reputation and reviews

Walgreens holds accreditation with the BBB. The BBB gives this company an A+ rating, and customers give Walgreens a rating of 1.17 stars out of 5. The company has closed 1,517 complaints in the last 3 years and 793 complaints in the last 12 months.

On TrustPilot, customers give the company an average rating of 1.3 stars out of 5.

Customer reviews on both sites are mainly negative, and some describe the in-store staff as rude, unprofessional, and disinterested in helping customers. They also mention the amount of time staff members keep customers on hold when contacting the store.

However, those who left more positive reviews stated that customer care in-store was professional, with employees greeting customers with a smile and being attentive to their concerns.

Best for rechargeable devices: CVS

  • Price: $199.99–999.95
  • Hearing aid styles: BTE, ITE, and earbud
  • Services: online hearing screener assessment

CVS offers hearing aids from the following brands online:

  • Go Hearing
  • Lexie Hearing
  • Hearing Assist
  • Persona Medical
  • iHEAR
  • Lucid Hearing

CVS does not have in-store audiologists. However, it offers people a hearing screener assessment online. The company claims this is a validated, audiological screening test that reflects a person’s ability to understand speech in the presence of background noise.

Learn more about the best online hearing tests here.

All hearing aids also come with a 12-month parts and labor warranty.

Shipping and returns

CVS offers a free 60-day return on all OTC hearing aid products. It provides free delivery for products over $35. Customers can also join CarePass to enjoy free shipping.

Reputation and reviews

CVS does not currently hold accreditation with the BBB. The BBB gives this company an F rating, and customers give it an average rating of 1.08 out of 5 stars. CVS has closed 1,870 complaints in the last three years and a total of 769 complaints in the last 12 months.

The BBB has posted two alerts for this company.

One alert is regarding complaints against CVS Pharmacy, advising people who have complaints about its Minute Clinic, CareLink, or SilverScript divisions to contact the company. The other alert warns people that CVS checkouts will display a notification regarding gift card scams.

On TrustPilot, customers give the company an average rating of 1.5 stars out of 5.

Customer reviews on both sites are mostly negative. Many reviews mention the waiting time for medication, lack of communication with customers, and unprofessional staff.

However, others state that they received kind and professional treatment, with staff greeting customers with a smile in some stores. Additionally, some say that the waiting time for medication was short.

Best for a budget: Walmart

  • Price: $195.97–999
  • Hearing aid styles: BTE, in the canal (ITC), and earbud
  • Services: access to certified medical professionals

Walmart offers hearing aids from the following brands:

  • Go Hearing
  • Lexie Hearing
  • Lucid Hearing
  • Hearing Assist

The company also offers customers hearing tests and other healthcare services through its team of qualified medical professionals who help assess potential hearing loss, rule out underlying medical conditions, and determine if an OTC hearing aid is the correct choice for the customer.

Shipping and returns

Walmart offers a free 60-day returns policy on all OTC hearing aids.

Its hearing aids come with a 12-month parts and labor warranty.

Additionally, Walmart offers customers the option of in-store pickup, 3-day shipping, and free delivery on purchases over $35.

Reputation and reviews

Walmart does not hold accreditation with the BBB. The BBB gives this company an A+ rating, and customers give it an average rating of 1.09 out of 5 stars. The company has closed 3,395 complaints in the last 3 years and 1,290 complaints in the last 12 months.

On TrustPilot, customers give the company an average rating of 1.4 stars out of 5.

Customer reviews on both sites are mostly negative. People state that they experienced delivery delays and had problems receiving refunds.

However, others report that they experienced quick delivery and that sales staff were professional and attentive.

Best for in-store shopping: Hy-Vee

  • Price: $699.99–999
  • Hearing aid styles: BTE and earbud
  • Services: free online hearing test and phone or online support

Hy-Vee offers iHEAR OTC hearing aids in-store. While people cannot purchase the hearing aids through Hy-Vee’s website, they can do so directly from iHEAR Direct.

People have the option of paying monthly for their hearing aids. Monthly payments are $58.99–83.99, depending on the device a person chooses.

If a person shops from iHEAR Direct, they can take a free online hearing test to ensure a hearing aid is the right option for their needs.

People can access after-sales help and support via the company’s hearing professionals by contacting the support team by phone, email, or live chat on the website.

Shipping and returns

In addition to free shipping, Hy-Vee and iHEAR offer a 60-day return policy on all OTC hearing aids people buy online. All devices also benefit from a 12-month parts and labor warranty.

Reputation and reviews

Hy-Vee holds accreditation with the BBB. The BBB gives this company an A+ rating, and customers give it an average rating of 1.41 out of 5 stars. Hy-Vee has closed 43 complaints in the last 3 years and 19 complaints in the last 12 months.

On TrustPilot, customers give the company an average rating of 1.9 stars out of 5.

Customer reviews are mostly negative regarding poor food quality, customer service, and delivery experience.

However, other customers state they have a positive and welcoming experience when entering their local store and that the staff is courteous and helpful.

iHEAR Direct does not have a BBB page and does not currently have any reviews on Trustpilot.

Below is a comparison chart of stores that offer OTC hearing aids.

PriceHearing aid stylesServices
Best Buy$2992,950• ITE
• BTE
• earbud
• free online hearing assessment
• price match guarantee
• free shipping for orders over $35
• 15-day return policy
• manufacturer’s 1-year guarantee
Walgreens$799–999.99• BTE• certified hearing care professionals
• assessment, hearing test, and consultation
• Lexie Expert via video or voice call
• same-day delivery
• 45-day money-back guarantee
• free shipping for orders over $35
• free shipping to a local store
CVS$199.99–999.95• BTE
• ITE
• earbud
• online hearing assessment
• 12-month parts and labor warranty
• free 60-day return policy
• free delivery for purchases over $35
Walmart$195.97–999• BTE
• ITC
• earbud
• certified medical professionals
• 12-month parts and labor warranty
• 60-day returns policy
• 3-day shipping
• in-store pickup on selected devices
• free delivery on purchases over $35
Hy-Vee$699.99–999.99• BTE
• earbud
• free online hearing test
• online or phone support
• pay monthly options
• 12-month parts and labor warranty
• 60-day returns policy
• free shipping

OTC hearing aids are FDA-regulated devices that may help adults with mild to moderate hearing loss to communicate and participate more fully in daily activities.

These devices are not suitable for children or for adults who have more severe hearing loss or significant difficulty hearing.

OTC hearing aids may be suitable for people looking for a more budget-friendly option than prescription hearing aids, which are only available from hearing health professionals and hearing aid specialists.

There is also research to suggest that OTC hearing aids may help people with tinnitus by increasing background sounds to mask tinnitus noises.

According to the FDA, the following differences exist between OTC and prescription hearing aids:

OTCPrescription
Age of usersadultsall ages
Hearing loss typemild to moderateany degree of hearing loss
Average price$300–600from $1,000
Prescription necessarynoyes
Exam necessarynoyes
Fitting appointment necessarynoyes
FDA regulationyesyes

The FDA lists the following differences between OTC hearing aids and personal sound amplification products (PSAPs):

OTC hearing aidsPSAPs
Age of usersadultsany age
Hearing loss typemild to moderateno hearing loss
Average price$300–600from $100
Prescription necessarynono
Exam necessarynono
Fitting appointment necessarynono
FDA regulationyesno

Learn more about the difference between hearing aids and amplifiers here.

People may wish to consider the following factors when choosing OTC hearing aids:

  • Visibility: Some hearing aids are behind-the-ear, some are invisible, and others have small unobtrusive wires. People may wish to base their choice on style and comfort. Learn more about the different styles of hearing aids here.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Certain devices enable the person to listen to media and telephone calls via the hearing aid hands-free. Learn more about the best Bluetooth hearing aids here.
  • Ease of use: Some hearing aids require the person to synchronize their device to their phone and access functions via a remote control. Others have manual controls.
  • Noise reduction: All hearing aids reduce background noise. People may wish to consider the environments where they will be using their hearing device, such as in restaurants, on windy walks, or in meetings, so that it fits their lifestyle.
  • Tinnitus relief: Hearing aids can help mask sounds such as ringing or buzzing. If a person has these symptoms of tinnitus, they may wish to ensure that their hearing aid specifically addresses it. Learn more about the best hearing aids for tinnitus here.
  • Price: Hearing aids vary in price. People can consider hearing aids that fall within their existing budget and those that come with payment plan options.
  • Charging: Some devices have disposable batteries, while others are rechargeable. People may wish to consider which style best fits their needs and consider factors such as hand dexterity when changing batteries. Learn more about the best rechargeable hearing aids here.
  • Trial period and warranty: It is best to check the trial period and warranty the company offers in case a person experiences any issues with the device.

Signs of hearing loss include:

  • finding it difficult to understand conversations over the phone
  • finding it difficult to follow conversations between two or more people
  • frequently asking people to repeat their words or thinking they are mumbling
  • needing to turn up the TV louder than usual
  • having difficulty hearing due to background noise
  • finding it difficult to understand people with higher-pitched voices, such as children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend people receive regular hearing evaluations from a healthcare professional during routine checkups. These evaluations include a doctor shining a light into the ear to check for physical obstructions and other checks.

If a person shows signs of hearing loss, a doctor will refer them to a hearing care specialist, such as an audiologist, who can perform more specialized tests.

Learn about the different types of hearing care professionals here.

Here we answer some common questions about OTC hearing aids.

Are cheap hearing aids worth buying?

Hearing aids can be expensive due to the technology in their devices and the research and design costs involved in updating the models.

Cheap hearing aids may not have up-to-date technology and may not be suitable for all types of hearing loss.

It is also important to ensure that companies who advertise cheap hearing aids are selling hearing aids, not PSAPs. Hearing aids must be FDA-regulated.

What is the best alternative to a hearing aid?

The Department of Human Services recommends several assistive listening devices that people may wish to use as an alternative to a hearing aid:

  • FM systems: These transmit sounds wirelessly via radio waves. People can use this kind of system both indoors and outdoors, and it is suitable for group meetings, church settings, conferences, and classes.
  • Infrared systems: These transmit sounds wirelessly via invisible light beams. People can only use this system indoors, for example, in churches, theaters, and auditoriums.
  • PSAPs: These may be useful for one-to-one conversations or TV listening and are suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Bluetooth systems: These transmit sound via Wi-Fi. People can use a smartphone or tablet with earphones to connect to the wirelessly transmitted sound.

Can I get a hearing aid without an audiologist?

Yes, a person can purchase an OTC hearing aid without consulting an audiologist. However, these devices are only suitable for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

If a person is unsure of the severity of their hearing loss, it is best to obtain an evaluation from an audiologist.

Does Walmart have an audiologist?

Yes, Walmart employs audiologists to assist customers in deciding on their choice of hearing aid and to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing hearing loss.

The company also offers hearing tests.

How much does a single hearing aid cost?

The average cost of an OTC hearing aid is $300–600, whereas prescription hearing aids start from $1,000. Single hearing aids are usually less expensive than a pair of devices.

In August 2022, the FDA approved the sale of OTC hearing aids in pharmacies, online, and in-store.

People do not need a prescription or an audiology exam to purchase an OTC hearing aid. However, these self-programming devices are only suitable for people over 18 years of age with mild to moderate hearing loss.

OTC hearing aids are available in several online stores. The price may vary between stores, and people may wish to also consider the services each company offers when deciding where to purchase a device.

It may be best for a person to contact a doctor if they believe they have hearing loss. Doctors can refer people to hearing care professionals for further tests.