5 Best Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids of 2024

May 01, 2024

Fact Checked

We selected our top over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid choices based on cost, availability, features, and more.


1,841,585 people helped this year

A quick look at the best OTC hearing aids

Did you know your hearing health is an important measure of your overall wellness? Research shows that hearing loss can lead to a host of other health problems, such as depression, falls, and even early dementia. The good news is that hearing aids can not only help you hear better, they can also help prevent some of those conditions, improving brain function and your quality of life.

But hearing aids are an expensive purchase, making it difficult for many Americans to get treatment for their hearing loss. On Oct. 17, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a big step toward increasing access to hearing aids for millions of Americans by making over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids available for sale nationwide.

What exactly are OTC hearing aids, and how can you buy them? Read our review of the best OTC hearing aid brands to find out how much they cost, where you can buy them, and what to consider before purchasing. For information on both OTC and prescription hearing aids, read our review of the best hearing aids of 2024.

Comparison of the best OTC hearing aids as of May 2024

Best OTC hearing aids review

Brands that didn’t make our best OTC hearing aid list

We chose the top seven OTC hearing aid brands through research and mystery shopping. Find out which others were top contenders, but didn’t make our list and why.

  • Nuheara HP Hearing Pro: HP Hearing Pro rechargeable Bluetooth hearing aids are self-fitting, FDA-cleared, ITE earbud-style OTC devices manufactured by Nuheara. Sony and HP Hearing Pro were close competitors for our “Best Earbud-Style” hearing aid. Sony outperforms in battery life with up to 26 hours, while the HP Hearing Pro only offers eight, and if you stream music or calls to your HP devices, you’ll reduce the battery life to five hours.
  • Bossa: Bossa OTC hearing aids come in two rechargeable ITE styles priced between $89.97–$247.97 per pair. Although neither of the models have Bluetooth, they do have other features, like built-in tinnitus relief. This brand was a strong competitor with Audien for the “Best Price” pick—Audien hearing aids are priced a bit higher at $99–$489 per pair, but they have better customer satisfaction according to online reviews.
  • LumiEar: LumiEar OTC hearing aids are available online in three rechargeable models: the BTE LumiCharge V3 ($297 per pair) and V4 ($397 per pair), and the ITC LumiMini V3 ($349 per pair). Both OTC models have Bluetooth technology for in-app sound adjustments, but the LumiMini V3 is the only model with streaming capabilities for hands-free calling. LumiEar doesn’t list any warranty on its site, and its 30-day trial period is shorter than many other brands.
  • Neptune: The Neptune Hearing website advertises two OTC rechargeable hearing aid models. The XL-1 is an ITE-style device listed at $297.99 per pair, and the VH-23 is a BTE-style device listed at $198.99 per pair. Neither have Bluetooth capabilities, but they do claim to have tinnitus-masking technology.
  • Nano: Nano rechargeable OTC hearing aids come in BTE and CIC styles for $297–$597 per pair. The Nano Sigma Plus model ($597) is the only one that offers Bluetooth connectivity to an app for wireless adjustments. This brand’s price range is lower than most, but Nano was involved in a lawsuit over false advertising for “implying its products are approved by the FDA when they are not,” among other misleading business practices.

What are OTC hearing aids?

OTC hearing aids are FDA-regulated medical devices that can be bought directly from the manufacturer. You don’t need a hearing exam, prescription, or appointment with an audiologist to purchase OTC hearing aids.

OTC hearing aids are designed and best for people who:

  • Are age 18 and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss
  • Do not require a prescription or monitoring from a licensed hearing health professional
  • Can comfortably complete a hearing loss self-assessment
  • Will be able to independently control their hearing aid settings and software without assistance

According to the FDA’s final rule on OTC hearing aids passed in August 2022, this class of devices is appropriate for people over the age of 18 with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.

How much do OTC hearing aids cost?

OTC hearing aids range in price from $99 per pair to more than $3,000 per pair. The average price is expected to come down, though, as more manufacturers enter the market.

The federal government estimates Americans can expect to save up to $3,000 per pair compared to the average price of prescription hearing aids.

Our survey of 600 hearing aid users found that cost was at the forefront of respondents’ buying decisions. Price ranked as the No. 2 factor when customers were deciding which hearing aid to buy, right behind ease of use.

How to save money on OTC hearing aids

Look at the following ways to save money when you’re buying OTC hearing aids. Also read our review of the most affordable hearing aids to find budget hearing aids and more money-saving tips.

Watch for sales: Hearing aid companies run seasonal and holiday-related sales frequently. Once you’ve decided which brand and model you want to buy, check the website or retail store the week of a holiday to see if you can take advantage of a sale.

Match prices: Hearing aid manufacturers usually won’t match another brand’s prices because each brand and model is unique. But with OTC hearing aids now sold in retail stores, you can often ask one store to match another store’s lower price if you find the same brand and model at two different stores.

Search for discounts and financial assistance: In most cases Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids, but you may be eligible for reduced-price or free hearing aids through other organizations. Some insurance companies give hearing aid allowances, and certain state Medicaid programs may cover some or all of the costs associated with hearing exams and devices.

Take advantage of payment plans: Most OTC and prescription hearing aid companies offer financing plans if you prefer paying a smaller amount each month rather than paying the full cost up front.

Use veterans hearing aid benefits: U.S. veterans can receive hearing exams, hearing aids, and hearing aid supplies free of charge if they are eligible for VA health care. Check with your local VA office to find out what benefits you have.

What to look for in an over-the-counter hearing aid

How do you decide which of the best non-prescription hearing aids will meet your needs? After 5,300 hours of research, our Reviews Team made a list of the best expert shopping advice they had to give on several important points. Here’s what to look for.

Style

OTC hearing aids are available in a variety of designs, from in-the-ear (ITE) to receiver-in-canal (RIC) and behind-the-ear (BTE) styles. Read our hearing aids buyer’s guide to learn more about different hearing aid styles.

This is the starting point for many people when thinking about which hearing aid is best for them. Not only for how it looks, but for how it feels in the ear. It’s important to buy a hearing aid that’s comfortable since you’ll be wearing it for eight or more hours every day.

Features and Technology

OTC hearing aids come in a wide range of models, from very basic devices to advanced hearing instruments that can be personalized to your hearing profile. It can be tempting to buy the most high-tech hearing aids available, but consider which features you’ll use before paying for them.

For instance, are you looking for OTC hearing aids with Bluetooth? The volume and settings on Bluetooth hearing aids can be adjusted using a smartphone app, but some people prefer making adjustments with buttons or dials on the hearing aid itself. Do you want hands-free calls? Some Bluetooth hearing aids can stream audio from your phone.

Also, consider your lifestyle. If you spend most of your time at home, in quiet environments, or in small groups of friends and family, a more basic and affordable hearing aid like Audien or Lexie or the least expensive MDHearing models may be fine for your needs.

But if you’re often in noisy environments that present listening challenges, you may want a higher-end device with more advanced sound processing abilities and options for customization to your hearing needs in each environment. Brands like Jabra Enhance, Eargo, and Lexie offer some of the best over-the-counter hearing aids with higher-end technology.

Battery type

Are you interested in disposable or rechargeable batteries? You’ll pay several hundred dollars more for rechargeability in most cases, but you may find the convenience is worth the extra cost.

Trial period

Because most OTC hearing aids don’t come with the option of seeing an audiologist in person for adjustments and support, it’s important to look for a brand offering a trial period to allow you time to make sure the hearing aids fit well and are helping with your hearing loss.

Most states require hearing aid dispensers to provide a trial period. To view a list of each state’s requirements, see the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Warranty

Warranty length is also important, as hearing aids are complex electronic devices. You’ll want to find out not only how long the standard warranty is, but also what it covers. Among OTC hearing aids, a one-year warranty covering manufacturer defects is common.

Some manufacturers include loss, damage, or wear and tear in their standard warranties. Jabra Enhance is a good example, with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty and three years of coverage for loss and damage.

Other brands provide a short and/or limited warranty, with the option to purchase extended warranty coverage. MDHearing and Lexie both offer this type of coverage.

Take a look back at Table 1 at the beginning of this review to compare the warranty lengths of every brand in this review.

Brand reputation

New manufacturers are emerging constantly in the rapidly changing OTC hearing aid market. Consumers need to know how to spot reputable companies and avoid handing their money over to those who are making false claims or selling devices that aren’t true hearing aids.

One of the best ways to find out if a company is registered with the FDA is to search the FDA establishment registration and device listing, which includes medical device registrations.

It’s also important to read independent customer OTC hearing aid reviews of any devices you’re interested in buying. Don’t take the company’s word for their reputation; check out sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and TrustPilot to see what others have to say.

Read about ways to avoid OTC hearing aid scams for more information.

We interviewed Jacquelyn C. J. Lovitt, Au.D., co-founder of Capital Institute of Hearing and Balance in Silver Spring, Maryland, to learn more about OTC hearing aids.


“Early intervention is key for the long-term health of your auditory system, [but] is often one of the last on folks’ health care checklists,” said Amy Sapodin, a doctor of audiology in New York City.

“The new category of OTC hearing devices is intended to increase accessibility and awareness for the need to treat hearing difficulty in its early stages, not just when it’s unlivable. It will also remove barriers to access for those who cannot afford prescription hearing aids.”

Where to buy OTC hearing aids

You can buy OTC hearing aids online and in stores that carry health care devices, such as Walgreens, Best Buy, and Walmart. Look for them in the pharmacy section.

FDA Regulation of OTC Hearing Aids

The FDA has developed a set of regulations that apply to all OTC hearing aids in order to ensure their safety for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. These regulations outline details like how OTC hearing aids can be labeled, the degree to which they can magnify sounds, and how far they can be inserted in the ear.

The FDA has certain guidelines when it comes to the certified labeling on OTC hearing aid packaging. The most noticeable is the box that warns against the use of hearing aids for those younger than 18. Additional label requirements enforced by the FDA include:

  • Perceived symptoms of mild to moderate hearing loss
  • When to seek help from a hearing health professional
  • “Red-flag” conditions requiring a doctor’s attention
  • Manufacturer’s contact information
  • Information on the manufacturer’s return policy
  • Whether the hearing aids are used or rebuilt
  • What is needed to control the settings and customize the hearing aids to the user’s needs (e.g., mobile phone app or remote control)

You may see labels on hearing aids regarding their FDA certified registration, approval, or clearance. Products registered with the FDA have listed their manufacturing facility and provided information about their manufacturing process. FDA registration does not mean the FDA has tested a product or deemed it safe.

Hearing aids that have received 510(k) FDA approval or are labeled as FDA-cleared have completed a more rigorous process than those that are only FDA-registered. FDA registration applies to the facility that makes the devices, while FDA clearance or approval applies to the devices themselves.

Who are OTC hearing aids for?

Because they need to be self-fitted and self-adjusted, over-the-counter hearing devices are best for people who are comfortable with:

  • Using technology
  • Making adjustments on their own
  • Cleaning and maintaining their own devices
  • Communicating with remote audiology support

We spoke with Frank Lin, M.D., director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He noted that different people have different needs when it comes to hearing loss treatment.

“In treating hearing loss, there is technology and there are services. They’re two different things. For example, I can think of many of my patients in their seventies and eighties who theoretically could benefit from an OTC hearing aid, but they’re still going to need the assistance of an audiology or other health professional to help guide, counsel, and educate them.

“And I have other people, who are probably younger, who could get an OTC hearing aid and be fine. They don’t need my help or another audiologist’s help.

Hearing aids are not always the appropriate treatment for hearing loss. There are sometimes other issues that need to be addressed before you start using a hearing aid. A hearing care specialist has the equipment to determine your level of hearing loss better than an online hearing test can, and will physically examine your ears and go over your medical history to rule out any other problems, such as:

  • Sudden change or loss of hearing
  • Injury to the head or ear
  • Pain or discomfort in or around the ear
  • Fluid, blood, or pus in the ear
  • Tinnitus, a ringing sound in one or both ears
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions in the ear

Potential side effects of OTC hearing aids

It’s normal to go through an adjustment period when you get new hearing aids. The brain needs time to get used to hearing all the sounds it’s been missing, which can be surprisingly exhausting for some people. Some hearing aid side effects you may experience can include:

  • A sore ear where the hearing aid sits
  • Irritated skin or itching inside your ear canal
  • Tinnitus
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Loud feedback sounds from the device

Since you’re not required to see a hearing professional when you buy OTC hearing aids, you may experience some of the above side effects due to improper placement of the hearing aid in your ear, or an ear dome that is too big or too small, among other things. You may also have an underlying health issue that can’t be treated with hearing aids and will instead need to be addressed by a doctor.

What hearing aid is best for my level of hearing loss?

People with mild to moderate hearing loss are the best candidates for OTC hearing aids. For those who have a higher than moderate level of hearing loss, it’s best to consult a hearing professional before purchasing OTC devices.

Here are the four degrees, or levels, of hearing loss:

  • Mild hearing loss: You have a hard time hearing soft sounds, like whispers, but can hear most normal speech unless you’re in a noisy or crowded environment.
  • Moderate hearing loss: You have trouble hearing normal levels of speech and miss a lot of what’s being said. It may seem to you that people are mumbling.
  • Severe hearing loss: You cannot hear others talking at normal levels but are able to hear some sounds that are loud, like lawnmowers.
  • Profound hearing loss: You cannot hear any speech but can hear sounds that are very loud, like construction noise.

OTC vs. prescription hearing aids

OTC hearing aids Prescription hearing aids
Regulated by FDA Yes Yes
Levels of hearing loss covered Mild to moderate Mild, moderate, severe, and profound
Average price $1,600* $4,600
Hearing exam required? No Yes
Prescription required? No Yes
Fitting appointment required? No Yes
Purchasing options In retail stores, online, and in some hearing care clinics Hearing care clinics
*Based on President Biden’s estimate that customers may save up to $3,000 compared to the average price of prescription hearing aids.

Over-the-counter hearing aids pros and cons

While OTC hearing aids are an exciting opportunity for more people to have access to affordable hearing aids, they can have drawbacks compared to prescription hearing aids. Let’s look at the pros and cons of OTC hearing aids.

Pros

  • Cost: The OTC hearing aids on the market are less expensive than prescription hearing aids, and the price is expected to drop even more due to increased competition.
  • Availability: OTC hearing aids are available online and in a few stores that carry health care devices. Retail chains that sell OTC hearing aids include Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens.
  • Ease of use: OTC hearing aids are designed to be adjusted by the user. Manufacturers have made them easy to use right out of the box with clear instruction manuals, volume dials, and program settings that can be adjusted directly on the hearing aids—or in a smartphone app for some models. Our Reviews Team found that nearly every brand was easy to set up and use without professional assistance.

Cons

  • Limited in-person care: If you’re new to hearing aids or don’t feel at ease using technology, the lack of in-person care by a hearing specialist could be a drawback. Every brand except Audien offers remote support from audiologists or other hearing specialists, and you can also call or email your hearing aid manufacturer for help. But remote support doesn’t give you the option of having your hearing aid fitted in person with a specialist.
  • Fewer features: Because OTC hearing aids are less expensive than prescription hearing aids, they don’t include the most advanced hearing technology some top-of-the-line brands do. For instance, prescription brand Oticon uses machine learning to teach the hearing aid which sounds you hear most often and adjust itself accordingly. You won’t find that type of technology in an OTC hearing aid, but many people find they still have a high level of success with simpler OTC devices. If you have a specific type of hearing loss, such as one-sided hearing loss or tinnitus, you may need a more personalized prescription device.
  • Not appropriate for all levels of hearing loss: Remember that OTC hearing aids are only approved for use in adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. If you’ve been told by a hearing specialist you have severe or profound hearing loss, you will need to get prescription hearing aids.

Why hearing aids are important

Hearing aids are meant to make speech more audible when you’re faced with hearing loss at any stage. Nearly 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, but only one in five people who would benefit from hearing aids actually use one.

Most people choose not to seek assistance from hearing aids due to factors related to pricing, stigma, or because they don’t address the issue in a serious enough manner. But neglecting your hearing health for too long can affect your heart health, blood pressure, memory, and mental health down the line, as well as increasing your risk of falling.

Find out if you’re at an increased risk of falls with our Falls Free CheckUp, and whether you’re eligible for hearing aid assistance in your area with BenefitsCheckUp®. 

Bottom line

OTC hearing aids are a significant step forward in making hearing loss treatment more accessible to millions of Americans. If you have mild to moderate hearing loss and budget is your primary concern, Audien is a low-cost hearing aid that may meet your needs.

For people who want a higher level of technology, customer care, and financing options, Jabra, Audien, MDHearing, Eargo, and Lexie are all good choices. 

Frequently asked questions

The main difference between OTC hearing aids and prescription hearing aids is that you can purchase OTC hearing aids from online and in-store retailers nationwide without a professional hearing assessment or prescription. In addition, OTC hearing aids are more affordable because the technology is designed for mild to moderate hearing loss, while prescription hearing aids are typically more expensive because they are designed with higher-end technology, features, and services that cater to severe or specific types of hearing loss.

Hearing aid technology has advanced rapidly in the past 10 years, making many of today’s OTC hearing aids perform better than the prescription hearing aids of a decade ago. OTC hearing aids can provide excellent sound processing and amplification for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Prescription hearing aids are more expensive than OTC hearing aids and contain more technologically advanced sound components because they treat more severe and profound cases of hearing loss. This means that they are more high-tech compared to OTC devices, as they need to address more difficult hearing health cases. OTC hearing aids are still a suitable choice for less-advanced hearing loss.

The cost of OTC hearing aids ranges from $99 to more than $3,000. Basic hearing aids with less audiology support and fewer features are often cheaper than those with more tech-forward sound enhancements and in-depth customer care.

A lengthy return policy is one of the primary features to look for in any OTC hearing aid you’re considering buying. It’s not a smart idea to buy one that doesn’t allow returns, because you may be stuck with a device you can’t use if it doesn’t fit well or help your hearing.

Most OTC hearing aids provide at least a 30-day money-back guarantee, and hearing experts say it can take up to three weeks to adjust to your new hearing aids. Buying from a brand providing a 45-day or longer trial period will give you plenty of time to try them out and get them returned in time if they don’t work for you. Jabra Enhance, Lexie, and MDHearing all give you 45 days or more for a free trial.

Yes, you can buy OTC hearing aids without a hearing prescription or a visit to an audiologist. But experts recommend a hearing exam to rule out any medical conditions or other underlying reasons for your hearing loss, and to determine what level and type of hearing loss you’re experiencing.

It’s always best to visit an audiologist to properly diagnose hearing loss and help you find the best type of hearing aids. The American Academy of Audiology says OTC hearing aids may be best for anyone with mild to moderate hearing loss. You may have mild to moderate hearing loss if you:

  • Hear best in quiet and one-on-one situations
  • Only have difficulty hearing in specific situations
  • Only need to turn up the phone or TV volume slightly to hear better

An OTC hearing aid is a medical device that helps someone with mild-to-moderate hearing loss hear better in all situations. A PSAP is not a medical device. It only amplifies sounds only in specific situations, like while hunting. 

A variety of hearing aid manufacturers are moving into the OTC hearing aid market, including many that previously sold direct-to-consumer hearing aids. These brands include MDHearing, Eargo, Jabra Enhance, Lexie, and Audien, among others.

OTC hearing aids are available online and in local retail stores like Target, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, and Costco.

Medicare A and B do not cover the costs of hearing exams, hearing aids, or hearing aid supplies, but some Medicare Advantage plans do. Check with your insurance provider to see if your plan includes hearing coverage. You can also use NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp to see what other benefits you may qualify for.

Yes, inexpensive hearing aids work. Given that cheaper hearing aid models are more basic in design and function, they may be better suited for people who need to treat mild hearing loss. Note that as hearing aids increase in price, so do their features. For instance, inexpensive hearing aids may not offer rechargeable batteries or long battery lives, water resistance, or Bluetooth streaming. As you go up in price, these features are usually included. Additionally, you’ll see that more expensive hearing aids integrate more advanced sound technology to offer better background noise cancellation, as well as more listening environments and channels.

Yes, you can find hearing aids for under $300. Audien offers multiple options within this price range, including a basic pair for $99. These affordable solutions ensure you can address your hearing needs without exceeding your budget.

Have questions about this review? Email us at [email protected].

Sources

  1. Bigelow RT, et al. Association of Hearing Loss With Psychological Distress and Utilization of Mental Health Services Among Adults in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association (2020). Found on the internet at
  2. Desjardins, JL. Analysis of Performance on Cognitive Test Measures Before, During, and After 6 Months of Hearing Aid Use: A Single-Subject Experimental Design. American Journal of Audiology (2016). Found on the internet at
  3. The White House. Statement by President Joe Biden on FDA Hearing Aids Final Rule. Found on the internet at
  4. MDHearing. MDHearing Receives 510(k) FDA Approval for Its Self-Fitting Smart Hearing Aids. Found on the internet at
  5. Hearing Loss Association of America. Medicaid. Found on the internet at
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services. Found on the internet at
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Devices@FDA. Found on the internet at
  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Finalizes Historic Rule Enabling Access to Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids for Millions of Americans. Found on the internet at
  9. Federal Register. Medical Devices; Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices; Establishing Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids. Found on the internet at
  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Are There “FDA Registered” or “FDA Certified” Medical Devices? How Do I Know What Is FDA Approved? Found on the internet at
  11. Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss Facts and Statistics. Found on the internet at 

Cara Everett is a writer and registered dietitian nutritionist who has been helping people reach their wellness goals for over 20 years. In addition to working in clinical practice, Cara writes extensively on hearing aid technology, keeping pace with new models and industry developments to help readers make the most informed purchasing decisions possible. She has spent more than 1,000 hours researching and testing hearing aids.

Brian Murray was born and raised in upstate New York. He studied at Ithaca College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology in 2010. He is registered/licensed to dispense hearing aids in New York, North Carolina, and Virginia, where he has worked in both private practice and retail clinics. He currently works as an event consultant, working with clinics across the country.

Kathleen Cameron, BSPharm, MPH, has more than 25 years of experience in the health care field as a pharmacist, researcher, and program director focusing on falls prevention, geriatric pharmacotherapy, mental health, long-term services and supports, and caregiving. Cameron is Senior Director of the NCOA Center for Healthy Aging, where she provides subject matter expertise on health care programmatic and policy related issues and oversees the Modernizing Senior Center Resource Center.

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