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What to know about buying used hearing aids

When purchasing a used hearing aid can be a good idea (and when you should steer clear)

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Jessica Hinson

Writtenm by

Dr. Jessica Hinson

Updated:

May 10, 2024

An assortment of hearing aids and accessories on a table, and a hand reaches for a hearing aid. An assortment of hearing aids and accessories on a table, and a hand reaches for a hearing aid.

The 3 key takeaways

  • Behind-the-ear models are the only used options — Buying a used in-the-ear model isn’t a good idea. They aren’t as likely to fit your ears and the molds aren’t usually able to be customized or changed like a BTE model.
  • Make sure a used hearing aid adjusts to your level of hearing loss — Thoroughly research the model on the brand’s website to make sure the device is suited for your needs.
  • Take them to your audiologist’s office for cleaning and tuning As soon as you buy a pair of used hearing aids, you should take them to be professionally cleaned for sanitary reasons and to be adjusted for your needs.

While it might not be the most conventional approach, buying a used pair of hearing aids can sometimes make more sense than an over-the-counter or new prescription pair. Purchasing used prescription hearing aids gives you access to better technology at a lower price. However, just because they’re less expensive doesn’t guarantee they’ll work for you.

Here’s how to avoid potential pitfalls when purchasing used hearing aids and what to look for when you’re shopping.

Should you buy used hearing aids?

While it might seem strange, selling used hearing aids is perfectly legal. However, there are a few ways it must be done in order to ensure safety and legality.

Under federal law, used hearing aids must come in the original packaging, and the seller must clearly state that they are used. Furthermore, sellers are supposed to display a waiver notice stating that the intended buyer should visit an audiologist prior to purchase.

Pros of buying used hearing aids

You’ll save money

Purchasing a used BTE device usually costs less than a new one. Keep in mind that you may still need to buy a new set of ear molds depending on the fit, which can drive up the overall cost of hearing aids. You’ll also need to pay your audiologist for cleaning and programming the aid to fit your specific type of hearing loss.

While a secondhand BTE device can be a good purchase, a used ITE hearing aid isn’t a wise investment. Since they are meant to be worn in the ear, ITE devices are usually custom-made or more specifically sized. Recasing is usually impossible, and even if you could, doing so would be expensive. At that point, you might as well invest in new hearing aids.

You can see if you like a specific model and brand before purchasing at full price

Prescription hearing aids generally cost over $5,000 for a pair. While insurance may pay for audiologist visits depending on your coverage, it generally doesn’t cover the devices themselves. Purchasing a used pair of prescription hearing aids gives you the opportunity to “test drive” a pair for cheaper than a new set would cost. It might also offer superior technology to over-the-counter devices.

However, you should always check the manufacturing date and technology platform. Like phones, you might not need the most updated model, but you should make sure the technology platform is still supported — especially if the hearing aids can be used in conjunction with an app.

Cons of buying used hearing aids

Used hearing aids can’t be customized for your needs

While you can likely order a pair of ear molds custom made to fit a BTE device, it’s unlikely (and financially imprudent) to recase a pair of ITE hearing aids.

Beyond the fit, you’ll also need to consider whether the technology supports your level of hearing loss. For example, not all models are powerful enough to counter profound hearing loss. More than likely, you’ll at least need to schedule an appointment with your audiologist to have them tuned and adjusted as much as possible.

Used hearing aids can be unhygienic

The question of whether used hearing aids are sanitary forms some of the main concerns. These devices harbor dirt, sweat, and bacteria — all things you don’t want to share with the previous user.

If you purchase a used pair, take them for a professional cleaning at your audiologist’s office before using them. A professional cleaning is much more thorough than anything you could do at home, using UV light boxes that dry and sanitize hearing aids.

“We also have specialized suctions that can clean the microphone ports,” Dr. Hinson says. “I also change as many parts as possible in office. Depending on the manufacturer we can completely replace the domes, filters, microphone covers, and receivers with brand new pieces.”

Used hearing aids don’t have a warranty

Even if the pair is still technically under warranty, you won’t be able to use it since you aren’t the original owner. Buying a used pair of hearing aids can be risky business since there’s no guarantee of their condition and the manufacturer isn’t obligated to help you.

Are used hearing aids right for you?

If you aren’t content with an over-the-counter device but don’t want to invest thousands into a new prescription pair, purchasing a used prescription pair of hearing aids might be a good idea.

Just be sure that they reflect your level of hearing loss, opt for a BTE style, and always take them into your audiologist’s office for a thorough professional cleaning before using them.

What our audiologists have to say about used hearing aids

Dr. Hinson recommends considering used hearing aids as long as they meet three criteria:

  • They are under 5 years old
  • In the BTE or RIC style
  • Were made by one of the main five prescription manufacturers (Oticon, Nexia, Starkey, Phonak, Signia)

The five year or less rule mostly comes down to the cost and possibility of repairs. “If over three years old, they will not be covered under warranty, so any repairs will be owed out of pocket if the devices need to go in for repair at any point,” she says.

“Some audiologists offer a service package which charges patients either a lump fee for programming and all follow-up visits, or annual charges for adjustments.” She notes that this method differs from repairs on new hearing aids, which typically covers the cost for followup visits within a certain time period.

Frequently asked questions

Is it okay to buy used hearing aids? 

In the United States, it’s legal to buy and sell used hearing aids. However, you’ll want to make sure that they are intended for your level of hearing loss and only purchase a BTE model since ITE devices aren’t likely to fit.

Can you wear secondhand hearing aids?

While you can wear secondhand hearing aids as long as they fit, you should take them to your audiologist’s office to have them professionally cleaned and adjusted first. Dirt, sweat, dust, and bacteria can linger from the previous owner, so you’ll want to have them thoroughly cleaned before you wear them. After the initial cleaning, you can ask your audiologist how to maintain them at home through approved disinfectant sprays and wipes.

Is it possible to sell used hearing aids?

You can sell used hearing aids on practically any selling platform—even Facebook Marketplace or ebay. However, you are legally required to state that they are used and sell them in their original packaging. You should also display a waiver advising the buyer to receive a professional hearing assessment from an audiologist first.