The 9 best rechargeable hearing aids, according to hearing experts and actual users

The hearing aid market has advanced by leaps and bounds since the FDA’s 2022 regulatory change allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter. The greatly increased competition between prescription and OTC hearing aid manufacturers has led to improved technologies like Bluetooth connectivity, fully invisible hearing aids or discreet behind-the-ear aids, replaceable batteries, and rechargeable batteries. Since replaceable batteries can be difficult and cumbersome for many to negotiate, in this article, we will focus on the best rechargeable hearing aids available today, while pointing out the many great options and advances associated with each.

Dr. Cory Bovenzi, an otolaryngologist, tells AOL, “A rechargeable hearing aid can be advantageous to battery hearing aids since you do not have to buy the specialized and sometimes hard-to-find batteries over and over again to continue using your aids.” Add in maneuvering the tiny batteries in and out of the tiny hearing aids and you may just give up before getting the job done!

Another wonderful change in the hearing aid industry is the design of modern hearing aids; gone are the days of bulky beige-colored aids you can see from a city block away. From OTC to prescription hearing aids, the best hearing aid for you is available to meet your level of hearing loss, budget, technological needs and aesthetics. 

To better understand what to look for in the best rechargeable hearing aids, we consulted with a panel of audiologists, otolaryngologists and hearing aid experts. We then took their feedback and researched and tested the top-rated rechargeable prescription and OTC hearing aids, analyzing each for features like battery life, ease of use, setup, cutting-edge technology, additional features and overall value. These are the best rechargeable hearing aids of 2024. 

What to consider when buying a hearing aid

There are many different elements to mull over when buying a hearing aid. Most importantly, you’ll want to find one that will suit your level of hearing loss, needs and lifestyle. At the baseline, “the goal is that they can turn sounds up loud enough to optimize audibility for an individual with hearing loss,” says Meaghan Reed, director of clinical audiology at Mass Eye and Ear. “The amount of volume that an individual needs to help them communicate and meet their listening needs varies from person to person.” Beyond that, there are some specifics to keep in mind. 

Style of hearing aid

There are five main styles of hearing aids, each with its own perks and considerations.

Behind the ear (BTE): BTE hearing aids rest behind the ear. They feature the speaker and microphone, and typically work for most types of hearing loss. These are usually the most visible of all hearing aid styles.

Receiver in canal (RIC): RICs are similar to BTEs, but they’re slightly less visible, thanks to a thin wire attached to the receiver or speaker that sits inside the ear canal. 

In the ear (ITE): These usually have a customized fit to rest snugly just outside your ear canal. They are visible but not overly obvious. 

In the canal (ITC): These hearing aids are typically custom molded to your ear. They fit partly in your ear canal and are less visible than ITEs.

Completely in canal (CIC): CIC hearing aids are the ones that are considered the most “invisible” because they fit inside the ear canal. They tend to be a good fit for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Cost

Hearing aids have a vast range of prices, from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. While you shop, be aware that some hearing aids are sold as singles — mainly with prescription hearing aids — while OTC hearing aids are sold in pairs. Also, check with your health insurance company during your search to see what, if anything, it will cover. Certain models may also be eligible as an FSA/HSA-approved expense. 

Prescription or OTC

As mentioned above, there are affordable OTC hearing aids with a level of quality similar to that of prescription devices. That said, OTC hearing aids often fall short of the customization and personalization features that come with prescription aids because you need to meet with a professional to obtain prescription aids. Prescription hearing aids are also a better choice if you have moderate to severe hearing loss, while those with mild to moderate hearing loss will often be well suited for OTC models. 

Setup

Getting your hearing aids up and running often depends on the type you buy. Prescription hearing aids need a fitting and calibration with an audiologist, so there’s very little work on your part. However, OTC aids are set up and calibrated by you or remotely by an audiologist associated with the brand of aids you purchase — meaning, their technicians will help you out where available. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of doing this all on your own, you may want to consider going with a prescription model or a company with setup support. 

App pairing

A growing number of hearing aids have a compatible app for customization, but this isn’t a universal feature. If you’re tech-savvy and like the idea of adjusting your settings on demand, look for a model with a companion app. 

Bluetooth capabilities

Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids will allow you to make and take phone calls, and stream music, audiobooks and podcasts right into your hearing aid. This reduces outside noise and allows you to get more immersive sound. However, not all Bluetooth capabilities are compatible with all devices. Check in advance to see if your technology (i.e., iOS or Android) will sync with the hearing aid’s Bluetooth connectivity before investing in any particular hearing aid.

Extra features

Extra features can vary and often are associated with higher costs. Those can include noise cancellation, relaxation modes that pipe in soothing sounds, and directional microphones. Some companies will offer long trial periods and good professional support — those are worth considering, too. 

How we chose our top rechargeable hearing aids

To find the best rechargeable hearing aids, we consulted with audiologists and otolaryngologists to learn about the important elements to consider when choosing hearing aids in general and when rechargeable options are a good choice and for whom. We also researched and personally tested the top-rated OTC and prescription aids, then narrowed our selections based on expert guidance on top technology, battery life, setup and essential and extra features.

How do rechargeable hearing aids work?

“Rechargeable hearing aids have a charging device that can recharge an internal, non-removable battery in the hearing aids,” Bovenzi explains. “This can be a convenient option over traditional hearing aids due to the ease of use and eliminating the need to buy new batteries or changing the small batteries out when the old ones expire.”

While it’s clear that rechargeable devices can vary on how long they can hold a charge, it’s usually recommended that you recharge your hearing aids every night so they are ready to use all day without interruption. (For hearing aids with shorter battery lives, you can charge them when you don’t need them during the day.)

A rechargeable vs. battery hearing aid: Which is better?

It depends. “Rechargeable hearing aids usually have several advantages, one of the main ones being that you generally don’t have to remove the battery to replace it and you can simply recharge the device by putting it in a docking area,” Yong says. “The other big advantage, I would say, is that they lend themselves to routine, which can be really important. Users will usually charge the hearing aids every day at a similar time, which reduces the chance of suddenly running out of battery.”

But rechargeable hearing aids can be more expensive up front than their battery counterparts, and that’s worth considering. Still, “these devices are generally getting cheaper over time,” Yong says. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do rechargeable hearing aid batteries last?

“In general, most standard rechargeable hearing aids last for 18 hours with a full (overnight) charge, and therefore would last all day for the patient,” says Dr. Thakkar. Frequent Bluetooth streaming – listening to podcasts or watching movies – may reduce daily battery life by 10-20%. “In general, however, patients can expect full-day use with most modern rechargeable hearing aids,” he adds. 

Do rechargeable hearing aids cost more?

In general, no. 

Can rechargeable hearing aid batteries be replaced?

In the past, rechargeable hearing aid batteries worked similarly to rechargeable AA batteries (Z-Power), and often caused issues and frustration for both the patient and the Audiologist, says Thakkar. At present, it is standard practice to use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, and they are generally sealed to prevent damage from external issues like water or sweat. 

What do I do if my rechargeable hearing aids get wet?

Thakkar says if your hearing aid gets wet, you can use a dry-aid kit, a desiccant pack that comes in something like a shoe box. If one is not readily available, try putting the hearing aid in a bowl of uncooked rice to dry it out. If none of this works, bring it to your Audiologist or contact the manufacturer.

Meet our expert panel

Meaghan Reed, director of clinical audiology at Mass Eye and Ear, in Boston

Dr. Cory Bovenzi, an otolaryngologist (head and neck surgeon) in Denver, Colo. 

Dr. Anish Thakkar, Au.D. + Director of Audiology at Los Angeles Center for Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergy + Los Angeles Center for Hearing & Balance

Dr. Michael Yong, an otolaryngologist and neurorhinologist at Pacific Neuroscience Institute

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