Cost Comparison: Massage Chairs vs Massage Services

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Massage chairs can come with impressive capabilities, but massage services can offer better budget control. 

If you enjoy the therapeutic benefits of massages, and find yourself seeking out a session every now and then, you may be wondering which is more cost-effective – dropping by your favourite massage place every once a while, or just taking the plunge and buying a massage machine for personal use.

Well, that’s what we’re here to find out, so let’s jump right in.

How do massage machines compare to in-shop massage services, cost-wise? 

To help our discussion along, we’ve gathered some data for a rough comparison between massage machines and massage services. 

We’re comparing how massage machines measure up, cost-wise, to massage services. So as to have a have a reasonable frame of reference, we’ve made the following assumptions: 

  1. Total cost of massage services over one year, assuming one session per month
  2. Cost of massage services range from mass market franchises to top-end spas
  3. Cost of massage machine ranges from lesser-known budget labels to premium high-end brands

As you can well imagine, the comparison is by no way statistically accurate. Depending on your unique circumstances, needs, tastes and budget, your results and conclusions may be different.


Cost of massage machineCost of massage services (1 year, assuming 1 session per month)
Neck and shouldersS$50 to S$200Per session: S$25 to S$90 (20 – 30 mins) 
Yearly: S$300 to S$1,080
Calves and feetS$250 to S$700Per session: S$35 to S$50 (60 mins)
Yearly: S$420 to S$600 
Full bodyS$650 to S$8,000Per session: S$80 to S$230 (90 mins)
Yearly: S$960 to S$2,760

Neck and shoulders

Massage machines: S$50 to S$200

Massage services, 1 year: S$300 to S$1,080

Neck and shoulder massages are typically promoted as a quick and easy way to relax tense muscles and achieve some stress relief. 

They’re typically to sell at around S$30 for a 20-minute session, but this affordability can be deceptive. If you go for a neck and shoulder massage once a month, you can easily be spending S$300 or more in a year.

In contrast, for between S$50 to S$200, you can get a neck and shoulder massage machine instead. 

These are typically shaped like pillows that you lie down on, or come with straps for you to hold them over and against your neck and shoulders. Under the fabric surface, mechanical rollers move in a pre-programmed fashion to provide the massaging action. 

Hence, if you often seek relief for your neck and shoulders, you should at least check out your nearest Osim outlet – you could potentially realise enormous savings this way.

Calves and feet

Massage machines: S$250 to S$700

Massage services, 1 year: S$420 to S$600

For calves and feet massages, neither massage machines nor massage services have an advantage over each other, at least in terms of cost.

While you can find a lower-leg massage machine for as little as S$250, treating yourself to a foot reflexology session once a month won’t be very much more expensive in comparison. 

And if your masseur or masseuse has magic hands that no machine can beat, then spending a couple hundred bucks more over the course of a year probably won’t matter.

Full body  

Massage machines: S$650 to S$8,000

Massage services, 1 year: S$960 to S$2,760

Full-body massage machines, or massage chairs, come in a wide range of styles and configurations, offering any number of finishes and features and functions, ranging from light and sound therapy to head-to-toe massage rollers and more. 

Truly, the sky’s the limit when it comes to these devices, and that goes for their prices too. You can get a massage chair for several hundred dollars, or several thousands.  

In contrast, even if you splurge on 12 monthly visits to a high-end spa for a full-body pampering lasting 90 minutes, you will be hard-pressed to spend more than S$3,000 in total. Think about that. 

And if you want the bells and whistles, you can always top-up for add-ons to enjoy along with your massage — and very likely still come out ahead, financially speaking. 

Then again, if you truly take pleasure in plonking down in your very own state-of-the-art massage chair with all the latest features after a long day at work, and you have the means to pay for it, go right ahead and spoil yourself. 

Should you get a massage chair or visit a massage service

Massage chair or machine Massage services
On-demand massage, unlimited use Limited duration per session
Massage in the comfort of your own home Have to commute
May not properly target problem areas Can work with therapist to address specific health concerns
Cost effectiveness depends on usage frequency You get what you pay for

Ultimately, choosing whether to buy a massage machine or going for a massage comes down to personal preference, but there are some considerations you should note.

The obvious advantage of having a massage chair or machine is the freedom and convenience. You can give yourself a massage whenever you feel like it, and for as long as you want. Plus, you can do it all from the comfort of your own home.

However, massage machines may not be able to adequately provide the relief you seek, especially if you require a hard massage, or need to work on an area your machine cannot properly reach.

Also, if you don’t make use of your massage chair or machine often enough, you’re simply not getting your money’s worth (especially if you spring for the costly models). No matter how fanciful your massage chair is, you’ll eventually tire of it. At some point, your massage chair will turn into an eyesore crowding up your living room. 

On the other hand, spending money for a massage from a professional therapist is your only way to get the exact treatment you want, and even get an opportunity to address any health concerns you may have. 

Obviously, you’ll have to make the effort to schedule a time to visit the massage place. (Or, you could pay extra for an outcall.) However, you only need to pay for the sessions you go for, and won’t have to make any large financial commitments if you don’t want to.  

What massage machines can you get for home massages?

Massage machineTarget areasCost
Maxkare Neck and Back MassagerNeck, shoulders and waist S$41.99 at Amazon
Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot MassagerCalves and feetS$299.99 at Amazon
Osim uSqueeze 2Feet, calves and thighsS$649 at Osim.com
Osim uDream Whole body, from head to feetS$7,999 at Osim.com

Maxkare Neck and Back Massager – S$41.99

This small, pillow-shaped device is designed for use on your neck, shoulders, back and waist areas. 

It comes with an elastic strap so you can fasten it to your home or office chair, or car seat if you want a massage while on the road. You can also place it under your body and lie down over it.

The massager comes with four massage knobs capable of clockwise and counterclockwise rotations, and has different settings so you can adjust your comfort level. It also has a heating function to further soothe aches and pains, and features an auto-shutoff feature after 15 minutes of continuous use. 

Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager – S$299.99

Made to soothe tired feet and aching calves, the Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager employs a clever, space-saving design to deliver relief to your feet or calves (though not both at the same time).

The compact machine is preprogrammed with five different functions: rolling massage, compression therapy, joint-loosening sways, heat therapy and a quiet mode for relaxation. It also offers three levels of intensity so you can further customise your massage session. 

Osim uSqueeze 2 – S$649

Most lower leg massagers for feet and calves look like some sad cross between Santa’s old boots and Iron Man’s early rejects. 

But not the Osim uSqueeze 2. This sleek designed, alluring hued device stands out not only for its good looks, but also for the rare ability to work on your feet, calves, and all the way up to your upper thighs.

This is made possible via a pair of rotating extensions that fold upwards to knead your thighs while you’re seated, so you can enjoy a complete lower body massage.

Osim uDream – S$7,999

The uDream is about as indulgent as a massage chair can get (though we wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t even the most extravagant model), so much so that manufacturer Osim refers to it as a “well-being chair”.

This pinnacle of massage engineering is capable of offering anyone a full-body massage, from head to feet. But more than just mechanical kneading, the uDream offers an all-encompassing experience that fully immerses your five senses in the ultimate self-administered relaxation.

As if that’s not enough, the machine also incorporates smart sensors to measure your body’s stress and tension levels, monitoring your readouts so you can better manage your health.

Sounds exactly like the massage chair you’ll need after you max out your credit card paying for it.

Speaking of credit cards, if you need one that covers all the bases for these big purchases, check out our comprehensive comparison page for the best credit cards. Don’t miss out on some of the best deals that come with these credit cards when you apply for one.

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By Alevin Chan
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.