We spent over 80 hours researching the best 30 glucometers on the market. We considered the specifications, features, user reviews, medical studies, availability and cost. After eliminating models that used old technology, like coding, or were too difficult to find in stores, we purchased the best 12 blood glucose meters so we could perform hands-on evaluations of each device.
Before diving into our recommendations for the best glucometers, it’s important to note that Top Ten Reviews is not a substitute for your primary care physician. Our recommendations are made based on common scenarios, hands-on experience, market cost evaluations and a comparison of important features, but they’re not a replacement for advice from your doctor. We are not medical experts.
Overall Best Glucometer
Overall Best Glucometer: Accu-Chek
The Accu-Chek Aviva Connect gets its name from its main feature – Bluetooth that connects it to a mobile app on your smartphone. This provides excellent data management of your readings so you can spot patterns and better treat your diabetes. In addition, the device's interface is one of the easiest to navigate. It has multiple buttons so you can get to the features you need quickly, and the display is high-contrast with big numbers.
Another reason why the Aviva Connect is the best glucometer is the availability of its test strips – they are everywhere. We couldn't find a pharmacy or online store that didn't stock them. Of course, the one significant downside to the test strips is their cost. At $1.39 per strip in a pack of 100 and $1.52 per strip in a pack of 50, they’re more expensive than most test strips on the market.
Best Glucometer for Value & Availability
Best Glucometer for Value & Availability: CONTOUR NEXT
The CONTOUR NEXT is our pick for the best glucometer if your primary concerns are overall value and the availability of the test strips. We visited local pharmacies and collated data from 15 online stores that sell diabetic supplies. From this data, the CONTOUR NEXT was one of the few glucometers with test strips available in every location. When you consider the average $0.55 per strip cost, it's clearly the choice for value and availability. A few glucometers have test strips that cost less, but the strips are typically only available at a few online stores.
The Second-Chance feature is another reason it provides the best value. This feature makes it so you don't waste test strips. If you don't get enough blood on the first reading, you can add blood to the strip and get an accurate reading. With most glucometers, the test strip is wasted if you fail to get enough blood on the first go.
Best Glucometer for Diabetics with Poor Eyesight
Best Glucometer for Diabetics with Poor Eyesight: FORA TN'G Voice
The FORA TN'G Voice is our pick because it has a loud voice feature that makes it easy for people with poor eyesight to get their blood glucose readings. The voice guidance feature also walks you through the features, allowing you to make use of every one without having to consult the display. Very few glucometers have voice features, which is surprising considering how many diabetics have vision impairments. In addition, the glucometer features Bluetooth and the best data management app available.
The voice guidance is loud and easy to understand. Even though I can see just fine, I successfully navigated the features and took readings without having to look at the display. That said, the voice system isn't without its faults. For starters, we struggled to turn it off and adjust the volume, which can be annoying in a public space.
Another great aspect of the FORA TN'G Voice is the cost of the test strips. While not available in most pharmacies and only a few online stores, the average cost per strip was just $0.35 in a 100 pack and $0.33 in a 50 pack. This makes it one of the most affordable test strips on the market.
Best Glucometer for Data Management
Best Glucometer for Data Management: FORA Test N'GO
It's important to note that the FORA Test N’GO is not very different from the FORA TN'G Voice. Both come with Bluetooth technology and a management app to track your health. The main difference is the Test N'Go doesn't have voice guidance and features a slimmer design.
The FORA health tracking app is well-designed and easy to navigate. While some glucometers come with data management software, very few integrate the data into your smartphone like FORA. Only a few glucometers feature Bluetooth to manage your readings, but the FORA app provides the best tools for managing your health. The app allows you to better recognize trends in your glucose levels, track your meals and calculate your insulin needs.
Blood Glucose Meter: What We Tested & Evaluated
Initially, we intended to test the accuracy of each glucometer because an accurate blood glucose reading is the most important part of managing your diabetes. However, we quickly learned that testing on real blood was unrealistic because of lab costs and small sample sizes. We'd need to send blood to a lab to compare actual glucose levels with the readings of the same blood sample by a glucometer. And we'd need hundreds, if not thousands, of readings to provide reliable data.
To get around this hurdle, we tested the accuracy on control solutions – a liquid with a known glucose level. Control solutions are used to calibrate your glucometer when it seems like it's not giving an accurate reading. However, while testing, we learned that many of the control solutions use a proprietary mixture. This means that some glucometers only work with their assigned control solution. In other words, this also failed to provide adequate data.
We were unable to test accuracy, but glucometers must meet FDA regulation standards before they hit the market. The regulations state that each device must be accurate within 15 percent of the actual blood sugar levels, 95 percent of the time. And it's for this reason that you should have a backup glucometer.
A backup glucometer allows you to double-check a strange reading that you think may not be accurate. For example, if you have a very high reading but you feel fine, you can check your blood again with a second glucometer. If the reading is high on both, then you can act accordingly. But if the backup glucometer gives a normal reading, then you know that your primary glucometer needs to be calibrated.
Backup glucometers also help in situations when you've run out of test strips. For example, if your primary glucometer is made by FORA, you'll likely have to order test strips. And if you don't order them with enough foresight, you could easily run out of test strips before the refills arrive. A backup glucometer can be used to fill the gap.
Design & Features
We evaluated the design of each glucometer for both function and style, paying attention to how the test strips are placed into the glucometer and how easy they are to remove. We also looked for big screens with big numbers and high-contrast digits as well as features like Bluetooth, NFC, mobile apps, reading notes and more.
Test Strip Costs & Availability
The most expensive part of using a glucometer isn't the device – it’s the test strips. These disposable strips of plastic and metal can cost between a dime and a few dollars each, and they aren't interchangeable. For example, you can't use the same test strip on a FORA glucometer and an Accu-Chek glucometer. Each device uses only a specific type of test strip, which means that two glucometers that cost $29.99 could represent a difference of thousands of dollars in long term costs.
You also have to consider availability. If you run out of test strips, you can't wait several days for an order to come in. You must find the test strips at a pharmacy. If you can't find them in a pharmacy, you have to buy an all new glucometer, so availability matters.
To evaluate this, we compared and averaged the prices of each glucometer's test strips from 15 online stores and five local pharmacies. We also noted how available each test strip was. Some test strips were available everywhere, while some were only available in one or two online stores.
Ease of Use
Glucometers should make managing your diabetes easier, not harder. As such, we looked at how easy the interface was to navigate. For example, we preferred devices with multiple buttons to navigate through features rather than those with a single button that requires you to cycle through screens to navigate the interface.
Will Your Insurance Cover the Cost?
You don’t need a prescription to purchase glucometers, test strips or lancets. These are all over-the-counter products. However, since the long-term costs can be high, many insurance plans cover the meters and the test strips. While co-pays and coverage may vary, you should contact your insurance provider and talk to your doctor about what brands are covered under your insurance plan.
The one downside to using insurance to offset some of the costs is that your plan often dictates what brand you can use. This is one of the most common complaints among diabetics because too often the only glucometer brands approved by their insurance providers have very expensive test strips.
Medicare Part B covers some diabetic supplies, including test strips, with a 20 percent Medicare-approved co-pay. However, this only applies if your physician and pharmacy are enrolled with Medicare.