A glucose meter is a compact medical device that is used to determine the amount of glucose in a person’s blood at any given time.
Glucose meters have been available for home use since 1981. They are primarily used by diabetics to gain control over their condition, but are also used by people with non-diabetic hypoglycemia.
Glucose meters work in concert with test strips which are designed to accept a small blood sample. Once the blood sample is placed on the strip a complex chemical reaction occurs that is interpreted by the meter to determine the level of glucose in the blood.
Our product review team put dozens of today’s most popular meters to the test. The result of their efforts is the following list of the 10 best glucose meters of 2020.
1. Contour Next One Smart Meter
Contour makes some of the most highly regarded glucose meters on the market today and their Next One Smart Meter is the cream of the crop. This is a highly accurate meter that routinely produces readings that are as much as 50% more accurate than many other meters. The SmartLight range indicator lets you know if your blood glucose is within your desired range. And the meter can be synced via Bluetooth to the company’s smartphone app.
There are handy reminder alarms, the ability to save your average pre and post meal glucose levels extending out to a month, and you have up to 60 seconds to apply more blood to the strip if necessary. That way you can save time and cut down on waste. There is no coding required for this meter. And you typically get your results in less than five seconds. Toss in the incredibly affordable price point and you have an outstanding overall value and our #1 pick.
2. Prodigy Autocode Talking Blood Glucose Meter
An unfortunate reality is that diabetes often costs people their vision. When that happens they typically become dependent on others to read their blood glucose meters for them. Not anymore. The Prodigy Autocode Talking Blood Glucose Meter earns a high position on our list for addressing this pressing issue and doing so effectively in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
The Autocode Talking Glucose Meter returns highly accurate results in six seconds or less, does not require any coding and has a large easy to read screen for those with compromised vision. The Autocode meter also enables alternative testing sites including the forearm, thigh, calf and upper arm. There is also a repeat button that allows you to audibly replay the last test result and it stores audio records of the previous 450 tests.
3. One Touch Ultra2 Glucose Meter Kit
The One Touch Ultra2 Glucose Meter Kit is extremely popular for a number of good reasons. It delivers some of the most accurate results of any commercial glucose meter, typically in less than five seconds. It displays those results on a large, easy to read screen, and it can store up to 500 test results so you can identify trends and adjust your diabetes self care accordingly.
The Ultra2 provides before and after meal blood sugar averages so you can determine which foods are causing problems and which are not. Operation of the device could not be simpler with no coding required and the included batteries typically last six months to a year. If there is a downside it’s that test strips are not part of the kit. Beyond that minor quibble though, the meter itself is a compact, dependable joy to use.
4. DSS Precision Blood Glucose Meter Kit
The DSS Precision Xtra Blood Glucose Meter Kit enables you to travel anywhere and everywhere with confidence. The kit comes with everything you need (with the notable exception of test strips) including lancets, a lancing device, two batteries and a handy carrying case. The readout is large and clear which makes it a good choice for seniors, and you can download your results to your computer for later analysis.
We like the way this meter sits in the hand. It’s very comfortable and secure. The display screen is backlit so you’re not straining to see the results at night. And you need only .6 ul of blood to obtain an accurate result. Set up is fast and simple and results are typically returned in five seconds or less.
5. True Metrix Self Monitoring Blood Glucose Meter
The True Metrix Self Monitoring Glucose Meter is easy to set up, easy to use, dependable, affordable and compact. It hits all the right notes for a blood glucose meter kit. Which means that, unlike some other kits, it includes test strips. The True Metrix meter can be synced to your smartphone where you can take advantage of the company’s mobile app. That app stores up to three months of readings and collates the data so you can see trends and respond accordingly.
The screen on the True Metrix meter is large and clear. The included strips are very sensitive and require only a tiny drop of blood. There is a log book included for those who like to manually record their results. And the handy carrying case is a step above some others.
6. Accu Chek Performa Blood Glucose Meter
There is a lot to like about the Accu Chek Performa Blood Glucose Meter including the fact that it automatically rejects expired strips, that it offers multiple reminders and that it shuts off automatically after two minutes. But that’s not all. It also comes with 10 strips to get you started, and those strips are larger and easier to handle than most others. It also returns accurate results in five seconds or less.
The all-important display is large and easy to read. The meter will power up automatically when a strip is inserted, which is important if you are in something of a blood sugar haze. And it only requires a tiny blood sample to work. The meter stores hundreds of previous readings along with the date and time of those readings, so you can identify potential problems and trends. As a final cherry on the cake the carrying case is one of the best out there.
7. GE100 Blood Glucose Monitoring System
You would expect a technological powerhouse like GE to produce an outstanding blood glucose meter and they do not disappoint. The GE100 Blood Glucose Monitoring System is simple, effective, offers auto coding and returns accurate readings in five seconds or less. The meter is light and comfortable, the readout is big and bold and the strips need only a tiny amount of blood to do their work.
The meter stores hundreds of readings and provides 1, 7, 14, 30 and 90 day averages to help you better understand how your body is reacting to diet and lifestyle choices. This can help you refine your treatment regimen and more effectively stave off potential diabetes-related complications. If there’s a downside it’s that those highly effective GE test strips are not included.
8. MGLSDeet Glucoleader Blood Glucose Meter
The MGLSDeet Glucoleader Blood Glucose Meter provides accurate readings in about eight seconds. The kit comes with everything you need to stay on top of your blood glucose situation. There are 50 test strips, 50 lancets, a lancing device and a convenient case for carrying what you need wherever you go. The display screen is large and easy to read, which is a big plus for seniors and diabetics beset by vision problems.
There are audible alerts for both high and low blood sugar. The strips require only 1 ul of blood to get an accurate reading. Under normal circumstances the battery should last a couple of years and the device itself is guaranteed for 18 months. If you are searching for a simple, affordable, reliable glucose meter you can’t really lose with the Glucoleader Blood Glucose Meter from MGLSDeet.
9. FORA G30a Blood Glucose Meter
The Fora G30a Blood Glucose Meter is extremely user-friendly. From it’s comfortable, easy to hold profile, to the fact that it does not require coding, and the fast (five seconds), accurate results it makes keeping track of blood sugars a relative breeze. The instructions that come with the meter are clear and simple but in reality, operation is so intuitive that you may not even need them.
The G30a has one of the smallest sample requirements of any major glucose monitor at .5 ul. And the results typically come in less than 10% off of the actual value. Which, if you know glucose meters, is pretty impressive. Keep in mind, however, that this is not a kit. It’s a meter-only. An excellent meter, but a meter only. You will need to purchase lancets and strips separately.
10. Diathrive Blood Sugar Test Kit
The Diathrive Blood Sugar Test Kit includes a state of the art meter, 50 test strips, lancets and a handsome carrying case. The meter itself is one of the fastest on the market, returning results in most cases in just four seconds. In addition, only .4 ul of blood is required to obtain that fast accurate results. That tiny amount is again among the industry leaders.
The Diathrive Meter stores up to 300 test results and provides you with averages, along with the time and date of each reading. There is no coding required for this meter either, and the fact that the kit includes 100 test strips is going to be music to a lot of people’s ears.
What Is Glucose Meter?
A glucose meter is a compact medical device that enables the user to get an accurate reading of the amount of glucose (1) in their blood at a given time. It is used by people with diabetes to gauge whether or not they need to eat or need to take insulin. Diabetics may also use it to determine whether it is safe to exercise. Glucose meters were first marketed for home use in the early 1980s and have been in widespread use for some 30 years.
People with hypoglycemia (2), or low blood sugar, may also use a glucose meter. While hypoglycemia most often occurs in relation to diabetes, it may also appear in non-diabetics due to certain medications, kidney failure, excess alcohol consumption and other causes.
What are the Benefits of a Glucose Meter?
Glucose meters help diabetics regain control. – According to the CDC 10% of Americans are diabetic and one out of every three adults is considered ‘prediabetic (3)’. That’s 122 million Americans who either have diabetes or are in danger of developing it. These folks need a way to get control over their situation before out of control blood sugars lead to serious complications. Blood glucose meters give them a safe, effective, affordable way to do that.
A glucose meter provides real time information. – One of the many great things about blood glucose meters is that they give you an accurate picture of the state of your blood sugar right now. That enables you to make safe, productive decisions regarding how you should proceed. If you need to take insulin you can be sure you’re taking the right amount. If you are physically active it’s also important to know your blood glucose level before you work out (4). If it’s too high you should wait.
Glucose meters are reasonably accurate. – The accuracy of a glucose meter is dependent in large part on the quality of the test strip being used (5). If the strip and the meter come from the same manufacturer the glucose meter will typically provide a reading that is within 10-15% of the actual value. That might seem like a big range, but for all practical purposes it is close enough for you to get a good idea of the state of your blood sugars and to formulate a proper response.
A glucose meter is affordable. – When you consider how important they are and how much these compact pieces of healthcare tech can help improve the quality of life for diabetics, they are remarkably affordable. For less than the cost of a single meal in a decent restaurant you can monitor your blood sugar levels wherever you are at any time of the day or night. To top it off, Medicare will cover much of the cost of both the meter and strips for older folks. And many insurance companies do the same for everyone else.
A glucose meter is portable. – Most of today’s best glucose meters will slip easily into your pocket or purse. They weigh only a few ounces and can easily be carried around all day by anyone from young kids with type 1 diabetes (6) to grandparents who have been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (7). Anyone used to carrying around one of today’s smartphones will find a glucose meter to be much smaller and lighter by comparison.
Glucose meters are readily available. – You do not need a prescription to buy a glucose meter. You do not need to order them from some obscure company in a country you never heard of. You can buy them at any brick and mortar pharmacy, most brick and mortar big box stores and via hundreds of online retailers. Of course, if you plan to buy online you should only purchase from a reputable source such as amazon. And even then go to the manufacturer’s Amazon shop to be sure you’re getting the real thing.
A glucose meter helps ensure long-term health. – The potential long-term effects of diabetes are no joke (8) and include serious eye problems, hard to control infections, nerve damage, kidney damage and more. The best way to ensure you prevent as many of these potential complications as possible is to keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels. A glucose meter is a safe, affordable, reliable way to do just that.
Glucose meters are easy to use. – Using a blood glucose meter is easy and can be mastered in short order by virtually anyone. Just make sure your hands are as clean as possible before taking a blood sample, since dirt, grime or sweat may foul the results. (It’s a good idea to carry moist towelettes with you in case you are not near a sink when you need to test your blood.) Once you are sure your hands are clean simply prick your finger with a fresh lancet and squeeze the resulting drop of blood onto a strip inserted into the meter. Your result will be displayed in just a few seconds.
Glucose meters are TSA safe. – Diabetics who travel will have no problem bringing their glucose meter along with them wherever they go. According to the official TSA website glucose meters can be carried in either checked or carry-on baggage with no problem (9). You may, however, want to inform the TSA agent that you are diabetic and that you are carrying a meter, lancets, strips, insulin and other necessary paraphernalia.
Does Medicare Cover the Cost of a Glucose Meter?
Medicare Part B does cover blood glucose meters, as well as test strips, glucose sensors, lancets and more for those diagnosed as diabetic. The individual pays 20% of the Medicare approved cost of such a device (10). This means the individual will also be responsible to cover anything over the Medicare-approved cost. For instance, if the meter you want is $40 and the Medicare approved amount is $25 you would be responsible for 20% of $25, or $5, plus anything over $25. In the case of our example that would be an additional $15. Because the government is constantly adjusting the Medicare-approved cost of items, make sure you check with the agency before purchasing your glucose meter.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
According to the CDC between two and ten percent of pregnant women in the US develop what is known as gestational diabetes (11) while pregnant. Symptoms of this phenomenon include blurry vision, fatigue, frequent urination, and seemingly unquenchable thirst. Because of this many doctors recommend that pregnant women get a blood glucose meter and keep track of their blood sugar levels while pregnant.
The presence of gestational diabetes does not necessarily indicate that you were diabetic before becoming pregnant. And in most cases, gestational diabetes will go away after childbirth. However, in some cases, women with gestational diabetes may need to take insulin to control their blood sugars while pregnant. Also, if gestational diabetes is detected and not properly managed, it can have a negative impact on the baby’s health and slightly increase the risk that the baby will develop diabetes.
How Long Does a Glucose Meter Last?
Today’s glucose meters are dependable, accurate and durable. But they won’t last forever. Typically, you should consider replacing your blood glucose meter every couple of years to make sure you are always getting the most accurate results possible. If you have concerns about the accuracy of your meter, bring it with you next time you see your doctor. Have him or her run a blood sugar test and do one using your glucose meter at the same time. If the reading you get from your meter is within 15% of the result your doctor gets, your meter should be considered accurate.
Do All Glucose Meters Work With All Test Strips?
Unfortunately, most test strips are designed to work only with the same brand of blood glucose meter. So for instance, Accu Chek test strips are designed to work with Accu Chek meters. If you are in a pinch and you cannot get your hands on the brand-specific test strips you need you can try using another brand. But there is no way to guarantee the accuracy of the reading.
There has been a movement in recent years to develop an accurate, dependable generic test strip that will work with all the most popular meters. And some progress has been made on that front. Still, most generic strips only work with a single ‘family’ of meters, or with a select few meters from different manufacturers. If you want to go the generic test strip route make sure you read the fine print carefully to see if the strips you have your eye on will work with your meter.
The Bottom Line
A glucose meter is an indispensable tool in the fight against diabetes and has improved the quality of life for millions of people worldwide. The glucose meter provides real-time information that can be used to successfully maintain blood glucose levels in a preferable range, thereby warding off some of the potential complications of diabetes and hypoglycemia.
Today’s best glucose meters are compact, dependable, durable and affordable. They are easy to use, do not require special training and can be obtained from both brick and mortar and online outlets without a prescription. Most insurance policies will cover some or most of the cost of blood glucose meters as will Medicaid.
The blood glucose meters on our list have proven themselves in rigorous testing to be the best the contemporary market has to offer. Any one of them will help you obtain the information you need to make informed decisions regarding your health.