How to Choose the Best Glucometer

How to find an accurate monitor that fits your needs

A glucose meter, also known as a glucose monitor or a glucometer, plays a key role in managing diabetes. It can tell you at a glance what your blood sugar is in the moment—important information that should guide your food choices, your activity level, and your medication schedule.

Regular glucose testing can greatly reduce the risk of developing long-term complications in diabetes. Several types of glucose monitors are available, and your healthcare provider or a certified diabetes educator can help you decide which glucometer best meets your needs.

This article is meant to help you learn more about how blood glucose meters work, and the wide variety of features and options to consider when making an informed decision about buying them.

Close up of asian woman hands using lancet on finger to check blood sugar level by glucose meter, Healthcare medical and check up, diabetes, glycemia, and people concept
Noppawan Laisuan / Getty Images

Types of Glucometers

There are two main types of devices for checking your blood sugar. These types of glucometers and how they work are different, and choosing what's best will depend on your specific situation.

The two main types of glucometers include:

  • Standard blood glucose meters, used to check your blood sugar at a given moment
  • Continuous glucose monitors that check your blood sugar at all times

Glucose meters are available over the counter at drugstores and other stores that sell pharmaceutical products. They can also be purchased from online stores like Amazon and pharmacy websites. Some healthcare providers and diabetes educators also stock glucometers.

Keeping a log of your glucose meter readings can give you and your healthcare provider an overall picture of how your body responds to certain foods, exercise, medicine, and other factors. Regular monitoring also can help you stay as healthy as possible.

Basic Blood Glucose Meters

At its simplest, a glucometer is a hand-held instrument with a digital screen that's used with disposable test strips treated with chemicals that react to glucose.

Some glucose meters come with a lancing device. This instrument uses a spring-loaded needle to obtain a blood sample by creating a tiny puncture in the skin. Lancing devices and lancets can be purchased separately, and the size of the lancet can be adjusted depending on personal comfort.

To get a blood glucose measurement, a person draws a blood sample (usually from the side of a fingertip) and carefully touches it to a test strip that's been inserted into the device. The test strip absorbs the blood, and then an electronic circuit detects the glucose on the strip, displaying it as a number on the screen, usually within seconds.

Most meters run on batteries and have at least a minimal amount of memory for storing results. With very few exceptions, most also have the capability to download and store results to a computer.

But there are other features to consider, such as:

  • A backlit screen, which makes it easier to read results
  • A portlight that illuminates where test strips are inserted
  • Wireless Bluetooth capability, so that results can be downloaded to a smartphone app where data can be stored
  • Cloud storage capability
  • USB rechargeable batteries
  • Ability to provide an accurate result with a 0.3-microliter blood sample (the smallest amount possible; particularly advantageous for testing children)
  • Voice technology, meaning the meter can "say" the results aloud (a great feature for people with diminished eyesight)
  • Alternate site testing, meaning blood can be sampled from a place on the body other than the fingertip, such as the forearm, palm, thigh, or calf, depending on the specifications of the meter
  • Measures blood pressure (as well as blood sugar)
  • Measures ketones (as well as blood sugar)

Top Brands

American Diabetes Association's 2020 Consumer Guide

  • Freestyle Freedom Lite, Freestyle Lite, Freestyle Precision NEO (Abbot Diabetes Care)
  • Advocate Redi-Code Plus Speaking Meter (Advocate)
  • Jazz Wireless (Agamatrix)
  • Presto, Presto Pro (Agamatrix)
  • Choice, Choice Basic (Arcadia Group)
  • Glucocard 01, Clucocard Expression, Glucocard Shine, Glucocard Shine Connex, Glucocard Shine XL, Glucocard Vital (Arkray)
  • Contour Next, Contour Next EZ, Contour Next Link, Contour Next Link 2.4, Contour Next One (Ascensia Diabetes Care)
  • CVS Health Advanced Blood Glucose Meter, CVS Health Bluetooth Glucose Meter (CVS)
  • Dario Smart Glucose Meter (Dario Health)
  • Diathrive Blood Glucose Meter (Diathrive)
  • Fifty50 2.0, Fifty50 2.0 Sport (Fifty50 Medical)
  • Fora D40D 2-in-1, Fora D40G 2-in-1, Fora G30A, Fora GD50, Fora MD, Fora Premium V10 & Fora Premium V10 BLE, For Premium V12 Voice, Fora Test n' Go Advance Voice, Fora Test n'Go, Fora Test n'Go Voice, Fora V30 (Foracare)
  • GHT Blood Glucose Meter (Genesis Health Technologies)
  • Align, Smart Glucomonitoring System (iHealth)
  • Onetouch Ultra 2, Onetouch Ultramini, Onetouch Verio Blood Glucose Monitoring System, Onetouch Verio Flex, Onetouch Verio IQ (Lifescan)
  • Livongo Meter (Livongo Health)
  • Nova Max Link, Nova Max Plus (Nova Diabetes Care)
  • Easymax Light, EasyMax NG/LTC, Easymax Voice, Easymax Voice 2nd Generation (Oak Tree Health)
  • FortisCare EM66, Fortis Care EMV3, Fortis Care MU, Fortis Care T1 (Oak Tree Health)
  • Embrace, Embrace Evo, Embrace Pro (Omnis Health)
  • One Drop Chrome (One Drop)
  • Prodigy Autocode, Prodigy iConnect, Prodigy Pocket. Prodigy Voice (Prodigy Diabetes Care)
  • Accu-Chek Aviva Plus, Accu-Chek Compact Plus, Accu-Check Guide, Accu-Chek Nano (Roche)
  • iGlucose (Smart Meter)
  • Telcare BGM (Telcare)
  • True Metrix, True Metrix Air, True Metrix Go, TrueTrack (Trividia Health)
  • EasyGluco, Infinity, Verasens (U.S. Diagnostics)
  • Relion All-in-One, Relion Confirm, Relion Micro, Relion Premier Blu, Relion Premier Voice, Relion Prime (Walmart)

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs)

A CGM works through a tiny sensor inserted under the skin. Usually, it's placed on the abdomen or back of the upper arm. Every few minutes, the sensor measures the levels of glucose in the fluid between cells in the body.

This information is sent to a monitor via a wireless transmitter, or directly to a smartphone or tablet. Many also come with the capability to wirelessly download meter results to a computer or upload them to a care management system.

Examples include:

  • Freestyle Libre System (Abbott Diabetes Care)
  • G4 Platinum (Dexcom)
  • G5 Mobile (Dexcom)
  • G6 (Dexcom)

CGM-Insulin Pump Combos

Some CGMs function as both a continuous blood glucose monitor and insulin pump. Test results are sent wirelessly to the insulin pump, which uses the information to calculate a precise bolus dose of insulin with meals.

Examples include:

  • MiniMed 530G System (Medtronic Diabetes)
  • MiniMed 630G System (Medtronic Diabetes)
  • MiniMed 670G System (Medtronic Diabetes)
  • MiniMed Paradigm Revel (Medtronic Diabetes)
  • T:slim X2 (Tandem Diabetes Care)
  • Omnipod (Dexcom)

Things to Consider When Choosing a Glucometer

Size. You'll be keeping your meter with you throughout the day, so think about how you'll be carrying it. If you always have a purse or backpack with you, any size glucometer should be fine. But if you plan to carry your meter in your pocket or need it to fit into a small carrying case, then you should shop for a small meter.

Screen size. Meters with very small display screens may not be practical if you have trouble reading things close up. Shop for a meter that has a large backlit display screen.

Memory. All glucose meters have memory, but a few offer minimal data banking (10 to 125 tests). Most record between 250 and 500 tests, with one meter (One Touch UltraSmart) able to record up to 3,000 tests.

Computer compatibility. This is a feature virtually all meters offer, along with the ability to e-mail your test results to your healthcare provider. Keep in mind that some products are not compatible with Apple systems.

Cost. Meters can be purchased from a pharmacy for between $20 and $90; be on the lookout for rebate offers from pharmacies. You may be able to get a meter for free from your healthcare provider.

Insurance. Before purchasing a meter, check with your insurance company to see if the cost of the device (and test strips) will be covered. Some insurance companies only provide coverage for particular meters.

Accuracy of Blood Glucose Meters

Home blood glucose meters are considered clinically accurate if the result is within 20% of what a lab test would indicate. For example, a glucose meter result of 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) could vary between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL and still be considered accurate.

All home glucose meters measure whole blood, but newer versions automatically convert the result into plasma results. The instructions that came with your glucose meter should tell you whether your meter is calibrated for whole blood or plasma results. You also can find out by contacting the manufacturer's customer service.

To measure the accuracy of your meter, take it with you when you have a lab glucose test and check your blood immediately after. To ensure the most accurate results, ask the lab to process your blood sample within 30 minutes.

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released updated recommendations for blood glucose meters, including specific guidelines regarding accuracy.

Accuracy Standards for Blood Glucose Monitors

According to the FDA, glucose meter values should be within 15% of results obtained from a lab 95% of the time, and within 20% of lab measurements 99% of the time.

A Word From Verywell

Managing diabetes can be a complicated undertaking—especially if blood glucose monitoring is part of your protocol. But it doesn't have to be overwhelming, thanks to ongoing advances in technology. Your healthcare provider or certified diabetes educator can help you know how to choose a glucometer that's right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are home glucose meters accurate?

    The FDA requires home blood glucose meters to be highly accurate. However, tests of 17 commercially available blood glucose meter systems found that their accuracy varied widely. Check with your healthcare provider about the best blood glucose meter for you.

  • Can wearable devices be used to monitor blood sugar?

    The use of wearable tech is possible. For example, Fitbit launched a glucose monitoring product in India in 2021. Many still remain under study in the United States but it's likely they will one day be available. Those that are used now include the continuous glucose monitoring systems and pumps.

  • What is the easiest glucose meter to use?

    It depends on the specific needs of you or your child, so you'll want to choose based on healthcare provider recommendations. One thing to consider is how easily a child can manage a glucose meter device on their own. A continuous system with remote monitoring capacities may work best.

Was this page helpful?
9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Janapala RN, Jayaraj JS, Fathima N, et al. Continuous glucose monitoring versus self-monitoring of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Cureus. 2019;11(9):e5634. doi:10.7759/cureus.5634

  2. American Diabetes Association. Devices & Technology.

  3. American Diabetes Association. The big picture: Checking your blood glucose.

  4. American Diabetes Association. Blood gluocose monitors.

  5. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Continuous glucose monitoring.

  6. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Self-monitoring blood glucose test systems for over-the-counter use.

  7. Ekhlaspour L, Mondesir D, Lautsch N, et al. Comparative accuracy of 17 point-of-care glucose meters. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2017;11(3):558-566. doi:10.1177/1932296816672237

  8. Bogue-Jimenez B, Huang X, Powell D, Doblas A. Selection of Noninvasive Features in Wrist-Based Wearable Sensors to Predict Blood Glucose Concentrations Using Machine Learning Algorithms. Sensors (Basel). 2022 May 6;22(9):3534. doi:10.3390/s22093534

  9. Erie C, Van Name MA, Weyman K, Weinzimer SA, Finnegan J, Sikes K, et al. Schooling diabetes: Use of continuous glucose monitoring and remote monitors in the home and school settings. Pediatr Diabetes. 2018 Feb;19(1):92-97. doi:10.1111/pedi.12518

Additional Reading