What Type of Glucometer is Best for You?

Which Glucometer Is Best for You?

While there are several types of glucometers, the most common and readily available models are self-monitoring glucometers. These are the typical meters that evaluate glucose levels in test-strip blood samples obtained from a skin prick — usually from the fingertip, though many models now let you test on other spots to give your fingertips a break.

Contour NextContour NextAll of the glucometers we included in our reviews are self-monitoring models that are available over the counter in brick-and-mortar and online pharmacies. However, we've also outlined some of the other technology you may have heard about, including alternatives to finger-prick blood testing.

Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG)

Self-monitoring glucometers are the standard meters you see. With these meters, you apply a blood sample to a test strip, and within seconds, the device detects and provides your glucose level. All of the glucometers in our reviews are these basic meters, and we focused on the best and most readily available brands and models. Accu-Check Aviva ConnectAccu-Check Aviva Connect

Pros of Self-Monitoring Meters:

  • Relatively cheap initial cost
  • Portable
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Quick results
  • Over-the-counter availability

Cons of Self-Monitoring Meters:

  • Pain from finger pricks
  • Ongoing cost of test strips
  • Availability of certain test strips
  • External factors affecting accuracy

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs)

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) provide a bigger picture of spikes and ranges for your glucose by taking readings every few minutes all day and night. However, the monitoring sensor must be implanted under the abdominal skin. Moreover, to ensure the CGM is calibrated properly, you will likely still have to do multiple finger-prick tests daily with a self-monitoring glucometer.

Many people with diabetes do not require such extensive testing, so CGMs are not recommended for everyone. Unlike typical glucometers, CGMs cannot be purchased over the counter, so you must meet with your medical doctor to determine if continuous monitoring is right for you.

Pros of Continuous Glucose Monitors:

  • They take readings all day.
  • They provide a big picture of glucose levels.
  • They do not require test strips.

Cons of Continuous Glucose Monitors:

  • They require implantation under the skin.
  • They may still require daily prick tests for calibration.
  • They're not available over the counter.

Noninvasive Glucose Meters

While there has been talk of these meters for years, most designs are still in development and not readily available on the market, at least in the United States. The idea behind these meters is that they don't require blood samples, so no finger pricks or test strips are needed. Rather, low-power radio waves pass through blood-rich areas of the body to sense glucose levels. No models of this developing technology are readily available in the United States. 

Pros of Noninvasive Glucose Meters:

  • No skin pricks or blood samples
  • No test strips

Cons of Noninvasive Glucose Meters:

  • Still in development and testing phases, so no current availability in the U.S. market

Additional Features

Apps: Most glucometers have smartphone or desktop apps that store test results and track patterns. Some apps have additional features, like charts, graphs, pattern alerts and goal setting.

Bluetooth: Many glucometers that have supplemental smartphone apps include Bluetooth connectivity to automatically transfer data from your meter to your phone.

Nova Max LinkNova Max LinkEvent Tagging: Some glucometers allow you to include an event with the time stamp of your readings. For example, you can note that you took the reading after a meal or that you're feeling ill. This helps you track factors that may produce unexpected readings or aid in pattern recognition and management.

No Coding: Most meters are "no coding," which means you don't have to enter a calibration code into the meter when you start a new batch of test strips. Coding is a dated technology, so most newer models do not require it.

Voice: Few glucometers offer voice features, which read your glucose readings aloud. Of the glucometers we reviewed, only FORA TN'G Voice had this feature, which is great for people who have poor eyesight.