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Buying guide for best blood glucose test strips

When you manage a condition like diabetes, accuracy and precision are paramount. Careful monitoring of blood glucose levels keeps you on track for healthy living. That’s why it’s important to choose quality blood glucose test strips for your meter so you can keep living your best life.

Blood glucose test strips take droplets of blood at their tip and are inserted into your meter. Test strips are the important second step in blood glucose testing, between the blood draw and the reading that is then calculated and displayed on the screen. They’re designed to minimize external variables so readings are as accurate as possible. The numbers track fluctuations in your blood glucose level and generate alerts if those levels are out of range.

The strips engineered to be easy to handle. Some are equipped with technology that makes them low maintenance, particularly in the form of no coding and alternate site testing. Others place a high focus on packaging, to preserve strips through their expiration dates. If you’re ready to find the best blood glucose testing strips for your meter, we’ve assembled a buying guide and some of our favorites to make your choice simpler.

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Save an empty test strip bottle to keep a handful of spare strips in your purse, backpack, and gym bag. If you run out of strips before you get home, you still have backups for testing.

Key considerations

Blood glucose test strip basics

Blood glucose testing involves drawing a drop of blood, applying the droplet to a test strip, and getting a reading from a glucometer. The blood draw is achieved through a pin prick from a lancet. The amount of blood produced is usually more than what is required for the test strips, which vary in their volume requirements, in general, between 0.3 and 0.6 microliters (one millionth of a liter) of blood to register for a reading. It seems like a trace amount, but if you don’t saturate the strip correctly, it won’t work. Some test strips take the obstacle of droplet application into consideration and include features that facilitate success. Once enough blood is available, simply pop the test strip into the meter and wait for a reading, which can take up to one minute.

  • Generic test strips: Like many products, medications, and devices in the medical field, there are generic and off-brand blood glucose test strips available. With that said, they’re not universal in nature. That means you need to find the generic test strips that are compatible with your meter. The best way to do this is to check the generic manufacturer’s compatible device list. Because meters often promote their own brand’s products, you won’t always find a list of cost-effective alternatives on their site. Compare prices before you buy, because it might be less expensive to buy the brand-name test strips in bulk than the generic ones.

How they work

Blood glucose test strips are mostly made out of plastic. They generally have one side equipped with an ultra-thin layer of gold that acts as the test strip’s circuit. In order for the blood to interact with the circuit, the area where you drop your blood is treated with chemicals that convert glucose into energy. It then sends the information down the circuit to your meter for a reading. While the manufacturing style and types of technology differ between test strips, for the most part, they share the same functional properties.

Control solution

Control solution is a glucose solution used to determine the accuracy of your test strips. The solution typically comes in sets of three to include low, normal, and high levels of glucose. To check whether your test strips produce accurate readings, apply solution to the same area where you’d place your blood drops. Compare the glucose range of the solution to what the meter says. If there’s a discrepancy with the range, you’ll most likely need to replace all the test strips. Like test strips, control solution also expires, so always make sure to use both products before their expiration dates.

Blood glucose test strip features

No coding

In older blood glucose test meters, manual coding was required when moving to a new box of test strips. The calibration was a tedious step to determine if the meter and the test strips read your glucose levels accurately. No-coding technology is a welcome advance to blood glucose testing. Test strips with this technology automatically provide the codes to the meter. Not only does it reduce the risk of miscoding and inaccuracy, it’s one less thing to worry about when changing boxes. Not all test strips include this technology, but the ones that do are well liked by loyal customers.

Alternate site testing

Blood glucose testing used to rely solely on fingertip pricks for a blood draw. In some people, it causes sore, sensitive fingertips from the frequency of testing. Thanks to test strips with alternate site testing (ATS), you’re able to draw blood from other areas of your body. The rotation prevents specific areas from becoming irritated or overly sensitive from repeated draws. One thing that varies among ATS test strips is the recommended areas. Some stipulate that you only use fingertips, palms, and abdomen, whereas others don’t limit you to any areas.

Reapplication window

Even if you’re used to your blood glucose testing by now, there are still days when you experience difficulty getting enough blood on the test strip. That’s why some test strips have a reapplication window, which means you have a limited time in which to continue adding blood until you have enough for a reading. On average, you have up to one minute to get it right. It’s an attractive feature for a test strip, especially if they’re expensive, since using single-try test strips could quickly add up.

Blood glucose test strips prices

When comparing prices of blood glucose strips, we considered the cost of 100-count packages, which fall between $10 and $100.

Inexpensive: At the low end of the price range, you can expect to spend between $10 and $30, which includes some test strips with no-coding technology.

Mid-range: These test strips cost between $30 and $60 have improved accuracy and incorporate an abundance of convenience features.

Expensive: At the high end of the range, between $60 and $100 and sometimes more, you can expect advanced features, including extended time frames for reapplication. Some of these more expensive test strips require the least amount of blood for a sample, too.


  • Dispose of the bottles correctly. Because the bottles containing test strips are considered medical waste, you probably can’t toss them in with the rest of your recycling. Research your local laws and regulations regarding medical waste so you can dispose of them correctly and legally.

  • Clean your meter regularly. To continue getting accurate readings, make sure your blood glucose meter is clean. If it’s dirty, it could throw off your numbers.

  • Set alerts for expiration dates. Diabetic testing supplies like test strips and control solution have expiration dates. To make sure you don’t use them past their prime, set a calendar alert on your phone to remind you when it’s time to get new ones.

  • Wash your hands before testing. To avoid contaminating the test strips, wash your hands with soap and water before testing.

Other products we considered

We’re impressed with the GE100 Blood Glucose Test Strips, which are larger and easier to handle than strips for other meters. These are ideal if you have dexterity issues or neuropathy in your hands. The strips are engineered with cutting-edge gold electrode technology, so they’re also top rated when it comes to accuracy. If you do need to take another reading with a new strip, these strips are affordable, so you won’t need to worry about expensive refills ahead of schedule. If you’re new to blood glucose testing, we like the user-friendly, no coding Easy Touch Eas-150 Glucose Test Trips. The large-print directions on the box are easy to read, and the strips are slightly wider than others, so they’re easy to handle as you get used to your testing. If your fingertips aren’t your preferred testing site, these strips offer alternate sites on your palm or forearm.

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Be mindful of the expiration dates on your blood glucose test strips. When you buy them in bulk, make sure you don’t buy so many that you run the risk of having them expire before you can use them.


Q. What is the best way to show my child how to properly use their blood glucose test strips?

A. Hands-on learning approaches work well to teach proper glucose testing to children, especially since it’s literally in their hands. Visit the manufacturer’s website and watch tutorial videos together. Practice walking through the testing process together. After a few attempts, your child should feel confident enough to take over the testing under your supervision until they’re ready to be completely independent.

Q. How do I dispose of the blood glucose test strips?

A. It’s generally recommended that you dispose of test strips in the sharps container in a bag. If you want a definitive answer, you can refer to the user guide for the recommended method of disposal. Because they’re considered medical waste, you should check with your state and local guidelines concerning disposal as well.

Q. I have test strips for a different meter, but they fit in my current one. Can I use these as well?

A. Maybe. Just because they physically fit into more than one meter, it doesn’t mean they’re compatible. If you visit the meter manufacturer’s website, it should list the approved test strips, though it’s possible it will only list the company’s own brands. You can also check with the manufacturer of the test strips to see which meters work with them. To obtain the most accurate information about compatibility, cross-reference the data to make a determination.

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