Glucometer strips are pretty expensive, but here are some ways to lower your costs.
Order Online and Get a Meter With Cheaper Strips
You don’t pick the blood sugar meter, but the strips. The cheapest strip source out there is usually Trividia’s TrueMetrix. The meter and strips are rebranded by companies like Leader, CVS, Walgreens, and others, but all look the same, and have the TrueMetrix name. The strips are compatible across brands. You can get the test strips for under $12 per tube, if you buy more than one tube. I buy the strips on Ebay or Amazon.
The glucometer itself is pretty plain. The GO is the nicest one, because it’s so small. The AIR has Bluetooth capability for data download. The regular one has a data dock, but it’s expensive. It’s better to spend the extra $5 or so for Bluetooth, if you care.
The regular one and GO both use CR2032 batteries. I don’t know what AIR uses.
You might find the meter for free at some drug stores, because they offer a refund. You buy it, and then submit the refund forms, and get your credit in a couple months.
Otherwise, you can buy the devices online for between $5 and $15 each, plus shipping, off Ebay. The best deals are sets of damaged boxes. The meters are pretty sturdy, and the boxes have a lot of airspace. You also get the little carrying pouches, which are AWESOME.
Other glucometer brands with a good reputation are: Bayer’s Contour, and Wal Mart’s Relion Premium. I also had good results with Prodigy, but a paper out there says it’s not that accurate.
Check market conditions to see how many strip sellers are out there.
I used to see a lot of Prodigy strips, but they seemed to vanish. Now they’re back, and cheaper than TrueMetrix.
Contour is highly regarded as one of the most accurate testing systems, but the strip prices are all over. At this moment, the prices are a little lower than TrueMetrix.
Relion’s prices are basically controlled by WalMart, so pay attention to their prices. Generally, they’re pretty affordable.
Bulk Orders of Strips
When you’re starting out, you might use a whole tube of strips in a couple weeks. If you start out buying a 10-pack for around $110, you’ll finish it in half a year to a year.
My target price is around $10 per tube of 50 strips (20 cents per strip), as of September 2022.
Pay attention to the expiration date! You shouldn’t use old strips. They do go out of whack over time. Don’t buy too many strips, and don’t buy them too old.
Buy from Diabetics
Some diabetics get strips from their healthcare provider and don’t use them. You can buy, trade or beg for them.
Tell them about this site, too. They probably need help if they’re not using up their strips.
In the Summer, Carry Only 10 Strips
Heat damages the strips, so it’s critical to keep the strips either on your body in a bag, or in a bag inside your trunk. The temperature in the passenger compartment rises to around 140F/60C, and completely destroys your strips, and can also damage the meter.
In the trunk, temperatures get high, but I haven’t yet experienced a complete failure of all my strips.
So, what I do now, is carry fewer strips with me, and leave most of the tube at home. That way, if I screw up, or the heat is just too much, I only lose several strips.
Buy On Dips
Sometimes, prices dip. If you see a dip, buy! You don’t really harm yourself by overtesting.
Costco for Accu-Check
Costco might still sell Accu-Check strips for a slight discount over the retail price you’d see through an insurance company.
Mom and Pop Dollar Stores for Batteries
Some meters use the common CR2032 battery. You can find several CR20xx sizes at most dollar stores, for a lot cheaper than you’d find them at drug stores. For even less common sizes, these mom and pops are the first place to check. I found $10 batteries for around $3.50!
Strips are pretty expensive. By learning to buy them online, and being ready to buy when the prices are good, and knowing how many to buy, is the key to saving money.
The target price I use right now is 20 cents per strip. I’ve gotten them for as little as 8 cents per strip. Meanwhile, the retail prices are over 50 cents a strip. You can easily save $50 to $100 through careful buying.
Advice for the Affluent
If $100 doesn’t mean much to you – then I recommend just buying a couple tubes at a time, as you need them, and if your insurance will give you a tube each month, just buy extras for that (expensive) meter.