The Scoop on Finding Cheap Test Strips and Meters

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I have always had the luxury of health insurance and I’m eternally grateful for that, but many times when I read comments left on blogs, my heart aches for those people who suffer the burden of paying for their diabetes supplies out of pocket! I will admit the feeling of being covered is worth every penny.

David’s recent blog focused on a new meter and many of the comments that were left asked how to pay for test strips. Blood sugar testing is the most important factor in taking action against diabetes complications!

That said, I thought I would do a little market research for where to find the cheapest test strips on the Internet and in local stores. Using my One Touch Ultra Mini as the model for comparison, and Consumer Reports to compare accuracy and dependability factors, I sat at my computer for 4 days looking up cheap test strips. Let’s just say that I had no idea what I was getting into, but I felt sick with what I saw as marketing for “cheap” test strips, as many were anything but cheap!

Just for your information, Consumer Reports Health ratings for most accurate, consistent and easy to use meters, 1= most favored, 10 = least favored by CR standards:

Meter Price Per Strip

  1. One Touch Ultra Mini $1.14
  2. Ascensia Contour $1.10
  3. One Touch Ultra2 $1.14
  4. ReliOn Ultima (WalMart) *CR ranked as best buy $0.44
  5. One Touch UltraSmart $1.14
  6. Nova Max $0.96
  7. Freestyle Lite $1.30
  8. Accu-Chek Aviva $1.10
  9. Freestyle Freedom $1.30
  10. Duo-Care - blood glucose/blood pressure $0.90
  11. Ascensia Breeze 2 $1.10
  12. True Track (drugstore chain label) $0.60

Since we know accuracy is under scrutiny, I think it best to rely on your own feelings for what works best for you!

Of the twenty sites I browsed, had the cheapest test strips for most meters and meter prices were lower as well. My local Rite Aid pharmacy could not compete. A box of One Touch 50 ct strips was $58.99.
One Touch Ultra 50 Ct-$24.00
One Touch Ultra Mini Blood Glucose Monitor ran about $11.00-$16.00

I have an Amazon Prime account, which is an added charge at the beginning of the year. With that, I get free shipping on all items. I generally order enough stuff from Amazon that it was worth the cost! You may want to consider your diabetes costs and shipping charges, but from just a strip cost, this was by far the best deal I could find.

One Touch Test Strips 50ct were $57.23…BUT their ReliOn meter was a deal to consider:
ReliOn Ultra thin was a $9.00 investment for the meter, and ReliOn 50 ct test strips for $20.00, Walgreen had the same deal as Walmart, but the strips were more expensive. Walgreen True Go for $9.00, and their test strips 50 ct $39.99.

eBay had One Touch Ultra Blood Glucose Test strips 50 ct for $22.50. Another 50ct was $5.28. You do have to realize you are bidding and the price may go up. But a deal probably can be found on eBay if you are patient.

Some places I shopped online: - One Touch Ultra test strips 50 ct- $55.50 (that’s not a typo!) - One Touch Ultra Test Strips- 50 ct-$36.95

ADW American Diabetes Wholesale - One Touch Ultra Test Strips 50ct- $46.99 - One Touch Ultra Test strips- $33.33
This site lists whose selling what and for what price. I did not find any real bargains.

It is important to throw out your meter after about a year to maintain consistency. I realize consistency has been under scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean, “don’t test!” And, since we are stuck until the pharmaceuticals can fix the accuracy of meters, we need to replace them at least once a year if not more.

I have been married to the One Touch because of my Medtronic pump, but now I’m on my pump vacation and I see Dr. Huang in a couple of weeks. I like the Freestyle Lite with the backlight and a test strip port lite. Could have used that at the movies tonight! And for those nighttime tests when I need them, which are not that often, this would be extremely useful! If you know more deals out there please share!

WOW! Great post Ann!
Thanks for all your hard work.
Awesome information!

This is AWESOME, Ann!!

After years of ignoring my community, I now love my diabetes friends and I will do whatever I can to help!


Thank you for the post. You found what I have always suspected about Amazon being the least expensive. I can say however that the One touch mini’s are so cheap because of the free meter give away that one touch did a few months ago. Personally at those strip prices, they ought to give us a new meter every six months. I really think we need to push for free meters, or at least a very inexpensive meter.

rick phillips

I agree with you Rick!! Every meter company ought to give you a free meter! By the way, since I’m community leader on Health Central, I test everything and those free meter deals, in many cases, are only if you make under $20K a year. I tried endlessly to see if I could get one and apparently I didn’t qualify. After I complained I got a call from sales at Health Central and they gave me the facts! Since I have really good health insurance its not an issue for me, but for many other friends, $20K are they kidding!?

Okay. I was surprised, to say the least, when I read the comment about throwing out our meters after a year! Fortunately for me, I am a Veteran, and my meter and supplies are covered by the Air Force base hospital near here. However, I’m sure they would be surprised if they were required to give out brand new meters every year! I was given a Precision Xtra two or three years ago, and when I asked if they were going to hand out new meters, they said no. And I still get their strips! But some companies will give you new meters, and not have you send in your old meters…

Wow Ann! That is awesome what you have written above. Many thanks for doing all that research. I didn’t realise that after a year of using a blood meter that it should be “retired”. Why do the manufacturers not state this somewhere - or is it something I have overlooked?

Because I don’t have a Consumer Report membership - do you know of any other place that I could go to to figure out what is the most accurate meter currently on the market (I know some that you list above we don’t have here in Canada - we have about 1/2 the amount that you show above). Anywaym I’m not sure if the way you have typed them out above - is based on the 1 - 10 scale that you write about that CR uses to rate their accuracy. I use the Freestyle Lite - which ouch - is $1.30USD a test strip - here in Canada I thought I paid more - but it works out to $1 CDN a test strip.

You mentioned you like the Freestyle Flash. Abbot (manufacturer of Freestyle) has a “Promise program.” If you register with Abbott (go to their website), they will give you a card. They will reduce the cost of the Freestyle test strips by $50 a month. This takes care of my sister’s copay for strips as she has insurance. If you do not have insurance the Promise program will save you $50 a month.

Jan, Thank you info on Promise Program! That is really good to know! I surfed looking for programs, but the only ones that came up in my searches were for assistance programs, which were helpful for people really at the poverty level.

Ann, I’m happy to share with you anything you want to know from the consumer reports article. I did not find anything on accuracy from anyone else. And I wonder if they can be given the current issues pointed out by the FDA concerning inconsistency. Thus the reason I suggested pitching the meters sooner rather than later.

And Everett, I’m sure that because the meters are technical equipment, they really don’t require an expiration date. Believe, I sat in my docs office looking at her asking why don’t they tell you to toss a meter? And when should we look for inconsistence? I really don’t think that many people think about it. But for some, I was one of them, I had a meter for 5 years and until I had my diabetes team mention it, I never tossed them.

It may be something to sit down and talk with your docs about. NO ONE has been paying attention to this and even if the military only tossed it once every 3 years, it would be good for them to do.

We should all have more than one meter anyway. This helps compare. The problem is we don’t know which one is most accurate, so we are likely to pitch the one with the higher number! LOL!

This is good information! My pharmacy requires me to use a mail order pharmacy. Because of this, some shipments run late, they have to order the strips before they can mail them our, etc…the end result is that I am without strips and must buy my own in between shipments. This is good information! I really need to just order some xtra strips to have on hand in these situations. Thanks for your great research!

Sometimes I find deals on ebay for the test strips. If I can get a good supplier I will try to carry them at discount prices on my web-site. I think that a really great invention would be a “Permanent test strip” that would fit existing meters and could be reused after rinsing with water. I bet it could happen if it hasn’t already.