Managing type 2 diabetes is complex and necessitates careful consideration of patient factors such as engagement in self-care, comorbidities and costs. Since type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, many patients will require injectable agents, usually insulin. Recent ADA-EASD guidelines recommend glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) as first injectable therapy in most cases. The basis for this recommendation is the similar glycemic efficacy of GLP-1 RAs and insulin, but with GLP-1 RAs promoting weight loss instead of weight gain, at lower hypoglycemia risk, and with cardiovascular benefits in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular disease. GLP-1 RAs also reduce burden of glucose self-monitoring. However, tolerability and costs are important considerations, and notably, rates of drug discontinuation are often higher for GLP-1 RAs than basal insulin. To minimize risk of gastrointestinal symptoms patients should be started on lowest doses of GLP-1 RAs and up-titrated slowly. Overall healthcare costs may be lower with GLP-1 RAs compared to insulin. Though patient-level costs may still be prohibitive, GLP-1 RAs can replace 50-80 units of insulin daily and reduce costs associated with glucose self-monitoring. Decisions regarding initiating injectable therapy should be individualized. This review provides a framework to guide decision-making in the real-world setting. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.