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As of February 23, 2022, more than 215 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, about 76 percent of the population, or 253 million people, have received at least one shot.

Still, testing remains vital to help reduce transmission of the coronavirus. With the development of at-home coronavirus tests, there are several ways to get tested in the safety and privacy of your own home.

As of January 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized 16 direct-to-consumer over-the-counter tests for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which warranted a public health emergency, the FDA authorized all of these tests under emergency use authorization (EUA).

It’s important to note that tests with an EUA designation have not been officially approved by the FDA.

EUA means that products can be used during the duration of a public health emergency, but they have not gone through the entire testing and approval process.

“The public can be assured these tests have met our scientific standards for emergency use authorization,” said Jeff Shuren, MD, JD, the director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in an FDA press release.

More on at-home COVID-19 test kits

Is my Ellume COVID-19 test kit one of the recalled products? Click here to jump to that section.

What happened to the Phosphorous and Hims & Hers COVID-19 tests? They were previously two of our top picks. Learn more about the latest updates.

At-home collection kits for COVID-19 PCR tests are processed in the same labs used by medical professionals at doctors’ offices and hospitals. They are just as reliable and effective.

That said, it’s important to follow the instructions given by the test kit provider to ensure the most accurate results.

Everlywell, for instance, notes that samples must be collected and sent back on the same day. The company also lists a number of reasons why the sample may be rejected, including not being properly sealed.

When it comes to the testing method, at-home tests use either saliva or a nasal swab to collect samples. In a 2021 review, studies showed that these are equally accurate methods.

It’s also important to note that the currently available at-home test kits don’t test for antibodies or prior infections. These are all molecular tests and are only used to test for current infections.

PCR and antigen tests

PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. A PCR test for COVID-19 checks for DNA from the virus. With this type of test, you’ll send your sample away to a lab for analysis.

An antigen test, often called a “rapid test,” checks for proteins that are typically inside or on the surface of the virus. Individual antigen tests tend to be more affordable and work within 10 to 30 minutes.

Positive results from both of these types of tests are reliable. Antigen tests have a higher chance that you could test negative but have COVID-19 (a false negative).

If a doctor has not ordered an at-home test for you, you can go to the test provider’s website and order one yourself.

The website will require you to fill out an intake survey, which includes a few questions about your health. The test provider’s own physician will review your answers to determine whether you could potentially be at risk of or if you’re currently showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Once they determine your eligibility, they’ll issue a test to be sent to you.

Most of the test kits require payment up front, though some offer insurance options or financial assistance.

Depending on which at-home test kit you choose, you will either collect a saliva sample or nasal swab.

Once you’ve collected your sample, you’ll need to ship it back to the test provider as soon as possible, either by mail or at a designated drop-off location. Most test kits include prepaid shipping labels to make the process seamless.

Results typically take a few days and are delivered digitally. Some test providers also offer virtual consultations, either during the collection process or to review the results.

Read more about the types of COVID-19 tests.

When choosing at-home COVID-19 tests, we kept the following in mind:

  • methods used for collection
  • ease of the collection process
  • how quickly results come back
  • test availability
  • FDA authorization

To select the best, we read various research studies and hundreds of reviews.

Pricing guide

Some insurance plans cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests. Unless otherwise noted, the prices here reflect out-of-pocket costs.

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$120

Best overall

Everlywell

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 1 to 2 days
  • Pros: quick results, easy to use, eligible for insurance reimbursement
  • Cons: have to be 18 years or older to use

Everlywell was one of the first test providers to offer FDA-authorized (EUA) at-home COVID-19 tests.

The diagnostics company has more than 30 types of at-home test kits, including a COVID-19 home collection kit. It can test for symptomatic and asymptomatic coronavirus infection.

Collection requires a lower nasal swab. It only needs to be inserted 1 inch into the nose.

You’ll receive results within 1 to 2 days after the lab receives your sample. Results are available both digitally and in print.

This Everlywell test is eligible for flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Everlywell can also provide an itemized receipt for insurance reimbursement.

Customers who used the Everlywell test kit appreciate the simple instructions and praise the thorough communication throughout the process.

Best nasal test

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 1 to 3 days
  • Pros: quick results, eligible for insurance reimbursement, real-time tracking
  • Cons: shipping isn’t available to all countries

LetsGetChecked offers a wide range of health tests, including their at-home COVID-19 test.

This test uses a gentle lower nasal swab to collect a sample and includes easy-to-follow instructions with the kit.

Once you’ve completed the test, you can use the prepaid shipping label to send the test back. You can track your test in real-time and receive text messages or email updates about where it’s at in the process.

A medical professional at LetsGetChecked will review your test and even go over your results with you.

Customer reviews cite virtual support as something that made the process more informative and pleasant.

LetsGetChecked can provide an itemized receipt for insurance reimbursement.

Best for uninsured

Pixel by Labcorp

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 1 to 2 days
  • Pros: quick results, don’t need insurance, free consultation
  • Cons: difficult to find

Due to high demand of the mail-order kit, there may be fewer at-home test collection kits available.

Pixel by Labcorp is the most accessible at-home COVID-19 test — and the only test that doesn’t require an upfront payment. In fact, you don’t need to have health insurance to get this test.

If you choose to take their intake survey, you have the option to have Pixel file with your insurance or, if you’re eligible, use federal funds to cover the test. You can also opt to skip the survey and pay upfront.

Once you receive the kit, the test involves registering your kit and doing a simple nasal swab.

You’ll receive digital results within 1 to 2 days after the lab receives your sample. A clinician is also available for a free consultation with those whose test results are positive or undetermined.

Best for fast results

Picture by Fulgent Genetics

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 2 days
  • Pros: quick results, free consultation, eligible for insurance reimbursement
  • Cons: limited tests available per day

Powered by Fulgent Genetics, the Picture COVID-19 nasal swab test is a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). The testing process for this at-home test is fast.

After you take an eligibility screening, Picture will send you a test kit through FedEx 2-day shipping.

Your secure digital report will be available in your online portal within 48 hours after Picture receives your sample. You can also schedule a telehealth consultation to go over your results.

While Picture requires upfront payment, you can contact your health insurance provider about reimbursement.

Best for privacy

Vitagene

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: saliva sample
  • Results: 3 days
  • Pros: affordable, accepts HSA and FSA
  • Cons: does not file insurance claims

Partnering with Rutgers University Cell & DNA Repository (RUCDR) Infinite Biologics, Vitagene offers saliva test kits for at-home collection. The company provides results through their health platform, 1health.io.

After ordering your test kit online, Vitagene will deliver it to you within 2 to 3 days.

Once your kit is registered on 1health.io, simply follow the instructions and you’ll have your results within 72 hours.

Vitagene requires payment upfront and accepts HSA and FSA as payment.

Vitagene does not file insurance claims. However, it may be possible for your doctor to prescribe the test.

Best from “big box” stores

DxTerity

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: saliva sample
  • Results: 1 to 3 days
  • Pros: affordable, readily available
  • Cons: result time varies

Like the Vitagene test, this home test from DxTerity requires a saliva sample. However, you may receive results more quickly, in as little as 1 day. There are also various options to buy this kit, including employer programs, as well as two “big box” retailers: Amazon and Walmart.

Once you’ve purchased the kit and collected your sample, you ship it back to DxTerity in the prepaid package via FedEx. You’ll also need to register the kit and create an account so the lab can quickly send you the results when they’re available.

You have the flexibility of ordering a test kit without first taking a questionnaire. Also, while results may take up to 3 days, it’s possible to receive them in as little as 24 hours.

While DxTerity doesn’t work with insurance, the company provides an invoice with the information you’ll need to submit a claim for possible reimbursement.

Best for budget

Flowflex

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 15 minutes
  • Pros: affordable, rapid test
  • Cons: not as accurate as PCR tests

The Flowflex COVID-19 antigen home test comes from ACON Laboratories. ACON also manufactures the Distinct brand of at-home pregnancy tests and the On Call brand of glucose meters.

Like other over-the-counter coronavirus tests, this one requires you to take a sample from your nasal passage using the sterile swab provided. The FDA granted this test EUA status in October 2021.

Didn’t Flowflex tests get recalled?

Unauthorized or counterfeit versions of Flowflex tests were found in the United States at the end of 2021. The boxes for these tests are blue, labeled with a different product name, and have lot numbers:

  • COV1080232 with the expiration date: 05/13/2023
  • COV1095004 with the expiration date: 09/03/2023

BinaxNOW

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 15 minutes
  • Pros: affordable, rapid test, readily available
  • Cons: not as accurate as PCR tests

By Abbott, the BinaxNOW rapid test is perhaps the quickest at-home COVID-19 antigen testing kit on the market. The kit is available without a prescription from Walgreens. You may purchase online and pick up in the pharmacy drive-thru.

Once you complete the nasal swab test, you should receive results in 15 minutes. You also have the option of getting the test shipped to you, but keep in mind that this will add 3 to 5 business days to the timeline.

Each kit also comes with two tests for the purpose of retesting yourself within 36 hours of the initial test. This test is designed for people ages 15 and older.

While BinaxNOW isn’t covered by insurance, it’s perhaps one of the most affordable options on our list. It has been made widely available at stores including CVS, Walmart, and online through Amazon.

Best PCR test for budget

Amazon COVID-19 Test Collection Kit DTC

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 2–3 days
  • Pros: easy to use, affordable
  • Cons: result time varies

Amazon now has its own FDA-authorized COVID-19 home test kit, which the company claims meet the CDC’s “gold standard.” As perhaps the most affordable out-of-pocket PCR test available, the kit works via a nasal swab.

Once you’ve collected your sample, you’ll need to drop it off at a UPS same-day location. After your sample is received in the lab, you can expect to see your results within 24 hours.

Make sure you register your kit before sending your sample, so the lab can text you the results. This involves linking your information with the collection tube ID on AmazonDx.com.

Currently, Amazon’s PCR test has a 4-star rating. While many users found the experience easy and reliable, others had difficulty with long reporting times for their results.

Amazon’s COVID-19 test is designed for adults 18 years and older.

Best for fast PCR results

Lucira Check It

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: up to 30 minutes
  • Pros: rapid results, affordable, child-friendly
  • Cons: won’t tell you if you’ve had an infection in the past

While most PCR test results may take a few days to process, the Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit is said to offer these results in 30 minutes — all from the comfort of home. The company also claims their test is 98 percent accurate.

Once you’ve used the nasal swab to collect your sample, it’s inserted into a solution vial before being placed into a battery-operated unit. The company says that it can take up to 30 minutes to process a negative result, with some positive results returning in as little as 11 minutes.

The Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit is sold by Nurx, an online company that specializes in providing affordable prescription treatments, such as birth control, STI kits, and migraine treatments. This test was the first home PCR kit and is FDA authorized.

Best for buying in bulk

On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 10 minutes
  • Pros: rapid results, can purchase in bulk, easy to use
  • Cons: customer service is lacking

On/Go is an FDA-authorized rapid antigen test that uses a shallow nasal swab. Results are processed in just 10 minutes.

Each On/Go box comes with two tests. You also have the option to buy the kit in 20, 50, or 80 boxes, totaling up to 160 tests. This may be beneficial for those who need multiple tests for school, work, or large get-togethers.

Before collecting your sample, the company recommends that you download the accompanying On/Go app on your smartphone. This allows you to track multiple test results, while also keeping them organized for sharing with others, if needed.

Overall, users are happy with the ease of use and the low cost. Some users note a lack of customer service when any issues came up.

You can shop for On/Go at the company website, as well as major retailers such as Walgreen’s, Kroger, and Walmart.

Best for travel

iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: nasal swab
  • Results: 15 minutes
  • Pros: affordable, easy to access, rapid results
  • Cons: issues with false-negative results

If the iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test looks familiar, you may have seen it in your mailbox when ordering free tests from COVIDtests.gov, or at test pickup stations throughout the country from local health departments.

This rapid antigen test is authorized by the FDA and works via nasal swab. Each box comes with two tests you may use a few days apart, if needed. You can also order up to 50 packs per person directly from the iHealth Labs website.

One reason why the iHealth test kit is widely available is for its potential use when traveling. You can take the test kit with you and use it at re-entry points. Results show up within 15 minutes.

Like other rapid antigen tests, many users like the ease of use at a low cost, but there are also reports of false-negative results once confirmed with a PCR test. If you’re presented with a negative test result but still have potential symptoms, you may consider re-testing.

Interested in other options for at-home testing?

Our reviews and brand comparisons cover top at-home testing kits, so you can feel confident in your decision to manage your health from home.

TestPriceCollection methodResultsProsCons
Everlywell$$nasal swab1–2 daysquick results, easy to use, eligible for insurance reimbursementhave to be 18+ to use
LetsGetChecked$$nasal swab1–3 daysquick results, eligible for insurance reimbursement, real-time trackingshipping isn’t available to all countries
Pixel by Labcorp$$nasal swab1–2 daysquick results, don’t need insurance, free consultationdifficult to find
Picture by Fulgent Genetics$$nasal swab2 days quick results, free consultation, eligible for insurance reimbursementlimited tests available per day
Vitagene$saliva sample3 saysaffordable, accepts HSA and FSAdoes not file insurance claims
DxTerity$saliva sample1–3 daysaffordable, readily availableresults time varies
Flowflex$nasal swab15 minutesaffordable, rapid testnot as accurate as PCR tests
BinaxNOW$nasal swab15 minutesaffordable, rapid test, readily availablenot as accurate as PCR tests
Amazon COVID-19 Test Collection Kit DTC$nasal swab2–3 dayseasy to use, affordableresults time varies
Lucira Check It$nasal swabup to 30 minutesrapid results, affordable, child-friendlywon’t tell you if you’ve had an infection in the past
On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test$nasal swab10 minutesrapid results, can purchase in bulk, easy to usecustomer service is lacking
iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test$nasal swab15 minutesaffordable, easy to access, rapid resultsissues with false-negative results

With so many at-home testing kits available, it can be difficult to choose the right test. When it comes to at-home COVID testing, it really boils down to how quickly you need the results and how much you’re willing to spend.

Pick tests that are approved by the FDA. To determine if a product is FDA-approved, check the FDA’s website.

If your test is positive and you have an underlying medical condition or are an older adult, notify your healthcare professional.

If your symptoms continue to get worse, seek emergency care immediately.

If you test negative and still feel symptoms, you may need to take another test. You could also have an alternative infection that may require a visit to your doctor.

When should I order a test?

Feeling symptoms. Order a test as soon as you start feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, especially if you don’t want to risk exposing anyone else by getting tested at an in-person site.

If you’re using an antigen test, it may be most effective to test again 12 to 24 hours after your first negative result to confirm your results.

Potential exposure based on an event, activity, or status of another person. If you want a PCR test, keeping an at-home test kit stored is useful for when you need it. If you’re ordering a PCR test for at-home collection, keep in mind that most test providers take a few days to ship the collection kit and at least a couple of days to deliver test results.

Some of the at-home tests on our list require you to answer a few questions about your health to determine your symptoms and what your risk of exposure was. This is to prioritize people who have been exposed or are showing symptoms.

If you’re experiencing severe symptoms, it’s best to seek emergency attention or go to an in-person facility.

Are at-home COVID-19 tests accurate?

At-home COVID-19 tests are generally as accurate as in-person tests.

For people who are vaccinated and have been exposed to COVID-19, the test should be done 3 to 5 days after exposure to be the most accurate.

Even though at-home test kits are processed in the same labs that medical professionals use, there’s no guarantee there won’t be any errors.

It’s important to follow the test provider’s detailed instructions for collection as well as the shipment process to ensure accuracy.

If you receive an error in your at-home test results, the CDC recommends thoroughly reviewing the manufacturer’s instructions, contacting the manufacturer, and consulting with a primary care doctor.

Where can I buy at-home COVID tests?

You can order free tests through your local health department. You can also buy tests online or in pharmacies and retail stores.

Are tests covered by insurance?

Most at-home tests require payment up front. Pixel by Labcorp is the only at-home test kit that doesn’t require payment up front.

You can also contact your health insurance to see whether they will reimburse you for the cost of the test. Some test kit providers, like Everlywell, can provide an itemized receipt for insurance reimbursement.

The FDA continues to authorize new at-home testing options

Aside from our roundup of at-home COVID-19 testing options, the FDA is continuously analyzing and authorizing new over-the-counter options.

Part of this urgency stems from emerging coronavirus variants, such as Omicron, as well as attempts to help stop transmission of the virus.

One area of focus from the FDA is the authorization or approval of more reliable rapid tests for point-of-care or home use. This includes tests like BinaxNOW, which can be processed at home without the need to send them back to a lab.

Also, while increased testing is important in containing the spread of the virus, this plan isn’t intended to replace other proven containment measures such as vaccines, booster doses, and masking indoors.

Insurance companies required to reimburse for home tests

On December 2, 2021, the Biden administration announced plans to require private health insurance companies to reimburse the costs of all at-home COVID-19 test kits.

As of January 15, 2022, health insurance companies are required to reimburse individuals on their health insurance plans for COVID-19 tests or provide free tests to insured individuals.

It’s important to know that at-home testing reimbursement isn’t automatic. As we outlined above with some existing tests, you will need to hold on to your receipts and submit them with a claim to your insurance company to receive money back.

One COVID-19 home test recalled due to false-positive results

In October 2021, the FDA issued a class I recall for at-home COVID-19 test kits manufactured by Ellume. It was discovered that a manufacturing issue of this nasal swab kit was creating false-positive test results.

While the affected Ellume test kits have been removed from store shelves, the FDA has issued information on how you can tell whether your own Ellume COVID-19 kit is from this batch.

The agency advises that you return the product immediately if it was manufactured between February 24 and August 11, 2021.

Phosphorous discontinues their COVID-19 test

Phosphorus was one of the first at-home test providers to receive an EUA from the FDA, and offered results through their RT-qPCR saliva test. It was previously our pick for best saliva test.

As of January 14, 2022, Phosphorous will not process any more samples. The company has discontinued providing COVID-19 testing services to focus fully on gene testing services for preventive healthcare and monitoring other conditions.

Their COVID-19 test kit was $119 without insurance and $49 with insurance.

Hims & Hers COVID-19 saliva test is no longer available

Previously one of our best picks for a saliva-based at-home test, the Hims & Hers COVID-19 screening test is no longer available as of January 2022.

The test was developed by Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory at RUCDR Infinite Biologics at Rutgers University, and Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs.

If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19, it’s important to get tested.

At-home tests are a safe way to get tested without visiting an in-person site and potentially compromising your own or someone else’s health.