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The 9 Best At-Home COVID-19 Tests of 2022 | by heidi


 


At-home COVID-19 tests keep you up to date on your health and give you the answers you need if you think you may have coronavirus. There are a few kinds of tests on the market, with each one offering something slightly different.


“An at-home test is an antigen test, also known as a rapid COVID-19 test, [and provides] results in 15 to 30 minutes,” says Laura Morris, MD, MSPH, a family medicine physician and co-chair of the University of Missouri Health Care’s COVID-19 vaccine committee. “A home collection kit is a swab taken at home that is then mailed to a testing company to run a PCR test, [often needed] before having a medical procedure or pre-travel.”


When looking for an at-home COVID-19 test, keep an eye on the swab method (whether it’s oral or nasal) and the result speed. Additionally, pay attention to the timeline of your symptoms and potential exposure.


Rapid tests are most accurate, says Dr. Morris, when a person is having COVID-19 symptoms. Meanwhile, PCR tests can detect lower levels of the virus, so they are more accurate for asymptomatic cases.


We researched dozens of at-home COVID-19 test kits and evaluated them for test type, swab type, result speed, and pricing. Each of the tests chosen in this article was determined to be the best of these factors.

Here are the best at-home COVID-19 test kits on the market today.1

A Note From the Editors

While all the tests on our list have been cleared by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization, we recommend consulting with a medical professional to confirm the accuracy of any at-home test result if you're highly suspicious your result is incorrect. Our editors are keeping a close eye on any product recalls to give you the best and most up-to-date information.


Due to high demand, these products may be hard to purchase. We recommend refreshing your search throughout the day to find an available test. U.S. residents are now eligible to receive four free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests per household, which can be ordered through the COVIDtests.gov official site. 


Stay up to date on the latest Coronavirus news:


Everything You Need to Know About Free At-Home COVID Test Kits

Should You Report Your COVID-19 Home Test Results to Your Local Health Department?

What Are the Symptoms of Omicron?

Can You Apply for Disability With an At-home Rapid COVID-19 Test?

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test at Walmart

Uses an anterior nasal swab to quickly and comfortably test at home, and each kit includes two tests for maximum accuracy.

Best with App: On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test at Amazon

The rapid test includes a companion mobile app, which guides you through each step—from sample collection to results.

Best Rapid: QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test at CVS

Only takes 10 minutes to provide clear, easy-to-read results.

Best Budget: Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Home Test Kit at CVS

Designed with budget in mind, it requires only one test.

Best for Kids: iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test at Amazon

Its optional mobile app allows the organizer of a small group to monitor multiple testers' results, whether for school or an event.

Best Serial Test: BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit at Everlywell.com

The serial test requires its accompanying app to view results, and includes digital instructions, care support, and quick results.

Best Nasal Swab Test: LetsGetChecked Coronavirus Test at Letsgetchecked.com

Combines a reliable testing method, the nasal swab, with a reliable testing process, polymerase chain reaction.

Best Molecular: Cue Health 3 COVID-19 Tests & Cue Reader at Cuehealth.com

Uses nucleic acid amplification that is equivalent to PCR testing in approximately 20 minutes.

Easiest to Use: InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test at Walmart

No mobile app or assembly is required for usage.

In This Article

Our Picks

What to Look For

Why Trust Verywell Health

Best Overall: BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test

BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Test

View On Walmart

View On CVS

View On Samsclub.com

Pros

Quick results in 15 minutes


Can detect the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19


Comfortable anterior nasal swab


Cons

Must take two tests in 36 hours for accurate results


The BinaxNOW test is a rapid antigen test that provides quick results at home with an anterior nasal swab. After collecting your sample, you transfer it onto a testing card and wait for results to pop up in 15 minutes.


BinaxNOW detects multiple strains of COVID-19, including the Delta and Omicron variants,2 and includes two testing cards so that you can self-test 36 hours apart for maximum accuracy. The test is a quick and reliable option that’s also budget friendly. The only current issue is finding one available at retailers; these tests have grown popular and are out of stock at many places.


This test has been authorized by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization.3 While the tests alone aren't approved for travel by the CDC, customers can order the tests via Abbott’s eMed online portal and have the test supervised in a telehealth visit, then have the test results in the free NAVICA app, which will satisfy the CDC requirements for travel.4


Type: Rapid | Form: Nasal | Number of Tests Per Kit: 2 | Results Speed: 15 minutes


Anterior Nasal Swabs, Explained

“The nasal swabs [for at-home tests] are typically anterior nasal, meaning the part of the nose that is easier to get a Q-tip into, and not the ‘tickle the brain’ type of swabs people may receive at a clinic or hospital.” — Laura Morris, MD, MSPH



Best with App: On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test

On/Go at-Home COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Self-Test

View On Amazon

View On Walmart

View On Best Buy

Pros

App connectivity provides results in 10 minutes


Shallow nasal swab for comfort


Can detect all known major COVID-19 variants


Cons

Mobile app is required to see results


If a test paired with an app is more your speed, ON/GO's COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test includes a companion mobile app, which guides you through each step—from sample collection to results interpretation. The kit includes a shallow nasal swab for extra comfort, with ON/GO offering results in 10 minutes. This test is able to detect all known major COVID-19 variants, including Omicron.


The app stores all historical results, so you can track your past data. After receiving your test results, you can also share them with family or friends.


The tests can be bought in bulk, ideal for groups that need testing or before any major gatherings. However, if you'd rather do without the required app, it may not be the best fit.


This test has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.


Best Rapid: QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test

QuickVue At-Home COVID-19 Test

View On CVS

View On Hy-vee.com

View On Walgreens

Pros

Quick results in 10 minutes


No app required to read or receive results


Comfortable anterior nasal swab


Cons

Must take two tests in 36 hours for accurate results


The QuickVue At-Home OTC test is an excellent option for at-home rapid testing. It can give you a positive or negative result in 10 minutes. However, the company says that you’ll achieve the most accurate results if you test twice over a 36-hour period.


Like all the best antigen tests, the QuickVue involves two anterior nasal swab collections taken over two days. The results show up on a small strip of paper—similar to a pregnancy test—and each kit includes both of the tests you need to fully screen yourself for COVID-19 at home.


However, this test has not been approved by the CDC for travel authorization because different countries and airlines have different requirements for proof of a negative test, and this test is intended for at-home, personal use.


This test has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.6


Type: Rapid | Form: Nasal | Number of Tests Per Kit: 2 | Results Speed: 10 minutes



Best Budget: Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Home Test Kit

Flowflex COVID -19 Antigen Home Test

View On CVS

View On Riteaid.com

View On Walgreens

Pros

Quick results in 15 minutes


One-time testing only unless there are new symptoms


No app or smartphone needed


Cons

Multiple steps required


If you expect to be taking at-home COVID-19 tests regularly, whether for work or personal reasons, you'll likely want to look for an affordable choice. Flowflex's COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Home Test Kit is designed with budget in mind, and only requires one test—unless you experience new symptoms. Able to be used on those ages two and up, for versatile use, it can be tested regardless of whether or not you have symptoms.


Complete with a test cassette, extraction buffer tube, disposable nasal swab, and one package insert, it offers results in just 15 minutes. As a plus, no app or smartphone is needed—fitting if you're looking for a no-frills option.


This test has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.7


Type: Rapid | Form: Nasal | Number of Tests Per Kit: 1 | Results Speed: 15 minutes



Best for Kids: iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test

 iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test

View On Amazon

Pros

Optional app


Quick results in 15 minutes


Cons

Requires multiple steps


The iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test offers testing for those as young as two in your household.


While the nasal swab test kit does require multiple steps, it offers quick results in 15 minutes from its easy-to-read test card. And unlike some other tests, its mobile app isn't required to see results. If you happen to be testing for a group, the accompanying mobile app conveniently allows the organizer of a small group to monitor multiple testers' results, whether they're needed for school or an event.


This test has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.8


Type: Rapid | Form: Nasal | Number of Tests Per Kit: 2 | Results Speed: 15 minutes



Best Serial Test: BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit

BD Veritor at-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit

View On Everlywell.com

Pros

Includes care support and digital instructions


App connectivity provides results in 15 minutes


Cons

Ineligible for Medicare reimbursement


Smartphone compatibility required to see results


Not yet suitable for asymptomatic users


Serial tests may offer more peace of mind, and if you have some time to spare waiting for results, consider the BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test. Complete with a lower nasal swab, it's intended to be used twice over two to three days, with no more than two days in between tests.


Authorized for any testers above the age of two, the test does require a compatible smartphone to download the accompanying app and view results. However, perks include digital instructions, care support, and results in just 15 minutes. Additionally, this kit may be eligible for reimbursement from your health insurance provider, not including Medicare.


Keep in mind that while some COVID-19 tests can be used on the asymptomatic, BD Veritor's kit hasn't yet been evaluated for patients without symptoms of infection.9


This test has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.10


Type: Rapid | Form: Nasal | Number of Tests Per Kit: 2 | Results Speed: 15 minutes



Best Nasal Swab Test: LetsGetChecked Coronavirus Test

LetsGetChecked Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test

View On Letsgetchecked.com

Pros

Comfortable anterior nasal swab


Pricing includes next-day air shipping via UPS


Easily accessible online results


Cons

Results may take several days


Nasal swabs aren’t always comfortable, especially when given by another person. But this at-home nasal swab test is much easier to perform and can be done without supervision.


We like the COVID-19 test by LetsGetChecked because it combines a reliable testing method—the nasal swab—with a reliable testing process—in this case, a PCR test. The swab itself is small and soft, and feels exactly like swiping the inside of your nose with a Q-tip.


The test kit includes a prepaid express shipping label for UPS, so once your sample is collected, you can simply ship it, track the shipment via text and email to make sure it’s on route, then wait one to three days for your results.


This test has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.11


Type: PCR | Form: Nasal | Number of Tests Per Kit: 1 | Results Speed: 1 to 3 days


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Best Molecular: Cue Health Cue Health 3 COVID-19 Tests & Cue Reader

Cue Health

View On Cuehealth.com

Pros

Comes with 3 tests in a pack


App connectivity provides results in 20 minutes


Cons

Expensive


While Cue Health's COVID-19 Test and Cue Reader are more expensive than most other options on the market, this molecular test uses nucleic acid amplification—like that of a PCR test, to detect the virus.


This test is easy for at-home use; once you've taken the nasal swab, you place the swab into the reader. In 20 minutes, your results should be ready to view on the paired smartphone app. If you sign up for a Cue+ membership, you will have access to Telehealth services that will allow you to share your test results with a practitioner.


This test has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.12


Type: Molecular | Form: Nasal swab | Number of Tests Per Kit: 3 | Results Speed: 20 minutes


Easiest to Use: InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test

View On Walmart

View On Walgreens

Pros

No assembly required


No phone or app required


Bilingual instructions


Cons

Minimum age requirement of 15 years old


For a straightforward, user-friendly pick, InteliSwab's COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test minimizes the hassle of at-home testing with just three steps. If you have limited time on your hands, simply collect a sample from your nostrils with the included swab, swirl the test device into tube three, and view your results after 30 minutes.


Ideal if you have a low-tech preference, no smartphone or app is required for usage, and no assembly is needed. But if testing is needed on younger users, it's best to look elsewhere as this kit is suitable for those 15 and up.


If you need a negative test result, it's recommended to plan in advance, as an initial negative result with this kit should be followed up with a second test with a 24-36 hour period in between.


This test has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.13


Type: Rapid | Form: Nasal | Number of Tests Per Kit: 2 | Results Speed: 30 minutes


You can’t beat the ease of use, quick results, and the affordable price tag of the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test (view at Walmart). It’s the total package when it comes to antigen tests, allowing you to self-test at home and see your results 15 minutes later.


If you need a PCR test, you’ll have to collect your sample and send it off to a lab, but the LetsGetChecked Coronavirus Test (view at LetsGetChecked) is user friendly and includes a prepaid UPS express shipping label for fast turnaround.


What to Look for in At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Results Speed

A big deciding factor when it comes to COVID-19 test kits is their results speed time. According to board-certified allergist and immunologist Sanjeev Jain, MD, PhD, PCR tests must be mailed into a lab to test a collected sample, so it can take several days for them to notify you of a positive or negative result.


That may be fine if you’re getting ready to travel, working from home, or self-isolating because of potential exposure, but not if you were exposed several days ago and need to know ASAP if you’re infected.


“An antigen test provides rapid results in 10 to 15 minutes, so this can be an ideal option if immediate results are needed,” says Dr. Jain.


Type of Test

There are two primary types of at-home COVID-19 tests available on the market: antigen tests and PCR tests.


Antigen: An antigen test is “a diagnostic test that detects specific proteins from the virus.”14 Because of this, antigen tests can provide results quickly, thus are often used for rapid tests.


However, these tests are most accurate when there’s a high viral load present. Because of this, people who have COVID-19 and only have a small viral load at the time of the test could potentially receive a false negative result.


That being said, if you know you’ve been exposed to the virus, they can be a good first step to take to prevent spreading the illness.


Molecular: A molecular test is similar to an antigen test in that they both can detect if you have a current COVID-19 infection. Specifically, a molecular test is diagnostic in detecting “genetic material from the virus."15 

While molecular tests take longer due to lab processing, with a speed of up to seven days depending on your location, you can rest assured that they’re more accurate than antigen tests. The test is considered “highly sensitive,” resulting in minimal false negative results.16 This type of test is best if you’re planning ahead and can stand to wait a bit longer for results, and are prioritizing test accuracy. 


A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is a type of molecular test. It is “a diagnostic test that detects genetic material from the virus.”14 PCR tests amplify the viral genetic material, which makes them more sensitive and thus more likely to be accurate. However, the added amplification step requires in-lab testing, which takes longer to process results.


“A PCR test may be a good option if you have been recently exposed and are not symptomatic because it can detect the virus at lower levels in the body,” says Dr. Jain. He adds that while antigen tests give quicker results, they require more of the virus to be present in the body for a positive test result. “Antigen tests are an accurate way to test for COVID-19 in symptomatic persons.”

Accuracy and Recalls

It’s important to note that a number of at-home COVID-19 tests have been recalled for false positives or negatives. We are closely monitoring the recalls in this product category and will update this document immediately as needed.


Method of Collection

There are three ways a COVID-19 test sample can be collected: nasal swab, oral swab, and saliva “spit tube.” You should take the user into consideration before choosing a test—kids, for example, may be more willing participants to a spit test than a nasal swab—but it’s important to know that not all collection methods are created equal.


“Studies have shown that nasal tests and saliva tests are more accurate in detecting COVID-19 than throat swabs, and have become the best-practice standard when performing COVID-19 testing,” says Dr. Jain.


In fact, a 2021 study showed saliva and nasal samples to be equally sensitive in detecting the virus across variable stages of illness.17


FDA Emergency Use Authorization

Just because your local drugstore is selling it doesn’t mean a certain test is a smart purchase. If it hasn’t been authorized by the FDA, you should pass it over for one that has. Our roundup only includes tests that have been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.


“The FDA maintains a list of tests that have authorization18, and using an FDA-authorized test ensures that it meets standards for performance and quality control,” explains Dr. Morris. “Many pharmacies sell devices that are authorized, and these are typically not costly. Be cautious of unbranded or very cheap tests, especially those that may come without instructions.”

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do at-home COVID-19 tests work?

There are two main types of at-home COVID-19 tests: PCR and antigen. Depending on your health priorities, you may want to look for one over the other.


“A PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, home test [obtains saliva or] a sample of cells from the nasal passages, which is mailed back to a lab to be tested for COVID-19 DNA,” explains Dr. Sanjeev Jain. “If COVID-19 DNA is detected within the sample, the test would be considered positive, and if no DNA is detected, it would be considered negative.”


But because DNA testing needs to be done in a lab, the rapid antigen tests performed entirely at home use a different metric to determine the presence of the virus.


“[Rapid tests] are different in that they check for antigens, which are a specific type of protein found on the COVID-19 virus,” says Dr. Jain. “The COVID-19 antigen tests are able to give almost immediate at-home results by telling you whether or not the proteins found on the COVID-19 virus are detected in the sample.”


Are at-home COVID-19 tests accurate?

If you’re not a healthcare professional, can you trust the results you receive from taking samples of your own bodily fluids and testing them for COVID-19? Surprisingly, yes—but with some caveats.


“The ability to detect COVID-19 in a self-collected sample is very comparable to a sample collected by a healthcare provider,” says Dr. Sanjeev Jain, “[although the accuracy of PCR and antigen] tests can be impacted by the timing of the test and the quality of the specimen collected.” 


In other words, the person collecting the sample is a less impactful variable than the exposure timeline or your symptom profile—a rapid test performed on an asymptomatic person is less likely to come back positive than a PCR test, even if a doctor collects the sample.


When taking an antigen test, you may need to test once and then wait a few days (when your viral load could be higher) to test again for the most accurate results. This may be needed if you develop symptoms after the first antigen test.


“It’s important to follow the specific instructions of each test as written by the manufacturer, including how to collect the sample, how to handle it, and how to interpret the test strip or read-out device,” explains Dr. Laura Morris. “Each one is slightly different, and a patient should not assume that they know how to perform a test based on using one in the past.”


Can you use an at-home COVID-19 test to be approved to travel?

If you’re pressed for time, or limiting interaction outside your home, you may be considering using an at-home COVID-19 test for travel purposes. 


According to CDC guidelines, you can use a self-test, also known as a home test, if it’s a COVID-19 viral test that has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA or a relevant national authority in the location where the test is done. 


While many at-home tests can be done independently, for travel intentions, the testing process needs to include a “a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection."19 


Additionally, the telehealth provider needs to confirm your identity, observe the sample and testing process, confirm the positive or negative result, and issue documentation that meets the CDC’s Order requirements. 


Once reaching the airport, you may be requested to present official documentation of your test results—with airlines needing to review and confirm your identity and test results. 


If you’re traveling internationally, be prepared for some nations to restrict tests that aren’t authorized at the travel destination. Plan ahead by contacting destination for further information before you embark. 


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