10 Rapid At-Home Covid-19 Tests—and Where to Find Them

How accurate are rapid at-home tests? Does your insurance cover them? We have answers.

The pandemic is still raging on. Regardless of how small your circle is, it’s still very possible to contract and spread Covid-19. To help prevent this, it’s important to get tested regularly (along with getting vaccinated and wearing an N95 face mask). There are free testing sites across the country, but those pressed for time can trade in the long lines for rapid at-home Covid tests, which can provide results in 15 minutes or so. 

But with hundreds of options out there, it's tough to know which one to buy (if they're even in stock). Below, we've rounded up a few different options—based on FDA authorization and availability—to help make the search easier. The FDA says it's currently evaluating the ability of at-home tests to detect the Omicron variant, and preliminary results suggest the Abbott BinaxNow and Quidel QuickVue test kits are able to detect it (we've highlighted them below with a star). So far, members of our team have used some, but not all, of these tests. 

Updated January 21: We've added new advice, additional test kits, and new details about insurance coverage.

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How Accurate Are Rapid At-Home Covid Tests?

The FDA has granted each of the rapid at-home tests below “emergency use authorization,” but these tests aren't 100 percent accurate. Most at-home rapid antigen tests have a sensitivity of roughly 85 percent (varies by test), according to the FDA. There is a chance you could end up with a false positive or a false negative. Nearly every kit comes with two tests for repeat testing, so you can double-check your results.

If you test negative: Experiencing Covid-19 symptoms but got a negative test result? Take another test, following the manufacturer's instructions (usually within two to three days). The same goes if you test negative and aren't experiencing any symptoms—especially if you've been to a gathering with several people. As per the CDC, it's possible the sample was collected too early in the infection and may show up positive after a few days. If it's still negative, then it's possible any symptoms you have aren't Covid-related.

If you test positive: Take another test to verify the result. If both results are positive, you should quarantine for 10 days and wear a mask around other people. You should also make sure to contact your primary care physician, as well as friends and family that may have been exposed. Those experiencing severe symptoms should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Many of these tests rely on the honor system—mask up and stay home. 

There's a chance your test result may show up as invalid. This means the test didn't work. If this happened with your first test, you can try again with the second one in the box (though you'll need to buy another pack to test again).  

Fluctuating Stock and Insurance Coverage

Snagging a rapid at-home Covid test isn't as simple as walking into a drugstore or clicking Add to Cart. Stock is in constant flux, so you'll need to regularly check online or at physical retail stores. We suggest calling your local drugstores and pharmacies to check for availability. 

To keep up with increased demand, retailers are capping the number of tests per customer. At Walgreens, you're limited to four tests per purchase both in stores and online. Walmart is limiting its customers to six tests for online purchases (there's no limit in-store). At CVS, you'll only be able to purchase six tests at a time.

The cost of at-home kits can add up quickly. The Biden administration has officially launched its initiative to distribute 500 million rapid at-home Covid test kits across the US for free. You can order yours through USPS here. You'll receive four rapid antigen Covid-19 tests but are limited to one order per household. The test kits start shipping in late January.

As of January 15, insurance companies (both private and group health plans) are required to cover eight FDA-approved over-the-counter Covid-19 tests per person each month. There's no limit if the test is ordered through or administered by a health care provider after a clinical assessment (including those who need them for an underlying medical condition). 

Depending on your insurers' network of preferred pharmacies and retailers, you'll be able to order a test online or pick it up in-person free of charge. If your insurance plan doesn't offer a preferred network, you can submit a claim with your receipt to be reimbursed for the full out-of-pocket amount. Order a test outside of your network and you can be reimbursed for up to $12 per test. Have a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA)? You can opt to use either to purchase rapid at-home Covid test kits.

Rapid At-Home Covid-19 Tests

Abbott BinaxNow Antigen Rapid Self-Test Kit

Photograph: Abbott

Walgreens, Walmart ($20), CVS, Sam's Club ($14), Rite Aid

Abbot's BinaxNow kit provides results within 15 minutes of swabbing your nose and inserting the sample into the included test card. You can then use Navica, the companion app, to self-report your results. Those who test negative will receive a temporary encrypted digital pass they can use as official proof of their test result. With two tests in each box, the company recommends taking another one no sooner than 24 hours but no later than 48 hours. A few members of the Gear team have used this test. We cannot verify its accuracy, but it was straightforward to use, with clear instructions.

Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Simply Medical, Everlywell ($25), Carewell ($27)

With the QuickVue at-home test, all you need to do is swab both your nostrils, swirl the swab in the prefilled tube of solution, and dip the test strip in for 10 minutes. If the result is positive, you'll see both a blue line and a pink line appear on the strip. If it's negative, you'll only see a blue line. This kit comes with two tests, so you can take another one within three days. I have used this test—it's easy to administer and understand.

Intrivo Diagnostics On/Go Antigen Test

Photograph: Intrivo Diagnostics

Amazon, Best Buy ($30), Walmart ($30), Walgreens, On/Go, Ro ($30)

On/Go's at-home kit comes with a connected app that helps guide you through the process. Once you create an account, you'll use the test cassette, extraction vial, vial cap, and nasal swab included in the box to collect your sample. After 10 minutes, you'll be prompted to upload a photo of your result, and the app will confirm whether it is positive, negative, or invalid (at which point you can try again). Of all the at-home rapid tests I've tried so far, this was the easiest to use. The steps are simple enough that I'm not reaching for the instructions every single time—something I can't say for the others. 

Amazon, Wyze ($14), iHealth

The iHealth Covid-19 kit comes with a nasal swab, solution, and a test card. After collecting your sample and soaking it in the solution, add three drops of it to the test card. In 15 minutes your result will appear on the card, and you can then upload it to the companion app. If you test negative, you'll get access to an iHealth Pass to use as digital proof. The company says it is “very confident” that its test can detect the Omicron variant, though it's still conducting experiments.

BD Veritor Digital Test Kit

Photograph: BD

Amazon, Everlywell ($35)

Rather than interpreting lines on a test card, the BD Veritor uses a companion app to provide you with digital results. After collecting your sample and waiting 15 minutes, you'll have to scan your test card via the Scanwell Health app to see whether your result is positive or negative. From there, you can store encrypted versions of your results on your phone. Warning: An app is required to use this test, so you should check if your phone is compatible.

Walgreens, Walmart ($20)

InteliSwab looks different from the standard at-home Covid test kit, and it also requires the longest wait time. Instead of a separate nasal swab, this one comes with a flat pad attached to the result window. Once you swab both nostrils with the flat pad, insert the pad into the tube of solution and wait 30 to 40 minutes for your results to appear.

Target ($8), CVS, ExpressMed ($14), Walgreens, Rite Aid, FlowFlex, Costco (5-pack for $48), 

Unlike nearly every other test kit, you only get one test per box with FlowFlex. But unlike the others, the FDA is confident enough in this one that it doesn’t advise you to test yourself again after a few days—unless you feel new symptoms coming on. The process is similar: Swab your nose, dip the swab in the solution, and squeeze a few drops onto the test card. After 15 to 30 minutes, your results will appear. The company says it's likely the test can detect the Omicron variant, but it hasn't verified this just yet.

If you're shopping for the FlowFlex, make sure it's the correct one. Earlier this month, the FDA recalled a counterfeit version called “Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test (Self-Testing)” that hasn't been authorized for sale in the US. Make sure to look for tests called “FlowFlex Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test,” which come in white packaging (the misbranded version comes in a dark blue box). 

Target, CVS ($39)

Ellume's test sets itself apart from others on this list for multiple reasons. For starters, the cassette comes equipped with Bluetooth and connects to your phone via a companion app. Then there's the swab—rather than the standard nasal swab found in most tests, Ellume uses a patented flock-tip that requires going deeper into your nostrils to collect a higher viral concentration. The higher the concentration, the more accurate the diagnosis. 

I wasn't able to stick the swab as far up my nasal passages as I had to (I only made it about halfway), but that's probably not the case for everyone. Ellume's analyzer has a mechanism that detects if a sufficient amount was collected to help reduce the chance of false negatives. I received my results via the app with no issue.

It's worth noting we previously listed Ellume as an “At-Home Covid Test to Avoid” because it was recalled due to “higher-than acceptable false-positive test results” for Covid-19 back in October and November of 2021. In December, security researchers found they were able to fabricate positive or negative test results through Ellume's Bluetooth-enabled test device. But an Ellume spokesperson says that all affected tests have been pulled from store shelves and online retailers since then. Ellume tests currently available for purchase are safe to use and haven't been impacted by the recall—the connected app won't let you proceed with the test if it's the version that was recalled. As for the hack, Ellume has fixed the issue.

More Accurate (and Expensive) Tests

Cue Health's at-home test is perhaps the most luxurious on the market (a sentence I never thought I'd say). If it weren't for its extremely steep price—even if you opt for one of its membership tiers with subscription pricing)—I'd easily recommend it solely for its ease of use (plus the 97.8 percent accuracy). There's no solution, tubes, cassettes, or test strips required. Simply open the connected app, insert a cartridge into the Cue Reader, swab your nose, and insert the swab into the cartridge. After 20 minutes, you'll receive results on your phone. The company says its test can detect the Omicron variant

For a more affordable option (compared to the Cue), there’s also the Detect at-home rapid test. You can opt for the starter kit—which comes with a Detect Hub and a Covid-19 test—or purchase the test ($49) and hub ($35) separately. The hub is reusable, but you’ll have to purchase additional tests each time. Detect uses a companion app to guide you through step-by-step instructions and deliver your results. However, you’ll have to wait an hour, versus 15 to 20 minutes for other tests. The company also claims it can detect the Omicron variant.

Retailer At-Home Covid Test Kit Pages

Depending on where you're located, at-home rapid Covid tests might be sold out. If you want to continue browsing for availability, below is a list of retailers selling kits. 

Delivery Apps That Offer At-Home Covid Test Kits

If you've been experiencing symptoms or don't want to leave your house, you can order an at-home Covid test through a food delivery service app for same-day delivery (if the app is available in your area). Below is a list of apps that offer test kits.

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