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 options—based on FDA authorization and availability—to help make the search easier. You can also now order a third round of free at-home tests from the US government (if you haven’t already). The FDA says it’s currently evaluating the ability of at-home tests to detect the Omicron variant, and all of the test kits listed below are able to detect it. Members of our team have used some, but not all, of these tests.
Updated May 2022: We’ve added new advice on when to take an at-home rapid test, how to spot counterfeit tests, and information on extended shelf lives.
- Save Your Receipts
- 9 Rapid At-Home Covid-19 Tests
- More Accurate (Expensive) Tests
- At-Home Covid-19 Tests to Avoid
- How to Identify Counterfeit Tests
- Check for Kits at Each Retailer
- Delivery Apps That Offer At-Home Tests
- How Accurate Are These Tests?
- When to Take an At-Home Covid Test
- How to Store At-Home Covid Tests
- Check the Expiration Dates
- Using a Negative Test Result for Air Travel
- Best N95, KN95, and Disposable Masks
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Since December, the Biden administration has launched several rounds of rapid at-home tests for distribution across the US. Here’s our guide to ordering your free rapid Covid-19 tests. You’ll receive eight rapid antigen Covid-19 tests per order, bringing the total number of free tests per household to 16.
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.
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 level of accuracy, but it was straightforward to use, with clear instructions.