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The 7 best rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests that you can still buy online

Results are just minutes away.

At-home COVID-19 tests to get rapid results.

At-home COVID-19 tests to get rapid results.

Women's Health

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, it's important to take charge of your health and monitor your body for signs and symptoms (even if you're fully vaccinated). Since cold symptoms and COVID symptoms can sometimes look and feel similar, experts recommend testing yourself whenever you experience symptoms of viral illness. And, yes, that goes for people with their booster shots, too.

Thankfully, plenty of companies now offer tests you can do at home, no prescription required. But how does a rapid, at-home test work? These tests are designed to detect viral proteins called antigens, according to The New York Times. Usually, the kits contain a nasal swab. After swabbing the inside of your nostrils, you'll have to dip the swab in a small container of chemicals. Then, around 15 minutes later, the test will provide your results. Just make sure to read the instructions carefully, as each test differs slightly. 

While at-home tests are generally considered less accurate compared to P.C.R. tests, or polymerase chain reaction tests, they can still provide accurate results. (P.C.R. tests are those swabs that go all the way up your nose. They amplify your DNA to detect the virus.) These rapid tests will also be more reliable for people who are showing symptoms and are the most sensitive during a person's first week of symptoms, research shows, per The New York Times.

And soon, your insurance may even cover an at-home, rapid test. Starting on Jan. 15, all FDA-approved tests must be covered by insurance providers, The White House announced on Instagram. "Individuals covered by a health insurance plan who purchase an FDA-approved, over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test will be able to have those tests covered by their insurance," the post read.

But as you're shopping, it's also important to make sure you don't grab a fake test by mistake. "Using these fake products isn't just a waste of money, it increases your risk of unknowingly spreading COVID-19 or not getting the appropriate treatment," the FTC said in a press release. A great first step is to consult the FDA's lists of approved antigen tests, approved molecular tests, and known fake tests.

Also, consider researching the company you're buying from before you make a purchase to make sure they have positive reviews from previous customers. "Think about the source of the review," the FTC added. "Ask yourself: Where is this review coming from? Is it from an expert organization or individual customers?" And, pay with a credit card if you can, so you can dispute any charges if your order never arrives.

So, while you're masking up, staying six feet apart from others, and loading up on hand sanitizer, here are eight at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests to add to your shopping cart:

On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test

This test takes ten minutes from start to finish and also comes with an app. The app can store your entire family's results, plus it provides detailed instructions to follow. No lab required!

FDA-approved? No

Reviewers say: "Great product, seamless app, non invasive. I have to test one a week for work and this test is my go to."

BinaxNOW COVID‐19 Antigen Self Test

The BinaxNOW nasal swab test promises results in just 15 minutes—but if you're returning from a trip, be warned that this test doesn't meet the CDC's COVID-19 testing requirements for entering the U.S. from another country.

However, it's quick, simple, and works for children as young as two years old. 

FDA-approved? Yes

Reviewers say: "It's a long time coming but finally we have an accurate, at-home rapid antigen test. I've used it twice on my kids so far, really easy and great for peace of mind. Easy to use and instructions were clear."

Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag At-Home Test Kit

Already have your flight booked? No worries—this version of the BinaxNOW test is FDA authorized. So, while specific requirements vary by airline, these tests are a better bet for international travel. 

The results will be sent straight to an app on your phone, and the tests come in a six-pack, so there's enough for the whole family to get tested.  

FDA-approved? Yes

iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
Alpha XR

This two-pack of tests comes in at just under $20. Simply download the company's app on your smartphone and follow the instructional video for a step-by-step guide.

FDA-approved? Yes

Reviewers say: "You'll have your results within 15 minutes. The photos show how to read the results as well as both of our negative test results. Easy peasy!"

BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit
BD Veritor

You'll need your smartphone to process these test results. After using the nasal swab, snapping a photo ensures that your test is easy to read and simple to interpret. No more guesswork!

FDA-approved? Yes

Reviewers say: "No more looking at lines yourself and not being sure whether you did the whole thing correctly. I wish they had had this test months ago!"

Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit
Alpha XR

In under 30 minutes, you'll have a result with this test that claims 98% accuracy. It comes with all the supplies you need and can be taken by anyone ages two and up. 

This is also another kit that's FDA-authorized for one use, instead of two. So, unless new symptoms show in the next few days, it's one test and done!

FDA-approved? No

Reviewers say: "When our daughter received a (false) positive result from an inexpensive antigen test, she was distraught at the thought of being sick herself and potentially infecting the rest of us. We had these tests on hand and quickly tested our entire family. In less than 30 minutes, we had the results -- we were all negative. No comparison to having to schedule another round tests while completely quarantining from her and the outside world!"

Cue COVID-19 Tests And Reader
Cue Health

This at-home test agreed with P.C.R. tests over 90% of the time, according to a study from Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease. After swabbing your nose, the Cue reader delivers your test results to the Cue Health App on your phone in just 20 minutes.

And, the swabs last nine months—so stock up now, for peace of mind later. (You can also buy more tests on Cue's website, once you have the rechargeable reader.)  

FDA-approved? No


Hearst Newspapers participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.