For a lot of us, the holiday season consists of spending time with loved ones under the same roof. But during the pandemic, that also means increasing the risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19. To help prevent this, it’s important to get tested regularly (along with getting vaccinated and wearing a face mask, of course). And while there’s no shortage of free testing sites across the country, those pressed for time can trade in the long lines for rapid at-home Covid tests, which can provide results in 15 minutes or less.
But with hundreds of options out there, it’s tough to know which one to buy. Below, we’ve rounded up a few different options—based on FDA authorization and availability— to help make the search easier. That way, you can stock up for your travels over the next few weeks. So far, members of our team have used some, but not all, of these tests. They are all authorized to work in detecting Covid-19.
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Walgreens, Walmart ($14), CVS, Sam’s Club ($14), Rite Aid
Abbot’s BinaxNow kit provides results within 15 minutes after 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 that they can use as official proof of their test result. With two tests in each box, the company recommends taking another one over the course of three days—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 we can say it was relatively straightforward to use.
CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, Simply Medical, Everlywell, Carewell
With the QuickVue at-home test, all you need to do is swab both your nostrils, swirl it in the prefilled tube of solution, and dip in the test strip 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 also comes with two separate tests, so you can take another one within three days. I have used this test, and I found it easy to administer and understand.
Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Walgreens, On/Go
On/Go’s at-home kit comes with a connected app that helps guide you during 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 results, and the app will confirm whether you’re positive, negative, or invalid (at which point you can try again).
CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, ExpressMed, FlowFlex
FlowFlex is the most affordable test on this list. Unlike most of these kits, you’ll only get one test per box. But unlike other tests, 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 though: Swab your nose, dip it in the solution, and squeeze a few drops onto the test card. After 15 to 30 minutes, your results will appear.
Amazon, Wyze ($14), iHealth ($14)
The iHealth Covid-19 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.