Updated March 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
iHealth Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test
Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test
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Bottom Line

The ease of use makes this a good product for first-time and seasoned users, according to our medical expert.


Gives results in 15 minutes. Comes with 2 tests. Easy to use the test on yourself or others in your household. Can be used with companion app to check results of family members.


Has a "use by" date that is sooner than other tests on the market.

Best Bang for the Buck
Siemens Healthineers Clinitest Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test
Siemens Healthineers
Clinitest Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test
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Efficient Results
Bottom Line

A great test that our expert recommends for its accuracy and ease of use.


Authorized FDA approval. The test results are easy to read and understand. The instructions for gaining the results are very informative and well-written. Gives results in 15 minutes.


Some users wish it had a QR code for online results.

DxTerity COVID-19 Saliva at-Home Collection Kit
COVID-19 Saliva at-Home Collection Kit
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Easiest to Use
Bottom Line

A non-invasive test with accurate readings; earns our expert's approval for using saliva instead of a nasal swab.


Uses only saliva to test, and avoids nostril. Prepaid shipping. Designed for both symptomatic and asymptomatic users. Authorized by the FDA for emergency use.


May take a while for results.

Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Home Test
DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Home Test
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More Comfortable
Bottom Line

Provides results in just 15 minutes with softer nasal swabs.


Rapid antigen test. Produces results in just 15 minutes. Two tests per kit. Results in 99.8% specificity. Softer-tipped swabs are more comfortable in your nose. Works with variants.


May yield false positives.

Quidel QuickVue at-Home OTC COVID-19 Test Kit
Labcorp Pixel
Covid-19 At-Home Test
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A well-designed test that allows for accurate, lab-tested results, according to our expert.


The collection kit includes everything you need and is easy to use. The lab results are more accurate than rapid tests. The test is a bit less invasive than others. Results can be found online.


Waiting for lab results can take a while.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best at-home Covid tests

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, diagnostic tests of any kind were challenging to find, and their use was generally limited to people showing active signs of infection. The tests had to be administered in a medical facility, and the results could take a week to obtain.

Later, a rapid form of the test using nasal cells or saliva could detect the presence of antigens within 30 minutes, but the test still had to be administered in a lab or doctor’s office.

covid test
You can use an at-home Covid test regardless of your vaccination status

Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have approved several Covid tests for home use, although some still require analysis by an outside laboratory. One of the main selling points of these tests is privacy. If a person needs to know their current status, an at-home test eliminates the need to schedule a doctor’s appointment or stand in line at a busy testing center.

At-home Covid tests are becoming more widely available, and it helps to know how they work, how long it takes to get results, and how accurate they are.

Dyk1 at-home covid test
Expert Tip
At-home Covid tests are single-use. Throw away each test after one use as tests are not useful afterward.
BestReviews Medical Expert

How to buy the best at-home Covid tests

Who should use an at-home Covid test?

There are a number of circumstances in which a self-administered test is preferable to one performed in a medical facility. Some people don’t have easy access to a medical professional, and ordering an at-home test provides an easier way to get fast results.

Employees who work at home can take an at-home Covid test whenever they start to experience any of the common symptoms associated with the virus. Many companies offer rapid-result testing for in-office employees but not necessarily for those working from home.

Some people need to know their current status as quickly as possible in order to make safer decisions about travel, family gatherings, or public events. Having immediate access to a rapid antigen test at home makes this process easier.

How does an at-home Covid test work?

There are currently two methods for determining a Covid infection: detect the viral presence (antigen test) or search for Covid DNA (PCR test). Each method has advantages and disadvantages, but both should provide a fairly accurate assessment of the tester’s current status.

Antigen test: This is the more rapid form, which gives you results in 30 minutes or less. The swab from the patient’s nasal cavity is placed in a special cartridge containing a reactant fluid. The reactant measures the presence of the Covid virus (viral load) in the specimen. Accuracy with a rapid antigen test can vary, however, so a second test at least 24 hours later is recommended.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test: The second form of at-home test examines a nasal swab or saliva for fragments of viral DNA. The PCR test is considered more accurate than the rapid antigen test, but the specimen must be sent to an outside laboratory for proper analysis, and the results can take several days to get. At-home PCR Covid tests are notably more expensive too. 

Expert Tip
Store at-home covid tests in a room-temperature setting.
BestReviews Medical Expert

Sample collection

One important consideration when comparing at-home Covid tests is the way the test samples are collected. There are two common methods: nasal swab or saliva. 

Nasal swab: While professional testing centers tend to swab deep inside the nasal cavity, most at-home tests only require a shallow nasal swab. The user places a sterile cotton swab into each nostril and turns it several times to obtain a sufficient sample. The swab is then placed in a cartridge for antigen testing or sealed in a bag for PCR testing.

Saliva: The other collection method is far less invasive, but it does have its own set of rules to follow to make sure the sample is of good quality. The user must refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, or chewing gum for 30 minutes before depositing saliva in a sterile collection tube. This is done for the more accurate PCR test because the laboratory requires a DNA sample. (The rapid antigen test does not work with saliva.)

What are the features of at-home Covid tests? 

Sample collection kit

Whether it’s a rapid antigen test or a lab-analyzed PCR test, every at-home Covid test should contain all of the items needed to complete the process. Users should not have to purchase any additional items to perform the test, such as swabs or sanitizers. Many test kits include a second set of collection tools to perform a retest, but not all of them do, so it pays to read the contents on the packaging or product information page.

Shipping and handling

Because a PCR test must be shipped to a lab for analysis, manufacturers include a special shipping container and postage to make the delivery process as easy as possible. The samples should be protected from the elements and any potential source of contamination. There should be no need for users to purchase additional postage or packaging material. The prepaid postage covers the cost of express or priority mail.

Security and privacy

The purchase and use of an at-home Covid test may be a very private issue for a number of users, and manufacturers do take steps to maintain confidentiality. While the results of a rapid antigen test might be challenging to keep private, the results of a PCR test are often coded before release, and only the intended recipient should have access to them. If security and privacy are an issue, be sure to choose an at-home Covid test that maintains confidentiality throughout the process.

Expert tip
Do not use the test beyond the expiration date because an expired test can provide false results.
BestReviews Medical Expert

How much do at-home Covid tests cost?


There are inexpensive at-home Covid tests available in pharmacies that cost less than $20. These are generally antigen tests that provide rapid results after a shallow nasal swab. There is usually a second test available to confirm or recheck the original results.


Many at-home Covid tests in the $30 to $65 range are essentially sample collection kits, not necessarily rapid-response antigen tests. The specimen must still be sent to a professional lab for analysis, and a confidential report is delivered within a few days. Some advanced PCR testing is possible, but most likely the initial test will be for antigens. 


The most expensive at-home Covid tests cost $100 or more, but the results are comparable to professional lab testing in many cases. A PCR test that checks for the presence of viral DNA fragments is more likely to cost this much. 

Dyk2 at-home-covid-test
Expert Tip
If you test negative but have flu-like symptoms, the best approach is to retest the next day or call your doctor for a clinic test.
BestReviews Medical Expert


  • Read all of the instructions thoroughly first. The entire specimen collection and the testing process rely heavily on proper techniques and handling. Many kits contain additional collection materials, but contamination of a sample can lead to false positive or negative results.
  • Choose between at-home or laboratory results. Before investing in any type of at-home Covid test, decide if you need a rapid yes/no response at home or can afford to wait for outside lab results.
  • Prepare for a positive result. A positive result from an at-home Covid test is only the beginning of the process. You might need to schedule a medical exam, contact your employer, prepare for self-quarantine, and notify any recent contacts of your status.
  • Wait several days after possible Covid exposure to self-test. If a close contact informs you of their positive Covid status, it’s best to wait a few days before taking an at-home Covid test. Testing too soon after possible exposure can lead to a false negative result.
covid test child
An adult should collect a nasal specimen from a child who is between the ages of 2 and 14.


Q. How accurate are at-home Covid tests?

A. The goal of many at-home tests is to provide users with a rapid yes/no result, and the accuracy rate is comparable to other forms of at-home testing. One commonly used antigen test failed to detect 15 infections out of 100, meaning a 15% false negative rate. However, only 1 case in 100 resulted in a false positive. At-home tests don’t perform the more accurate PCR test for the presence of viral DNA.

Q. Why are these at-home tests so expensive?

A. There are only a few companies authorized by the FDA to produce at-home covid tests, so the laws of supply and demand influence the retail price per test. The technology used in the tests is also very advanced and proprietary. Some companies will seek reimbursement from medical insurance companies whenever possible, however.

Q. Is a saliva or nasal swab test better?

A. Both forms of sample collection yield fairly accurate results, so it’s often a matter of personal preference. Many find the saliva collection process to be less invasive than the nasal swab method, but the specimen may be more easily contaminated if it isn’t handled correctly. An at-home nasal swab collection doesn’t require the deep tissue contact of a standard laboratory test.

Q. I just had a positive result on my at-home test. When should I test again?

A. If you’re showing symptoms of a Covid-19 infection, you might want to get a more accurate PCR test performed by a medical professional. If you have a second at-home Covid test available (many test kits include two), you should wait 24 hours after the first test before performing the second test. 

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