UPDATED: How to find cheapest Covid tests for departure including USA, day 2, 8 and Test to Release

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I ran this article some months ago, but now that the rules have changed and those fully vaccinated can use a day 2 lateral flow test, I thought it was worth an update with some new prices. 

There are now hundreds of companies offering Covid tests and trying to find the cheapest and best options can be quite bewildering. In this article, we will look at some of the cheapest tests with reliable companies and how to find testing near you or by post.

 

Using a comparison site

Just like car insurance, there is now a website that will help you find the cheapest tests sorted by cost, recommended, home or postal testing. It covers pretty much every approved testing company in the UK, so you should find something nearby as it searches by postcode for local tests. 

Covid Testing Network is the one I have been using rather than trying to find out which ones are government-approved as the government list is impossible to sort through. 

First, you chose what the test is for, if it’s for day 2 lateral flow or day 2 and 8 PCR for thoseunvaccinated it will only show approved providers for those tests.  

All providers added to the listings have met the government’s minimum standards for providers of Day 2 & 8 Testing, Day 2 Testing, Test to Release for international travel, or General Covid-19 testing. 

Here are the results for a green list trip I’m hoping to do this week. I’ve selected at-home testing for a day 2 test but you can also choose in-clinic which may be more important for an outbound test that is time-sensitive. 

It’s not immediately obvious but you can change how they are sorted (default is by price) or filter by verified providers by clicking on “Providers”.

You will notice that some providers say they are “Trusted” and some are “Verified”. 

Trusted providers

Covid Testing Network displays customer satisfaction scores for trusted test providers. While for day 2 and 8 tests the timing of results doesn’t really matter, when you need your results back for a flight, I would be checking the company’s review scores very closely. Providers who are marked as ‘Trusted’ indicate that they are the best in class provider of Covid-19 testing as evidenced by the customer satisfaction scores which have to be above a minimum level. 

Verified providers

Providers with a Verified stamp on their listing have confirmed that their listing information is accurate, and regularly update CTN to incorporate any changes to pricing or specifics.

I recommend checking reviews on Trustpilot for extra peace of mind. 

 

USA departure tests

Be very careful when buying tests for the US. If you decide to go for the cheaper antigen (lateral flow test) then it must be supervised by video if you do a self-test. Some companies are still selling tests that are not supervised by video saying they are OK for the US.

Companies that do supervised video lateral flow tests are:

You can see the full rules for entering the US and testing here.

 

Using airlines discount codes

Qured test kit

It’s also worth then looking to see if there is a discount code available via one of the airlines. Mostof them don’t require you to be flying with them to use the codes. However, the choices are quite limited, particularly for in-person pre-departure testing outside the major cities. 

 

British Airways

 

!

Here is the full list of the discounted prices BA offer:

SuppliersPCR testsLateral flow testsUK arrivals: day 2UK arrivals:  day 2 & 8Test to ReleaseAvailabilityUse discount code
Breathe Assured£33Home tests
– supervised online
Discount automatically applied
Chronomics£17.09£17.09£122.78Home testsDiscount automatically applied
CityDoc£75£25£104.99Home tests and London clinicsBA35
Collinson£55.20£23£23£110.40£76
(LAMP)
At airport testsBA20OFF
Eurofins£40.41£31.06£93.96£40.41Home tests and national test centresBA2021
Excalibur£55.50£19.50£19.50£111£59.50Home testsDiscount automatically applied. Multi-buy discount available
ExpressTest£57£33.60£24£124£66At airport and national test centresBA21
Halo£74.76£133.56£74.76Home testsHALOBA16
Medicspot£63.75£24.65£24.65£127.50£75.65Home testsBA
Qured£58.65£18.70£18.70£117.30Home testsBATRAVEL15
Randox£43£21.50£21.50£86£43Home tests and in clinic (inc. airports)BritishAirways
Screen4£45£20£90£45Home tests and in clinicHome tests:
BAHT

In clinic:
BACT
Wren Healthcare£89£155£89In clinic and home visitsDiscount automatically applied

Chronomics are the cheapest with a BA discount for a day 2 test and reports so far are that they are reliable. I will be using them on my next trip so I will do a full report then. 

You can find the testing homepage here. 

 

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin seemed to have stopped giving as many discounts as before. 

  • ExpressTest offer Rapid Antigen tests at London Heathrow Results within 30 mins. The price is £34 with promo code VIRGIN21. ExpressTest also offer a Day 2 test that can be taken when you arrive at the airport from a green list country.
  • Collinson offer Rapid Antigen and Antibody tests at Manchester airport for £40 with results within 60 mins. Rapid PCR tests are also now available for £82.50 with results within 3hrs.
  • Project Screen
    • Lateral Flow Antigen Fit to Fly Test Kit £22 self-collection
    • Departure testing PCR Fit to Fly Test Kit £55. Results within 24 hours after receipt at the laboratory.
    • Pre-departure test: Observed PCR Fit to Fly Test £60
    • Day 2 Lateral Flow Antigen Test £19.50

You can find the testing homepage here. 

 

Easyjet

Collinson – 20% off using this special order page.

Available at London Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, London City, London Luton, Manchester, East Midlands Airport as well as St Pancras and the O2 in Greenwich. Collinson also offer departure and arrival self-test kits to take from the comfort of your own home

Prices without the discount:

  • PCR test fit to fly – £69
  • Rapid PCR fit to fly – results in 3 hours costs from £95
  • Lateral Flow fit to fly (Antigen) £40
    Accepted for USA, Italy, Germany, Croatia, and several other countries
    Results within 45 to 60 mins
  • Day 2 lateral flow £28.75

Randox – Discount code: easyjet2021

  • Day 2 test
    • Home delivery from £21.50 with discount code
    • From £18.95 for click-and-collect

The Easyjet Covid testing offer page is here.

 

Cathay Pacific

Collinson Heathrow T2 – 20% off your test, enter discount code ‘CATHAY20’

Corona Test Centre Receive 10% off your test, enter discount code ‘CATHAYPACIFIC’.

Express Test

  • For a 3-hour pre-departure PCR test: Use code CATHAY21 at checkout to receive your 3-hour PCR test and Fit to Fly certificate from £115.
  • For a standard pre-departure test: Use code CATHAY21 at checkout to receive your next day PCR test and Fit to Fly certificate from £57.

HALO
Home Testing for pre-departure, day 2, day 8 and day 5 test to release.

Receive 15% off your test, simply enter discount code ‘CATHAYHALO’ when booking your test.

Randox – Use code ‘CATHAY’ to receive a discount on the day 2 lateral flow test which is then reduced to £21.50 for home delivery or from £18.95 for click-and-collect

The Cathay offer page is here. 

10 Comments on "UPDATED: How to find cheapest Covid tests for departure including USA, day 2, 8 and Test to Release"

  1. OK, this is getting silly now.
    G7 summit leaders and their entourage come to the UK, no quarantine required. When folks think the cameras are off the politicians are slapping each other on the back and chatting face to face. Who knows whats happening behind closed doors.

    The EURO 2020 football finals are to be held in the UK. The tournament reps from each country are allowed to enter the UK (a fair few I should add, not 1 or 2), apparently some from red list countries, no quarantine required, no isolation in a hotel for 1750 quid for 10 days, oh, and why 10 days? does covid just dissapear after 10 days ?. And the government excuse thats this is part of the “opening up of larger scale venues experiment”!!!!! Seriously, really !!!

    Why oh why are we being subjected to this constant barrage of “you must be tested” to do this, to do that when it’s obvious that if your not the general public these rules don’t apply !!

  2. The UK Government need to look at what Singapore have just announced – possible opening by end August, breath tests for Covid with results in 2 mins and no quarantine for anyone who has had two jabs.
    Might find myself there for this Christmas if that’s the case!

    • Yes Singapore have definitely grasped the fact that we have to live with Covid now. I’m just hoping that Singapore follow through with it. Be great to have somewhere in Asia open.

  3. Regarding Nigelh post above, I have a relative flying in on a European country’s private jet with president, prime minister etc, and they are all to take a PCR before travel and on arrival and then daily. This testing regime falls on kings and commoners alike. This compares to us in the general population only required to do a Day 2 lateral flow.

  4. Hi,
    The CDC guidelines for travel to US from 8th November state for unvaccinated (children) travellers: ‘You have arranged be tested with a COVID-19 viral test 3-5 days after arrival in the U.S.’

    It doesn’t state if a Rapid Antigen is sufficient and whether we can use a self test one and do it in the hotel and if and where the result would need to be logged? Or do we have to book a test with a provider and the test be supervised? Do you have any further info?

    Also do children count as vaccinated in the US with one dose?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    • The tests after arrival are not like a day 2 test here. They are not monitored or enforced. So a self test should be sufficient. I am not aware of whether they have to be logged but I’d be surprised if they did. The rules for childrens vaccines are the same as adults as far as I have seen. So the full course is needed

  5. Are the Boots rapid antigen test ( completed by staff at boots) sufficient for US, for information they are £30, if there is one nearby you

  6. Hi – For a fully vaccinated UK national will any type of supervised Fit to Fly Lateral Flow Antigen tests (Video, at Drive Through testing facility or at Boots or similar) suffice for a pre-departure test for travel to the US?

    • Yes. As long as it’s either done by a professional or someone can see you taking it to guide you i.e video link they should be fine. It’s always worth mentioning that it’s for the US as I’m not sure if there is any particular information they need on the certificate as each country is different but in all the official pages I have read there is nothing out of the ordinary that I have seen.

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