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Should I book my cheap PCR Covid-19 test with Randox, Express Test or another company?

From the cheapest covid-19 test companies to the firms who claim to guarantee your results will arrive on time, Which? takes a look into travel test providers

Should I book my cheap PCR Covid-19 test with Randox, Express Test or another company?

Choosing a trustworthy and affordable testing provider is a crucial part of your holiday planning checklist. But the government’s list of hundreds of providers gives no indication of quality, so we’ve examined the price, refund policies, turnaround times and customer service reviews of some of the most popular test providers to help you decide.

We’ve found that some companies such as C19 offer guarantees that results will arrive within 24 hours, and Collinson has recently announced the launch of rapid PCR testing with results provided in under three hours at its Heathrow testing centre. Testing for All limits sales to help ensure it meets demand. Others, like Randox and Chronomics offer discounts when booked via airlines and holiday firms and airlines to reduce holiday costs.

Factors like refunds, speedy results, fair pricing, and ability to keep up with demand aren’t a requirement for addition to the list of accredited government providers. As a result, thousands of people have had tests fail to arrive on time, meaning longer stints in quarantine or worse, being refused entry to their flight.

To help pick a good test company ahead of a trip abroad, Which? has done the legwork to help inform your research. Below we share our tips on how to choose a good provider, and which firms you should consider.

Seven things to check before you book

Make sure you’re up to date with your destination’s entry requirements, and confirm the exact test needed (including sensitivity and specificity of the test).

Is it an accredited provider?
A company having easy-to-access information about their UKAS (The United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accreditation status is usually a good sign. You can look to see whether the company is accredited by UKAS) here. All companies which appear on the government’s list of providers have at least self-declared that they meet the required standards. Laboratories and firms that carry out testing in clinic have to go through UKAS three-stage accreditation process.

Do bear in mind that all companies can initially self-declare that they meet the government’s minimum requirements for four weeks before moving onto ‘stage two’. Currently only around 60 of companies on the government’s list of over 400 providers are fully UKAS accredited (i.e. at ‘stage three’).

Does it grant refunds?

Look for companies who grant refunds for travel tests if results aren’t returned in time – a number of them on the government’s list of providers do not.

Not only do fair refund policies mean your money is safe if your travel plans change, but they are a good indicator that the company is confident it can provide the service. You might also want to check the notice requirements for a refund if cancelling a test or appointment. For example, some firms will refund up to 24 hours prior to a testing appointment, while others may expect a week’s notice if your holiday is cancelled. Remember to watch out for admin fees, too.

Which? also looked for companies that offered timeframe guarantees, and refunds in the event that test results weren’t delivered on-time. C19 Testing was the only company we found which refunded customers if their ‘under 24 hours’ deadline was not met for outbound ‘fit to fly’ PCR results and day 5 test to release results.

Find a company that limits sales for on time delivery
Your test provider should be confident it can meet demand and deliver tests back on time. One way to check they’re taking precautions is to look on their website and FAQs to note whether they limit the number of at-home tests sold, such as Testing for All. The site might also list certain options as ‘sold out’, which can be another indication of good stock monitoring.

Look for discounts from your tour op/airline
Many airlines and tour operators have partnered with test providers to offer cheaper tests. Some, such as First Choice say they have vetted the testing companies they recommend. Knowing your tour operator recommends a company – especially if the operator guarantees a fee free amendment for your holiday when tests are not returned on time ahead of departure adds some reassurance.

Consider delivery/in person for speed purposes
If you’re nervous about calculating the time frames for tests, or anticipate complications attempting a test at home, visit a clinic instead. This is not necessarily more expensive. For those on a tight deadline, rapid PCR tests with results delivered within three hours are also available, though currently only in Collinson’s Heathrow testing site.

Check social media reviews
Social media is the best way to get an idea of customer experiences. We took into account whether each company had an established Facebook page, and if so, its review rating out of 5 (when displayed). A page’s rating is based on reviews and recommendations from the public, and only Facebook pages that allow recommendations (and have enough of them) can show a rating. So, lack of a decent rating could be a red flag.

We also searched for each firm on Twitter and counted the number of negative reviews appearing on the ‘Latest’ page for each set of results, detailing the timeframes for each. A shorter timeframe may indicate a higher number of recent complaints overall for the company.

Which? has not yet reviewed any of these companies, and therefore does not endorse any of the providers. The below information is intended to help inform your own research.

Who would Which? Travel experts book with?

Across all of the companies we looked into, C19 Testing and Testing For All stood out. C19’s comprehensive refund policy suggests a confidence in its ability to meet fulfil customer orders, which should in turn offer peace of mind. Testing For All limits sales to meet demand and deadlines and has mostly positive customer reviews on social media.

Should I book a covid test with Breathe Assured?

Is it a fully accredited provider?

Yes. Medical Assured, its parent company, is fully UKAS accredited.

Breathe Assured does not provide PCR tests – instead, it provides vouchers for its customers to book PCR tests through Randox (see below).

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
No. Breathe Assured only offers supervised virtual appointments using an at-home test.

Does it grant refunds?
Mostly, no. Breathe Assured says it is unable to accept returns or provide refunds on tests unless faulty. If a void result returns, it will send a replacement test.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
If you book directly with Randox (Breathe Assured’s provider), you can access £43 tests using a discount code from a Randox travel industry partner. Scroll to find these below under ‘Should I book a covid test with Randox?’.

Discount codes:
British Airways discount automatically applied at checkout.

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
As it only offers attended tests these are limited to booked virtual appointments.

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the Breathe Assured Facebook page. We found around 13 negative reviews on Twitter’s Latest page for tweets mentioning Breathe Assured, a number of which mentioned that nurses hadn’t attended virtual supervision appointments.

Breathe Assured returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 PCR test, partnered with Randox (home): £45
At-home day 2 and day 8 PCR tests, partnered with Randox (home): £90
At-home day 5 test to release, partnered with Randox (home): £45

Should I book a covid test with C19 Testing?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Yes, its parent company Cerulean Health is accredited.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
No – an in-person service is not available with C19.

Does it grant refunds?
Yes. C19’s refund policy is the most generous we found. Along with guaranteed 24 hour results for day 5 tests to release and outbound PCR tests, C19 offers refunds if day 2 and day 8 results are returned late and a customer is adversely affected by the delay. It will also provide refunds for non-conclusive/void tests if the customer doesn’t choose to retest.

If you decide to cancel an order before it’s dispatched you’ll receive a full refund. If you miss this deadline, you will still receive a partial refund, minus a fee per kit to cover postage.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
We didn’t spot any discount codes but C19 is offering free UK entry antigen rapid tests with all outbound PCR tests.

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
No, but C19’s comprehensive refund policy gives some indication of confidence in their ability to fulfil customer orders.

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the C19 Facebook page. We spotted around 3 negative tweets mentioning C19 displayed on twitter’s Latest page relating to delays in response from customer services and order processing errors.

C19 returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): £89
Day 8 test (home): £89
Day 2 and 8 test bundle (home): £169
Day 5 test to release (home): £99

Should I book a covid test with Chronomics?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Chronomics appears on the government’s list of testing providers meaning it meets minimum standards. It is not fully accredited itself but uses several accredited laboratories Nonacus, Oncologica and Acculab, as well as Dante Labs which is not yet accredited.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
No. Chronomics only provides at-home swab tests.

Does it grant refunds?
Yes. For those who no longer wish to use their test, Chronomics suggests “tailored advice”, but says it will offer refunds for unopened or unused tests. It’s possible to cancel an order up until 3pm the day before the testing kit is due to be shipped.

Customers who booked tests through Tui may be considered eligible for refunds on test packages if the holiday is cancelled, and have access to a dedicated refund request dashboard.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Chronomics have partnered with Tui / First Choice to provide cheaper testing packages for their customers, and First Choice says it has vetted the test provider. Note that this service is currently available for holidays up until the end of November. Jet2 and British Airways list the provider on their website.

Discount codes:
Test packages for Tui / First Choice customers begin at £10 for antigen tests and £20 for a Green list package. British Airways automatically applies a discount at checkout if booked through its affiliate link. Jet2 Holidays offers £79 tests using the code holiday8.

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
Not really. We didn’t find any mention of limited sales on Chronomics’ website, although its terms and conditions did say Chronomics may not accept an order, and that this may be due to “unexpected limits on our resources which we could not reasonably plan for.”

Social media reviews:
No Facebook rating was visible on the Chronomics Facebook page. We found 18 negative comments about Chronomics on the latest page of Twitter mentions for the firm. The earliest tweet on the page dated back to 24th July.

Which? Is aware of Tui customers who have not received tests booked with Chronomics on time and been unable to take their holiday. Tui will allow customers who don’t get their test back in time to amend their holiday dates for free.

Chronomics returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): £89
Day 2 / day 8 test bundle (home): £170
Day 5 test to release (home): £99
Green list bundle (antigen test to return and day 2 PCR test, home): £98.75
Amber list bundle (antigen test to return, day 2 PCR test and day 8 PCR test, home): £173.75

Should I book a covid test with Collinson?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Yes.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Collinson provides at-home or in-accommodation pre-return antigen tests, and in-person departure and arrivals testing. Collinson has also partnered with Randox to provide rapid PCR outbound testing in under 3 hours in Heathrow airport, and the service will extend to Gatwick airport in the future.

Does it grant refunds?
Sometimes. If you cancel an in-person booking within 72 hours you’ll be entitled to a refund. Collinson does not offer refunds for pre-return tests (supervised or unsupervised).

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Hays Travel has partnered with Collinson to provide its customers with a discount when booking Covid tests, and refers to it as a recommended supplier. Easyjet, British Airways and Jet2 offer a discount code to customers. Collinson also provides testing at several major airports (including Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, East Midlands, Manchester airport and near Heathrow.)

Discount codes: Hays Travel offers 20% off with code Hays20; Easyjet offers 20% off with code EASY20OFF, British Airways offers 20% off with code BA20OFF, Jet2 offers a set price with code HOLIDAY21 / TEST21 .

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We didn’t find a mention of limited sales on Collinson’s website, but its terms and conditions say that services are ‘subject to laboratory capacity, specially trained staff and stock availability.’

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the Collinson Facebook page. Twitter’s Latest page displayed tweets mentioning Collinson dating back to 15th August, around nine of which were negative in some way, mentioning results failing to arrive, poor customer service and customers claiming to have been charged wrongly for tests.

Collinson returns test pricing as listed on website

Rapid PCR (results within 3 hours) only near Heathrow currently £95
Green PCR test (on site): £69
Amber – Fully Vaccinated including 1x PCR test on site): £69
Amber – Partially or Non-Vaccinated including day 2 and day 8 PCR tests (on site): £138
Day 8 PCR upgrade (on site): £69
Day 5 test to release (on site): £95
LAMP £85
Supervised antigen video self-test: £42

Should I book a covid test with Eurofins?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Yes.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Yes. You can order an at-home swab test or book an appointment at a Eurofins ‘sampling station’ or drive-through testing station.

Does it grant refunds?
We found no information on refunds or cancellations on the Eurofins website, nor through a deeper site search.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Eurofins offers discounted departure tests with British Airways.

Discount codes:
British Airways 10% discount with code BA2021

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
Eurofins mentions on its website that it is currently experiencing high levels of demand, but that it is currently issuing PCR tests on-time.

Social media reviews
The Eurofins Global Facebook page currently has a rating of 1.3 out of 5. Eurofins’ divisions all have separate Twitter accounts, making it difficult to gauge their presence on the platform. But when we checked the first page tweets mentioning @EurofinsGroup we found six negative comments since 6th June, including complaints about delayed results and poor customer service.

Eurofins returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): from £54.90
Day 2 test (drive-through): from £20 (for morning slots at Livingston and Warrington sites)
Day 2 and 8 test package (home): from £98
Day 2 and 8 test package (drive-through): from £40 (for morning slots at Livingston and Warrington sites)
Day 5 test to release (home): £44.90

Should I book a covid test with Expert Medicals?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
No. Expert Medicals was removed from the government’s list of Covid-19 testing firms for travel on 2 September. The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) announced on 3 September that it was launching an investigation into whether its practices breach consumer law. It is still legally allowed to sell tests but we recommend only booking with firms that are on the official government list.

In June Which? published a report into the ‘cheapest’ Covid test providers, and the gap between listed and actual test prices. Expert Medicals was one of the providers mentioned along with four other providers, three of which were subsequently removed from the DHSC’s list of providers. We also mentioned at the time that Expert Medicals had a large number of complaints and poor ratings on Trustpilot.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Expert medicals mostly offers at-home test kits, but does also provide an on-site day 5 test to release.

Does it grant refunds?
No. Expert Medicals says it operates under a strict no refund policy with no exceptions. It says that once booked, testing kits are “non refundable”.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
We did not find any affiliations between Expert Medicals and any airlines or tour operators.

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We did not find any mentions of limited sales on Expert Medicals’ website or in its terms and conditions.

Social media reviews
Which? could not identify an Expert Medicals Facebook page, so was unable to gather data about reviews of its services from Facebook users. When we checked latest tweets mentioning Expert Medicals we found around 20 negative comments since 13th August, including multiple comments about test kits and results not arriving.

Expert Medicals returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): £28
Day 8 test (home): £40
Day 2 and 8 testing package (home): £70
Day 5 test to release (on site): £60

Should I book a covid test with Express Test?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Express Test appears on the government’s list of Covid-19 testing firms for travel meaning it meets the minimum requirements but it has not yet been fully accredited. Express Test provides details of its level of accreditation clearly on its website.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Yes.

Does it grant refunds?
Yes, in some instances. For clinic appointments, if FCDO travel advice disrupts your travel plans, you’ll be refunded. If you decide to cancel for other reasons up to 72 hours before the test, you’ll receive a voucher valid for 12 months. If the cancellation is within 72 hours, you’ll need to prove your plans were disrupted by cancelled flights or government travel advice changing. For home test kits, cancellations must be made at least 4 full days before your test date, and refunds won’t be granted if your test kit has already been dispatched.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Trailfinders, Kuoni and Inghams – all tour operators rated highly by customers – listed Express Test as an option when pointing customers toward testing providers. It is Virgin Atlantic’s recommended provider, and numerous airports use the service including Birmingham and London Heathrow. British Airways also offers a discount for this provider to its customers.

Discount codes:
Trailfinders offers a 4% discount with TF21; Inghams offers a 4% discount with HOTELPLAN; Virgin Atlantic offers some discounts with VIRGIN21; British Airways offers some discounts with BA21

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We didn’t find any limited sale statements on Express Test’s website.

Social media reviews
On its Facebook page Express Test displays an overall review rating of 2.9 out of 5. On Twitter we found around 15 negative customer comments, dating back to 15th August, including poor customer service and delays in accessing QR codes for passenger locator forms.

Express Test returns test pricing as listed on website
Green list day 2 PCR test (on site): from £69 (£79 for home tests)
Amber list day 2 PCR test (on site): from £69 (£79 for home tests)
Amber list day 2 & 8 PCR test (on site): from £129 (£139 for home tests)
Test to release day 5 test (on site): from £69
Day 2, 5 and 8 test package (on site): from £189

Should I book a covid test with Project Screen by Prenetics?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Project Screen by Prenetics does appear on the government’s list of Covid-19 testing firms, but it is not fully accredited. It uses laboratories which are UKAS applicants or accredited, and transparently list more specific information about the levels of accreditation on their website. The firm says its cheaper antigen test, which can be taken on holiday with you, is not suitable for all destinations.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Yes – you can order an at-home kit, or you can visit an on site ‘pod’ for fit to fly and day 5 test to return tests.

Does it grant refunds?
In some instances. You’ll get a full refund if you cancel a home test kit and it has not yet been dispatched. Even if you cancel within 2 months of it being dispatched, you’ll get a partial refund (minus a £20 admin fee), as long as you haven’t activated the test. The company does not provide refunds for antigen tests if the test kit has already been dispatched. If your country moves to green from amber and you choose to ‘downgrade’ your package you’ll be refunded for tests you didn’t need.

For pod appointments, you’ll get a full refund as long as you cancel with at least 24 hours’ notice (otherwise you’ll be charged in full).

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Virgin Atlantic say it has partnered with Project Screen by Prenetics to provide Covid-19 tests, and claim that “Prenetics offers reliability, and fast turnaround times”.

Discount codes:
Virgin Atlantic discounts are applied automatically when booked through their link. Inghams offers a 5% discount with code PreneticsHotelplan

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We did not find specific mentions of limited sales.

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the Project Screen by Prenetics Facebook page. On Twitter’s Latest page we found around 4 negative reviews since April 2020.

Project Screen by Prenetics returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test kit (home): from £79
Day 2 and day 8 test kit (home): from £154
Day 5 test to release test kit (home): from £79
Day 5 test to release (on site): from £99

Should I book a covid test with Randox?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
One of the UK’s largest providers, Randox appears on the government list of test providers, meaning it meets the minimum requirements for providing Covid-19 testing. However, it does not appear on UKAS’s list of fully accredited providers.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Yes. The firm offers at-home test kits, clinics and also runs express testing in Liverpool, Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports.

Does it grant refunds?
In specific instances. If you cancel a clinic appointment with at least 24 hours’ notice you’ll be refunded. Randox states in its terms and conditions that it is unable to offer refunds for unused test kits.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Randox is partnered with numerous airlines and tour operators including RyanAir, Easyjet, Tui, British Airways and more. First Choice says it has vetted Randox for quality and recommends the provider along with two others on its website.

Discount codes:
RyanAir customers should use code FLYRYANAIR to access discounted prices (listed below); British Airways offers £43 tests with code BritishAirways43; Easyjet offers £43 tests with code easyjet2021; Saga offers £43 tests with code SAGA; Tui offers £43 tests with code TUI2021; Inghams offers £43 code HPRX; Co-operative Travel offers one-off codes to customers for £48 PCR tests, £96 day 2 and day 8 bundles and £20.83 pre-return to UK antigen tests.

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We didn’t find any limited sale statements on Randox’s website.

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the Randox or Randox Health Facebook pages, which isn’t a great sign for a company as large as this. We found five negative comments mentioning Randox in just a few hours (the firm is very frequently mentioned on Twitter by customers). Comments mostly touched on concerns about overflowing or inaccessible test dropboxes. Randox says it continues to increase the number of dropboxes across the UK and is increasing the frequency of box collections.

Randox returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): from £43 for home delivery with discount code, from £45 for click and collect
Day 2 test (on site): from £55
Day 8 test: from £43 with discount code
Day 8 test (on site): from £55
Day 2 and 8 bundle (home): from £86 for home delivery with discount code, from £90 for click and collect
Day 5 test: from £43 with discount code
Day 5 test (on site): from £55
Amber travel pack including 1 x pre-departure (from UK), 1 x day 2 PCR, 1 x day 8
PCR Test (home): from £129 for at home delivery with discount code
Fully vaccinated amber travel pack including including 1 x pre-departure PCR (from UK) and 1 x day 2 PCR (home): from £86 for home delivery with discount code, from £90 for click and collect

Should I book a covid test with Testing For All?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Testing For All appears on the government’s list of test providers, meaning it meets the minimum standards. It doesn’t provide testing or laboratory services itself, meaning it doesn’t need accreditation but its laboratory partner Nonacus is accredited.

It’s a not-for-profit, claiming a mission to ‘make COVID-19 testing accessible and affordable to anyone who needs it’.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
No. Testing for All only provides at-home swab tests.

Does it grant refunds?
Yes, in certain circumstances. If your travel plans change and your new preferred date isn’t available due to sale quotas, Testing for All will provide a refund. This refund will be in full if you cancel before the kit is dispatched. If you cancel after it has been dispatched, Testing For All says it will only grant a partial refund.

The refund policy also stipulates that it will provide a refund if Testing For All cannot provide results (as long the quality of your swab sample is not the reason for the failure).

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Testing For All does not currently list any airline or tour operator partners on its website.

Discount codes:
We aren’t aware of any existing discount codes for Testing For All, but on its website it claims it prices tests at the minimum cost it can, based on the volume of testing.

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
Testing For All’s website claims the provider sticks to “strict sales volume quotas”. You’ll notice certain travel dates are listed as ‘sold out’ on the booking page, and Testing for All explains that this is in order to match the number of tests its laboratory partners can process. This system is intended to ensure Testing For All delivers your test results on time.

Social media reviews
Testing for All is currently scoring 4.5/5 on its Facebook page. Twitter’s Latest page showed comments dating back to 6th August, 13 of which were negative comments. These negative comments mostly mentioned delays in receiving confirmation emails – something the firm addressed on 15th August and is working to fix. If your confirmation email is late, it has explained that the Order Code for passenger locator forms is visible on your order confirmation page.

Testing For All returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): £48
Day 2 and 8 package (home): £89
Flexible PCR test (home, suitable for fit to fly certificates and test to release if performed with video consultation): £69

A note on pricing
We have listed the cost of UK arrivals PCR tests and test bundles below. All prices were correct on 13/09/2021 and may be subject to change. Prices listed may or may not reflect actual costs at checkout – a Which? Investigation published in June showed that some test providers quoted unobtainable prices on websites, with gaps between advertised and actual costs.

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