How to find the cheapest PCR tests for your holidays saving thousands of pounds
GETTING the right Covid-19 tests to go abroad could cost British families thousands of pounds.
Despite the relaxed rules around international travel, you still need to take a series of PCR tests to prove you’re fit to fly and when you return to the UK.Holidaymakers need a series of tests before they go and when they get back to the UK[/caption]
The cost of these tests varies wildly, and you need to make sure you buy from the rights companies otherwise you could end up paying for something that won’t be accepted.
For instance, you can’t just grab the first test you see in your local pharmacy as many of these won’t include your passport number with the results, something many airlines ask for.
Consumer action group Which? says that the cost of the right tests for an unvaccinated family of four could cost an eyewatering £932.
ABTA research suggests the cost could actually be even higher. The group found that UK travellers going to the EU pay £306 each on average.
For a family of four, that would add up to £1,224 in total.
While you can get free test kits for sporting events from government test centres, if you’re going on holiday you have to pay privately.
And if you don’t want to add a grand or more to your holiday costs you’ll need to know where you can get the right tests for the cheapest price.
Here’s everything you need to know:
What tests do I need to go abroad?
Which tests you need will depend on where you’re travelling. You need to check two things to get the information you need.
First you need to examine the rules for the country you’re travelling to and what tests they require. You can find this information by searching for the country on the gov.uk website.
Secondly, you need to look what tests the UK government needs you to do when you return.
Countries and territories are listed as either red, amber or green. The rules for testing and quarantine when you return to England are different for each list.
If you’ve been in a country or territory on the amber list, you can choose to take an additional test to see if you can end quarantine early using the Test to Release scheme.
You can find out what list your chosen destination is on and the associated rules on the government website.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
Where can I find the list of government-approved tests?
The UK government has a list of approved test providers and it’s critical that you use one of these when you get back to England.
If you go with a provider that’s not on the list your test will be invalid and you may have to pay twice.
There’s 447 providers on the list and the cost varies enormously starting at just £20 and going up to £575.
Typically you’ll have to wait 24 to 36 hours to get your test results. Check with providers what their turnaround time is before you book.
The tests are carried out in different ways depending on where they take place, and if they’re supervised.
‘Supervised’ means staff will take the sample for you. If you take the test at home, you may be able to have a video call with staff who will explain what you need to do.
‘Unsupervised’ means you’ll take the sample yourself, usually doing a swab.
You can browse the full list of providers that are approved by the government for green list countries here.
If you’re going to an amber list destination, you can find all the government-approved providers here.
If you live in Scotland or Wales you need to book the tests through the Centralised Travel Hub and you can’t choose a private provider.
You’re not allowed to shop around, which means you can’t cut the costs.
For Scottish and Welsh travellers it costs £88 for a day-two PCR test, and £170 if you need both day-two and day-eight tests.
Where can I find the cheapest PCR tests for travel?
Shopping around to find a reasonably priced test is critical as it could save a family of four thousands of pounds.
Prices on the government’s website start at £20, but it warns that prices shown are a guide and the amount you end up paying could be more.
The prices listed are also based on the test provider’s standard service.
Prices may differ for several reasons, for instance to reflect different levels of customer support.
You need contact your chosen provider directly to get detailed product and pricing information.
Some providers may offer a range of packages with add-ons available at extra cost, such as premium delivery or fast turnaround times.
The price should include:
- 2 COVID-19 test kits
- delivery, and test swabbing where relevant
- evaluation of the test sample
- genome sequencing
- reporting the result to the patient
- reporting the data to Public Health England
Generally speaking, lots of the websites that the government says offer £20 tests charge more if you want to test at home.
For instance, ExpertcovidtestingUK.com charges £20 for onsite tests, but its postal home tests start from £64.99.
Exertdoctors.uk charge £20 for onsite testing but if you want to test at home then prices start from £70.
That means you might need to find a local provider to keep costs down to a minimum.
Stacey Lowman, Financial Coach at Claro Money said: “The varied rules around coronavirus testing before and after travelling, depending on where you are holidaying, means that holidaymakers could also end up paying hundreds of pounds in additional charges to ensure their safe return.
“Private tests can cost up to £100 on the high street or as much as £200 at some private clinics. While some airlines are offering cheaper alternatives, the cost of multiple tests can soon add up.”
It’s worth checking if your airline is doing any deals. For instance, travellers with Tui can pick up tests for just £20.
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