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Holidaymakers underestimate Covid test costs

Joanna Faith
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Joanna Faith

British holidaymakers are underestimating the cost of pre-departure Covid-19 tests by as much as a third, according to research.

A survey by Capital One UK found the average person set aside £78 to cover the cost of testing before leaving the country, but analysis of 30 PCR test providers found the typical cost for a test was £118, a difference of £40.

While international travel is back on the table after more than a year of restrictions, most countries still require overseas visitors to provide proof of a recent negative Covid test on arrival.

That’s in addition to the tests required by the UK government when returning home.

However, private PCR test firms have been accused of profiteering by charging travellers hundreds of pounds for a single test.

The competition watchdog has said it will investigate PCR test fees after health secretary Sajid Javid stepped in this week voicing concerns about “excessive” pricing and “exploitative practices”.

The latest research shows three quarters of Brits (72 per cent) have not budgeted enough for the cost of tests, with over a quarter (27 per cent) setting aside less than £50 per person.

It also shows it pays to plan in advance, with the average cost of a test that provides results in 12 hours or less standing at £171, compared to £114 for results in 24 hours and £100 for tests in 48 hours.

Despite the huge cost differences, many admit they are not prepared for travel. Just two in five (40 per cent) of those planning a holiday abroad have found out how many tests they need to take for their trip and return home, while only a third (33 per cent) have found out what additional documentation they need to travel.

Fewer than three in 10 have found out how far in advance they need to book their tests (28 per cent) or budgeted for the cost of tests (28 per cent).

Katy Lomax, chief experience officer at Capital One UK, said: “There is so much pent-up demand for holidays, and many will be excited to go away for the first time since the pandemic hit. But there is a lot to consider when traveling abroad now, especially around testing, so it’s important to find out what you need to do to travel safely and without unnecessary delay.

“Our research shows that where you get a test and how far in advance you book it can have a huge impact on the price, so it’s definitely cost effective to be organised.”