Rainbow Labs

Rainbow Labs review: Private COVID-19 tests for travel

We check if Rainbow Labs' COVID-19 tests are good value, and what customers say about the service.

If you're going abroad you'll need to arrange COVID-19 tests for your trip. The rules change frequently and from 30 November, fully vaccinated people need to book a day 2 PCR test instead of a lateral flow when entering the UK. It's important to get up to speed with what's happening before you start booking tests. In this review, we cover Rainbow Lab's COVID-19 tests for travel and see what customers say about the service.
Name Product Test purpose Test type Test location Price (from) Key benefits
Rainbow Labs Fit to Fly Antigen Test
Pre-departure from the UK
Lateral flow (antigen)
Home
£9.99
Rainbow Labs Day 2 PCR Test
Day 2
PCR
Home
£30
Rainbow Labs Fit to Fly PCR Test
Pre-departure from the UK
PCR
Home
£60
Rainbow Labs Day 2 and 8 Tests
Day 2 and 8
PCR
Home
£99
Rainbow Labs Day 2, 5 and 8 Tests
Day 2 and 8, Day 5
PCR
Home
£149
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What is Rainbow Labs?

Rainbow Labs provides COVID-19 tests for travel and uses labs in London and Surrey to process them. According to the Rainbow Labs website, the company is listed on the UK government website as a private provider of COVID-19 tests and all tests are processed by laboratories which are either accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) or have begun the accreditation process. We weren’t able to find a listing on the government site under the Rainbow Labs name, and have contacted the company for clarification.

What types of COVID-19 tests can I get from Rainbow Labs?

Rainbow Labs supplies both lateral flow and PCR tests for travel, including day 2, day 5 and day 8 tests. You can also order fit to fly tests before you travel.

Rainbow Labs customer reviews

A quick look on Trustpilot shows that Rainbow Labs scores an average rating of 3.3 out of 5, based on just over 300 reviews (as of November 2021). The reviews are really mixed. Those who had a positive experience particularly rate the low cost rapid antigen tests and cite quick, efficient service. Those who had a negative experience highlight poor customer service, tests going missing in the post and the lack of clarity on the company’s refund policy.

When we called the customer contact number listed on the Rainbow Labs site in November 2021, there was no reply but a recorded message said customers should email instead.

Are Rainbow Labs tests accurate?

The Rainbow Labs website lacks any detailed information on the efficacy of its tests or where they are processed, so it’s hard to comment on this. We’re waiting for confirmation that the company is on the government’s list of COVID test providers that meet minimum standards, and will update our review as soon as we receive an answer.

But remember, no COVID-19 test is 100% accurate, even those that meet official standards for performance and safety.

How long does it take to get results from Rainbow Labs?

Rainbow Labs relies on Royal Mail and the courier DPD to deliver its tests to you and then on to its lab for processing. Royal Mail 24 hour Tracked return labels are included in all the PCR kits.

For day 2 and 8 tests, Rainbow Labs aims to return your results within 24 hours of your samples reaching the laboratory. Day 5 (under the Test to Release scheme – only in England) and fit to fly test results are supposed to be with you within 18-24 hours of your samples reaching the lab. But, Rainbow Labs has a disclaimer on its website which says, “Once your kits are dispatched, we have no direct control over delivery and cannot accept liability for delays.” This means you should order your tests well in advance of the date you need to take your sample.

What is Rainbow Labs’ refund policy?

You can cancel your order and get a refund but only if you cancel before your test is dispatched to you. After that, you cannot get a refund, even if you return your kit unopened. If you do request a refund, Rainbow Labs will charge admin fees to process it, which will vary depending on the type of test you ordered and how it was delivered to you.

How much do Rainbow Labs tests cost?

One of the most attractive things about Rainbow Labs is that the tests are less expensive than a lot of other COVID-19 test providers. A pre-departure rapid antigen test is just £9.99, while an at-home day 2 PCR test is £30. For the unvaccinated, you’ll pay £99 for a day 2 and day 8 test package, or if you want to end your quarantine early (England only), you can pay £149 for a day 2, day 5 and day 8 kit.

Pros and cons of Rainbow Labs

Pros

  • Cheaper than many other COVID test providers
  • Wide range of tests

Cons

  • Unclear where tests are processed and if the laboratories used are UKAS-accredited
  • Website lacks any detailed information on efficacy of tests
  • Quite a few negative customer reviews
  • No answer on the customer service phone number when we called

Our verdict: Is Rainbow Labs any good?

It’s hard to tell whether Rainbow Labs COVID-19 tests for travel are worth ordering or not. The website lacks a lot of basic information and frequently asked questions, so it’s unclear where the company is based and if the tests are processed by Rainbow Labs or outsourced to a third-party laboratory. Some people might find the lack of clarity unsettling. On the plus side, the tests are less expensive compared with some other COVID-19 providers, so if your budget is tight and you have time to order your tests well ahead of when you need to use them, it might be worth the risk to save a bit of money.

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