While many other countries, especially in Europe, offer fast turnaround times on PCR testing (which are often referred to as Covid tests), most US sites will not make any guarantees. As a result, it can be very difficult for anyone that has travel upcoming to get a PCR result within time of their departure. Here is our review of Sameday Testing, a service that does offer faster turnaround times.
Edit January 28: This review has been updated with some clarifications and notes after speaking with Sameday Testing about policies and testing nationwide.
Review of Sameday Testing – Quick PCR Turnaround Testing Service
Link: Sameday Testing
It is important to know that there is a difference between PCR tests and most rapid tests in the US. Most rapid tests are antigen tests that many countries are not accepting as means of showing negative for covid-19. As a result, if you get a rapid antigen test, you may find that the airline does not let you board your flight.
For PCR testing, it is hard to really pinpoint the best places to get these tests done. I have had friends that tested many services and found that, sometimes, Walgreens and CVS did do turnarounds in about 24 hours. However, they do not guarantee that and it is based on the testing load at their labs. So, it can be hard to do a test at these locations if you need a result within a certain timeframe.
Sameday Testing Locations
Sameday Testing sites are located in the following states (with more locations being added all the time):
- New Jersey
- New York
- Washington, DC
- Tennessee (recently added)
- Massachusetts (recently added)
Most of the places offer PCR tests with a 48 hour turnaround though some may be 36 hours and some even go up to 72 hours.
Sameday Testing Schedules
Sameday Testing schedules in 5 minute increments with 3 tests per 5 minutes (though this may differ based on location and staffing).
While it suggested that you make an appointment, an appointment is not necessary and they do allow walk-ins. Update: Some locations accommodate walk-ins but appointments still need to be filled out when entering so it is definitely something you should do before going to any facility – make the appointment online!
We made our appointments ahead of time which requires things like name, date of birth, and payment at the time of the scheduling. This makes the process in the appointment much easier.
Note that they do have fields for passport info if you need the test for travel but they do not automatically put that information on your test results (more on this later).
Sameday Testing Prices
For the Priority PCR tests (which is what we needed), the tests cost $165 per person (but these do vary by location and can be $195 or more).. A good thing is that they do this for any age of person, unlike some fast PCR tests that are only for those 18 and older. They do provide a receipt that can be turned in to your insurance as they may reimburse you.
Update: Here is more information from Sameday regarding insurance for the tests.
- Insurance: We provide superbills for both RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests. Under the CARES Act, insurance is required to reimburse ALL PCR tests. We recommend that people check with their insurance before a rapid appointment, as coverage for rapids varies across plans. We will also introduce direct insurance billing for standard turnaround PCR tests to our WNY sites soon.
Sameday Testing Procedures
It could not have been easier for the actual testing. My family and I showed up just before our appointment to an empty office with two employees to check us in and a nurse to take the test. They confirmed us with our passports (which, again, actually do not mean anything with the initial results) and we were quickly tested one at a time.
The test is done up the nose but not invasively. Still, it will tickle a little bit and it took about ten seconds as they rolled it around mid-way up the nostril. It was done in both nostrils.
We were done and out of there in less than 10 minutes. The people told us that these tests (we were at the Buffalo/Williamsville location) were sent to a lab in Boston. They are ultimately processed by Clinical Enterprise, Inc though I understand that some of the tests are done by Flow Health.
Technically, the 48 hour guarantee starts from the time the lab receives the tests but they are expedited to the lab throughout the day. Update: Clarification was given that the 48 hours is from the time of the testing sample being taken, not when it gets to the lab. If you go at the end of the day, the lab may not start them until the next day and if the lab is busy, it may be right up to or even over the 48 hour mark (so I had been told).
Did the 48 Hour Guarantee Work?
I was a bit nervous as we had a 53 hour window from the time we took our test until we had to check-in at the airport for our flight. We had to have the test in hand at that point. Fortunately, we received 3 of the 4 tests 36 hours after the samples were taken!
I was very impressed and happy with the 36 hour turnaround, but, I did say 3 of the 4 tests. I am not sure why but it took another 12 hours for the 4th result to come back. For this one, I actually had to call any number I could find to see why I only received 3 of the 4. When I finally spoke with the lab, they told me the test was still in process and should finish shortly (this was at hour 46 after being taken).
Ultimately, the 48 hour guarantee did work – it even returned all 4 tests within 48 hours of the samples being taken.
The Good and the Bad about Sameday Testing
The good is that they were true to the word – all tests were returned within the 48 hour window. Their people were great to deal with, courteous and professional. So, they delivered as promised and for this I can recommend them.
The bad is two-part. One is that they never did come through on the passport part. They say that you have to call or e-mail after the results are received to have your passport numbers put on the results. Since Greece said they required this, we tried to have this done but it never was done – even several days later. The last I spoke with them, they said that the lab still had not gotten to it as apparently the lab itself will add the passport numbers and a seal to it.
To me, this actually is a big problem. Since they offer this and since some places may require this, they need to come through on this. I do not know why they ask for your passport information when they will not automatically put it on the results and it gives the false assurance that it will make it on the results since they have it. If you need your passport number on the result, I cannot recommend them on this part – at least in my experience.
Update: After speaking withe Sameday Testing about this, they acknowledged this to be something they are continuing to work on as they grow and make their system even more streamlined. Soon, it should be something that is automatically done, having the passport information be put on the test result when it is delivered. Here is what they have offered for now (note that the e-mail address is different from the one I had originally been given by an agent when I said I needed the passport information added):
- You will be emailed a PDF of your test results that is valid for travel. If you require ONLY an additional signature and passport number on your results page, you may email a PDF copy of your results to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Need Signature and Passport Number” in the subject line. Please ensure that you indicate your required timeframe within your request and we will do our best to accommodate you.
- For all additional documentation, including a doctor’s signature or lab seal, please purchase using a Fit to Fly tool (https://quick.md/fit-to-fly-certificate/) This is a separate service that we do not provide at this time. As the holiday season picks up, we will not be able to respond to, nor are we responsible for, doctor requests. We want to reiterate we are a testing center and not a doctor’s office.; We are working on adding these capabilities to Sameday Testing’s services and will update our website once they’re available. Thank you for understanding!
The other negative is trying to reach them if things are wrong. Their customer service line does not open until 8am Pacific time/ 11am Eastern time. So if you are trying to get a hold of someone before 11am Eastern time (which I needed to), their customer service line is not available to you. Furthermore, each of the 5 times I called them, I was informed by a recording that I was 9th in line or 8th in line. I selected to have them call me back when I reached first position. This part worked.
In the end, I found the local number for my testing site via a newspaper article talking about the opening of the testing site in Williamsville. It should not be that difficult to locate a number! Fortunately, the lady I spoke with was excellent and was the reason I received the final test result on time.
Lastly, remember I said you had to e-mail them to get passport numbers added? Well, the e-mail they gave me was for Flow Health – and they were not the lab that processed or had access to my results so that did not work at all!
Update: Again, Sameday acknowledged this issue with their customer support and told me that they are working quickly to grow this area of their company as well to help customers in a more timely manner. They are expanding their team and are working to provide quicker assistance via e-mail, phone and their online chat.
They did suggest that they are handling requests even quicker via social media so please use their social media channels as well if you need help:
The bottom line is that we found Sameday Testing’s fast PCR turnaround to be as promised and we would definitely use them again if we needed these tests quickly. These tests are not cheap but when you need the tests, it is worth it. I did read that they had given free vouchers to some people had not received their tests as promised during the holidays so you may want to check with them about that if you find they do not deliver for you as they did for me.
The bottom line – I can recommend Sameday Testing for their fast turnaround but not for their access to customer service or for their service of putting passport numbers on the results.
I am not affiliated with Sameday Testing and did not receive any kind of compensation or discount – this is just my personal review of dealing with them for PCR quick turnaround testing.
Update: Sameday Testing is actually shifting to rebrand as Sameday Health as they evolve into a full-service direct care provider. This includes for things like telehealth and vaccinations. It is, essentially, a startup that acted in response to the coronavirus and need for testing so there have been some growing pains. As I said in my initial review, I was still pleased with everything except the passport part and customer support – both of which they assure me they are working on.
I look forward to trying them again to see how the next experience goes and will update then as to any changes/improvements I notice.