Travel Guide

Review of Sameday Testing – A Fast PCR Testing Service for Travelers

Written by Charlie

Here is a review of Sameday Testing, a service that offers fast PCR testing that work for travelers. Find out about their turnaround time and more.

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):

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • 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-insUpdate: 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

From Sameday Testing

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

Passport Information

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 team@sameday-testing.com 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!
Customer Support

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:

Bottom Line

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.

Some of the links on Running with Miles are affiliate links that pay a commission if a purchase is made. Running with Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

10 Comments

  • Why is it called Sameday testing if the results aren’t available on the same day? Getting results in a guaranteed 48 hours doesn’t sound like a big deal.

    My most recent experience with expedited PCR testing was in Los Angeles and I got results in approximately 11 hours for not too much more than the Sameday cost.

    • That’s great that you had that option in LA! I know that there are a few major cities with options but, for most of us outside of them, options are very slim and the turnaround time tends to be very long.
      It is probably called that since you can get a test as a walk-in or make an appointment that day – unlike the many other places that either are way booked up or do not allow walk-ins.

  • Thanks for this review. We recently had to get rapid PCR tests for necessary travel to Hawaii, and planned to be in California during the 72-hour window beforehand. Hawaii requires tests from specific trusted partners and while we had gotten free testing from Walgreens a couple months ago which worked for travel to Alaska, there were a couple reasons I searched for an alternative this time. We were able to schedule our Walgreens tests (in Pittsburgh, PA) for probably around 65 hours before departure and the email results came to my phone right when we got to the airport the morning we were about to fly out. I don’t think we had time to upload results but the state of Alaska was ok with us just having screenshots of the webpage showing our negative results. Not so with Hawaii… if the test result was not in-hand and a pdf uploaded before the flight left the mainland (or having a printed copy which I can’t do on the plane!), we would be stuck in quarantine even if our good results came hours after departure. So I looked into the CityHealth testing at Oakland airport and while their airport location was booked our way too far, we were able to do it at a San Francisco location. CityHealth offers an expedited test (24-48 hours turnaround) for $120 per person, and I think it mentioned same-day results if done before 2:30 pm. It seemed a bit less formal & secure as far as the handling of our tests and the way they kept packets separate (just a piece of paper in the bag with the test tube) but we received text messages that evening with our results. What a relief! One test had an official Hawaii paper giving the result and one had only the lab information which did not include the name of CityHealth (Hawaii required it to have the name of the trusted testing partner) so after some difficulty finding how to reach someone by phone (ended up choosing the menu option for Downtown Oakland on CityHealth’s answering system) I got the needed format and everything worked great. Just wanted to share that experience for those whom it may help!
    1 Corinthians 15:57
    But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • I went to Sameday Testing and had the swab first thing in the morning, in a tent in the parking lot of a defunct restaurant. The results did not arrive the same day, so the company’s name is a bit misleading. They said turnaround in 36 hours and they were late. Zero customer support service. Minimal information can be found at their website, and no local contact was provided. I made my flight but do not appreciate the suspense.

    • The name is confusing as they are referring to the actual testing (as in being able to get tested the same day as you make an appointment) instead of the turnaround.
      I’m not sure which location you used but I do know they promised me that they are working very hard to get their customer support service to be more responsive and available at all times. Sorry you had to deal with this this time, though! I definitely know the feeling!

  • Have had the absolute worst experience with SamedayTesting! My husband and I were tested on Wednesday morning and paid for expedited results within 36 hours. It has been over 72 hours and nothing! Our flight was supposed to be this morning and we have pushed it to tomorrow with hopes that we will still get the results by this afternoon. They can’t even tell us where the samples are, what lab they are going to, nothing! They are horrible. DO NOT USE THEM!!!

    • What test location did you use ? I was thinking of using the Boston center but not sure after your poor service with them.

  • Never Again!!! Do not trust Sameday Testing Sameday Health) they ruined my travel plans. I opted for the 72 hour turnaround time for my pcr test. I’m still waiting for my results and we’re on the 5th day. I was told the snow storm delayed the delivery to the lab (out of state) and they did not have any tracking information. This was totally unacceptable to me. Not to mention, I did not receive any follow up communication by email or phone. This left me questioning is this a legitimate business?? I will be calling my insurance company to dispute these charges since I never received the PCR results.

  • This is a shameful company. I had my test done in Austin and had pending travel plans transporting sensitive medications to Uganda. They did not advertise that the 48 hour turn around time was because they ship samples daily fed-ex to LA and Atlanta. In Austin, the mail is majorly delayed due to infrastructure issues, and the company is aware of it and yet still allows people to trust the 48 hour guarantee. I had a phone call yesterday alerting me that my test results may not be there in time. I spent hours and lots of money expediting testing somewhere else where the testing is done on-site, and was told by ‘same-day testing’ that if by some miracle, they were able to provide results within the 48 hour window, they wouldn’t refund the money. Travel doesn’t work that way. I needed to start problem solving as soon as I realized I may need a new flight. Zero compassion. Zero professionalism. The staff didn’t know the name of lab performing the PCR testing (I discovered mine were sent to a place called Slow Health labs in Atlanta). This is an example of a fraudulent company that is OK getting paid for 50% of their test at the risk of their clients.

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