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Warning: Your at-home COVID-19 test expiration date might not be accurate

Nov. 22, 2021
5 min read
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Editor's Note

This story has been updated

Since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began allowing inbound travelers to fly into the United States with a negative result from an at-home instant COVID-19 test in May, just two tests have been approved for use — Abbott’s BinaxNow COVID-19 Home Test and Ellume's COVID-19 Home Test.

On Oct. 1, Ellume voluntarily recalled more than 2 million tests, citing "higher-than-acceptable false-positive test results" falsely indicating that a user had tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Upon determining that a portion of our test kits were reporting higher than expected false-positive test results, we worked quickly with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to voluntarily recall the problematic test kits and correct the issue," Ellume founder and CEO Dr. Sean Parsons said at the time. "In this case, we noted that some tests from specific lot numbers may provide an incorrect positive result at a higher rate than was observed in clinical testing. Following a thorough investigation, we isolated the cause and confirmed that this incidence of false positives is limited to specific lots.”

Many travelers have continued using the BinaxNow test as their go-to at-home option for travel, including TPG staff and readers, who have reported favorable experiences overall, despite hours-long wait times in August due to an increase in international travel. Although wait times appear to have decreased, there's a new issue regarding expiration. Some of us have received tests for future use, only to find an expiration date that's already passed.

It turns out these tests are likely not expired, so don’t be fooled by the expiration dates.

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All Abbott tests have a 12-month expiration

Although your at-home test may not actually be expired, you should know that they do expire, and that information should be clearly identified on each box.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

Earlier this year, Abbott received approval from the FDA to extend the shelf life of its tests to 12 months. While this was good news for the longevity of the tests, it meant that the expiration date written on tests distributed before this approval may no longer be accurate.

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Related: Travelers can now buy CDC-approved at-home COVID-19 tests for just $50

Therefore, Abbott began including notes with their testing kits informing customers that their tests were not actually expired. Be sure to look out for the below note about calculating a test's expiration date, which directs you to add an additional three months to the date listed.

(Photo by Nick Ewen/TPG)

"I purchased three of the Abbott tests through eMed earlier this fall for my first international trip in two years, and when I received them, there was an insert with news of the extended expiration dates," said TPG senior editor Nick Ewen. "Essentially, this meant that I have an additional three months to use them — so rather than expiring Sept. 28, 2021, (which would've been prior to our trip), they now expire on Dec. 28, 2021. The insert was very clear as to how to calculate the updated date."

Related: Top questions on vaccination/travel requirements to the U.S. and Europe

You may or may not receive a note

If you don't see a note in your delivery box informing you of this extension, you are not alone.

(Photo by Summer Hull/TPG)

"I just got a box this week and the expiration dates in there are Nov. 11, 2021, with no note about extension in the box," said TPG travel content director Summer Hall. "So, if you didn't know then you might be in for a shock!"

If this happens to you, we suggest checking with the testing company. Abbott did not respond to a request clarifying why some people are not receiving the note.

For example, TPG senior editor Clint Henderson received several BinaxNow tests with an expiration date of Oct. 15, 2021. Upon calling the company, he was told that all expiration dates had been extended for an extra three months.

Bottom line

(Photo by Clint Henderson/TPG)

This test remains a great option for international travelers looking for a convenient way to take a COVID-19 test to come to the U.S. since it is supervised and administered remotely via Zoom. So, the next time you are planning on using your Abbott at-home test, you might need to add three months to the expiration date listed to ensure it is still valid.

Related: 5 things to know about at-home COVID-19 tests for travel

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023