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Why I paid $200 for a COVID-19 testing service to come to my hotel room

Dec. 08, 2021
6 min read
Senior man having a health exam
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Frequent COVID-19 testing has become routine for many travelers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. So, like many travelers, I've grown accustomed to finding, scheduling and completing COVID-19 tests in various destinations.

Antigen tests are typically easy to obtain and results usually come back in about 15 minutes. But, some destinations require a PCR test. And in many areas, it is expensive or difficult to find a provider that will guarantee your PCR test results back within 24 or 48 hours.

I've visited urgent care clinics and drive-through pharmacies when I needed a PCR test in the past. But, neither of these options worked well when I recently needed a PCR test for upcoming travel while on another trip. Luckily, I found a COVID-19 testing service that fit my needs by guaranteeing results within 24 hours and sending a technician to my hotel room to collect the sample.

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Why I decided to use a mobile COVID-19 testing service

Looking over the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa from a nearby walking trail (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

I recently needed to get a PCR test while at a work retreat in Scottsdale, Arizona. But, due to my schedule and my destination's entry requirements, I needed a PCR test from a provider that could guarantee results within 48 hours or less. And since I didn't have a vehicle on this trip and wanted to minimize the time I was away from the retreat, I found it challenging to find a reasonably priced, convenient testing option that would fit my needs.

After researching providers on my own, the best option I found was an urgent care location. But, the clinic was a 20-minute drive from the resort and I'd need to use a ride-hailing service to get to and from the clinic. Plus I'd need to pay $149 for a PCR test with "results within 24 hours on average" or $299 for results within 90 minutes.

I could have filed an insurance claim for the $149 version, but I knew the filing process might not be easy or successful. And between transit time and waiting to be seen, I expect the testing process would have taken at least two hours.

So, before booking, I decided to swing by the front desk at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa to ask about testing options. The hotel itself didn't offer any testing. However, the front desk agent offered me a fact sheet for a nearby laboratory. In looking at this sheet, I learned I could pay $150 for a test with results guaranteed within 24 hours. And I could pay $50 more for a mobile testing service that would come to me.

The hotel front desk gave me this information sheet when I inquired about COVID-19 testing. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

I wasn't happy about needing to pay $200 for a PCR test. And unfortunately, I couldn't charge the expense to my room. But, I quickly decided the mobile testing service was my best option given my constraints.

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Related: Going on vacation soon? Make sure you have the right COVID-19 test

My experience using a mobile COVID-19 testing service

Casita at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Once I decided to book the mobile testing service, I called the customer service number at the top of the printout and quickly reached an agent. The agent took down my destination and departure date to ensure the laboratory's test fit my needs. Then, she said a technician could come whenever and wherever I wanted -- so I opted for Friday at 9 a.m. in my casita at the JW Marriott.

Friday morning came, and right at 9 a.m. I heard a knock on my door. A technician was standing at my door in a mask with a box of testing supplies. After I invited her into my room, she started preparing testing supplies.

The technician in my room, preparing the test. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

She confirmed my destination and departure date before asking me to fill out the following form.

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Once the form was complete, she confirmed my email address before collecting a nasal swab. After all, the laboratory will send results via email. However, she also noted that someone from the laboratory would call me once the results were ready to ensure I'd received them.

After collecting the swab, she took my $200 payment using a mobile credit card reader and asked me to fill out the following authorization form.

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Then, we were done. The entire process took just eight minutes and I earned 400 Capital One miles on the purchase by using my Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

I received an email at 12:59 a.m. Saturday, just 15 hours 51 minutes after the technician collected the sample. I downloaded my results in pdf format and had no issues using these results with VeriFLY or the Health Authority of Chile. A lab representative also called me Saturday morning to ensure I'd gotten my results.

Related: Pre-travel testing to the US just got harder than ever

Bottom line

Using a mobile COVID-19 testing service that comes to you usually won't be the least expensive solution -- especially if you need results from a PCR test quickly. But, from booking to the eight-minute visit, using a mobile testing service was straightforward and took very little time. So, it may make sense to use a mobile testing service in some situations, even if it's not the least expensive option.

Mobile testing services are particularly handy when you're away from home and don't have a vehicle. And some mobile testing services may even file with your insurance. For example, you can use Welz to book a same-day PCR test for zero out-of-pocket cost in New York City (although you may need to wait up to 72 hours for results).

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.