We wanted to give you a taste of our upcoming ultimate guide on cheap tests here in Canada (and even around the world). So we’re starting with at least this tip for $16.99 tests even if there is a caveat… and also the ≈ $30 or $40 tests available more widely.
We’ve often repeated that it’s completely false to believe that COVID-19 testing is necessarily expensive. I guess this myth exists for the same reason that the myth that travel itself is expensive exists. People plan poorly and don’t make choices accordingly… and then wonder why it costs so much.
But hey, that will be for another article to help you travel more in 2022.
They are no longer required to enter Canada, but even molecular tests (PCR) are not necessarily expensive. It’s only in the USA that free tests are easy to find (it’s so sad that lots of people pay hundreds of dollars there because they don’t know the pro tricks), but my 2 PCR tests abroad outside of the US cost me an average of $30.
By the way, it is important to read the introduction to COVID-19 tests for travel, to understand that there are 2 main types of tests: Molecular and antigen.
This tip today is just about rapid antigen tests (the rest will be in the full guide).
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But here are the details of the cheap tests in Canada.
Tests for $16.99 at Costco
The caveat is that this works only in a few provinces and also that the locations offering this (and even appointment slots) are limited. Perhaps because a record number of Canadians are traveling.
We can hope that they will add this service in more locations or add more time slots. We’ll keep an eye out.
First, here are the provinces with Costco locations offering $16.99 tests:
You can see the Costco website (different link for Québec) for a list of the locations that offer this.
The links are the direct links to go book online, but as I found out trying to book some in advance for my almost-free trip planned to Miami in December, it said the appointments were all taken (at least in Québec).
In Québec, YOU HAVE TO BOOK ONLINE ONLY. That’s what their online appointment system is for, via Clic Santé.
I don’t know why there are people who always want to call when something can be done online, I’ll never understand… except maybe in this case since online it says it’s full… but anyway, they still clearly say not to call.
In other provinces, I don’t see the same note about only booking online, but I just checked very quickly.
Obviously, $16.99 is quite a bit cheaper than the $149 test scam at Montreal airport (YUL) for example. Especially since it’s the very same test. Note that even though Costco only accepts Mastercards, there’s a trick to earn over 5% on all your Costco purchases with the American Express Cobalt Card to get a lot more free travel.
But there are still several cheaper testing alternatives available in the meantime.
Tests for $19.97 at Walmart
If you prefer, many Walmart locations also offer $19.97 antigen tests in 4 provinces:
- Nova Scotia
That is also very cheap.
Tests for $25 (plus tax) remotely from anywhere in the world
With our exclusive FLYTRIPPERS22 promo code with Go Rapid Test, you can get a valid test for $25 (plus tax) remotely from anywhere on the planet if you have your antigen tests provided for free by the government (or if you buy some).
They will supervise your test in telehealth mode via video to provide an official lab report.
Be careful: this is accepted to enter the United States (and Canada if you still need it because you are not vaccinated, or for your kids), but for other destinations, make sure to check if telehealth tests are accepted. Unlike the other options in this post, this is the only one that is not necessarily accepted by all countries that require rapid antigen tests because of the telehealth element.
Another option we highly recommend is with Summit Health Travel Clinics, for $45 (tax included) with FLYTRIP5 promo code. They are a great full-service health clinic with plenty of appointment availability.
I used that one for my last 2 trips to the USA and it was great!
You can read more details in our post about remote self-tests coming very soon.
Tests for $40 in pharmacies
Another option is that many pharmacies offer the same service for $40.
It seems available in these provinces:
- Nova Scotia
For the first 4 provinces, it’s through Shoppers Drug Mart.
In Québec, many pharmacies offer this as well through Clic Santé.
In short, you’re still paying more than twice as expensive as at Costco for exactly the same thing. But it’s a lot cheaper than elsewhere at least! And there seems to be plenty of availability.
I repeat that these are rapid antigen tests. Some countries don’t accept this, just like some countries don’t even require a test at all to enter (106 at last count).
Anyway, a newsflash if you’ve just woken up from a deep sleep of 2 years: You have to read the countries’ entry rules if you want to travel, you have no choice. It’s mandatory.
Drive-through tests for $70
With the FLYTRIPPERS22 promo code, you can get a $5 discount on the Go Rapid Test drive-through (or walk-through) test services in many locations across the country. I’ve used them twice and it really is very efficient and practical!
The locations are:
- Montreal (6 locations)
The Montreal and Toronto locations are through a different website (Go Test Rapide) but the same FLYTRIPPERS22 code gives you the same discount. Montreal (Saint-Laurent) is the one I used, it’s very convenient just a few exits before the airport!
I’ll soon share a video and review of my experience there too.
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There are fairly affordable tests in most parts of Canada, especially in terms of rapid antigen tests.
What would you like to know about COVID-19 tests in Canada for travelers? Tell us in the comments below.
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This Post Has 18 Comments
Im travelling to the US next week and just wanted to confirm whether the 16.99 tests are valid for travel.Has anyone have experience with this?
Yes they are valid for the USA and pretty much for every country that accepts antigen tests 🙂
Thanks for the details. Much appreciated.
Are you planning to refresh this article to become more up to date?
Hi, it’s still up to date but we’ll be adding a more complete list with more options for sure, should be in early April 🙂
Thanks that’s what I thought!
Next best thing would be to get rid of all testing requirements for fully vaccinated people!
Hi Andrew, I just checked on the shoppers drug mart website here in Manitoba.. it looks like they just test from the Ontario border on.
Just wanted to let you know.
Yeah, hopefully more and more pharmacies across the country add these services to bring prices down!
THank you Andrew. We do fly from Kelowna through Seattle (with Alaska Airlines) but unfortunately we need to show the rapid test result before boarding here. So testing in Seattle wouldn’t work.
Hopefully something changes soon so that we can test at Costco or Walmart like other provinces.
Yeah no I mean entering the US by land (which does not require a test) and just flying out of there directly.
Yes, thanks. Driving from Kelowna to Seattle is at least a 6 hr drive, and in winter conditions, not a good idea. Thank you and hopefully Costco and Walmarts in BC will start doing testing like other provinces soon!
Let’s hope, a lot of BC travelers have told us they are mad that affordable tests are so hard to come by :S
hi Andrew, It’s Astrid again.
So we will be in Palm Coast, Florida from Mar. 8-15 visiting family. I checked the Walgreens close to my son’s place, and neither of them do the Rapid Antigen Test (that is accepted by Canada as of Mar. 1), so I’m going to book the NAAT (ID NOW) test that you recommended in the past. My question is – will it be OK if we do that test on the 13th for our departure on the 15th, which is 2 days before we fly out? We should have the results by later that day. I think both the NAAT and the PCR are ok within 72 hours, right?
Thanks, will wait for your reply.
Yes, the NAAT is still the best option in the US. And yes you have the full 72 hours for that one 🙂
Omicron makes it really tough to find availability at Costco in the Montreal area: for example, days are already full for the first two weeks of February.
Has anyone tried the at-home kits (like this one https://www.switchhealth.ca/en/partners/aeroplan/#collectionKits)?
Yes Costco is very limited indeed, but the second option at $40 on Clic Santé in Québec is very convenient and plenty of availability. That’s what I used earlier this month. Haven’t tested those at-home kits myself but they should work fine, as long as you need 2 to make it as cheap as just using those pharmacies 🙂
Why are there no cheap tests in British Columbia. I live in Kelowna, BC and we have one location at our airport, called Whitecap and the rapid antigen test costs $126. plus tax. We need that in order to travel to the U.S.
There should be tests at our Costco, Walmart or pharmacy such as Shoppers Drug Mart, but not that I can find. Please let me know if you have any update. We’re travelling to the U.S. on March 7.
Hi Astrid, I am not sure why, but I think I read there was some government meddling in the availability of tests in BC in general, and yeah that is a brutal price for a rapid antigen test. I guess one option is to fly out of Seattle, but that’s probably a lot more convenient for Vancouver area residents as Kelowna is quite a bit further away.
We’ll try and put out our list of COVID-19 testing options by province soon.