People buy DNA testing kits for a variety of reasons: You can use At-home DNA testing to get a clear image of your health for early detection and prevention, learn more about your genealogy, and see how your traits and your health are affected by genes.
As DNA testing becomes more precise and affordable, the features offered by DNA companies grow more varied. While that's great news for anyone looking to explore their DNA from home, it can also quickly become confusing.
In order to narrow down the list and make your decision easier, we compiled this handpicked list of the top 10 reliable, affordable, and secure DNA testing kits and ancestry companies.
A DNA test (genetic testing) is a medical test that can identify mutations in your genes, chromosomes, or proteins. These mutations can indicate if you have or don’t have a genetic condition. DNA tests can also identify your risk for developing a certain condition or passing on a genetic disorder.
With DNA tests, you can build your family tree, confirm paternity, and even explore the migration patterns of your ancient ancestors. As of 2019, over 26 million people have been swabbed to receive in-depth info on their genetic history.
While some people may be tempted to share their genetic information with friends and family, it’s important to consider the privacy concerns that come along with this type of data sharing.
Though at-home DNA testing kits can be a great way to find out more about your heritage and family, there are some drawbacks. It could be that many who sign up for these kits are not aware of the implications of giving up their data.
Further below, we’ll walk through why you might or might not want to share your DNA test results, and how you can make an informed decision on the matter.
DNA testing works by taking a sample of cells from the person who’s undergoing the test. Scientists isolate the DNA code that is at the heart of every single cell and carries the information which determines all of your physical characteristics, from your hair color and height to your chances of developing certain conditions.
We tried some of the top DNA testing services, assessing the breadth and depth of their offerings, methodologies, reputation, and price. Take a look at our recommendations below.
MyHeritage offers a free family tree builder and complimentary access to select records, plus 2 paid services: an ancestry DNA kit and a subscription package. The MyHeritage DNA kit retails for $59 (normally $89) and allows you to discover your ancestral origins, mapping your ethnicity from across 2,114 worldwide groups. Using your DNA kit results, you can locate living relatives and find ancestors you may have previously been unaware of.
Meanwhile, MyHeritage’s Complete subscription—which retails for $149 for the first year (normally $299)—provides access to the company’s full set of genealogical research tools. This includes the Deep Nostalgia™ photo editing tool, in addition to a database of 16.9 billion historical records from newspapers, marriage, birth, and death records, censuses, immmigration records, and more. You can complement your DNA kit results with these records to reveal even more information about your ancestry.
The AncestryDNA test uses a saliva sample to test autosomal DNA for your ethnic and familial roots. The report included with the kit purchase includes:
Ethnicity estimates: A breakdown of your ethnicity across 1,500 global regions.
Relatives: A list of DNA matches will show your degree of relatedness. From this list, you will be able to message relatives and see which ethnicities you share.
ThruLines: If you opt to share your DNA results and family tree with your matches, ThruLines shows you likely common ancestors and allows you to add new branches to your family tree.
In order to connect with the billions of historical records in the Ancestry database, you will need to upgrade to one of Ancestry’s three paid subscriptions.
LivingDNA is a great choice if you’d like to explore a deep level of detail of your geographic ancestry, especially if you originate from the British Isles, Europe, or Africa. The LivingDNA test uses a cheek swab sample to provide recent ancestry, DNA matching to find relatives, and extended ancestry to gain insight into ancient migration patterns.
The separate Wellbeing test kit provides insight into aspects of your health that are influenced by your specific genetic makeup, including vitamin response, food metabolism, nutrition advice, and exercise tips. The Wellbeing test does not measure your risk of developing hereditary diseases.
LetsGetChecked doesn’t do DNA testing. Instead, the company offers at-home health screening kits for those who prefer not to visit a doctor to obtain a test order. There are dozens of health tests to choose from, including kidney and liver tests, cholesterol tests, hormone and fertility tests, and STD screenings.
The fact that customers can be tested for everything from thyroid conditions to hepatitis, HPV, and vitamin D deficiencies without going to a doctor makes it an attractive option for those without insurance or who are dealing with sensitive or confidential topics. Their team of medical professionals approve every diagnosis and can even prescribe medications.
Futura Genetics harnesses the latest in cutting-edge DNA science to give you detailed insights into your health. The company’s team of scientists perform advanced DNA tests to determine your relative genetic risk of developing 28 of the most commonly occurring diseases.
Based on studies of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), scientists zero in on genetic markers for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, lung cancer, type 1 and 2 diabetes, and provide individualized reports that detail your level of risk and the steps you can take to improve your chances of staying healthy.
GPS Origins touts its tests’ ability to map DNA and family histories in more than 900 unique geographic regions across the globe. This is more than most companies promise, though with GPS Origins the price is also somewhat higher.
The DNA origins test checks DNA to find the specific migration paths of one's gene pool by looking at hundreds of thousands of autosomal markers.
In addition, the test results are very easy to read across a series of color-coded maps, as well as reading material that is included with the results.
It's worthwhile to note that GPS Origins is now owned and distributed by HomeDNA.
The 23andMe user experience is smooth and easy to follow, with excellent customer service options. There are various options throughout the process, giving you control of the reports you receive and the level of sharing you’ll allow. The baseline “Ancestry+Traits Service” gives you a breakdown of your global ancestry—including fun information on Neanderthal and haplogroups. If you upgrade to Health + Ancestry Service, you’ll also receive useful information about your genetic risk of certain hereditary diseases. You can choose to keep your information completely private, or you can opt into the DNA Relatives tool, which enables you to connect with other users and to find any distant or close relatives on the platform.
It’s important to note that 23andMe does not provide genealogy research services offered by the other leading test companies like MyHeritage and Ancestry. But if you’re looking for insight into ancient roots and/or health information, 23andMe is a great option.
HomeDNA is an at-home DNA test kit provider that offers a large variety of test kit products. The company’s GPS Origins® series are comprehensive tests that provide detailed results that can determine your ancestral origin down to a single city, town, or region. Other, more affordable test kits provide broader results, emphasize specific health-related genetic factors, or are designed for pets.
Regardless of the DNA test kit you use, HomeDNA allows you to download your raw data free of charge. You will receive your results after 6 weeks (within 2 days for paternity tests), and all your data will be permanently stored online in a secure fashion. With affordable pricing, a thorough FAQ, and multiple support channels, HomeDNA’s tests are easy to purchase, use, and interpret.