Once reserved only for the richer side of society, DNA testing is now within reach for most of us, thanks to home DNA kits. As their popularity has grown, so has their specificity. Now, more than ever before, you have ways to track down and reconnect with a distant relative or find out the likelihood of getting wrinkles and gray hair. No matter what you’re looking for, chances are, there's a kit perfectly suited to your needs.
So, whether you’re interested in creating your family tree, shining the spotlight on the health of your skin, or searching for the identity of a parent, these DNA kits are some of the most affordable ways to start your journey
Breaking Down Our Top Choices: Which of The Cheapest DNA Tests Is Best for You?
- MyHeritageDNA - Best ancestry (autosomal) DNA test on a budget
- AncestryDNA - Best for building a deep, specific family tree (the largest database)
- LivingDNA - Best DNA test for motherline and fatherline ancestry
- 23andMe - Best for finding relatives you never knew about
Health DNA Kits:
- Vitagene - Best DNA test for health reports & plans
DNA Paternity Kits:
- Paternity Depot - Most affordable paternity test
- EasyDNA - Best paternity tests for international customers
- Paternity USA - Best for quick results
The Cheapest Ancestry Kits
Most DNA home testing kits cost around $99 per kit but you can often find deals online that can bring that down to around $59 or so. Regardless, unless you’re going for an extensive test that also includes health screening, you should expect to stay somewhere in the $79 range, and here are the top DNA kits at that price point.
1. MyHeritageDNA - Best ancestry (autosomal) DNA test on a budget
Latest Price: $49
Results in: 3-4 weeks
Collection Method: Cheek swab
- Offers special deals to increase affordability
- Ethnicity results cover wide range of geographical regions
- Does not offer health screenings
MyHeritage DNA is one of the biggest online genealogy research outlets, and also provides an industry-leading DNA testing service. The tests cost $89 but there's a sale going on right now, as there often is, for $39 per test kit.
MyHeritage is one of the 3 largest DNA testing companies with a database of over 1 million people that covers covers 42 languages and 2,114 geographic regions. The company claims it has the largest network of international family trees, which is ideal for those trying to connect to distant relatives. You can also pair your test with a membership to the company’s genealogy database, to give you the ultimate research tool.
The combination of amount of users in the database and affordability of its tests puts MyHeritage above the competition.
2. AncestryDNA - Best for building a deep, specific family tree (the largest database)
Latest Price: $59
Results in: 6-10 weeks
Collection Method: Saliva
- Well-priced and feature-rich
- Deep, specific insights
- Can't upload data from other DNA services
Recent years have been kind to AncestryDNA , which has built the largest and most diverse database of any DNA testing company with over 22 million users. The company also offers competitive pricing, with tests as cheap as $59 each.
You can also purchase access to an immense database of US and international records that can help you research your family background.
When you get your results from AncestryDNA, they are mapped out according to separate “genetic communities,” which can be very specific and really nail down the environs in which your ancestors roamed.
Ancestry's database size combines with the amount of geographic regions it covers - which it claims is 5 times the size of most competitors - and its millions of users to create a unique ancestry experience. It therefore comes in second place.
3. LivingDNA - Best DNA test for motherline and fatherline ancestry
Latest Price: $95
Results in: Up to 12 weeks
Collection Method: Cheek swab
- Covers more than 80 regions worldwide
- Also covers maternal and paternal lines separately
- Regular price is more expensive than other kits
LivingDNA has carved out its corner of the DNA testing industry through the use of some of the most highly sophisticated testing methods in the business.
While most companies must provide a single overall mapping of your roots, with Living DNA it goes very deep, and separately traces your maternal DNA (mtDNA) and paternal DNA (Y-DNA).
LivingDNA can also track your ethnic heritage back about 10 generations, and find specific locations where your ancestors settled, with 21 just in the UK and Ireland alone.
One drawback of LivingDNA is that it is more expensive than many other companies, though it does offer more comprehensive testing. Also, if you wait and take advantage of a sale, you can get a test for as little as $9.
4. 23andMe - Best for finding relatives you never knew about
Latest Price: $119
Results in: 4-6 weeks
Collection Method: Saliva
- Ancestry and health services offered
- Reputable and accurate results
- More expensive than other tests
23andMe combines extensive ancestral tracing with a comprehensive overview of your health that can give you a heads up on potential health problems down the road, as well as shining a light on some physical traits you’re genetically predisposed to.
The combined ancestry and health report gives you great insight into things other tests don’t offer—such as if you are inclined to someday have Alzheimer's or Parkinson’s but even without the health test, 23andMe offers a very competitive DNA ancestry service.
The reports access your ancestry percentages down to as little as .1% and can match you to 31 different populations worldwide. In addition, with the DNA relatives tool, you can potentially find people you never knew you were related to.
The Cheapest Health DNA Kits
DNA Health kits narrow the scope of your genetic makeup to give you insight into your own body. Whether predicting possible health issues, or offering tips on how to care for yourself, health kits offer a specialized glimpse into how our DNA can help us not only trace the past but improve the future.
Depending on the tests involved, health kits can be more expensive than general ancestry kits. Here are 2 great choices that fall under $100:
1. Vitagene - Best DNA test for health reports & plans
Latest Price: $99
Results in: 6-8 weeks
Collection Method: Cheek swab
- Great price
- Ancestry kit comes with health tests
- Other packages get more expensive
Vitagene is a DNA test kit company that also gives you some deep insights into your own health. Its ancestry database is not as large as competitors, which is why it's priced at $99 normally, but users really like the health aspect.
The results of your sample should be ready in about 6-8 weeks and they will include your ancestral make up, spread across 5 regions throughout the world, as well as a look at what exercises are best for you, what supplements you should take, and what food items you should avoid.
Latest Price: $99.99
The Cheapest DNA Paternity Kits
Paternity kits belong to a more specialized subsection of DNA tests. Due to potential legal ramifications, as well as the sensitivity of the matter, paternity tests tend to be more expensive than general DNA kits. Most companies offer both a general paternity kit and a legally binding one, which is more expensive but can be used in court.
Paternity kits can range from under $100 to a few hundred dollars, depending on how they will be used. Below are some good deals we found that fall below $150:
1. Paternity Depot - Most affordable paternity test
Latest Price: $79
Results: 7-10 days
Collection method: Cheek swab
In-house labs significantly reduce cost and wait time
Results are double-checked for accuracy
Need to spend an extra $50 to validate with legal merit
Paternity Depot offers one of the quickest turnarounds for DNA results, as well as one of the more affordable options for paternity tests. This is because unlike other DNA testing companies that partner with independent labs, Paternity Depot performs the testing from its own laboratories. This allows them to cut out the middle-man and provide quick, double-checked results with 99.99% accuracy.
Understanding the sensitive and sometimes confidential nature of paternity tests, Paternity Depot takes certain precautions to ensure accuracy. If traditional cheek swabs are hard to attain, they accept alternative DNA sources that can be taken from hair, Kleenex, and toothbrushes. All results are run twice to ensure precision. Paternity Depot operates out of 2 state-of-the-art facilities that are staffed by PhD-level scientists.
2. EasyDNA - Best paternity tests for international customers
Latest Price: $109
Results: 3-5 days
Collection method: Cheek swab
Operate all over the world
Can split kits for testees in different locations
At-home tests not available to New York State residents
With an international operation spread across 20-plus countries, EasyDNA offers easy at-home testing and peace of mind to people across the world. Though the company offers a wide range of DNA testing services, their global reach can be especially helpful for those seeking a paternity test. If one of the samples needs to be procured from someone in another country or state, EasyDNA can send out multiple kits to different locations.
The results are remarkably quick too. In 3-5 workdays customers will receive results with 99.99% accuracy for positive results and 100% for negative. EasyDNA’s labs are ISO 17025-accredited and use 21 genetic markers in their tests. They offer both home and legal paternity tests, though customers should note that due to New York State Department of Health regulations, at-home paternity kits are not available to residents of New York.
International customers can feel assured that EasyDNA’s customer care team offers support in multiple languages including Spanish, French, Russian, and Italian, as well as email and live chat support.
3. Paternity USA - Best for quick results
Latest Price: $125
Results: 2 business days
Collection method: Cheek swab
Shortest wait time
Tests performed twice to ensure accuracy
Not as affordable as other options
Paternity USA’s quick turnaround—results come in just 2 business days—is due to the fact that all tests are done from their in-house laboratory. This allows for peace of mind and less waiting time for such a sensitive topic.
Paternity USA’s lab is fully accredited and follows all the standards of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). Despite the quick turnaround, the company takes extra care to ensure precise results. Every test is performed twice for increased precision, and all results are held in the highest confidence.
What is a Home DNA Kit?
Home DNA kits are a way for you to get a professional, laboratory analysis of your Deoxyribonucleic Acid, the unique genetic source code that makes you who you are.
Typically this is done through companies like AncestryDNA or 23andMe, which analyze your DNA to determine which parts of the world your ancestors came from, and how they got there. Some of these tests can also analyze your DNA to assess your personal health, and provide you an overview of your risks for developing certain genetic conditions.
The tests typically come with a vessel (usually cotton swabs or a test tube) for submitting your sample, as well as an envelope to use to send the sample to the laboratory.
How Do I Do a DNA test?
The DNA testing industry has exploded in recent years, largely due to the fact that ordering and taking the tests is so simple.
After you’ve done some shopping around, order a home testing kit from the company of your choosing. Usually within a matter of days you’ll receive a kit at your home, and that's where the adventure really begins.
First things first, in most cases you’ll register your test online, by setting up an account on the company website. This is where your results will be posted when they’re ready.
Inside the box you’ll find the receptacles for submitting your samples.There are 2 main types of DNA samples—a swab and a saliva test. With the former, you take a cotton swab and scrape the inside of your mouth for about 30 seconds on each cheek. Some companies require you to submit 2 swabs, but not always.
With the saliva test, you’ll be asked to, well, spit in what is basically a test tube. It’s not a large amount of saliva, though just like with the cotton swab test, most companies ask that you not eat, smoke, or brush your test at least 30 minutes before taking the test.
After you’ve finished giving your sample, you seal up the container and send it back to the laboratory in the enclosed envelope. Once the sample is received by the laboratory it typically takes anywhere between 4 to as much as 12 weeks or so for your test to be ready. Usually the busier the company is the longer the results will take, such as during the holiday season, when DNA tests are a popular Christmas present.
When the results are ready you’ll receive an email from the company and then you can go onto the company website, login, and see your results. Most companies present the results in engaging, interesting formats, often with a globe that shows where on earth your family comes from.
How to Get a Cheap (Or Free?) DNA Kit
DNA tests are cheaper than they’ve ever been, but you should still be wary of any company offering free tests. This is likely to just be an introductory offer, and does not include actual testing of your DNA sample.
Most companies offer special deals online with their DNA tests, including markdowns from $99 to around $49 or so with several companies. These may be more common around holiday season, when DNA tests become very popular and there is real competition between the main brands.
One of the costs inherent in DNA tests is shipping. With many companies, the shipping becomes cheaper as you order more kits. You may want to consider pairing up with other people ordering kits, in order to make a bulk purchase that will have a lower price per kit.
Just a decade or 2 ago, most people thought of DNA testing as something that was mostly relegated to TV police dramas. It was a bridge too far, science that was beholden to law enforcement and academics in far off research facilities, and not a hobby for everyday folks like us.
With today’s “democratization” of DNA testing, there are ever-expanding horizons for how we can use this technology in our daily lives, and with each passing day, it gets that much easier for you to deploy DNA science as your own beacon of self-discovery.
And the best part? It’s gotten cheaper than ever before. This is no biotech science fiction—its real life, it’s easy, and it’s time for you to give it a shot.