Range of DNA Tests
When most people think of home DNA tests what typically comes to mind are what is known as ancestry or ethnicity tests. These are tests which pore over your DNA sample in order to get an overview of your ethnicity and build an assessment of the migration paths your ancestors took over the eons.
With many companies, you can combine an ancestry test with access to genealogical records and family tree builders. This allows you to create a comprehensive genealogical research tool that can be eye-opening, and can also help you find long-lost relatives you never even knew you had.
In addition, many ancestry DNA tests can also be used to establish paternity. These can be far more expensive—especially if they need to be legally admissible for immigration or custody reasons. You can expect to easily spend several hundred dollars or more on such a test.
And while ancestry and ethnicity tests are the most popular and prominent type of home DNA tests available today, there are other types that are gaining in popularity at a rapid clip.
Health DNA tests can use your DNA sample in order to build a personalized health assessment. These tests can assess if you are likely to have a genetic disease later in life, which vitamins you should take, and even if you like spicy foods or favor the sweet stuff.
Health tests can also be used to determine if there are any specific vitamins or supplements you should take, and which types of exercise are likely to be better for someone with your DNA makeup. Many companies combine the 2 tests into a health + ancestry test, so you don’t have to choose one or the other if you don't want to.
Though it may give you pause (paws?), a growing field is the world of pet DNA tests. No, this isn’t a way for your terrier to find any long lost relatives in the Old Country, rather, it’s a way for people with mixed-breed dogs to find out the pedigree of their pooch. These tests give an assessment of the breeds by percentage, as well as a health overview and an assessment of how much wolf and coyote DNA the dog has. You can also perform a DNA test on your cat, which can tell you which breeds are in their bloodline and which health issues they may have now or down the line.
DNA Tests at a Glance—What Do They Do and What Do They Cost?
Typically a straight ancestry/ethnicity test on its own will be your cheapest dna test kit, ranging from as little as $59 to around $79-$99 for most companies. These kits are often on sale online, especially around holiday time. Combined ancestry + health tests can easily cost twice this, or around $199. Other tests include not only a health and ancestry report, but also a monthly shipment of supplements. This can cost around $150 for the initial test and then a monthly charge that can be $50-$100.
Here’s a quick glance at the prices of some of the big names in the DNA kit industry:
What's the Right Kit for Your Budget?
The best way to find the right DNA kit for your budget is to look at your questions and needs. What are you looking to find out? What information is most important to you?
Keep in mind that there are 3 different kinds of tests—Autosomal, Mitochondrial, and Y-Chromosome—all with different benefits. Autosomal testing looks at 22 of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up your DNA and tells you your genetic makeup from both sides of your family; while mitochondrial and Y-chromosome testing only look at the 23rd pair of chromosomes. Both men and women can do mitochondrial testing, but it only produces results having to do with your mother’s ancestral line, while only men are able to do Y-chromosome testing, as it examines genetic markers on the Y-chromosome.
Once you know what you’re looking for and know which type of test is right for you, you can look at the different companies offering DNA testing services and choose the right kit for your budget.
- DNA testing kits - $99/kit, often discounted to as low as $59
- Shipping and handling - $12
- Family tree premium - $110
- Family tree premium plus - $175
- Family tree complete - $250.80
Founded in 2003, MyHeritage is a top choice for those looking to learn about their past. The company approaches your history from 2 angle—DNA testing and family tree building. It offers a DNA testing kit that works off of a painless cheek swab, and also has a massive database with over 8 billion historical records that’s key to building your family tree and connecting the dots. MyHeritage’s home DNA testing kit is extremely easy to use, and results are ready within only 4-6 weeks. Its family tree building service is straightforward, not overwhelming like many others, and reliable. Go with MyHeritage if you want an affordable kit and a straightforward results report.
- Ancestry DNA kit - $99, often discounted to as low as $79
- US discovery [genealogy] - $99
- World explorer [genealogy] - $149
- All access [genealogy] - $199
With over 17 billion searchable records and 2 million new records added every day, Ancestry has a reputable name within the DNA testing space. The company has a strong genealogy focus and emphasizes the importance of building your family tree to create a complete picture of your past. The DNA kit requires a small saliva sample, and from that produces all-encompassing and easy-to-understand results that are viewable online. Included in your results is an interactive ethnicity map, as well as a “Predicted Relationships” section that includes a confidence range.
You can choose from 3 plans, all ranging in price. US Discovery gives you access to all US records on Ancestry, World Explorer gives you access to all US and international records on Ancestry, and All Access gives you a full membership to Ancestry’s records as well as the records of Newspapers.com and Fold3.com. Ancestry provides DNA services that are some of the least expensive on the market, and results that are specific and detailed.
- DNA testing kit - $99
Founded in 2006, 23andMe has an all-encompassing DNA solution that’s simple, affordable, and trusted by consumers. With only a small saliva sample, you can see how your DNA breaks down across 150+ regions worldwide, and discover relatives from around the world. Not only can you find long-lost relatives, but you can connect with them and send them a message through the database. 23andMe’s home DNA kit can tell you where your ancestors lived more than 500 years ago, and show how they got there. If you find something interesting that you want to ask a family member or friend, you can easily share your results and get feedback. 23andMe’s DNA test results are ready within 6-8 weeks, and the company offers a 10% discount on every additional kit.
- DNA testing kit - $159, sometimes discounted
LivingDNA aims to “show humanity that we are all made up of all of us, dissolving the concept of race,” and does so with its 3-in-1 ancestry test. Its DNA collection uses a cheek swab, and LivingDNA advertises that it offers twice the detail of other tests out there. Its 3-in-1 test traces not only your family line ancestry, but your motherline and fatherline (if you are male), too. Your results will show insights dating back 10 generations, and tell you where your ancestors were located at different points in history. LivingDNA frequently offers discounted rates, like its DNA kit that’s usually $159 and often sold for only $99.
- DNA-based health report - $49
- Health + ancestry report - $79
Vitagene has a unique offering that uses your DNA to create personalized health plans. By using your specific DNA, the company is able to help you improve your health and avoid illnesses you may be prone to. Its personalized plans start with a cheek swab, which tells the lab everything they need to know about your health and genetic diseases, if any. Once the results are completed, you will be informed about vitamins you’re lacking, allergies you have, and food you should avoid. Vitagene offers 2 plans: one that’s a basic health report, and another that combines health and ancestry findings. The company often offers limited time discounts on its products.
Discover Your Past With the Right Test
DNA testing companies offer their tests for purchase online through their company websites. Most companies offer special discounts and sales, often around holiday time. You may also find discounted prices if you’re buying more than one kit so check with a friend or relative to see if you can team up for a better deal. Regardless, before you purchase a DNA kit, make sure to take a look at what each kit offers, and make sure that you’re buying one that has what you’re looking for, or that doesn’t charge for added testing that you aren’t interested in. And perhaps most importantly, have fun. There’s a whole world to explore out there, and endless personal and family discoveries that you didn’t even know were waiting for you.