The Best DNA Test Kit Roundup for 2023
Updated: September 12,2023
DNA tests are becoming incredibly popular. In 2018 alone, more people used home DNA test kits than in all previous years combined. Americans are fascinated with DNA testing services because they can reveal a lot about our genetic makeup and ancestry, help us connect with relatives, provide a solid foundation for creating a family tree, and unveil possible genetic health risks.
A few decades ago, DNA testing services weren’t only expensive but far less accurate. Thanks to technological advancements, the level of accuracy has risen and the costs have dropped. Today, you can get at-home DNA tests for as little as $60. However, with so many options on the market, it’s hard to pick the best DNA home test kit. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting and curated a list of the most accurate DNA test kits provided by DNA testing companies you can rely on.
4. MyHeritage DNA
4. MyHeritage DNA
- Highly accurate
- Well-known company
- Great family tree tools
- Some features require a subscription
AncestryDNA is both one of the oldest and most popular providers in the DNA testing industry. It was launched in 1996, and since then, 15 million people have used its at-home DNA tests. This company’s database - which dwarfs those of its competitors - has contributed to enhancing the company’s genealogy and family tree building features, which are its main focus. Currently, AncestryDNA claims it holds an impressive 27 billion records and information about 100 million family trees. On top of offering the best DNA test for ancestry, this company also offers health tests that can help identify potential medical risks.
The whole process starts with you ordering an AncestryDNA kit online. After you receive the kit in the mail, you’ll find fairly simple instructions. You’ll need to deposit your saliva sample into a tube, seal it, and then twist the cork to release a blue liquid. This liquid needs to mix with your saliva to help preserve the sample until it reaches AncestryDNA labs.
Before you send out your sample, you need to activate your kit. The activation process makes this one of the top DNA testing services around, as it helps preserve your privacy. Instead of labeling your DNA sample with your name, you connect the ID number from your sample to your account. After all of this is done, you need to mail the sample back to AncestryDNA. Once you do that, AncestryDNA takes from six to eight weeks to process your results.
Once your DNA results are ready, you just need to sign in to your Ancestry account to view the findings. First, you’ll be greeted with a world map where various regions are highlighted, representing your ethnicity estimate. AncestryDNA is arguably the best DNA test kit for ethnicity because it displays both the countries and specific regions your ancestors hail from.
When you’re done with the map, you can benefit from the most impressive AncestryDNA test feature - connecting with relatives. You get access to an often huge list of people you share DNA with, which can help you connect with cousins and add new names to your family tree. Thanks to AncestryDNA’s many users, you can truly make life-changing discoveries and make a detailed, sprawling family tree. These are some of the many reasons AncestryDNA is regarded as one of the best DNA testing companies around.
You can also see whether your DNA reveals any genetic preconditions or hereditary diseases, dig up documents related to your family, see your DNA traits, and much more.
There are three pricing packages available.
- AncestryDNA combines origins and ethnicity data and gives you access to your DNA matches. This package costs $99.
- AncestryDNA Traits + Family Tree Bundle will set you back $120 and includes a three-month World Explorer membership - the feature that lets you explore records and build your family tree.
- If you want the best DNA test for health, then you need to sign up for AncestryHealth. It has everything found in the previous packages except the World Explorer membership, but it adds health testing and reports. The price stands at $199.
During our AncestryDNA review, we learned that you have to pay a separate subscription fee if you want to use the family tree and record searching features. If you want to access US databases on ancestry alone, the monthly fee is $24.99. If you want worldwide records, prepare to pay $39.99.
AncestryDNA is impressive across the board and definitely one of the best ancestry kits around. The robust genealogy and family tree building features combined with its large customer base make for a superb DNA testing service. The only downside is the subscription fee for family tree building and accessing records.
- DNA trait information
- Neanderthal DNA tracing
- Easy to connect with relatives
- Sluggish customer support
Next to AncestryDNA, 23andMe is the most widely used at-home DNA test. The company was founded in 2006, and its services have since been used by millions of people worldwide. During our best DNA test kit reviews, we concluded that at its core, 23andMe has a lot in common with AncestryDNA. Both use a saliva sample to run an autosomal DNA test, which helps uncover info about your ancestry and ethnicity. With over 10 million users, 23andMe is second only to AncestryDNA on the DNA testing market. Thanks to its large customer base and advanced laboratories, you can be certain that 23andMe won’t leave you disappointed.
23andMe home DNA kits are ordered online and usually take between three and five days to arrive, depending on your location. Inside, you’ll find a tube for your saliva sample, identical to those found with any other best DNA heritage test kit we’ve reviewed. Deposit your saliva and close the lid, which will release the preservation liquid. You’ll then need to place your sample in a sealed bag and mail it.
Before you seal in the sample tube, make sure you use the barcode on it to register your sample online. This guarantees privacy and allows you to connect the sample to your account. When all this is done, send the sample back to 23andMe using the prepaid return mailer and wait between three and four weeks for your DNA results. This may sound like a long time, but even the best ancestry DNA kit will require that much - or more - processing time, so arm yourself with patience.
You can access your DNA analysis results exclusively online through your 23andMe account. Your genetic data report will contain a lot of useful information. First, you’ll get data on the geographic origins of your DNA, which is compared to more than 150 populations and over 2,000 regions around the world to give you a visualization of your roots. 23andMe reviews also praise the company’s DNA trait reports, which tell you how your DNA influences various physical traits such as hair and eye color.
23andMe also offers social media-like features, which enable you to connect with other users you share DNA with. Like many of the best DNA testing kits, 23andMe also has an automatic family tree builder.
Moreover, the service offers two great standout features: haplogroup testing and Neanderthal DNA tracing. Haplogroups include Y-DNA testing and mtDNA tests, allowing customers to find maternal and paternal ancestors. On the other hand, Neanderthal DNA tracing digs into your heritage and tells you what percentage of your DNA can be traced back to Neanderthals.
At the time we wrote our DNA test reviews, the 23andMe Ancestry + Traits test kit was on summer sale and cost $79, and you’d also get another 20% off every additional kit you ordered. The package includes more than 30 trait reports and a DNA relative finder.
23andMe is one of the leading DNA test kit companies for users who want extensive reports about their DNA makeup. The depth and accuracy of the DNA test results, coupled with haplogroup testing, make 23andMe one of the best choices on the market. In a 23andMe vs. Ancestry comparison, the former currently offers better prices thanks to its discounts. However, there is very little that sets these two companies apart, with both offering accurate and comprehensive tests.
- Great health and wellness advice
- Quick and painless testing method
- Subregional ancestry
Living DNA is a UK-based DNA testing company founded in 2016. It’s widely considered one of the best human DNA test kit providers on the market. The company focuses on the ancestry part of your DNA, and it offers the most detailed heritage information for regions located in Britain. In addition to a regular autosomal DNA test, Living DNA also bundles haplogroup analysis with extensive and detailed genetic health data.
Unlike most DNA tests, Living DNA test kits don’t require your saliva. Instead, you need to take a mouth swab, which involves collecting samples from the inner sides of your cheeks. This is a quick and painless process. Once you’ve taken the swab, you need to package it according to the instructions provided and mail it back to the company. Like with other best genetic testing kit companies, the mailing costs for sending the sample are already covered by Living DNA.
As we’ve seen with many other ancestry DNA tests, the average processing time is between six and eight weeks. You can get your results from the Living DNA site. Once you log in, you can first view ancestry and ethnicity information gathered from the DNA testing process. This data is represented on a world map with over 150 regions. This is far less extensive than the 2,000 regions available with 23andMe, but still provides a decent amount of information on par with the best DNA testing companies. Among those 150 regions are 21 subregions within the British Isles and 72 genetic regions on the African continent.
The company uses its unique DNA Constellations method to give you greater insight into 500 years of your family ancestry from all over the world. In addition, you can get access to the optional Family Networks feature, which allows you to connect with other people you share DNA with. This tool is optional in case you don’t want to be contacted by random relatives.
Living DNA is on our list of the best DNA kits list because it offers autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA testing, granting you access to the most detailed DNA report possible. In addition, the company’s so-called Wellbeing home DNA testing kits offer important genetic risk data, such as your body’s vitamin response, flexibility, and lactose sensitivity, while also providing genetic counseling on nutrition and exercise. Of course, this is more of a guide and shouldn’t replace advice given by doctors.
When it comes to privacy, Living DNA’s policy clearly states the company doesn’t share any personalized information with third parties or law enforcement (unless legally compelled to do so), and that customers’ genetic data is stored on secure servers. You can permit the company to use your DNA samples in genetic research if you wish.
Living DNA is a bit pricey compared to what we’ve seen in our DNA tests ancestry reviews so far. The standard Ancestry kit currently costs $99, while the Wellbeing kit will set you back $119. If you want the bundle, it’s currently offered at a price of $169.
While Living DNA lags behind some of the competition when it comes to the level of detail in its ancestry reports, the company makes up for this in several ways. The inclusion of both maternal and paternal DNA tests and the quality of the Wellbeing kit are worthy of praise.
- Quick results
- Free DNA upload
- Reports lack details
One of the best ancestry test providers around, MyHeritage DNA currently has over 92 million users around the world. This Israeli company made headlines by helping reunite migrant families in the US and has only soared in popularity since then. It focuses on ancestry and heritage research and also offers useful health test reports. While the DNA ancestry test results tend to be lacking in detail, everything is presented in an impressive manner.
The collection of the DNA sample is done by a mouth swab. To get the most accurate DNA test, this company requires two swabs - one for the inner side of each cheek. Before you mail back your sample, make sure you activate/register your kit first. This connects the sample to your MyHeritage DNA account without labeling it with your name. Once this is done, you mail the DNA sample back to the company.
Note that MyHeritage DNA currently doesn’t cover mailing costs. However, the processing time is only three to four weeks, making MyHeritage ideal for those of our readers who are impatient to get their results as soon as possible.
Once your genetic data is ready, you’ll receive an email notification. When you first access your results, you’ll be treated to a fancy animation of Earth showcasing your possible ethnicity matches and a little local music from each of the highlighted regions. MyHeritage DNA’s database covers 42 ethnicities and over 2,100 regions - a pretty big number. These DNA tests also reveal specific genetic groups you might hail from. In our DNA test kit reviews, we’ve certainly found more accurate ancestry reports, but we can’t say we’re disappointed with what’s on offer here.
In addition to ancestry data, the company enables you to connect with people you share DNA with who haven’t used this service. Even if you haven’t used MyHeritage DNA, you can upload your DNA analysis results for free if you wish to be found by relatives.
Finally, the service wouldn’t be complete without the ability to create family trees. You can also scan the company’s massive database to grow your tree.
The current (discounted) price of the ancestry testing kit is $59, which is significantly more affordable than some of the best DNA testing companies we’ve reviewed. If you want priority customer support, access to records, and a more detailed family tree, you’ll need a monthly subscription. The fee currently ranges between $7.42 and $16.58 per month, with pricier plans giving you access to automatic family tree building, database searches, and more.
This company won’t impress discerning customers with the level of detail in its reports, but the affordability, presentation, and overall user-friendliness of its DNA tests make it a worthwhile investment.
- Trace origins to ancient groups
- A la carte pricing
- Grouping all three tests is expensive
Launched in 1999, FamilyTreeDNA initially offered only Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. While tracing heritage across paternal and maternal lines can take you further back in your family’s history, autosomal DNA tests offer the best results, which is why all the best DNA testing kit providers use it. Thankfully, in 2010, FamilyTreeDNA added autosomal tracing to its test DNA services.
Whichever type of testing you decide to go with, the sample-taking process is the same. You start by ordering an ancestry DNA kit from FamilyTreeDNA. It usually takes up to three days for DNA testing kits to arrive, but that can vary depending on your location. You’ll then need to take a mouth swab - the easiest sample method available. You’ll get two snap-off swabs to collect the samples from the inside of your cheeks.
The best genetic testing kit should come with free return shipping, and FamilyTreeDNA ticks this box. However, this doesn’t apply to international orders. Its labs take four to eight weeks to process your sample. When the results are ready, you’ll be notified via email. There’s no anonymous sample registration, but FamilyTreeDNA’s policy very explicitly states the company doesn’t share your info with third parties. However, it does allow law enforcement access to its data.
FamilyTreeDNA is mainly focused on ancestry. Once you get your results, you’ll be treated to a percentage-based breakdown of your origins, with points of ancestry highlighted on the world map. What landed the company on our top DNA testing kit list is the ancientOrigins feature, which allows you to trace your origin to ancient groups by comparing your DNA to that found on archaeological sites. Of course, you also get access to a list of people you share DNA with, allowing you to establish connections and grow your family tree. Moreover, you can sort the list of your DNA matches by paternal lines for easier structuring.
FamilyTreeDNA offers three types of DNA testing as separate services. While we appreciate the ability to purchase each type of testing a la carte, the costs add up if you want to get all three. Some of the other best-rated home DNA test kit providers bundle all three services into a single package.
The price for autosomal testing stands at $79. The price of the maternity test is $159, while paternity tests cost $119.
FamilyTreeDNA offers robust DNA ancestry testing, but not much beyond that. While we found its ancientOrigins feature interesting, it couldn’t really justify the high prices and the fact that you have to pay for each type of testing separately.
Best DNA Test Kit for Ancestry in 2023 - Top 5 Picks
- MyHeritage DNA
Methodology for Finding the Best DNA Test Kit
Not all DNA tests are created equal. Of course, there are differences in the level of accuracy, but often the main differences boil down to the area of analysis each company focuses on. Some focus primarily on helping you trace back your ancestry or ethnicity, while others help you find relatives and lay the groundwork for creating family trees. There are also some services that focus on helping you spot potential health and wellness issues. Other points of divergence among the best DNA test kits are things like pricing, shipping time, and clarity of the results. Below, we’ll list out all the different aspects we look at when reviewing and comparing DNA testing kits.
Type of DNA Test
Before you delve deeper into your search for the right DNA testing kit, you should familiarize yourself with the different types of DNA tests. These tests differ in their ability to trace back your ancestry, and one of them can only be used on male DNA samples. There are three different test types.
Autosomal DNA test: This is the most common type of DNA test you’ll encounter. These tests measure your autosomal chromosomes, which make up the lion’s share of your DNA. The best DNA ancestry test kit usually involves autosomal DNA testing because it can analyze DNA from both maternal and paternal lines. However, due to the random DNA inheritance patterns, precise conclusions can only be drawn for close relatives. Autosomal ancestry DNA kits are considered precise up to your third cousins, but can theoretically be used to find your 10th cousin.
Y-DNA test: Y-DNA tests are used to identify male relatives, and they can only be performed on males. These tests are optimal for the best DNA paternity test kit, as they are more objective than autosomal ones, since Y-chromosomes are transmitted from father to son practically unchanged.
mtDNA test: This test examines the transmission of mitochondrial DNA, which is transmitted from mother to child. As such, it can be used by both men and women in order to trace their maternal ancestry.
Purpose of DNA Testing
The best DNA tests can be used for a variety of purposes, so determining which one is the best for you largely depends on what you want to use it for. The most common use for home DNA testing kits is to find out more about your ancestry and relatives. These tests can help you fill out your family tree (in a different way to that offered by online people search platforms), connect with relatives who have also taken the test, and find out more about your ancestors.
Meanwhile, DNA testing for ethnicity is slightly more problematic because of how data gathered from DNA tests is interpreted. People often confuse ancestry with race. For example, you might take the best DNA test for ancestry and see that there’s a 7% chance that you have genetic ancestry on the Asian continent. This doesn’t mean that you’re 7% Asian, but people tend to interpret it that way. Furthermore, this doesn’t mean that one portion of your DNA is from some part of Asia. DNA doesn’t work like a pie chart where you can see all of the different ethnicities you’re made of. Instead, statistics such as the one above are percentage estimates of where you hail from. This has nothing to do with race. Race doesn’t represent a biological concept in modern science and is largely interpreted as a social construct.
The best DNA test kit for health, on the other hand, is mainly used to determine an individual’s genetic predispositions to certain illnesses. Again, as with DNA testing for ethnicity, take the results with a pinch of salt. A predisposition doesn’t mean you’ll certainly develop a particular health condition. As test kit manufacturers will tell you themselves, these health-oriented tests should be used exclusively as guides or auxiliary methods and shouldn’t replace help from health professionals if you have genuine medical concerns.
There are three dominant ways in which DNA samples are collected: blood, saliva, and a mouth swab. When it comes to home use, the best home DNA test kit options rarely involve blood samples nowadays. Saliva sample tests require you to deposit your saliva in a tube you receive with the kit. This can get trickier than it sounds, but still shouldn’t be too hard. Mouth swabs, on the other hand, require you to take a swab of the inner side of both of your cheeks. Each sample type has its unique packaging and conservation methods.
One commonly used method to guarantee user privacy is anonymous sample registration. By using unidentifiable codes to register your samples, the provider ensures no DNA information can be connected to a specific person. This means you won’t have to worry about someone being able to gain access to your personal information. It simply doesn’t work like fingerprint or facial recognition.
Of course, pricing plays a huge role in our evaluation. When we look at DNA test kit prices, we examine what exactly you’re getting for your money, including the accuracy of the results, the kind of information you’re getting, how detailed the reports are, and whether shipping costs are included. Many of the best ancestry DNA test kit options come with a one-time fee. However, companies like AncestryDNA have a subscription fee for their family tree features.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s hard to make a DNA test comparison, since most labs are now equally advanced. However, AncestryDNA and 23andMe are generally considered to be the most reliable.
These two services are very similar, but AncestryDNA has a larger customer base, making it easier to find relatives.
AncestryDNA is widely considered the most accurate service on the market. The company promises DNA test results that are 99% accurate.
Yes, even the best DNA test kit can be wrong. This is usually due to human error or sample contamination, but these situations are extremely rare.
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