Genetic testing has become more accessible to the general public. With the advent of easy, commercialized kits, users can send in a saliva sample and receive a detailed report on their genetic makeup, revealing insights into their ancestry and health. Prices for these tests range anywhere from $79 to $200+, making them a significant investment for most. If you’re choosing to take a deep dive into your genes, it’s important to know which is the best DNA test kit for you.
Most people have a variety of reasons for choosing to use DNA testing services. A survey was sent to around one million people who had used genetic testing and relative-finder services, of which 26,000 responded. Participants cited a variety of reasons for testing, but most usually want to learn more about their family, fill in a missing family tree, or search for long-lost family members. Others even tested due to specific suspicions of not being related to a family member.
No matter what your own personal reasons for seeking a DNA test kit are, it’s important to figure out which is the best option for you. Often one of the major ethical concerns behind DNA testing is whether the companies offering the tests sell your data to third parties. With over 26 million people who have taken DNA tests, police have previously entered and used DNA databases to identify victims and criminals. Each testing company has a different policy on privacy, and most promise not to let federal authorities access your DNA without a warrant. Before deciding on a test, make sure to read each company’s legal terms and decide if it’s right for you.
To give you a good starting point, StudyFinds researched the best DNA test kits on the market and compiled results from eight expert websites. Our list is based on the four kits that appeared the most across multiple sources. Have you tried a DNA test kit? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
The List: Best DNA Test Kits, According to Experts
23andMe is one of the most popular DNA testing kits, offering over 80 personalized reports that provide insight into your genetic makeup and ancestry. A simple mailed-in saliva test gives you results you can easily access online.
“If you want to learn about your health in addition to your ancestry, check out this test from 23andMe. With this test, you can get more than 150 reports on your ancestry and genetic health information,” writes CBS News.
If you pay more for the health test option, you get insight into genetic markers that may show you are predisposed to certain health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and celiac disease, and your carrier status for more than 40 illnesses, including cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and Tay-Sachs disease. This feature can be particularly useful for adoptees or others who may not know their family’s genetic history.
“The kit can also look at your lifestyle factors to determine the future of your health with things like lactose intolerance, muscle composition, caffeine consumption, and alcohol flush reaction,” writes ZDNet. “In addition, the company was the first DNA test kit approved by the Federal Drug Administration as a screener for potential diseases.”
If you’re looking for a kit that focuses more on your ancestry and history, AncestryDNA is a great pick. Users can discover migration patterns and regions of their ancestors, based on data.
“The aptly named AncestryDNA test stood out as the best DNA testing kit because it presents test results in a clearer manner than other services and places the ancestry information it provides in a useful historical context,” writes NY Times.
AncestryDNA has a larger database of over 22 million customers, increasing the likelihood of potential DNA matches for those seeking family connections.
“A DNA breakdown with Ancestry DNA encompasses “over 1,500 regions,” meaning you can take a deep dive into where your ancestors may have actually lived,” writes Forbes. “With its sample community feature, Ancestry DNA also provides users with potential reasons on how, and why, their ancestors moved from area to area, based on data.”
FamilyTreeDNA is suited for more serious genealogists who want a deeper dive into their lineage. This company offers two separate specific tests– Mitochondrial DNA which focuses on the maternal line, and Y chromosome DNA which focuses on the paternal line.
“These types of tests are best suited to those who have already taken autosomal DNA tests (like any of the above) and are looking for deeper information on their lineage,” writes Insider. “They’re also a good fit for someone who only wants information about their maternal or paternal line — for example, a biological male who never knew their father and wants more information about their paternal line only.”
Another big plus of FamilyDNA is the fact that the company does all of its own genetic processing, stores samples at its own lab in Houston, and reassures users that their data will never be sold to a third party.
“The company does its own DNA testing in-house, processing and storing your sample in its lab. Posted prominently on the front page of its website is a promise that the company will never sell your DNA to third parties,” writes CNET.
4. MyHeritage DNA
MyHeritage DNA is a great lower-budget option for want simple, easy-to-navigate ancestry data and don’t want to shell out $100-$200+ for their test results.
“Although they have one less region and a smaller reference panel than AncestryDNA, MyHeritage’s algorithm offers a slightly more detailed ethnicity breakdown,” writes Consumers Advocate. “In addition, like AncestryDNA and unlike 23&Me, MyHeritage offers the option to create family trees and supplement one’s research with documents and records, including marriage certificates and census data, that can make tracing family members and ancestry history easier.”
Users can upload data from other relatives or other test kits, then use this data and other information available online to build their own family tree.
“MyHeritage DNA does offer free family tree software, however. You can invite other relatives to collaborate on the family tree too. As you build a family tree, you and your family members can upload related photos. You can also search MyHeritage’s database for census records and voter lists and birth and death certificates and other public records to flesh out your family tree entries,” writes PC Mag.
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.