Best DNA Test 2018: Family Tree DNA vs 23andMe vs AncestryDNA vs MyHeritage DNA & More!
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Can a little spit really tell you that you’ve got some Albert Einstein in your DNA or that your ancestors migrated from the Middle East 2,000 years ago?
Surely, you’ve heard about the craze over at-home DNA tests. Interested in digging deeper into your family heritage? Want to know what test to take? DNA testing is easier and more affordable than you might think and can lead to amazing revelations about who you are.
We often get asked which test is best for revealing what type of information. Every DNA testing company has its own unique strengths and thus the results are better for certain types of data.
DNA Ancestry Test
When you hear about your friend doing a DNA test at home, there is a good chance that they are talking about an ancestry test. DNA testing for ancestry is growing in popularity as more and more people want to know about their family history. A DNA ethnicity test can help you discover your ethnic origins from around the world. DNA testing for genealogy can help you identify your ancestors and living relatives (from a parent to distant cousins). An ancestral DNA test may also inspire you to dig in deeper to your family tree with genealogical research.
DNA Paternity Test
Historically one of the more common types of DNA tests, a paternity test determines the biological link between a father and child. There’s even a non-invasive prenatal paternity test available now. Read our Paternity Test Comparison for the scoop.
DNA Health Testing
At-home DNA testing for most medical and health-related purposes is still in its infancy, but scientists are making advances every day. Always consult your physician before doing one of these types of tests and ask lots of questions.
Genetic Testing For Cancer Risk
Some people have a higher risk of developing specific types of cancers that tend to run in the family. In these cases, a physician may test your DNA to look for gene mutations that could indicate a higher risk. One of the better-known examples is testing for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (breast cancer genes) in women whose mother and sister have had breast cancer.
Genetic Testing For Carrier Status
Want to start a family, but you’re worried you may pass on an unwanted risk to your child? Some DNA tests can tell you if you’re a carrier for certain inherited conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia or hereditary hearing loss. A positive match doesn’t mean your child will inherit the condition; it just lets you know whether you carry the gene.
Not all DNA tests are the same. A carrier status DNA test, for example, focuses on the specific markers known to be associated with certain inherited conditions. On the other hand, DNA genealogy tests focus on specific markers related to our ancestry.
Check out our article on DNA Testing For Health Reasons to see which at-home tests are legit.
The cost varies by the company and the type of kit you choose but most range from $39 to $300+ and some offer free shipping. (Prenatal paternity tests can be $1,000 or more). After the one-time fee to have your DNA analyzed, you have access to your DNA records forever without paying a monthly fee.
The prices of the tests vary greatly because of the different features each offers. For example, some test for more than one type of DNA, which means the test may be more accurate or detailed than others.
The cost of DNA tests is the same regardless of where you live. So that means that someone in the United States pays the same as someone in Nigeria for the same test.
Often our top-ranked ancestry DNA companies (see below) will offer special discounts and promotions, and we do our best to keep this page updated when those sales happen. You can find these coupons in the review sections below for each specific company.
|1st: Ancestry DNA||2nd: Family Tree DNA||3rd: 23andMe||African Ancestry||GPS Origins by HomeDNA||Living DNA||MyHeritage DNA||National Geographic Geno 2.0||Vitagene|
|Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||View on Amazon||Visit Website||Visit Website|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|Test Type||Saliva sample||Cheek swab||Saliva sample||Cheek swab||Cheek swab||Cheek swab||Cheek swab||Saliva sample||Cheek swab|
|Best For||Identifying Relatives & Ethnicity||Advanced Genealogical Research & Identifying Relatives||Disease Risk Screening & General Ancestry||Ancient African Ancestry||Early Migratory Patterns||British Heritage||Adding DNA to Your Online Family Tree||Ancient Ancestry||Nutritional Guidance|
|Database Size||10 Million||989,000+||3 Million||30,000+||n/a||n/a||1 Million||895,000+||n/a|
|Ethnic Geographical Regions||150+||24||150+||n/a||n/a||80||42||n/a||25|
|Results In||6-8 Weeks||4-10 Weeks||6-8 Weeks||6+ Weeks||6 Weeks||10-12 Weeks||3-4 Weeks||8-10 Weeks||4-6 Weeks|
Step 1: Order Your Kit
Order your kit online from anywhere in the world (see below for our top picks). It takes about a week to receive the kit. The package should arrive sealed so you are certain it has not been tampered with.
Step 2: Set Up Your Online Profile
You’ll need to activate your kit online using a unique code provided to you. This connects your name and contact details to your sample so you can track progress as it’s tested and later view results. You’ll most likely sign a consent form and agree to the company’s legal terms and conditions before getting started.
Step 3: Provide A DNA Sample
Now for the fun part — providing your DNA sample! Most tests offer cheek swab tests. AncestryDNA, 23andMe and NatGeo Geno 2.0 tests require you to spit in a vial.
Either way, they recommend not eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum or teeth brushing at least one hour before to ensure a good sample. Also wash your hands before opening the test tubes to ensure a clean sample.
Step 4: Seal & Ship Your Sample
Once your samples are complete and ready to go, seal the samples in the specimen bag, place them in the provided mailing envelope, and drop the it in your mailbox for delivery. Don’t forget to make sure your unique ID is on each sample so the labs have a way to track it back to your profile.
Step 5: Wait For Analysis
In an age where we can get most things instantly, you might be anxious to get results right away. But, how long does a DNA test take to come back? Given the complexity of the process of analyzing your DNA and comparing your results to other samples, expect to wait anywhere from 4-10 weeks depending on the company.
Step 6: View & Share Your Results
To access your results, sign in to the online portal using the login you created when you activated your kit (results will not be mailed to you for privacy reasons). Once logged in, you can view and analyze your DNA in more detail using the provided percentages, maps and more depending on which kit you chose.
We chose our best DNA test for 2018 based on a number of factors, including the types of tests they offer, DNA database size, the extent of ancestry information you can find from each test, cost, genealogy research tools and more. If you need to brush up on DNA and ancestry-related terms, jump to our DNA terminology section.