5 Best DNA Testing Kits In 2018: Easy Ancestry Lookup From Home

Best DNA Testing Kits
article by Emery S. author
One of the best methods in locating living relatives is via our DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). We inherit our DNA’s attributes from our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. It’s our body’s official family tree locator. Did you know that DNA testing is now simpler than ever?
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It’s part of our human nature to research and find out more information with regards to our roots and ancestry. Fortunately, the world has become much smaller now, thanks to the Internet and active social media users. We can now easily connect and reconnect with family members from previous generations.

Furthermore, there are now plenty of options for us when we’re ready to conduct a DNA test. Some of the best DNA testing kits are easily accessible online. A DNA kit is not very expensive, which means that almost anybody can buy one and move forward with a DNA ancestry or family DNA test.

Scientific tests are necessary in order to achieve precision and accuracy when tracing roots and branches of a family tree. This is why more individuals are now getting a DNA heritage test, as well as other types of DNA testing. We can even conduct a home DNA test at an affordable cost and get the results fairly quickly.

For families with a complex history, getting an ancestry DNA test is a smart and practical idea. People also get DNA tests to know the degree of their closeness with a relative. Sometimes, even our grandparents and parents know little about the extent of our family tree’s reach across the world. Certainly, DNA tests are better than word of mouth passed from generation to generation.

BrandsPricingDatabase SizeResults Time 
Ancestry.com$ 997,000,0006-8 WeeksGet Now
Living DNA$ 99Small and Growing10-12 WeeksGet Now
MyHeritage$ 59700,0003-4 WeeksGet Now
23andMe$ 992,000,0006-8 WeeksGet Now
Family Tree DNA$ 79923,9294-10 weeksGet Now

How do DNA Kits Work

All DNA testing packages are generally the same. There could be a few different steps when it comes to the procedure in which you collect your sample. However, there are some common procedures which are present across all kinds of DNA kits. Some of these include:

  • An official form to answer a few questions
  • Instructions to collect your sample for testing
  • A guideline on how to register your kit
  • A process for sending it back to the tester

Once you have completed all of these steps, all you have to do is wait for the result.

We’ve compared a few kits from various testing providers and the main difference we’ve found between each DNA kit is in the sample collection process and shipping instructions.

Interestingly, some testing providers may be limited by restrictions imposed by your local government. In the past, there were laws that banned the sending of samples for DNA testing due to health and safety reasons, though the situation is generally much improved now. Still, be sure to check your local laws first, to rule out any potential issues that may arise because of where you live.

All of the DNA testing providers we’ve tried have a registration process for their clients, which is needed for privacy protection. When you send the kit back, it won’t contain your name, and neither will the test results when they arrive. Therefore, it’s mandatory for you to register your kit and link it to your identity in the process.

There’s nothing else left to do after shipping your sample for testing. You’ll get a confirmation email advising that the testing center has received your sample, to which you do not need to respond. They will then email you again when the results are ready, and this can take a minimum of three weeks.

How We Test DNA Testing Kits

DNA testing kits are good for several purposes, and some companies help you along towards those goals more than others. Here’s what you can do with a DNA testing kit:

  • Find out about your predisposition towards diseases or health conditions based on your genetics. 23andMe is particularly suited for this purpose.
  • Find out more about ancestry and where you come from. Tests like MyHeritage and Ancestry.com work wonders to this end.

Here are some misconceptions about DNA testing:

  • You can use it to solve a murder mystery in an hour (like your favorite crime shows portray).
    Truth: Typically these tests take 4-6 weeks for a response.
  • You need to dig up your grandfather’s remains to get accurate results.
    Truth: The Y chromosome is passed down and kept safe in your DNA, so no remains are needed.
  • You have no privacy once you take a DNA test.
    Truth: There are laws in place to protect your ownership, and legitimate testers will respect your privacy in all of their terms. Just look at Ancestry.com for a good example of this.

Top Six Factors

Using a DNA testing kit to find out more about your heritage and yourself is an exciting opportunity, but with so many on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. After all, what makes for a good testing kit anyway? Here are some factors we used to rate our recommended DNA testing kits.

  1. How is the sample taken? DNA testing kits take skin or saliva samples, not blood as many misconceive, but some DNA testing kits are more invasive than others. Simple swab tests are easy to use and won’t make you feel invaded. Spitting in a vial is another non-meddlesome method for collecting DNA samples. Some people don’t like the scraping method, so these types of tests scored lower in this area.
  2. Any additional information needed? If you have to jump through hoops to get your test results, the service isn’t much help. More information is good, but only when it’s accessible. Services earned more points when they were flexible with the information needed, providing more services when the data was there, but not making results contingent upon things that people will have trouble finding (that’s what the DNA tests are for after all!)
  3. How easy is it to send the test back? Points were earned for having a self-addressed envelope or packaging for the sample ready to be sent back to the company.
  4. How long is the wait time? Once you send the sample, you want answers fast. Quick response times earned more points.
  5. What else do you get? Many DNA testing services provide additional information and services along with your results. Providers scored points for family tree builders, database size, mobile services, etc.
  6. What kind of privacy policies are in place? Respecting your privacy is of utmost importance with something as personal as DNA. Services scored much higher for strong privacy policies.

Different Types of DNA Tests

You can choose from three different types of DNA tests, the results of which will tell you different things:

  1. Autosomal DNA: This is the most popular kind of genealogy DNA test or family DNA test. This will study the DNA you inherited from all the branches of your family tree. The results of this test will tell you where your ancestors lived hundreds of years before. It’s also known as DNA ethnicity test, as it can match you with distant relatives. Gender does not play a role in this test. Both men and women can take this test and get the same results.
  2. mtDNA: This is also known as mitochondrial DNA test. This will look into the DNA that came from your mother. You will learn about your grandmother and great-grandmother from your mother’s side, but it won’t give you information about your mother’s father. This test is helpful if you’ve never met your mother or have no way of knowing her relatives.
  3. Y-DNA: Human DNA is divided up into 23 pairs of chromosomes, which are subsequently divided into genes. Our 23rd human chromosome has two versions, the X for women, and Y for men. Y-DNA tests only look into the Y-chromosome. This is a DNA paternity test.

The Y-DNA works the same way as the mtDNA test, except it traces your direct paternal line. Since we generally use our father’s last name, we can use this test to determine if we are related to someone with the same family name.

Which DNA Test is Right for You?

If you want a bird’s eye view of your DNA which will help you trace distant relatives from your maternal and paternal lines, go for autosomal DNA testing.

For instance, if you want to have a Native American DNA test in order to determine the percentage of your ancestry that is Native American, this is the right one for you. However, this study goes back to about five generations only.

In contrast, both mtDNA and Y-DNA can go back to as far as 10,000 years or more. Since the test is looking into one side of your ancestry (mother or father), it’s able to gather more information in its focused examination.

If you want to fully understand your health risks, or have a DNA test for diet and exercise, or a general DNA health testing, you have to choose both mtDNA and Y-DNA.

The Best DNA Testing Kits

#1 Ancestry.com

ancestry logo

Possibly the most well-known DNA testing company worldwide, Ancestry.com unites DNA testing with wildly extensive 20 billion historical records, surveying your entire genome with state-of-the-art tools.

  • Genetic Markers Checked: 700,000
  • Geographic Regions Covered: 350 worldwide
  • Database Size: 7,000,000
  • Family Tree Integration: Yes
  • Ancestral Makeup Report: Yes
  • Paternal Lineage Available: Yes
  • Maternal Lineage Available: Yes
  • Neanderthal Percentage: No
  • List of all products available + pricing:
    • DNA testing kit $99 (Excludes taxes and shipping)
    • US Discovery – access all US records – Monthly membership $19.99, 6-month membership $99
    • World explorer – access all US and international records – Monthly membership $34.99, 6-month membership $149.99
    • All access – full membership to Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com and Fold3.com – Monthly membership $44.99, 6-month membership $199
  • Countries Available: 6
  • Average Results Time: 6-8 weeks
  • Additional Subscription Options
    • Free trial of any plan for 14 days.

Reveal All You DNA Secrets Now, With Ancestry.com Testing Kit

For more information on Living DNA features, read our extensive Ancestry.com review.

#2 Living DNA

Living DNA Logo

Offering itself as ‘the most advanced DNA test, with twice the detail’ of their competitors, Living DNA boasts results with a detailed DNA mix across 80 world regions, including 21 in Britain, and free updates.

  • Genetic Markers Checked: 650,000
  • Geographic Regions Covered: 80 worldwide
  • Database Size:  Limited but growing
  • Family Tree Integration: No
  • Ancestral Makeup Report: Yes
  • Paternal Lineage Available: Yes
  • Maternal Lineage Available: Yes
  • Neanderthal Percentage: No
  • List of all products available + pricing:
    • Ancestry DNA test – $99.00
  • Countries Available: Worldwide
  • Average Results Time: 10-12 weeks
  • Additional Subscription Options:
    • Personalised ancestry book – $69.00 one-time addition

Revel All You DNA Secrets Now, With Living DNA Testing Kit

For more information on Living DNA features, read our extensive Living DNA review.

#3 MyHeritage DNA

MyHeritage Logo

Known as a competitively priced option for DNA testing and with billions of international records, MyHeritage automatically searches for family tree updates in its database, alerting you of these by email.

  • Genetic Markers Checked: 690,000
  • Geographic Regions Covered: 42
  • Database Size: 700,000
  • Family Tree Integration: Yes
  • Ancestral Makeup Report: Yes
  • Paternal Lineage Available: No
  • Maternal Lineage Available: No
  • Neanderthal Percentage: No
  • List of all products available + pricing:
    • DNA test kit – $59 (Excludes taxes and shipping)
    • Family Tree Basic plan – Free
    • Family Tree Premium – $82.50 per year
    • Family Tree PremiumPlus – $131.34 per year
    • Data – $119.40 per year
    • Complete – $175.77 per year
  • Countries Available: Worldwide
  • Average Results Time: 3-4 weeks
  • Additional Subscription Options:
    • None

Reveal All You DNA Secrets Now, With MyHeritage DNA Testing Kit

For more information on MyHeritage DNA features, read our extensive MyHeritage DNA review.

#4 23andMe

23andme logo

Offering one of the cheapest DNA testing solutions around, available across over 150 regions worldwide, 23andMe’s search goes deep – the results even indicate your potential Neanderthal lineage!

  • Genetic Markers Checked: 570,000
  • Geographic Regions Covered: 150 worldwide
  • Database Size: 2,000,000
  • Family Tree Integration: No
  • Ancestral Makeup Report: Yes
  • Paternal Lineage Available: Yes
  • Maternal Lineage Available: Yes
  • Neanderthal Percentage: Yes
  • List of all products available + pricing:
    • Ancestry testing kit – $99
  • Countries Available: 56
  • Average Results Time: 6-8 weeks
  • Additional Subscription Options:
    • Buy one, get 10% off each additional kit

Reveal All You DNA Secrets Now, With 23andMe DNA Testing Kit

For more information on 23andMe DNA features, read our extensive 23andMe review.

#5 Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA Logo

With a range of testing kits, Family Tree DNA offers worldwide shipping, webinars and a history of industry expertise. Its ‘Ancient Origins’ function checks your results against DNA found at archaeological digs.

  • Genetic Markers Checked: 690,000
  • Geographic Regions Covered: 22 worldwide
  • Database Size: 923,929
  • Family Tree Integration: Yes
  • Ancestral Makeup Report: Yes
  • Paternal Lineage Available: Yes
  • Maternal Lineage Available: Yes
  • Neanderthal Percentage: No
  • List of all products available + pricing:
    • Family Finder – $59
    • Family Finder + Y-37 – $228 (males only)
    • Family Finder + Y67 – $327 (males only)
    • Family Finder + mtFull Sequence – $199
    • Family Finder + Y-67 + mtFull Sequence – $467 (males only)
    • Y-37 – $169 (males only)
    • Y67 – $268 (males only)
    • Y-111 – $359 (males only)
    • Big Y-500 – Y-111+Biy Y – $649 (males only)
    • mtDNA Plus – $89
    • mtFull Sequence – $149
  • Countries Available: Worldwide
  • Average Results Time: 4-10 weeks
  • Additional Subscription Options:
    • None

Reveal All You DNA Secrets Now, With Family Tree DNA Testing Kit

For more information on Family Tree DNA features, read our extensive Family Tree DNA review. 

DNA Testing Kit – is it Worth It?

 YES! DNA tests are useful for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons come from complicated family histories such as adoption processes and forced separations. If you’re getting married, it makes sense to take a deep look into your ancestry. This is particularly useful in cases where the couple has similar or nearly-similar surnames.

So, if you’re someone who has thought about taking a DNA test or are just plain curious to trace your history, then don’t hesitate to try any of the DNA tests we’ve mentioned above as they’re both affordable and accurate.

Dianne says:

Your review of the various testing companies is misleading and incomplete. The only test that can give information about recent relatives ( 5 generations back only) is the autosomal test. The others only give our ‘deep’ roots out of Africa migration thousands of years ago. But for the autosomal test to provide us names with whom we can contact, we have to give permission to have our email and name listed (and of course so do others). The tests that say we are such-and-such % of this or that ethnicity isn’t very accurate because, keep in mind, the wars and the spoils of wars that humans have been engaged in forever, mean we all have a mixture of genetic material from around the world. I can tell that the author(s) of this review did not really understand what these tests are about.

Bestonlinereviews DNA Testing Team says:

Hi Dianne,

First thing first, thanks for your comment.

“he only test that can give information about recent relatives ( 5 generations back only) is the autosomal test” – autosomal test is indeed a DNA test that gives you the info regarding your relatives, both from the paternal and maternal lineage. We clearly specified it in the article. Ancestry.com, our best-rated provider, offer this test in their Ancestry DNA test. Regarding the accuracy of the time frame you specified, there is indeed a diminishing marginal utility of accuracy as you go back deeper into the past (generation wise). According to one of our most trusted sources (University College of London), the accuracy is 10 generations back and not 5 as you specified (Please provide a source to your number, so we would be able to check it and revise if needed). 10 generation back is a quite long time span – 300 years (more or less).

“The tests that say we are such-and-such % of this or that ethnicity isn’t very accurate because keep in mind, the wars and the spoils of wars that humans have been engaged in forever, mean we all have a mixture of genetic material from around the world” – Indeed, most of our ancestors were mixed due to historical events (wars, migration and etc.), but I don’t find how your statement is connected to the fact that this test is not accurate. DNA test is objective and gives you the naked facts.

To conclude,
Your comment didn’t manage to provide a solid explanation to why “Your review of the various testing companies is misleading” or “I can tell that the author(s) of this review did not really understand what these tests are about”. Following that, I don’t see what can be revised.
Yes, this is not an academic-scientific article – and frankly, it wasn’t the purpose of this article in the first place. I find it quite comprehensive, accurate and helpful.

Thank you for expressing your doubts, it is always challenging for us. Keep reading and participating! because “doubt is the fuel of progress”

Scott says:

You mentioned some local restrictions are possible with DNA tests. What kind of restrictions are you talking about? You can’t name them all, but example what they could be would be helpful.

Gill says:

Wow. I never thought about having DNA testing to screen health risks. How accurate is this? I know my Dad’s side of the family is prone to heart disease and diabetes but I don’t know as much about my mom’s side. That would be great to find out as I am getting to the age where health issues can start to be a major part of life.

Gabriella says:

Didn’t know I could be related to Neanderthals. Crazy.

jihyiopyhpyh says:

I’m really tempted to try one of these but i’m always worried its a scam? have you got any proof that they actually work?

Allison says:

Family Tree DNA sounds amazing. Do you know anyone that has been able to find birth parents through this service? I was put up for adoption as a baby and I would love to find my birth mother and/or father. I wonder if this service could help me or if what I want is just a pipe dream at this point. I just turned 24 last month.

Cindy says:

There is a TV show called Long Lost Family on TLC that uses Ancestry DNA and records to identify and locate families. I am not an adoptee but have taken tests with Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. I think using the Ancestry test would be better to help identify your birth parents since you could view your close matches and their family trees (if public). You can also download the raw data from Ancestry, FamilyTree, or 23&Me and upload them to gedmatch. Gedmatch is a free site where test-takers from different companies can compare results/matches without having to test with all three companies.
Good luck in your search!

Natasha S. says:

As a genealogy nut, I have really enjoyed My Heritage’s family tree features. Learning so much, thanks.

Alicia says:

Had an interesting thing happen when I took one of these tests. Ended up finding out my dad actually isn’t my bio dad. When my background didn’t include most of his, they ended up coming clean. That was awkward…

Lisa says:

I can’t imagine engaged couples are going to be using these services after reading this. Maybe it’s a good point, but I’d be scared away!

Kate Smith says:

I used one of these kits and was absolutely blown away. It confirmed what we already knew about the family but also came with some surprises!! Apparently I have Native American blood and would never have known without this! Amazing! Would definitely recommend to friends.

Anna says:

Some of these services are way less expensive than I expected. Good to know!

Hannah says:

The family tree builder with MyHeritage sounds pretty awesome. How do they do the research? Is it through computer programs or do they have people that physically help you search? Just interested in the process is all.

Mora M. says:

Will people know if I have one of these tests since its sent to my home?

joe says:

Never knew this existed. thanks for sharing!

Yvonne says:

Do you know if these are legal to use in the UK?

Scaredy Cat says:

Was really glad to learn there are no needles involved. That would have been a deal breaker!