Considering a DNA test as a gift (or for yourself) this year? Not sure where to start? These guidelines can help you get the most bang for your buck and keep you productive during the coming months ahead.
Pro Tip: If you’re buying the test for yourself, take it and send it back to the company before Christmas to avoid lab backlogs.
Genealogy and Ethnicity
If you are in, or have recent ancestors from, the USA, UK, Canada, or Australia, and you are mainly interested in genealogy, AncestryDNA may be the best test for you. They have the largest database by far (more than 18 million tested), so your chances of being matched to relatives who can help you enhance your family tree are very good. Their ethnicity estimates are quite detailed, and they also have automated tools like ThruLines to integrate your family tree with your DNA results to help you find the ancestors you share with your DNA cousins. Their Cyber Sales end Monday, November 30.
And in the USA, for $1 more, you can get a 3-month World Explorer membership!
- AncestryDNA in the USA $49 US
- AncestryDNA in the UK £49
- AncestryDNA in Australia $85 AUD
- AncestryDNA in Canada $69 CAD
If you are in, or have recent ancestors from, continental Europe, and you are mainly interested in genealogy, you might consider starting with MyHeritage DNA. Their database of more than 4 million testers has good representation of Europeans, and they also have tools, like Theories of Family Relativity and AutoClusters, to help integrate your DNA results with your traditional genealogy research.
- MyHeritage DNA US$39 + free shipping on 2+ kits
If you’ve already tested with AncestryDNA and are looking for more matches and perhaps a “second opinion” on your ethnicity estimates, try 23andMe. They have the second largest database in the world (more than 12 million), and their Ancestry + Traits test comes with the side bonuses of genetic trait reports, a Neanderthal estimate, a small auto-generated tree, and haplogroup assignments for yDNA and mtDNA. Unfortunately, the lack of integration with your family tree makes this site a secondary choice for genealogy.
- 23andMe Ancestry + Traits US$79 (ends Sunday, November 29)
If you are in, or have recent ancestors from, the British Isles, and you are mainly interested in regional ethnicity estimates within the UK and Ireland, consider LivingDNA’s Ancestry test. Their analysis can delineate 21 distinct regions in the British Isles, and the company is making strides at regional breakdowns in continental Europe and in Africa. Their matching database is still too small for serious genealogical work, though.
- LivingDNA US$59 (ends Wednesday, December 2)
DNA-based health and trait reports are a growing area of interest in the field of genetic genealogy. These products can predict some of your biological characteristics from your DNA. The trait reports are non-medical, like hair color or caffeine sensitivity. The health reports can assess your carrier status for genetic diseases like Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis as well as predict elevated risk for certain cancers or, say, Parkinson’s disease. Overall, 23andMe offers more health and trait reports (99 total) than AncestryHealth (58 total) at the moment.
- 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service US$99 (ends Sunday, November 29)
- AncestryHealth US $99 (ends Thursday, December 31)
A subscription to a genealogy service can be worth its weight in gold by saving you travel expenses, repository fees, and wait times to obtain records. With the right subscription, those records can be available at your fingertips, 24-7, and can be integrated into your genetic genealogy research. You’ll want to compare Ancestry and MyHeritage to see which is best for you. Both offer a 2-week free trial period.
- Ancestry USA Gift Subscription 50% off (ends Monday, November 30)
- Ancestry Canada Gift Subscriptions 40% off (ends Monday, November 30)
- MyHeritage Data Subscription US$129 for the first year