DNA analysis goes beyond what your parents told you about your family. It may even bring to light new relatives, debunk theories about your ancestry, or make you aware of the mix of ethnicities all of us have in our background. A number of companies now offer the means to investigate genealogical issues and find out who came from where, and how. For a fee, they will send you a kit with a cotton swab or saliva vial that you can use to harvest your DNA and send back to the company in a pre-addressed, pre-paid mailer.
Top 10 DNA Tests
- AncestryDNA is the #1 selling consumer DNA test.*
- AncestryDNA can trace your roots back to 500+ global regions.*
- Easy-to-use at-home kit, no membership required. Personalized ancestry reports based on your DNA ready in...
- Now with 1,000+ geographic regions - the most comprehensive genetic ancestry breakdown on the market.
- Includes Ancestry Service PLUS more than 85 DNA-based online reports on Health Predispositions*, Carrier...
- Before purchasing, review important information at 23andme.com/test-info
- From the #1 selling DNA brand, AncestryDNA*
- New AncestryDNA Traits lets you discover 26 of your most interesting personal traits.
- Dog DNA breed ancestry testing kit: with a simple cheek swab you can do at home, wisdom panel uses the most...
- We test for over 250+ breeds, types, & varieties-the most of any test on the market.
- All Lab Fees Included for 1 Father and 1 Child. Testing Performed by an AABB & ISO 17025 Accredited...
- The DNA Direct Home Paternity Test INCLUDES 22 GENETIC MARKERS FOR 100% ACCURACY. Results completed in as...
- Discover your ancestry and find relatives you never knew existed on both your maternal and paternal sides.
- Get a detailed ethnicity breakdown with the most comprehensive list of ethnicities in the industry: 42...
- ✔️ ★★ WE HELP YOU TO EXTEND YOUR LIFE EXPECTANCY ★★: TellmeGen is the genetic test that provides...
- ✔️ YOU ARE UNIQUE, KNOW IT!: With the TellmeGen test you will be able to know which medicines are the most...
- WHAT TO EXPECT: A breakdown of your regional ancestry by percentage, going as far back as 500,000 years.
- CUSTOM VIDEO: Gain a unique view of your DNA results in a custom video of your ancestry journey with our new...
- ACCURACY GUARANTEED: We routinely check 20+ DNA markers. If necessary we will test more; whatever is needed to...
- FAST RESULTS: Fast turn-around time. It only takes two (2) business days after receipt of samples at the lab...
More Insight Into Our Methodology
The first thing we looked at when ranking DNA testing companies was the type of tests they offered customers and the number of genetic markers they tested. Most companies only do autosomal tests, but a few also have Y-DNA and mtDNA tests available for purchase. Because those two tests provide in-depth information about a person’s ancient origins and their ancestors’ possible migration patterns, we ranked the companies who offered them more favorably.
DNA Testing Features
There are currently three types of DNA tests on the market: autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA. Autosomal DNA tests are the industry standard and offer broader results about a person’s ancestry and ethnicity. Y-DNA tests only provide information about a person’s male line ancestry, while mtDNA tests only provide information about the female line ancestry. Both offer much deeper insight into a person’s genealogy than standard autosomal tests.
All of the companies we reviewed offer one of two alternatives for collecting customer samples: saliva or cheek swab. Cheek swabs look like longer cotton swabs, but they are designed for the unique purpose of collecting and trapping cheek cells in their fibers. The other collection method, saliva, is less common and entails spitting into a vial until the required volume is reached.
Number of Genetic Markers
Genetic markers are short DNA sequences with known locations on a chromosome that can be used to identify individuals. DNA tests look at these markers to (roughly) establish the genetic distance between two individuals, or between an individual and a population. Different kinds of technology will look at varying amounts of genetic markers. Examples of commonly used genetic markers are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and short tandem repeats (SRP).
When looking at results analysis, we focus on the extent to which each company evaluates a customer’s genetic data and under what scope it classifies their information. We first consider how large their databases are. When a company receives a customer’s sample, they make a genetic profile for them and add them to an ever-increasing database. These databases are the approximate sum of all DNA profiles analyzed to date by each company.
Size of Database
After DNA samples are received by a company, they can be analyzed to produce a DNA ‘profile.’ Profiles are a series of 20 numbers plus an indicator that shows the person’s gender.
Number of Geographical Regions Identified
Geographical regions vary among DNA tests, and the size of each region can differ exponentially. For example, whereas one DNA test categorizes Bengal as it’s own geographical region, another just throws that region into “South Asian.” Moreover, a DNA test might include relatively small regions like, say, a small portion of Italy, while also having massive regions, such as “Americas.”
Number of Ethnicities Identified
Ethnicity is difficult to determine because geopolitical boundaries do not exactly represent the flow and movement of ethnic groups through the Earth. Each company has different standards by which they determine what to call an ethnic group.
Because DNA testing companies often offer customers additional ways of using their results, we also take these features into consideration when rating our companies. Family trees are by far the most common additional feature offered by DNA testing companies. This is not surprising, considering that from DNA tests results it is an easy jump into further genealogical research.
DNA for Medical Purposes
DNA tests can provide significant information about a person’s current medical condition. Moreover, they can also serve as a note of caution by informing people of dangerous genetic illnesses they might be predisposed to.
Family Tree Creator
Family trees have been around for far longer than DNA tests, but many leaders in the personal genealogy industry have adapted their models to incorporate the increasing demand for DNA testing. A family tree allows users to more neatly see how their ancestry and lineage stacks up, which means DNA tests are a natural supplement for stretching a tree’s branches.
DNA Health Analysis
Combined ancestry-wellness packages are becoming more popular thanks to the spike in both genealogical and fitness industries online. DNA tests that offer customers an added health element can suggest lifestyle choices that go hand-in-hand with their genetics, help them build a custom-tailored fitness or nutrition plans, or explain how their genes influence their weight, etc.
Pricing is a very important factor in judging which DNA test stands above the rest. This is natural since the price is one of the first things consumers will want to know about the product they are buying. Every DNA testing company has one flagship test they offer, which currently ranges from $59.99 to $299.00 among the companies we review.
Cost of Add-ons
Some companies allow customers to add features onto a DNA test plan after making the initial purchase. Most companies, however, will simply offer a range of products so people can choose whichever one fits their needs best.
We first look at a company’s current standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) when considering its reputation. In addition to being accredited by the BBB, we look at a company’s rating, which ranges from an F to an A+, and the nature of the customer reviews they have on the page. We also look at the company’s score on Trustpilot, which is completely user-generated and goes from one to ten.