The Best At-Home DNA Test Kits for Ancestry and Health

If you have questions, a DNA test may offer some answers.

DNA sequence

The rapidly evolving world of DNA testing offers a chance to unravel mysteries about our family histories as well as our current and future health concerns. An idea that only decades ago provided the riveting plot lines of far-fetched science fiction movies now exists as a reality at our fingertips, or perhaps more accurately, in our saliva sample.

Have you ever wondered:

  • Where your family came from many generations ago?
  • What ethnicities make up the core of who you are?
  • Which historical figures could be in your family tree?
  • If you have unknown relatives looking for connection with you?
  • Whether you may be at increased risk for certain inherited diseases?
  • An at-home DNA test may be a good place to look for answers.

"At home DNA tests can be hugely beneficial to consumers, depending on what they're looking for," says genealogist Marc McDermott. "Most people will test to get an ethnicity report, but many people also test because they were adopted and want to find their biological parents. More and more people are also testing today for the health reports which can be great to identify potential concerns to discuss with their doctor."

Sajung Yun, PhD, is the associate professor of bioinformatics for genome analysis at Johns Hopkins University and chief executive officer of PredictivCare. "At-home DNA tests can help people by making them aware of current and potential health problems," says Yun. "They then have the opportunity to practice preventive measures that could prevent or delay the onset of disease."

In order to help you find the best DNA test for your interests, Health's editorial team conducted extensive research on a dozen of the most popular companies providing at-home DNA test kits. We consulted experts in the field of genealogy, genetic testing, and genetic counseling to define the risks and benefits of DNA testing for consumers and read hundreds of customer reviews.

Our team examined the science and successes behind each company's claims, and we became customers ourselves to gain insight into the process of purchasing a DNA test kit.

The best DNA testing kits on the market today, according to editors:

Price Results Delivery
AncestryDNA $99 6-8 weeks
23andMe $199 2-3 weeks
MyHeritage DNA $59 3-4 weeks
CRI Genetics $99 6-8 weeks

Here's what to expect when purchasing a DNA test kit

While the process may vary somewhat by company, here's what you can expect:

  1. Order a kit to be delivered to your home.
  2. Follow the kit directions to collect your saliva sample or cheek swab.
  3. Return your kit to the lab via the packaging provided.
  4. Receive your results online in several weeks' time.

The Best At-Home DNA Tests

01 of 04


Ancestry DNA Kit

Results include: Ethnicity estimate; DNA matching for relatives

The AncestryDNA test, which offers insight into origins and ethnicity as well as DNA matches, is our top pick for those who desire to fill in the blank spaces of their family tree. AncestryDNA is better equipped than its competitors to estimate ethnicity, since the accuracy of this estimate increases as the number of DNA samples available for comparison increases.

While the company doesn't routinely divulge the size of its database, some estimates place this figure around 18 million DNA samples, far surpassing the competition. This larger database also gives you a greater chance of connecting with relatives through DNA matching. You'll be able to connect with others in the database who have similar DNA to yours, and AncestryDNA will tell you their genetic relationship to you.

AncestryDNA's StoryScout feature helps you collect artifacts such as marriage certificates and passport photos to give life to the story of your family members. You can trace your ancestors' journeys over time to see the geographic locations they traveled. Your results are a great way to start your family history research or to add depth to research you've already gathered.

Genetic data is constantly evolving, and as information changes, AncestryDNA will continue to update your profile, giving you more specific data as it becomes available.

Time to results: Six to eight weeks

Price: $99

Information updates: Yes


  • Larger database for DNA matching
  • Potential for better ethnicity estimate
  • Excellent online tools for family history research


  • Long wait for results
  • Doesn't include personal traits testing

Read our in-depth comparison of 23andMe vs. Ancestry.

02 of 04

23andMe Health and Ancestry Service

23 and me reviews

Results include: Ethnicity estimate; DNA matching for relatives; Health predisposition reports; Carrier status reports; Wellness reports; Personal traits reports

23andMe offers a bundled service that includes ancestry and health information. Along with an ethnicity estimate to show you the people groups making up your genetic history, you'll be able to map the movement of your ancestors from place to place and find relatives through DNA matching. With your genetic information, 23andMe will help you build your family tree as well.

23andMe's health report shows your genetic predisposition to develop certain diseases, your carrier status for inherited diseases that may be passed on to your children, information about personal traits such as eye color and facial features, and wellness markers such as caffeine consumption and lactose digestion.

Our editors chose 23andMe as the top choice for health testing primarily due to the breadth of disease states covered by its test. Common illnesses that affect a large part of the population such as Type II Diabetes and age-related macular degeneration are addressed, and these are not offered by competitors such as AncestryHealth. Furthermore, 23andMe reports your carrier status for a long list of diseases—another feature not offered by competitors but likely to provide great benefit to customers.

With 23andMe, you have the unique ability to test for genetic markers associated with late-onset Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. This can be controversial for some people—do you really want to know if you're likely to develop an unpreventable, incurable disease? You can opt out if you choose, but many people desire that information.

One important caveat to consider when choosing 23andMe's health test is its method of evaluating your DNA. The process, called microarray technology, allows comparison of your DNA against a few known variants associated with a disease, but they don't test for every variant that could cause the disease. Next-generation sequencing, used by AncestryHealth, is able to analyze more genetic variants, giving you a better understanding of whether you're actually at risk for this disease.

"Microarray technology is generally known to be less accurate than next-generation sequencing," says Yun. This is especially important for diseases such as breast cancer and colon cancer where several genes and their variants are at play. With either method it's possible to get a false negative result (meaning, you think you're not at risk for the disease, but you are and the test wasn't able to show it), but it's more likely to occur with 23andMe's method than with AncestryDNA.

Time to results: Two to three weeks

Price: $199

Information updates: Yes


  • Extensive list of diseases covered
  • Includes carrier status reports


  • Does not report every gene variant for a disease

Read our full review of 23andMe here.

03 of 04

MyHeritage DNA

My Heritage DNA kit

Results include: Ethnicity estimate; DNA matching for relatives

MyHeritage offers DNA testing plus a free family tree software program. The company's DNA matching technology gives matches based on the percentage of DNA you share. This can show you how closely related you are to that person. MyHeritage compares the DNA data of others to your DNA data. This helps identify shared genetic sequences that may indicate a possible family relationship.

The MyHeritage DNA testing process is similar to other sites. You start by ordering the kit online. The DNA test is a cheek swab, so the procedure only takes a few minutes. Once complete, mail the sample back to the company for analysis. You should receive an email in three to four weeks inviting you to view your results.

The lab uses a digital form of your DNA to calculate your Ethnicity Estimate, which determines the segments of your DNA that originate from different geographic regions in the world. They claim to match from over 2100 geographic regions and 42 ethnicities. Once you've completed your DNA kit and received your results, you will also get DNA matches to other users who test with MyHeritage. Plus, the company allows users to upload DNA results from other services, potentially resulting in a larger matching pool.

One perk of MyHeritage is the free family tree software. This program allows you to build a family tree and invite other relatives to add information. You can search birth records, obituaries, marriage certificates, and more.

The standard MyHeritage DNA kit does not come with health testing and information about your genetic predisposition to diseases, carrier status for inherited disorders, or other matches. For access to this information, you need to purchase the MyHeritage DNA Health Test. Current DNA kit users can upgrade to this kit for an additional $120 or new users can purchase the DNA health Kit for $199.

Time to results: Three to four weeks

Price: $79

Information updates: Yes


  • Large genetic search engine
  • Results are easy to understand
  • Family tree builder software


  • Results lack context for interpreting or digging deeper
  • No health testing with DNA kit
  • Basic genetic findings
04 of 04

CRI Genetics

CRI genetics logo

Results include: Ethnicity estimate; Deep ancestry estimate; Ancestry timeline report

Cellular Research Institute or CRI Genetics offers DNA ancestry and health testing.

Through the company's Ancestry Timeline, CRI can trace your family history back 50+ generations. They also feature BioGeographical Ancestry, which gives you a breakdown of where your genes are from, based on your DNA results.

The Ancestry Analysis report you'll receive reflects the older ancestries in your family history. The company claims to analyze 642,824 genetic markers in your DNA, but it is difficult to verify this information.

The CRI DNA testing process is similar to other sites. You start by ordering the kit online. The DNA test is a cheek swab, so the procedure only takes a few minutes. Once complete, mail the sample back to the company for analysis. You should receive results in six to eight weeks.

One major drawback of CRI is the lack of DNA matching, which is offered by most DNA testing companies. It's also worth noting that you cannot upload your CRI data to other third-party sites.

The standard CRI DNA ancestry kit does not come with health testing and information. For access to this information, you need to purchase the CRI Ancestry + Health kit for $199. This includes health reports on general health, allergies, nutrition, vitamin, traits, and more.

Time to results: Six to eight weeks

Price: $99

Information updates: Yes


  • Offers a detailed ancestry report
  • Results are fairly east to read and interpret
  • Money-back guarantee if reports not ready in eight weeks


  • Health report not included
  • Geographic regions covered is unknown
  • Smaller genetic database compared to competitors
  • No DNA matching

What to Know If You're a Person of Color Taking a DNA Test for Ancestry

While most people seem to be pleased and intrigued after receiving their results, there is a common theme among customer complaints. These issues often center on the accuracy of ethnicity estimates (the part of your results that tell you you're 25% Korean or 75% Ashkenazi Jewish). This may happen more often when people of Asian, African, or American ancestry trace their roots.

When uncovering family origins, the company may compare your DNA to others throughout the world to identify similarities and divergences. Many of the companies offering DNA testing began with most of their DNA data coming from European origins, so more information is available for those with European backgrounds. However, as more people from diverse backgrounds continue to undergo DNA testing, more information becomes available to make better estimations of your ethnic roots.

Furthermore, unraveling ancestral history requires more than DNA. Genealogists use documentation such as birth and death records, marriage certificates, ship manifests, and other clues from the time period to piece together a family's story. However, during dark periods of our collective history, such as the African slave trade or the displacement of Native Americans, these artifacts may never have existed or could have been destroyed, making it difficult for descendants of these groups to find information.

There Are Limits to What a Health DNA Test Can Tell You

There are also limitations on what a DNA test can tell you about your health, especially when obtained outside the traditional framework of a physician-patient relationship.

In many cases, multiple genes play a role in developing disease, many variations of those genes can occur, and a multitude of lifestyle and environmental factors affect whether a person will have the illness or not. DNA testing alone cannot capture your true risk of disease in this scenario.

Most of the at-home DNA tests are not testing your entire genome; they are looking at small snippets of DNA associated with specific health issues and reporting certain findings. For instance, if the test examines a gene known to be associated with breast cancer, the findings may tell you whether you have one of the common cancer-causing variations of that gene.

However, the test may not examine all 40 of the possible variants associated with that cancer—perhaps it only considers the 10 most common. You may think you've received an all clear because your test said you didn't have one of the most common cancer-causing variants. In reality, you could still have a genetic marker for cancer that was not reported by that particular test.

If you're using an at-home health DNA test to satisfy your curiosity, to help inform you about how to make better lifestyle choices, or to answer some interesting but not life-altering questions about yourself (e.g., is there a genetic reason for my distaste for cilantro?), these tests can be a place to start. But you must know that they can only give you part of the picture.

If your concerns are more serious (e.g., will I get breast cancer in my thirties like my mother did?), you need to know these results are not going to give you all the answers you're looking for.

For a full understanding of your genetic risk of disease, work together with a physician and a genetic counselor. Gillian Hooker, PhD, is adjunct professor of genetic medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

"Genetic counselors empower patients and their families with information, guidance and emotional support to help them understand their family history, evaluate their genetic testing options and make informed choices based on their test results," says Hooker. "Genetic counselors can connect you to the information and resources you need to make informed choices about how to manage your risk of disease. They may be able to help identify the right tests to provide further information and in some cases, they may be able to help you avoid going down paths that aren't useful for your health or the health of your family."

Consider the Privacy Concerns

If you're interested in purchasing a DNA test, you'll have to decide whether you trust the company with your sensitive information.

The privacy safeguards of the Health Insurance Portability Act (HIPAA) that requires doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to protect your personal health information does not extend to most DNA testing companies. Without legislation that protects the privacy of your genetic information, questions about how your information will be used and shared must be answered by the company's privacy statement.

Read the privacy practices of the company carefully to be sure you know how your genetic information will be shared. Look for transparency in how your information will be used and requests for your consent to use it as well as the authority to request destruction of your data.

Final Thoughts

A DNA test can be a great way to indulge your curiosity about both your family history and your health. It's important to keep in mind, though, that gene science is constantly evolving, and there can be variability in estimates of your ethnicity and predictions about your likelihood of illness. When it comes to understanding your genetic predisposition for serious diseases, don't go it alone. Ask your doctor or seek help from a genetic counselor to get a true understanding of your risk of developing a disease.

Dr. Courtney Schmidt is a clinical consultant pharmacist and geriatric care expert. Since completing her Pharm.D. at the University of Florida, Dr. Schmidt has worked in multiple clinical settings and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Central Florida.

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