MyHeritage DNA Testing Kit – A Complete Review

MyHeritage DNA offers some of the most affordable DNA testing kits on the market. Starting at just $79 USD, their kits prove to be an attractive choice for individuals interested in DNA testing on a budget.

But despite being relatively affordable, MyHeritage DNA’s testing kits are comparatively just as comprehensive as other choices on the market. Their tests are strictly autosomal, offering information on both your heritage and ancestry, as well as your health.

Offering a full package, there’s a lot to appreciate about the MyHeritage product. But certain aspects of their system – such as the lack of context – may make it hard to fully appreciate your results.

This becomes easier to understand when you compare it to services like AncestryDNA or FamilyTreeDNA which both bring you historical accounts to add perspective to the findings generated from your test.

RATINGPROSCONSBEST FORPRICE
3.5 / 5.0Simplified tools; straightforward interface; easy to understand results that include ethnicity, ancestry, and health reportsLacks the resources to add context to your results; might feel like a dead-end; health reports are not definitive of future healthIndividuals who want a complete overview of their DNA profile to simply satisfy their curiosity, and those who are just starting out with their researchStarts at $79

The Company Behind MyHeritage DNA

The company that launched MyHeritage DNA was first developed in Israel. MyHeritage started out in 2003, and served to help people plot out their family tree. The service also held some 9 billion historical records to help enrich their users’ knowledge of ancestry and ethnicity.

Presently, the MyHeritage platform supports 42 different languages and has a whopping 92 million users around the globe. Keep in mind though that these are not DNA tested members, and are simply individuals who created profiles on the platform to structure a family tree.

In 2016, MyHeritage launched its direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits under the name MyHeritage DNA. Their kits test your autosomes, making them ideal if you’re interested in getting a generalized idea of your health and history.

Presently, the MyHeritage DNA database contains some 2.5 million DNA records collected from their users. Considering that the service just started around 3 years ago, they have seen quite significant growth given their relatively short time on the market.

MyHeritage DNA Testing Kit

There are two different kits available through the service. The first is the Ancestry test which retails for just $79 USD, and the other is the Health + Ancestry test that’s priced at $199.

The main difference is that the Ancestry kit offers information on your ethnic origins as well as the opportunity to reach out to DNA matches on the website. The other option expounds your results by providing you up to 27 different health reports to shed light on possible predisposition to disease and carrier status.

 ANCESTRYHEALTH + ANCESTRY
Ethnic estimate
DNA matches
Genetic risk reports
Carrier status reports

Choosing the right kit depends on what you want to find out. For those who are interested in genealogical research might find enough information from the basic ancestry kit. But if you were hoping to understand the specific practical implications of your DNA information, then the Health + Ancestry test should be a better choice.

Keep in mind that an autosomal testing kit will not be able to explore specific lineages in your family tree. That’s because it takes your DNA as a whole, unable to separate what information comes from your father’s side or your mother’s side.

That said, MyHeritage DNA does have some gaps in the extent and detail of the results they can offer. Without the Y-DNA or mtDNA testing kits available in their lineup, all you can really expect is a generalized understanding of your ethnicity and history.

What’s In the Kit?

When you order a kit, you can expect to wait up to a week to get it delivered to your doorstep depending on where you live. Inside the package should be a collection swab, a sample container, and an instruction booklet.

A prepaid envelope for you to resend your sample without any added cost should also be included in your purchase. If you want to speed up the process, you have the option to send the sample via expedited shipping service at your own expense.

Once the lab receives your sample, you can expect to wait 3-4 weeks to get your results. Compared to other DNA testing services that offer autosomal testing, the MyHeritage waiting period can actually be a lot shorter.

AncestryDNA can take as much as 8 weeks to deliver your results, although services like FamilyTreeDNA can take as little as two weeks. Nonetheless, with a maximum of just 4 weeks to wait, MyHeritage offers a much faster turn-around than most of the other options available.

How Much Does It Cost?

The MyHeritage Ancestry DNA testing kit costs $79 USD, and the Health + Ancestry kit costs $199. Bear in mind though that the company is not a stranger to discount offers. They frequently put their kits on sale.

During special sale seasons, the kits can cost just $59 USD and $149 USD respectively, so you do stand the chance to save quite a lot. They also offer a 14-day free trial where you can log into their platform to start piecing together your family tree.

Do keep in mind that the prices for their kits do not include shipping fees yet. So you may end up spending a little extra to have it brought to your doorstep.

Tools and Resources at MyHeritage DNA

The results you get from your test are not to be taken as conclusive findings. That simply means that you don’t get your family pieced together by the service, and neither will they claim that your ancestry is the actual representation of the truth.

That’s why MyHeritage DNA – as well as other DNA testing services – offer you a range of tools that you can use to help you understand your results better. These are available through the website and work to assist you in extracting relevance from the raw DNA data that you get from your test.

There are lots of tools on the MyHeritage DNA platform, but some of the most impressive include:

  • AutoClusters – The AutoClusters feature on the MyHeritage DNA platform is one of their best tools to help their users. The feature works to automatically group together your DNA matches so that they’re designated into different clusters that represent various branches of your family tree.

The benefit is that you’ll get to view your DNA matches as groups instead of as individuals, so you can gain better insight into the different branches of your bloodline.

This can be especially interesting to use if you’ve tried other family sorting methods on other DNA testing service websites. Often, you’ll have to sort things out manually, and that’s typically the most time consuming and tedious part of the genealogical process.

  • Chromosome Browser – The MyHeritage DNA Chromosome Browser is a special tool that lets you see segments of your DNA where you match with someone else on the database. You’re given a visual representation of your chromosome versus theirs so you can see which segments are similar.

Currently, the platform lets you scan through all 22 pairs of chromosomes through their chromosome browser. Future updates to the system may allow better insight so the browser can include details from the 23rd chromosome.

It’s also important to consider the fact that there is no way to tell whether the match comes from your paternal or maternal side. Nonetheless, it can help you gain better understanding regarding the intricacies of genetic and family matches.

  • DNA Ethnicity Estimate – Just like most other autosomal testing kits, the MyHeritage DNA platform brings you a ethnicity mapping feature that breaks down your heritage to show the percentages of different ethnicities that contributed to who you are today.

Presently, the Ethnicity Estimate provides you estimates from 42 different regions in the MyHeritage system. Some of their regions are exclusive to the database, including the Balkan, Baltic, Eskimo and Inuit, Japanese, and Somali regions.

Simply put, that means that MyHeritage provides more accurate estimates for people who are found to have DNA profiles that indicate roots in these ethnicities. This is mainly thanks to previous research conducted by the company to improve its ethnic tracing features.

When you log in to your MyHeritage dashboard, you’ll find a range of these tools available for you to find. The only issue that we found was that while they might be helpful and intuitive, they make the research effort feel a little dead end.

Unfortunately, MyHeritage falls short when providing tools that add context to your information. That is, they do help you dissect the information, but providing you with the resources to give meaning to the details you get isn’t their strongest suit.

Fortunately, they allow you to download your raw DNA data off of their platform. That gives you the opportunity to upload your information through another website that might be able to put your DNA profile into better perspective for more practical application.

MyHeritage DNA – Is It Accurate?

Can you rely on the results provided by MyHeritage DNA? Are their findings accurate? When taking any sort of at-home DNA testing kit, it’s important to remember that there is no such technology that lets these companies tell for certain what happened in your family’s past.

That’s why they all use different tests, different tools, and different methods for DNA information extraction – because there isn’t a single definitive method to extract 100% accurate information.

All that said, it’s important to put things into perspective if you want to understand the accuracy of these tests. What the companies provide you are not final results – they won’t piece together your family tree for you and neither will they tell you your exact ethnic roots or your ancestral migration paths.

No company can stand by their tests and say that they provide 100% accurate results. What they do offer their users is the opportunity to learn more about themselves and their history by providing you with the clues you need to start your research.

MyHeritage DNA provides you with very close estimates that can serve as your basis for genealogical research. They’re markers or signboards that point you in the right direction. Only when you access more resources to understand what the results mean can you truly extract any sort of relevant from the data.

Does that mean you should back out of the test? Definitely not. While it is true that none of their results is exact representations of what really happened in your family line, they don’t stray too far. So with the right effort and research, you may be able to bring yourself a step closer to the truth.

Confidentiality and Privacy Policy

MyHeritage DNA offers you the opportunity to keep all of your information private on their database. That means that people will not be able to see you as a match, and you won’t be able to see DNA matches either.

When you opt to share your information, you’ll be able to see connections and even reach out to them through the platform itself. At any time during your use, you have the option to change your privacy settings so that your information will be kept private moving forward. You also have the option to delete your information completely.

In the case of research, MyHeritage only includes DNA profiles belonging to users to agree to provide consent. The company does not send your information to third party researchers without your consent, and neither do they sell your data to insurance companies or legal entities.

The Benefits of MyHeritage DNA Testing

What makes MyHeritage DNA different and why should you choose their services over anyone else’s? Needless to say, the industry for DNA testing kits is pretty tight with the competition, and users are extra careful to make sure they’ve chosen the right provider.

If you’re interested in purchasing a kit from MyHeritage, then these reasons might just keep you from teetering on indecisiveness:

  • Health reports – There are only two main DNA testing companies that offer health reports – and those are 23andMe and MyHeritage DNA. Although 23andMe offers more reports – up to 120 different reports on health and wellness – MyHeritage can be a basic start.

Their information provides you with all the bare essentials you need to understand your health. And unlike 23andMe that includes data on your characteristics and genetic traits, MyHeritage focuses on pertinent information that might point to the probability of disease.

Individuals who are hoping to start a family might also be interested in the test because it indicates carrier status. That means that if your genes carry a specific type of abnormality that could manifest in your offspring, the test can show you exactly what that might be.

In effect, it can help you better prepare for starting a family, giving you better insight as to the potential risk of having children with your present partner.

  • Most affordable test – Even when it isn’t on sale, the MyHeritage DNA test proves to be the most affordable test on the market. At just $79 USD, you could save over $20 USD if you were to spend on any other provider.

When the company goes on sale, you could shave off another chunk of the cost, bringing the basic kit down to just $59 USD a piece. If you’re looking to save and you want to start your research on a budget, then the MyHeritage kit makes a great choice.

Despite its affordable price, however, MyHeritage doesn’t lag so far behind in terms of quality and extent of provided information and results. The test is almost as comprehensive as other tests on the market that come at twice or thrice the MyHeritage DNA’s cost.

  • Simplified dashboard – What we love about MyHeritage is how uncomplicated its dashboar is. Streamlined and minimalist, the website is a breeze to use, so you won’t have to stumble around looking for features or trying to figure out how tools work.

On top of that, it’s also worth mentioning that the MyHeritage tools are straightforward and intuitive. So even the least experienced researchers can get a great experience out of the platform, working with resources like a pro even if its their first time.

  • All the essentials – While the MyHeritage DNA test won’t go too far into your ancestry, it does give you just the right essentials. The information supplied is the perfect starting point for genealogical research.

From your basic ancestry, your ethnicity, and your health, the test is concise and condensed, giving you all the basics you need to get started. In this sense, it also makes a suitable DNA testing kit for beginners who don’t want to be overwhelmed with the information they get out of a test.

Areas for Improvement

There’s no such thing as the perfect test, and MyHeritage is no exception. While we appreciate a lot of its features – especially its simplicity – there are some aspects of the MyHeritage system that just fall short of expectations.

  • Lacking in continuity – Once you finish dissecting your information, sorting your family tree, and reading up a little on the information for your ethnicities, you might find yourself asking – what now?

Unfortunately, this is a common theme among the MyHeritage population. While the tools are easy to use and the dashboard offers seamless navigation, there seems to be nothing left to do once you finish sorting through your results.

As you might already know, genealogical research should feel more like a journey – something that requires your effort over an extended period of time. That’s because tools improve, resources proliferate, and DNA profiles increase over time.

But with the MyHeritage DNA system, it might feel like more of a dead end. If the company can incorporate more tools that allow a more open-ended feel, then there might be a better reason to invest in their test.

  • Not enough context – Some of the information you get out of the test might seem a little less than relevant. For instance, it might tell you that you’re 43% Irish, but then the details end there.

Most other testing companies strive to give meaning to these small details by linking you to historical records so you can find out how your Irish roots connect with your Southeast Asian lineage.

Unfortunately, MyHeritage fails to provide that kind of in-depth context. So it’s hard to appreciate the DNA report on a practical, relevant level.

  • Relatively small population – The MyHeritage website – the original one where users build their online family trees – has some 92 million active users. But their MyHeritage DNA platform holds just 2.5 million tested users.

That means that if you were interested in finding family matches, then the platform might not be the best place to find them. With a limited number of tested users – some of which may have even opted to keep their information private – you reduce your chances of finding relevant matches.

For family searches, consider using the AncestryDNA or the 23andMe platform instead that has over 10 million users each.

The Bottom Line

MyHeritage DNA can be a suitable starting point for your genealogical research. The platform offers simplified tools, an easy interface, and basic information that can entice you to strive to learn more.

Unfortunately, some aspects might feel lacking, especially if you’re a more advanced researcher who’s interested in more sophisticated tools and resources. Fortunately, they do let you download your raw DNA information so you can upload your results to other providers to access more tools and resources.

So, is the MyHeritage DNA testing kit worth it? That depends. If you want a simplified understanding of your DNA profile, your ancestry, ethnicity, and health, then it might be enough to satisfy your curiosity.

But users hoping to go in-depth might find that the MyHeritage DNA testing kit leaves a lot to be desired. For more advanced researchers, consider other available providers with more tools, bigger resources, and denser populations.

REFERENCES:

  1. Ancestry Testing and DNA: Uses, Limits – and Caveat Emptor. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3e79/1866911d9e4b0fb7a9c906bfe9df230d6ad9.pdf on September 9, 2019
  2. What can a DNA test actually reveal about your ancestry? Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-01/genetics-ancestry-dna-tests/10954938 on September 9, 2019