23andMe vs. Ancestry DNA – Which One Should You Buy?

If you want to test your DNA to learn more about your family history and genetic lineage and find potential relatives, then you should order a DNA testing kit from Ancestry DNA at. If you want to learn about your maternal or paternal genetic line specifically or receive a full health screening report, then we recommend 23andMe.

Read on to learn more about the differences between these two companies and the DNA testing they offer.

Key Feature23AndMeDNA Ancestry
Size of Database5 million15 million
Tests OfferedAncestry + Traits, Health + Ancestry, VIP Health + AncestryAncestryDNA, AncestryHealth
Price$79 - $499$99 - $149
Finding RelativesReveals DNA matches with potential relatives; database of 5 millionWorld’s largest online resource for connecting with potential relatives; database of 15 million
Health ScreeningOffers health screening that comes with 4 reports: carrier status reports, trait reports, wellness reports, genetic health risk reportsRecently launched brand new AncestryHealth DNA kit with genetic health and wellness reports, guidance and resources, and family health history tool

For information on how exactly these kinds of DNA test kits work, we would recommend checking out this article on the Best DNA test we put together.

23andMe vs. Ancestry DNA: Size of Database Review

When comparing the sizes of the databases of 23andMe and Ancestry DNA, Ancestry DNA comes out as the clear winner with a database of over 15 million people – 3x larger than 23andMe’s database of 5 million people.

Ancestry DNA Database

Since Ancestry DNA has a larger database, it is the better option if your main goal is to learn about genealogy and your family’s history. This is because by having a larger database of potential DNA matches, Ancestry DNA will be able to pair you with more potential genetic relatives than 23andMe would.

Keep in mind that the larger a company’s database of people’s DNA is, the more accurate their test results will be. This is because the algorithms used in genetic sequencing are able to build more accurate ethnicity estimates when they have more data sets to cycle through.

If you want to take your genealogical research to the next level, DNA Ancestry offers a $19.99/month service in which you can gain access to their extensive genealogical records database of over 11 billion records used to create millions of family trees based on details such as marriage and death certificates, military records, and immigration dates. This will allow you to get a better idea of exactly what the history of your ancestors was like.

23andMe Database

Despite having a smaller database than Ancestry DNA, 23andMe still has a lot to offer if you want to learn more about your genealogical history. In fact, as you will read more about below, 23andMe offers significantly more testing and thus reports than Ancestry DNA. So while the larger database on Ancestry DNA will most likely be able to find you more DNA matches with potential relatives than 23andMe, 23andMe’s database is still large enough to provide you with extensive details on a number of different reports which you might find even more valuable.

Size of Database Winner: Ancestry DNA

23andMe vs. Ancestry DNA: Tests Offered Review

One of the most important aspects of a DNA testing company to consider is how many and which tests they offer. While the exact kind of information you are looking to learn plays a role in deciding which company to go with, 23andMe undoubtedly offers more tests and thus you have the potential to learn a lot more about your personal genetics than Ancestry DNA.

Tests Offered by 23andMe

The DNA tests offered by 23andMe include their Ancestry + Traits service, Health + Ancestry service, and VIP Health + Ancestry service. Below, we’re going to break down each of these and explain exactly what you can expect to learn from each kind of test.

1. Ancestry + Traits Service

The Ancestry + Traits service from 23andMe is most comparable to Ancestry DNA’s basic test. With 23andMe’s Ancestry + Traits service, it turns out that you’ll gain access to more information including:

  • 50+ Ancestry Reports – includes ancestry composition, ancestry detail reports, maternal and paternal haplogroups, neanderthal ancestry
  • DNA Relative Finder (opt-in)
  • Automatic family tree builder
  • Traits report of 30+ traits
  • Access to raw genetic data

2. Genetic Heritage

These ancestry reports from 23andMe contain extensive information about your genetic heritage. Unlike genealogical heritage reports – which tell you where geologically your ancestors came from – these genetic heritage reports tell you where geologically your actual DNA came from. Since your particular DNA makeup is a random collection of different bits of your ancestors’ DNA, this is the most accurate way to trace your origins.

23andMe checks the primary DNA samples of 31 populations broken into 151 sub-groups. Your genetic heritage is then determined to be a certain percentage of each of these 151 sub-groups. For example, after receiving your results you might discover that you are 20% Western European, 30% Scandinavian, 10% Iberian, and 40% British and Irish or some other combination of percentages.

For sub-regions that are a combination of several countries, such as “French and German”, you can click to see more details and it will tell you your match strength to each individual country. 23andMe will also show you a map with dots indicating where the majority of your DNA comes from.

3. Traits Reports

With this test from 23andMe you will also receive a traits report, which is not available in the standard test offered by Ancestry DNA. In this report, you will find out your likelihood of having 30 trait characteristics and compare your results to other 23andMe users.

4. Chromosome Painting

Another cool feature of 23andMe’s Ancestry + Traits service is called chromosome painting. This is a report that allows you to view your results based on a certain “confidence level”: either 50 percent speculative or 90, 80, or 70 percent conservative. Depending on the confidence level you select, the chromosome painting will build a percentage of your full genome from any of the 31 available sample regions. As you might have guessed, more conservative levels give you broader percentages, while a speculative level will assign higher percentages to specific regions.

5. Ancestry Composition

If your parents or another family member tests on 23andMe, your genetic composition will update based on their results giving you a more accurate depiction of your genetic information. You also have the option to compare your DNA to another parent or family member side-by-side.

The ancestry composition page also includes an ancestry timeline. This will show you where certain genes that you have likely came from. You can click each gene for more details as well.

6. Haplogroups

A big difference between the 23andMe and Ancestry DNA test is that 23andMe’s test includes information about specific haplogroups; namely, your maternal and paternal haplogroups. This is possible because 23andMe tests mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (YDNA) rather than only autosomal DNA like Ancestry DNA.

Haplogroups are groups of genes that are common to one particular ancestor. By testing your mitochondrial (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (YDNA), you can theoretically trace your maternal and paternal haplogroups all the way back and determine the origins of the very first man and woman in your genetic line. If you’re a girl, your father or brother would have to test if you want to learn about your paternal haplogroup.

And just for fun, 23andMe will show you a famous common ancestor who shares your haplogroups.

7. Neanderthal DNA

The last report on your genetic heritage that you can expect from this test on 23andMe tells you what percent of your genes came from neanderthals. This is another feature that is not included in Ancestry DNA’s test. This report will also compare your results to other 23andMe users so you’ll know if your number is above or below average.

In addition, this report will tell you how likely it is that you have four traits common to certain Neanderthal DNA variants and will rank you against your family and friends. These four variants are:

  • Likelihood of having straight hair
  • Likelihood of sneezing at dark chocolate
  • Lower likelihood of back hair
  • Height

8. DNA Relatives

The Ancestry + Traits test on 23andMe will also tell you your DNA relatives. This section compares your DNA to the DNA stored on their database and provides you with matches. For each match, you are told a probable relation and the amount of DNA that the two of you share.

You have the option to search or sort these matches by relationship, side of your family, the number of grandparents that were born in the same place as yours, and surname.

With each match, you can click for more details such as locations of common ancestors, common surnames, and genetic heritage. You are also given the option to contact any of these matches or share more information.

Lastly, 23andMe has recently introduced an automatic family tree builder feature. However, it is still not quite as intricate as Ancestry DNA’s and you shouldn’t expect to find as many family tree matches since 23andMe’s database is significantly smaller.

9. Health + Ancestry Service

The health + ancestry service from 23andMe included everything in the ancestry + traits service along with:

  • 10+ health predisposition reports
  • 40+ carrier status reports
  • 5+ wellness reports

10. Genetic Health Reports

23andMe is well known for offering genetic health reports that can check for genes known to lead to a greater risk of certain health conditions or traits. Keep in mind that although 23andMe might tell you that you are genetically predisposed for a certain condition, it does not mean you will ever actually inherit it.

This upgraded test also offers wellness reports that look at lifestyle-related health traits such as lactose intolerance, alcohol tolerance, caffeine addiction, sleep, muscle, and weight.

Recently in 2019 23andMe added a feature where you can connect your health results to the Lark Health Coach app and receive exercise and diet advice based on your specific genetics. The free version only includes sleep and activity tracking while the upgraded version ($19.99/month) includes sleep and activity tracking as well as exercise and diet tracking and comes with a diabetes prevention program.

For quite some time this was a major differentiator between 23andMe and Ancestry DNA, however, Ancestry DNA has recently just launched their AncestryHealth test that offers both a report on how your DNA might influence certain health conditions as well as steps you can take to address them.

11.  VIP Health + Ancestry

This final test offered by 23andMe is identical to the health + ancestry test but also includes some VIP features such as:

  • Priority lab processing – your data will be processed faster
  • Premium customer support – you gain 1 year of direct access to 23andMe’s premium support line staffed by trained experts
  • 1-on-1 ancestry results walkthrough – once you receive your results, you can call 23andMe’s premium support line and receive a personalized walkthrough of your ancestry results from one a trained expert

Tests Offered by Ancestry DNA

There are two tests currently offered by Ancestry DNA: the AncestryDNA test with optional traits upgrade and the AncestryHealth test. AncestryHealth has just recently launched and thus it is still inconclusive as to whether or not it is better than 23andMe’s well-established health screening.

1. AncestryDNA Test

The classic AncestryDNA test by Ancestry DNA includes:

  • Details about your origins and ethnicity
  • Finds DNA matches with potential relatives
  • Historical and geographical insights about your family’s history
  • For an extra $20, you can also receive personal traits report for 26 traits and compare traits with DNA matches

Since Ancestry DNA has the largest DNA database available for users to potentially match their DNA with, it is by far the best test for finding out extensive knowledge of your family origins and ethnicity, finding relatives, and finding out geographical insights about your family’s history.

After taking the AncestryDNA test, you will gain access to an interactive color-coded map with a percentage breakdown of your ethnicity from 500 possible regions – even as specific as a city. You can click each region to see the DNA ethnicity range, which is the percent of times that particular ethnicity came up when your DNA was matched against samples.

Some regions that you might match with contain a timeline of historical changes with content curated by experts. Also, you can see the historical movement of your family across the world and potentially why they did so.

Lastly, for DNA matching, the AncestryDNA test is the best on the market as it has the largest known DNA database and offers an interactive family tree that can link to millions of other trees. You can contact any of your potential matches and if you opt for the $20 traits upgrade, you can compare your traits to any of your matches.

2. AncestryHealth Test

The AncestryHealth test by Ancestry DNA includes everything in the AncestryDNA test as well as:

  • Personalized health reports with advice and insights for actions you can take
  • Genetic counseling resources
  • A tool to track your family’s health history

While 23andMe used to be the only DNA testing company that offered health screening, AncestryHealth is DNA Ancestry’s take on the same idea.

AncestryHealth takes complex information about your genetics gathered from your DNA and transforms it into easy-to-understand health reports that tell you what your genetic results mean and what the next best steps forward would be, such as talking to a healthcare provider.

You can expect to receive reports for specific conditions in the following areas:

  • Cancer Risk
  • Heart and Blood Health
  • Carrier Status and Wellness

While the health and wellness reports will inform you about potential health risks, AncestryHealth also comes with plenty of guidance and resources to help you get in touch with a healthcare provider for screenings and access to genetic counseling resources.

The family history health tool is also a great tool as it will allow you to compare your certain predispositions to certain illnesses to others in your family tree.

You can learn more about this new AncestryHealth feature on their website.

Even though AncestryHealth shrinks the gap between Ancestry DNA and 23andMe in terms of tests offered, 23andMe still wins due to its inclusion of maternal and paternal haplogroups as well as the fact that it has already been offering health screening for many years.

Tests Offered Winner: 23andMe

23andMe vs. Ancestry DNA: Price Review

When it comes to pricing, both 23andMe and Ancestry DNA are very comparable. Here’s how the pricing breaks down:

Tier 1:

  • 23andMe Ancestry + Traits Test – $79
  • Ancestry DNA AncestryDNA Test – $99 (add traits for extra $20)

Tier 2:

  • 23andMe Health + Ancestry Test – $149
  • Ancestry DNA AncestryHealth – $149

Tier 3:

  • 23andMe VIP Health + Ancestry Test – $499
  • Ancestry DNA – N/A

So basically, Ancestry DNA is a bit more expensive in tier 1 but provides you with a better family tree feature and a more detailed and in-depth overview of your genetic history than 23andMe due to its larger DNA database.

In tier 2, 23andMe and AncestryDNA are the same prices, however, AncestryDNA does not include a traits report.

In tier 3, Ancestry DNA does not offer a VIP service so we can ignore this when comparing pricing (although 23andMe’s $499 price is quite steep considering what you are getting).

So while 23andMe comes out a bit less expensive, there is arguably a value tradeoff that makes pricing a tie between these two companies.

Price Winner: Tie

** If you have Amazon Prime you can save on shipping. **

23andMe Ancestry + Traits on Amazon – $79
23andMe Health + Ancestry on Amazon – $149
AncestryDNA on Amazon – $99
AncestryDNA + Traits on Amazon – $119

23andMe vs. Ancestry DNA: Finding Relatives Review

When it comes to finding and connecting with new relatives that share a percentage of your DNA, AncestryDNA is preferred due to them having a much larger DNA database as well as their elaborate family tree building feature that can search millions of other family trees for possible matches.

Since many of the users of DNA Ancestry use the platform to find relatives, they are more likely to share their personal contact information and be open to communicating with any matches they find. While 23andMe also offers a DNA matching feature in which you can contact identified relatives, many users of 23andMe use it specifically for the health screening feature and thus do not include any personal contact information.

Keep in mind that in both Ancestry DNA and 23andMe, you may or may not be able to connect with, see more details about, or message certain matches depending on their privacy settings.

Ancestry DNA Family Tree Feature

Ancestry DNA’s family tree feature makes it easy to find relatives. To connect the dots of your extended family tree, you can use both DNA matches and DNA circles.

DNA matches are people who you share the same DNA with. These matches will be listed out along with the level of relationship you have with them. You have the option to click on a match and see their relatives as well. You can also message them if you want to.

A DNA circle is made up of you and two or more of your DNA matches if you all have a similar ancestor. This provides you with a broader view of your family and is helpful for tracing your family history hundreds of years in the past.

Navigating up and down a family tree on Ancestry DNA is simple: either click left to go down the tree or click right to go up the tree.

Although the Ancestry DNA family tree feature is great, it does require a $19.99/month subscription charge.

23andMe Family Tree Feature

After taking and submitting a DNA test on 23andMe, you receive a list of DNA matches around the world who are also in the 23andMe database. Relatives are split among immediate, close, and distant relatives.

While 23andMe does offer a family tree feature, it actually goes through a third party called MyHeritage tree which is more expensive and less easy to use than Ancestry DNA’s. One thing that makes the MyHeritage tree feature difficult is that you are not able to see your matches’ tree without contacting them and getting approval first.

Since many people on 23andMe often use it for DNA health screening, they often have sharing settings turned off and thus there is a lower match response rate than there is on Ancestry DNA.

Finding Relatives Winner: Ancestry DNA

23andMe vs. Ancestry DNA: Health Screening Review

While for many years 23andMe has been the only DNA testing company to offer health screening, Ancestry DNA has recently introduced its own health screening test: AncestryHealth.

23andMe Health Screening

23andMe’s genetic health screening provides you with 4 wellness reports that gives you information about your health in four reports.

These four wellness reports are:

  • Carrier Status Reports – these reports check and see whether you are a carrier of any inheritable health conditions. You may or may not actually have a condition that you are a carrier for, however, if you are a carrier, it means your children might inherit that condition.
  • Trait Reports – these reports tell you how your DNA predicts your physical traits and what kind of physical traits you can predict your children might have, or how your appearance might change in the future
  • Wellness Reports – these reports say how your genes affect your overall health and lifestyle characteristics such as sleep, lactose intolerance, weight, etc.
  • Genetic Health Risk Reports – these reports predict the percent chance that you might develop certain diseases or disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, age-related eyesight issues, etc. Since early detection is essential for prevention and treatment, knowing what to look for from these reports could literally save your life.

Ancestry DNA’s AncestryHealth

While Ancestry DNA’s AncestryHealth health screening service is still brand new, it has the potential to overtake 23andMe as the best DNA health screener on the market.

Until there are more customer feedback and reviews, there is no way to know for sure. However, here is what AncestryHealth has to offer:

  • Personalized health reports that state your risk for specific cancer, heart, and blood-related illnesses along with insights into the actions you should take
  • Access to genetic counseling resources – Ancestry DNA partnered with PWNHealth to offer educational resources and provides customers with access to genetic counselors who can make recommendations for you based on your health report results
  • Family health history tool – allows you to create, save, learn about, and share information about health conditions that have passed down through your family for generations and share that information with your healthcare provider.

Health Screening Winner (for now): 23andMe

23andMe vs. Ancestry DNA: The Overall Winner

If your goal is to find out more about your genetic origins and discover potential relatives you didn’t know you have: Ancestry DNA is the Winner

If your goal is to find out potential health problems that you might be at risk for and/or trace your maternal or paternal lineage specifically: 23andMe is the Winner. As time passes, however, we might find that Ancestry DNA’s new AncestryHealth is a more reliable health risk predictor than 23andMe’s.

Resources:

https://www.ancestry.com/

https://www.23andme.com/?new=true&vip=true