- Your DNA holds the story of your lineage as well as a wealth of information about your body in terms of aging, health, and more.
- The AncestryDNA Genetic Testing Kit is the best DNA testing kit you can buy because it compares your DNA to 500 worldwide regions, helping you create an amazingly accurate picture of your heritage.
Your DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, carries the entire story of your natural past, present, and even your future. It is the very substance of every part of your body, and it is the result of thousands of generations of reproduction and countless instances of mutation.
The expression of the genes in your DNA makes you who you are, determining everything from eye color and height to which diseases you might easily defeat and which you need to watch out for. The study of your DNA can also provide a remarkably accurate portrait of your heritage, linking you to pockets of humanity that existed many thousands of years ago in far-flung corners of the world.
Did your ancestors cross the Bering Strait Land Bridge? Do you have some Neanderthal DNA in your makeup? Did your great-great-something sail the Pacific atop an outrigger? These questions and many more can be answered through the use of a DNA kit, and all it takes is a bit of saliva.
Learning about your genetic ancestry can be both amusing and informative, but DNA test kits can also provide actionable information. With the right kit, you can analyze your results to better understand how your body responds to everything from sugars and alcohol to caffeine. Studying your genes can also help you learn what illnesses you might be susceptible to developing, helping you live a lifestyle that minimizes the chances of their occurrence or at least helping you mitigate symptoms and effects should the condition arise.
We have included DNA test kits that are primarily aimed at studying ancestry alongside those geared toward health and wellness. We have a kit principally intended to determine paternity and we have one that’s perfect for the armchair ethnographer. But all the home DNA test kits on our list share a few things in common: They are easy to use, they’re reliable, and each will shed new light on that stuff that makes you … you.
Here are the best DNA test kits:
- Best overall: AncestryDNA Genetic Testing Kit
- Best health-risk predictor: 23andMe DNA Ancestry + Health Kit
- Best on a budget: MyHeritage DNA Test Kit
- Best home paternity DNA test kit: STK Paternity Test Kit
Prices and links are current as of 2/13/2020.
The best DNA test kit overall
The AncestryDNA Genetic Testing Kit traces your ethnic mix from 500 global regions, creating a portrait of your lineage that is thorough and precise.
Forget about poring over pages of personal records or scanning the microfiche at the local library. When it comes to putting together your family tree, it's what's in your genes that really counts. While talking to relatives or studying marriage licenses and birth certificates can probably help you trace your personal history back a few generations and might give you a semi-accurate sense of your ethnic heritage, the AncestryDNA Genetic Testing Kit can link you to no fewer than 500 distinct global regions, creating a precise portrait of your makeup.
Learning about your ethnic heritage is fascinating and fun, and it can even help you understand certain issues that might impact your future, informing you of health conditions to which you might be susceptible. But when you use the AncestryDNA Genetic Testing Kit, the results actually extend beyond you and those chromosomes of yours.
At the time of this guide update, more than 16 million people have used this kit, and everyone who submits their results has the option of seeing which other users closely match their genetic makeup.
Thus using the AncestryDNA Genetic Testing Kit might reveal the existence of a long-lost aunt, cousin, or even a sibling. Your family is almost surely larger than you know, and a DNA testing kit might just be the perfect way to find someone out there with the same genetic history as you.
Business Insider tried the kit, and we highly recommend it to anyone who is curious about their ancestry. A writer with PCMag called the kit "an easy-to-use tool for exploring your background" and track down relatives.
Pros: Surveys extensive population, helps link users with relatives, easy to use
Cons: Full results require a subscription
The best health-risk predictor DNA test kit
The 23andMe DNA Ancestry + Health Kit tells you which illnesses you're predisposed to and gives you a full look at your ancestry.
First, just to make sure you understand the full costs, if you want to get a comprehensive genetic health report using the 23andMe DNA Ancestry + Health Kit, you will need to buy the kit that costs two hundred dollars.
Knowing what diseases you are predisposed to develop can help you live a lifestyle that will help lessen the chances of their appearance and/or help prepare your body fight back. The kit can also tell you which genes you are carrying that might pass on diseases or other genetic traits that could cause issues, helping you in your family planning.
Even the basic one-hundred-dollar 23andMe DNA Ancestry Kit still gives you lots of interesting and amusing ancestry data. You can also upgrade it if you do decide that you want the health analysis, too.
Spit one gob of saliva into its tube, and you can learn how much Neanderthal DNA you inherited and you can compare your genetic makeup to a few dozen world populations alive today. And when you and a family member each use a 23andMe DNA Ancestry Kit, you can see how much DNA you have in common or how much you differ based on genetics inherited from shared ancestors.
A reporter for Business Insider tried the test and found it very interesting and helpful. An Insider Picks writer gave it to a friend to test and came away impressed by all the information that was gleaned from the test. A Wirecutter review said that the basic 23andMe kit was lower priced than many, but also mentioned that a disproportionate amount of the company's "reference population database" was Euro-centric.
Pros: Great access to information on medical issues, includes data on Neanderthal ancestry
The best low-cost DNA test kit
The MyHeritage DNA Test Kit not only costs less than all the other tests on our list, but it also gives you access to all its results without additional fees.
Yes, technically the MyHeritage DNA Test Kit only costs twenty bucks less than two of the other kits on our list, and twenty dollars really isn't a big expense, especially when we're talking about data covering thousands of years of heritage and populations spread across the globe. But let's remember that one of those other kits requires an additional subscription fee for access to full results while the other requires an upgrade cost to get the full picture of your genetic makeup.
With the MyHeritage DNA Test Kit, the purchase price grants you full access to all the info the test gleans about your genes. And in this case, there are two distinct areas the testing covers. First, your MyHeritage DNA Test Kit will give you a detailed snapshot of your ethnic background, including information sourced from 42 regions. Second, the kit has a comprehensive DNA matching feature that can help you locate relatives based on shared genetics.
You can learn about and potentially connect with everyone from a second cousin twice removed to a long-lost sister to a great-great-uncle. And the more people who use this test, the more potential matches it will make in the years to come, no additional fee required for those who have already submitted their genetic data.
A review from TheGadgeteer praised the MyHeritage DNA kit's ease of use and said it is a good way to locate relatives and build a family tree. A FamilyHistoryDaily article noted the system's "wonderful tools to connect your research to your DNA matches."
Pros: Affordable price point, reliable DNA matching tools, large global database
Cons: Long test result wait times
The best home paternity DNA test kit
You can take the STK Paternity Test in the privacy of your home to determine the paternity of a child in a matter of days.
Paternity testing is rarely something that's done under joyous circumstances. Rather it's usually a step taken in the midst of a tense, potentially heart-rending and complicated period in your life. So you'll appreciate that the STK Paternity Test Kit is a discreet testing system that gets quick results.
You'll also appreciate how easy the test is to use, especially as one of the two people being tested will likely be an infant or toddler. With a quick swab of the child's cheek and a swab of the (purported) dad's cheek as well, this test can get paternity results in less than a week. The company promises results in three to five business days after they get the test, so if you mail it on Monday, you may well know about paternity before the weekend.
Even more important than the swiftness of the results of the STK Paternity Test Kit is the accuracy of the results, though. And of those, you can rest assured. As long as you use it properly, this kit boasts a 99.999% accuracy rating thanks to the quality of the materials used and because every test kit is tested by an accredited A2LA and ISO 17025 relationship resting facility.
The results are available online and a color hard copy will be sent to you discreetly, so you can process the news in private and choose to share it when you're ready and with whom you choose.
While the results of this test are not court-admissable, if after you take the personal test, you find yourself needing admissable results, STK offers a fifty dollar credit towards a court-admissable test as long as your request is made within six months of getting your initial results.
It's important to note that New York residents can't legally obtain this kit without a court order or a request from a physician.
Pros: Rapid and discreet results, highly accurate testing, painless and easy process
Cons: Cannot be shipped to NY