MyHeritage DNA Review: Everything You Need Know

By: Laura Ryan, PhD
Last Updated: September 16, 2018
MyHeritage DNA Review

MyHeritage DNA is a division of one of the largest genealogy sites, MyHeritage. Over 95 million people use their ancestry service and DNA testing is becoming an increasingly important part of their customers research. MyHeritage DNA only offers autosomal testing, which tends to be the most useful for connecting you with fairly close relatives and exploring your ethnic heritage.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Free family tree software from MyHeritage is included with each DNA test purchase.
  • MyHeritage DNA will get you your test results faster than any other test on the market, typically 3-4 weeks compared to up to 8 weeks from most other test providers.
  • MyHeritage has perhaps the best customer service in the market with a helpful 24 hour toll free number hotline (1-800-987-9000).
  • Though they are newer to DNA testing than some other giants, their genealogical community has been around a long time and is fantastic.

Cons

  • MyHeritage DNA does not offer any health related information.
  • Though the family tree software is free, it is not nearly as robust as that of AncestryDNA.
  • MyHeritage DNA has one of the smallest database sizes (~800,000).
  • yDNA and mtDNA tests are not available.

Bottom Line

If you are simply looking to build out your family tree and are on a tight budget, then MyHeritage DNA could be a good choice for you. You’ll get your results faster, too. However if you also wish to have health-related genetic information, you might want to consider 23andMe. If you intend to do some hardcore ancestry research, then perhaps AncestryDNA or Family Tree DNA would be a better option.

MyHeritage Rating by

3.5 stars (4 stars for genealogists)

Reviewed on

Pricing and Options

The MyHeritage DNA’s stated retail price is $99. However we are often seeing it priced lower as competition to decipher your DNA heats up. Shipping and handling costs an additional $9.99.

Discounts

Like the other DNA test providers, My Heritage often offers special discounts. We have seen the test priced as low as $69.

Submitting your DNA

Once you place your order, your saliva collection kit should arrive in 3 to 5 business days. After you receive it, you just activate your kit online and send the kit back in the prepaid package. It takes approximately 3-4 weeks after sending for your reports to become available online (mine took exactly 3 weeks).

MyHeritage DNA’s submittal process is fast, easy, and painless. Unlike the tests of other providers that require you to spit into a tube, this company’s process simply requires that you swab your check twice for 45 seconds. In order to get the most accurate results, MyHeritage recommends to “make sure you don’t drink, eat, chew gum, brush your teeth, or smoke for at least 30 minutes before using the test kit.”

Reports and Features

Once your results come in, you will have access to 2 reports:

Ethnicity Estimate

MyHeritage DNA Ethnicity Estimate

The Ethnicity Estimate attempts to give you insights into your ethnic heritage broken down by percentages. MyHeritage claims to have over 42 different ethnicities, including Irish, Jewish, Native American, Japanese, and many others. You will see a list of the regions your ancestors—from both sides of your family—came from, with a corresponding percentage of your DNA that comes from each.

DNA Matches

The second report you will receive is called “DNA Matches.” This report compares your DNA data with that of others in order to identify relatives. By measuring the percentage of shared genetic sequences, the report can come very close to predicting your actual relationship (the more matching sequences, the closer the relationship).

Other Important Considerations

Privacy

MyHeritage DNA, even more so than some other test providers, has a robust system in place to protect your privacy; they allow you to opt out of even allowing your anonymized (non-identifying) information to be used in scientific research. As with all the other companies, customers are only identified using an anonymous ID number and test lab technicians never have access to your name. But only you get to decide whether or not you want to share any of your information (usually in order to make yourself findable by other potential relatives). They commit to never selling or leasing your individual-level information to any third party without your explicit consent.

Database Size

MyHeritage DNA has one of the smallest database sizes in the industry, coming in around 800,000. For comparisons, AncestryDNA’s is almost 7,000,000. This is especially important if the primary reason you are taking the test is to identify unknown new relatives.

Data Exportability

MyHeritage really shines in terms of Data exportability. It not only allows you to download your raw DNA data easily, but it also allows you to upload your data from other test providers. AncestryDNA, for example, still does not allow you to upload your data from other services at this time.

Regional Granularity

The number of regions offered by MyHeritage is not very impressive compared to other providers; of the major providers, only Family Tree DNA has fewer. By contrast, AncestryDNA and 23andMe offer around 150 regions. This is important for autosomal test results, because you can get more meaningful information about your heritage when the ethnicity regions are broken down into more specific areas of cultural significance.

Comparing AncestryDNA to Competitors

Curious about how MyHeritage DNA compares to the competition?

MyHeritage DNA vs. AncestryDNA

Both companies offer only the autosomal test, and both have robust genealogical communities compared to some other companies. But AncestryDNA has a bigger community, a much bigger database and more ethnicity regions to use when analyzing your autosomal DNA test results.

It will take longer to get those results, though, with AncestryDNA. And when it comes to price, well, AncestryDNA can sneak up on you due to the monthly fee they’ll charge in order to continue benefiting from their impressive reporting features after you take your test.

If you care about your anonymized data being kept totally private, you can do that with MyHeritage, but not with AncestryDNA.

And with MyHeritage, you can download your data for use elsewhere as well as upload data from other test companies. AncestryDNA doesn’t let you upload anything from anywhere else.

Bottom line: If you want to save money and you’re in a hurry to get results (several weeks faster), MyHeritage is a good choice. But otherwise—and unless you really want total privacy—AncestryDNA will help you in your genealogical pursuits more than MyHeritage, just due to sheer size and the advantages it has allowed them to build into their interface.

MyHeritage DNA vs. Family Tree DNA

Unlike MyHeritage, FTDNA offers all three ancestry tests—autosomal, yDNA and mtDNA. And FTDNA has a slightly larger database than MyHeritage at this time (though neither compares in database size to AncestryDNA or 23andMe). In those ways, advantage goes to FTDNA.

Both have very robust genealogical communities. And both allow you to demand privacy, even when it comes to preventing your anonymized data from being used in research.

When it comes to the value of their autosomal test results, though, MyHeritage may have an edge, because it offers slightly more granular ethnic heritage regions.

Bottom line: If your goal is to get the most detailed genealogy information and learn the most about your ancestors, Family Tree DNA has an edge over MyHeritage right now.

MyHeritage DNA vs. 23andMe

An interesting comparison, because there are certain aspects of each company’s offering that the other company doesn’t really touch at all.

Are you interested in health testing to discover whether you may be at a genetically higher risk for certain diseases, or to learn whether you’re a carrier for certain hereditary conditions you could pass to your children? If so, then 23andMe is your choice, because MyHeritage does none of the DNA health testing.

If genealogical research is your goal, though, the choice is much murkier. Mainly this is because 23andMe doesn’t have much of a community at all. You’d be surprised how much more you might learn about your results by tapping into the longstanding and reputable community at MyHeritage.

It should be noted that 23andMe actually offers more ancestry DNA tests than MyHeritage, though. That’s kind of counterintuitive, isn’t it? You can’t get the yDNA or mtDNA test from MyHeritage. You HAVE TO buy all three if you go with 23andMe—even if you’re only interested in getting the most complete picture of your ethnic heritage and finding relatives—but the price is basically the same.

Bottom line: If your goal is to learn about ethnic heritage and tap into a knowledgeable community, one could argue that MyHeritage wins in that case. But since MyHeritage lets you upload data from elsewhere for free, and the price of all three ancestry tests at 23andMe matches the price of just the autosomal alone at MyHeritage, that could affect your decision. And if your goals involve health testing at all, your choice should be 23andMe. Overall, edge goes to 23andMe.

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