MyHeritageDNA Review

Our score:
9.8
User score:
9.8

Expert opinion:

MyHeritage is one of the main contenders in the DNA testing space, especially when it comes to genealogy. Its key advantage is that you can use its huge database to build an extensive family tree, but is that advantage enough to beat out other DNA kits? I decided to explore a bit further.
Written by Moss Stern
Last updated on February 29, 2020
PROS
  • Two million people in the MyHeritage DNA database
  • Connect with unknown living relatives
  • Discover your genetic disease risk and carrier status
  • Competitive pricing and subscription options
  • Upload raw DNA data from other testing providers
CONS
  • Paid subscription needed to access most genealogy features
  • Ancestry and health reports are less detailed than some competitors
  • Postage is not prepaid for submitting your DNA sample
  • Ancestry
  • Health & Wellness
Written by Moss Stern on February 29, 2020
  • Ancestry
  • Health & Wellness

2.5M Test Kit Customers Surely Can’t Be Wrong!

MyHeritage Review

Ever since DNA testing services first became available, I’d wondered what they could tell me about my family history and my genetic disease risk. So, I decided to jump in and tried out the DNA testing service offered by MyHeritage. Unsurprisingly, it’s called MyHeritage DNA. Let’s start with a bit of background.

MyHeritage launched its DNA testing service about a decade after being founded as a genealogy service. It has sold more than 2.5 million test kits to date. You can now buy an Ancestry test or a combined Health + Ancestry package. In this review, I explore both the ancestry and the health aspects, so that you have a complete picture to decide if MyHeritage DNA is the right at-home DNA test for you.

See MyHeritageDNA Deals

Taking the MyHeritage DNA Tests

So that I can tell you exactly how it works and what to expect, I took the test myself. Specifically, I took the combined Health + Ancestry test that provides the two sets of results.

MyHeritage Review

What’s Inside the Box?

The DNA collection kit I received contained two cheek swabs, two vial (test tube) containers, a plastic envelope to package the containers for return, an unpaid return envelope, and a set of instructions:

MyHeritage Review - Inside MyHeritage box

MyHeritage encourages you to register your kit as soon as you receive it. This involves creating an account and entering your test kit’s unique code. You’ll also be prompted to list everything you know about your parents and grandparents: their names, dates and places of birth, and dates of death (if relevant). This is so you can get a head start on building your family tree before your DNA results come through.

Collecting and Submitting Your Sample

Since detailed instructions are provided with the kit, I don’t need to put them down in detail here (and it’s probably not a good idea, in case they change). In essence, the process is:

  • Don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes before collecting your DNA sample.
  • Rub each swab against the inside of one cheek for 30-60 seconds.
  • Put the swabs inside the vials (as per the instructions).
  • Put the vials inside the plastic envelope, and put this inside the return envelope.
  • Post it back, but be aware that you’ll have to pay the postage.

MyHeritage Review - testing sample

Waiting for Your Results

While waiting for your results, you’ll receive lots of email updates, including subscription upsells and invitations to review MyHeritage’s “Smart Matches,” which are your potential relatives (based on its genealogy database, not your DNA):

MyHeritage Review - email

It took about two weeks for me to receive my results, which was much quicker than the three to four weeks advertised by MyHeritage. I could then view the reports on the MyHeritage website or via its mobile app.

You Get Quite a Bit, But You Get More if You Pay More

MyHeritage’s Ancestry report is the same regardless of whether you order it alone or as part of the combined Health + Ancestry package.

Standout Features

  • Take one of the most affordable ancestry tests
  • Get relatively quick results
  • Find out where your ancestors came from
  • Learn what ethnicities are reflected in your genetic makeup
  • Discover long-lost relatives that are “hiding” in the branches of your family tree
  • Search one of the world’s largest databases of users and historical records
  • Upload raw DNA data from another testing service for faster and cheaper results

Reading the Results

The ancestry report tells you what percentage of your ancestry comes from more than forty different ethnicities, populations, or regions of the world. You also get a long list of other people in the company’s DNA database that you appear to be related to. If you pair your DNA test with MyHeritage’s genealogy subscription service, you can add your DNA-matched relatives to your online family tree. Plus, you’ll have access to MyHeritage’s huge database of historical records.

Now let’s look at the report I received. Although it took only two weeks to receive my results, I found them to be a little bit superficial, as you’ll see. The Ethnicity Estimate showed me which regions my ancestors came from and what percentage of my DNA is associated with each:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Ancestry Test

Now, here’s the thing. My grandmother always told me that her great-great-grandfather, a Dutch naval officer, married an Indonesian woman while stationed in Java. This potential Southeast Asian heritage didn’t seem to be uncovered by the MyHeritage results, despite both 23andMe and AncestryDNA detecting my more extensive genetic roots. Next, the DNA Matches section showed me how many of my close family members, extended family members, and distant relatives are in MyHeritage’s database:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Ancestry Test

Digging deeper into these results, I could review the full list of 11,813 MyHeritage DNA customers who appeared to be genetically related to me:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Ancestry Test

That’s pretty much all you get with the MyHeritage DNA Ancestry report. You can get more with a paid subscription that lets you contact your DNA matches and merge your online family trees together. There is a free trial of the subscription service, but bear in mind that it will revert to a paid subscription at some point.

See MyHeritageDNA Ancestry Deals

Similar Tests to Consider

If you’ve already taken a DNA test with another vendor, you can upload your raw DNA data to MyHeritage for additional insights. How much value this will add, I don’t know, because I already told you that MyHeritage seemed to miss my Southeast Asian heritage (which 23andMe and AncestryDNA both indicated). So, if you want a really detailed report, you might want to consider one of these competitor companies:

  • 23andMe: Much more robust and detailed ancestry reports, including maternal and paternal lineages, Neanderthal heritage, but no genealogy capability.
  • Living DNA: Comparable to 23andMe in terms of content depth, but no Neanderthal heritage.
  • AncestryDNA: Similar ancestry reports to MyHeritage, including a genealogy capability. More accurate (in my opinion) but also more expensive.

Low Starting Price, Until You Add a Subscription

MyHeritage’s DNA tests are available worldwide, except for Israel, and you can pay for them in your local currency via PayPal, credit card, wire transfer, or check. The base price of the Ancestry test is well below the sticker price of most other ancestry tests. However, it ends up being more expensive than most when you add the cost of a genealogy subscription that allows you to build an extended family tree and populate it with matches from MyHeritage’s historical database.

The list price of the Health + Ancestry test is exactly the same as the similarly-named combo from 23andMe, but I feel that 23andMe’s reports are more accurate and comprehensive.

Ancestry
MyHeritageDNA
  • Find out the geographic regions and ethnic groups you come from
  • Locate long lost relatives ‘hiding’ in the branches of your family tree
  • Search one of the largest databases of users and historical records

All’s Well That Ends Well, but Not All Customers Would Agree

MyHeritageDNA review - MyHeritage Education

MyHeritage publishes a frequently asked questions page, which is pretty extensive. If you still can’t find your answer, you can call the support phone number. There is also an online form for email support, but it isn’t easy to find. I submitted a question to ask why the company charges to add matched relatives to a family tree, even though a 250-member family tree is included for free with a basic subscription.

I never received a reply. I asked the same question by telephone, but all the courteous support agent could tell me was that, “The company has to make money somehow”.

A second question was answered via the online form, with a very helpful reply pointing me to some useful educational resources:

“Dear Mr. Stern,

Thank you for contacting us. My name is Ramona and I am happy to assist you.

I understand you would like to know if there are any online videos about how to collect and submit the DNA sample, or information about the Health or Ancestry reports.

We have different platforms where this information is available, I’ll show you the most important ones:

This is a link to our Help Center with a video on how to use the DNA kit:

How should I use the DNA kit at home?

Furthermore, we recently launched an Education portal with more information and focus on what happens at the lab:

How DNA Testing Works. May I also recommend this blog post about how to navigate your MyHeritage DNA Health reports.

It contains a lot of useful and detailed information, I hope you’ll find it interesting!

I hope this helps, Mr. Stern, however of course if you have any further questions, please feel free to reply to this email and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Wishing you a lovely Sunday.”

Now, that’s what I call a nice response! Some other customers have complained that MyHeritage automatically charged them for a full year’s subscription (without their permission) when their one-month free trial ended.

Get Basic Results at Low Cost, or Build a Family Tree with a Subscription

MyHeritage is one of the main contenders in the DNA testing space, especially when it comes to genealogy. Its key advantage is that you can use its huge database to build an extensive family tree, but this requires you to sign up for a subscription. Aside from the family tree aspect, MyHeritage’s basic DNA testing service gives you (for a lower price) roughly the same information as AncestryDNA but a lot less than 23andMe.

The Health + Ancestry report also costs a lot less, but provides fewer details than the comparable report from 23andMe. If you’d like to build a family tree from relatives matched through DNA, then you should sign up for MyHeritage’s subscription today. Otherwise, you might consider the competitor companies.

See MyHeritageDNA Deals

 

MyHeritageDNA Coupon #
*Offer Valid Until March 3, 2020
MyHeritage DNA Winter Sale
*Offer Valid Until March 3, 2020
Lowest Price Ever! Get your DNA kit at only $39.00 + FREE shipping when buying 2+ kits!

2.5M Test Kit Customers Surely Can’t Be Wrong!

MyHeritage Review

Ever since DNA testing services first became available, I’d wondered what they could tell me about my family history and my genetic disease risk. So, I decided to jump in and tried out the DNA testing service offered by MyHeritage. Unsurprisingly, it’s called MyHeritage DNA. Let’s start with a bit of background.

MyHeritage launched its DNA testing service about a decade after being founded as a genealogy service. It has sold more than 2.5 million test kits to date. You can now buy an Ancestry test or a combined Health + Ancestry package. In this review, I explore both the ancestry and the health aspects, so that you have a complete picture to decide if MyHeritage DNA is the right at-home DNA test for you.

See MyHeritageDNA Deals

Taking the MyHeritage DNA Tests

So that I can tell you exactly how it works and what to expect, I took the test myself. Specifically, I took the combined Health + Ancestry test that provides the two sets of results.

MyHeritage Review

What’s Inside the Box?

The DNA collection kit I received contained two cheek swabs, two vial (test tube) containers, a plastic envelope to package the containers for return, an unpaid return envelope, and a set of instructions:

MyHeritage Review - Inside MyHeritage box

MyHeritage encourages you to register your kit as soon as you receive it. This involves creating an account and entering your test kit’s unique code. You’ll also be prompted to list everything you know about your parents and grandparents: their names, dates and places of birth, and dates of death (if relevant). This is so you can get a head start on building your family tree before your DNA results come through.

Collecting and Submitting Your Sample

Since detailed instructions are provided with the kit, I don’t need to put them down in detail here (and it’s probably not a good idea, in case they change). In essence, the process is:

  • Don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes before collecting your DNA sample.
  • Rub each swab against the inside of one cheek for 30-60 seconds.
  • Put the swabs inside the vials (as per the instructions).
  • Put the vials inside the plastic envelope, and put this inside the return envelope.
  • Post it back, but be aware that you’ll have to pay the postage.

MyHeritage Review - testing sample

Waiting for Your Results

While waiting for your results, you’ll receive lots of email updates, including subscription upsells and invitations to review MyHeritage’s “Smart Matches,” which are your potential relatives (based on its genealogy database, not your DNA):

MyHeritage Review - email

It took about two weeks for me to receive my results, which was much quicker than the three to four weeks advertised by MyHeritage. I could then view the reports on the MyHeritage website or via its mobile app.

Is Upgrading to MyHeritage’s Health Report Worth It?

The Health + Ancestry package contains the ancestry report (read it via our Ancestry tab) plus the Health report. Although you can’t buy the health report on its own, you can upgrade a previous Ancestry purchase to include the Health information for a small additional fee, but you’ll have to submit another DNA sample.

Standout Features

  • See if your genes put you at increased risk of 13 different health disorders
  • Get polygenic risk reports that weigh multiple factors to determine your genetic predisposition
  • Discover what lifestyle factors can increase or decrease your risk
  • Learn if you could be a carrier for an inherited condition
  • Upload your raw DNA data from a previous test with a different provider
  • Connect with a genetic counselor for free (if recommended)
  • Receive an ancestry report as well

Reading the Results

The health report tells you if you are at risk of developing 13 different health conditions, including heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Having a genetic predisposition to a disease doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop the disease, but you’ll want to pay more attention to potential symptoms.

You will also learn if you could be a carrier of 13 congenital conditions such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, or Tay-Sachs disease. Being a carrier could affect the next generation, even though you have no symptoms yourself, so you’ll receive recommendations for appropriate next steps. Now let’s look at the report I received in only two weeks, which includes two major sections: Genetic Risks and Carrier Status.

Genetic Risks

The Genetic Risks section explores whether you’re at increased, average, or decreased risk of developing 13 different health conditions. My results looked like this, but note that there were many more “average risks” than I’ve shown in this screenshot:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Health Test

MyHeritage doesn’t just look at a single genetic marker and call it a day. It analyzes a large number of variants across your entire genome, and it calculates what the combination of variants means for your overall genetic risk. It then compiles a polygenic risk score for additional conditions – such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes – which some other companies don’t report on.

My polygenic risk score suggests that I’m at higher-than-average risk for heart disease, which other diagnostic tests have confirmed, but don’t tell my insurance company! For each of the reported conditions, you can click to see more detail, which in my case was a bit more reassuring because I’m actually very close to the average range:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Health Test

The report goes on to tell you more generally how “people like you” (or me in this case) of the same ethnicity, gender, and age compare to the general population:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Health Test

If you find out that you have an increased risk of developing a health condition, you’ll want to know what to do about it. MyHeritage tells you how you can mitigate your risks by managing your lifestyle, learning to see the signs, and getting screened:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Health Test

In particular, my report told me that other risk factors for developing heart disease are obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a family history of heart disease. So, it’s time for me to go to the gym, avoid sugary foods, and ask my family some awkward questions. Oh, and I also need to avoid cigarette smoke and alcohol.

Some of the information and advice was a bit simplistic, such as focusing exclusively on heart attacks without saying much (if anything) about other kinds of heart disease such as strokes, heart failure, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, valvular heart disease, carditis, aortic aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and venous thrombosis (to name a few).

Finally – for this section – there is a detailed description of the methodology used to calculate your polygenic risk score, complete with caveats.

Carrier Status

The second part of MyHeritage’s health report tells you your carrier status for various genetic diseases that you could pass on to your children even though you don’t suffer from the disease yourself. This risk also depends on the carrier status of your partner, so it’s worth having both of you get tested and see a specialist (if necessary) before planning to start a family.

I got a clean bill of health – or rather my children did – because my report told me that I’m not a likely carrier for the 13 tested conditions:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Health Test

If I was at increased risk (and even though I’m not), I can click on any of the conditions to learn more about it, including the specific gene variants that were examined to determine my carrier status:

MyHeritage Review - MyHeritageDNA Health Test

While this information gives a good indication, it’s not infallible, so I’d always recommend taking a blood test and consulting a healthcare professional if you’re at all concerned about conditions that might be in your or your partner’s family history that may have “skipped” your generation.

See MyHeritageDNA Health Deals

Similar Tests to Consider

  • 23andMe: Addresses carrier risk for many more conditions than MyHeritage, and also explores how your genes may influence your body’s response to diet, exercise, and sleep.
  • Helix: Offers individual tests for specific disease risks, including prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s.
  • Futura Genetics: Focuses specifically on your risk of developing 28 different diseases.

Low Starting Price, Until You Add a Subscription

MyHeritage’s DNA tests are available worldwide, except for Israel, and you can pay for them in your local currency via PayPal, credit card, wire transfer, or check. The base price of the Ancestry test is well below the sticker price of most other ancestry tests. However, it ends up being more expensive than most when you add the cost of a genealogy subscription that allows you to build an extended family tree and populate it with matches from MyHeritage’s historical database.

The list price of the Health + Ancestry test is exactly the same as the similarly-named combo from 23andMe, but I feel that 23andMe’s reports are more accurate and comprehensive.

Health & Wellness
MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry kit
  • Discover your risk levels for 13 inherited diseases
  • Know if you’re a carrier for 13 conditions
  • Learn about each illness’s risk factors

All’s Well That Ends Well, but Not All Customers Would Agree

MyHeritageDNA review - MyHeritage Education

MyHeritage publishes a frequently asked questions page, which is pretty extensive. If you still can’t find your answer, you can call the support phone number. There is also an online form for email support, but it isn’t easy to find. I submitted a question to ask why the company charges to add matched relatives to a family tree, even though a 250-member family tree is included for free with a basic subscription. I never received a reply.

I asked the same question by telephone, but all the courteous support agent could tell me was that, “The company has to make money somehow”. A second question was answered via the online form, with a very helpful reply pointing me to some useful educational resources:

“Dear Mr. Stern,

Thank you for contacting us. My name is Ramona and I am happy to assist you.

I understand you would like to know if there are any online videos about how to collect and submit the DNA sample, or information about the Health or Ancestry reports.

We have different platforms where this information is available, I’ll show you the most important ones:

This is a link to our Help Center with a video on how to use the DNA kit:

How should I use the DNA kit at home?

Furthermore, we recently launched an Education portal with more information and focus on what happens at the lab: How DNA Testing Works.

May I also recommend this blog post about how to navigate your MyHeritage DNA Health reports.

It contains a lot of useful and detailed information, I hope you’ll find it interesting!

I hope this helps, Mr. Stern, however of course if you have any further questions, please feel free to reply to this email and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Wishing you a lovely Sunday.”

Now, that’s what I call a nice response! Some other customers have complained that MyHeritage automatically charged them for a full year’s subscription (without their permission) when their one-month free trial ended.

Get Basic Results at Low Cost, or Build a Family Tree with a Subscription

MyHeritage is one of the main contenders in the DNA testing space, especially when it comes to genealogy. Its key advantage is that you can use its huge database to build an extensive family tree, but this requires you to sign up for a subscription. Aside from the family tree aspect, MyHeritage’s basic DNA testing service gives you (for a lower price) roughly the same information as AncestryDNA but a lot less than 23andMe.

The Health + Ancestry report also costs a lot less, but provides fewer details than the comparable report from 23andMe. If you’d like to build a family tree from relatives matched through DNA, then you should sign up for MyHeritage’s subscription today. Otherwise, you might consider the competitor companies.

See MyHeritageDNA Deals

MyHeritageDNA Coupon #
*Offer Valid Until March 3, 2020
MyHeritage DNA Winter Sale
*Offer Valid Until March 3, 2020
Lowest Price Ever! Get your DNA kit at only $99.00 + FREE shipping when buying 2+ kits!
Moss Stern
Moss Stern
Writer
Moss Stern is a professional writer, amateur musician, voracious fiction reader, recreational bicyclist, cutthroat Scrabble player, and gleeful health and science nerd. He resides in the vicinity of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

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