Is MyHeritage’s Ancestry Test Right for You?
MyHeritage launched its DNA testing service about a decade after initially being founded as a genealogy service. To date, it has over 4 million DNA samples in its database.
The ancestry test from MyHeritage promises to reveal the ethnic groups and geographic regions you come from by analyzing your DNA from a simple cheek swab. By drawing from reference populations from 42 ethnicities and over 2,100 regions, the ancestry test should be a good choice for you if you want an accurate and detailed breakdown of where you came from.
But there is only one way I could verify this, and that was by taking the MyHeritage Ancestry DNA test for myself. In this review, I’ll take you through the DNA testing process, the ancestry DNA results report, pricing, and more, so you have all the information you need to decide if MyHeritage DNA is the right ancestry DNA test for YOU and your specific needs.
Taking the Ancestry Test Is Easy
So, you know how at-home DNA testing with MyHeritage works and what to expect, I took the Ancestry DNA test myself.
What’s Inside the Box?
The DNA collection kit contains two cheek swabs, two vial (test tube) containers, a ziplock bag with cotton pad to store your samples, and an unpaid return envelope, plus a set of instructions for registering your kit and for collecting your samples.
Before you take the test, you’re prompted to register your kit, which requires you to create an account. Once I had done that, I could enter my test kit’s unique code as well as some names and birth and death dates of my parents and grandparents, if I knew them. This gives you a bit of a head start on your genealogy journey if you plan on building a family tree once you get your ancestry results.
Collecting and Submitting Your Sample
An instruction pamphlet is included in the DNA kit, which I found simple and easy-to-follow, enabling me to collect my DNA samples, ready to send back to MyHeritage in just a few minutes. Although it may change in future, the current process is:
- Wait 30 minutes after eating or drinking before collecting your DNA sample.
- Rub one swab against the inside of the one cheek for 30-60 seconds, snap off the swab into the vial and secure.
- Repeat the process with the second swab on the other cheek.
- Place the vials on the cotton pad in the ziplock bag and pop this in the return envelope.
I did have to pay the postage cost to mail my samples to the MyHeritage lab – which is an extra cost that you won’t pay for 23andMe or AncestryDNA – but it cost less than the price of a coffee for express shipping.
Waiting for Your Results
While waiting for my ancestry results, I received a number of email updates, including subscription offers and invitations to review my “Smart Matches”, which are my potential relatives from MyHeritage’s extensive genealogy database (of 54 million family trees), not to be confused with the DNA database.
5 Standout Features of MyHeritage DNA – Learn Where You Come From and Form New Connections
Your MyHeritage ancestry DNA results include an Ethnicity Estimate, which is a percentage breakdown of your ancestral origins from 42 ethnicities, including Irish, Jewish, Italian, Japanese, and more. MyHeritage unique reference populations have come from people who have lived in the same region for many generations and were selected on the basis that their backgrounds were genetically representative of their region.
Genetic Groups goes one step further by indicating the specific groups your ancestors came from and their geographic regions from over 2,100 groups.
Once your DNA has been analyzed, MyHeritage searches for other users in their database whose DNA matches yours. The DNA Matching technology reveals the percentage of DNA you share with your matches, indicating how closely related you are.
You are not limited to DNA matches just to MyHeritage users, but also those who upload their DNA data from other providers to the MyHeritage database. This widens your matching pool, making it possible to discover even more potential relatives.
Connect with your newly found DNA matches to discover shared ancestors and learn more about your family history.
Free DNA Uploads
If you have already taken a DNA test with another provider you can upload your raw DNA data to MyHeritage for free DNA matches, as well as matches to users who uploaded their data from other services. MyHeritage has a wide international reach, with availability in 42 languages, giving you a great chance of being matched with potential relatives living in other countries. Plus, you’ll also get an ethnicity estimate which pinpoints your ancestry across 2100+ regions.
Upgrade for Health Insights
Existing MyHeritage customers use their existing DNA results to gain health insights for a reduced price, which include:
- 21 genetic risk reports for developing certain conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
- 27 carrier status reports for common congenital conditions that can be passed on to your offspring, including Gaucher disease, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, and sickle cell anemia.
- Independent physician oversight and genetic counselling if required.
Family Tree Software & Historical Records
MyHeritage has excellent family tree software, which allows you to build a family tree of up to 250 members for free. Pay for a subscription to the genealogy service and you’ll get a bunch of additional benefits, including:
- Smart Matches to other family trees and Record Matches between historical records and individuals in your family tree.
- Learn about your ancestors via SuperSearch, a search engine of over 12 billion historical records, 52 million family trees, and more.
- Instant Discoveries allows you to add entire branches to your family tree with a single click.
Report Arrived Quicker than Expected
I was pleasantly surprised with the speed at which my results report arrived. It took just over two weeks to receive my results, which was much quicker than the four to six weeks I was expecting. My results were available to view via my secure MyHeritage account, or via the mobile app.
The ancestry report tells you what percentage of your ancestry comes from more than forty different ethnicities, spread across 2,100+ geographical regions. The Ethnicity Estimate showed me where my ancestors came from, along with a percentage breakdown of the DNA associated with each region.
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 my results, despite both 23andMe and AncestryDNA detecting my more extensive genetic roots.
However, my ancestry results did pick up on my predominant Ashkenazi Jewish and Balkan ancestry. Plus, it is important to remember DNA is not the same as heritage and that the further back in your family tree you go, the less likely you are to inherit DNA from your ancestors. This could be why the MyHeritage ancestry test didn’t pick up on my potential Southeast Asian heritage – I simply didn’t inherit any DNA from that region, but that doesn’t remove it from my family history.
Next, the DNA Matches report showed me matches to other MyHeritage ancestry users and what percentage of DNA we share, giving an indication of how closely we are related. 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.
Pair your DNA test with MyHeritage’s genealogy subscription service and you can contact your potential relatives and merge your family trees together. Plus, you’ll have access to MyHeritage’s huge database of over 12 billion historical records, if you’re interested in learning more about your ancestors.
That’s pretty much all you get with the MyHeritage DNA Ancestry report, which is a little basic. I would like to see more information about the migration patterns of my ancestors or more information of my ancestry from my maternal and paternal lines, but MyHeritage currently only analyzes autosomal DNA.
However, the ancestry report does provide some interesting insights into where my ancestors came from, as well as giving me a great start to my genealogy journey. Additionally, you can get more with a paid subscription and there is a free 14-day trial of plans , but bear in mind that it will revert to a paid subscription once the trial is over.
Other Ancestry DNA Tests to Consider
MyHeritage provides a decent ethnicity estimate of your ancestry, but there are other DNA tests available from other top providers that may be a better fit for your needs.
- 23andMe not only analyzes autosomal DNA, but also mt-DNA and Y-DNA to discover your ancestry from your maternal and paternal lines, respectively. You also get an estimate of your Neanderthal heritage, and over 30 trait reports, but no genealogy capability.
- Living DNA is comparable to 23andMe in terms of depth of ancestry information, with maternal and paternal ancestry, sub-regional ancestry, and DNA matching, but no Neanderthal heritage.
- AncestryDNA provides similar ancestry reports to MyHeritage and you can also upload existing DNA data for free matches. Plus, you can access a vast database of historical records to build your family tree, with a paid subscription.
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, the cost rises significantly if you add the cost of a genealogy subscription that allows you to build an extended family tree and access records for potential matches from MyHeritage’s historical database.
However, if you’re serious about building a family tree going back generations, you’re likely to benefit from a MyHeritage subscription, which gives you access to 12.5 billion historical records, 4 billion people profiles and 52 million family trees.
All’s Well That Ends Well, but Not All Customers Would Agree
MyHeritage publishes a frequently asked questions page, which is pretty extensive, providing answers for any query I could think of, as well as plenty I couldn’t. Topics covered include DNA, family tree builder, discoveries and research, health, subscriptions, and so much more.
If you need a little more hands on support, you can call the support phone number relevant to your location, toll-free. The phone lines in my region are open 24 hours a day six days a week (with Sunday as the only the only exception).
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.
Unfortunately, I didn’t receive a reply. I asked the same question by telephone, and while the support agent was courteous and friendly, she didn’t know the answer, but she was keen to help me with any other enquiries I had.
A second question I submitted via the online form was answered, 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! However, not all customers have been pleased with the service from MyHeritage. Some have complained of being automatically charged for a full year’s subscription (without their permission) when their free trial ended. But this seems to be a rare occurrence, with the vast majority of reviews from customers being very positive.
Ancestry 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 ancestry DNA test gives you a good ethnicity estimate and roughly the same information as AncestryDNA (for a lower price) but a lot less than the pricier 23andMe, which includes maternal and paternal ancestry, traits, and more.
If you’d like to build a family tree from relatives matched through DNA, then you’re likely to benefit from signing up for a MyHeritage’s subscription or at least testing the service out with the 14-day free trial.
How accurate is MyHeritage?
MyHeritage compares your genetic sample to 42 different reference populations from over 2,100 locations in order to estimate your family’s ethnicities. Therefore ,there is a chance that populations may not be very well represented. However, for the most part, I was impressed with the MyHeritage ancestry report and the fact that it identified what I already knew about my origins.
By contrast, AncestryDNA and 23andMe both compare your sample to more than 1,000 distinct global populations, allowing them to estimate your ethnicities with more precision.
Can you upload MyHeritage raw data to other vendor sites?
Once you’ve received your DNA results from MyHeritage, you can download your raw DNA data. Many other DNA testing companies allow you to upload your raw data, including LivingDNA, Family Tree DNA, Vitagene, DNA Fit, and GenoPalate, and provide extra insights and reports for little or no cost.
How many generations back does MyHeritage’s reporting go?
MyHeritage’s DNA reports trace your family’s ancestry back seven generations. With each generation you go back, you share less DNA with each of your ancestors. By the time you go back seven generations, you share only 1% of your DNA with each ancestor. Going back any farther could result in inaccurate conclusions about your ancestry.
How much does MyHeritage’s services cost? (Any discounts?)
An ancestry test from MyHeritage DNA costs $79.00, among the least expensive tests of its type, and that price is often discounted. Keep up to the date with the latest deals and sales from MyHeritage, through our dedicated coupon page.
Who should consider taking a MyHeritage test?
If you’re interested in discovering your ancestry for an affordable price, MyHeritage DNA is one of your best options – especially during a special sale.
However, MyHeritage ancestry reports are less comprehensive than those of 23andMe, so think about what’s most important to you – lower cost or a larger amount of information.
MyHeritage is also one of the premium vendors to combine its DNA tests with a genealogy subscription service, making it a good choice if you want to build an extensive online family tree and watch it grow. These subscription costs are also more affordable than those of its chief rival in this area, AncestryDNA.