MyHeritageDNA Reviews 2021 — Is This a Reliable DNA Test?

Our score:
9.9
User score:
9.9

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 23, 2021
  • Ancestry
  • Family Tree
Written by Moss Stern on February 23, 2021
  • Ancestry
  • Family Tree

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.

See MyHeritageDNA Ancestry Deals

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.

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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.

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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:

  1. Wait 30 minutes after eating or drinking before collecting your DNA sample.
  2. Rub one swab against the inside of the one cheek for 30-60 seconds, snap off the swab into the vial and secure.
  3. Repeat the process with the second swab on the other cheek.
  4. 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.

MyHeritage Review

5 Standout Features of MyHeritage DNA – Learn Where You Come From and Form New Connections

Ethnicity Estimate

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.

DNA Matching

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.

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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.

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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.

See MyHeritageDNA Ancestry Deals

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.

Ancestry
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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.

MyHeritage Review

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.

See MyHeritageDNA Deals

FAQ

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.

Fantastic Features for Building a Family Tree

MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder Interface

In this review, I take the MyHeritage Family Tree Builder for a test drive. I can tell you upfront that this feature has a lot of plus points:

  • You can search through billions of genealogy records, create a visually attractive family tree, and colorize old photos in a matter of seconds.
  • It links up with the MyHeritage DNA database to add other users – whose DNA is similar to yours – into your family tree.
  • Even the most expensive plan offers great value.

I can also tell you upfront that it’s not all good news, because I had some issues searching through the massive online database. I also thought that the customer support could be improved.

I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, let’s take a step back and look at this feature more logically to see if it’s better than competitor offerings from companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA?

Starting Your Tree Is as Easy as 1-2-3

Okay, so you won’t be able to build a complete family tree in just three steps, but you can get started easily by filling in the basic family details asked for by the three-step wizard:

Setting Up Your MyHeritage Family Tree Builder

You can also start your tree by importing a Genealogical Data Communication (GEDCOM) file that you might have exported from another genealogical system or software program.

Once you get through the wizard and begin building your family tree in earnest, you find that the Family Tree Builder is extremely easy to navigate. The web-based dashboard makes it easy to assemble genealogical data in a visually appealing way.

You don’t have to take a MyHeritage DNA test to build a family tree, but if you do, you’ll be able to add DNA-matched relatives from AncestryDNA’s customer database into your family tree.

Once you’ve created your family tree, or even while it’s still a work-in-progress, you can produce professional, attractive, and customized family tree reports.

See MyHeritage Family Tree Builder Deals

MyHeritage Family Tree Builder’s 5 Standout Features

1. SuperSearch Gives You Access to Billions of Documents

MyHeritage Family Tree Builder's SuperSearch Feature

MyHeritage gives access to almost 12 billion documents that include birth records, marriage reports, newspaper articles, immigration documents, and more. However, I found the search to be a bit clunky and awkward. While I found my father’s high school yearbook easily the first time, I was subsequently unable to locate it again using the exact same search terms.

2. Smart Matching Helps You Grow Your Family Tree

Smart Matching on MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder

MyHeritage’s Smart Match™ technology displays a green icon on the person card when a match is found. But what does this actually mean?

It means the smart matching algorithm has found potentially matching people that other MyHeritage members have added to their family trees. The matched person (or people) might – for example – have the same name and date of birth. The algorithm is good but not perfect, so you have to review the potential matches to see if you’re happy for their additional information to be pulled into your tree.

Such matching facilities are not unique to MyHeritage. Some competitor tree-building facilities also look for matching people in other users’ family trees so that they can be connected together. And some competitors will find “biological” matches based on other users who have similar DNA to yourself or your relatives.

3. Record Matching Flags Relevant Historical Information

Record Matching on MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder

Like the Smart Match™ technology that looks for the same people in other customers’ family trees, the Record Matching feature looks for potentially matching information in historical records, which could be added into your family tree. Translation technology means that this should even work if the examined records are in other languages.

Again, this facility is not unique to MyHeritage, but I like the intuitive way in which it works.

If you were comparing MyHeritage vs. AncestryDNA, for example, the competitor also lets you merge public entries into your family tree. Plus, AncestryDNA will notify you if it finds a public record about one of your relatives in its system.

4. MyHeritage In Color Brings Your Genealogy to Life

MyHeritage In Color Brings Family Photos to Life

The MyHeritage dashboard provides access to a facility that can beautifully colorize black-and-white photographs almost instantly. You don’t need to provide color suggestions, image notes, or anything else. Just upload the black and white picture, press the button, then see it almost instantly colorized and saved alongside the original photo in the “My Photos” section.

You can colorize up to ten photos per month if you are using a MyHeritage free trial or plan (but there will be a MyHeritage watermark). Paying users can colorize an unlimited number of photos with no watermark added.

5. The PedigreeMap Documents Important Family Events

MyHeritage Family Tree Builder's PedigreeMap

MyHeritage’s PedigreeMap feature lets you view family tree-based events on an interactive map of the world. Whenever you add a record to your tree – such as a birth or marriage – you can see the geographical location where it took place, and you can add extra information. You can also “find and replace” to make corrections across your family tree, for example, if you repeatedly misspelled the name of a city.

See MyHeritage Family Tree Builder Deals

The Smart Matching Algorithm Makes It Easy

You’ll receive an alert whenever MyHeritage’s Smart Matching algorithm finds potential matches for your family tree among the millions of other MyHeritage users’ family trees. The matching algorithm also searches billions of historical records in its database, so that you can add other relevant information.

When the system finds a potential Smart Match, you can pull the matching person’s details into your family tree with just a few clicks:

Using MyHeritage's Smart Matching System

MyHeritage is adding new historical documents all the time, and many of these documents – which result from decades of genealogical research – are unique to MyHeritage’s database.

See MyHeritage Family Tree Builder Deals

Plenty of Options from “Free” to Complete

The first big thing to point out is that MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder is a separate purchase from its DNA test kits. To access the premium genealogy features, you’ll need to choose a subscription plan that is billed annually. However, the first year is typically cheaper than the cost of subsequent years. There are a few different options to choose from.

MyHeritage’s free plan lets you add up to 250 people to a family tree. While some nice features are present – such as the photo colorizer – the free plan only really hints at what is possible with a paid plan. You can also sign up for a MyHeritage free trial, which lasts for 14 days, after which you’ll need to cancel your MyHeritage subscription or you’ll be charged.

The Premium plan provides access to the Smart Matching system so that you can review potential matches and grow your tree to include up to 2,500 people. The PremiumPlus plan additionally lets you add multiple branches to your tree with one click, and it allows access to MyHeritage’s consistency checker to ensure your tree doesn’t have any errors. Oh, and you can have unlimited entries in your tree.

Separately, MyHeritage offers a Data plan that lets you search through and review the 11.9 billion records, although it limits your family tree size to 250 people. At the other end of the spectrum, the Complete package provides access to everything – the full database, all of MyHeritage’s matching algorithms, and customer support – and it lets you add an unlimited number of people to your tree.

For comparison, AncestryDNA also offers tiered packages. Its prices per year end up being higher; however, you have a bit more price flexibility as you can pay on a monthly or semi-annual basis.

A Good Knowledge Base but Slightly Frustrating Support

MyHeritage has a well-organized, extensive online help center with step-by-step walkthroughs for how to use each feature. The very detailed FAQ section should answer all your basic questions.

MyHeritage's Extensive Help Center

Although there is no publicly available email or live chat, worldwide 24/7 telephone support is available to paying customers. This means that you won’t be able to gain access to a customer support agent if you have a problem with your free account.

I had a few specific questions that weren’t answered by the self-support resources, so I called the USA phone number and was put on hold for 25 minutes. It was the same story that you get with many organizations these days due to data protection: I was asked lots of questions to prove that I am the account holder before I could be dealt with.

Luckily, my question about the platform (rather than the account) could be answered without me having to jump through any more administrative hoops, but it still took 40 minutes of holding before the answer was forthcoming.

I’d like to see a wider range of support options, but – on the plus side – the support agent gave me a support email address that I wouldn’t have known about by looking at the company’s website.

Family Tree Building for Professionals and Amateurs Alike

MyHeritage’s easy-to-use Family Tree Builder offers a lot of features for professional and amateur genealogists alike to build and share family trees. Many features are available for free, and the paid subscriptions are cheaper than comparable services from AncestryDNA. I would like to see some better customer support options, but I can’t complain about the online help section.

Whether you are interested in beginning to research your family history or further investigate, MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder is certainly worth your consideration.

Pros:

  • A huge database of historical records
  • Easy integrations with MyHeritage DNA testing
  • Lower price than competitors
  • Smart Matching algorithm to help identify possible relatives
  • Photo colorizer that brings new life to old images

Cons:

  • Access to data records is not included in lower-tier plans
  • Smaller DNA database than some testing services
  • Customer support could be improved

See MyHeritage Family Tree Builder Deals

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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