Which DNA test kit should you get This Season?

DNA test kits like AncestryDNA and 23andMe have become increasingly popular over the past few years — some 26 million people have taken them — and were a big gift item during the holiday season. The possibilities are quite literally endless — from finding your birth mother after 47 years to discovering that you're related to a president.

Though DNA tests are being added to more and more people's bucket lists, the sheer number of kits you can choose from is overwhelming. The result? A lot of interested folks opt out simply because they're not sure which kit to buy. (Even DNA tests for your dog exist. Yeah.)

We did some digging to bring you the ultimate DNA test comparison guide. We've looked at seven of the most popular DNA test kits out there: AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, tellmeGen, Living DNA, Family Tree DNA, National Geographic Geno 2.0, and AfricanAncestry to give you the rundown on the differences between each kit so you can decide which one is the best for you.

How does DNA testing work?

Autosomal testing is the most basic and most popular means of genetic testing, commonly known as the family finder. Autosomal DNA tests look at 22 pairs of chromosomes not involved in determining a person's sex. It is used for cousin and distant relative matching as well as mixture percentages, or your ethnic mix (as shown in those fancy pie charts from the commercials), plus common genetic traits, like heritable diseases and eye color. Each kit evaluated below does autosomal testing — with the exception of Nat Geo's, which we'll explain later.

mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) testing traces your mother's lineage. These are the DNA strands passed down from mother to child. There's very little chance that these could be altered, so your direct maternal line can be traced back quite far. 

Y-DNA testing focuses on the Y chromosome, which you probably recognize as the "male" chromosome, and can guess that this test traces your father's lineage. These are the DNA strands passed down from father to son, so your paternal line can be traced. 

23 and Me

Health screenings plus a recent addition of over 1,000 regions makes it the most all-encompassing test out there.

 

Price: $99-$199

 

Tests: Autosomal, mtDNA, Y-DNA, health, traits

 

Wait time: 2-4 weeks

$79 from Amazon

AncestryDNA

Get a seamless process from start to finish with a massive genealogical pool and the ability to connect with found relatives.

Price: $99-$119

 

Tests: Autosomal, traits

 

Wait time: 6-8 weeks

$49 on Amazon