MyHeritage DNA Testing Kit Review

Although it’s relatively smaller than its biggest competitors, MyHeritage has quickly carved a name for itself in the home DNA testing market. The company had already built a massive user base, with more than 80 million people around the world using its genealogical records service. DNA testing was a natural fit and their database of testers has grown rapidly. MyHeritage was founded over 15 years ago in Israel but has quickly spread worldwide and now has users from hundreds of countries.

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    More importantly, the company’s DNA database has also expanded and diversified as a result. As opposed to companies with fewer available countries, or which are exclusive to the US, MyHeritage’s DNA database covers a wider geographic area and can thus help you find out more about your family, regardless of where you live or where your ancestors lived.

    As a matter of fact, they recently added a huge collection – 11.9 billion records of historical city-directories for the USA.

    With a quickly growing DNA database along with large collections of genealogical data and historic records, MyHeritage is worth investigating if you’re interested in learning about your family’s ancestry or simply seeking to expand your family tree with unknown relatives and long-lost family. Moreover, MyHeritage recently restored the real photos from Titanic to full-color mode, helping relive the memories of this elite one-of-a-kind ship.

    My Heritage Subscription & Packages Start From

    PackagePricing
    DNA Kit
    $79
    DNA Health Kit
    $99
    Premium Subscription
    $99
    PremiumPlus Subscription
    $159
    Data Subscription
    $139
    Complete Subscription
    $209

    Pros and Cons

    Pros

    • Easy to collect your sample and send it back
    • Get your results in as little as four weeks after samples are received
    • Compare DNA records from other tests you’ve taken to get a better picture of your ancestry
    • Affordable tests and discounts make it a great value
    • Match with possible relatives from across the globe
    • Huge updated database of records
    • Intuitive family tree views, including a new interactive fan view
    • Colorize older photos with MyHeritage In Color™ for Free

    Cons

    • MyHeritage only offers autosomal DNA tests 
    • Its database is still not on par with the largest companies on the market

    Collecting Your DNA Sample

    Although DNA testing in general is fairly easy these days, it can still be confusing if you’ve never done it before, so we appreciated that MyHeritage invests in informing its users.

    The company’s website gives you a great deal of information about how to take your test, what comes inside of each kit, and even describes the process of testing your samples in-depth to give you a better perspective.

    Additionally, we appreciated that MyHeritage’s test selects the simpler choice when it comes to collecting your DNA sample. When you open your MyHeritage DNA kit, you’ll find the following: 

    • Two cotton swabs (sealed) to extract your DNA sample
    • Two vials of preserving liquid for your DNA sample 
    • A plastic sealable bag to place your swabs
    • A return envelope (keep in mind that it’s not prepaid, so you’ll have to factor in postage)
    • A card to register and activate your sample for testing 
    • An instruction set on how to take the test

    We were happy to see that MyHeritage chooses swab samples, which are fairly easy and quick to collect, over spit samples, which can be tricky to procure and may take some time to produce. The only precautions to take are to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking anything for 30 minutes prior to collecting your sample to avoid any contamination. 

    Once you’re ready to take the test, simply swab the inside of your cheek for a few seconds. Then, place your swab into the vial, snap off at the black line, and place both samples into the sealable bag. Before shipping your sample, make sure to register your test kit using the activation card so that you can access your results after they’ve been analyzed. 

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    How Fast Do Results Come Back?

    Although there is always some variance to how quickly companies will return your test results, we were happy to see that MyHeritage ranks at the top of the pack when it comes to expediency.

    The company usually returns test results within four to six weeks after they receive the sample. By comparison, 23andMe and AncestryDNA both take roughly six to eight weeks to return tests.

    It’s important to note that these estimates are measured from the time the lab receives your sample, so it may be longer depending on how quickly your samples reach the company.

    What do The Results Include?

    Overall, we were impressed with the quality of the results we received from MyHeritage’s DNA tests. It’s worth noting that the company’s DNA database is still smaller than some of its biggest competitors (for instance, Ancestry DNA has over 16 million people in its database, while MyHeritage has about 4 million and growing), but the company more than compensates by covering a wider geographic footprint than most competitors and offering extensive historic records. 

    When you first open your results online, you’ll see a quick video that gives you a surface-level summary of your DNA, including your estimated ethnicities and major regions you matched with. You’ll also be able to examine a map that, while static, gives you a better idea of where your family is from. If you want to explore the map more in-depth, you can view a dynamic version in the “Ethnicity Estimate” section of your dashboard. 

    Some users have reported that the company’s ethnicity results are somewhat divergent from other companies’ tests. But each company’s ethnicity results will vary due to different methodologies and reference samples.The company’s biggest value is perhaps in matching you with relatives and users exhibiting DNA similarities. MyHeritage shows you relations by level—close family, extended family, and distant relations, which you can view in list format, or in a handy map that breaks down your relations by country and region. 

    How Does MyHeritage Protect Your Privacy?

    Another big plus for prospective MyHeritage users is that the company is very conscious of user privacy and works to keep sensitive data away from prying eyes. When you sign up for the company’s service, MyHeritage encrypts all your DNA and personal data while it is stored on their servers.

    More importantly, the company makes it clear to every user that it doesn’t own or have any jurisdiction over your DNA and data. This means that you have total control over who can see it and how it was issued. 

    MyHeritage will not share your DNA and data with anyone for any reason. Even better, you can set your privacy level on the company’s website. If you prefer not to show up on any DNA match, or to have only some information visible, you can customize your privacy settings manually. 

    Worried about your genetic data?

    find out how to delete your genetic data from myheritage database

    Matching With Relatives

    Perhaps the biggest advantage MyHeritage has over its competitors is how useful its relative matching tools are. If you add your family tree to the site, their Theory of Family RelativityTM tool can plot possible pathways that might explain the genetic connection to many of your matches. They also have an AutoClusters tool that organizes your DNA Matches into clusters that likely descended from common ancestors. You can also filter your matches in many powerful ways, e.g. by shared surnames, location, or ethnicity. Even better, you can choose to only see a list of matches that have a Theory of Family Relativity..One big benefit MyHeritage offers users is that its user base is more geographically spread out than some competitors. This is great news if you’re searching for long-lost family who may be in your ancestral homeland or across the world. 

    It’s worth noting that DNA matching on MyHeritage is completely opt-in, so if you don’t find certain relatives, it may simply be that they’ve chosen not to make their results public. If you choose to participate, however, you’ll be notified via email when others match with your DNA profile, and you’ll be able to see those who have also opted in to compare the commonalities (whether it’s the same last name or a strong ethnic composition match) and see where they reside in the world. 

    Updated US-City Directories

    MyHeritage recently announced that they’ve published a huge database of historical US city directories. It took the company more than two years to build this database and has been produced exclusively by MyHeritage from 25,000 public US-city directories. All of this accumulated data was published between the years 1860 and 1960.

    The study consisted of 545 million composite reports of 1.3 billion documents, many of which included identical entries for the same user. This extension brings the cumulative historical data featured in MyHeritage to 11.9 billion documents.

    The new collection of community directories on MyHeritage is a rich source of information for everyone in the United States in the mid-19th and 20th centuries who wanted to find out about their communities. The repositories provide valuable insights into daily American life, from the Civil War to the struggle for civil rights.

    Family Tree Fan View

    Fan View provides an engaging and useful visual description of your family tree. It takes into account several generations of the primary individual and the ancestors, without families, or any other adult that is not a direct ancestor.

    This view is quite similar to the Pedigree view, but with a more attractive visual display. Fan View looks like a fan chart, which is common to many genealogists. It’s an interactive chart that allows you to view more information about a certain individual by just clicking on the name. Besides, you can even add more users to the tree using this interactive elementYou can access the Fan View feature from both your desktop and web browser at no extra cost. Although not available yet, this feature will also be added later in the MyHeritage mobile app.

    Colorize  Your Heritage

    On the MyHeritage site, you can upload your family’s historical black and white photos and colorize them automatically with the world’s best deep learning technology. Then you can download the colorized photos and share it with your family and friends.

    It’s important to know that your original photo is not changed in any way. Furthermore, the colorized photos include a small icon in the lower-left corner that marks them as colorized. You don’t want people to mistakenly assume that the color version is the original. Anyone can colorize up to ten photos for free. You need a Complete subscription to colorize more.

    MyHeritage’s Prices and Details

    MyHeritage offers a focused offering of DNA testing and genealogy tools, focusing exclusively on ancestry and health DNA tests, along with several subscription plans that expand on what you can learn from them. This includes a variety of genealogy tools, as well as access to the company’s massive archives and historical records.

    MyHeritage DNA Ancestry Kit

    This is the company’s standard test at $79 dollars for a single kit. The test includes:

    • All the materials you’ll need to collect your samples and send them back to the lab easily (although keep in mind that postage is not included).
    • Your results will be available online within four weeks of the lab receiving your samples
    • Access to MyHeritage’s free genealogy tools, which help you build out your family tree and learn about your ancestry.

    MyHeritage Health + Ancestry Kit

    More recently, MyHeritage began offering its own health indicators test, which includes both the standard ancestry kit and additional markers for genetic health indicators. The test costs $199 and includes:

    • Full testing kit with envelope and packaging for return
    • 18 separate carrier status tests that offer insights on genetic traits and conditions you could pass to your children, including cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, and more.
    • 18 genetic risk reports that cover your predisposition to develop heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Celiac, and Crohn’s disease.
    • Innovative polygenic risk reports that include markers for heart disease, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
    • Ethnicity estimates for 42 supported ethnicities, as well as shared ethnicities with DNA matches
    • Ancestry testing in addition to your medical reports
    • Get results in as little as three to four weeks after samples are received

    Complete Subscription Plan

    This plan offers access to all of MyHeritage’s genealogy tools and costs $129 for the first year, and $189 per year afterward. The plan includes:

    • build out your family tree as large as you want and need it to be, with no family member restrictions
    • Get access to the company’s priority customer support, which is available in 18 languages
    • Take advantage of MyHeritage’s advanced matching features, which include Smart Matches and Instant Discoveries  that speed up the matching process, and advanced DNA features that expand the details you can access about DNA matches
    • Automatically scan for possible mistakes and inconsistencies in your family tree
    • Gain access to over 11.9 billion historical records, match your family tree to them easily, and save them directly in your file for easier access.

    Data Plan

    This plan removes some of the Complete plan’s smart matching and advanced DNA features, but gives you access to everything else starting at $99 for the first year, and $129 per year afterward. The package includes:

    • Build a family tree with up to 250 family members included with MyHeritage’s outstanding service.
    • Gain access to priority customer support for any questions you may need.
    • Gain access to the Tree Consistency Checker to identify potential mistakes in the family tree.
    • Gain access to over 1 billion new records added yearly
    • Access to MyHeritage’s catalog of 11.9 billion historical records, along with record matching and the ability to save records to your tree.

    Premium Subscription

    If you’re more interested in simply drawing out your family tree and discovering relatives, you can opt for the Premium subscription, which starts at $59 for the first year, and $79 per year afterward. You lose access to MyHeritage’s historical records, but the package includes:

    • Build a family tree of up to 2,500 people
    • Gain access to MyHeritage’s Smart Matches and advanced DNA features for faster connections and expanded information

    Premium Plus Subscription

    Finally, you can opt for the Premium Plus plan, which removes restrictions on your family tree size and adds a few more matching tools for $99 the first year, and $129 yearly after that. The subscription includes:

    • Unlimited number of people in your family tree
    • Take advantage of Smart Matches and advanced DNA features
    • Gain access to Instant Discoveries, which can add entire branches to your family tree in one click
    • Take advantage of the MyHeritage family tree consistency checker to avoid any mistakes and find new suggestions

    Summary

    Although it’s still not quite at the level of industry leader Ancestry DNA, MyHeritage is quickly becoming a go-to solution for people seeking to learn more about their family and obtain quick information about their ancestry.

    With some of the fastest results times on the market, along with affordable tests and a massive library of records to aid your research, the company provides a great tool to start exploring your ancestry.

    Additionally, the Fan View mode is a nice addition to help customers understand their ancestry easily and quickly.

    Most importantly, you can match with relatives across the world and build a family tree that can tell your family’s stories from several generations back, and with a global footprint that spans a surprising number of regions. 

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