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MyHeritage DNA kit review – is it the best?

Updated on November 30, 2021
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Dhingra
Written by
Joel
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MyHeritage DNA Kit Review

DNA self-test kits can tell you many things, like your ancestry, ethnicity, and inherited health risks. 

When it comes to ancestry tests, MyHeritage DNA is one of the most popular. 

MyHeritage was initially a genealogy tool company before it started DNA testing in 2016. Its DNA kit is excellent, especially if you’re looking for international relatives. 

The company is also the top DNA testing service in Europe. This makes them a great choice if you want to investigate your family history across the continent.

In this MyHeritage DNA kit review, let’s look at the products, features, process, and how MyHeritage fare against competitors. We’ll also run through the pros and cons of using this DNA testing service.

My Heritage DNA logo

MyHeritage Quick Facts

  • 5.5 million DNA database
  • 15.7 billion historical records
  • 4.8 billion family trees
  • A built-in platform for building family trees and connecting with possible relatives
  • Detailed ethnicity estimates
  • Autosomal DNA testing
  • Swab test instead of saliva test
  • CLIA-certified and ICAP-accredited laboratory
  • Supports 42 languages
  • Strong privacy protection

MyHeritage Products

MyHeritage offers two types of products: subscriptions and the DNA test kit.

1. Subscriptions

The Basic plan is free. It lets you build a family tree of up to 250 family members.

There are four paid plans, with prices ranging from $79 to $348 per year. 

  • Premium & Premium Plus: Let you build a bigger family tree plus enjoy different DNA matching features. 
  • Data: Provides access to all 15.7 billion historical records of MyHeritage. 
  • Complete: The ultimate subscription package. It lets you build a family tree with unlimited members, access all historical records, and enjoy advanced DNA matching features.
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2. MyHeritage DNA Kit

This DNA self-test kit can provide information about your ancestry, possible family connections, and ethnicity. 

The kit costs $79. You have to pay the shipping fee unless you ordered two or more kits.

The DNA test kit contains: 

  • Two cheek swabs
  • Vials for storing the swabs
  • Plastic bag
  • Return envelope

MyHeritage DNA only offers a swab test, unlike other DNA testing companies with both swab and saliva tests. 

If you want to get additional information about your inherited health risks, you can get the MyHeritage DNA Health Upgrade for $120.

How Does MyHeritage DNA Work?

Set up your MyHeritage DNA account. Sign-up is free. 

Once you’re logged in, you can order the test kit online.

Once your package has arrived, follow these steps to submit a DNA sample:

  1. Open the test kit.
  2. Remove one swab. Swab the inside of your cheek for 30 to 60 seconds. 
  3. Insert the swab into a vial. Close the vial.
  4. Swab your other cheek. Insert it into the second vial.
  5. Place both vials onto the cotton pad that's in the plastic bag. 
  6. Close the bag. Place the bag in the envelope.
  7. Mail the envelope to the DNA lab.
  8. Wait up to 3 to 4 weeks for your result. You can access it through MyHeritage’s website or mobile app.

Technicians will extract DNA from your swab sample. The DNA sample is amplified and converted into raw DNA data. 

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Living DNA Mother line traced

Your data will be used to calculate:

  • DNA matches: You’ll get a match with relatives who have records on MyHeritage’s database. 
  • Ethnicity estimates: You can get a percentage breakdown of your ethnicity. 
  • Health risks: If you choose the health upgrade, you can learn whether you have genetic predispositions to certain diseases.

MyHeritage’s DNA lab is CLIA-certified. CLIA stands for Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, a rigorous standard for testing facilities in the health field.

MyHeritage tests autosomal DNA. This means the test focuses only on the 22 out of 23 pairs of human chromosomes. This test is enough to search family connections up to the fifth degree and five generations. 

MyHeritage doesn’t test mtDNA (mitochondrial chromosome) and YDNA (Y chromosome). This means it can’t trace maternal lineage through the mtDNA and paternal lineage through YDNA. 

MyHeritage DNA Results

MyHeritage DNA details are centered on three themes:

  • Genealogy: Covers ancestry information, DNA matches for possible family connections, and historical records.
  • Ethnicity: A detailed breakdown of ethnic and geographic origins of your ancestors across 2,114 geographic regions and 42 ethnicities
  • Health: If you choose the health upgrade, you can learn whether you have genetic predispositions to 50 different conditions.
My Heritage DNA logo

1. Family Tree

MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder and Smart Matches let you find and connect with potential relatives. You can download the tool or use the built-in builder on the website. 

The free subscription plan allows you to build a family tree of up to 250 members. The paid plans provide higher limits. 

Currently, there are 4.8 billion family trees on MyHeritage’s platform.

To start, look for the “Family Tree” tab. Add your parents, siblings, and cousins. Provide as much detail as you can. 

Invite your relatives to help you expand the family tree and upload photos. You can also search for relatives up to 5 generations ago. 

With “Discoveries,” you can tell MyHeritage what you know about your parents and grandparents. The company will instantly do Smart Matches to compare your family tree with historical records or other family trees. 

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When there’s a match, you and the other family tree owners will be notified. You can then both investigate if the match is legitimate.

With “Research,” you can manually look for people, especially those who share your surname. 

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The database contains news articles, photos, birth and death certificates, and other public records to help you expand your family tree. 

You can also check for your ancestors in the historical records. However, you need the Data or Complete plan to have access. 

2. DNA Matches

On top of traditional genealogical research, MyHeritage also offers genetic testing to expand your family tree. 

You can find possible relatives as long as they took MyHeritage’s DNA test or have their raw DNA data uploaded on the platform. 

Note that you may end up with too many matches. Thus, you need to check which matches are legitimate.

DNA data can also prove or disprove documented family tree connections.

For example, when a person in another family tree shares your surname, your data will show if you are indeed related. 

I didn’t have any close family matches (though I had them on 23andMe and AncestryDNA). 

I had a few extended matches. (I removed them, as they weren’t that interesting.) 

This quantity of matches should give you an idea of the size of MyHeritage’s database. 

At 5.5 million, MyHeritage’s DNA database is nowhere near the size of that of AncestryDNA (20 million) and 23andme (12 million). Still, it’s impressive. 

Moreover, with many users outside the U.S., MyHeritage has more global data than some  competitors. 

3. Ethnicity

Your DNA data can provide information about the ethnic and geographic origins of your ancestors.  

MyHeritage provides two types of information:

  • Ethnicity Estimate: A percentage breakdown of your ancestors’ origins from 42 ethnicities. 
  • Genetic Groups: A deeper analysis of where your ancestors came from among 2,114 groups. 

While Genetic Groups build up on Ethnicity Estimates, these two are different: 

  • A Genetic Group can be made up of one or more ethnicities. 
  • Ethnicity Estimate is expressed as a percentage. Genetic Groups are not. You’re a member of that group or not. 
  • Members of a Genetic Group share geographic origins. But they may have diverse ethnic backgrounds. 

When your test results arrive in your notification box, you’ll see a rotating globe playing some foreign, regional music. 

For instance, a user with an Eastern European ancestry will hear a touch of Baltic sound. The user can also zoom in on the map of Eastern Europe if they want to learn extra information about the geographic regions common to their ancestry.

A map will reveal your genetic makeup when the music stops, with hotspots showing your ethnicity and the percentages listed on the left side.

Here are my results.

4. Health

You can learn whether you have inherited health risks by choosing the MyHeritage DNA Health Upgrade

The upgrade costs $120. It provides reports about: 

  • 23 genetic risks, like heart disease, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease
  • 27 carrier status, like cystic fibrosis, hereditary fructose intolerance, and sickle cell anemia
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There’s no need to submit another sample if you have already done the DNA test. 

Just answer a health questionnaire, and MyHeritage will analyze your stored data. You’ll receive your health assessment within 2 to 3 days.

You may wonder why health assessment isn’t a regular MyHeritage feature. Perhaps this is for people who don’t want to know if they have inherited health risks.

5. Extra Features

Chromosome Browser

With this tool, you can graph your chromosomes. You can check what DNA segments you share with your matches. However, this tool usually interests only advanced users.

AutoClusters

This feature lets you organize your DNA matches into color-coded clusters. It helps you check common ancestors between you and your matches.

Ethnicities Map

This visual tool shows the common ethnicities in each country and the top countries for each ethnicity.

Upload DNA Data

If you have taken a DNA test with another company, you can upload the data to MyHeritage and get DNA matches for free. 

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Export DNA

MyHeritage shines with data exportability. It permits you to download your raw DNA data easily.

Photos

You can colorize black-and-white photos or restore the colors of faded photos. 

You can work on up to 10 photos for free. If you need more, you’ll need to get a paid subscription. 

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How Does MyHeritage Protect My Privacy?

MyHeritage says your data is protected by multiple layers of encryption and stored on secure servers. 

The lab also holds CLIA certification and CAP accreditation. These rigorous industry standards ensure your data is stored and processed securely. 

Moreover, MyHeritage:

  • Allows you to control whether your matches can find you and what personal information they can access
  • Never sells your DNA samples, test results, reports, family history, or any other information
  • Allows you to opt-out of any research programs
  • Requires a court order to hand your MyHeritage DNA results over to law enforcement.
  • MyHeritage DNA pledges to never share your DNA analysis data with insurance companies
  • Lets you delete your raw DNA data upon request

MyHeritage did get hacked recently, but the hackers didn’t get away with much. 

Thanks to MyHeritage’s privacy protection policy, hackers could only steal usernames and passwords. No raw DNA data or historical records were taken.

Are MyHeritage DNA Kits Accurate?

Yes, they are accurate and reliable if you want to know details about your ancestry.

Most DNA ancestry tests are accurate. Sometimes, the results from different DNA testing companies are not the same due to human error. But you're still likely to have an accurate depiction of your ancestry and common ancestors.

MyHeritage autosomal DNA testing can trace your blood relationship down to your fifth cousin. 

After this range, genome availability becomes very low and untraceable. It isn’t easy to find two people sharing the same ancestral characteristics that are not related.  

As a CLIA-certified lab, MyHeritage makes sure your results are accurate. CLIA standards govern how to perform tests, lab workers’ qualifications, and quality control.

My Heritage DNA logo

How Does MyHeritage DNA Differ From Other DNA Testing Companies?

MyHeritage DNA vs. AncestryDNA

Both companies only test autosomal DNA. Both have tons of online genealogical records.

MyHeritage has a smaller DNA database (5.5 million) than AncestryDNA (20 million). But MyHeritage DNA has divided the world into more regions, helping you narrow down your search for ancestors.

MyHeritage has many users in Europe. This makes MyHeritage more accurate for people with European ancestry.

MyHeritage DNA vs. 23andMe

23andMe offers all three types of DNA tests (autosomal, mtDNA, and YDNA). MyHeritage only tests autosomal chromosomes.

23andMe also has a more extensive DNA database (12 million) than MyHeritage (5.5 million). 

23andMe’s major strength is in genetic health analysis, something MyHeritage needs to catch up. 

On the other hand, 23andMe has almost no genealogical records, where MyHeritage shines.

MyHeritage DNA vs. Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA offers the most comprehensive array of DNA tests. 

It’s more potent in exploring connections to early human migration or tracing paternal and maternal lineages. 

However, you may want to avoid Family Tree DNA if you’re wary about security and privacy. It’s known for voluntarily providing data access to law enforcement.

Conclusion

MyHeritage offers a complete genealogical package that includes a family tree builder, DNA testing and matching, ethnicity estimates, and health assessment.   

The DNA testing kit is well-designed and easy to use. The website lays out all the information you would look for. 

If you want to save a little money and don’t mind the smaller database and paying for shipping, this test may be a good fit.

Extras, like the ability to upload raw DNA data from other companies, make MyHeritage attractive. 

But things like paying for your shipping make me hesitant to give a perfect MyHeritage review. 

Pros

  • Well-designed website
  • Slightly cheaper than the competition 
  • Ability to upload raw DNA data from another provider at no cost
  • Fastest and cheapest test
  • Accurate results from a CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab
  • Great customer support
  • DNA matching for locating new relatives
  • Free family tree software
  • Can reveal potential health conditions.
  • Chromosome browser tool

Cons

  • Have to pay for shipping
  • Smaller DNA database (5.5 million) than AncestryDNA (20 million) and 23andMe (12 million) 
  • Some features items are hidden behind a paywall
  • No mtDNA or Y-DNA tests (only autosomal DNA)
My Heritage DNA logo

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Dr. Dhingra
Dr. Harshi Dhingra
Medical Reviewer
Dr Harshi Dhingra is a licensed medical doctor with a specialization in Pathology. Dr. Dhingra has of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work, including managing all sections of Pathology laboratory including histopathology, cytology, hematology and clinical Pathology.
Joel
Content Contributor
Joel is a writer that loves exploring DNA, at-home health, and optimizing my health. He believes that the democratization of home health is in its early stages.
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