History & Culture

AncestryDNA Test Reviews: Pros, Cons, And A Personal Account

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A table with family tree papers on it and AncestryDNA test kit and app on smartphone.

Are you interested in having your DNA tested to find answers to your family’s lineage? The AncestryDNA test can give you a breakdown of regions in the world where your ancestors lived, help connect you with living relatives, assist you in filling out your family tree, and much more.

Ancestry.com is the most popular genealogical research tool online, and its DNA testing service merits serious consideration. Check out our AncestryDNA test reviews to see how this autosomal DNA test can help you uncover your heritage and read my firsthand experience using the product.

My mother has been an avid genealogist for nearly 60 years, so, of course, I had to put the AncestryDNA kit to the test. I’ll share my results with you to give you an idea of how reliable this at-home DNA test is and what you can expect from your results.

Visit AncestryDNA’s Website

AncestryDNA logo 250

Product Name: Ancestry DNA

Product Description: AncestryDNA is a direct-to-consumer DNA test that gives you a breakdown of your ethnic mix, DNA matches, and much more.

Summary

There’s a good reason AncestryDNA is the #1 selling DNA test. With among the most accurate ethnicity results available and the largest consumer DNA network, AncestryDNA blows its competitors out of the water. I found my results to be reliable, and it was such a fun experience to learn more about my heritage and discover living relatives. 

However, if you’re looking for genetic health screening, this isn’t the test for you. AncestryDNA used to offer health risk analysis, but sadly, that’s no longer available. Still, if its heritage and relatives you’re looking for, I highly recommend this test. 

Overall Score

4.6
  • DNA Tests Offered
  • Pricing
  • Privacy
  • Customer Support

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for an autosomal DNA test
  • Largest DNA database by far — 22+ million people
  • Provides ancestry ethnicity estimates for 2,600 global regions
  • Excellent privacy policy
  • Reliable security for DNA test samples and results
  • Excellent online community forums and customer service
  • Stores your DNA sample indefinitely
  • Can connect with genetic matches via anonymous email and Ancestry.com message boards

Cons

  • Membership required to access records and some features
  • Memberships auto-renew without notification
  • Doesn’t offer separate Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
  • Can’t upload DNA data from other services

Key Features

  • Analyzes more than 700,000 genetic markers from a simple saliva sample.
  • Uses a CLIA- and CAP-certified laboratory (third-party lab).
  • Access to over 100 million family trees and the ability to build your own family tree.
  • Largest online community when compared to similar services.
  • Helps you pinpoint where your recent ancestors lived in North America and where they migrated from.
  • AncestryDNA Traits (added fee): Discover what your DNA tells you about over 40 different physical traits (lactose intolerance, earlobe type, male hair loss, etc.). If you’ve already taken the AncestryDNA test, you can order this analysis without doing an additional test.
  • New DNA Inheritance (added fee): View your ethnicities, DNA matches, and traits by parental side.
  • ThruLines feature uses Ancestry trees to suggest how you may be related to your DNA matches through common ancestors.
  • You can choose to keep your results private from Ancestry’s online community.
  • Ancestry doesn’t share your personal or genetic information with insurance companies, employers, or third-party marketers. The company also doesn’t voluntarily share your information with law enforcement.

AncestryDNA Pricing

AncestryDNA frequently offers discounts on the following pricing.

AncestryDNA TestTest+Word Explorer MembershipTest+All Access Membership
Price$99 $100*$199**
Origins & EthnicityGreen checkmarkGreen checkmarkGreen checkmark
DNA MatchesGreen checkmarkGreen checkmarkGreen checkmark
TraitsGreen checkmarkGreen checkmark
DNA InterhitanceGreen checkmarkGreen checkmark
U.S. & Int’l. RecordsGreen checkmarkGreen checkmark
News Articles & PhotosGreen checkmark
Military Records on Fold3Green checkmark
  • * Automatically renews at $99.95 every 3 months until you cancel
  • ** Automatically renews at $149 every 3 months until you cancel 

AncestryDNA Coupon

Please use this link to get the latest discount on AncestryDNA.

How Does An AncestryDNA Test Work?

I found the entire process quite easy. You go online, order the kit, and within a few days, it arrives. The instructions are simple.

  1. Activate your DNA kit on the website using the code in your test kit.
  2. Spit in the tube.
  3. Affix the appropriate labels.
  4. Stick the self-addressed stamped box back in the mail.
  5. Within days, you will receive an email informing you that your sample has been received.
  6. You should expect your results within 6 to 8 weeks. You will receive an email once your results are ready through your online account.

My Personal Experience With AncestryDNA

I did the AncestryDNA test several years ago and want to share more details about the results you can expect. One of the many exciting things about AncestryDNA is that they continually update your information as the science and their database evolve. You can even sign up for email alerts when a new DNA match appears in their database. I love that I can keep learning about my heritage based on a test I took years ago.

Discovering Your Origins

ethnicity estimate screenshot AncestryDNA screenshot.
AncestryDNA compares your DNA against a worldwide reference panel to see which populations your DNA best matches.

AncestryDNA gives you your ethnicity estimates broken down by percentages. Mine were England & Northwestern Europe (50%), Scotland (22%), Sweden & Denmark (12%), Ireland (9%), Wales (6%), and Spain (1%). Based on my mother’s extensive genealogical research, my results weren’t too surprising. I know that we had a lot of ancestors in England and Scotland, some of whom my mother has traced back to the 17th century.

It’s important to keep in mind that these ethnicity results are estimates and broken down by AncestryDNA’s regions that they identify. You’re not going to get an exact idea of where your ancestors came from, but it can be helpful if you don’t know much about your heritage.

ethnicity detail AncestryDNA screenshot.
Delve deeper into each ethnicity region to learn much more.

You can click on each of your ethnicity estimates to further break down each region. For example, when I clicked on my England & Northwestern Europe region, it gave me more detailed information about my predominant ethnic group.

I learned that this group is primarily located in the Channel Islands, England, but is also found in Belgium, France, Germany, the Isle of Man, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Wales. It also gives you a detailed history of the region.

Where Did My Ancestors Migrate?

AncestryDNA community connections screenshot.
If you don’t know where your ancestors migrated to in the last 50-300 years, Ancestry can help shed some light on that for you.

This analysis gave me an idea of where my ancestors migrated to when they arrived and settled in America. And it’s pretty spot-on. I know, from my mother and her research, that our lineage is largely based in Virginia. And some of my father’s ancestors migrated from Europe to Virginia and further South.

Still, these community results can be confusing, so here’s how AncestryDNA explains it: “A community is a group of people who share DNA because their relatives recently lived in the same place at the same time. Communities are usually much smaller than ethnicity regions and they go back only about 50-300 years.”

Within this breakdown, you can click on each community to get more detailed information and the history of the American settlers in each region. A fun history lesson for sure!

My DNA Matches

DNA matches AncestryDNA screenshot.
You can click on each match to see your relative’s family tree, shared matches, message your relative, and more.

When you click on the Matches tab, you’ll be able to see all of the people who have also done an AncestryDNA test and have shared DNA with you. These include immediate family members, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins, and more distant relatives out to 6th cousins.

Depending on your current family knowledge, you can find a lot of living family members that you never knew of. You could even discover that a friend or co-worker could be a distant relative of yours. I spent hours upon hours exploring all of my matches.

With that said, you can also uncover some potentially troubling, unexpected results by doing an AncestryDNA test. The DNA matches are extremely accurate. So, if you’re unsure about anything with your heritage, keep in mind, that results could be upsetting for you.

How Does AncestryDNA Compare?

Here’s a quick look at the key difference between AncestryDNA and its top competition.

AncestryDNA vs 23andMe

  • AncestryDNA’s database has 22 million people compared to 23andMe, which has an estimated 13 million people.
  • 23andMe’s genealogical community forums are lacking compared to AncestryDNA’s.
  • Easier to connect with genetic matches on AncestryDNA versus 23andMe.
  • 23andMe also offers genetic health screening, while AncestryDNA does not.

AncestryDNA vs FamilyTreeDNA

  • FamilyTreeDNA’s database is just over 2 million people, much smaller than AncestryDNA’s.
  • FamilyTreeDNA offers separate autosomal DNA and in-depth Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, while AncestryDNA only offers autosomal DNA testing.

AncestryDNA vs MyHeritage DNA

  • You can upload your raw DNA results from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA to MyHeritage’s database. AncestryDNA doesn’t allow you to upload other companies’ results.
  • Ancestry.com’s DNA database is much larger than MyHeritage, 22 million versus 6 million.

What Can You Find From Your DNA?

One of AncestryDNA’s most exciting features is the ability to discover your ancestors and living relatives. Check out this video to learn more about their DNA analysis.

Final Verdict: Where Does AncestryDNA’s Test Shine?

Visit AncestryDNA’s Website

If you’re searching for living relatives or trying to fill in gaps in your family tree, AncestryDNA’s testing services is a top choice. Why? AncestryDNA’s database is massive, so you’re more likely to find DNA matches with this test versus its competitors. They also have an extensive database of historical records to help you trace your ancestors (for an added fee). The only drawback? If you’re looking for health-related results, AncestryDNA no longer offers those.

What have you discovered through DNA testing? We’d love to hear about it in our comments.

Sally Jones

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance. Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more. Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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