History & Culture

FamilyTreeDNA Review: Pros, Cons, And Personal Experience

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Hand holding a virtual DNA strand over a world map with geographic localization.

Where we come from is one of life’s biggest mysteries, and genealogical research can fill in some of the blanks. Want to take your family tree research to the next level? You should consider doing a DNA ancestry test. I’ve found DNA testing to be a fun and informative way to discover more about my roots and to identify living relatives.

Several online services offer DNA testing for ancestry, and FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) is among the most popular. But is FamilyTreeDNA accurate and worth your money? I’ve tested with FTDNA, so I’ll help shed some light on these questions and more.

Visit FamilyTreeDNA’s Website

FamilyTreeDNA logo 250.

Product Name: FamilyTreeDNA

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


FamilyTreeDNA offers an affordable autosomal DNA test and fantastic family matching features. I found my results to be accurate and generally similar to the results I’ve received from other consumer DNA tests I’ve taken. However, it’s not quite as robust for ethnicity percentages as some of its competitors. And due to its smaller database size, you may not find as many DNA matches as some of the bigger players.

Still, if it’s heritage and relatives you’re looking for, I highly recommend this test. You may find matches on FTDNA that you won’t find elsewhere. Also, FTDNA’s Y-DNA tests are a must for hard-core genealogists. 

Overall Score

  • DNA Tests Offered
  • Privacy
  • Pricing
  • Customer Support
  • Online Community


  • Competitive pricing for autosomal test and frequent sales
  • Offers mtDNA and in-depth Y-DNA testing kits 
  • Provides ethnicity estimates for 90 population clusters/global regions
  • In-house laboratory certified by CLIA and accredited by CAP
  • Stores your DNA sample for 25 years
  • Strict privacy policy
  • You receive email addresses for your genetic matches
  • Chromosome browser tool to compare shared chromosomal segments
  • Allows uploading of raw DNA results from AncestryDNA and MyHeritage 


  • Smaller DNA database than some similar services (2+ million people)
  • Some complaints about poor customer service
  • Several customers report very slow processing times 

Consumer Reviews

This is the aggregate score of reader reviews we’ve received. Have a good or bad experience with FamilyTreeDNA? Feel free to leave your own review in the comments. Please note that only ratings with valid review content will be published and counted.

Key Features

  • Offers at-home DNA ancestry testing for all 3 types of DNA ancestry tests: autosomal, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and Y-chromosome DNA testing
  • Test is a simple cheek swab that you mail in
  • Company continuously updates your results
  • Provides you with email addresses of your DNA matches
  • Family Finder + Wellness test kit gives you 30+ insights into your nutrition and fitness based on your DNA
  • Ability to join select genealogical/ancestry projects within their network
  • Uses the latest genetic analysis technology including Illumina’s Global Screening Array and NovaSeq Sequencing System


  • Family Finder Autosomal DNA Kit: $79
  • Family Finder + myDNA Wellness Kit: $119
  • Maternal Ancestry (mtDNA) Kit: $159
  • Y-37 Markers: $119
  • Y-111 Markers: $249
  • Big Y-700: $449
  • Upload raw DNA data: $19
  • $9.95 Shipping
  • View all options

FamilyTreeDNA Coupon Code

Our link above applies discounts if available.

My Experience With FTDNA

My mother was a genealogy fanatic long before tracing one’s family roots became a wildly popular pastime. After decades of poring over historical records, census data, birth and death records, she was able to fill in a lot of gaps in our family tree going back hundreds of years.

Our “people,” she found, originated predominantly in the British Isles. Just through a paper trail, my mother was able to trace most of our ancestors back to England and Scotland in the 17th century. One English line even connects to King Edward III (14th century). Another family line traces back to Tuscany, Lombardy, Switzerland, and France in the 15th century.

Then, DNA testing for ancestry appeared on the scene. Of course, my mother, sister and I had to get tested. But would a DNA test provide any useful information that my mother hadn’t already uncovered? Nearly a decade ago, we all took FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder test to find out. At the time we tested, FTDNA was considered by serious genealogists the best of the best for DNA ancestry testing and finding people who share your DNA.

My FTDNA Results

FTDNA breaks down your results into three primary categories: myOrigins, ancientOrigins, and Family Matching. Although I did the autosomal test (Family Finder) nearly 10 years ago, my following results reflect FTDNA’s analysis as of 2024.


FamilyTreeDNA myOrigins screenshot.
myOrigins gives you a color-coded global overview of where your ancestors came from.

myOrigins gives you an ethnic and geographic origins breakdown of where your ancestors came from. You get a percentage breakdown of these regions, and the areas are color-coded on a heat map. You can get a good history lesson by clicking on each region.

As you can see from my results, 75% of my ancestors hailed from England, Scotland, and Wales — no big surprise there based on the research my mother had already done, but it’s exciting to see years of genealogical research confirmed by science. I’m surprised to see 13% Ireland and 11% Scandinavian. It’s still a bit of a mystery where those estimates came from.

Compare Origins

FamilyTreeDNA compare origins screenshot.
Here’s how my full sister and I compare with our ethnicity breakdowns.

Another cool feature of the myOrigins map is that you can click on the Compare Origins tab to discover how similar or different your ethnicity percentages are to any of your FTNDA family matches. I clicked on my full sister’s name and found it interesting that she doesn’t share the Scandinavian ethnicity with me (at least, according to FTDNA). Could that be why I’m blonder and have fairer skin than her?


FamilyTreeDNA ancient origins screenshot.
My results told me that I share these percentages of autosomal DNA with ancient European groups.

ancientOrigins compares your DNA to DNA from archeological dig sites throughout the world. In my case, I’m descended from 100% European roots. On the ancientOrigins map, I can discover the amount of autosomal DNA I still carry of the ancient European groups: Neolithic Hunter/Gatherers, Early Farmers, and Metal-Age Invaders.

You also get to see the migration patterns of each group with color-coded arrows. When you click on each archeological dig site (the pinpoints), they give you historical information about each site, including the estimated age of the find and how it sheds light on our collective genetic history.

Family Matches

FamilyTreeDNA matches screenshot.
The Family Finder Matches dashboard lists all of your DNA matches in descending order (names are blurred out for privacy).

Here’s just the start of what you’ll see in your family matching results. I have a whopping 7,500+ matches that go as far out as “5th or Distant Cousins” and a ton of 2nd-4th cousin matches from both sides of my family. The family matching system is undoubtedly the Family Finder test’s best feature.

Here are some of the things you can do with the Family Matching System tools:

  • View, sort, and compare DNA matches by parental lines
  • Click on a match and use the “Compare With” tool to see what other matches the two of you share
  • Use the “Chromosome Browser” to see which sections of the chromosome you and your matches share
  • Get in touch with your matches via email if they’ve opted in
  • View your matches’ family trees if they’ve created one in FTDNA
  • Add notes to each match

What Did I Learn From FTDNA’s Test?

For me, the biggest benefit of testing with FTDNA was confirming a lot of relationships and shared ancestors that my mother had pieced together over years of genealogical research. My DNA test also was able to confirm the father of an illegitimate 3X great-grandfather in England who was previously unknown because he was not named on the birth record.

I’m one of the lucky ones to have a serious genealogist in my family, but you can see how invaluable the family matching system is if you don’t know much about your roots. It’s an excellent way to begin or enhance your family tree — and even to find long-lost relatives.

Are Customers Happy With FamilyTreeDNA?

Below you’ll see a sampling of both positive and negative reviews I found online about FTDNA.

Positive Reviews

I tested to confirm my paper trails and can report total success. If male do not waste money on Y37 go for at least Y67 and aim to eventually take Big Y 700. For relations use test with Ancestry or My Heritage and transfer your results thus gaining more database access. mtDNA while interesting has yet to prove much benefit. Do not expect instant gratification as results take time and may involve reruns. If you are not prepared to have your family myths burst a test with My True Ancestry will provide all the feel good reward you could wish.

– Alex M., Trustpilot 4/11/2023

I have tested multiple family relatives through FamilyTreeDNA. They match up with each other just as they should. I have always found their customer services to be friendly and helpful when a question or concerns shows up. I love dna projects and other tools they offer. I have made connections with cousins and learned more about my family history then I ever thought possible. I will forever be greatful for their services!!!

– Kristy P., BBB 8/16/2021

Negative Reviews

Expensive for very little data, hard to parse and not many users with in depth data to compare against if you have a genetic match. You have to pay a ton for upgrades if you want any more info. Really wish I hadn’t given this as a gift to my father, now this company has his genetic info for no reward. Rip off. Very much do NOT recommend.

– E. Skipp, Trustpilot 5/1/2023

I went all in. Y dna, mt dna and family finder. the only result that worked was the data that I uploaded from ancestry.com. I was very enthused to get Y dna results, very expensive. My grandpa and great died at the same time.. leaving my dad at ten years old an only son. I went 6 weeks analyzing not one surname pertaining to me and our family, before realizing at a professional level of learning curve at that point.. THE TEST WAS NOT MINE. I emailed support, after getting rude replies by employees in the forum groups and even other users. The help desk further insults my existence by attempting to tell me where my name came from with complete falsity. Meanwhile, I had already paid for the mt dna test… and sure enough the results came back as anyone but my mother. someone had to TRY and make my results 180 degrees an opposite direction. Rudeness continued. No offer for refund, no offer to help me.. I demanded deletion. I have evidence in all directions to my real origin though autosomal DNA. I am out $538. I reported them for fraud to FTC.

– Barry D., BBB 2/2/2022

FamilyTreeDNA Competitors

Below are some critical differences between FTDNA and its main competitors.

FamilyTreeDNA vs AncestryDNA

  • You can upload your raw DNA results from AncestryDNA and MyHeritage to FTDNA. AncestryDNA doesn’t allow uploading other companies’ results.
  • FTDNA’s database is just over 2 million people, quite a bit smaller than AncestryDNA’s 22 million.
  • FTDNA uses an in-house laboratory. AncestryDNA’s lab is a third-party lab.
  • FTDNA offers separate in-depth Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, while AncestryDNA does not.

FamilyTreeDNA vs 23andMe

  • 23andMe’s database has 14 million people compared to FTDNA’s, which is just over 2 million.
  • FTDNA doesn’t offer any genetic health risk-related DNA testing, while 23andMe does.
  • 23andMe’s genealogical community forums are lacking compared to FTDNA’s.

FamilyTreeDNA vs MyHeritage DNA

  • MyHeritage has a larger DNA database than FTDNA: 7.9 million vs 2 million.
  • MyHeritage DNA has a quicker turnaround time for results than FTDNA.
  • FTDNA offers separate in-depth Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. MyHeritage DNA only offers an autosomal test.

What Is A Haplogroup? (Video)

Haplogroups are ancestral groupings of people who share a common ancestor on either their maternal (through mitochondrial DNA) or paternal line (Y-chromosome DNA). It’s important to note that genetic males have both a paternal and maternal haplogroup; however, genetic females only inherit a maternal haplogroup.

Knowing your haplogroup can give you insight into your ancient origins. And hard-core genealogists can use haplogroup results to help prove or disprove genealogical theories. Check out this brief video by FTDNA to learn more about mtDNA testing and maternal haplogroups.

Is FamilyTreeDNA Worth It?

Visit FamilyTreeDNA’s Website

Estimates now put the number of people worldwide who have had their DNA analyzed via at-home kits at more than 26 million. A majority of those tested are in the U.S. With more and more people testing their DNA and getting online to find common ancestors, your chances of filling in even more blanks are promising. FTDNA is an affordable way to start or continue your ancestry journey, but I encourage you to look at other options. Check out my in-depth review of AncestryDNA to see the differences.

What have you discovered about your family history through FamilyTreeDNA or a similar testing service? I’d love to hear about it in our comments.

Why Trust Safe Smart Living?

Sally has over 20 years of experience in human health sciences communications. She has extensively interviewed and reported on many of the world’s top scientists in such fields as genetics, cancer, infectious diseases, alcohol dependence, pharmacology, and much more. Sally is part of Safe Smart Living’s professional team of experts who test and research products to make our lives smarter and safer for us, our families, and our readers.

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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