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May 12, 2020
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AncestryDNA vs MyHeritage

AncestryDNA and MyHeritage both have advantages. This article gives a full comparison of the two companies to help you make a decision!
By
Tomohiro Takano

Introduction

If you are thinking about getting your DNA tested to learn more about your ancestry, you have likely come across the two companies Ancestry and MyHeritage. Here at Genomelink, we think everyone should be able to find the ancestry testing company that perfectly fits their needs. The differences between these two companies are subtle. 

AncestryDNA and MyHeritage are very similar companies, with nearly identical business models. Ancestry started off in the 1990s as a small company providing family trees and religious texts on floppy discs. The company quickly expanded into genealogy, even producing a magazine focused on helping people discover their ancestral heritage. Similarly, MyHeritage started in 2003 as a software company that allowed people to build and upload family trees to their database. Both companies have leveraged their position with existing users to enter the DNA testing industry.

However, Ancestry has been much more successful with their DNA test kits, with over 14 million kits sold and analyzed. Compared to MyHeritage’s 2.5 million kits sold, Ancestry has access to far more genetic testing data. As we will see, this gives them a strong advantage when it comes to ethnicity estimates and family matching.

While Ancestry has sold and completed far more DNA kits, MyHeritage somehow has much better health-related offerings. You should check out our full review of their offerings below to see exactly what product would be the best for you!


Contents:

Products Offered by AncestryDNA and MyHeritage

All three offer products in three main categories:

  • Ancestry - understanding your DNA as it relates to your genealogy
  • Family Tree Building - literally building and tracking your family tree
  • Health - Understanding more about your health from your DNA

Below we explore all three and what they offer in each category.

AncestryDNA vs. MyHeritage DNA

Both companies started as genealogy resources, and both moved into DNA testing soon after the technology was available. AncestryDNA offered its first kit in 2012, while MyHeritage took until 2016 to roll out its DNA ancestry test results. On the surface, both of these tests look surprisingly similar.

Each DNA ancestry test will connect you to your genetic heritage. Both companies offer DNA testing that will give you an ethnicity estimate, or a breakdown of what ethnicities around the globe contributed to your genetics. The major difference here is that Ancestry has far more users, and therefore they have much larger reference populations to base their reports on. 

AncestryDNA boasts an industry-leading 14 million users, whereas MyHeritage only has around 2.5 million users as of this writing. What this functionally translates to is a massive difference in the specificity each company can offer. MyHeritage offers ethnicity estimates within 42 different geographic regions. While this is a solid number compared to the entire industry, it pales in comparison to AncestryDNA. 

AncestryDNA can offer ethnicity estimates in well-over 1,000 distinct global regions. So, if you are looking for the most complete ancestry DNA test, AncestryDNA is definitely the way to go. The test is so specific that some regions can be narrowed down to specific townships and villages. This is a major advantage for AncestryDNA users. For instance, where MyHeritage may tell you that you are Irish, Scandinavian, or Native American, Ancestry may be able to tell you exactly which town within Ireland your family is from. Most genealogists would have a hard time pinpointing this level of accuracy because most genealogists don’t have a database size of 14 million users.  

Both companies also offer family matching services with their ancestry DNA tests, as well as possible migration routes your family may have taken. However, Ancestry again holds a major advantage because you can find matches in a pool of 14 million users, compared to MyHeritage’s much smaller database of only 2.5 million users. If you are specifically looking for DNA matches, check out the section below on using more than one company to maximize your results.

Building a Family Tree and Doing Genealogical Research

In addition to researching how your DNA is related to your ancestry, both companies also offer services that allow you to do detailed research on your actual family tree. Since both companies started as genealogy research companies, they have very comparable services in this area. Both companies boast historical records databases that contain billions of historical records including birth and death certificates, marriage records, and even some documents related to immigration. 

The companies even price subscriptions to these family tree research services the same. Both companies charge $300 per year for full access to their historical records databases and family tree software. There is only one real difference between the services: MyHeritage has more European records, whereas Ancestry has more North American records. So, based on where you believe the majority of your family comes from you may find an advantage in one database over the others.

AncestryHealth Core vs. MyHeritageDNA Health + Ancestry

In an effort to compete with other DNA testing companies, both Ancestry.com and MyHeritage now offer health-related DNA testing services. Their health testing services are similar, but they differ in a few key areas that give MyHeritage a strong advantage in the health-testing realm.

Genetic Health Risks

If you are getting DNA results to see how your genes may affect your risk of getting heart disease, cancer, or a number of other conditions, MyHeritage is the better choice. The AncestryHealth Core test only looks at 6 different risk reports. They cover two reports related to cancer and four reports related to heart and blood health. While these reports will be relevant to nearly all of their users, AncestryDNA misses a significant number of reports offered by MyHeritage.

With MyHeritage, you will have access to the exact same cancer, heart, and blood health reports offered by Ancestry. However, MyHeritage also offers 12 other health-predisposition reports which include diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Crohn’s disease. It is unclear why Ancestry does not offer these tests, as they certainly have the user database to make the correlations necessary to offer these tests. The bottom line is that MyHeritage currently has a much better offering of health-related traits, as compared to Ancestry.

Carrier Status Reports

As opposed to a genetic health predisposition, carrier status reports are based on genes that absolutely cause genetic diseases. In simpler terms, while some genes may affect your risk for heart disease, the genes studied in carrier status reports are known to cause the actual symptoms of the disease. In terms of actionable information, carrier status reports are much more helpful. 

Again, Ancestry falls short of providing a competitive offering. Ancestry provides only 3 carrier status reports: Sickle-cell Anemia, Cystic Fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disorder. MyHeritage covers all three of these conditions, in addition to 15 other genetic disorders. So, if you are looking for this information MyHeritage can provide you with much more information.

Users looking for carrier status reports should also consider other companies. For example, 23andMe offers over 40 carrier status reports for a wide variety of genetic diseases. For people trying to plan a family or reduce their risk of passing genetic diseases on to their children, companies that have focused on health analysis from the beginning offer far more carrier status reports compared to either MyHeritage or AncestryDNA. 

What makes each company unique?

Within the entire industry, both of these companies are unique in that they allow you to build a family tree, connect the tree to your DNA information, and further research your family history with a massive treasure-trove of historical documents. These are the only two companies really competing in this area. If you look at this area alone the companies are nearly indistinguishable.

When you start to break apart the full offerings of each company, Ancestry stands above all other DNA testing companies in the number of DNA tests it has sold. It even beats 23andMe, as it has converted a significant proportion of its genealogy users into DNA test users. This gives AncestryDNA a unique advantage over other DNA testing companies in both health and ancestry testing. That being said, it has not fully capitalized on this massive numerical advantage.

MyHeritage, on the other hand, can give you many more health-related analyses. MyHeritage is unique in that it offers a competitive health package in addition to its full-service ancestry analysis. This makes MyHeritage a great choice for people who are interested in genealogy and health services.

Both companies test only autosomal DNA via a cheek swab, which is very informative but does not offer the same level of ancestry analysis found in Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing. You can find these tests at sites like FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA), which can give you ancestry DNA results based on your paternal line and maternal line, also known as your haplogroup. While Ancestry used to offer both mtDNA and Y-chromosome testing, they have for some reason discontinued their mtDNA and Y-DNA tests.

Similarities Between Ancestry And MyHeritage

Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com both started in the family tree business long before the dawn of direct-to-consumer DNA test kits. Ancestry started as a North American company focused on connecting people to their genealogy. Ancestry previously published a magazine on ancestry and genealogy and helped customers build family trees with their online software. MyHeritage ran an almost identical business, though their records and databases mainly served European countries.

Today, both companies have leveraged the power of DNA testing to provide their customers with a whole new way to discover their family history. Order a genetic testing kit through either of these testing companies and you can find out which geographic regions your ancestors likely came from. Both companies will give you an ethnicity estimate, and both will allow you to find DNA matches with family members on the same platform. Both companies test a similar number of SNPs and have roughly the same size reference populations. Further, both companies offer only autosomal DNA testing. Neither company offers health reports, mtDNA testing, Y chromosome testing, or access to a genealogist.

More than just an ancestry DNA test, both of these offer additional subscription packages which allow you to research historical records pertaining to your DNA data. Both companies boast a historical record database size that is not matched by any other companies. While it seems that both of them could not have the largest database, they both have the largest database in the regions that they operate.

Differences Between Ancestry And MyHeritage

The largest differences between Ancestry and MyHeritage come from their origins. Ancestry was largely established in North America, whereas MyHeritage as we’ve mentioned became big in Europe. While their databases are both large, Ancestry’s database is focused more on North American records, while MyHeritage has more records from European countries.

So, if your ancestors immigrated to the United States a long time ago, you may want to use Ancestry. They will have more information on records pertaining to American populations, but not necessarily Native American populations. However, if your ancestors recently immigrated to the U.S., you may want to use MyHeritage. Their database covers African records, British records, Irish records, Scottish records, Scandinavian records, and many other European genealogical records.

Besides their databases, the test results you will receive from each country will be very similar. AncestryDNA requires a saliva sample, whereas a MyHeritage DNA test goes with the cheek swab option to collect DNA samples. However, Ancestry has a slightly more interactive results platform and gives you historical information such as possible migration routes your family may have taken. However, MyHeritage has leveraged its DNA results to produce the world’s largest family tree. This may be extremely useful in finding European relatives, especially within England, the British Isles, Germany, France,  or other European countries.

Who should buy these products?

Many people are skeptical of DNA results related to health testing services, and they don’t want to pay extra for health correlations that may or may not be related to specific health outcomes. If you are one of these people, AncestryDNA is your best choice. The company offers probably the best ancestry testing services on the market, and if you want to dig deeper you can instantly connect your results to a family tree backed with actual historical documents.

Other users are very curious to know more about their health traits, in addition to their genetic ancestry. MyHeritage offers the best packages for this group, as they cover many industry-standard health traits and can also help you build a family tree and find documents to support the tree. Their historical records database easily matches Ancestry’s database, but they offer far more health-related analyses. 

What are other people saying about AncestryDNA and MyHeritage?

While the editors here at Genomelink have been covering the DNA testing industry for years, it is always a good idea to see more than 1 opinion. Below are links to several different sites where users rate and discuss both MyHeritage and Ancestry. Check them out!

MyHeritage

3.5 of 5 stars on Trustpilot (5,600+ reviews)

3.8 of 5 stars on Amazon (1,000+ reviews)

AncestryDNA

2.5 of 5 stars on Trustpilot (4,700+ reviews)

3.9 of 5 stars on Amazon (400+ reviews)

Head-to-Head

See what users on Reddit are saying about MyHeritage Vs Ancestry databases

Read what Reddit users think about the accuracy of results between MyHeritage and Ancestry

AncestryDNA & MyHeritage Costs

Before we leave you to ponder your choices, we have analyzed the costs associated with each product these companies have to offer. The prices below represent their standard, non-discounted prices for each product. If you are looking for more discounts, be sure to check in on these companies around major holidays because they almost always offer significant discounts!

Ancestry DNA Testing =

AncestryDNA - $99

MyHeritageDNA Ancestry - $79

Family Tree Research Subscriptions =

Ancestry - $189 - $299 per year

MyHeritage - $130 - $300 per year

Health and Ancestry DNA Testing =

AncestryHealth Core - $149

MyHeritage Health+Ancestry - $199

In general, these costs are very well-aligned with what the companies offer. AncestryDNA ancestry tests are slightly more expensive, but they have far more regions than MyHeritage. MyHeritage health testing DNA service is slightly more expensive, but they offer many more health-related analyses. The family tree services from each company are similarly priced, as both companies offer a very comparable family tree service.

You can choose more than one company!

Fortunately, both MyHeritage and AncestryDNA allow you to download your raw DNA data. This data file contains all of the SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) measured by their DNA tests. This data can be uploaded to many different companies, which specialize in a wide range of services and analyses. For instance, if you are only interested in DNA matches and finding family members, you can choose either company to start. Then, once you get your results you can upload your data to free to the other site to check their database for family matches. 

But, that’s just the start of what you can do with your raw data. The editors here at Genomelink keep a running list of all the best third-party DNA analysis sites, with in-depth reviews of each. You can also upload your data straight to Genomelink to get additional health, wellness, and lifestyle traits analysis!

Regardless of who you choose, know that you can always find more information for free or very cheap at many of these sites simply by uploading your raw DNA data. This is a great choice for users who want to maximize the value of their DNA sample!



Got 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or MyHeritage results back? Upload your raw DNA data to access 25+ free traits and 7 Ancient Ancestry reports
Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO