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Several companies offer affordable DNA testing kits. Costs vary, and a person may have to purchase a subscription to access the test’s full range of features. Individuals may want to consult a doctor before buying a DNA test to make sure they choose a suitable kit for them.

This article describes a DNA test, some features a person can consider before buying a test kit, and some products available to purchase online. It also explores some frequently asked questions about DNA test kits.

Learn more about genetic testing here.

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DNA testing, also called genetic testing, is a medical test that checks the changes that occur in a person’s DNA.

According to MedlinePlus, these tests can determine if someone has a high risk of developing a health condition. People can also use a DNA test to learn about their genetic ancestry. For this purpose, a person’s DNA is compared to genetic references from large groups of people from various populations. If pieces of their DNA match the reference samples, the test can estimate or confirm an individual’s genetic ancestry from that population.

The National Human Genome Research Institute lists some benefits of genetic testing, such as:

  • helping doctors to provide the correct medication and dosage
  • checking the severity of a disease
  • detecting if a person has a genetic disorder to provide early treatment
  • identifying gene changes that an individual’s children may inherit

A person may wish to consider the following factors when choosing a DNA testing kit:

  • Price: Many DNA test kits come with a one-time purchase price. However, there may also be additional lab fees or subscriptions if a person wants to access extra or more advanced features.
  • Results: Companies can issue results within 10 days. However, additional fees may apply for individuals who wish to opt for faster results.
  • Features: People may wish to check the features that test kits offer. People can buy DNA kits to learn about their ancestors and relatives who share some parts of their DNA, and a person may also be able to build a family tree from the data they get from their test results. A person can also purchase paternity tests that demonstrate a child’s paternity or DNA tests that focus on a person’s health and genetic risks for certain diseases.
  • Customer service: It is advisable to choose a test kit from a company that offers support for people who may need help with their product.

A person may also wish to consider the consequences of taking a DNA test. There is a chance someone will discover information about their ancestry, family, or health that they may find upsetting or stressful.

At Medical News Today, we choose products based on the following criteria:

  • Price: Products are not expensive and are available at a one-time fee. Some come with additional features at an extra cost, so some people may not be able to afford to upgrade.
  • Results: Companies that produce DNA testing kits issue results within 4–8 weeks. A person may access them at any time they want.
  • Instructions: Products come with easily accessible instructions. Some brands also have video guides available on their website.

A person can consider the following best cheap DNA testing kits.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

MyHeritage DNA

This test kit determines the regions where a person’s DNA originates. It also compares an individual’s test results to other people’s DNA in the company’s database to find close DNA relatives.

A person will need to provide a cheek swab sample rather than a saliva or blood sample. MyHeritage DNA claims that the test should not take longer than 2 minutes.

After collecting their sample, a person must return it to the company’s lab in an enclosed envelope.

MyHeritage DNA says that people should receive their results within 4 weeks.

The company states that its lab has Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this means it follows strict quality standards to be able to perform laboratory tests using specimens from humans, including blood, body fluid, and tissue.

MyHeritage DNA test kit is available for $79 on MyHeritage’s website, reduced to $47 during promotions.

Pros and cons of MyHeritage DNA

Pros

  • CLIA-certified labs
  • free family tree software
  • fast results
  • 24-hour customer service

Cons

  • the test does not include health-related information
  • historical records are only available with a subscription
  • ethnicity matches may be inconsistent

AncestryDNA

This kit provides insights into a person’s genetic ancestry, and people can discover who shares parts of their DNA and build a family tree.

People who order an AncestryDNA test kit must first activate it, then take a saliva sample before returning to the company’s lab in a prepaid package.

AncestryDNA claims that a person’s results will be available online in 6–8 weeks.

Prices start from $99, increasing up to $199 if someone wants to learn more about their personal traits and compare them with other people’s results. Promotions can lower the price, ranging from $59–149.

Pros and cons of AncestryDNA

Pros

  • easy-to-follow instructions
  • DNA matching with relatives
  • DNA matching with over 1,000 global ethnic regions

Cons

  • high price for subscription packages
  • historical records available at an extra charge

Living DNA

This test allows people to learn about their ancestors from thousands of years back and discover any extended family with genetic matches.

Other kits from this company focus on an individual’s well-being. A person can choose these tests to find out how genetic variants in their DNA affect their body’s responses to the food they eat. People can also receive tips on how to get the nutrients they need.

Living DNA’s test kits are available with standard and express shipping. To take the test, a person needs to provide a cheek swab sample and return to the company for analysis.

Living DNA states that a person can expect their results in 6–8 weeks.

According to Living DNA’s website, people can track their kit status and access the results any time they want once available.

The Living DNA ancestry kit is available for $99. A well-being and ancestry kit is available for $179. Promotions can lower the cost to $69–99.

Pros and cons of Living DNA

Pros

  • family matching
  • ancestry reports

Cons

  • well-being information is only available at a higher price
  • reported inaccuracy in results for people outside of Europe

23andMe

23andMe offers a health and ancestry test kit called the Health + Ancestry Service. This test kit may suit people who wish to know about their genetic ancestry and gain insight into how their DNA affects their health.

This test kit can indicate if a person has genetic variants that they may pass on to their children, potentially increasing their chance of developing a health condition such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. This is in addition to the reports on a person’s genetic ancestry.

People who buy this test can also discover how their DNA relates to their exercise, sleep, and the foods they eat.

23andMe states that people should receive their results within 3–5 weeks.

This test kit is available for $199, with promotions sometimes reducing the cost to $129.

Pros and cons of 23and Me

Pros

  • detailed health information
  • private messaging system available for customer care support
  • large DNA database for more detailed reports
  • some health tests have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval

Cons

  • a person’s name and profile picture can show up in other users’ suggested relatives
  • generating reports may take time
  • no family tree building software as part of the kit

The following table provides a comparison between the four DNA test kits.

Test kitTests includedTime for resultsFull price
MyHeritage DNAGenetic ancestry4 weeks$79
AncestryDNAGenetic ancestry6–8 weeksstarts from $99
Living DNAGenetic ancestry6–8 weeksstarts from $99
23andMeGenetic ancestry and health insights, including some FDA-approved tests6–8 weeks$199

Some frequently asked questions about DNA tests include:

How do DNA test kits work?

People who order a DNA test online will receive their kit through the mail.

Individuals will usually provide a saliva or a cheek swab sample to complete the test and return to the company for laboratory testing.

Companies then analyze the DNA present in the sample for genetic variations and similarities to large reference databases that include DNA information from people from various populations worldwide.

Individuals will usually receive their results online.

Are DNA test kits accurate?

The FDA does not review tests that individuals use for non-medical reasons.

The FDA recommends that people consult a doctor to help choose the right test kit for them.

MedlinePlus explains that individuals who want to check whether they have a high chance of developing a condition should seek medical advice. Genetic tests cannot diagnose diseases, and tests performed by professional genetic testing facilities may offer more accurate results.

If a person receives results that suggest they are at risk of developing a health condition, they can discuss their results with a healthcare professional.

How much do DNA test kits cost?

DNA test kits vary, but they can cost up to $135 if a person opts for more detailed reports, extra features, or there is an additional fee that covers shipping and laboratory work.

People can buy genetic tests to learn about their genetic ancestry, find new DNA relatives, build family trees, or check if they have a high risk of developing a disease or passing this risk on to their children.

Individuals may wish to work with a doctor to choose the right DNA test for them and interpret their results. A person may also want to consider the consequences of taking a DNA test, as the results may contain information they could find stressful or worrying.