Ancestry Genetic Tests: AncestryDNA vs 23andMe

We wrote before about the DNA ancestry test offerings from 23andMe ($149 for international buyers and $199 for buyers in the U.S.) and AncestryDNA ($99) from Ancestry.com. Both of these companies have about the same number of people who have taken the test (1 million). Given that these two tests appear to offer about the same value proposition for genetic testing, we wanted to find out what are the differences between the two tests especially considering they are offered at significantly different price points. We wrote emails to each company asking them to send us sample tests and to tell us what they perceived the differences were between the two tests.

Ancestry.com promptly responded and provided us with the AncestryDNA reviewers guide which explains how to interpret the test with no commentary on the differences between the two. Not quite what we were looking for, but useful enough. 23andMe, on the other hand, was quite cagey. We chased them a few times and one month later, they proposed to give us a test to take and then walk us through the results. We told them that we didn’t want to actually take the test, and asked again for a sample test. We’re now approaching 2 months since our original inquiry and haven’t heard back from them. However, yesterday’s announcement from 23andMe may explain their reluctance to provide us with a sample test.

If you recall from our previous article on 23andMe, the Company was requested to discontinue any health-related results from their tests by the FDA. Just yesterday, 23andMe announced that they are now offering a new product referred to as the “Personal Genome Service (PGS)” with the typical ancestry reports and health reports that meet FDA standards for being scientifically and clinically valid. New customers will receive personalized genetic health reports that include carrier status, wellness, and trait reports as seen below:

23andMe_PGS

Existing customers will not have to pay extra to access the new health-related genetic reports, and will be notified soon when their accounts have been transitioned. If you’re an existing 23andMe customer, you’re quite happy now having been just been gifted $50 worth of additional health-related tests.

When debating whether or not to buy the 23andMe test or the AncestryDNA test, consider what’s more important; ancestry genetic tests or the health-related tests. With 23andMe, you get both. It also shows great promise that existing customers were given the expanded tests free of charge. If you’re not interested in the health reports, buy AncestryDNA and save yourself $50.

If you're just interested in DNA testing for ancestry reasons, you should try Ancestry.com. For only $99, no other DNA test connects you to as many specific places in the world or more living relatives around it. Don't want to give up your DNA? Explore the world's largest online family history resource – FREE for 14 days.

31 thoughts on “Ancestry Genetic Tests: AncestryDNA vs 23andMe

    1. Thank you for the comment Sara. What I discovered was that when you are located international (at least in the Maldives), it seems to default back to the $99 test. It’s unlikely anyone in the Maldives has tried to order the kit before, because they already know who their ancestors are. If you choose your location as “U.S. based”, then the price changes to the $199 new price.

      We also noted that while the international shipping is $42.99, the shipping for U.S. customers is $9.95. We updated the article to reflect these facts. Thank you again for your heads up!

      1. You explained to Sara BUT your link is still wrong. It still says $99 when for 99% of your visitors, the correct amount is $199.
        You need to correct your link, not just explain that it is wrong.

        1. Thank you very much for pointing that our Jim! It’s a problem with the link 23andMe provided us so we have contacted them to have this fixed.

          Regards,

          Joe

          1. Note that the 23andMe price appears to have been dropped $50 and is now $149. We’ve adjusted the article to reflect this new price point.

          2. In your comment dated April 4, you said the “23andMe price appears to have been dropped $50 and is now $149. ”

            That isn’t correct. The international price has gone up by $50 to $149, while the US one is still $199.

          3. Thank you very much for the comment Melek. The prices of these tests are a moving target as they appear to change regularly. It doesn’t appear however that the test functionality has changed to match the price changes. Yet.

  1. I ordered my 23andme on May 30th 2016, and I payed 199.00 plus shipping so it came out to $210.00 can you please clarifi the price and can I get $50.00 reimbursement. Thank you in abvance.

    1. Thank you for your comment Suzanne. The international price is $149 and the U.S price is $199. We have made that clarification in the article. As we are only a media company reporting what we see at any given time, we have no ability to give you any reimbursement. Let us know what you think of the test!

  2. Hi there,
    Do you know if there is any difference between the results provided by 23andmeto US client vs international clients given that the latter does not abide to FDA rules?

    1. Hi Camilo,

      We were also curious about that and did an article on that exact topic. Check it out below:

      ARTICLE WAS PULLED PER REQUEST OF 23ANDME

      This article compares the 23andMe and Color Genomics tests but also breaks down the differences between what you get from 23andMe as an international customer and what you get as a U.S. customer.

      Regards,

      Nanalyze

    1. Hi Chasdee.

      Each firm has ~1 million people who have also taken the test that you could be related to. If you compared these two populations, you’d expect to see minimal overlap (maybe 8% or so??) because most people choose one test over the other. With that said, you would likely see relatives in one set that you wouldn’t see in the other. Is that what you were referring to or something else?

  3. I have results from Ancestry and from 23andme. I find it quite confusing that Ancestry has me at 12% middle easter and 23andme has me at 0% middle eastern. How can that be? Also Ancestry has me at 5% Caucasus and 23andme makes no mention of this whatsoever. What happened? I think I’ve been cheated out of accurate results, but I’m not sure who to believe. Do you have any idea why this has happened?

    1. Very interesting case Janet! This is going to be very tricky to prove. The only way to prove this is to retest at both places and see if you get the same results two times in a row. If you do, send us an email. We have contacts at both companies we can reach out to with questions. It could be possible that they both have extremely different test interpretation methodologies which is interesting in itself.

      If you in fact have two tests with your name and DNA from two companies with different results, you haven’t proved anything. Both companies will say “well maybe you didn’t provide us with the DNA that you think you did” which is a fair point. If you retest and get different results again then maybe the DNA sample wasn’t properly taken? Why not submit your DNA again to both companies but anonymously? That way they don’t just send you the same results again.

      Thank you for a very thought provoking comment!

  4. Be careful with Geneticoncept!! I paid $300 for the full tests 4 months ago and I still haven’t got the complete results. I have made a complaint to Federal Trade Commission as it could be a scam!

  5. Hi, I have a similar problem like that of what Nanalyze posted. I have on my Ancestry.com DNA Results 18% Irish, 10% Scandinavian, and 6% British. 23and me says my Irish and British ancestry at 30%, but does not mention anything at all about me having Scandinavian ancestry. How is that? Plus I ordered a new DNA test kit from 23and me to see if I get different results this time. Hopefully my Scandinavian results will show.

    1. One of our readers, Brian, prodded us on to conduct an experiment on this. We’re going to dig in and see if we can make this happen. Stay tuned.

  6. How about an in depth article comparing the algorithms that each company uses? The DNA to ancestral history results provided by each company is based on proprietary matching algorithms. Also, how about conducting a double blind study for each company and then writing an article about the results? Surely that would be of greater value to readers than updating links in previous articles.

    1. This is a great idea Brian and something we were mulling. We’re going to do it because it’s just too interesting not to explore. Stay tuned.

      1. Can I add the 23/me to my ancestry account? I’ve ordered an Ancestry for my dad but went for 23/me that I got for 75 bucks and a few for shipping last week.

        I plan on ordering 23/me to retest myself.

        Thanks,

        1. Not sure on that Rebecca. You would need a third party to aggregate the data as neither provider would support on import from their competitor.

          We’re in the process of running a test across 4 providers to see the differences. Stay tuned!

  7. I’m very interested in getting the testing done, but reading about the conflicting results is concerning. So I’d like to follow your research . . . and/or somehow be part of it.

    1. Thank you for the comment Lisa.

      We just had our undercover operative send in the tests and we’re waiting the 6-8 weeks for results 🙂

  8. I’m very interested in getting the testing done, but reading about the conflicting results is concerning. So I’d like to follow your research . . . and/or somehow be part of it.

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