I’ve used the DNA services of 23andMe and MyHeritage since 2017. Both companies continue to add new DNA tools and features for their customers.
If you can only purchase one DNA kit, which should you go for?
DNA Testing With 23andMe Versus MyHeritage – Which Is Best?
This review is a head-to-head comparison of what you get from 23andMe versus MyHeritage based on:
- Health reports
- Ethnicity reports
- DNA relatives
- Building your family tree
- Finding birth family
I’ll give you the winner (and the reasons why) in each category.
You may only be interested in two or three of these categories. Just tot up which gets best marks with your areas of interest.
|Health reports||23andMe||MyHeritage doesn’t do health services|
|Ethnicity reports||Even||Accuracy depends on your heritage|
|DNA relatives||MyHeritage||More relatives on MyHeritage|
|Building your family tree||MyHeritage||23andMe doesn’t do genealogy services|
|Finding birth family||23andMe||Get both if you can afford it|
Read on for detailed comparisons, examples, and screenshots.
23andMe Versus MyHeritage: Price Comparison
Both companies run sales and special offers at different times throughout the year.
MyHeritage is usually the lowest cost test of the four major consumer DNA testing companies (23andMe, Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage). They often discount the cost to about $55 (excluding shipping).
This table shows the standard pricing at the time of writing.
|DNA test with relatives||$99||$79|
|DNA test with relatives + Health||$199||N/A|
|Genealogy services||N/A||Pricing varies|
MyHeritage shipping costs
The 23andMe pricing includes shipping, while the MyHeritage price does not.
So, you should factor in shipping costs when comparing the prices.
MyHeritage provides an addressed padded envelope, so you don’t need to include that cost.
When you’ve put the DNA kits into the padded envelope, the total package weighs about 14 grams.
Transferring DNA results
MyHeritage accepts DNA transfers from other major testing companies. In contrast, 23andMe does not.
You can upload you 23andMe DNA results to MyHeritage for free and see DNA relatives on the site. There is an unlock fee of about 30 dollars to access all the DNA features.
23andMe Is Better for Health Reports (Premium Packages)
Companies in the United States must comply with FDA regulations if they are providing predictions of health risks.
23andMe has FDA compliance for a specific set of reports in their health packages. These include predictions for:
- Late on-set Alzheimers
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of cancer
Note that the cheapest package from 23andMe doesn’t give you the health reports of the next level up. Check out our full breakdown of 23andMe packages and costs.
Does MyHeritage provide health reports?
MyHeritage is not currently selling a health package in 2021.
You may find plenty of references to the MyHeritage Health DNA Test which they started selling in 2019. It was still being sold in early 2021, but the product was removed from their website by the early summer.
However, MyHeritage also purchased a company called Promethease in 2019. This is a website that allows you to upload your DNA results to get detailed health reports.
The cost for using Promethease is about $12.
Both Are About Even For Ethnicity Reports
Both companies provide estimates of your ethnic and geographic origins.
Here’s a quick summary of how I rate them:
|Accuracy at broad regional level||Similar|
|European breakdown (Irish)||MyHeritage|
|Non-European breakdown (African)||23andMe|
Always remember that these reports are estimates
I tested with 23andMe back in 2017. Since then, I’ve seen changes and improvements in my ethnicity calculations.
Some 23andMe customers have not been impressed by changes. In 2020, some weren’t happy with big increases in their Scottish percentage. Others complained about jumps in their French and German percentages.
My point is that these reports are estimates that change over time.
In contrast, MyHeritage hasn’t made big changes to their broad ethnicity estimates within the last few years. I’ve heard company representatives acknowledge that they are overdue for some technology changes here.
However, MyHeritage launched a new ethnicity feature at the end of 2019 which has impressed me. Let’s take a more detailed look now at both companies.
What does 23andMe give you?
Here’s an excerpt of my report from 23andMe:
I have a separate review that goes in-depth into how accurate 23andMe’s ethnicity features can be.
Here, I’ll say that the broad regional level is correct for me.
However, the estimates get far less accurate as the estimate gets even more specific. When they get down to the cities and counties, they don’t match my known family tree.
What does MyHeritage give you?
Here is an excerpt from my ethnicity estimates on MyHeritage.
You may notice that these European estimates are significantly different from 23andMe.
To my knowledge, I have no East European heritage. This doesn’t tally with the report from MyHeritage.
In my experience, the 23andMe version is more correct at this regional level.
MyHeritage is better than 23andMe at more specific levels of origin
The lowest level of my estimates on MyHeritage specifies two counties in the north-eastern quarter of a small country.
This is remarkably accurate for my Irish heritage.
When MyHeritage rolled out their most specific estimates in December 2019, I was blown away by how good they were.
You can read more in our article on genetic groups on MyHeritage.
23andMe is slightly less poor for my non-European heritage
There’s no doubt that ethnicity estimates from all the major DNA testing companies are better for European heritage.
But what about other continents?
Half my heritage is east African. In my experience, 23andMe is slightly better than MyHeritage in its estimates.
Only 23andMe Does Neanderthal DNA
23andMe provides an estimate of your Neanderthal DNA. A lot of customers find this to be a fun feature.
MyHeritage doesn’t offer a Neanderthal feature at all. But don’t let that be a deal-breaker.
If you do choose to go with MyHeritage, you can follow our tutorials to explore your ancient origins with their DNA results.
MyHeritage Is Better For Using DNA Relatives For Family Research
Both MyHeritage and 23andMe give you access to a list of DNA relatives in their database.
Many choose to provide details like their ancestral locations and surnames.
This combination of DNA matches with ancestral details is the key to why so many genealogy hobbyists use MyHeritage or 23andMe to research their family tree.
Here’s my summary of how the companies measure up against each other for DNA relatives.
|DNA database size||23andMe|
|No cap on the number of relatives||MyHeritage|
|DNA tools for sophisticated research||Even|
|Collaboration with relatives||MyHeritage|
Who has the bigger DNA database?
We have an article with full run-down of the size of the DNA databases across the major testing companies.
23andMe has 12+ million customers.
The total MyHeritage database has about 5 million strong.
But the total doesn’t give the real picture. You need to consider any limits that companies put on the number of relatives you get access to.
Who imposes fewer limits on your DNA matches?
23andMe puts a total cap on the number of DNA relatives they show you. The standard package gives you up to 1,500 of your top relatives in their database.
The higher package gives access to a maximum of 5,000 DNA relatives (that’s the cap, but you may not have that many).
These caps mean that you will probably see more DNA relatives on MyHeritage than the standard package from 23andMe. They have no cap on the total number that they will show you.
Who has the best DNA tools for research?
Winner: both have similar tools such as chromosome browsers
Both companies show you how much DNA you share with your genetic relatives.
They also have tools that increase your chances of identifying where unknown relatives reside in your family tree.
These tools let you explore right down to the chromosome level. These are a little complex to explain, but we have plenty of tutorials on this website.
Collaborating with DNA relatives
Both companies have a messaging system that lets you send requests to your DNA relatives for information and collaboration.
However, you won’t always get a response to your messages.
Bear in mind that many people do DNA tests for the sole purpose of ethnicity estimates. And with 23andMe, there are plenty of customers that test to get the health reports.
Thankfully, many people do respond. Personally, I’ve had better success with messaging on MyHeritage than on 23andMe.
But that’s because I tend to message relatives on MyHeritage with a sizeable family tree on the website. This is a flag that the relative is interested in genealogy and may be more open to collaboration.
MyHeritage Is Better For Researching Your Family Tree
Aside from DNA testing, MyHeritage is also a genealogy website with family tree features and record archives. So, it’s a clear winner in this category.
23andMe has very limited genealogy features.
Let’s take a quick look at what’s available on the two websites.
|Family tree software||Y||N|
|Filter relatives by ancestral location and surname||Y||Y|
|Speculative “built for you” tree||Y||Y|
Online family tree software
23andMe does not have an online family tree builder.
MyHeritage has both an online tree builder and free desktop family tree software.
I have plenty of DNA relatives on MyHeritage with trees with thousands of people. This is a massive help for family research.
Filter DNA relatives by ancestral names and locations
A powerful research strategy is to filter your DNA relatives to those with a specific surname or location in their family tree.
MyHeritage uses customers’ family trees to let you search and filter for ancestral details.
23andMe doesn’t have family trees. However, their customers can list ancestral surnames and locations in their account profiles. The 23andMe filters work with these details.
This isn’t as good as searching through proper family trees, as can be done on MyHeritage.
Speculative “built for you” trees
Wouldn’t it be great if these companies would examine the details of your DNA relatives and build your family tree on your behalf?
MyHeritage has a go at this. They rolled out a feature in 2019 that they called Theory Of Family Relativity. Yes, that’s a mouthful, but what does it do?
Basically, the feature suggests family tree relationships between you and some of your DNA relatives. They’re not always right, and you have to check everything. But I’ve had some very successful outcomes with this feature.
What about 23andMe? They have a feature that they confusingly call a “family tree”. But it’s not like a traditional tree.
Instead, they give you a visualization of how your DNA relatives may be related to you and to each other.
The main problem is that it doesn’t seem to work unless you have a good number of 2nd cousins and closer on the site.
Here’s an example from a customer who has also tested both parents. 23andMe inserts the DNA relatives into place. The customer has to figure out the question marks.
Genealogical Record Archives
MyHeritage has an archive of genealogical records such as birth, marriage, and death documents. Access requires a separate purchase to the DNA kit.
23andMe does not have record collections.
Which Is Best For Finding Unknown Birth Family?
We have an in-depth review that looks at which DNA test is best for adopted adults and people looking for birth family.
The review covers 23andMe, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and FamilyTreeDNA. It provides a strategy for combining these sites in a cost-effective way.
Our recommendation is based on the fact that you can transfer your DNA results from 23andMe to MyHeritage, but not in reverse.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is behind these companies?
MyHeritage is in private ownership. You can read more in our article on who owns MyHeritage.
23andMe is owned by several large investors. Read more in our article on who owns 23andMe.
Is my privacy protected?
You can opt-out of sharing your DNA profile with relatives, but you won’t see theirs either.
If you opt-in, both sites let you choose the name that relatives see. Some customers use a nickname or their initials.
Contact is through the company messaging system. You choose if you wish to reply or not.
Are there alternative DNA testing companies?
Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA, and Living DNA all offer DNA kits.
Check out our head-to-head comparisons: