23andMe has three pricing levels if you are based in the United States. People outside the U.S. have the choice of two packages (they miss out on the subscription option).
This article breaks down the costs and looks at what you get within each package.
How Much Does 23andMe Cost?
When 23andMe started offering DNA tests back in 2007, the cost was nearly 300 dollars.
In 2012, the company introduced its new lowest payment price of just under a hundred dollars. Since then, they’ve offered several different payment levels but they’ve always kept the basic level price down at $99.
Of course, keeping this at just under three figures is a psychological ploy. If you’re curious, I can tell you that the basic level is also 99 Euro (in Europe). However, its £79 (in the UK).
First two package tiers
I’ll review the differences between the basic (Ancestry+Traits) versus health options in the next section.
Here is a summary of the price difference across multiple markets. You will occasionally find discounted pricing, but not as often as with some of its competitors.
|Ancestry+Traits||$99||£79||€ 99||DNA Relatives & some traits and health reports|
|Ancestry+Traits +Health||$199||£149||€ 169||DNA Relatives & over one hundred health reports|
Plus subscription pricing (U.S. only)
23andMe rolled out a new premium level in the United States in 2020. They refer to this level as 23andme Plus.
The big difference is that this is a subscription model. You pay a recurring fee of about $30 per year to get access to the extra features.
If you’re not based in the United States, you won’t see the option to purchase this level.
If you already have the Ancestry+Health package, you can pay an extra $30 subscription per year.
If you haven’t already purchased an Ancestry+Health package, then you can buy the Plus package. This gives you one price that includes Ancestry+Health plus a one-year subscription.
A Summary Of The Ancestry + Traits Package From 23andMe
The lowest cost package from 23andMe is called “Ancestry + Traits”.
This package gets you a DNA kit which you use to return a spit sample to the company.
There is a wait until you get access to the 23andMe features. Check out our article on how long it takes for 23andMe to process your results.
Ancestry + Traits gives you the features below.
The links I’ve provided in the bulleted list are to our tutorials on these features. We have lots of screenshots, so you may find it useful to have a browse through some of the articles to get a feel for what you’ll get.
- Up to 1,500 DNA relatives from their DNA database
- An estimated breakdown of your ethnicity and where your ancestors lived
- Several chromosome browsers
- Chromosome painting (your ethnicities visualized across your chromosomes)
- A genetic tree (nothing like a family tree)
- Your percentage of Neanderthal ancestry
- Paternal haplogroup and maternal haplogroup
- Traits reports
I haven’t written separate articles on this site about Traits reports. Here are some examples:
- Are you likely to have dimples?
- Were you likely to have had baby hair?
- How likely are you to have a fear of public speaking?
I glanced at some of these reports once and didn’t bother looking again. I doubt anyone would pay 100 bucks for these details, but they may give you an added entertainment bonus.
A Summary Of The Health + Ancestry Package
The next level up from Ancestry+Traits is called “Health + Ancestry”.
This gives you all the features of the lower package described earlier. Don’t worry that the name doesn’t include “Traits”, they are also included at this level.
The difference here is that you get additional features related to health analysis of your DNA results:
- Health predisposition reports
- Carrier status reports
- Wellness reports
- Health history tree
Does 23andMe really predict your health?
It’s important to understand that 23andMe is using statistical analysis to evaluate how your DNA results compare to DNA profiles of people with various health conditions and diseases.
They try to identify DNA markers that are more likely to be associated with these conditions.
That doesn’t mean that the presence of these markers in one individual is a sign that the individual will encounter these health issues.
There are plenty of medical professionals who think that the current state of DNA technology is nowhere near good enough to be useful.
Having said that, let’s take a quick run-through of the extra features in this package.
Health predisposition reports
The series of health predisposition reports include predictions for:
- late-onset Alzheimer’s
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of breast cancer
- Celiac disease
- Kidney disease
- Certain types of anemia
- High cholesterol
- Certain types of blood clotting
Carrier status reports
These reports provide predictions for diseases that can be passed down through generations i.e. hereditary diseases.
Some reports are more relevant to specific ancestral descent e.g. Ashkenazi or French Canadian.
There are a large variety of these reports. At the time of writing, the count was over forty. Here are some examples:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Some variants of kidney disease
- Bloom syndrome
- Some variants of anemia (including sickle cell)
- Fructose intolerance
- Some variants of muscular dystrophy
These are a small collection of reports that are similar to the traits reports in the basic package.
The extra features include:
- How likely are you to flush with alcohol?
- How much caffeine are you likely to consume?
- How much are you likely to move in your sleep?
Health history tree
Don’t be fooled into thinking that 23andMe will fill in the health history of your parents and siblings. You do all the work!
This feature lets you key in the health conditions for close family in your genetic tree. You’re also supposed to add details such as the dates of diagnosis.
23andMe does advise that you get permission from your relatives before lashing in their health details!
A Summary Of The Plus Package (Subscription Membership)
23andMe’s premium package is only available in the United States.
This offers everything in the lower packages with a few extra features for genealogy and health research.
Subscription and monthly fee
This subscription is an add-on to the Ancestry+Health package that we discussed in the previous section.
By paying an extra 30 dollars a month for membership, you get access to these benefits:
- More DNA relatives
- Improved genealogy features
- Extra health reports
Note that you only get access to these reports for the duration of your subscription.
If you cancel your subscription, you don’t get any refund. Your subscription just doesn’t renew for the next period.
Now, let’s take a look at the extra benefits of this membership.
More DNA Relatives
The big difference that the plus package gives on the genealogy side is that it increases the number of DNA relatives it shows you from 1,500 to 5,000.
That’s a significant jump. Bear in mind that 23andMe shows your relatives in descending order of how much DNA they share with you.
So, once you’re down at your 4,559th DNA relative – this could be a 7th or 8th cousin. These are very challenging when researching connections.
Improved genealogy features
23andMe provides several search and filter features with your list of DNA relatives.
You can already search and filter by names and locations. The extra filters let you filter by:
- Ancestry (e.g. “British&Irish”)
- When your relatives last logged in to 23andMe (useful information when you’re trying to contact the relative)
Extra health reports
These additional health reports available in the Plus package include predisposition to:
- Sleep apnea
- Uterine fibroids
Health pharmacogenetics reports
Pharma-what? These are a small number of reports that try to predict how you will react to some specific medications.
As 23andMe continues to collaborate with pharmaceutical research, you can expect to see more of these reports.
Is 23andMe Worth The Money?
23andMe is more expensive than other DNA testing services that specialize in genealogy features. These include:
I purchased DNA kits from both 23andMe and Ancestry back in 2017. I also have accounts with MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA (as well as other genealogy sites).
My primary interest in DNA testing is to help with researching my family tree. I have some interest in ethnicity estimates and very little interest in health analysis.
Your focus may be very different from mine.
So, I’m going to answer the question of whether 23andMe is worth the money by breaking this down into three categories of interest: health, ethnicity, and/or genealogy.
These answers of course are based on my own experience.
Health-focus? Yes, it’s worth the money
If your focus is on genetic health analysis, then 23andMe is the leader amongst consumer DNA companies for this.
Some of the other companies are dipping into this area, but they have a lot of catching up to do.
Therefore, I recommend 23andMe Ancestry+Health if you’re looking for these kinds of reports. But I can’t comment on the Plus subscription, as it’s not available for purchase in my region!
Ethnicity-focus? Yes, but consider other options
The three competitors I mentioned also provide ethnicity estimates.
I consider 23andMe to be as good as the others at the broad regional level.
However, 23andMe isn’t as accurate for me as Ancestry and MyHeritage at a more granular level e.g. counties in Ireland.
Your mileage may vary. You’ll find that many customers are more satisfied with 23andMe estimates than their rivals – and vice-versa.
Ethnicity breakdowns are a bit of a lottery that depends partly on whether your heritage is highly represented within the DNA testing company’s reference data.
Genealogy-focus? No, but consider as an add-on to other options
23andMe doesn’t provide the kind of genealogy features as its competitors.
For example, you can’t build a traditional family tree on the site. The company doesn’t provide access to record archives such as birth, marriage, and death records.
In general, I would steer people towards Ancestry.com if their main interest is in researching their family tree.
However, I have different advice for adoptees and other people with unknown parentage. If you are in this situation, check out our in-depth review of which DNA tests are best for adopted adults.
Our general advice is to test with both Ancestry and 23andMe – if you can afford it. But if you can’t afford it, the article will point you toward your best option (in my opinion).