How to Save Money on DNA Testing: Get the Best Deal and Take Advantage of Free Reports
DNA testing for genealogy is more common than ever, but it can also be expensive. Although we’ve seen prices drop quite a bit in recent years the cost is still too much for many to justify. If you’ve been holding off on testing your own DNA, or on expanding your testing to relatives whose information may help your research, the information in this article will help you overcome this cost-hurdle.
There are some smart ways to save money on DNA tests – you just have to be savvy and know how to “work the system” to your benefit. So whether you’re hoping to grab an Ancestry DNA coupon (or one from MyHeritage or FTDNA) or have already tested and want to know what else you can do with your DNA data at little or no cost, including finding completely free ethnicity reports, read on.
Family History Daily partners with many genealogy companies that we love to bring you up-to-date information and helpful tips. If you choose to take advantage of any of the coupons or deals on this page we may earn money to support our site.
If you’re still trying to decide which DNA test is best for you, you’ll want to read our guide to genetic genealogy testing which includes a complete, detailed comparison of all four of the top testing companies.
First things first: “I’m new to DNA testing or plan to buy more tests for family members, how do I find an Ancestry DNA coupon – or coupons from MyHeritageDNA or Family Tree DNA?”
We see this question a lot. The simple answer is, you usually can’t (the exception being Ancestry DNA, who has been offering coupons recently). You can, however, often get a discount (no code needed) directly through the testing site itself, whether it be AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA or Family Tree DNA (FTDNA).
This simple way of offering discounts is pretty standard throughout the industry and means that you will almost always find the best possible deal right through the source without needing a coupon at all. And, if you can snag a deal while one is running (and they seem to be more common than ever), you can save a lot.
Ancestry has been offering some coupon codes, such as DNA20, recently. The code is often delivered in the form of a popup when you visit the DNA sales page. However, this coupon offers the same discount being offered to others without a coupon code. In this case, Ancestry may show a page that with discount of $20 off the standard price (as seen in the screenshot below) to some people and a coupon code for $20 off the full price to others. Either way you save $20.
Ancestry’s DNA tests usually cost $99 but you will often find that they are available directly from Ancestry for $89 or even $79 – they have gone as low as $69. They drop the price less than their competitors but it seems to be happening more often than it used to. You’ll usually find the best deal around a holiday, including many of the smaller ones.
Whether you’re buying just one test for yourself, or a whole bunch for extended family, a deal like this will save you a bundle.
And AncestryDNA is not the only one that regularly offers discounts on its tests.
MyHeritageDNA, whose standard prices is also $99, usually offers it at $79 directly on their site. They also often drop the price to $69 for a holiday. You just need to keep an eye on their site. These tests have gone as low as $59 for a single buy and $49 when purchasing multiples.
Family Tree DNA – who offers its autosomal Family Finder test for $89 – also seems to have semi-permanently set the price at a discounted rate of $69 and we’ve seen it go as low as $49. Again, check around holidays big and small for the best deals. They also sometimes offer coupons by email to current testers.
But what about actual coupon codes, why are they so impossible to find? It’s not been the standard thus far for many DNA testing companies to offer coupons. This is likely because adding a coupon on top of the already discounted test prices found on their sites would mean a loss for these providers. Ancestry has worked around this by offering the same discount, via different delivery methods, to different people. That doesn’t mean that we may never see an Ancestry DNA coupon on top of a current discount, but you’re not likely to find one now. This holds true for Family Tree DNA and MyHeritageDNA.
You may, on the other hand, occasionally see Groupon offers for various DNA offerings and these sometimes provide some additional value – although the discount offered is not usually considerably better than what you will find directly through the DNA company itself. We have not seen an Ancestry DNA coupon or one from MyHeritage here but Family Tree DNA does offer deals now and then, such as this one, and some other DNA products do as well.
We have also occasionally seen DNA special offers for members of various clubs but these are harder to get.
To sum up – because none of these companies typically issue coupons you can simply head over to their pages to purchase a DNA test at the best current price.
If it’s too high for your liking try waiting until a holiday to see if the price lowers.
Find current discounts for:
Now that we have that cleared up we can move on to another question – “Which test is the best one to invest in?”
We’re posing this question because many people seem to be unaware that they have a choice as to who to test with. Because Ancestry.com is so popular for general research purposes many users simply jump right into DNA testing with them. Those who are unfamiliar with genealogy may have only heard of Ancestry’s option.
Certainly, AncestryDNA does have a large database and good tools that many people enjoy. But Ancestry has also had some privacy concerns in the past – although they have been improving their management of this recently. MyHeritage and FTDNA have had a better track records with this.
In addition to privacy concerns, you will find that the number of cousin matches you receive, the type of ancestry report you have access to, the tools available for analyzing your results and the ability to actively sync up your results with your general research all vary greatly from testing company to testing company.
That’s why you should take the time to carefully research all of your DNA testing options before making a choice as to which test or tests to buy and always read the privacy policies associated with any test you choose to take.
Also, you almost never need to buy more than one test for yourself or a relative to get a good solid look at your genetic past. We recommend testing through Family Tree DNA or MyHeritage, waiting for your results, and then downloading your raw DNA. Once you do, you can take that DNA and upload it to the additional sites outlined below to get more reports for free.
Of course, if you prefer to test with Ancestry – and aren’t concerned about their privacy issues – this will work just as well and you’ll actually end up with an additional free report.
How to get the most bang for your DNA buck by getting reports for free.
Once you’ve chosen a testing company and received the results of your DNA test, you will be able to download your raw DNA information from that company. And can then take that data and upload it to get free reports from other companies. This is where the biggest savings come in.
There are more places than ever that will allow you to then upload that raw DNA in exchange for new information – whether it be for ancestry, health or entertainment purposes. Some of them are great organizations that provide valuable data with clear privacy policies that protect their users. Others are not.
Please be cautious about where you choose to share your DNA online — especially when it is paired with personal information about yourself. Your DNA data is valuable to a lot of people (for good reason) and you need to be smart about who you are willing to share that value with.
All of the companies below offer free or discounted DNA reports for uploaders and are reasonably trusted by us because, as of this writing, all of them have acted in good faith to inform and protect users. We can’t promise this won’t change in the future so please do take the time to educate yourself before choosing which companies to upload your data to.
Here’s where to upload your data to after testing and downloading your raw DNA. If you need help downloading your DNA you will find that both Family Tree DNA and MyHeritageDNA provide some guidance for this in their help documents and when you go to upload your data with them. AncestryDNA also provides guidance in their help files.
1. MyHeritage offers their recently updated Ethnicity Estimate and their genealogy-focused matching system at zero cost to uploaders. You’ll usually get your report back within 48 hours. If you would like a complete walk-though on what this includes please read our detailed article on the topic or upload your own DNA here. Keep an eye on your consent options when uploading since MyHeritage gives you the option to opt out of some uses of your data.
2. FTDNA offers access to their cousin database (where you’ll see what living people you match) for free and offers their MyOrigins heritage report and advanced analysis tools to uploaders for $19. The free cousin matching is most certainly worth it since many people on FTDNA are very focused on genealogy and are likely to respond to requests to share research. We also like their MyOrigins report and, paired with access to their chromosome browser, the $19 is a great deal. Read about how to upload here.
3. GEDmatch – GEDmatch is the standard free site for genetic genealogists everywhere. They accept uploaded data from just about every testing company and all of their main tools are 100% free. You can access advanced tools for analyzing your results, connect with potential relatives from every testing company and get ancestry reports from a variety of specialized data-sets. They also have a great track record on user privacy protection. We do suggest that you donate if you plan to use this site regularly. Doing so supports this free service and provides you with some additional tools. You’ll need a free account to use GEDmatch and you can get started here.
These are not the only places on the web that allow free uploads of your genetic data in exchange for ancestry information, but they’re the only ones we feel comfortable recommending right now.
We hope that this cost-saving information helps you include DNA testing it in your own genealogy research. Remember that NO test can provide 100% accurate details about your genetic heritage and that ancestry reports can easily be misinterpreted. Results should be combined with your own genealogical research and analysis to be fully understood. We recommend reading our guide for more details about using DNA in your research or taking our online genealogy course which offers a full section on DNA.
Genetic research can be a very rewarding part of your research. By giving you the opportunity to explore your heritage under a new lens you’ll be discovering the deeply interconnected and diverse nature of humanity’s shared past and revealing your part in it. We are all cousins.
You might also like: No, You DON’T Need a Paid Subscription to Do Genealogy Research
By Melanie Mayo, Family History Daily Editor