FamilyTreeDNA Review

  Last updated June 21, 2024

Advertising Disclosure | How We Rate

"Unlock your ancestral roots with a quick DNA swab and advanced DNA testing options"
  2+ million DNA profiles
  Advanced DNA testing
  Health Screening available (additional charge)
  One-time fee, nu subscription required

Our Rating


Price 9.0 / 10
Database Size 8.0 / 10
Software 9.5 / 10
Ease of Use 8.7 / 10
Features 8.9 / 10
Customer Service 8.5 / 10

Overview


There are plenty of family tree builder websites and companies that help people trace their lineage. These days, DNA testing is a big part of the equation, and even for that, you have a lot of options. Family Tree DNA is another among the competition. The company was founded in 2000, and it was built from a principle of focusing on science. The company has one of the largest genealogy databases in the world, and its dedication to science makes it one of the most advanced DNA tracing services you can find.

At a Glance


Price Range $59 - $399
Ideal For Beginners through Expert users
# of Historical Records N/A
# of Profiles/Users 2+ million
DNA Test Option Yes

Features


Family Tree DNA is pretty simple. Regardless of the package you choose, you get a test kit. All of the test kits use the same swabbing. The only difference in the packages is which DNA tests are run at the lab.

That’s where Family Tree DNA features really shine. The standard test — autosomal DNA — is comparable to what you would get from any competitor. With Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, you can generate tons more data and look at long, deep traces of your family on your father’s and mother’s sides. These features are uncommon even among DNA genealogy tracers, and it’s where Family Tree DNA is at its best.

Additionally, when you get your login for the website, you get much more than a simple breakdown of genetic percentages. You can follow the markers and tracers the lab uses for yourself. For anyone with background knowledge in genealogy or genetics, this is fascinating and powerful information. You don’t have to take their word for it. You can trace the results yourself.

Ease of Use


Family Tree DNA manages to hit both ends of the ease of use spectrum. On the simple end, all you have to do is swab your cheek and then check your results. It really can’t get any easier, and it’s why their basic package is great for first-timers.

That said, the company offers much more advanced options to users who want to make the most of them. With additional tests and advanced analytical reporting, you can follow the markers through their genetic path for yourself. At the high end, this is a genealogy resource for geneticists, and it’s easy for beginners to get lost when they opt into these more advanced features.

Review Highlights


Users have a lot to say about Family Tree DNA. The biggest complaints are the lack of ethnic tracing and the simplicity of the entry-level kit. But, DNA and genealogy enthusiasts seem to be in love with the advanced DNA tests offered by the company. They are on a short list of consumer-accessible groups that offer Y-DNA testing and lineage.

Pricing & Subscription Options


The first thing to note about Family Tree DNA is that there are no subscriptions. When you order a package, you get perpetual access to the information, provided you can access your account. You never have to pay an additional fee for that service.

The package pricing is variable. The entry-level kit only tests autosomal DNA. It’s simple, and it’s the cheapest at $59 (prices subject to change). There are a number of additional tests and bundles that can push the price all the way to $399. But, that is the final cap. Family Tree DNA currently does not offer anything beyond the $399 tier.

Additional Services


For the most part, Family Tree DNA is consolidated and simple. You order a test and then send in your sample. You then get results.

It’s worth noting how the packages differ. As you opt into more advanced testing, you select higher-end packages. While they use the same genetic sample, the level of testing advances quickly. These, along with advanced reporting, make up the bulk of additional services. You can track your genetics to a high degree of precision.

You also have options to upgrade from the basic package. The company keeps samples for up to 25 years, so if you decide later that you want to have a Y-DNA test, they usually do not need a new sample. You can simply upgrade your package and see the results.

Customer Service


Customer service is available via phone or live chat during normal business hours Monday through Friday. Email support is available 24/7, and their social media accounts are accessible 24/7 via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Why Choose FamilyTreeDNA?


How does Family Tree DNA compare to other genealogy sites? At the entry-level, it costs more than any of the primary competitors, and there are no ongoing subscription fees. That makes it extremely affordable for your first test. The ease of use also makes it great for beginners.

If you’re looking for something more advanced, Family Tree DNA also shines at the highest end of genetic genealogy. They offer more complete traces than anyone else, and because there are no subscriptions, they are still competitively priced over the long run. If you’re a beginner or an advanced user, this is arguably the best kit on the market.

Final Thoughts


Family Tree DNA is certainly a competitive family tree maker resource. It’s one of the best starter kits and hard to beat for the most advanced users. For anyone in between the extremes, it will not clearly outshine other big names in the industry. Overall, it remains a viable, reliable option for tracing your genes and learning more about the people who came before you.

Pros & Cons


Pros
  Ease of use. The kit is simple. It is shipped to the user. They perform their own swabs and ship the samples back. Once testing is complete, they get results. It’s hard for DNA sampling to be any easier.

  Deep tracing. With the additional options of Y-DNA and mtDNA, users can get deep searches and impressive results. Y-DNA specifically traces paternal lineage, and mtDNA specifically goes along maternal lines. This allows as advanced a breakdown of ancestry as any DNA genealogy service in the business.

  No subscription. Family Tree DNA uses a one-time charge for testing. If you want the additional tests late, you can add them on, but there is never a subscription charge.

Cons
  Limited ethnic breakdown. Family Tree DNA focuses on lineage more than ethnicity. While there will be a generalized ethnic breakdown, this is not the best test to see exactly what groups are in your lineage.

  Limited standard kit. The low-end kit only tests autosomal DNA. It’s only good for tracing back around five generations. If you want the deeper trace, you have to buy the more advanced kits.

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