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Ancestry.com Vs. 23andMe: What's The Difference?

BY: Lauren Leffel | Dec 11, 2018

My mom was an early adopter of ancestral tracking. She’s had a full-blown Ancestry.com account since 2006, which she used to regale us with stories about Great Great Great Grandma Pickle’s elopement and new facts about the Catholic vs. Quaker struggle in late 1800s New England. This year for Christmas, my brother decided to shake things up by getting her the 23andMe DNA kit. Questions she immediately asked: Is she betraying Ancestry.com by using this other magical hub of familial information? What's the difference between these two companies anyway? I decided to investigate.The two sites have much less in common than I was expecting, and their goals are a bit complicated. Below is a simplified breakdown of how they work, what you get, and how much they cost.

23andMe: A Genetic Journey

  • Overview: It uses genetic science and technology to provide ancestral information and give percentage breakdowns of heritage and origin.
  • How It Works: After you spit in a tube and send it back, the saliva, scientists, and computer programs do the rest.
  • Deliverables: It offers information on family origin as well as health conditions and risks on everything from sleep deprivation to breast cancer based on your DNA.
  • Focus: Ethnicity and genetics—specifically hereditary traits and risks.
  • Cost: Two different, one-time-only price points: $99 for ancestry service; $199 for ancestry plus a comprehensive health report.

Ancestry.com: A Peek Into History

  • Overview: A tool to discover ancestors, uncover your ethnic mix, and connect with known (and unknown!) relatives.
  • How It Works: You build a family tree by entering all the relatives you know. Ancestry.com will give you hints about other possible relations and their stories. Ancestry.com also has a DNA kit very similar to 23andMe.
  • Deliverables: Monthly subscription to national and global ancestral records and an information sheet on family origin and ethnicity.
  • Focus: Genealogical connections. While ancestry.com can tell you whether you're from Norway or Italy, their specialty is connecting you with Jimmy, your 6th cousin, twice-removed, in Pennsylvania, who also happens to have your long lost Great Great Aunt Mildred’s original McGuffey reader collection.
  • Cost: You can do just the DNA kit for $79, or you can get monthly memberships to their U.S., World, or All Access online registrations ranging from $19 to $199 per month.

I hereby close this investigation. Regardless of which service better suits your curiosity, you can get the best deals for both on Groupon Coupons!