To test or not to test? FTDNA vs. 23andme

Many people ask me with which company to do ancestral/genealogical DNA testing. This all depends on what exactly you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend. As I’ve tested with and, I am comparing both. Eventually, when I get around to testing, I will include Ancestry and National Geographic.

Both 23andme and FTDNA offer different features and methods of interpreting and displaying data. If you want everything, including health reports, then it’s best to test with both companies listed below. If you’re mostly interested in finding relatives, then it’s better to test with FTDNA. If you’re more concerned about health, then go with 23andme, which also has an advantage over FTDNA when it comes to presenting detailed geographic/ethnic origins.

Also, if you have relatives or friends who have tested with one company and you want to see if you’re related or not, then it’s best to test with the same company they tested with and to do the same tests. That said, you can always upload your genetic data from either company to a third-party website that provides more in-depth analysis of origins and relations – Ex:

If you are confused about any of the terminology used in the following comparison chart and FTDNA tests, please consult my glossary of genealogical DNA terms.

Maternal and paternal haplogroups

EX: my maternal haplogroup is k1a1b1a (10% of all Ashkenazi Jews) and my paternal haplogroup is J2 (20% of all Ashkenazi Jews).

Yes – separate tests – Y-DNA (paternal line) and MtDNA (maternal line) tests. Yes –  One test for Ancestry and Health.

There is an Ancestry only test, but it is only available in the US.

Detailed breakdown of geographic origins – Where your haplogroups originate and migration patterns.

EX: maternal k1a1b1a originates in Europe, but stems from halpogroup K, which originates in the Near East. Paternal J2 originates in the Near East and stems from J.

Yes – BUT only YDNA and MtDNA tests, not Family Finder. Except for migration maps, this information is poorly presented. Yes – Gives a more ethnic/geographic breakdown determined by percentages in a chart. Much better presentation of information than also does a good job at this.
Relative matching
(autosomal DNA)
Yes – Family Finder test. Limited for Y-DNA and MtDNA tests. Yes – but very limited due to privacy constraints.
Detailed health reports – hereditary conditions and traits (autosomal DNA) No Yes – Inherited conditions and traits. Pretty accurate!
Pricing Different prices for different products, some bundles. See FTDNA Tests below this table.


·     Ancestry only (available in the US only) for $99 USD
·     Ancestry and health for $199 USD/$249 CAD

FTDNA Tests:

  • Family Finder – $79 USD. Tests autosomal DNA for relative matching. For both men and women.
  • Y-DNA – (for men only – paternal line only) starting at $169 USD for 37 markers. Paternal haplogroup, detailed geographic origins, paternal-line relative matching only.
  • Y-DNA + Family Finder (for men only – paternal line only) starting at $248 USD. Paternal haplogroup, detailed geographic origins, paternal-line matches, autosomal relative matching.
  • MtDNA Plus (for men and women – maternal line only) for $79 USD. Maternal haplogroup only, detailed geographic origins, plus maternal-line relative matching only.
  • MtDNA Full Sequence – Same as above but traces back to 180,000 years. $199 USD. For both men and women.
  • MtDNA Full Sequence + Family Finder – Same as above plus Family Finder for $298 USD.
  • Comprehensive Genome: Y-DNA67, mtDNA Full Sequence, and Family Finder for $546 USD.

For $39, FTDNA also offers a Transfer of your autosomal DNA data if you tested with another company. This is the same as the Family Finder test for autosomal relative matching.

For more information:

23andme Ancestry Only for $99 USD (available in the US only):

23andme Ancestry and Health for $199 USD/$249 CAD:

FTDNA paternal Y-DNA tests:

FTDNA maternal mtDNA tests:


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