When deciding whether to test at MyHeritage DNA or upload your raw data, know your choice affects your access to your shared DNA matches and other great tools. Here are your options.
Not long ago, I received a frustrated email from Eileen. In part, she said, “If you actually [take a DNA] test at My Heritage, you are very limited in terms of access to their marvelous DNA tools (including shared matches) without paying their annual subscription fee.” Eileen had encouraged a friend to test there because of the strong European audience at MyHeritage, then discovered her friend wouldn’t have access to shared matches without subscribing to the site.
“This whole scenario just doesn’t make sense to me and my friend just is not in a financial position to be paying an annual subscription fee to get at her shared matches,” Eileen wrote. “Even AncestryDNA allows access to shared matches without having an annual subscription.” Contacting MyHeritage’s customer service on her friend’s behalf resulted in an offer for 6 months free subscription. But Eileen still wishes that those who test at MyHeritage could have the same options as those who upload their DNA for free regarding access to shared matches.
MyHeritage DNA Shared Matches
Your shared matches are key to using your DNA test results to build your family tree, as I explain step-by-step in my guide, Finding An Ancestor Using Your DNA. Your shared matches are the people in the testing company’s database who are genetically related to both you and a specific match. This feature helps you identify and focus on clusters of relatives so you can build out that part of your tree. And the MyHeritage shared matches tool is among the best. As you can see from this screen shot below, MyHeritage estimates your shared matches’ genetic relationships to both you AND the shared genetic match. Knowing how your matches are related to each other can make a BIG difference in your analysis, and is only offered at MyHeritage and 23andMe.
It’s a fantastic tool—but only if you can use it. It’s true what Eileen says about the different levels of access to shared matches and other tools if you test at MyHeritage versus if you upload your raw DNA from another site. It’s stated on their blog, and I double-checked with Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage’s CEO.
What you get when you purchase a MyHeritage DNA test
The MyHeritage DNA test* comes with the following features for free: your DNA match list, shared ancestral surnames, your ethnicity estimate, the chromosome browser, and the abilities to contact your DNA matches and export a list of them. But you need to subscribe to the site to view your matches’ trees, your shared matches, and your shared ethnicities and places.
What you get when you upload your raw DNA to MyHeritage
It’s free to upload your raw DNA to MyHeritage. If you do this now (or you’ve done this since December 16, 2018), you get a few freebies: a DNA match list (which is ultimately what you are coming here for, right?), your shared ancestral surnames, and abilities to contact matches and download a list of them.
However, you do have the option to pay $29 (USD) to unlock the site’s excellent DNA tools. These include your shared matches, the chromosome browser, the Theory of Family Relativity and AutoClusters. You may also subscribe to the site to get access to these tools. (Note: If you uploaded your raw DNA to MyHeritage before December 16, 2018, LUCKY you! You have access to all those tools for FREE.)
One more option to consider, right now MyHeritage offers a 14-day free subscription trial. So if you’re on the fence about transfering, paying the unlock fee, or signing up for a subscription, you can try before you buy! Learn more here.
Here’s what I think
I don’t love MyHeritage’s pricing breakdown here, but I totally get it. They are a business: they have to make money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We need them to make money so they will stay in business and keep offering a great product. As a company, they had to do some tough thinking on the best way for them to position themselves in the market and (this is key) serve their customers. They believe that the person who chooses to physically test with MyHeritage needs to subscribe—to get access to their historical records and other members’ trees and the like—to best learn and connect with their family history. This customer is like the cousin I found who actually still lives in Italy, who has never tested with another company. MyHeritage wants to offer them a great DNA test at a low price, and then encourage them to find the people behind the DNA results using their record collections.
People who have transferred their DNA to MyHeritage often have somewhere else that they are keeping their tree and doing their research. So MyHeritage is offering that customer what they came for: matches for FREE (this is a great deal, you have to admit) and the ability to unlock the other DNA features for a low price.
Getting the Most from MyHeritage DNA
Whether you purchase a MyHeritage DNA test or upload-and-unlock, maximize your experience with my freshly-updated MyHeritage DNA quick reference guide. This in-depth and comprehensive aid helps you work with your DNA matches, understand your ethnicity result and use the unique tools on MyHeritage.
Not sure what to do now that you have your DNA results? We’ve compiled a list of next steps to get you going on your genetic genealogy journey. Check out our free guide, 4 Next Steps for Your DNA.