Family Tree DNA

time icon 8 min read update icon Sept. 20, 2019
14 Ratings - Write Review
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Family Tree DNA is a simple and affordable DNA testing service that provides web-based tools to explore geographic origin as well as maternal/paternal ancestral lineage.

Seniors who are interested in learning more about their ancestral and ethnic origins will benefit from Family Tree DNA’s comprehensive genetic testing and the analytical tools available on the Family Tree DNA website. The company employs scientists on its management board, and is a leader in DNA testing for genealogical purposes. Both mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome testing are offered, so that you can learn more about your maternal and paternal ancestry. Y chromosome testing is only available for males. 

Family Tree DNA boasts a large DNA database due to the fact that users from other websites can upload their raw DNA data to be analyzed by the service. For seniors seeking to connect with distant relatives or map their ethnic roots, Family Tree DNA is an excellent option.

Grandfolk Scoring
Cost 7/10
Cancellation 6/10
Customer support 7/10
Sample collection 10/10
Chip used 10/10
Ancestral makeup 10/10
Size of database 7/10
Average time to results 7/10
Raw DNA download 10/10
Cousin matching 10/10
Ease 10/10
Warranty 5/10
Upfront and monthly costs
Can range from $89-$359
Can I cancel the service?
You may be able to cancel tests that have not been sent to the lab
Customer support
Is customer service available to help?
Call during normal business hours, or fill out a web form
Sample collection
What type of DNA sample collection is used?
Cheek swab
Chip used
Which DNA sequencing chip is used?
Illumina Omni Express
Ancestral makeup
Are ancestral makeup reports provided?
Size of database
How large is the database?
About 700,000 people
Average time to results
How long does it take to get results?
About 6-8 weeks (Y chromosome tests take 8-10 weeks)
Raw DNA download
Can a user obtain their raw DNA file?
Cousin matching
Are users who share DNA matched?
Is the service easy to use?
Test is simple and straightforward; test kit comes with instructions
How easy to return/replace?
Limited replacements are available; partial refunds may be issued
Age Score:
50-64 Years
65-74 Years
75-84 Years

While it can be very useful for a senior to obtain a DNA test to learn more about their ancestry and discover lost relatives, the technical limitations of dealing with a company primarily through the internet can pose a challenge for many seniors, particularly older seniors who are not computer-savvy or have vision problems. Older seniors with advanced cognitive or vision problems who cannot readily read the test kit instructions may require help completing the DNA sampling procedure. 

However, unlike other genetic testing services, Family Tree DNA uses a cheek swab method for sample collection, which is both less messy and less complicated than the saliva collection procedure used by several other companies.

Health Score:
Great Health
Good Health
Fair Health
Poor Health

The main goal of Family Tree DNA is to provide a comprehensive database of DNA information to enable people to connect with relatives and discover their ethnic origins. Since Family Tree DNA does not perform DNA sequencing to elucidate health conditions, it provides very little health-related value in general. However, Family Tree DNA does help identify ethnic ancestry, which may help seniors better understand their risk for developing disorders which are more common in a particular ethnic group. 

Seniors with advanced dementia or who have severe health problems may not be able to use the Family Tree DNA website and may require assistance obtaining a test kit and completing the test.


  • The DNA sample collection process for Family Tree DNA involves a simple cheek swab, and the test kit arrives with complete instructions.
  • Family Tree DNA retains each DNA sample for 25 years at no additional cost to the customer, which means that additional tests and upgrades can be obtained at any time.This can be useful for seniors, whose DNA can be tested later (e.g., after the senior’s passing) with more powerful analytical techniques as DNA sequencing technology advances.
  • Family Tree DNA provides comprehensive maternal and paternal lineage mapping, although Y chromosome-based mapping is a service only available to males. With up to 111 paternal markers and a full sequencing of all 16,568 mitochondrial DNA markers, Family Tree DNA offers the most comprehensive DNA tests in the field of genetic genealogy.
  • Family Tree DNA will not sell or share individuals’ genetic information to third parties.
  • Family Tree DNA can transfer users’ genetic information to the National Geographic Genographic Project at no cost, to identify relatives and obtain additional insight on ancestral origins.


  • Family Tree DNA does not provide test results regarding genes that can confer medical risks (e.g. the test does not provide information on genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease).
  • Family Tree DNA is an entirely web-based service, which can be problematic for seniors who have limited computer knowledge, or vision or cognitive problems that make surfing the web a challenge.
  • The family matching system may overestimate the closeness of relatives due to flaws in the matching system, which compares small DNA fragments rather than larger fragments.

Bottom Line:

Family Tree DNA offers comprehensive DNA testing services, which can allow seniors to learn more about both their paternal (if the senior is male) and maternal ancestors. Many different products are offered which provide DNA-based location of relatives as well as the identification of ethnic origins. 

Family Tree DNA is a recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Better Business Bureau for superior customer service. Family Tree DNA is also the only DNA test service affiliated with the National Geographic’s indigenous genome project, the Genographic Project. 

Family Tree DNA genetic testing services can be a good way for seniors to connect with their relatives and learn more about their geographic origins.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I take the DNA test?

Each test kit contains two cheek swabs, two tubes and a release form. Comprehensive instructions are included so that the cheek swab is performed properly, and helpful Youtube videos are available on the Family Tree DNA website. The individual returns the sealed tubes in a self-addressed stamped envelope provided by Family Tree DNA.

How long will it take to get my results? 

Most tests take about six to eight weeks for the results to be posted. Y chromosome tests can take up to ten weeks.   

How can I see my results?

Once your results are available, Family Tree DNA will send a notification email with a link to access results online and print out a free copy of the results.

More Information:

Product Details

Overview: All products offered by Family Tree DNA can identify some subset of the individual’s genes, and can help identify ancestors or an ethnic region of origin. Family Tree DNAhas the most comprehensive ancestry database in the world.All tests offered by Family Tree DNA enable the tracing of ancestry and matching with individuals with shared DNA.

Package Details:

The tests offered by Family Tree DNA can be purchased separately or in combinations. The Y-37, Y-67, and Y-111 tests are only available to males, because they sequence information found on the Ychromosome, a sex-linked chromosome unique to males.

Family Finder: For an $89 fee, the Family Finder test provides a comprehensive breakdown of ancestor origins. Family Finder can reveal new relatives as distant as a fifth cousin.Family Finder also provides ethnic percentages for individuals seeking to learn more about their origins. Family Finder takes advantage of autosomal DNA, which is the DNA inherited from the 22 non-sex-linked chromosomes that almost all humans possess. Autosomal chromosomes are do not relate to sex determination (e.g. whether an individual is male or female) and can confer many traits.

Y-37: For a fee of $129, the YDNA37 test can help male seniors learn about their paternal relatives and discover their paternal ancestry. This test analyzes 37 markers found on the Y chromosome. This test is therefore only available for males.

Y-67:  For a fee of $268, the YDNA67 test includes a 67-marker analysis of traits found on the Y chromosome, the source of inherited DNA for males. The Y chromosome is a sex-linked chromosome which contains traits passed down through the paternal lineage. This test is only available for males. 

Y-111: For a fee of $359, YDNA111 analyzes 111 markers on the sex-linked Y chromosome, enabling males to learn more about traits passed down through their paternal ancestors. This test, like all Y chromosome tests, is only available to males.

mtDNA Plus: For $89, mtDNA Plus examines two regions of the mitochondrial DNA, which is DNA inherited exclusively from the mother. This test identifies basic haplogroups, or groups of people who share a common maternal ancestor. The mtDNA test also elucidates migration paths for one’s maternal ancestors.

mtFullSequence: For $199, the mtFullSequence is a full sequencing of mitochondrial DNA, which is the genetic information passed on from mothers to their children. This test can help individuals learn more about their maternal relatives and trace their maternal ancestry.

Optional Accessories or Add-on Services: Tests can be bought individually or several can be bought at once; combination packages are available.

Additional Company Details

Contract Details: 

Family Tree DNA charges a standard $12.95 shipping fee for each test kit.The user must pay return shipping fees to mail the sample back to Family Tree DNA for processing.

Changing an order:

The tests ordered for a given sample kit can be changed before the sample is returned to the lab. However, once the sample has been checked into the laboratory, it is not possible to change the order.

If a new test is ordered on an existing test kit, the customer has 24 hours to change the addition; however, after 24 hours, Family Tree DNA will be unable to change or refund your order.


No full refunds can be issued once the Family Tree DNA lab has accepted the sample for processing. If the DNA testing is canceled before the sample is received by the Family Tree DNA laboratory, a refund may be issued minus a handling fee that varies based on the amount of time that has passed since the purchase of the test. No refunds will be issued for tests canceled three years from the order date.

To change or cancel a test, contact Family Tree DNA customer service.

Warranty: The DNA testing process is sensitive to the quality of the DNA in the sample, so in some circumstances, Family Tree DNA can provide an additional test kit to redo the DNA sample procedure for free.

Accreditations: Family Tree DNA is accredited by and has an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Company Details:  

Family Tree DNA was established in 1999as a division of Gene by Gene, a commercial genetic testing company founded in Houston, Texas. Growing up, CEO and founder Bennett Greenspan took an interest in genealogy, and started the company after researching and learning about his ancestors’ genetic origins using DNA testing. 

Approximately 1.2 million people have been tested since the company’s founding over 15 years ago.The goal of Family Tree DNA is to “provide genealogy enthusiasts with an innovative way to break through conventional barriers in charting family histories by offering genetic tests that help determine relationships and ancestral origins.”


Family Tree DNA
1445 N Loop W #820
Houston, TX 77008
Tel: 713-868-1438

Sheeva Azma - Senior Advisor

Sheeva is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.