Monday, 9 June 2014

Father's day sale at Family Tree DNA with special prices for Family Finder and the Big Y

Family Tree DNA have announced a sale in honour of Father's Day which in many countries of the world, including the UK and the US, is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. For a limited period from 9th June to 17th June the Family Finder test will be reduced from $99 to just $79 (about £47). As far as I can recall, this is the the lowest ever price for this test. Family Finder is an autosomal DNA test which allows you to find matches with your genetic cousins up to about the fourth or fifth cousin level. If you're not familiar with the Family Finder test see my blog post The new Family Finder test from Family Tree DNA which I wrote when the test was first launched in April 2010. For a practical example of how the test works see my post on My first autosomal DNA success story.

Family Tree DNA are my company of choice for autosomal DNA testing. They are the only one of the big three DNA testing companies to sell their tests worldwide and, more importantly for those of us in the UK, they probably have the highest concentration of autosomal DNA test results from the British Isles, thus maximising your chances of finding a meaningful match. AncestryDNA don't even sell their autosomal product outside the US. 23andMe sell their test in 56 countries, including the UK, but they charge a hefty fee to despatch the kits by courier, which effectively doubles the price of the test. The majority of 23andMe customers have tested for health reasons and are less interested in genealogical research, whereas Family Tree DNA is a dedicated genetic genealogy company. For a comparison of the different autosomal tests see Tim Janzen's autosomal DNA testing comparison chart in the ISOGG Wiki. If you've not already taken the Family Finder test now is your big chance to do so. If you've already tested, you might like to encourage your friends and family to test as well. The Family Finder test works best when you have results from multiple family members, and the more people who participate the more success we will have.

The Big Y test is also included in the FTDNA sale. The Big Y test is an advanced test for people who wish to be involved in the Y-SNP discovery process, and is only available for existing FTDNA customers. See my previous blog post The new Big Y test from Family Tree DNA for further information about this test. If you are interested in taking the Big Y test you should consult with the administrators of your haplogroup project. If you're not already in a project you can find a list of Y-DNA haplogroup projects in the ISOGG Wiki. A new SNP matching feature is to be launched for the Big Y test in the next few weeks which should help with the SNP discovery process. For a comparison of the various Y-SNP tests see the Y-DNA SNP testing comparison chart in the Wiki.

Here is the e-mail that was sent out to Family Tree DNA group administrators. (Note that the dates are in US order with the month followed by the day.)

Dear Group Admins,

Father's Day is almost here and that means a new Family Tree DNA sale!  Here's what the sale will entail:

From 6/9/2014 to 6/17/2014, we will be offering:
Family Finder - $79   ($99)
Big Y - $595   ($695)

Additionally, customers that have already purchased a Big Y test will receive a coupon for $100 off another Big Y! This coupon is valid through 6/17/2015 and can be used on any Big Y order.  The best part is that if you combine it with the Father's Day sale, customers can get Big Y for only $495! 
News & updates
  • Big Y matching is coming!  Over the course of the next two weeks we will begin a phased release of Big Y matching so you can directly compare your comprehensive Y-DNA results to those of other Big Y test takers.  The key to identifying all new SNPs and subclades is finally here!
  • Family Finder was recently improved with the release of myOrigins, an all new ethnicity tool allowing you to compare your ethnic breakdown to that of your matches while providing more detailed information on your ethnic heritage than ever before!


dsjm1 said...

Debbie, once again thanks for a good summary provided so quickly.

Cheers Doug Marker

Bill B said...

So which would be better, this test at $79 or transferring my 23andme data at $69? Thanks

Debbie Kennett said...


It depends which chip you were tested on at 23andMe. The new V4 chip that was introduced towards the end of last year is not compatible with the FTDNA database. It's only the V3 chip that can be transferred.

I would suggest that it's probably worth paying the extra $10 because you will then get your DNA re-tested and your DNA will be preserved in the FTDNA database. (They store samples for 25 years.) You can then order upgrades as and when necessary. You can also nominate a beneficiary for your kit. If you wanted to order any extra tests from FTDNA you'd have to pay the postage anyway which is around $5 if I recall correctly within the US. In the long run you would probably also benefit from doing a 37-marker Y-DNA test with FTDNA to give you matches on your surname line within a genealogical time frame. FTDNA usually have a sale in the summer.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if we could get a CLEAR FTDNA-provided admission on how many people are in their strictly AUTOSOMAL dna database.

It means zero to me that they have 1 million users (including NatGEO that I do not even get to compare to) if the vast majority of that 1 million are in Mt/Y dna tests that do not interface with their autosomal offering.

I am never in my life going to pay $500-$600 for Y markers when I already know my Hg and have no matches at 37 markers.. its not going to get better with some gazillion marker test.

The numbers released by 23andMe specifically and only relate to the autosomal database, and are now at 3/4 of a million samples.

As far as I am aware, FTDNA has never provided a company estimate on the size of its autosomal database, and the fact that it is inter-mixing y-dna and MTdna tests to get only to a fairly low 1 million total, is not very confidence inspiring. These y/mt tests have been sold for over a decade now, so the bulk of that database held by FTDNA MUST consist overwhelmingly of the y/mt testees.

If they had a big database and user base for the autosomal testing then I think they would be willing to share the size of their database in the same way 23andMe does.

I think that FTDNA has to become competitive with 23andMe in this regard or its going to get left behind. Obfuscating across unrelated products and tests to show a big number of users does a dis-service to those deciding on which testing company to commit to. They should admit how much of a autosomal user base they have, because the value of the product is directly correlated to the user base available for comparison.

The ISOGG estimate here-

Shows that FTDNA is WAAAAAYYYYYY behind every other company with a autosomal product, even far behind NatGeo who they apparently run the lab work for.

If they really only can bring in 85k people, while 23andMe and has a base of 750k, has a base of 400k, and NatGeo even has 136k.. then I dont see a reason to buy a autosomal product from FTDNA.

They either are not marketing effectively or have for too long only concentrated on their y-line project dominance. In either case, I want a real figure relating to the CURRENT product, and they are not offering that information which is not confidence inspiring.

I suspect FTDNA is going to go the way of Blackberry in the mobile phone industry, in which its early products were the industry leaders,
but as more desirable products and more competent management teams come up with new products, Blackberry did not have the employees, business model, management or products to keep up.

Announcing you have "1 million tests" when over 1/10th are not even in your own database and most of the rest are Y-line tests means absolutely nothing to current generation autosomal testing purchasers.

Debbie Kennett said...

FTDNA publish stats on the breakdown of their Y-DNA and mtDNA tests:

I think it would be helpful if they could also publish the stats on the size of their autosomal DNA database. I suspect the ISOGG figure is an underestimate as Tim Janzen is extrapolating from the number of matches that he and his family members have, and comparing those with his matches at other companies. However, FTDNA have an international database and I don't think he's made allowance for that fact. I suspect the low price in the recent Father's Day sale will also have brought in many new customers.

For anyone who is not American FTDNA is the company of choice for autosomal DNA testing. AncestryDNA now have 400,000 people in their database but they only sell their test in America. A database of 400,000 Americans is not much help for those of us in all the other countries of the world. The AncestryDNA test also doesn't have all the tools that we need to work with our matches.

23andMe's customer base is again largely in America and their customers are much more focused on the health testing than genealogy. 23andMe do at least sell their test in 55 other countries but that only represents a quarter of the world's countries. 23andMe charge a hefty fee to send all their kits by courier making their test much more expensive than FTDNA's Family Finder test for everyone outside the US. It costs $79.95 to send a 23andMe kit to the UK but just $7 to send an FTDNA kit.

You might like to read my earlier blog post on the subject:

Autosomal DNA testing is now affordable for all