There has been quite a bit of discussion about the 12 marker test at Family Tree DNA. Some people would like to see this discontinued, mostly administrators who would very much like people to test at higher marker levels out the door. However, sometimes that just doesn’t happen, and the 12 marker test is still quite valuable for a number of reasons:
- Removes cost as a constraint to DNA testing at $39
- Allows relatives to pay for tests – I’ve purchased 4 in the past couple of weeks
- Can often exclude some family lines (no more barking up the wrong tree) – but may need more testing if common haplogroup like R1b1a2 to determine exact family line
- Provides tester with haplogroup which can be very enlightening (European, African, Asian or Native American)
- Provides tester with matches
- DNA is stored for 25 years, so tests can be performed at a later date
- Let’s people stick their toe in the pool for $39 – they can upgrade later
The question was then asked whether the $39 12 marker test at Family Tree DNA really saves money by ordering the 12 marker test and upgrading later to a higher marker count. The hardest part of answering this question was finding someone in my projects who had only tested to 12 markers so I could look at the upgrade pricing.
The answer is yes. Here’s the breakdown.
Upgrade cost from 12 markers to other levels:
12 to 25 – $49
12 to 37 – $99
12 to 67 – $189
111 markers was not listed as an upgrade from 12 markers, so I did not use the 111 marker tests in this comparison.
Total with $39 plus Upgrade, above:
25 markers – $88
37 markers – $138
67 markers – $228
Ordering Higher Marker Level Within Project (no $39 entry level test – just order the higher marker level out the gate):
12 – $39 (same price)
25 – $124 ($36 savings to upgrade separately)
37 – $149 ($11 savings to upgrade separately)
67 – $238 ($10 savings to upgrade separately)
Ordering Higher Marker Level Outside of Project (no $39 entry level test, order higher marker level out the gate):
12 – $39 (same price)
25 – not offered outside of projects
37 – $169 ($31 savings to upgrade separately)
67 – $268 ($1 savings to upgrade separately)
So your best value would be to purchase the $39 kit and upgrade to higher marker levels separately.