Ancestry.com provides advanced genealogy tools and DNA testing. While memberships can be pricey, the website offers a large database that can’t be matched.
- No membership required for DNA tests
- Billions of historical records
- Free accounts available
- Pricey memberships
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Ancestry.com is a genealogy website that allows users to trace their historical and genetic genealogy using its database of more than 10 billion historical records. Ancestry.com offers mail-in DNA kits that help users identify their ethnic background and find genetic matches.
Users can search the company’s ancestry database of different record types, including:
- Census and voter lists
- Birth, marriage and death certificates
- Immigration and emigration travel records
- Military records
- Court, land, wills and financial records
- Newspapers and periodicals
Users can also search public member stories and photos, and the company provides access to reference materials, including maps, atlases, dictionaries and encyclopedias.
You can start a family tree on Ancestry.com for free, but you need a paid membership for full access to hints and world records. The company’s hints provide recommended relatives and additional information about names already on your tree, including photos and historical records. You can upload your photos, stories, audio and video to your tree to keep a full family record and help build the ancestry network for other users.
The website offers three paid membership levels: U.S. Discovery, World Explorer and All Access.
- U.S. Discovery: U.S. Discovery is the most affordable of the three plans and gives members access to the full collection of U.S. records on Ancestry.com. With the membership, you can connect with other members, ask for help and share hints. Members also get access to advanced search tools and Ancestry.com hints, plus the ability to upload photos and stories and access to Ancestry’s collections of African American and Jewish family histories.
- World Explorer: The World Explorer membership includes everything from the U.S. Discovery level and adds unlimited access to more research material, including international birth, marriage, death, census and military records. These records date back as far back as the 16th century for more than 80 countries outside of the U.S. This is a popular choice for people looking to trace their family’s immigration story — it includes access to detailed immigration records, including passenger lists and border crossing documents.
- All Access: All Access is the most comprehensive level of membership and includes everything from the U.S. Discovery and World Explorer levels. It also provides basic subscriptions to Newspapers.com and Fold3, which contains more than 500 million military records.
You can choose to pay monthly or buy a six-month membership at a reduced rate.
|Plan||Monthly cost||6-month membership|
Ancestry.com DNA kit
Ancestry.com’s mail-in DNA kits are one of the company’s most popular features. AncestryDNA kits cost $99, but the company often offers them for sale for as low as $59. You do not have to purchase an Ancestry.com membership to purchase a DNA test and receive your results.
Once you receive your DNA kit, you activate the kit online, provide a small saliva sample and mail it back to Ancestry.com in the provided secure box. Ancestry.com processes the test in the company's lab, which typically takes six to eight weeks.
Photos and handwritten documents
Ancestor immigration paths
- How accurate is AncestryDNA?
- According to their website, AncestryDNA measures and analyzes more than 700,000 locations of a person’s genome. DNA samples are held to quality standards that ensure the tests generate accurate results. As the company’s database grows and new information is discovered, users may receive updated results with additional information.
- How long does AncestryDNA kit take to arrive?
- Your DNA kit should arrive within 10 business days.
- How long does AncestryDNA take?
- Processing the kit can take six to eight weeks or more at peak demand times.
- Can you return an unopened AncestryDNA kit?
- The company does refund kits if you cancel within 30 days of purchase, but it charges a $25 cancellation fee. You do not need to return the kit.
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I've been an Ancestry member for 10 years. I took the Ancestry DNA. I bought it for my daughter, 2 brothers, and husband. My daughter was listed as my child. My brothers were listed as close family/1st cousin, but we have same mother and different father. My results have changed a lot over the years. I was listed with a large percent of Swedish and now it shows only 3%. The results were a little weird, but I didn't think much of it because I'm not an expert in genetics. There were a few issues in billing over the years, but I always ended up getting a refund when it happened. Still annoying though.
Fast forward to this year and I decided to upgrade to the Ancestry Health. They were going to analyse my DNA from 10 years ago... Fine... Makes sense. They asked me to fill out a health questionnaire during the ordering process. This was a little strange to me because why do you need me to tell you my health problems if you are going to look at my DNA. So, I ended up marking "NA" or "I don't know" throughout the questionnaire because I didn't want my results to be based off my answers. Glad I did. I received my results and one of the things they test for is Ehler's Danlos Syndrome. My ancestry.com results came back "perfect", no mutations or markers. Here's the thing. I have Ehler's Danlos Syndrome (EDS). I actually have a letter from a GENETICIST showing the results. I have it and all of my brothers and sisters have it. This is a genetic condition that does not go away.
So, of course, I was shocked. Ancestry.com tests for different types of EDS. One type (vascular) should have shown negative and the other positive on my results, but that didn't happen. I tried to talk to support because now I don't trust ANY of their results. Well, then it gets worse because no one wants to help me now. The best answer I get is "health results vary". Yeah, if these "DNA tests" are novelty and you are scamming people... they vary. EDS doesn't magically go away. The results do NOT vary. When I tried to email them the results from my geneticist and explain that I have proof showing their results are wrong... somehow I get disconnected and now no one will speak to me. I asked for a refund and was denied. I'm sure my ancestry results are inaccurate as well, since I have no trust in Ancestry now. I've wasted a lot of money over the years. They should be marketing as a NOVELTY gift. This is not real science.
In 2013 I purchased a kit and sent it in. After two kits and several months I got a reply. A year or two later I got an email changing it due to a "change in the data base". Now I tried to review it and vret nothing but repeated ads for additional "services". Requests to their "Help" only get me requests to end the chat. There is no phone number. There is no human in the "Help" department. And, sadly, there is no honesty or service. Please don't waste your money, here.
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I have been endeavoring to secure a refund of $158.54 since 17 Sep 2020. In spite of the many promises which I have been given by Customer Service representatives, that refund is still not forthcoming. Last Wednesday, 14 Oct 2020, I spoke with a Customer Service representative named Bianca, as well as a supervisor whose name was Jennifer. They agreed to refund my money in full instead of the partial refund of $48.00 which I had been originally promised because it had taken nearly a month for them to refund my money. This morning, Oct 20, 2020, I spoke with a Customer Service employee named Jason who told me that no paperwork in making this refund had yet taken place but that he would put it through without delay. I no longer believe in the credibility of these individuals. While Jason was very nice, I can no longer believe what I am being told by the members of that organization. Their actions speak louder than their words.
My grandson gave me a kit for Christmas and I went through the painful process of doing the spit test and sending in. I thought it would be interesting because I have published a well documented book on my ancestry which is 100% accurate back to 1658. Received results. They were not even close. I believe if I had spelled my name differently... The results would have been totally different.
Should be a no brainer, received a kit we bought for my Mother, instructions are simple, go to ancestrydna.com/activate to activate your kit. Okay, so I have followed to instruction to a T. Because I have a account myself and have done this without issue. I am assuming my computer is blocking the new activation, okay, no problem. Let me tell you, I tried to chat online. It is automated and keeps asking, "How can I help?" Tried 3 times, now I have been on hold for 30 minutes. So frustrated. Just got home from work. Mom wants me to help her set up an account. This is turning into a 2 hour project. Go to the competition, I planned on getting my whole family on board with the DNA thing. Thinking I should cut my losses and go to the competition. No customer service anymore!!! So sad!! Now it is 36 minutes...REALLY!!! I am a nurse and have had a very stressful day! Not that that matters. Just venting at this point....okay, 45 minutes!! Over it.
Purchased a DNA kit Nov 2019. They screwed up results. Want to send a replacement. Don't want one. I wanted a refund. They will not give me one. It took this long to get a reply. No working email. Disgraceful.
Was ok with service until ordered Health kit. They admitted they sent results prematurely, asked me to provide numerous screenshots, continue to request from me more documentation, all the while surpassing eight-week limit on kit viability. And when I finally received what appears to be a new kit, link they sent won't work. Their web tech may not be compatible with Android phones. Again, customer service admitted they prematurely emailed health results, took them away, different reps asked me repeatedly since early March to supply screenshots and explanations, while I get no explanations and no product that I paid for. After this, I should get complete refund plus free health test plus explanation plus apology.
My ancestors are in the Museum of the Native American & have been pictured in ALL of the Jamestown reenactments but Ancestry shows Zero Native blood even though their database says my ancestors are from Indian Town Virginia. The site will list the same person as the sibling 3 times & has no way to join together data from once it makes a mistake. Instead if I delete one of the duplicates it sometimes deletes them all. Will not link them all but will delete them all. Frustrating!!!! The site will not link other family member trees. If you chose a family member to link to the site will not allow you to go back to check other family trees once you picked 1 you like. So you have to hand enter every single person already linked by others.
They also have ThruLines now but they don't simply give you all the DNA ThruLines for your family. If the DNA Proves we are related we should have access to all of that data if we chose to link to it. Ancestry wants a lot of money for very little service & you must do a lot of work over many months to accumulate basic info that is already linked in the database. They do this to take more of your time & money. Too expensive for what they provide. My daughter could not link her account to mine for 2 years even though I paid for her to join at the same time I did. Once I chose a Free account, then they suddenly figured out how to link Mother/Daughter TODAY, 3/17/2020 because & stated that as one of many reason I decided to stop paying them.
Now they are saying they have better data but it is less accurate than it was last year. They decreased my Native percentage & moved them to Mexico when I am a cousin of Pocahontas, a Powhatan Virginian Indian. My grandmother was given a Federal Government job because she was at least 25% American Indian but still Ancestry says that side of the family has NO Indian even though the census record listed them as Indian, then changed them to Mulatto. If they need more data on what Native DNA looks like they need to check my family! They recognize Cherokee from my mother's DNA but nothing from my father which if at least 20% Native from 4 great grandparents.
They consistently change your DNA results. ;( I do not know much about family so I signed up and purchased their DNA kit. It showed I was 49% Irish and 51% Greek/Italy. NOW it is completely different and I don't even have the Greek/Italy anymore but it shows Scotland!!?? How can it change so drastically?? My DNA is my DNA! CONSUMER BEWARE! It is saddening that they would mislead people like that. SHAME ON YOU ANCESTRY.COM!
My husband got the DNA kit for me for Christmas. I did exactly as stated on the instructions. When the results came back, they were only Maternal matches or connections. Nothing on my Dad's side at all. To make matters worse, nowhere on the website or advertising does it tell you that you'll have to pay for another kit for Paternal DNA checking. Once you get your results it tells you about getting other testing for Paternal results. Incredibly disappointed!!
AncestryDNA results include an ethnicity estimate, DNA stories, DNA matches, ThruLines and DNA traits.
Your ethnicity estimate shows you where your ancestors came from over the past 600 - 1,000 years. Your results are broken up into ethnic regions and communities found in your DNA from largest contributor to smallest.
Ancestry.com points out that it’s important to remember that the true genetics of a region are often influenced by migration patterns. This means your English ethnicity estimate could include traces of Scandanavian and Western European if your ancestors originated in those regions and migrated to England.
Your DNA Story
Once you’re matched with regions, you can explore the history and migration patterns of the people in those areas to get a better picture of what life was like for your ancestors. Ancestry.com’s historical database also provides context for why your ancestors migrated when they did.
Ancestry.com also groups people by how they arrived in the U.S., which allows users to trace their lineage to Ellis Island and beyond by looking at the provided communities, such as Northeastern State Settlers. The company allows you to track movement down to an individual ancestor if enough information exists in its database.
Ancestry.com also provides a DNA matching feature. This service is particularly useful for adopted children seeking to find a biological connection and don’t know where to start. The company matches you with other people who have taken an AncestryDNA test. Your DNA matches show up with the level of connection — such as parent/child or second cousin — and whether the connection is from your maternal or paternal line, if known.
Once you’re matched with someone, you can view your shared DNA matches, send them messages and view their family tree, if they’ve made it public. The ThruLines feature searches the sizable collection of Ancestry.com trees and suggests how you may be related to DNA matches through common ancestors.
Ancestry.com added AncestryDNA traits to its service lineup in 2018. The feature gives users into how their DNA influences appearance, sensory and nutrition traits. Many users are interested in nutrition traits because they let you learn how your DNA affects the way your body processes vitamins and other nutrients. You can also compare your traits to your DNA matches.
- Facial hair thickness
- Birth weight
- Wisdom teeth
- Cleft chin
- Finger length
- Earlobe type
- Earwax type
- Eye color
- Hair color
- Hair type
- Hair strand thickness
- Iris patterns
- Male hair loss
- Skin pigmentation
- Sun sneezing
- Asparagus metabolite detection
- Bitter sensitivity
- Cilantro aversion
- Sweetness sensitivity
- Savory (umami) sensitivity
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Do we recommend Ancestry.com?
Yes. If you’d like to research your genealogy, build a family tree or discover your ethnic background, Ancestry.com is a powerful tool. You can begin your family tree for free, but you’re limited in the number of records you can search without a paid membership. The AncestryDNA test does not require a membership, and you have access to your results forever.
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