Ancestry

Ancestry

 3.9/5 (482 ratings)
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About Ancestry

Overall Satisfaction Rating

  • 5 stars
  • 4 stars
  • 3 stars
  • 2 stars
  • 1 stars

Pros

  • No membership required for DNA tests
  • Billions of historical records
  • Free accounts available

Cons

  • Pricey memberships

Bottom Line

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.

Ancestry review

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.

Ancestry database

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.

Family trees

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.

Ancestry.com membership

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.

Ancestry cost

You can choose to pay monthly or buy a six-month membership at a reduced rate. 

PlanMonthly cost6-month membership
U.S. Discovery$19.99$99
World Explorer$34.99$149
All Access$44.99$199

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.

ancestry ethnicity estimate
Ethnicity estimate
Ancestry family tree
Family tree
ancestry photos and handwritten documents
Photos and handwritten documents
ancestry immigration paths
Ancestor immigration paths

Ancestry FAQ

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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Page 1 Reviews 0 - 10
Rated with 1 star
Verified Reviewer
Original review: Sept. 16, 2022

The website provides the service to find the document, but in the end, they can't send the document by email or physically. I ordered a document 11 weeks ago (and the estimation was up to 7 weeks, including the COVID-19 restrictions (as they said on the website), which is no longer an excuse, because we are no longer in the pandemic) and so far I don't receive it. I got in touch with the Support Center and they said they are not responsible to send the document because there is a third-party company for that (Ancestry Shop). I tried to contact the Ancestry Shop, by email and phone, and no answers at all. This website looks like a scam website and I lost my money and my time.

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Rated with 1 star
Verified Reviewer
Original review: Sept. 12, 2022

I was unaware that a corrupt business with major ethical concerns like Blackstone had acquired the company which means, access to my data. I’ve been trying for months to delete my data, sample and account. It keeps “glitching” and I’m getting no help from Customer Support either through chat, phone, email and I even went on Instagram to no avail.

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    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: Sept. 9, 2022

    I signed up for a membership on Ancestry on March 1, 2022. On March 6, 2022 I converted my membership to the World Explorer membership for 6 months. On March 7 I was billed $229 for an automatic renewal. I called to cancel, but I was told once I was billed I couldn't cancel the membership. The problem is, I was automatically renewed for one year. I don't understand how that can be legal. If I had automatic renewal, wouldn't it be for the 6 months I signed up for the first time. This site is ripping people off. I filed a BBB complaint. This practice should be illegal.

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    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: Aug. 15, 2022

    I had enjoyed Ancestry and spent well over $4k being a member with them. When I wasn’t a member, I paid intermittently for credits while researching things here and there but then found myself paying for a membership again. What shocked me is that when I didn’t sign up again for a membership and went to print documents that I had attached to people I could not gain access to them unless I paid. Even the documents that I had purchased with credits were no longer accessible. When I asked ancestry about this they said it was normal, members only. Angry and annoyed is an understatement considering the amount of money I have paid for during the 10 years of my researching with them. If you have paid, then viewed a document and attached that document to your family while in a membership, then it should automatically be paid for and accessible when your membership runs out. This is not the case with Ancestry.

    4 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: July 12, 2022

    I bought this membership on the recommendation of a friend. I thought I could use it to trace my ancestry back beyond what my mother had put together about 30 years ago. I thought this would give me access to files of records not only in the U.S but also in Scotland, my main area of interest at this time. No such luck. Every time I tried to go back further than what I could put in myself, Ancestry wanted more money to unlock those records. I could have paid another large lump sum or enlisted in a monthly fee. What a colossal disappointment. As far I am concerned this is a great example of a bait-and-switch con game. I would never recommend this to anyone. All I have to show for $149 (a Father's Day special) is a family tree I could have drawn with the information from my mother.

    9 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: June 22, 2022

    I signed up for a free trial and canceled the same day. I was still charged after 2 weeks, and somehow my membership was active again. They told me I could not get a refund. PayPal gave me a refund luckily, but not them. Don't fall for it. After some digging, I found out they have done this to A LOT of people.

    10 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 18, 2022

    I have been paying $100 2x a year for quite a few years now (that's on top of the initial $ amount you pay for the test). I was stoked to get the results. I didn't really keep up with it for a couple years, but when I went back to dive deeper into it, my whole DNA chart had shifted VERY drastically. And then it did it again a couple of years later...really big changes. So my question becomes, did they/do they know ANYTHING about your lineage/genealogy from the actual blood tests, or are they piecing it together as people enter their family lineage information FOR FREE on their own time WHILE STILL PAYING THIS COMPANY?

    And then I was trying to add more information into my family tree, only to discover that I do not have access to certain out of country documents unless I pay them more money...Are you kidding me!? I am paying you $200 a month for ME to enter information that you and the entire country now has access to (You're welcome), and you want me to pay you $80 more to access documents that SOMEONE ELSE most likely added on their own time for you/the site? REALLY?

    Sorry for all the caps, but I'm seriously annoyed. I feel like I put so much time and effort into it only for them to want more money from me to look at some documents - information I need to further my journey. It's ridiculous and unnecessary. This information should be FREE with our membership. I understand sites like this cost money to keep running, data storage costs, employee costs, etc. I get it. And yet, what is me paying for access to pictures/documents from Europe actually paying for? I could see paying more money if they were actually helping me to LINK to my family - but that's up to YOU, the customer, to do the research and agree or disagree with the 'hints' they give you.

    I'm honestly done. A mixture of gratitude for having access to what I did and disappointed that they went all money hungry and drawing lines like the governments and sad to let this journey go. But I cannot go much farther with my lineage without going overseas, which costs more $ and I don't think they deserve it at all. Hope this information helps.

    5 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 16, 2022

    Ancestry use to be good especially during Covid. You could remotely access the service through your local library from your own home. Now Pro Quest the corporate identity of Ancestry has decided in their infinite wisdom that in order to use the service you must attend in person at your local library. Large corporations ruin everything.

    4 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 1, 2022

    Signed up for a trial of 14 days, didn't like it, because the website is so convoluted, cancelled my trial on the way out. Got charged $95 2 weeks later. Complained to a snooty team member named Mary **, and have now a 6 months membership to website that is useless in my opinion. Unbelievable!!! Meanwhile, I think the reason my cancellation didn't carry through the first time, is that there are 5 or 6 required confirmations to "YES" cancel my membership. It goes on and on, when finally all confirmations are clicked, one receives a confirmation email. Didn't get one the first time. Still... That's absolutely horrific to charge people's credit cards for junk they didn't order. I am disgusted.

    11 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: April 28, 2022

    The results from the DNA test keep changing with updates, completely erasing anything that's less than 1%. I can't track my Finish or Sami origins, it just shows a generic "Scandinavian." It claims it goes back 2,000 years but everything is omitted after 500 years. If you go on the actual site people steal your photos and rename them with their relatives. Huge mess. Not worth it! They overcharge for access to newspapers and military records...gauge wherever they can. You pay 20 for medical DNA info and instead question you in a survey with an education on general nutrition. SCAM.

    10 people found this review helpful
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    AncestryDNA results

    AncestryDNA results include an ethnicity estimate, DNA stories, DNA matches, ThruLines and DNA traits.

    Ethnicity Estimates

    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.

    DNA matches

    ancestry dna matches

    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.

    DNA traits 

    ancestry dna traits

    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.

    Appearance traits

    • Facial hair thickness
    • Birth weight
    • Wisdom teeth
    • Cleft chin
    • Finger length
    • Earlobe type
    • Earwax type
    • Eye color
    • Freckles
    • Hair color
    • Hair type
    • Hair strand thickness
    • Iris patterns
    • Male hair loss
    • Skin pigmentation
    • Unibrow

    Sensory traits

    • Sun sneezing
    • Asparagus metabolite detection
    • Bitter sensitivity
    • Cilantro aversion
    • Sweetness sensitivity
    • Savory (umami) sensitivity

    Nutrition traits

    • Omega-3
    • 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.