Ancestry

Ancestry

 3.9/5 (714 ratings)
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  • 1 stars

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.

Ancestry Reviews

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Page 1 Reviews 0 - 10
Rated with 1 star
Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Nov. 29, 2022

I tried to buy a gift membership for my son. I followed all the directions on the webpage and paid (confirmation number ** charge $79.95). However, the account came up in my name. I tried to call the 800 number and sat on hold for 35 minutes. I tried the on-line bot which was useless. I cancelled the order 20 minutes after placing the order and got a confirmation of the cancellation. No one ever used the site/account: however, my refund is only $1. I chatted with an Ancestry "expert" on-line and all she could do was to refer me to another website (not ancestry) who wanted to charge me again to provide assistance. I guess I chalk the $80 up to experience. Be warned.

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

I have been an Ancestry.com member for well over 10 years, A recent change in the program a customer uses to add facts to his/her tree is not as clear and simple to use as the previous program was. I found it difficult and the enjoyment element was gone for me. Because I hoped the program would be eventually improved I persevered for two more 6 month enrollments and then tried to cancel today. The short story is that even though I had not been using the program even one day a month, I did miss cancelling on the correct date and was 4 days late. They will not refund my $100++ which was automatically withdrawn (their policy) from my credit card. They call it "cancellation" but are keeping my money and inviting me to keep on using their program for SIX MORE MONTHS after they know clearly that I have not been and will not in the future use their program.

9 people found this review helpful

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    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: Nov. 11, 2022

    After subscribing and creating an account on the extremely confusing website and ordering the DNA kit, I decided the venture wasn't for me and asked for a refund within the time allowed to make that request. DNA $78.95 but given $63.95 for changing my mind. Ancestry.com is a rip off!

    5 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: Oct. 21, 2022

    I joined Ancestry.com in 2016 and have off and on ended sub when I had no time or financially needed a break. Today I ended sub again as I was clicking end sub I saw that I would be charged $25! Too late for me as I had already click "cancel sub". They already charge a ton as it is... I use to enjoy this company but now its disappointing and depressing. I had planned on getting my children to sub, that will not happen nor will I tell any family or friends to use this company.

    8 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: Oct. 7, 2022

    This company screwed me when I bought my wife a membership. They didn't tell me I had not bought a kit, but only a membership. They even told me the kit would arrive in 7 to 10 days. It never did. Then, they started my wife's 6 month trial for a product they never sold me. Then, when I asked them to reset the start date so it would align with a kit I was still willing to purchase they said no. Then, they refused to refund my money. Horrible way to treat a repeat customer.

    9 people found this review helpful
    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.

    6 people found this review helpful
    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.

    8 people found this review helpful
    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.

    9 people found this review helpful
    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.

    13 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.

    15 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.