Ancestry

Ancestry

 2.6/5 (98 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
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.

Be the first one to find 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.

5 people found this review helpful

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    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.

    4 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: April 13, 2022

    I have been charged by this company for over two years. I could not access any information. I contacted them several times via different mediums with no luck. I could only interact through their live chats, they couldn’t find my account, yet they keep charging my credit card. When I asked for a refund, they told me they do not issue refunds. Please do not purchase or join any memberships from this company.

    9 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: April 7, 2022

    Ancestry.com are nothing but trickery people, I did the free trial, I couldn't find what I was looking for, so I cancelled it that same day, it said it was cancelled, but I never got the confirmation on my email. But I thought it was cancelled. Well guess what it wasn't and they charged me, then they wanted to charge me a $25 cancellation fee. So I called and talk to someone, they said I can not get a refund, I told them they better give it to me or I will be calling a lawyer for they are trickery and liars, they like to steal from people. They make you think you cancelled but you really didn't. Yes I got my money back and no I didn't get charged the $25. I will never ever be using them again and I will be telling all my friends and family and others how they lie and trick people to using there site. I give them no stars. They are liars, liars, liars, all they do is trick you.

    10 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: April 3, 2022

    I purchased Ancestry DNA a couple of years ago. Now I get emails saying that I have a DNA match with a link that that says "Explore your match". When I click on the link it logs me into Ancestry. However all it does is try and get me to purchase the DNA package AGAIN. They obviously have my DNA or they couldn't find a match. Makes me wonder why I purchased it in the first place.

    9 people found this review helpful
    Customer increased Rating by 3 stars!
    Verified Reviewer
    Resolution response: March 31, 2022

    Ancestry moved quickly to resolve this issue with me. To their credit, they gave me a satisfactory refund.

    Original review: March 30, 2022

    I cancelled my membership with Ancestry. Or so I thought. You must negotiate a maze of pages to actually effect your cancellation. I am very surprised that I must not have done that correctly since I have been cheated by these automatic renewal scams before so I am very careful to make sure I have actually gone all the way through with the procedure. They kept billing me, and I receive no email saying that my membership would be renewed. They obviously have a very successful moneymaking operation. Why would they continue to use these deeply unethical scams to cheat people out of their money. I think there needs to be a legal fraud investigation into Ancestry.

    5 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: March 23, 2022

    This morning I called Ancestry to upgrade to All Access. I was not allowed to do this because I have a gift membership. My husband every Christmas buys me a gift membership. The only way I could upgrade was to cancel my membership and then upgrade. This does not make sense to me. I am not allowed to upgrade, yet I can cancel my existing gift subscription. I am so very unhappy with Ancestry, that I am considering looking for another forum to do research and create my family tree. I have been a member for over ten years. Ancestry is not cheap at all and now to throw this into the mix.

    5 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 2 stars
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: March 20, 2022

    The only reason I gave this 2 stars is because IF you have NO INFORMATION on your ancestry this may be helpful. In my case I was lured into subscribing by "hints" for more information only to learn I was the provider of the information. The latest promised a hint for an ancestor on another member's tree only to find it was only their name. As soon as I saw this I contacted Ancestry to cancel. I literally tried to cancel 2 minutes after joining but "Oh no, their policy doesn't allow for that". Beware unless you have zero information on your family the information you may get is the information you already provided.

    6 people found this review helpful
    Rated with 1 star
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: March 8, 2022

    I canceled with this company and they charged me $25 for the month, then they charged me $24 for canceling. I talked to them and they did not want to give me any refund, they are thieves, criminals..

    6 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.