Ancestry Membership Review: Costs, Benefits, and is it Worth It?

The availability of at-home DNA test kits and the explosion of genealogy websites over the last several years has led to one of America’s fastest-growing hobbies, filling out your family tree. To date, 35 million people have taken an at-home DNA test to figure out where their ancestors came from. 

Once upon a time, travel was difficult, and people tended to stay put. However, over hundreds of years, we’re revolutionized travel and migrated all around the world. Humans have a natural curiosity and desire to be connected to their past. Plus, finding long-lost relatives is fun! 

Beginning the Genealogy Journey With a DNA Kit From Ancestry 

Ancestry was one of the first companies to offer at-home DNA testing kits for genealogy purposes. They are still considered to be one of the best options on the market today. It couldn’t be more simple to get started. 

First, you order a DNA test kit from The kit costs $99, which is in-line with other services of this kind. Once the kit arrives, you simply follow the instructions, which mainly consist of you spitting into a tube and then mail your sample to the lab. In a few weeks, you’ll be noticed via email that your results are available online. 

Using cutting-edge laboratory science, they will analyze your spit and be able to tell you your exact ethnic makeup. Not only can they tell you, in general, where you are from, but sometimes include specific regions and areas as well. So they might tell you that you are not only Irish but from Munster Ireland, to be exact. Your results are likely to be a mix of percentages; some might even be surprising. 

Since millions of people are participating, you’ll also be able to find family member matches and contact them if they’ve given permission. The access is somewhat limited on its own, but you can get a Family Tree membership for boatloads of genealogy information.

What’s Included in an Ancestry Family Tree Membership?

Suppose you’re excited about your DNA results and want to take a deeper dive into building your family tree, finding lost relatives, and connecting with distant family members. In that case, you’ll need a Family Tree membership. There are three different levels you can choose from, but the basic benefits include:

  • Unlimited access to over 11 billion records and family trees on from around the world (depending on the level of membership). 
  • You can easily share photos or other documents and save them to your dynamic family tree.
  • You’ll be able to contact any member on Ancestry, not just your DNA matches.
  • Get your sleuth on. You can see the full family trees of any member as long as they are public.
  • Fill in the blanks. You can use the research of Ancestry members to help grow your family tree.
  • Easily view shared surnames and birth locations for each of your DNA matches.

Because your DNA matches could potentially be from all over the world, there are three membership levels available. The access and availability of records vary from country to country, which is the reason for the different membership levels. 

Monthly Cost6-month Membership Cost
U.S. Discovery (Access records across America)$24.99$99($198 a year, renewing after six months)
World Explorer(Access records from the US plus international records) $39.99$149($298 a year, renewing after six months)
All Access(Get World Acess plus a membership to basic and$199($398 a year, renewing after six months) gives you access to millions of newspaper articles in which you could find identifying family information. includes historical military records. 

FAQ: How Can You Cancel or Pause Your Ancestry Membership?

If your membership renewal is due, but you’re tight on funds or know you’ll be too busy to use the service for a while, you can actually go into your account panel and pause your membership for up to 2 months. If you want to cancel altogether, you can do that while logged into your account as well. 

FAQ: Is There A Free Trial For Ancestry Membership?

Great news, you can get a 14-day free trial of “Family Tree” US membership when you buy your DNA kit. Be sure to log into your account and cancel before the free-trail is over, or you will automatically be charged. For many people, the 14-day free trial is plenty long enough to get a few matches and start working on their family tree. If you need more time or are seeing a great value, then continue your membership for as long as you want. 

Comparing Ancestry Membership to the Competition

While there are several genealogy sites to choose from, Ancestry’s biggest competitors are MyHeritage and 23andMe. MyHeritage is cheaper but includes far less data. 23andMe has a great annual price and has optional health information available. They have sold fewer kits and therefore have fewer people in the database. Ancestry will be your best bet for finding the most ancestors in one shot. 

Family TreeYesYesYes
DNA MatchesYesYesYes
Ethnicity Estimate # of Regions1,000+421,500
Personal Trait Reports30+No30+
Kit Cost$99$79$99 ($199 for ancestry plus health info)
Membership Type and Cost3 tiers between $24.99 to $49.99 a month with discounted 6-month plansMulitple plans and add on from $129 to $299 a year Get ancestry and health DNA kit for $169 plus membership for $29 annually 

The Pros and Cons of Ancestry Membership

As fun as it seems, DNA testing and databases are sometimes a topic of hot debate. Before you decide if an Ancestry membership is right for you, let’s explore the pros and cons. 

Pros of an Ancestry Membership:

Research your roots and building a family tree is a worthy hobby. It creates a treasure trove of information that can be passed down to future generations. Also, finding out where your true ethnic roots lie is also very interesting. There have been incredible stories about people finding out some pretty surprising ancestral details and long-lost family members. 

When you pay for a membership, you’ll also be able to continue to get updates and new connections as more people take the test. While you might not lot in every day, you’ll be delighted each time a new message pops up with a connection you didn’t know about before. 

Cons of An Ancestry Membership:

It’s not all sunshine and roses; however, there can be a dark side to anything with revealing DNA testing involved. For every happy discovery, there are also tales of children find outing out they are adopted, have a different father, or some other family secret. So if you think there’s a chance for family drama, you might want to stir clear. 

DNA testing and databases also bring up a touchy privacy issue. Many people fear that these databases can and will be used against them by the state or federal government. Many legal experts are worried that the one and only law on the books about DNA privacy, the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act, is far too narrow. 

Law enforcement has already been requesting DNA information from these sites under subpoena. In fact, a decades-old case looking for a serial murderer dubbed “The Golden State Killer” was found using data from one of these genealogy companies.

While this is an extreme example of a killer that needed to be caught, it is also a stark reminder that you are also sharing DNA information for your past and future relatives when you share your DNA. 

Finally, the cost of an Ancestry membership is quite costly. The highest tier membership is going to run you close to $300 a year. This is a hobby that many people work at feverishly for a few months and then just check in on here and there, so the price tag seems steep. Also, apart from the DNA testing, you can find some of this information in free websites and public records. 

Wrapping Things Up: Is an Ancestry Family Tree Membership Worth It?

If you aren’t afraid of privacy concerns, the DNA test kit can be a fun investment. You’ll get access to a colorful chart showing all the places your DNA has traveled before becoming you. A lower-tier plan for a few months could also be fun and give you a great start to filling out your family tree. 

It probably is not worth it to keep the membership going year after year for the updates. The highest-tier plan is far too expensive to be useful and comes with access to records and newspaper information you can easily get for free online.

Therefore, certain parts of the kit and membership are worth it if you enjoy family history, but it might not be a good long-term investment.

Deanna Balestra is a freelance writer and a contributor from St. Louis, MO who enjoys writing about a variety of topics including small business, marketing, education, and health. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading both fiction and non-fiction books, watching movies, playing with her kids, and volunteering with animals.

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