Ancestry Free Trial: What do you Get?

You may be early in your genealogy journey or perhaps considering taking years of research from paper records into the digital age. Whichever it is or if you are at any point in between you may have heard of

Having visited the site you may have been prompted and offered via pop ups the chance to sign up for the 2 week free trial and perhaps you are intrigued by this. In this post we will take a closer look at Ancestry to show you what you might expect from a free trial with this company.

Ancestry is Our Top Recommendation

If you love genealogy and family history research, then you must know Ancestry. They are the best way to discover the rich stories of your family!

With over 30 billion (seriously!) records in their database, you can research your family and discover amazing details you may never have known about your ancestors.

With a 14-day free trial, it's very easy to get started and discover your past!

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What Is

It was in 1990 that two Brigham Young University graduates, Paul Brent Allen and Dan Taggart, teamed up together to found the company Infobases. This company initially offered a selection of publications from the Latter Day Saints church on floppy disks.

Originally operating out of the back of their cars Allen and Taggart grew Infobases rapidly. It was in 1994 that the company was included in Inc Magazine's 500 fastest-growing companies list. In just a year Infobases would begin to transition from floppy disks to an online format.

Then in 1996 this new online offering would finally be renamed and the juggernaut really started to roll. As the years progressed grew and diversified into all things genealogy swallowing up other family tree websites to expand their capabilities.

Today the company is considered a colossus of the industry and boasts one of the most impressive collections of global family history records and DNA databases in the world. With millions of users around the world they have created a far reaching website to help connect people through shared family history.

What Do You Get for Free With

If you were to decide to only use the free services of what would that look like? Well like many websites they very cleverly offer you just enough content for free to really interest you in what might be available for a fee.

You can take a look at their card catalogue which will list all of the different collections of records the site has access to. A simple search might help you determine if the site has collections in which your ancestors might potentially be included.

It costs you nothing to start building any number of trees on the site that you so wish and with an attractive tree layout this is certainly worth doing. You can add all of your own details, pictures and scanned document images to the tree all for no charge.

Unfortunately however when offered hints you can only see limited information from the records if you do not have a paid for subscription. The hints may still be useful and direct you toward finding the record elsewhere but it can be frustrating not being able to see the document from the hint.

Even as a non member you can see the helpful videos in the “Ancestry Academy” for free which is good. There you can find research advice and other handy hints to help you get started on your genealogy journey.

How Much Does an Ancestry Membership Cost?

Currently in the U.S. there are three tiers of Ancestry membership to choose from depending on your general requirements. If your research is going to be mostly in the U.S. then you would likely need the U.S. Discovery membership or basic level.

A month to month subscription of this basic membership level costs just under $25 but you can get a discount to just under $22 if you pay 6 months up front. The incentive of course being that you commit to a longer period of time.

Those going month to month might stop and start their memberships based on the amount of free time they actually have to use the site for research.

The second tier level is the World Explorer membership which costs just under $40 a month. The six month pre purchase brings the price to just under $33 per month. Again this is not a bad deal if you plan to have plenty of free research time over this 6 month span.

This tier offers all of the U.S. records found in the basic level but additionally offers access to all of records contained in the site from the rest of the world as well. This is obviously ideal for those with immigrant ancestors who might be traced back to their home regions.

Finally the top tier is known as All Access and contains the same as the World Explorer but also includes a full membership to Fold3 and a partial membership.

It is the most expensive option coming in at just under $60 per month with the six month commitment offering a discount down to just under $50 per month. This membership is great for those who perhaps have ancestors who were in the military and also would like to see some potential newspaper mentions of their families.

I should note however that it is only a partial membership that is included. You would have to get an additional membership to get full access to all of their newspaper records.

How Does the Free Trial Work?

The general Ancestry free trial offers 14 days of free access to the site. You simply have to choose the membership level tier you are interested in and sign up. You will need to enter payment details in order to get the free trial so this is important to note.

If you find that the site is not a good fit for you or that it may not be of much help in your own research be sure to cancel your membership before the 2 week trial runs out. The membership will renew as some as trial expires so if you do not cancel prior to this your payment method will be charged.

Once your free trial starts you will immediately be able to make use of the site's amenities. If you have any issues you should immediately contact the company to rectify this. When I started my own free trial many years ago now there was a glitch and none of the features worked for me.

I contacted Ancestry and explained that I had started the trial and nothing was working, They helped me get everything working correctly and restarted the clock on my trial to reflect the time lost to the website's issues.

What Do You Get With an Ancestry Free Trial?

What you receive from your free trial really depends on the membership tier you choose to sign up for. You will essentially receive all of the amenities of the tier you sign up for, for the 14 days of your trial membership.

Essentially then your free trial offers you everything that a membership would just for a shorter time. So there are no limitations attached to the trial beyond your choice of membership level and of course the timeframe.

What Do You Get From an Ancestry Membership?

As the trial is essentially the same as having a full membership at your chosen tier it is more logical to ask what you get with a membership.

Full Access to Ancestry Records

With a membership you get full access to view the details and potentially images of all records that are appropriate for your specific tier level. So if you have basic U.S. membership you can see all the records in the United States collection.

With a World Explorer membership you can see the records from around the world again without any extra restrictions. This is the same with All Access but with the addition of the military records on the external Fold3 website and the limited access to

Viewing Member Family Trees

Without an Ancestry membership you can only see a very basic version of the trees belonging to other members. If you have a paid membership you can see the entirety of the public trees created by other members with the exception of any profiles in the tree belonging to individuals who are still alive.

This is a helpful feature as it means you can see others who may have your ancestors in their trees and what they have found from their research. Depending on the quality of the other users research you might even find some helpful information to help you with your own work.

Reaching Out to Other Members

Without a membership you can receive messages from other users on Ancestry but you can not reply back to them. A membership then allows you to contact potential cousins who might be able to help you with your family tree research.

The trial membership also allows you to send messages but only for as long the trial lasts. Beyond this you would need to have an active membership to keep this capability.

When it comes to messaging others you may find this ability too frustrating at times. It’s nice to have this option but in my experience you are more likely to never hear back than you are to get a response. You therefore need to be prepared that sometimes people just do not want to connect or they may not have an active membership so may not be able to answer you back.

Do You Need a Membership for AncestryDNA?

If you are buying a DNA test from AncestryDNA you do not need an active membership to receive your results. You will still be able to see your ethnicity report and the details on your list of DNA matches.

However it should be noted that without a membership or a free trial you can not message any of these matches or see their public family trees. I should note that you can not view a private family tree even if you do have a membership.

Essentially though a membership is not required to enjoy the basic aspects of your AncestryDNA test results. It’s just the more advanced use of the results that can’t be enjoyed without a free trial or paid membership.

Is the Trial Worth It?

In my opinion there is little in life that can’t be enhanced by being free and this trial is certainly no exception. If you are trying to determine if Ancestry is the right place to create your tree and research your family history this is the best way to start.

There are no risks to taking advantage of the free trial as long as you make sure to cancel prior to the expiration date. You will likely very quickly determine if there are enough records relating to your family on the site to make paying for further time worthwhile.

If you are considering using Ancestry as your main research tool it’s a no brainer to try the free trial before you commit to a paid membership.


An Ancestry free trial then, offers you everything you could get if you paid for a specific membership tier. There are no restrictions on what you have access to beyond the parameters or the tier level membership you choose.

Access to millions of records, the ability to search other members' trees and reach out to others for advice can be advantageous in your research. Try before you buy is always a good way to sell a product and knows this.

It is likely that if you try the free trial you will find a lot of new information regarding your family. In doing so if you are like me you will probably get the genealogy bug and consider a more permanent membership.

I would advise not starting a free trial until you have a good two week period in which you will have ample spare time. This is the kind of thing that you want to get the most benefit from. Two weeks can go by quickly so make sure to enjoy the free ride while it lasts.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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