How Much Does Ancestry Cost?
Having been a user of Ancestry.com since 2012 I cannot deny that they are one of the top genealogy websites out there today and have been instrumental in my ability to research a very complicated family tree. I am also aware, however, that genealogy as a hobby is not a cheap endeavor.
Ancestry of course is a pay to use website for the most part so for the budget minded out there you will likely want to know how much you can look at spending to use them. In this post we will take a look at what Ancestry offers and what it generally costs for their services.
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What Is Ancestry.com?
It was in 1990 that two Brigham Young University graduates, Paul Brent Allen and Dan Taggart, teamed up together to found Infobases. This company initially offered publications from the Latter Day Saints church on floppy disks.
Initially operating out of the back of their cars Allen and Taggart grew Infobases rapidly. In 1994 the company was included in Inc Magazine's 500 fastest-growing companies list. It was just a year later that Infobases transitioned from floppy disks to an online format.
Then in 1996 this online offering was finally renamed Ancestry.com and the juggernaut really started to roll. As the years progressed the company grew and diversified into all things genealogy swallowing up other family tree websites to expand their capabilities.
Today the company is 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?
Any smart monetized website knows one thing, you have to give the customer a taste if you want them to become hooked. You don’t catch fish without some kind of bait or lure so by extension you need to give potential customers a reason to spend money.
So Ancestry is very clever in that they do give you just enough access for free to get you interested in parting with your cold hard cash. You can of course build a tree on the site absolutely free of charge and connect whatever pictures and records you already have.
Although you can search for records and peruse the site's card catalogue to see what types they have access to you can’t view the full versions without a membership. This often means you might see some basic information regarding the record but just enough to be indeterminate as to its usefulness.
You can make use of the site's “Ancestry Academy” which offers a host of helpful videos to help you get started on your family tree journey. It is packed with tips and tricks to help you with your research but of course this is mainly to nudge you toward using their other pay services.
You can also get a very basic look at other member trees although as with records you only get to see limited information. A full membership is needed to see public member trees in their entirety. Although being able to see what other users of found can be helpful we always have to remember that they may not have their trees entirely correct.
How Much is a Basic Subscription?
The Ancestry basic subscription tends to be locationally based meaning that whichever country you are in if they have an Ancestry website then the basic subscription will focus on that region. There are several regional Ancestry websites including Australia, France and the UK as well as the United States.
A basic membership in the United States is known as the U.S. Discovery membership and includes access to all the companies available U.S. records. This means that all you can see with this membership is records related to the United States.
The current pricing system offers discounts for prepaying for extended memberships. The details are below.
- Monthly Subscription: $24.99 per month
- Six Month Subscription: $21.99 per month paid up front for $131.94
So if you are ready to commit to an extended period of researching it is definitely worth going for the longer six month option. If, however, you are just starting out it might be wise to go month to month in order to determine you like the site and that it has the records you need.
How much Does World Explorer Membership Cost?
The World Explorer membership level is the second tier option and includes access to not only all of the site's local records but all international records as well. This means if you have family that emigrated to the U.S. from elsewhere you may be able to track them back to their homelands.
This is a good option for those with family from around the world as it gives you a far greater reach in your research. As such it is obviously a little more expensive.
- Monthly Subscription: $39.99 per month
- Six Month Subscription: $32.99 per month paid up front for $197.94
Again it is clearly more cost effective to opt for a longer subscription of 6 months as it can save you up to $42 over the month to month option essentially more than paying for one of the months.
How Much Is the All Access Membership?
The All Access membership is the very top tier membership and includes all of Ancestry’s records just like the World Explorer level but with a few extra perks. Along with this tier you get full access to the military records on Fold3. You also get partial access to certain records on Newspapers.com.
The frustrating aspect though is that you do have to purchase an additional subscription on Newspapers.com to get full access to that site. However if you have a lot of ancestors with military service then the Fold3 access may be worth the extra.
As this is the premium tier of Ancestry membership it is markedly more expensive as you will see below.
- Monthly Subscription: $59.99 per month
- Six Month Subscription: $49.99 per month paid up front for $299.94
Again a six month subscription is cheaper than going month to month and with a saving of $60 it’s like getting 6 months for the price of 5.
This is actually the subscription I use as I also use the site to help clients research their own trees. As such the access to military records and newspaper articles is invaluable.
How Much Is AncestryDNA?
We can’t discuss Ancestry.com pricing without taking note of one of their major genealogy tools, their DNA testing. It was a few years ago that I had my own DNA tested with the site and I do not regret that decision at all.
I have met several new cousins and broken through family brick walls by using the proof supplied by the DNA test and the companies ability to find matches among their other users.
It is a one time charge of $99 to take the test which includes the shipping of the kit to you and back to their testing labs as well as the testing and analysis. There are also frequent sales around the holidays especially for Mother's and Father's Days which bring the costs as low as 59.99.
It should be noted that although you don’t need an active membership to see your DNA results you will need one if you want to message any DNA matches or see their public trees.
Are the Membership Prices Worth It?
This is a very subjective question because each of us are different. I personally am very committed to my family tree and I make a living using genealogy. To me it’s almost like a business expense which benefits my own personal hobby.
There are free websites that can help you research your family tree although they are often not as extensive and frequently are not as user friendly. It certainly isn’t cheap to pay for Ancestry but they often run promotions and you can stop and start your memberships at will.
If you plan to take an extended break from research just stop your membership and come back to it later. Sometimes a rest can actually help us make some breakthroughs.
As a tool to help you make big family tree discoveries it is great and well worth the money. If however your family history comes from an area which does not have good family history records then even ancestry might not be much help.
Assess your own unique circumstances and review what you can see for free before committing to a membership and then perhaps just make use of a free trial to ensure the site has the records you need.
Ancestry.com is not a cheap genealogy research option; it can cost up to $25 - $60 per month depending on the type of membership. In terms of the DNA testing they offer competitive rates in line with their competitors at around $100.
Their base DNA samples however are far more extensive than their competitors and it could be argued that as such they have a better level of accuracy. I hope this post was informative for you and that it will help you decide whether to get an Ancestry membership.
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