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Genealogy. Pricing and Subscription Options for Ancestry.com Explained.

Updated on October 4, 2012
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Ancestry.com Membership Options

You may be wondering how Ancestry.com compares to other genealogy applications and software on the market. Ancestry is unique in that it allows you to use their web-based program to build your family tree, organize your research and search billions of historical records directly via their website. Sort of a 'one stop genealogy shop' for both the novice and the serious family historian. Ancestry offers three different options for access they are a Free Account, the U.S. Discovery subscription and the World Explorer subscription.

Free Ancestry Account

By registering for a free account you can build multiple trees and organize all of your pictures and documents in one place. In addition, there are over 400 free databases you can search such as:

  • 1880 US Census
  • New England Irish Pioneers
  • U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992
  • U.S. Seamen's Protection Certificates, 1792-1868
  • World War I Civilian Draft Registrations

Cost: $0.00

Explore records by location.
Explore records by location. | Source

U.S. Discovery

When you subscribe to the U.S. Discovery membership you have unlimited access to all U.S. records available on Ancestry.com and any that are added during the length of your subscription.

Cost: $22.95/mo or $12.95/mo for 6 mo. subscription paid in one upfront payment.

World Explorer

When you subscribe to the World Explorer membership you have unlimited access to everything on Ancestry.com which includes over a billion more records in 15 countries outside the U.S..

Cost: $34.95/mo or $24.95/mo for 6 mo. subscription paid in one upfront payment.

Ancestry.com Pro's & Con's.

There are many applications and software programs on the market to help you build a family tree and organize your genealogy research. Each one has its positives and negatives and Ancestry.com is no exception. Below are some of the pro's and con's to consider when making the decision to subscribe to Ancestry.

Pro's

  • Easy to learn.
  • Different membership options for accessing billions of documents.
  • Ability to build a family tree and organize your documents for free.
  • Exceptional Search option features.
  • Relevant documents can be saved to your "shoe box' to examine later or attached directly to an individual with ease and the information it contains updates the individual's record without additional typing.
  • Ability to invite others to view your tree either as a viewer only, a commenter, or a contributor.
  • Allows you to connect with others researching the other branches of your family tree.
  • Alerts you to other records that may be relevant to your ancestor.
  • Web based platform enables you to access your family tree from any computer anywhere.

Con's

  • Price.
  • Doesn't allow for same sex unions so reports will always show a male and female. However, if you're strictly researching bloodlines this may not be an issue for you.
  • Any trees created are made 'public' by default. If you want your tree to be private you must go into your settings and change it. (Note: Living relatives are always private even on public trees. They can only be seen by you or those you invite to view your tree.)

When you are just starting your family research a monthly subscription may seem a bit costly especially if you've traced your origins back to to another country. When you consider the sheer volume of records you will have access to along with the ability to build your tree and connect with the trees being built by 31 million other Ancestry users the fee is well worth it. That being said, a little planning can still go a long way to help reduce the inevitable costs.

The green leaf is a hint that Ancestry found a possible match for that person.
The green leaf is a hint that Ancestry found a possible match for that person. | Source

Suggestions to Minimize Fees.

Registering for a free account.

Begin building your family tree by adding the names and vital (birth, marriage, death) dates of family that you know. Start with yourself, then add your parents and any siblings. After that add your grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Once you have put in at least a portion of your family tree Ancestry will generate ‘hints’ for you in the shape of a green leaf next to your ancestor’s name. When you click on the leaf you will see the names of any documents Ancestry thinks may be related to your ancestor. Hints could be links to census records, military records, city directories, public family trees shared by other Ancestry members and many other types of documents.

If a document is from one of the ‘free’ databases you will be able to view it. If it is a document that is only available if you sign up for a subscription you should still be able to see information indexed from the original. That may be enough for you to confirm the relation.

Work with the free account until you have run out of new leads and the only way to move on is to opt for a paid membership.

Taking advantage of the 14 day free trial offer.

Once you have exhausted all your leads with the free account sign up for the 14 day trial for the U.S. Discovery Membership. Make sure it's during a 14 day time period that will allow you to maximize your search. Don't start the trial if you will be out of town for 8 of the 14 days.

You will need to submit credit card information in order to sign up for the free trial so set an alarm in your phone or make a note on your calendar to cancel on the 14th day or you will be charged.

Spend every moment you can during the free trial searching records and attaching documents to your tree. If after the 14 days you feel that it is worthwhile to continue the subscription go ahead.

Utilizing the U.S. Discovery Membership

So you made good use of the 14 day free trial for the U.S. Discovery membership and opted to keep the subscription. At some point you are bound to find proof that an ancestor immigrated to the United States from another country. Make a note of it and continue to research all US records until you have exhausted all leads. Once you run out of leads in the US Records consider upgrading to the World Explorer membership. Make sure you do it when you know you will be able to dedicate time to it. You want to avoid paying to upgrade and then not having the time to research.

Branching out with the World Explorer Membership

Ancestry.com has over 1 billion international birth, marriage, death, census, military, church and other records that can be accessed with the World Explorer membership.

You can view passenger lists, border crossing records and more to learn how and when your ancestor arrived in the United States.

The World Explorer membership gives you access to records in 15 countries outside the U.S., including the England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, Germany, Australia, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and more.

Interested in learning how to access all Ancestry records for free?

Check with your local library! Many libraries have a subscription to Ancestry's Library Edition on one or more computers in their research room. Smaller libraries may require you to call ahead and reserve a certain time slot.

Using the library to access Ancestry is a great way to keep the cost of your family research low. It also allows you to meet the research staff and begin to utilize other records they may hold such as city directories, newspapers on microfiche etc.

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    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 3 years ago

      I am looking for more than Ancestry.com, since I have gotten back to Europe on many branches. Ancestry will take you as far as others have gone, but I want to go past that.

    • profile image

      mrprice2izoom.net 3 years ago

      I don't want you to automatically renw my membership. How do I achieve it?

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this fabulous and needful Hub. I have long wondered about Ancestry.com and you answered my questions succinctly. Thank God they don't include, as you noted, "same sex unions" as that would have zero bearing on one's ancestry and besides hardly exists on a world scale of human history as more than a recent anamoly, a blip on the screen that has no business in a study of genealogy. :-)

      Anyway, great article. Welcome to the HubPages Community!

      James