AncestryDNA without a Subscription | Should You Subscribe?

Melanie Mohler

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What can you do on AncestryDNA without a subscription? Should you subscribe to Ancestry? What DNA tools come with an Ancestry subscription (or the free trial)?

There is a lot to discover on Ancestry’s site, especially with your DNA test, but Ancestry does require a paid membership to access the full benefits of their DNA tools and features. Fortunately, Ancestry offers a free two-week trial. In this post, we’ll explain how to get the most out of an Ancestry two-week free trial subscription.

Before you get started with an Ancestry subscription, you’ll want to make sure you know about DNA testing and family history.

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AncestryDNA without a subscription

You should know that AncestryDNA’s full suite of genetic genealogy tools is most powerful when combined with an accompanying subscription to, where you find millions of genealogical records.

Your genetic genealogy experience = DNA test + genealogy records

At Ancestry, this = AncestryDNA test + genealogy subscription

When you view your DNA results with a free account, you will be able to access: your ethnicity estimate, a list of your AncestryDNA matches and the ability to contact them, your shared DNA and shared matches, limited information on common ancestors and shared surnames with your matches, and AncestryDNA Traits (if you purchase the latter separately). You have limited access to ThruLines, the site’s powerful tree reconstruction tool: with your free membership, you can see names, genders, birth and death years, relationships to you, and potential ancestors, but not related genealogical records and matches’ trees.

It’s certainly enough to get you started on DNA discoveries! But if you’re serious about getting the most information out of DNA testing and building your family tree, you’ll want to consider an subscription.*

Your subscription to’s historical records ALSO boosts your DNA test results by providing access to:

  • Matches’ family trees (a free membership is limited to a 5 generation preview);
  • More information on common ancestors: records and trees’ matches (a free membership is limited to names, genders, birth and death years, and relationships to you);
  • up to 7 generations of shared surnames (a free membership will only see up to 5 surnames);
  • shared ancestor birth locations (a free membership is limited to names and birth locations);
  • the full ThruLines experience, including related genealogical records and matches’ trees

Understand your subscription options

One of Ancestry’s greatest benefits is their access to historical records: census records, birth records, draft cards, and more. These help build your family tree and identify your DNA matches’ relationships to you. Depending on the membership you choose, you’ll have access to various records:

  • [Country-level] Discovery gives you access to all genealogical records for a specific country (Options include: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Mexico)
  • World Explorer offers access to all genealogical records on Ancestry from around the world
  • All Access offers everything on Ancestry, plus everything on Fold3, and Publisher Extra

Each of these membership types can be paid for monthly, semi-annually, or annually (you can save money if you pay semi-annually or annually). You can select one of these membership types for your free trial.

Start your Ancestry free trial

Build and connect your tree

Using the records you have access to, you can build your family tree. Get started while you’re waiting for your test results!

A paid Ancestry membership allows you to discover historical documents, photos, and stories on Ancestry and attach them to people in your tree. With a free membership, you can build your tree and attach records you can find for free on Ancestry (a limited collection) or that you import from other sources. You can also upload an existing family tree file (.ged) to Ancestry, whether you are a free or subscribing user.

Be sure you attach your Ancestry tree to your DNA results. If you choose to make the tree public, others can find and explore it. You can also keep it private.

Watch your calendar

When you start your free trial, you’ll need to enter a debit or credit card and select the type of subscription you’d like to try. Note that if you do not cancel two days before your free trial ends, the credit or debit card on file will be charged the full amount of that particular membership. You can read more about their Renewal and Cancellation Terms here.

You’re ready to go!

Get started at Ancestry by with your free two-week trial. Build your family tree. Then use it to learn how you’re connected to your DNA matches!

Start your Ancestry free trial

Not located in the U.S.? Use the following links for Ancestry U.K, Ancestry Canada, and Ancestry Australia

Need to activate an AncestryDNA test kit? Learn how to activate your kit here.


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  1. Jojo

    Ancestry costs too much and they recently increased their already high prices!

    Plus they practice bait and switch marketing. I managed to get a full load subscription for 6 months from then at a 50% discount. I was promised by the rep that It included EVERYTHING they offer. But then I tried to view some newspaper listings and of course, those turned out to be extra cost. Fold3 I think was extra cost also. I brought the problem up to their customer support and was basically told “too bad, would you like to buy access to these sections?”.

    Meanwhile, I have been maintaining a full load subscription to MyHeritage with guaranteed annual renewal of $135 that I don’t really use. It’s time I switched my research to them. Bye bye Ancestry.

  2. Jojo

    Sad that you are holding my prior comment about Ancestry in moderation. Seems like DNAGuide is bought and paid for by Ancestry. Are you afraid of stepping on their toes with an honest comment? SAD!

  3. Sunny Morton

    Hi JoJo, Thanks for your comments–you got two in before we had a chance to answer you. 🙂 I’m sorry you had a bad experience with your subscription. Sounds like you subscribed to the full experience but not to the other sites you mentioned, Fold3 and, which are separate but which you can bundle with your subscription.

    We are not “bought and paid for by Ancestry.” We have another article, which has been on our site for a while now, on how to get the most out of their MyHeritage subscription, which I recommend you read if that’s the direction you’re going: MyHeritage’s Complete Plan price (which includes family tree building and historical record access) is the same as Ancestry’s World Explorer plan, at least for USD. MyHeritage does have an introductory rate for first year subscribers. Good luck to you, wherever you do your genealogy research!

  4. Christopher Schuetz

    The 2 weeks free can be very beneficial. But you have to prepare yourself thoroughly BEFORE you sign up for it. And this has removed its value for some people I know.
    They went for DNA because they were adopted or have an unknown parent. They can’t get anything meaningful from the free offer until their DNA result arrives and they have some matches. But by then, the 2 weeks is long gone.
    Offers somewhere else start to look attractive and I have had to spend time laying it all out for them as to how, in their circumstances, an AncestryDNA test will be the most beneficial initial option in the long term. This suggests that when I am not around, people decide to go elsewhere – permanently. So Ancestry is losing many potential subscribers, who due to their circumstances would probably have had a subscription for many years.

    • Sunny Morton

      Christopher, your comment on TIMING for your free 2 weeks’ subscription for those who have unknown parentage is super valuable. Yes, if you have unknown parentage, it’s best to wait to activate your free trial subscription until you have names to research (perhaps from matches’ family trees).


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