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 to use your DNA for 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 Ancestry.com, 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 and communities, a list of your AncestryDNA matches and the ability to contact them, and limited information on common ancestors and shared surnames with your matches. 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 Ancestry.com subscription.*

A full subscription to Ancestry.com’s historical records ALSO boosts your DNA test results by providing access to:

  • Shared matches
  • Full 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 Newspapers.com Publisher Extra

The All Access plan now includes a Family Plan membership, which allows you to invite up to four family members and friends to use Ancestry at no additional cost. This membership could be a great option for you and up to four friends or family members to share the cost of a membership. Currently the Family Plan membership is only available in the U.S.

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.

The All Access

Start your Ancestry free trial

Ancestry released a new subscription plan, AncestryDNA Plus, in September 2023 for DNA tools only. This plan is cheaper, but it does not include access to Ancestry’s genealogical records. All of the features available in this plan are included with a Discovery, World Explorer, or All Access subscription.

  • AncestryDNA Plus  gives you access to SideView, shared matches, ethnicity inheritance, matches inheritance, chromosome painter, Traits, and future features they promise will be added.

Here’s a table we’ve created to the best of our knowledge to help you see which features you can access without a subscription, and which are available with an AncestryDNA Plus subscription or a regular Ancestry subscription.

Table showing which features are available with or without an Ancestry or AncestryDNA Plus subscription

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 full 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 or an AncestryDNA Plus subscription, 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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12 Comments

  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.

    Reply
    • Carolyn Leverich Atkinson

      You will not have a renewal of $135 with myheritage. It will be over $300. I also got a special deal with myheritage a couple of years ago. They also wanted to renew me, and I could not afford it. Ancestry has more for what you get than myheritage. What I do, is I have my ancestry account set up for every six months. On the three months of the six months, I pay for my newspaper and fold3 subscriptions. I cannot afford to pay them all at the same time, so I split it like that, and it works great for me.

      Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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 Ancestry.com subscription. Sounds like you subscribed to the full Ancestry.com experience but not to the other sites you mentioned, Fold3 and Newspapers.com, which are separate but which you can bundle with your Ancestry.com 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: https://www.yourdnaguide.com/ydgblog/myheritage-free-trial. 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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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).

      Reply
  5. Linda Willuweit-Joy

    Your table comparing the different subscription plans is very helpful. Thank you! However, now there is the ProTools plan which also needs to be considered. It seems ProTools should be included in the All Access membership.

    Reply
  6. Kay

    I am not sure how old the above article is but there is an error in what it says one sees with DNA alone without a membership. It states basic tree view of matches up to five generations. This is what I had prior to the recent change. I can no longer see ANY tree information for my shared matches. When I click on “Your tree preview” it redirects me to a join page. I have tried with numerous matches and the same thing happens.

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      Yes, you are right, there have ben updates to Ancestry since this was published. Our Ancestry DNA Tour has the most up-to-date walk through of the portal.

      Reply
  7. Carol McLaughlin

    Can I purchase my DNA kits and then sign up for a subscription when my data arrives so I have the opportunity to use the data, at the same costs? Or, make some type of arrangement to start a free trial when the DNA results come in?

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      I’d recommend contacting Ancestry directly and asking them, they’ll have a better idea!

      Reply
  8. Karen

    I have become disappointed with Ancestry.com. Previously we could see possible common relatives with other members. Now we have to pay for a subscription to get that information. I am not going to bother. I get better information about that on other websites. It seems like Ancestry.com took away a features that were free earlier. I would not recommend it if anyone wants to find out if they have common relatives. Also I can’t see other members trees like before. I won’t invest any more money into this.

    Reply

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