Genealogy Subscription Sites: Worth The Cost?

By: Ellisha Rader Mannering - March 23, 2014

If you want to know more about your family’s history and where you came from, you may enjoy genealogy. Genealogy involves searching historical records and family stories to find out more about your ancestry. The Internet has made it easier than ever to research genealogy, and there are plenty of ancestry sites that will help you locate the records you need. Most of these sites charge a subscription fee. The question is, are they worth the cost?

If you plan on putting a lot of time and effort into your genealogy or family history project, you may find that ancestry subscription sites are well worth the cost. These sites offer access to records that you may not be able to find anywhere else and they are easy to search and distinguish between family members.

Ancestry.com is one of the most popular genealogy sites and has the most records online. There are several subscription plans to choose from and prices start at $19.99 a month. You can sign up for a 14 day free trial before you buy a subscription and you can cancel at any time. The site offers war records, census records and allows you to search through birth records, death records and marriage records.

World Vital Records is another site that charges a fee and allows you to search through records that are hard to find elsewhere. The site offers many of the same records as Ancestry.com and they offer a 7-day free trial. Many of the records available on the site come from other family trees.

So what makes the subscription sites better than the free sites? Subscription sites offer more support and a bigger records selection. Many free sites such as FamilySearch.org, use Census information and other public records but do not offer access to certain types of documents such as war records or immigration records. Subscription sites also offer better customer support. You can contact customer support for questions about certain records or question on how to use the site.

Subscription sites also have large communities where you are more likely to find family members or other people who are looking for the same records or ancestors as you. You can also find family trees that are complete and even discuss your ancestry with other members. Many people who use subscription sites find a lot of help from other members who have been doing genealogy longer and know the ropes. Some experienced members will even offer to help other site subscribers find records of family members.

Most people who pay for genealogy subscriptions believe they are well worth the cost. If you are new to genealogy or only interested in doing it occasionally, you may want to start with a free ancestry site first. If you want are having trouble finding the records you need on a free site, you may want to consider paying for a subscription site.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Ellisha Rader Mannering

About the Author

Ellisha Rader ManneringEllisha is a writer, wife, and mommy to Cyrus and Milo. She enjoys fishing, hiking, being outdoors, shopping, traveling with her family and teaching baton twirling. Follow her on Twitter @lishann

View all posts by Ellisha Rader Mannering
  • Stephanie Hoover

    Your post is inaccurate. FamilySearch.org DOES INDEED provide access to military and immigration records – and hundreds of other databases other sites charge for. But subscription databases – which cost an arm and a leg – are nonetheless easily (and far more satisfactorily) replaced by the resources at your local library, historical/genealogical society, and court house – all of which are free or very low cost. And, these folks are actually EXPERTS in the geographic areas in which you’re searching – something large subscription database owners are, unequivocally, NOT.

  • Judi M

    Ms Hoover is correct … it is preferable to visit local libraries, historical societies and court houses if you can, but what about people who live in Ontario and are searching in another province or even another country. It is much more cost effective to pay the $30 for a month of research than to travel. Buy I disagree with the assumption that subscriptions cost ‘an arm and a leg’ .. I think the cost is minimal for the thousands of libraries, historical societies and court houses I am able to access from the comfort of my own office library. Who knows, someday I might even break through my brick wall and find my ancestor. Anyone got a spare BEDARD/Badour ancestor they want to share?