If you sign up for an Ancestry trial, you must take action if you don’t want to pay for the subscription after your trial period. In other words, if you don’t cancel the trial, Ancestry will charge your credit card.
Some people have reported problems with canceling the trial. There should always be a fix that ensures a refund. This article goes through specific issues and how to address them. Even if you just forgot to cancel in time, we’ve some tips for you that worked for other people!
But first, we’ll look at what happens to your family tree or DNA results when you cancel a trial subscription.
What Happens If I Cancel My Ancestry Trial Or Subscription?
When you cancel your Ancestry subscription, your trial or paid account is switched to being a free guest account. I’ve got a full article on what you can and can’t do with a registered guest account.
I’ll summarize the details here. After you cancel your trial or subscription, you will be able to:
- access your family tree
- manually add or update tree profiles (i.e. people in the tree)
- view and add files to the media gallery (i.e. files you upload yourself)
- see very limited details of record hints
There is a section in our article on using the free Ancestry guest account that shows you examples of the limited record hints. You can glean some info, but it’s not very useful.
If your account has a DNA kit, you can view your DNA matches.
You will not be able to:
- view records behind the paywall (but some Ancestry collections are free)
- view family trees (unless the owner has actively invited you to their tree)
- send messages to other Ancestry members
The key point is that your family tree or DNA results are certainly not deleted by a cancellation.
Before You Cancel Your Ancestry Trial
If you have built a family tree with records from the Ancestry archives, you won’t be able to view the records when you cancel your subscription.
But you can download your family tree along with all the records (the images) before you cancel your trial.
You can export your Ancestry tree to what is known as a GEDCOM file. The disadvantage is that this doesn’t download the records.
Two alternative software programs can download the tree and records. They have special permission from Ancestry to connect to the website via your account and make a local copy of your tree.
I recommend the free RootsMagic Essentials to do this. I’ve got a step-by-step guide in this article on using RootsMagic to download your Ancestry tree. There is a paid version of the software, but the free version works fine for this. You’ll find all the links and details of installing the software in the article.
Family Tree Maker is the other software that synchronizes with Ancestry. There isn’t a free version, but it is a popular and powerful genealogy application. You can get it at this link.
How To Cancel Ancestry Successfully
There are a lot of genealogy hobbyists who jump in and out of Ancestry for a few months each year. They pick a season when they know they’ll have time to research, and start a paid subscription. Then they’ll cancel it until the next time.
Some thrifty people watch out for special offers on subscription rates, which usually cover a three or six-month period. They cancel in the final month and keep an eye out for the next one to come along.
So, rest assured that canceling your trial should go smoothly if you can follow the process through to the end. And that is where people may encounter issues.
I won’t repeat the cancellation instructions described in their support document.
But I emphasize here that you have to hit the “continue” button at the bottom of the page several times. There are multiple pages you have to wade through. Don’t stop until you see a display informing you that the cancellation is complete.
And even then, make sure that you receive an email confirming the cancellation. Otherwise, there may have been technical issues that interrupted the process. I’ll give examples in the next section.
Ancestry Cancellation Problems
Regular Ancestry users will confirm that the service can have sporadic but recurring technical issues. This shows in the form of spinning wheels or blank web pages when the website is having difficulty displaying data. But it may also be having difficulty receiving your input.
That’s why I said in the previous section to be sure that you’ve got to the end of the process. If you’ve clicked the continue button and the next page is blank, don’t assume that everything has worked fine. You want to see a confirmation screen and a separate email.
If you don’t get the confirmation email, then you should contact customer support. If your trial is nearly up, I recommend that you telephone for support (as opposed to contacting them by email). Otherwise, a paid subscription could kick in.
One bewildered user
Here’s an extreme example that I picked out of a Facebook group in 2020. The poor chap is asking for other Ancestry users for advice:
Can you tell me why I cannot cancel my subscription for Ancestry after my 14 day free trial? Every time I try to cancel the subscription it logs me out and I’m just going round in circles.forlorn Facebook member
I recognize his experience of logging into the website and getting kicked out repeatedly. It’s rare, and I suspect it happens when Ancestry is rolling out a major update to their system. In the past, a company would shut down its site while making big changes. In our current 24/7 world, that isn’t acceptable to customers. But this can throw up problems.
Even still, if you’ve been charged in these circumstances, you will want a refund. Ancestry will certainly provide a refund. In my internet trawl, I picked up some tips from people who had got their refunds.
Tips For Getting A Refund If The Cancellation Wasn’t Processed
Ancestry has a tip for you on its support page. If you can’t find a cancellation option, you may be logged into a different guest account that you set up previously. The free guest accounts don’t have the cancellation link.
But let’s assume that’s not what happened. You couldn’t cancel your subscription for whatever reason, and you’ve noticed that your credit card has been charged.
I took a trawl through the genealogy forums to get the best tips and advice.
In general, people report success when they contact Ancestry by phone. The operator will usually process the cancellation while you’re on the line. I suggest that if this doesn’t seem to be how the conversation is going, that you request a supervisor.
There are free-phone numbers on their support page for many countries.
I know that mistakes on the company side can very frustrating, but remember that Ancestry.com is bound by financial legislation. If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, you can take it up with your credit card company. This can involve a wait for a refund, so it’s better to contact Ancestry first.
Tips For Getting A Refund If You Forgot To Cancel
We all make mistakes. So, being charged for the subscription may be your own fault. But you don’t have to suck it up.
I’ve got two tips for you that I gleaned from the genealogy forums.
One lady recounted her own mistake in the summer of 2020. She had simply forgotten about the trial.
I went on to the site to site to cancel the membership to make sure it doesn’t auto-renew again. One of the options for why I was canceling was ‘I didn’t realize my membership would auto-renew’. Unexpectedly, by choosing that option Ancestry.com automatically refunded the renewal amount.happy Facebook user
I had a look at the cancellation sequence, and the option is still there in 2021. This is a shortened list of what I saw (I’ve highlighted the option in yellow):
Frankly, I wouldn’t rely on this to get my money back! I’d take this option, but I’d also contact Ancestry support.
This brings us to the next tip from a different individual on a genealogy forum. This person reports that she is very forgetful, and has forgotten to cancel Ancestry, Amazon Prime, and other services I’m not familiar with. She phones up each company and uses the same “script” each time.
I forgot to cancel my subscription but as you can see it is the first day of my paid subscription and I no longer need this service. Can you please cancel my subscription and refund me the full amount for the subscription?
I notice that she refers to the first day. I’m not sure if the same would work if you didn’t notice your oversight until you checked your bank days later. But it’s worth a try with a slight amendment!
Canceling A Subscription That Includes Newspapers
The first thing I want to say about Newspapers.com is that a separate subscription may work out better for you than a bundled offer. You can check out our article on getting the best value for money from Newspapers and Ancestry.
The next point is that although the Ancestry brand owns Newspapers.com, it’s treated as a separate company.
So, I’ve seen online reports of people complaining that when they canceled their Ancestry subscription, they were charged for the Newspapers. This sounds like you have to make two cancellations. This would be poor technical design!
I don’t see anything in the documentation to say that something special is required. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were occasional glitches with two systems talking to each other.
One person recounting the situation said that Ancestry gave her a refund when she reported the problem. Someone else replied:
I’ve added newspapers and canceled newspapers. I’ve had no problem adding or canceling. You do have to call to cancel but I’ve had no problems doing that.happy Facebook member
I’ve bolded the key part there. It’s an expensive option, so it’s probably safest to call with the cancellation request.