Genealogical Research · Genealogy Basics

How I saved a lot of money on Ancestry’s World Deluxe Membership

I cancelled my Ancestry subscription in order to get a new subscriber discount. Here’s how I did it.

I’m a big fan of Gail Dever’s Genealogy à la Carte. One of her posts intrigued me – it talked about how, after 12 years of faithfully subscribing to Ancestry and renewing at the full price, she took a risk and cancelled her subscription.

Why would any keen genealogist want to cancel their Ancestry subscription?

It seems that Ancestry is nicer to new customers than existing customers. If you are a new subscriber, Ancestry will offer you a sweetener to subscribe – discounts of 30-50% are available. Once you’ve signed up, though, Ancestry automatically renews your subscription year after year, at the full subscription cost. I had a subscription to World Deluxe, which, as of April, 2019 is a few cents shy of CAD$300. My renewal was imminent.

To renew or not to renew?

I love Ancestry. I use it a lot.

I use it to build trees on behalf of other people, and at last count I think I had over a dozen different trees. These trees represent years of intense work, and the thought of risking all that work gave me heart palpitations. Ancestry is supposed to save your work regardless of subscription type, but what if something went wrong? I carefully checked all my backup documents and links. I downloaded “.gedcom” files for all my trees. I uploaded those trees to Mac Family Tree. I reread the methodology for cancelling and renewing on Facebook groups.

Even after all of that, I thought about playing it safe and allowing the subscription to renew at full cost. Is the risk really worth at most $150, I asked myself.

On Renewal Day

On Renewal Day, I took a deep breath and cancelled my subscription. I’d read that in order to ensure I wasn’t automatically renewed, cancelling should be done a few days’ prior, but I had work to do right up until renewal day. I cancelled with 5 hours remaining on my subscription, and crossed my fingers that all my work wouldn’t be erased with that one decision.

It was nerve-wracking.

I cancelled. Where’s my come back offer?

That was 8 days ago. Each day, I’d sign in to check my account. I’d read that Ancestry might post a banner ad offering a discount, but no banner showed up for me. I’d also read that Ancestry sent emails to former subscribers with “come back” offers. No emails arrived in my Inbox.

I did find that Ancestry was willing to offer a small concession for a 6 month subscription: $50 off.

I was going into withdrawal and tempted to take the $50.

The small discount Ancestry offered on my home page – $50 off a 6 month subscription

Google to the rescue

But before I took the $50, I thought I’d see if Google could find me a better deal. Lo and behold, Google found me a page from Ancestry offering a 12 month World Deluxe Membership for $149.94 (half price). I have no idea why this page didn’t show up in my account, but it didn’t.

I was so excited about taking it, I forgot to get a screen cap of it. The offer was from the Ancestry site, and stipulated it was for new subscribers only. I’d cancelled my membership – did I qualify?

When I clicked on the Buy Now button, it said Welcome Back, Linda Yip, do you want to buy? I carefully checked the details:

  • Ancestry World Deluxe Membership (not a lesser subscription like All Canada). Check.
  • $149.94 for a year (not 6 months). Check.
  • Same account as my previous account (so I’d get all my work back). Check.
Welcome Back offer from Ancestry

Does cancelling instead of renewing work?

It worked for me. I cancelled my subscription, all my work was still in Ancestry even while I was an unpaid guest, and I was able to renew at a substantial discount.

Caveats and afterthoughts

Please bear in mind that I am sharing my experience with Ancestry’s subscription policies for general interest. I have tried to be clear about the risks, and while I was successful in gaining back all that I had on my Ancestry platform, I was also prepared to have to rebuild my work from scratch. I am neither advising you try this nor dissuading you from doing so and to be clear, I cannot be held responsible if something does go wrong.

I strongly advise that if you do try the cancel and renew route that you ensure all your work is backed up: .gedcom files, documents, links, and anything else you may have attached to your online tree.

I have to thank Gail Dever and various members of Canadian genealogy groups over the past year. I have considered the cancel and renew method for months, and I never would have known how to do it without their help. Gail even wrote a blog about sites you can use while you’re waiting for your renewal offer, if you can’t go a few days without genealogy.

17 thoughts on “How I saved a lot of money on Ancestry’s World Deluxe Membership

  1. I believe that no matter what, your information will stay on Ancestry. You can lapse for months and still access your tree, but not the documents. I didn’t have the guts this year to try cancelling and get an offer – withdrawal! Even though I have access to most databases via Ancestry Library Edition and I work at the library 5 days a week. I might try next year.

    Also, I ensure I won’t lose anything by using TreeShare in RootsMagic – that way, if, Heaven forfend, something happens and I lose my tree, I can just create a new Ancestry tree via RootsMagic’s TreeShare feature. It’s a great feeling. And yes, I obsessively back up my RM – generally three to four times a week!

    1. Withdrawal is right! I confess the only reason I lasted eight days is that I was on holidays for half that time. 🙂
      I do believe that the cancel & renew method is better for people like you and I who have full backup systems like RootsMagic in place beforehand. You know. Just in case.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thank you, Linda Yip! I’ve paid full price for my Ancestry subscription for years but recently let my subscription lapse because I was out of the country. I’ve continued to delay since returning home because my favourite 5th cousin (!) told me she phoned Ancestry and wangled a better deal. Your post couldn’t have been more timely for me. Today I read your post, followed your instructions and, within minutes, saved $150. You’ve been one of my favourite genealogists for quite some time; now you’re my hero! Thank you for the Easter present. 😀

    1. Yes, Happy Easter! I’m thrilled this worked out for you, and as for the lovely compliment… well… I’m blushing. Thank you.

  3. Worked for me too using your instructions. Thanks Linda for the great tip! I got my Ancestry World Deluxe membership for $150. The last time I only paid $150 for an annual World Deluxe membership was in 2016. Happy Easter!

    1. Yay! I feel like the Easter Bunny, giving out treats. Keeping the costs down for genealogy is my focus, because there’s always 10 other things to spend your $$ on. Thank you, Sheryl, for letting me know.

  4. I live in Canada and until last year, I had been paying for an Ancestry.com world subscription in U.S. funds each year. I found out that I could get a world subscription to Ancestry.ca for the same price in Canadian funds (saving over $100.00). I still think it is a shame that long time subscribers have to resort to any games to get a deal.

    1. Interesting – I’ve heard of people using the exchange rates to get better deals but I hadn’t seen any specifics. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

  5. I hit upon the Google special by accident also. I had cancelled in January. Took a nice long break (2 months!) from genealogy. Went back into Ancestry site in March and saw a measly 50$ off Canada subscription. Then I googled Ancestry discount and lo and behold was offered 50% off! So I rejoined.

    1. You and I had the same experience! I’ve had several people say they got emails, and one or two say they called Ancestry to argue for a discount. I’m glad it worked for you, too.

  6. I let my Ancestry lapse (without cancelling). Is a person able to get the discount without cancelling?

    1. I don’t think so. If you know how, please share it with me.

      Also, can I ask you? A few people have said they let their subscriptions lapse. I’m curious how you did that. My subscription automatically renews unless cancelled.

  7. I’ve had a guest account on ancestry for several years but haven’t yet succumbed to a paid account. I do want to – but can’t bring myself (yet) to pay the amount they want. If I do, I’ll have to remember this – what a good idea!

    1. Hi Val, I agree it’s a premium subscription. Unless you’re using it constantly, it’s hard to justify the cost. Some people take a break from genealogy and for those souls, a 6 month or even month to month subscription makes sense. I definitely took breaks in the past.

      But now… phew. Can I share with you that my tree now has over 1000 documented family members and there is no end to the family lines to chase down? Last night, in anticipation of seeing my in-laws again this summer, I finally got working on my husband’s side of the family. I count 29 BMDs and census records downloaded from Ancestry in one research period. Wow! Ancestry is THE platform for his family (old Ontario, going back to the early 18th century, well before Canada was a country). Amazing.

      1. Wow! That’s a huge family! And your husband’s side as well…
        My dad started doing our family’s family trees several years before he died, and was doing my mum’s tree as well as his own, so when I took it on (though I no longer do it as I’ve passed it on to other relatives – apart, that is, from the occasional delve out of curiousity) there was quite a lot to try to decipher and work out.

      2. I’m just getting started! To be honest, my Yip side started off with a huge head start – my Yip cousins were/are big genealogists and drew a family tree back when there was no software to help them. Good thing my cousin Hoy was an electrical engineer – his design and draftsmanship are obvious in his work. His (and now our) family tree is a thing of beauty. I think there are 500 or so names on that tree.

        No, it’s my family other than Yips who are tough to find: the Chus, the Youngs, the Chews. I bang my head against the wall to find even one record for them. My maternal grandmother is a Chew. I know nothing about her family, not even the names of her parents.

        My husband’s maternal line though… wow. They are a jackpot of findable relations. They’re the old Ontario family. It really goes to show you how different the genealogy research experience can be based on your heritage.

      3. Mmmm… am with you on the difficulties of having a different heritage and the problems it creates in tracking down ancestors. Sometime I’ll tell you, in email, about mine!

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