One would think that purchasing a domain name is a relatively simple process. Go to Google, type in “best place to purchase domain name,” clickity-clickity, and you’re done. Ta-da!
Unfortunately, there is a bit more to it than that. At least, when you plan on actually using that domain. Finding the best place to purchase a domain name is important. You’re probably going to be with that service for years, after all.
Finding the best domain registrar for you is a combination of cost, services offered, and support. Not every company will work for every person or company, but depending on your needs, I’m confident we can find one that will work.
Namecheap has become one of the top domain registrars around. It may not be as well-known as some of the others, but it consistently outperforms other companies in cost, services, and support.
They have deals pretty often for different domain extensions as low as $0.88 USD, though it’s rare to find something like a .com at that price. Most prices tend to be around $10-12 USD, with specialty domains such as .blog, .tech, and .io running between $20-60 USD per year.
The main draw of Namecheap, in my opinion, is the quality of their overall platform. From managing DNS to ownership/registrar transfers, they are reliable and easy to use (even if you’re not familiar with the ins-ands-outs fo domain management).
Additionally, newly registered domains come with free WHOIS privacy for the first year. (And $2.88 USD per year afterward–considerably cheaper than most other places). You will save you a pretty penny if you register or transfer in bulk. Plus, their support has been quick to respond and fix every issue I’ve personally had within a day each time.
Google Domains is finally out of the invite-only phase of its deployment, and it is exactly what you’d expect out of a Google-run domain registrar. Things are simple, clean, and straightforward, and for the most part…they just work.
The real benefits in my mind of using Google Domains is the ease with which you can get things up and running. Your entire domain list is consolidated in your Google account, so if you use G-suite for work or Gmail et al for personal use, you’re good to go (with payment information likely already stored, so that’s a bonus).
There are a couple of downsides to the service, the first of which is that there are never any discounts (at least that I’ve discovered). You pay $12 USD per year for the more common TLDs (top-level domains), and pretty much every other extension under the sun is available for $20 all the way up to $120+. You do get WHOIS privacy bundled with the price of each domain, so that tends to make the service a bit more cost effective.
In terms of support, it’s typical Google. Sometimes it’s spot-on and your problem is solved ASAP, and others you’re sent through a Knowledge Base and Support Forum treasure hunt without a map. So yeah. Again, it’s what you’d expect.
Flippa is not your average domain supplier. Not technically a registrar, but a marketplace (think eBay for website and domain names), Flippa lets you browse through thousands upon thousands of listings for domains that are for sale. Sometimes you can snag the perfect one from a squatter for pennies, and sometimes you can snag the perfect one from a squatter for thousands of dollars. It’s a crapshoot in the best kind of way.
The search function works like any other company: you type in keywords you want results for, and then you pick whether you want existing websites or domains (or apps or Shopify shops, technically).
They do tons of transactions every day, and their support has always been quick for me. The main downside to Flippa is that it’s not a pay-and-go service with set prices and rates. You’re dealing with other human beings, and we all know how that can be.
GoDaddy, Hostgator, and Bluehost
Okay, first of all, we know that these companies are not the same, but having used all of them for domain registration and cheap hosting, we’ve had nearly identical experiences with each and every one of them. Their prices and offerings are very, very similar, so I bundled them together.
To us, these are the big-box stores of domain registration, the Walmart, Target, and Costco. They have every last thing you need, are incredibly affordable and easy to work with, and when you have a problem, they’re happy to help (usually for an additional fee, depending on the extent to which you need them).
Things to Consider
With any registrar that offers discounted rates and major coupons, make sure you watch out for the renewal rate for successive years. If you have auto-renew on, at the end of that first year, you will be billed the “then-current” price, which has yet to be determined at your initial registration. Just because you paid $0.99 for that first year doesn’t mean that you won’t be paying $29.99 the next. Read the fine print.
Additionally, these kinds of registrars are more casual-user oriented, and therefore many of their services are tiered and priced with that market in mind. Features such as WHOIS privacy tend to be a la carte and higher-priced than at smaller, more niche-focused companies.
Customer support, in my experience at least, also tends to be similar. For both GoDaddy and Hostgator, I typically receive responses within a day, but the quality is hit-or-miss. (LiveChat tends to be more useful than email support lately.)
Clients and I both have been consistently upsold by both GoDaddy and Hostgator in the past to the tune of $75 USD for DNS issues and SSL certificate installation, all the way up to $300/hr a fix I handled in literally 3 minutes for a client after they were told the Hostgator technicians had to handle it over a couple of days.
My interactions with Bluehost customer service have been delightful, honestly, but neither I nor a client have needed anything as in-depth as with GoDaddy and Hostgator.
Admittedly, that’s all anecdotal, so if you plan on going with one of these three for domain registration, it’s personal preference.
- GoDaddy has WHOIS privacy in three tiers between $7.99 and $14.99 USD per year per domain
- 19 TLD extensions available
- Hostgator has WHOIS privacy for $12.95 USD per year per domain
- 15 TLD extensions available (but 319 total with domain.com partnership)
- Bluehost has WHOIS privacy for $0.99 per month per domain
- 14 TLD extensions available
Name.com has been around forever, and they are very well known in the domain industry. They have prices ranging anywhere from $3.99 USD per year to $100+, depending on how special you’re looking for. Name.com does offer sales, and their extension choices are far wider than many other hosts.
The WHOIS privacy option here is on the cheaper side at $4.99 USD per year, too. I would also like to mention that they do offer add-on email support–even if you don’t have a hosting plan through them. That’s a rare find, and I thought you’d wanna know about it.
These folks have built up a reputation on being reliable and consistent. If that’s what is important for you, you will find a lot to like here. They aren’t flashy, and they don’t have a gimmick. That’s pretty cool. They do what they set out to do, and they do it well.
There are over 400 domain extensions, and very few places can sell them all. DreamHost is one of them. So if the desire for that ultra-specific, specialty domain keeps you up at night, DreamHost has you covered. They run sales where you can pick up some extensions as low as $0.99 USD; however, common domains run around $12-15.
DreamHost also boasts about its dedication to your privacy, and they show it by offering WHOIS protection free of charge. Additionally, they have put their money where their mouth is and fought back against a US Department of Justice warrant that requests “all information available to [DreamHost] about this website, its owner, and, more importantly, its visitors.” (Emphasis theirs).
Regardless of where you fall on the politics, if privacy is one of your major issues, DreamHost may be your new BFF.
And finally, 1&1 is a lesser-known company that has a pretty nifty gimmick: they offer special domain extensions (such as .mobi, .pizza, .ninja) at discounted prices. While they’re still more expensive than a common .com (.common? #domainpun), you should definitely check them out to see if you can snag your startup’s awesome .io URL cheaper here than you can elsewhere.
Like many other registrars, 1&1 offers hosting services as well as the not-so-common standalone email. Additionally, they have a pretty sweet Microsoft Office 365 deal for businesses. 1&1’s deal might make it cheaper and more accessible than G-suite, depending on your company and team. (Or if your company hates Google like my previous one did.)
Did I Miss the Best Place to Purchase a Domain Name?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of where you can register a domain. But I do think it’s a list of the best places for you to do so. So if you want ease of use, customer support, privacy protection, or just plain-and-simple discounts, hopefully one of these will work out for you.
Which company do you use for domain registration? Let us all know where and why in the comments so we have even more fantastic options to choose from!
Article thumbnail image by VectorsMarket / shutterstock.com
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GoDaddy is just great. 1. reliable 2. Good support 3. Cheap
They also provide great discounts. What do you think?
Thanks for the article and all the tips. I will check out some of these domain sellers for sure.
I do hosting with InMotion and buy some domains from them which seem to be good in price. Some I buy from Enom as I have a reseller account others I buy from Netregistry as they had a lot of .au websites that I needed.
As I do my own hosting I have never had any problems with any of these domain providers as there have been no real questions to ask. The hosting side of things seems to be more dicey to me rather than where you buy your name…. or have I just been lucky?
Amazon Route 53 another option if you are using AWS and using AWS route 53 DNS service. It also works with AWS Lightsail account though you usually don’t get any discount or offers.
The best for the domain is domaintyper.com. It shows you available domains as soon as you write the domain name (You don’t need to click the search button at all).
For available domains, you can see the price from different registrar e.g. godaddy, UnitedDomains, etc.
If offers other services for free, like “domain generator” and “Search on social network”
Former domainer here. Godaddy , Uniregistry, Name,con, Namecheap, Dynadot. All good. I think That Uniregistry excels among them. Please take away 1&1 from the list as they are regarded as the worst ever.
Want to sell a name..Sedos? Thoughts….
I have been using Namebargain for years and only had the best service from them and the ease of use was always great.
This is very helpful but just wondering if there is any benefit in keeping domain and hosting separate?
I fell in love with Namecheap over 3 years ago. I haven’t regretted using them ever since. I left Godaddy because the upsells were excessive. Buy domain and hosting and in less than a week they say you need to upgrade. But with Namecheap, it’s been a bliss, they have their own downtimes just like anyone else but usually not something that’ll ever affect your work most of the time. Customer care is sweet, prices are respectably affordable (plus they use SSDs). The cheapest hosting plan can hold a very good number of visitors at a time. Hosting is good, premium DNS, email service. I love Namecheap and will recommend them anytime.
The best and cheapest registrar depends on the TLD and even specific domain. And all the registrars constantly rotate promotions. I use tld-list.com to find the best place to register particular domains at any given time. Accordingly, I’ve used a bunch of registrars, but I don’t really interact with them after purchase as I self-host and use my own DNS provider.
I use Hostmonster, coming from 1 & 1 was a nightmare for WordPress, I really like the Tech support at any step of the way they’re there for you.
i use whois.com for my domain names, never lacked any of the above mentions.
Everytime about support they are superb… Cheap too and very convenience to used buy domains and hosting.
Im a godaddy customer too.
I have been buying domain names from Dreamhost since I started web design because every domain name comes with free Domain Privacy Protection. Hence, for each domain name you purchase, each year you only have to pay for the domain name fee without having to pay extra charge per domain for privacy protection. This is substantial savings for freelance web developers/designers, particularly when you have a lot of clients.
Internet.bs and then move the dns to cloudflare. Works great.
Sir, any suggestions for the beginners
I so much love Namecheap and that’s because of these 2 major reasons
1. Amazing Customer Support – Whenever i had issue or just wanted their help, Namecheap customer support are just one-click away
2. Reliable Service – Their domain name product are reliable and one can be rest assured that your domain name would always be accessible
There are other reasons though but these are the ones that really matters for now
Namecheap.. because you cannot put a price on their excellent customer service ..
I own 100s of domains with them
I have 15+ domain names and all the domains I purchased from GoDaddy. When I have a plan to purchase a new domain, I just send an email to support member and he/she call-back to me. They have very good support services and help me purchase a new domain with discount.
Not only they provide a discount to me on a new purchase even if I have a renewal, they also offer me a good discount.
i am an happy customer of globehost for purchasing domain and hosting, its easy to manage and use and best thing is u dont get spam messages after registering with them,unlike godaddy. if u register on godaddy and buy whois privacy then also u will get spam emails and sms,dats the reason i switched to globehost.
I have transfered everything from GoDaddy to Google. Nothing but calls for up sales from GoDaddy after repeatedly asking them not to call.
Godaddy domain auctions are joke. Apparently with godaddy’s Auction Service the highest bibber doesn’t win. I’ve been the highest bidder many times with no Reserve only not to receive my domain. It’s a complete joke.
If I remember correctly I purchased my 1st domain from Godaddy. All my domains was based at Godaddy for a long while. I hosted some wordpress sites there as well. But I had a bad hosting experience with them. Ever since that time, my dislike for godaddy kept on growing. I finally gave up and moved all 30 domains to namecheap. I haven’t looked back since!
Networksolutions the first registar
These are all very typical answers to the domain registration question.
Those that are in touch with cyberculture will likely know, Gandi.net, which values privacy and security above all, and became quite popular through its repeated virality on Reddit.
It may not have Godaddy’s superbowl ads, but it is better.
Hi, so much good info here, thanks. One question, do any of these (good) registrars offer reseller accounts?
Launchaco is awesome! also has a free website builder (launchaco.com)
I always use whois.com
Great prices and no down sides that I’ve seen.
I bought a domain name from appsoln.com
These guys are new that’s why their prices are dry low.
Hey, thanks for this. It was a timely reminder to tranfer my domains from GoDaddy. I chose Google, ended up saving $16/domain per year with privacy. ?? I was never happy with GoDaddy: the marketing phone calls, upselling/convoluted checkout process and tge steadily rising prices.
First of all – I always recommend customers, friends etc to NEVER have your registration and webhotell the same place. If you ever have a major problem with your webhotell, they can not hold your site hostage. Just get a new webhotel and move the DNS pointer.
Second – although rarely mentioned, the biggest Norwegian registrar, Domeneshop, has an international part in English – https://domainnameshop.com/ . The prices are ok, but more important, their control panel allows you to do everything you need without help from support. And if you need support, they are skilled and all speak English as you would expect.
And no, I do not work for or with them 🙂 I am just a VERY satisfied customer. I have NEVER had any problem with their service as a registrar!
Is there a reason you skipped Hover.com? It’s one of the best platforms. Seriously, it’s far superior to some of your recommendations here.
We rely on namecheap, eventhough it took a little getting used to their back end. Love the 2 factor auth & the mobile app…
I was surprised not to see SiteGround not included. OK, little pricey but great service.