Explore the best options for domain name registration
When you want to get started on the internet, one of the first things you’ll need is a domain name. If your website is your house, then your domain name is like an address – for example, ours is websitebuilderexpert.com.
But how does one go about getting a domain name? The answer is through a domain name registrar, which – you guessed it – is a company that manages the purchase and registration of domain names. A registrar is your gateway to the domain name you want, but there are a lot of registrars to choose from.
That’s where we come in. We’ve been helping people build their dream websites for over ten years, and have encountered our fair share of domain registrars in the process. With that in mind, we’ve surveyed the good, the bad, and the ugly, and narrowed down this list of the five best domain name registrars:
The Top Domain Name Registrars
- Domain.com – Best value for money.
- NameCheap – Best for domain security.
- Bluehost – Best for all-in-one convenience.
- HostGator – Best for ease of use.
- DreamHost – Best for domain transferring.
Read on for an in-depth look at each option, and discover the best domain name registrar for your website.
The most important factors when it comes to domain name registration are affordability, security, and support. So, before we discuss each of our top five registrars in detail, we’ll give you a quick snapshot of how they all perform in the areas that count:
|Registrar||.com introductory price||.com renewal price||WHOIS protection included?||24/7 support?|
|Domain.com||$9.99/year||$13.99/year||No||Yes: phone and live chat|
|NameCheap||$8.88/year||$12.98/year||Yes||Yes: live chat|
|Bluehost||$11.99/year||$17.99/year||No||Yes: phone and live chat|
|HostGator||$12.95/year||$17.99/year||No||Yes: phone and live chat|
Now that you know your options, you may be wondering how to choose the best registrar for you. There are a lot of factors you could consider, but some are more important than others. We think the factors covered above – support and security, for example – are uncompromisable. That said, there are a few other factors to keep in mind:
Introductory and renewal prices
We’ve mentioned that introductory prices will often be misleading, so it’s important to check a registrar’s renewal prices before you purchase anything. And while those cheap introductory prices usually only last for the first year, a lot of registrars offer different renewal pricing plans that depend on the time frame you sign up for. You could pay less per year when you purchase a domain for five years in advance instead of two, for example.
Domain transfer policy
As a rule, you can’t transfer a domain in the first 60 days after registration. Once that time frame is up, you’re free to move your domain name to a different registrar. It’s easy to overlook transfer policies when signing up for a registrar that you like, but in case you ever want to switch down the road, it’s best to make sure you won’t be paying more than you need to.
Most registrars will let you transfer domains without any additional fees, but not all, so this is something to keep in mind during the signup process!
Domain expiration policy
When you purchase a domain name, you purchase it for a specific amount of time, usually 1-5 years (10 years is the maximum that you can purchase in advance). You can renew your domain name before its expiration date, but if you forget to do so, then the domain name expires and becomes fair game to anyone.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can set up auto-renewal for your domain name. But if you’re not comfortable with auto-renewal charges, either, then it’s worth looking into your registrar’s expiration policy. Some registrars offer a grace period after expiration, where they’ll hold a domain for you.
A domain name is only one of the many tools that are needed to build a website. Other tools, like SSL certificates and web hosting, can be purchased separately from other providers. But some domain name registrars offer more than just domain name registration, and if convenience is important to you, then it’s worth choosing a platform that can offer multiple tools in one package.
You can end up saving a lot of money this way, too. Registrars like Domain.com offer basic SSL certificates for free, while registrars like NameCheap offer SSL certificates at an additional cost – which is still more convenient than having to purchase from a third party. Similarly, if you decide to purchase a web hosting plan with Bluehost, then you’ll get free domain registration (or transfer) for the first year.
So, you’ve chosen the best domain name registrar, and you’re ready to finally get started. The first step is searching your registrar for the domain name you want. Most registrars will have a search bar on their homepage, like so:
If the domain name you want is available, then great! And if it’s not, the registrar will give you some alternative suggestions:
…some are a little more expensive than others.
Now comes the part where you’ll need to pay attention. At checkout, different time frames and add-ons may be preselected for you, so you’ll want to keep an eye out to make sure you’re not paying for anything you don’t want or need. This is what our checkout screen with Domain.com initially looked like:
Most people do choose to purchase domain privacy and protection, but preselection can still be frustrating. If we only wanted our .tech domain name for one year, with no add-ons, we’d have to do some switching around to get this:
But check out the significant price drop!
It’s all pretty much standard billing and payment information from there.
Domain name registration is a straightforward process, but there are a lot of options on the market. To recap, these are the top registrars to choose from, all of which offer security, support, and affordability:
5 Best Domain Name Registrars
- Domain.com – starts at $9.99/year.
- NameCheap – starts at $8.88/year.
- Bluehost – starts at $11.99/year.
- HostGator – starts at $12.95/year.
- DreamHost – starts at $6.99/year.
If all you’re looking for is a domain, rather than an all-in-one toolkit, then Domain.com has got you covered with a wide range of options at low prices. If you’d rather the convenience of purchasing a domain, SSL certificate, and web host all from the same provider, then Bluehost has everything you need to succeed.
On the surface, it may seem like all domain name registrars are the same. But they differ greatly when it comes to features, security, and support options. So while the registrar you use won’t make a difference to your website visitors, it will make a difference to you!
When you buy a domain name, you’re not just purchasing the name itself. You’re paying a registrar to route the domain name to an actual server, so that visitors actually have a place to go when they type your domain name into their address bar.
Popular, older domain options like .com and .net are regulated by a nonprofit called the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), so they’re generally inexpensive. But the ICANN doesn’t control prices for some newer TLDs, like .shop and .news. That means wholesalers can price these newer TLDs however they want, in accordance with supply-and-demand.
If you search a registrar for your dream domain, only to find out that it’s taken, you have two options: you can brainstorm a different name, or you can find out if the current owner of the domain name is willing to sell it. This is where the WHOIS database comes in handy. You can contact the current owner of the domain name you want – but be prepared to pay a lot of money if you choose this route!