6 Best Domain Name Registrars

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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 six best domain name registrars:

The Top Domain Name Registrars

  1. Domain.com – Best value for money.
  2. GoDaddy – Best for customer support.
  3. NameCheap – Best for domain security.
  4. Bluehost – Best for all-in-one convenience.
  5. HostGator – Best for ease of use.
  6. 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.

Beginner Resources

Domain Name Registrar Comparison

The most important factors when it comes to domain name registration are affordability, security, and support. So, before we discuss each of our top six 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
GoDaddy $11.99/year $17.99/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
DreamHost $6.99/year $15.99/year Yes No

Domain.com

Best value for money

domain com home

Key Features

.com starting price: $9.99/year

WHOIS protection included? No

24/7 support? Yes: phone and live chat

Domain.com is one of the best-known domain name registrars out there, and it currently powers over 1.2 million websites around the world. Domain.com offers a thorough amount of features that give customers comprehensive control over their domain names.

Pricing

All domain name registrars offer cheap introductory prices, but every domain name then renews at a regular, more expensive rate. Domain.com’s cheapest introductory price is for the domain name extension .date, which starts at $2.99/year.

A domain name extension is just the part of a domain name that comes after the period – for example, our domain name extension is .com, and our domain name as a whole is websitebuilderexpert.com. When you purchase a new domain name, the price will usually be determined by the extension that you choose!

The two most common types of domain extensions are top-level domains (TLDs) and country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). TLDs are well-known domain name extensions, like .com, .net, and .edu. ccTLDs are country-specific domain name extensions, such as .uk or .fr. People use different TLDs and ccTLDs for varying purposes – for example, .me is a popular extension for personal portfolios and blogs, but it’s actually the ccTLD for Montenegro!

We’re betting you probably want a more conventional domain extension than .date, so we’ve covered the most popular options below:

TLD/ccTLDIntroductory PriceRenewal Price
.com$9.99/year$13.99/year
.net$12.99/year$15.99/year
.org$8.99/year$14.99/year
.me$2.99/year$19.99/year
.biz$5.99/year$18.99/year

Features

Domain.com doesn’t skimp on features. Here’s what comes for free with the purchase of any domain:

  • URL forwarding – also known as redirecting, this makes a web page available under more than one URL address, so that you can forward visitors on to a new website.
  • Email forwarding – the ability to create an email address specific to your domain, like maura@websitebuilderexpert.com.
  • Total DNS management – hands-on control over your domain portfolios.

Help and Support

Domain.com offers excellent customer service options, including 24/7 live chat and phone support. You can also use Domain.com’s searchable knowledge base to find written answers to your questions, although there are currently only 53 domain-related articles in the search results. But it’s good to know that if you don’t find what you’re looking for there, someone will be happy to take your questions over the phone instead.

Security

Domain.com offers free Transfer Lock security, which prevents a domain from getting stolen or deleted. A free, basic SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate also comes with domain registration. SSL certificates protect your site visitors’ information, and make your website more trustworthy in turn.

If you’re looking for extra security features, the more powerful SSL certificates start at $3.00/month. You can also purchase Domain.com’s “Domain Privacy + Protection” plan, which includes malware scans to protect your website from hackers, and also keeps your personal information invisible in the public WHOIS domain name database. This privacy and protection plan costs $8.99/year for each domain name.

Interested in Domain.com?

This popular registrar offers great value for money.

GoDaddy

Best for customer support

godaddy domain home

Key Features

.com starting price: $11.99/year

WHOIS protection included? No

24/7 support? Yes: phone and live chat

When it comes to internet services, GoDaddy is pretty much a household name at this point. It currently manages over 78 million domain names for nearly 19 million customers, making it the world’s largest registrar!

Pricing

GoDaddy offers a few domain extensions at an introductory price as low as $0.99/year. But let’s take a look at some of its most popular offerings:

TLD/ccTLDIntroductory PriceRenewal Price
.com$11.99/year$17.99/year
.net$14.99/year$19.99/year
.org$8.99/year$20.99/year
.me$3.49/year$19.99/year
.biz$7.99/year$24.99/year

Features

Every GoDaddy domain name comes with:

  • Up to 100 subdomains
  • Real-time website monitoring
  • Domain forwarding

These are all strong features that make any GoDaddy domain worth the price. However, email forwarding does not come included, which may be frustrating for some. You can purchase an email forwarding plan for as little as $3.66/month (renews at $5.99/month), which includes 10 GB of email storage and up to 400 email aliases.

Help and Support

GoDaddy offers 24/7 live chat and phone support. Its phone support lines are country and language-specific. GoDaddy also has a searchable knowledge base full of articles and videos about domain name registration.

Security

GoDaddy offers three different levels of domain privacy to keep your information hidden in the WHOIS database – but all three plans come at an additional cost to your domain. The simplest plan, Basic Privacy Protection, prevents domain-related spam and redacts your name, address, phone number, and email in the WHOIS directory.

Like what you see?

It’s hard to go wrong with the web’s most popular domain name registrar.

NameCheap

Best for security

namecheap home

Key Features

.com starting price: $8.88/year

WHOIS protection included? Yes

24/7 support? Yes: live chat

NameCheap manages millions of domain names for over 500,000 customers, and it aims to make buying and transferring domain names as easy as possible.

Pricing

NameCheap often offers special deals, where certain domains are as cheap as $1-2/year, so there are definitely ways to save with this registrar. But let’s take a look at NameCheap’s most popular options at their regular prices:

TLD/ccTLDIntroductory PriceRenewal Price
.com$8.88/year$12.98/year
.net$12.98/year$14.98/year
.org$12.98/year$14.98/year
.me$18.99/year$20.98/year
.biz$15.88/year$16.88/year

Features

When you register a NameCheap domain, you’ll immediately have access to an account panel dashboard that makes managing your domain name(s) organized and easy. URL forwarding and one free email address is also included.

NameCheap lets you try email forwarding free for two months, after which you’ll need to choose a paid email plan. The cheapest email plan is the Starter plan at $11.88/year, which includes 5GB of storage.

Help and Support

NameCheap offers 24/7 live chat and an email ticketing system, so you can get in touch with a representative at any time. That said, NameCheap does not currently offer phone support.

There is also a Support Center that offers articles and how-to videos to help you get set up.

Security

Free security features are where NameCheap stands out from the crowd. When you purchase a NameCheap domain, you get free privacy protection for life, so you don’t need to worry about your data becoming visible in the WHOIS database. You also get free DNSSEC (“Domain Name System security”) security, which protects both you and your website visitors from fraudulent activity.

Interested in NameCheap?

Great security awaits when you use this registrar.

Bluehost

Best for all-in-one convenience

bluehost domains home

Key Features

.com starting price: $11.99/year

WHOIS protection included? No

24/7 support? Yes: phone and live chat

Bluehost is a very well known web hosting provider that also excels as a domain name registrar. Domains come free for one year when you sign up to a hosting plan, and Bluehost also includes free SSL certificates with its domain names, so it’s a great choice if you don’t want to end up making purchases from a third party.

Pricing

Bluehost has some pretty cheap deals, including the “.website” extension, which you can get for $1.99/year. Now for a look at Bluehost’s most popular options:

TLD/ccTLDIntroductory PriceRenewal Price
.com$11.99/year$17.99/year
.net$12.99/year$18.99/year
.org$8.99/year$17.99/year
.me$11.99/year$17.99/year
.biz$11.99/year$16.99/year

Features

Bluehost offers an easy-to-use control panel, from which you can manage your domain name(s).

You can also enable auto-renewal when you purchase a domain name, which means that you won’t have to remember to manually renew your domain each year and risk losing it. While auto-renewal might be a convenient option for some, we don’t recommend it if you’re not fully confident that you’ll want to renew your domain after the first year.

Help and Support

Bluehost offers 24/7 phone and live chat support, with a team of over 750 support staff ready to help you out. And if you prefer learning on your own time, Bluehost’s searchable knowledge base is one of the most extensive that we’ve seen.

Security

Every Bluehost domain comes with Domain Lock security, which prevents unauthorized transfers (you can unlock your domain at any time if you do need to transfer it). And as we mentioned earlier, Bluehost domains come with an SSL certificate included.

Want to learn more about Bluehost?

This web hosting giant is also a powerful domain name registrar.
What about buying a domain through a website builder?

If all-in-one convenience is your thing, then it doesn’t get better than a website builder – these platforms help you pick a domain name, set up a site, and host it, all with no tech skills necessary. However, if you purchase a domain name through a website builder (like Wix or Weebly), you won’t have complete ownership or control over your domain name.

That’s why purchasing a domain name through a hosting provider like Bluehost is a good compromise – you can purchase everything through the same provider, but your domain won’t depend on your web hosting, so you can switch registrars whenever you want.

HostGator

Best for ease of use

hostgator domains

Key Features

.com starting price: $12.95/year

WHOIS protection included? No

24/7 support? Yes: phone and live chat

HostGator is another giant of the web hosting industry that doubles as a domain name registrar.

Pricing

If you aren’t picky about domain extensions, you’ll save a huge amount of money with HostGator. For example, you can get .site for an introductory price of $0.95/year.

When it comes to popular domains, HostGator’s prices are pretty middle-of-the-pack. As you’ll see, they’re pretty consistent:

TLD/ccTLDIntroductory PriceRenewal Price
.com$12.95/year$17.99/year
.net$12.95/year$17.99/year
.org$12.95/year$17.99/year
.me$15.00/year$19.95/year
.biz$12.95/year$17.99/year

Features

HostGator’s Domain Control Panel is an easy to use dashboard that lets you organize and manage your domains. In addition to the control panel, HostGator also provides auto renewal, and makes domain transfers as simple as possible.

Help and Support

HostGator offers 24/7 live chat and phone support, so you’ll always have a representative to speak to if need be. In addition, HostGator offers a treasure trove of video tutorials and informative articles to browse.

Security

HostGator provides domain locking, so your domain names will be safe from unauthorized transfer. Of course, you can “unlock” your domain if you ever want to transfer it yourself.

HostGator charges $14.95/year for Domain Privacy Protection, but if you choose to pay for it, then your personal information will be invisible in the WHOIS domain database.

Thinking about HostGator?

This powerhouse registrar is simple to use.
Looking to host a website?

Domain names and web hosts often go hand in hand. If you’d like to learn more about web hosting, we have a few resources to get you started:

DreamHost

Best for domain transferring

dreamhost home

Key Features

.com starting price: $6.99/year

WHOIS protection included? Yes

24/7 support? No

DreamHost is another hosting provider/domain name registrar mix, and it offers over 400 TLDs to choose from.

Pricing

DreamHost offers good deals on its domains, with prices as low as $0.99/year for .club and $0.89/year for .xyz. Here’s a look at pricing for the most popular options:

TLD/ccTLDIntroductory PriceRenewal Price
.com$6.99/year$15.99/year
.net$10.99/year$16.99/year
.org$13.95/year$15.99/year
.me$2.99/year$32.95/year
.biz$12.95/year$12.95/year (still!)

Features

DreamHost stands out from the pack for a few reasons, one being the unlimited subdomains that you get with any domain purchase. In addition, DreamHost’s simple control panel lets you manage domains, edit DNS records, and set up domain forwarding, all from a single page.

Help and Support

DreamHost is great for features and domain transferring, but if help and support are top priority, then it may not be your best bet. You can’t contact DreamHost directly over the phone, although you can elect to receive a call back in response to an email ticket.

Live chat support with a real customer service representative is available from 5:30AM-9:30PM PT. DreamHost also offers 24/7 live chat, although you’ll be chatting to a bot if you choose to go down this route.

DreamHost’s knowledge base is a great asset to its support services, with over 450 articles relating to domain names. In addition to these articles written in-house, DreamHost also provides a community forum where you can hear directly from other customers about their experiences.

Security

DreamHost includes privacy protection with every domain purchase, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your information is not visible in the WHOIS database. This privacy protection also applies to transferred domains, and it renews automatically!

Like what you see?

DreamHost is a customer-focused registrar with great security features.

How to Choose a Domain Name Registrar

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.

Add-ons

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 GoDaddy 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.

How to Buy a Domain Name

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:

domain name search bar

If the domain name you want is available, then great! And if it’s not, the registrar will give you some alternative suggestions:

domain name 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:

domain name checkout page

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:

domain name checkout

But check out the significant price drop!

It’s all pretty much standard billing and payment information from there.

Best Domain Name Registrars: Summary

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:

6 Best Domain Name Registrars

  1. Domain.com – starts at $9.99/year.
  2. GoDaddy – starts at $11.99/year.
  3. NameCheap – starts at $8.88/year.
  4. Bluehost – starts at $11.99/year.
  5. HostGator – starts at $12.95/year.
  6. 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.

FAQs

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!

About Maura Monaghan

Maura Monaghan

I grew up scribbling in notebooks, and until recently the thought of relocating my writing to the digital world seemed like an impossible goal. But when I finally took the plunge and created an online portfolio, I immediately saw the benefits of having my work out on the web. Since then I’ve learned everything I can about creating different websites, so that I can help those in a similar situation get online without a similar headache.

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