Once you’ve convinced yourself that you need an SSL certificate, the next thing to consider is…how much it’s going to cost you!
The pricing of an SSL certificate is about $70 to $80 per year on average, but this can vary wildly – and can range from $5 per year to a whopping $1,000 per year, depending on how far you are going to go to secure your website, and the length of the plan you sign up to.
Below, we’ll help you understand the reasons behind this variation and everything else you need to know about SSL certificate pricing. Let’s get to it!
When it’s time to pick an SSL certificate for your website, it’s worth remembering that prices can differ wildly – and that’s down to a number of factors. These include:
- The type of SSL certificate: as we explain in the section below, different types of SSL certificates come with varying levels of validation, encryption strength, and features – all of which can affect their cost.
- The Certificate Authority (CA): this is the entity that issues SSL certificates. There are many different CAs – such as Comodo and DigiCert – and the cost of an SSL certificate can vary based on which one you choose.
- Validation level: there are three different levels of validation for SSL certificates: Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV), and Extended Validation (EV). The higher the validation level, the more thorough the vetting process is – and the higher the cost of the SSL certificate. DV certificates are the cheapest, followed by OV and EV certificates.
- Encryption strength: SSL certificates can support different encryption strengths, measured in bits. The higher the encryption strength, the more secure the SSL certificate is (but also, the higher the cost!). Most SSL certificates today use 128-bit or 256-bit encryption.
- The type of SSL certificate: there are several different types of SSL certificates, including single domain, multi-domain, wildcard, and EV SSL certificates. Each type of SSL certificate has different features and capabilities, and costs can vary depending on which type you choose.
- Length of validity: SSL certificates typically have a validity period of one to two years. The longer the validity period, the higher the cost.
- Additional features: some SSL certificates come with extra features: such as site seals, vulnerability assessments, and support for mobile devices. All can bump up the SSL certificate’s price.
An SSL certificate is a digital file that encrypts any data sent by a user to your website’s server.
The major factors that affect SSL pricing are the number of domains the SSL certificate will protect and thoroughness of the verification process used to validate the entity that owns the domain.
Keeping these parameters in mind, below are the types of SSL certificates available today:
Single Domain SSL Certificate
This SSL certificate protects a single domain and subdomain in its hierarchy. For example, if you manage multiple domains/subdomains such as example.com, blog.example.com, and app.example.com, only one of these can be protected.
How much: this type of certificate can be purchased for as little as $5 per year.
Best for: micro-businesses and hobby sites.
Wildcard SSL Certificate
Wildcard SSL certificates protect a domain and all its first-level subdomains. For instance, you can protect not just example.com, but also blog.example.com, app.example.com, and other subdomains.
How much: this SSL certificate starts from $30 per year.
Best for: websites with multiple subdomains, such as a blog, an online store, or a related sub-brand.
Multi-Domain SSL Certificate
Multi-domain SSL certificates can protect any of your different domains and subdomains. For example, you can purchase coverage for example.com, blog.example.com, and sample.com — all through the same SSL certificate.
How much: the pricing for this type of SSL certificate starts from $60 per year.
Best for: larger businesses looking to protect multiple subdomains.
Domain Validation (DV)
This is a quick and straightforward validation, in which the only thing verified is your ownership of the domain name. It’s suitable for bloggers and website owners who do not require any personal details from visitors, and is usually issued within minutes.
How much: you can get your hands on a DV certificate for around $70 per year.
Best for: website owners with minimal security needs, who are looking to secure their site in a quick, easy way.
Organization Validation (OV)
An OV SSL certificate is issued after a certificate authority (CA) has checked your domain ownership as well as basic details about the organization, such as its name and location. An OV SSL certificate provides a greater level of assurance than domain validation, but less than you’d get with extended validation – making it ideal for business owners who don’t need their visitors to enter sensitive information, such as payment details.
How much: pricing for an OV certificate typically starts at around $150 per year.
Best for: larger businesses with more comprehensive security needs – although who don’t need to collect sensitive information from customers.
Extended Validation (EV)
EV certificates are issued after checking the physical and legal existence of the organization, in addition to DV and OV. It is the most rigorous level of validation, and hence carries the highest degree of trust and credibility (and cost!).
How much: the cost of an EV certificate begins at $200 per year.
Best for: large businesses with complex online security requirements.
There are two main ways to obtain an SSL certificate. The first is to pick a website builder, domain registrar, or website host that provides an SSL certificate for you. This method is usually easier for small businesses. Another upshot is that you can usually score a free SSL certificate for at least a year.
The second way is to purchase an SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA) — an entity responsible for issuing SSL certificates. There are many CAs, all offering different feature sets and pricing plans. Here are three to start you off:
Comodo is a brilliant, affordable (and brilliantly affordable!) option for small businesses. It provides a wide range of SSL certificates, with a starting price of $66 per year for a Domain Validation certificate (when you sign up for six years). Other options include Comodo’s OV certificate (from $120 per year on a six-year plan) and EV certificate (from $174 per year on a six-year plan).
Comodo’s notable features include:
- Compatibility with most web browsers
- Unlimited server licensing
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Up to $500,000 warranty
- Industry-standard 256-bit encryption
GeoTrust offers a number of SSL certificates for small and medium-sized businesses. These include DV SSL ($136.58 per year, for six years), True BusinessID ($2364.92 per year, for six years), and True BusinessID with EV ($394.17 per year, for six years).
Notable features of Geotrust SSL include:
- Up to $500,000 warranty
- 99% browser compatibility
- 256-bit encryptions
Let’s Encrypt is an open-source (and non-profit) certificate authority backed by well-known companies such as SiteGround, Automattic, Mozilla, Facebook, Chrome, and more. You can get as many DV SSL certificates as you need for free – the only downside is that the certificates don’t come with any warranty or extra benefits.
Notable features of Let’s Encrypt SSL include:
- Free, unlimited certificates and renewals
- Compatibility with all major browsers and devices
DigiCert is the world’s highest-rated certificate authority, and offers a range of SSL options: from basic to multi-domain certificates.
DigiCert structures its SSL pricing plans a little differently from other providers, in that you pay a base price, then save for selecting a multi-year plan. (If that’s a six-year plan, the base price is canceled out completely.) We’ll admit, its pricing plans can be a little hard to get your head around at first – but considering the savings on offer, it’s well worth the time to check out!
DigiCert’s basic Secure Site package has a base price of $484, while its more advanced EV solution comes in at $1,118. DigiCert’s Secure Site Pro certificate has a base price of $1,207.
DigiCert’s OV plan starts at $264.92 per year (when you sign up for six years).
What we particularly love about DigiCert is that it offers free reissues and replacements for the entire lifetime of its certificate. Although for plans of two years and longer, you’ll need to request – and install – this free reissue on a yearly basis.
Notable features of DigiCert SSL include:
- 24/7 support
- Symmetric 256-bit encryption
- Unlimited server licensing
- Meets software and industry standards
SSL Certificate Cost Comparison
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An SSL certificate makes sure the data sent from a user to your web server is encrypted, enhancing your website’s security. This prevents hackers from stealing your information, and increases visitors’ trust in your brand.
On top of that, search engines and web browsers consider websites without SSL to be “non-secure.” This can impact your website’s ranking and traffic, and also cause users to ‘bounce back’ to the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) if they feel your site is not safe to access.