Are you looking for the best site to buy a domain name 2018? Domain registrars are the companies responsible for registering and managing domain names for all websites around the world.
Choosing the right domain name registrar is very important because there are so many ways to get tricked. In this article, we will show you how to choose the best domain registrar by comparing their pros and cons.
Quick Summary: Do you want to skip the reading and get our professional recommendation instead? According to our study, the top domain registrars are Domain.com if you’re just buying a domain name and Bluehost if you’re building a website since they’ll offer you a domain name for free.
For those of you, who prefer thorough research, here is a quick overview of things you will learn in this guide:
What is a Domain Name Registrar
A domain name registrar is a corporation that sells and registers domain names on your behalf. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit body in charge of domain name management, has accredited all domain name registrars.
Everyone can utilise the internet thanks to domain names. If you don’t have a domain name, you’ll have to browse websites by typing long strings of digits called IP addresses.
Domain names solve this problem by allowing websites to choose addresses using easy to remember words, for example, wpbeginner.com or google.com.
To learn more, see our beginner’s guide on what is a domain name and how does it work.
To make domain names widely available, ICANN allows companies to apply for accreditation and become a domain registrar.
These companies then compete with each other to sell domain name licenses which allows you to get better service and tools when you purchase your domain name.
What Domain Registrars Really Do?
The registry is a centralised database that stores all domain name records. A domain name must be added to the database, along with any relevant information, in order for it to be recognised.
ICANN grants a domain name registrar authorization to make modifications to your domain name’s database information on your behalf. A domain name registrar also offers simple tools for making those adjustments through your web browser.
So, let’s have a look at how to find the finest domain registrar for your website address quickly and efficiently.
Best place to buy domain name 2018
How to Choose The Right Domain Registrar
All domain registrars do not have the authority to offer all domain extensions. Some registrars, for example, can only offer domain names with country-specific extensions (like .io, .in, or .ly).
Along with domain name registration, each domain registrar may provide other services. Some registrars may provide discounted domains as a promotional offer, while others may provide free add-ons to entice clients.
We consider the following four factors while selecting the best domain name registrar:
1. Pricing and Registration Period
The first thing you should look at is the cost of a domain name. Some domain registrars, for example, may offer cheap upfront rates for the first year of registration, but their renewal prices might be much more.
A domain name can be registered for a minimum of one year. However, certain businesses may demand a longer registration time, such as a minimum of two years. A domain name can be registered for up to ten years at a time.
We recommend registering your domain name for one year if you are purchasing a new web address. Your domain will not expire if you enable automatic renewal.
You should also look into any additional fees associated with domain transfers, renewals, and other expenses.
2. Domain Transfers
Domain names can be moved from one domain registrar to another. Normally, you wouldn’t need to transfer your domain name right away, but if you’re unhappy with your domain registrar, then this option should be easily available.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot transfer a domain name during the first 60 days of the registration. This initial period is decided by ICANN. After that, you are allowed to move it to any other registrar that you want.
The majority of domain registrars make it simple to transfer domain names at no additional cost. Some, on the other hand, may try to make it difficult or demand a price to remove the domain lock.
Before you acquire a domain name from a registrar, make sure you read the domain transfer policy.
3. Domain Expiration Policies
Domain names are only registered for a limited time. You can extend the life of your domain registration before it expires. If you forget to renew your domain name, it will expire and anybody will be able to register it.
For companies, this implies that their domain name might be taken over. You may set up auto-renewals for your domain name to prevent this from happening.
Even if you utilise the automatic renewal function, it’s a good idea to verify the expiration policy of your domain registrar. Even after the domain has expired, some registrars provide a grace period. You can renew your expired domain name within this grace period.
We’ve heard scores of horror tales about business owners who lost their domain name because their credit card expired and their registrar didn’t provide a grace period. This is just one of the many reasons why picking the appropriate domain name registrar is crucial.
4. Add-on Services
You should also look into what other services your domain registrar provides. Even if you don’t require these services right now, it’s helpful to know that they are available.
Domain privacy, domain parking, extended expiration protection, and other add-on services may be available. Some domain registrars may also offer WordPress hosting, email hosting, website builders, and email marketing services, among other things.
Top 3 Things to Watch Out for When Choosing a Domain Name Registrar
Due to the competition in the domain registration business, you will come across companies with some very attractive offers. While these offers may look good, there may be some downsides that you may not notice right away.
Following are a few things to watch out for when choosing a domain name registrar.
1. Add-on Pricing
Some domain name registrars can automatically pre-check add-on services when you purchase a domain name. If you don’t uncheck those options, then this would increase your bill significantly. Typically a .com domain name should not cost you more than $14.99 / year. If it does, then it should raise a red flag.
You must pay attention to the checkout page and uncheck any add-on services or upsells that you don’t need like WHOIS Guard. On top of that, it’s always a good idea to double-check the total amount you are charged in your credit card statements.
2. Bad User Experience
Most domain registrars try to make their website easy to use, so they can keep you as a customer. However, some domain registrars do the exact opposite.
This would make it difficult for you to change your domain name settings like nameservers. You will need to do that if you wanted to transfer domain to a new host, or a new domain registrar.
The easiest way to look for this is by searching for domain registrar’s online reviews. Keep in mind, that very few happy customers leave online reviews, so it’s important to read the reviews thoroughly.
3. Hidden Fees
You may also need to look for the hidden costs and fees when choosing a domain registrar.
Some domain registrars may have special offers for cheaper domains for first-time registrations. Most beginners don’t realize it, but the renewal cost of the domain are often quite different and even higher.
All good domain registrars make it easy to transfer your domain name to a different company. However, some will put an additional fee.
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the best domain name registrars, and how they compare against each other.
Best Domain Registrars to Buy a Domain Name
Choosing the right domain registrar saves you from possible future problems. It not only helps you protect your brand name but also makes it easy to move your website to a new host or service provider.
Based on the criteria we discussed earlier, these are the top domain registrars to buy your domain name from.
Started in 2000, Domain.com is one of the most popular domain name registrar on the planet. They allow you to register all top level domain name extensions (TLDs) and even dozens of country code top level domains (ccTLDs).
Domain.com has a quick domain search tool that you can use for your domain name research. Their search also shows you premium domains as well.
You get access to all domain management tools that you would expect from a top domain registrar including private registration, whois privacy protection, free whois, bulk registration, easy transfers, easy DNS management, email account, email forwarding, and other additional services. You can even purchase web hosting from them if you like.
If you have any questions, then you can contact their helpful customer support team via live chat or email. They also have an extensive knowledgebase with helpful guides.
Domain.com is offering WPBeginner readers 25% off discount on domain products. All you have to do is either click on the link from our website, or use our domain.com coupon code: nameboy
If you only need to register a domain name without web hosting, then we highly recommend Domain.com. However, if you’re looking to start a blog or website, then option #2 might be better for you because you can get a free domain name.
Bluehost is one of the largest hosting companies in the world, and they are an official WordPress hosting partner. As part of their web hosting service, they also offer domain name registration.
Basically, you can get started for $2.75 per month, and get a free new domain name.
We use Bluehost as our web hosting provider for several of our small websites. Their interface is intuitive for beginners, it comes with WordPress pre-installed, and their chat support is very helpful when needed.
They also have many features that website owners need such as ability to add unlimited subdomains, malware protection for websites, professional emails through G Suite (Google Workspace), and more.
Network Solutions is one of the largest domain registrars on the planet with over 7 million domains registered with them. You can register a wide variety of domain extensions including the popular .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, and basically all other niche TLDs.
Since Network Solutions is one of the biggest domain registrars, their services offering include web hosting, website builder, website security tools, business email address, online marketing, SEO services, and even IT support.
Basically as a small business, they can be your one stop shop for your online web presence.
You can get started by using their domain name search tool to quickly see available domains. They also show you premium domains in their results as well.
Their platform comes with all the domain features that you’d expect such as DNS management, private registration, WHOIS privacy, etc.
Network Solutions is offering our readers 25% off discount on domain names. You will need to use our link from their site, and our Network Solutions coupon code: WPBEGINNER during checkout.
Note: the promo coupon code is case sensitive all uppercase.
You can also get a free domain from Network Solutions when you purchase their WordPress hosting plans or other website / eCommerce hosting packages.
HostGator is another popular company offering website owners a one-stop shop for domain names and shared website hosting. They offer a nice selection of extensions, domain privacy, and easy to use DNS management tools.
They have an easy to use domain search tool that helps you quickly find a suitable domain name for your business. Their domain management area is beginner friendly and well documented which makes it easy to transfer domains if you need to.
Aside from domain name and hosting, they have also introduced a brand new drag & drop website builder called Gator. They’re offering free domain name and hosting with all of their website builder plans.
In the early days of WPBeginner, we used HostGator as our web host. We were on their VPS hosting plans until our website got much larger, so we had to switch to the Google Cloud platform.
GoDaddy is one of the oldest and most popular domain registration company. They manage more than 77 million domain names for over 18 million customers.
They offer a wide variety of popular domain name extensions to choose from. Their prices are highly competitive, and you may even get a significant discount on the first year of your domain’s registration.
GoDaddy has a powerful easy to use domain management interface which allows you to transfer your domain name, change name servers, update contact information, manage bulk domain renewals, and customize various other domain settings.
GoDaddy also has a suite of other web services including hosting, website builder, email marketing, and more.
Related: See 7 best GoDaddy alternatives that are cheaper and more reliable.
Namecheap is another top domain registrar on the market. They have a powerful domain search tool that helps you find the right domain name and makes suggestions when your preferred domain name is not available.
They also offer domain add-on services like domain privacy and premium DNS. Their domain management area is clean, but it’s not as user-friendly as GoDaddy’s new interface.
One nice thing about NameCheap is that they offer free whois privacy with all their domain names.
We used to use NameCheap but ended up transferring our main domains to other providers because we simply had too many issues logging into their domain management panel.
Also we’ve heard way too many complaints about their managed WordPress hosting plan because it doesn’t support popular plugins like AIOSEO and the platform isn’t ready for scale despite what their support tells you.
DreamHost is another popular domain name registrar and web hosting service provider. They are offering our readers a free domain name with domain privacy included for anyone signing up for their Shared Unlimited hosting plan.
You can also register a domain name without buying hosting through them for $8.99 / year which also includes free private registration.
DreamHost offers 400+ TLDs and comes with all domain management tools that you can expect from a large domain provider like DreamHost.
Aside from shared hosting, Dreamhost also offers managed WordPress hosting called DreamPress which is great for larger websites.
Bonus Premium Domain Registration
BuyDomains allow you to search for premium domain names matching your search terms. Premium domain names are domain names that are already registered but are available for sale from third-party. These domains are often more memorable, shorter, and brandable which is why they are more expensive.
If you cannot find a suitable domain name, and you have the budget, then you can use BuyDomains to search for a premium domain name.
Final Thoughts – Best Domain Registrar
There are literally hundreds of other domain registrars and resellers in the market that we have not included in the list including Hover, Google Domains, Tucows, 1&1 Ionos, Shopify, eNom, Name.com, Namesilo, etc.
The reason is because they all primarily offer the same services, and we want to make it easy for our users to pick the best and most secure domain registrar without causing choice paralysis.
In our opinion, Domain.com is the best domain registrar in the market for small businesses as well as large companies. They offer the most reasonable pricing and has all the features.
They both are among the best web hosting companies on the planet, and they also offer step by step website set up for any type of website including real estate, small business site, online store, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domain Name Registrars
Having helped over 670,000 users pick the best domain registrar, we have answered quite a lot of questions. Below are some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions about domain name registrars.
Does it matter which domain registrar I use?
Yes, it does because not all domain registrars are created equal. They may have different domain name extensions, features, prices, etc. Above all though, you want to choose a domain registrar that has good support and offer a reliable network infrastructure.
Most business owners rely on their domain registrars for DNS which basically helps route users to your website. If your domain registrar has network issues, then even if your web hosting server is online, your users will not be able to reach your website.
Furthermore, you want to ensure that domain registrars have a good support and reputation because that comes in handy in case of emergencies.
Also we strongly recommend avoiding domain registrars like NameBright who use deceptive business practices to lock users in from transferring domains away.
Which is the cheapest domain registrar?
When it comes to price, nothing beats free. So the cheapest domain registrar is Bluehost since they offer you a free domain name with web hosting.
What is a reasonable price for a domain name?
Domain name prices will vary based on the type of domain extension and registrar you choose, but a typical domain should cost between $9 and $14.99 per year.
We have a detailed guide discussing the costs of a domain name, and how to evaluate premium domain value.
But as a quick guide, here is how much a new domain registration costs with different registrars:
- Bluehost – Free domain with hosting $2.75 / month
- Domain.com – $7.45 for .com domain names with our coupon code
- Network Solutions – $7.49 for .com with our coupon code or FREE with their web hosting package.
- HostGator – Free domain with hosting $2.64 / month
- GoDaddy – $11.99
- DreamHost – Free domain with hosting $2.59 / month
Can I buy a domain name forever (permanently)?
No, you cannot buy a domain name permanently. Domain name registration is done on a yearly basis. However, you can pre-pay for up to 10 years which guarantees that you will have a domain name for 10 years.
As long as you continue to pay the annual renewal fee, you can own the domain permanently, and no one can take it from you.
The folks at Unstoppable domains are offering NFT domains for crypto wallets, and those you can buy permanently.
These Web3 domains currently do not work on all browsers natively, but we believe with the evolution of blockchain, in the future business will likely be able to own their domains forever even with popular registrars above.
Why is domain renewal more expensive?
Often domain registrars offer aggressive discounts on first year domain registration fee, and the renewals happen at the regular price.
This is why to maximize your savings, we recommend pre-paying the registration fee for 2-3 years, so you can lock-in your domain registration discount.
Who is the safest domain registrar?
All domain registrars have to follow ICANN policies, so technically they are all safe. However there are additional steps, you can take to protect your domain name from being stolen.
Such as implementing Domain Lock which prevents unauthorized domain transfers.
Furthermore, you want a domain registrar that offers two-factor authentication and security.
If you’re looking for enterprise solutions, then many businesses trust Cloudflare Domains and MarkMonitor for safety.
Can someone steal my domain name?
Yes, domain name theft (also known as domain hijacking) is a common crime. Losing your domain can be devastating for small business owners. This is why it’s important that you choose a well-known domain registrar with a good reputation.
The way hackers can steal your domain name is by obtaining access to your domain registrar account. It’s important that you use a strong password and setup 2-factor authentication.
We also recommend small business owners to use an identity theft protection service to get near-real time alerts of identity fraud because generally domain theft, domain hijacking, and domain ransomware are often a byproduct of another hack.
Can I use multiple domain registrars?
Yes, you can absolutely use multiple domain registrars if you like. We have different domains registered across various registrars including Domain.com, Bluehost, GoDaddy, NameCheap, Name.com, and many more.
This is primarily because we buy / sell domains, and it’s just easier to transfer the domain from one account to another in the same registrar.
When you transfer domains to a different registrar, it can take up to 7 days.
Who determines if a domain is premium?
Premium domains are often domains that are owned by an existing business / entrepreneur. That person will determine the price of their premium domain.
Sometimes the domain registry themselves will hold back some premium domains and only release them at premium prices. In this case, the prices are determined by their sales team.
For example, we acquired a two letter am.co domain for our company Awesome Motive, and this was a premium domain.
Which are the top 3 best domain registrars in your opinion?
Our top 3 choices for the best domain name registrar are:
- Domain.com – Best domain registrar (overall). Bonus: offering special pricing for our readers too.
- Bluehost – Best domain registrar if you’re looking for web hosting. Bonus: domain name is free.
- Network Solutions
No this last question is not a joke. We seriously get this question even after referring people to this guide.
We hope this article helped you learn how to choose the best domain registrar for your business. You may also want to see our guide on how to get a free business email address, and how to get a free business phone number for your website.