After choosing a name for your website, the next thing you have to do is choose a domain registrar.
The process of registering your domain isn’t difficult, but it’s essential. Your domain is the unique address for your site. Each domain name is actually a series of either four or six numbers, separated by periods or dots, such as 188.8.131.52.
The domain registrar handles the technical part of setting up your name. Of course, you’ll also need a web hosting service to store your files for others to retrieve on the internet. You’ll find many registrars available for buying cheap domains. However, it’s not just about the price. It’s also about the ease of its setup and the support you receive afterward.
Our guide will cover everything you need to know about making an informed choice for domain registration. We’ll discuss the things to look for when comparing different services. We’ve also provided detailed reviews of some of the best services available to make your decision easier.
The role of the domain registrar
Setting up a website begins with choosing a name and finding a domain registrar to register it with the overall domain database known as the registry. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages the system. It ensures compliance with the guidelines and guarantees that every website has a unique domain name.
You can think of the domain registrar as the go-between who makes changes for you in the registry. These services are accredited by ICANN to fulfill this role. Each one offers a specific selection of domain name extensions, such as .com, .net, or .biz, and other top-level domains (TLDs). Of course, this list has grown in recent years to include a variety of industry-specific domains and domains for different countries.
Things to look for in a domain registrar
Not all domain registrars are the same. Pricing and the services they offer vary. Some work independently of hosting services while others work exclusively with web hosting companies for a more seamless user experience. You can find a domain registrar that offers what you need. That’s why you will want to consider these features when choosing a domain registrar:
- Ease of use
- Associated services
You’ll find that prices for domains vary widely, often dependent on the extension. Some extensions are more desirable than others, hence the higher cost. Even if they seem unfamiliar, it’s often wise to consider one of the lesser-known extensions. Since they’re newer, you may luck out and get a really cool domain name for branding purposes and SEO.
The prices for domain registration can range from $0.99–$20 per year on average. Demand plays a significant role in the price. Some so-called premium domains, such as .auto or .jobs, can run even higher. That’s another reason you should give careful thought to your choice of an extension with cheap domain names.
The other pricing factor is the availability of a domain name. Just because you have your heart set on a certain domain name doesn’t mean you’ll get it, especially if you’re trying to score a .com domain. Luckily, most domain registrars will offer other suggestions that may include the name you want with different domain extensions.
One thing you should check is the price difference between buying a new domain and its renewal cost. Often, you’ll find that the first year is reasonably priced and that subsequent ones are quite expensive in comparison. Look for what the cost includes, such as an SSL certificate, available hosting packages, and ecommerce offerings.
Pro tip: Stick with a name that is short and memorable instead of a long one for the best domain. Lengthy URLs are harder to remember, so you could miss out on potential visitors.
Ease of use
Consider how easy (or difficult) it will be to set up your new domain or transfer one if it exists elsewhere. This is one area where you want to pay attention to any hidden fees. Some domain registrars may charge extra for either of these services. The cost you see may only be the ICANN fees combined with the cost to register the domain name, not transfer it.
Usually, once you’re good to go, you won’t visit the domain registrar’s website until it’s time for renewal. Some sites are less user-friendly than others. However, you should be able to find what you need to do with a decent, well-written tutorial to walk you through the renewal process.
When you first register a site, you’ll need to provide contact information for the administrator of the website. It’s an ICANN requirement to put the contact info in the Whois database, so don’t get put off by having to provide your name, address, and phone number. Every domain has this information available publicly. Unfortunately, it’s one thing that hackers exploit.
You’ll find that domain registrars offer varying degrees of Whois privacy with ICANN. Some provide this service for free as long as you keep your site with them. Others will provide it free the first year and charge for it afterward. Some treat it as an add-on service for a price.
Pro tip: You’ll also receive notifications to verify your info every year. Make sure that it is current, otherwise you may miss your renewal and domain name. That’s a pain if it happens. Trust us.
Many domain registrars offer add-on services — for an additional fee, of course. Some are useful, such as domain privacy and WordPress hosting. Others are money grabs. We suggest that you review the charges carefully before you hit Pay Now. Some may include these add-ons by default. And check the renewal costs of any services that you decide to get before choosing a domain registration service.
Tech support is a big deal if you have issues with a domain name. We appreciate an extensive knowledge base, but it’s also essential to have a means to contact a live person. We suggest checking out the options for getting help, whether it’s email, phone, or chat. After all, customer support is paramount, whether you’re trying to change your nameservers or configure your DNS.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to check the support hours. While many domain registrars provide 24/7 help, others may have set times that can leave you hanging if you need help on a weekend.
Hidden fees are the biggest source of complaints about domain registrars, especially the cheapest domain offerings. That’s why we suggest taking your time through the checkout process. Another annoying gotcha is the auto-renewal for your domain name registration. Be sure to check if it’s turned on by default. Also, find out if the registrar reminds you before they run your credit card.
We’ve seen some services that kindly let you know 30 days, 15 days, and just before your domain expires, which we appreciate in domain name registrars.
Best cheap domain registrars
Here are some of the best cheap domain registrars to consider.
Namecheap offers several benefits that will catch your eye as a potential domain registrar, starting with its low prices. The first-year costs are quite affordable for TLDs. Namecheap also offers free goodies that many will appreciate, including privacy protection for life — no one can access your Whois information. It also provides DNSSEC to protect the security of your website and its DNS.
Namecheap will give you a free professional email address, but it’s just for a two-month trial. After that, you’ll have to pay for one of their three subscription plans. The beginner tier doesn’t offer a lot, making it a poor choice for businesses. While Namecheap doesn’t have phone support, chat is available 24/7 if you have any problems with your domain name.
- .com: $13.98 per year
- .net: $12.98 per year
- .org: $12.48 per year
- Excellent live chat support
- Free WhoisGuard privacy protection
- Intuitive user interface
- A decent slate of additional services, such as a VPN
- No phone customer support
- Higher renewal costs for ongoing domain registration
GoDaddy offers a complete website solution with both domain registrar and web hosting plans at several price points. It also has name recognition going for it since it’s been around so long. While its prices are more expensive, GoDaddy does offer a decent lineup of domain extensions to choose from and three levels of privacy protection, including malicious domain transfers.
GoDaddy allows up to 100 subdomains, making it an excellent choice for small businesses. You can also purchase domains in bulk. The domain management interface has improved in recent years. The company has 24/7 phone support but limited live chat. GoDaddy also offers Linux servers for experienced users. One thing we didn’t like is the nickel-and-dime approach to additional services on its hosting packages.
- .com: $19.99 per year
- .net: $21.99 per year
- .org: $20.99 per year
- Complete solution
- Easy checkout process
- Extensive selection of domain extensions
- Extra costs for additional services
- Pushy upsells
- Higher priced renewals
3. Google Domains
Google Domains offers only the service its name implies, so it’s not a great choice if you’re in the market for hosting, too. This service has the advantage on the user interface front because it’s familiar to most people who have used other Google products. That makes navigation easy-peasy for managing your domain. Unlike many services, your renewal price won’t increase.
Your site rests with Google’s Cloud DNS, which offers another layer of security. You’ll get free Whois privacy protection and two-factor authentication, which we appreciate in a domain registrar. Google Domains has an okay selection of domain extensions that cover some of the most popular ones. Perhaps its strongest selling point is its integration with other Google products with a cheap domain.
- .com: $12 per year
- .net: $12 per year
- .org: $12 per year
- Free domain privacy protection
- Low prices
- Free email forwarding with up to 100 aliases
- Google Workspace integration
- Auto-renewal by default
- Limited extensions
The name only scratches the surface of the services that Domain.com offers. They start with domains and branch out into much more. The domain registrar has over 300 TLDs, making it an excellent choice if you have a small, niche market. They also offer web hosting with a DIY website builder interface that is easy to use.
The downside is that the checkout process isn’t streamlined. The sales pitch for other add-on services is pushy and annoying. If you do opt to use Domain.com’s web hosting, you can bundle it with your domain. That’s one reason you need to consider both pieces when choosing a domain registrar, especially if you don’t have tech experience.
- .com: $9.99 per year
- .net: $12.99 per year
- .org: $8.99 per year
- One-stop solution
- Unlimited subdomains with all hosting plans
- Over 300 TLDs
- Annoying add-on push during checkout
- Poor support team response
- Higher renewal prices
- Extra cost for privacy protection
BuyDomains’ name says it all. That’s their business model, which includes snatching up and selling premium domains. This site is great if you want to get a specific name for SEO and are willing to pay the price. It’s not so good if you’re the person that lost their domain because it expired. BuyDomains will handle transfers — for a price.
That said, BuyDomains isn’t like other registrars. They’re in the secondary market as a reseller. That means the pricing is variable, depending on the domain name and its popularity. You can easily pay into four or more figures for the right domain. They also offer web hosting services if you want an all-in-one solution for small business owners researching registration services.
Pricing: Varies by domain
- Excellent customer support
- Ideal for users in search of a particular name
- History of buying up expired domains sometimes inappropriately
Hover isn’t the best source of cheap domain names, but they are more transparent than a lot of domain registrars. They increase prices for renewals but not as drastically as GoDaddy. Hover throws in free Whois privacy protection, which takes the sting away from the uptick in the renewal price. The domain registration process is simple with upfront pricing to make it even more straightforward.
Unlike many other services, Hover goes the extra mile to help you set up your site with third-party hosting packages. They also offer bulk pricing, which is a boon if you want to buy several domains at one time. They score high marks on the support front, too. Their support team offers an online ticket system, chat, and phone options.
- .com: $16.99 per year
- .net: $17.49 per year
- .org: $13.99 per year
- Simple checkout process
- Sales on domain extensions
- Free Whois privacy protection
- Bulk pricing
- No additional services available
- No WordPress support
HostGator is one of the older domain registrars — and for good reason. They strive to make a user-friendly experience right from the start. They also offer website hosting, which can score you a free domain if you go with them. If you’re new to running a website, it’s an attractive offer. Like many services we reviewed, the discounted pricing is good for one year.
HostGator offers several support options, making it easy to get answers to your questions, which beginners will appreciate. However, domain prices are a bit high when you consider the renewal increase. While HostGator offers domain locking, privacy comes at a cost. There are tons of upsells through the registration process and hosting if you opt for it. However, there is a 45-day money-back guarantee if you bundle your purchase.
- .com: $12.95 per year
- .net: $12.95 per year
- .org: $12.95 per year
- User-friendly interface
- Excellent knowledge base
- Free domain with a hosting plan
- 24/7 year-round support
- Higher renewal costs
- No free Whois privacy protection
Bluehost is another all-in-one solution for small businesses if you’re starting from the ground up with your website and need a web host, too. One thing that makes Bluehost stand out from the competition is the endorsement by WordPress. WordPress doesn’t endorse just anyone, so that makes it worth a look. The prices are a bit expensive, given the higher renewal. However, Bluehost goes the extra mile to make things user-friendly.
Bluehost offers web hosting plans that are value-priced. Their DIY website builder is a breeze to use, too. Your domain is free if you choose any of their subscriptions. Managing your domain is easy with its cPanel interface to handle things like nameservers. Plus, Bluehost’s hosted websites are monitored 24/7 — so you can rest assured that your domain is safe.
- .com: $12.99 per year
- .net: $18.99 per year
- .org: $9.99 per year
- A decent lineup of other services
- Affordable web hosting plans with a free domain
- Unlimited subdomains
- No pushy add-on sell
- So-so support
- Higher renewal prices
Finding the right domain registrar for your needs
As you can see, domain registrars vary immensely. Some are more user-friendly than others. Transparency is another feature that stood out for us when it came to renewal pricing. Of all the registrars we reviewed, only Google Domains offered one price for both initial registration and renewals. Our advice is to check out the fine print no matter which one you choose. The best domain name registrars make the process seamless without a pushy sales pitch.
WHOIS the safest domain registrar? ›
In our experience, both Bluehost and GoDaddy are the safest domain registrars. If you're looking for enterprise solutions, then many businesses trust Cloudflare Domains and MarkMonitor for safety.Which is best domain registrar? ›
- The Best 10 Domain Name Registrars of 2023.
- Google Domains.
GoDaddy and Hostinger are the top domain registrars on the market today. GoDaddy stands out for its simple registration process with domain privacy and protection included with every purchase. Hostinger offers a free domain with web hosting—perfect for beginners who want to bundle both services from the same provider.Which domain company is best? ›
- Bluehost domain registrar service. ...
- IONOS domain registrar service. ...
- Network Solutions domain registrar service. ...
- GoDaddy domain registrar service. ...
- Hover domain registrar service. ...
- Dynadot domain registrar service. ...
- Namecheap domain registrar service. ...
- Google Domains.
Registration services, such as Dot TK and Freenom, offer free domain names, and they'll get the job done provided that you don't mind a funky-looking URL extension. Web hosts, such as Hostgator and Squarespace, let you grab a free domain name, too, but with time-centric limitations.What are the two most trustworthy website domains? ›
Key takeaway: .com is the #1 most trusted domain extension, with . co in a close second place.Is it better to buy domain from Google or GoDaddy? ›
GoDaddy is usually cheaper for the first year, but if you want to hold on to the website for longer, Google Domains is generally a better deal — especially if you want more security. Google Domains is also much easier to navigate, with transparent pricing and terms.What is the most credible top level domain? ›
The .com stands for commercial. It's one of the best TLD domains to use because people view it as credible, trustworthy, and more memorable than other obscure domain extensions. A study from GrowthBadger found .com is the most trusted TLD.Does it matter who your domain registrar is? ›
Protect your privacy
Look for domain registrars who include privacy protection. Beware of registrars who charge a premium for 'privacy services,' especially any who offer to put their details on these registries instead of yours, which secretly gives them ownership of the domain.
- Zoho Mail.
- Constant Contact.
- Yuan-Jhen Information.
Which company is best for domain and hosting? ›
- Hostinger – Low-cost shared hosting options for startups.
- WP Engine – Best for managed WordPress hosting.
- DreamHost – Best option if you want quick and responsive website changes.
- Bluehost – Best for WordPress hosting for beginners.
- Nexcess – Best ecommerce hosting.
- Do not use numbers.
- Do not use hyphens.
- Do not use trademarks (on purpose or by accident)
- Do not use hard to spell words.
- Do not use homophones.
- Do not register a very long domain.
- Check if a .com/.net equivalent exists.
- Check the domain registration history.
Domain registration requires personal information that should often be kept private. If you wouldn't post your name, address, and phone number on a billboard, you probably don't want it available to everyone on the internet.What is the most a domain name has sold for? ›
- 1. .com. A .com domain extension is hands-down the most popular TLD available. ...
- 2. . net. ...
- 3. . org. ...
- 4. . co. ...
- 5. . us.
The most straightforward way to do so is to visit a domain name registrar, such as A2, GoDaddy, Google Domains, or Namecheap, key in the domain you want to buy, and pay a fee. The first two mentioned companies are web hosting services (more on that in a bit), while the last two are dedicated domain sellers.How to buy cheap domains? ›
- Don't Settle with "Close Enough" Domains.
- Buy From an Established Registrar.
- Brain Storm Before Your Begin Searching.
- Buy Your Domain Name for 2 Years Minimum.
- Don't Buy Auctioned Names.
- Read the Fine Print.
You can't get a free domain name forever. Typically, hosting providers only offer a free domain for a year. You must pay annual renewal fees to maintain ownership of the domain.How can I get my own domain for free? ›
- Wix. Image Source. ...
- Weebly. Image Source. ...
- Bluehost. Image Source. ...
- WordPress. Image Source. ...
- GoDaddy. Image Source. ...
- Freenom. If you're looking for a free domain name without a hosting plan or a website building platform bundled into the offer, then Freenom is a great choice.
You can get a free com domain name by signing up with a website hosting company. Lots of quality website hosting companies will give you a free domain for 1 year as a new customer.
What are 5 credible sources? ›
- original research articles.
- literary works.
- census and statistics.
Research has shown that .com remains the strongest contender among all TLDs. As of June 2022, 52.8% of the internet use .com domains – far more than other generic top-level domains (gTLDs). For comparison, . org, which is the second most popular gTLD, only makes up around 4.4% of all registered domain names.What are the disadvantages of GoDaddy? ›
- No Custom Sections. Pages in GoDaddy are built by adding pre-designed sections. ...
- Few Style Customizations. You are not able to change much about the theme of your website. ...
- Homepages All Look The Same. ...
- No Code In The Head.
Google Domains is definitely one of the best places to register a domain name. Google Domains offers transparent, competitive pricing for most popular domain extensions. It can be pricey for certain extensions — like . io — but it's near or below the competition for extensions like .com and .Who is GoDaddy best for? ›
GoDaddy is mostly used for domain registration and management services. It also has a big choice of web hosting plans, a website builder, and several built-in marketing tools.What is the most used domain in USA? ›
The .com domain extension is the most popular TLD available. It was initially used by for profit businesses, but it has become the most popular domain name extension in the world. Over half of websites on the internet use the .com domain name extension.What domains are generally trustworthy? ›
Check the domain name
Look at the three letters at the end of the site's domain name, such as “edu” (educational), “gov” (government), “org” (nonprofit), and “com” (commercial). Generally, . edu and . gov websites are credible, but beware of sites that use these suffixes in an attempt to mislead.
In some instances, such as when the registrar's accreditation is terminated by ICANN , the registrar or ICANN will identify an alternative registrar to take over management of the domain names of the registrar that has gone out of business. The new registrar will likely contact you.How do I buy a domain name permanently? ›
Technically, it is not possible to buy a domain name permanently but it can be leased and then renewed after the predetermined period. The minimum registration duration is for a year and if you wish to continue with the domain name, you can visit the registrar's website and renew your lease before the expiration date.WHOIS the legal owner of a domain name? ›
Who is the domain owner? Domain names are owned by whoever first registered the web address with an accredited registrar, such as Domain.com. In order for that person to maintain ownership, they have to pay registration fees and ensure that all of their contact details are up to date.
Which domain is best for beginners? ›
The pricing is affordable, and it costs less than both Shopify and Hover for .com domains. The best part about using Google Domains as your registrar is the ease of putting out paid ads. If you're planning to use the Google Ad platform to market your products, Google Domains makes it very easy to set up.
- Free website with its own domain name.
- No unique email address.
- Free web hosting without warranty.
- Free support is not included.
- Customize your website is complicated.
- IONOS: Best for startups.
- HostGator: Best perks.
- Bluehost: Best for new websites.
- DreamHost: Best for WordPress beginners.
- InMotion Hosting: Best for reliability.
- MochaHost: Best for lifetime SSL certificates.
- GoDaddy: Best for easy site setup.
- Hostwinds: Best for content-heavy sites.
Overall, we give the slight edge to GoDaddy for its superior performance, support, and user experience. However, Hostinger might be a better option if you're looking for the cheapest hosting possible.Should I buy domain and hosting from same website? ›
Purchasing a domain and website hosting together can save some money since many providers provide free domain registration to hosting customers. If users manage several websites, it can be a saving of hundreds of dollars per year if you bundle the two services together.What if a domain name is taken but not used? ›
What can I do if my domain is taken? Sometimes, the domain name may have been purchased by a legitimate business owner, but they never ended up doing anything with it. If that's the case, you can use the Domain.com WHOIS lookup to explore if you can contact the owner of the domain and purchase it at a fair price.Should I use LLC in my domain name? ›
You do not need to include LLC in your domain if your firm is set up as an LLC. It is not legally required, in most states, and will add length (a big negative) onto your domain name URL. Using LLC in your business name is typically only required when signing legal contracts such as leases, orders, or loans.Do I need a trademark if I own the domain? ›
A business needs to trademark all corporate and product brands that are inherently distinctive to the identity of the business. Typically a business will trademark a corporate logo, product line identifiers, slogans, and any other attributes that are source identifiers of the business—including a domain name.”Does owning a domain give you trademark rights? ›
Trademark rights and domain name ownership overlap in many ways, but they are not the same. Domain name ownership does not necessarily establish trademark rights, and trademark ownership does not necessarily give you the right to own the corresponding domain name.Do I have to trademark my domain name? ›
Domain name trademarks protect against infringements on your domain name. Trademarks are essential for online businesses. They should be used for branded domain names.
Which is the most cheapest domain? ›
With GoDaddy, you can register domains for as low as ₹ 81.15. You can even snag a free domain name with one of our website hosting plans. It doesn't get any cheaper – or any better – than that. In other words, the price is right.Is Google Domains cheaper than GoDaddy? ›
GoDaddy is usually cheaper for the first year, but if you want to hold on to the website for longer, Google Domains is generally a better deal — especially if you want more security. Google Domains is also much easier to navigate, with transparent pricing and terms.Is GoDaddy the cheapest? ›
Budget: GoDaddy is affordable, but there are cheaper options available. Customer support: If you value expert advice round the clock, other providers might suit you better.Are there free domain providers? ›
Freenom claims to be the world's first free domain provider. Free domains work exactly like any other domain name with URL forwarding, free Freenom DNS Service or your own domain name service (DNS) or name servers. Domain extensions currently available for free registration are .TK/.ML/.GA/.CF/.GQ.Is GoDaddy cheaper than Namecheap? ›
Usually, Namecheap is cheaper when renewing (especially with built-in WHOISguard and Email hosting). While GoDaddy runs cheaper upfront pricing. I've reviewed Namecheap's hosting and have compared GoDaddy to Bluehost.Is it better to buy a domain through GoDaddy or Shopify? ›
GoDaddy is the less expensive option of the two website builders. However, if having an online store is the main goal of the website, Shopify might be the better option as only GoDaddy's top two most expensive plans include an online store.Does it matter where you buy your domain from? ›
Once you register a domain, it's yours – it doesn't matter which service you purchased it from. If a domain is available, you can usually buy it anywhere you'd like. However, some domain registrars offer services or advantages that others don't.Is GoDaddy worth the money? ›
Yes, GoDaddy is a good hosting provider. GoDaddy offers generous server resources, a free domain with all web hosting plans, and easy cPanel hosting management. Its server performance is also reliable and speedy, with an excellent uptime rate of 99.98%.What is better than GoDaddy? ›
A2, BlueHost, Siteground and even Hostgator offer significantly better services according to many and there is no reason whatsoever to be using GoDaddy over those options at this moment in time.Is Bluehost better than GoDaddy? ›
Bluehost's hosting plans are extremely cost-effective, and its renewal prices are very competitive. Bluehost also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. GoDaddy's introductory costs are a little higher than Bluehost, but its plans still won't set you back too much.
How can I get a free domain forever? ›
You can't get a free domain name forever. Typically, hosting providers only offer a free domain for a year. You must pay annual renewal fees to maintain ownership of the domain.Which free domain is best? ›
- Zoho Mail.
- Constant Contact.
- Yuan-Jhen Information.
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.Is Namecheap owned by GoDaddy? ›
GoDaddy owns Afternic, and Namecheap is a partner that syndicates domains in the Afternic network.What is better than Namecheap? ›
Both GoDaddy and Namecheap are easy to use, but GoDaddy is just a little better in this area. Customer support options: Another reason why GoDaddy is so appealing to those new to building websites is because of its strong customer service options. Versus Namecheap, GoDaddy is a far better choice in this area.Why are Namecheap domains so cheap? ›
While some companies make their money off upsells, Namecheap prides itself that it does not use the upsell tactic to make money. Instead, they work to provide affordable pricing plans that give you what you need, hence the name Namecheap.