Finding a perfect domain for your website can be challenging. Fortunately, the same cannot be said about finding the place to register your chosen one.
But some domain registrars are better than others.
No matter, that some people may tell you that the only difference between domain registrars is the prices they offer.
In fact, the registration times, choice of TLDs, security, and privacy options are also important. We checked a number of providers to see, which offers the best value.
Here's our list of the best domain registrar companies:
- GoDaddy (best domain registrar for premium domains)
- Hostinger (great payment options, powerful domain search)
- Namecheap (domain registrar with the best security options)
- DreamHost (domain registrar for custom name servers)
- SiteGround (domain registrar with excellent customer support)
Fast and easy premium domain registration
If you have in mind a very specific domain name, GoDaddy definitely has a wide selection of premium domains for you.
Premium domains are the domains which have additional value, often due to the inclusion of widely popular terms (football.com, fashion.net, etc.) or their shortness (ie.com, kd.net, etc.).
These domains usually have an elevated price and are often sold via auctions.
And if the domain you want is already taken, GoDaddy domain registrar can help with that as well. Domain Buy service is supposed to start a contact between a domain owner and a domain buyer and help them agree on the price.
But GoDaddy is the best domain registrar not because of its premium domains.
One thing that you will love about GoDaddy, is how fast domain registration is. In under 3 minutes, we were up and running with a completely working and active .com domain.
This is really great when you're hunting for domains that are about to expire; you can snap them up very quickly with GoDaddy.
Now - about the prices. Standard .com domains with GoDaddy start at $11.99 and renew at $14.99. This makes GoDaddy not the most affordable of our picks. However, with GoDaddy domain registration you also get customer support - just in case something goes wrong.
As you can see, .com is not the only TLD GoDaddy's offering. It has over 489 extensions available, making it one of the biggest selections in the business.
However, if you want domain privacy then you will need to pay an extra $9.99 per year.
GoDaddy gives you 5 choices for the length of the registration for your new domain. You can choose 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years or 10 years. If you want to transfer your domain to GoDaddy, you will be charged $7.99 for a .com domain.
- Huge TLD selection
- Fastest registration process
- Services for premium domains
- Expensive renewals
Great Domain Checker Tool
Hostinger is not only one of the most affordable domain registrars, but it also has a very nice domain checker tool. With that, you can find your wanted domain easily.
But there's one more thing where Hostinger is good at. It's payment method selection, making the purchasing process seamless.
You can purchase domains not just with credit cards and PayPal, as is standard, but also with a multitude of cryptocurrencies.
Some of the TLDs are more expensive than others, but the selection is great too - around 97 extensions.
Renewal of .com domains would cost $10.99, and for a transfer, it's a solid $10.99 a year.
If you want domain privacy attached to your domain name, Hostinger will charge you $5.00 per year.
One of the best features in Hostinger domains is the powerful domain name search option. By entering a domain, you'll not only be offered alternatives of the same name with different TLDs. You'll also be offered many other available domains, using different forms and synonyms of your queries.
However, there won't be that many options, as one of the main drawbacks of Hostinger is that the selection of TLDs is pretty small. The main culprits, such as .com, .net, .org, will all be there, but with fewer than 100 TLDs to choose from, there are some glaring omissions, such as .io.
In terms of drop-catching, Hostinger allows the industry standard 30 days of redemption period.
- Cheapest domain registrar for .com domains
- Crypto payment options
- Powerful name search
- Not many extensions to choose from
Affordable domains with high privacy settings
Namecheap aims to offer everyone premium domains and high-quality privacy features without paying too much for it.
Every domain account gets access to crucial security features like two-factor authentication, DDoS protection, and Domain Lock security.
In addition, WhoisGuard is included for free. This essentially means that people won't be able to see any personal contact information for who registered the domain name.
Now about those prices: Namecheap offers .com domains start at $10.98 and renew at $12.98. And if you plan to transfer your domain here, it would cost you $9.69 for a .com domain.
When registering a domain with Namecheap, you get 10 choices of contract length. That is quite some flexibility: from 1 year to 10 and every choice in between.
And if you're interested in customer support - it's available 24/7, and live chat queries are usually being responded to in 5 minutes or less. Also, drop-catching is available for 27 days after the domain expires.
- Good security tools
- Free WHOIS protection
- For a budget option, prices could be lower
A customizable registrar with flexible renewals
DreamHost has a lot to offer - but the biggest draw it has is definitely flexibility.
The company allows you to set your domain auto-renew preferences easily in your dashboard, as well as give you the ability to create your own custom nameservers.
Having that, when people will be looking up your site's information, you'll be able to set something like ns1.yoursitename.com instead of a generic ns1.DreamHost.com. It makes your site look more professional and thought about.
In terms of pricing, .com domains start at $11.95 and renew at $13.95. If you want to transfer your domain to DreamHost, you'll be charged $9.95.This domain registrar also offers you free domain privacy - which is a welcome addition.
There are just 3 options when registering a domain with DreamHost. 1 year, 2 years and 3 years. So if you're looking for a long-term domain, DreamHost may not be the best domain registrar for you.
Considering customer support, you will find the options of live chats as well as phone agents. Sadly, neither of these options are that good. Response times are quite slow and more often than not I was simply directed to their knowledgebase for support.
Lastly, the drop-catching: DreamHost like many others offers us a 30-day redemption period for standard domains (.com, .net etc).
- Flexible renewals
- Free custom nameservers
- Subpar customer support
Domain registrar with premium support
SiteGround might not be the cheapest domain registrar, but it sure knows how to take care of its customers.
If you're hosting with SiteGround, you can buy a domain name directly from it. You'll also have a big choice of TLDs to choose from and customer support to help you.
That includes all of the most popular TLDs, 35 country TLDs, and a big list of special domains like .coffee, .academy, or .pro.
Talking about the pricing, it's really simple. Prices tend to be around $15.95 with some exceptions.
When buying a domain, you can also choose a domain privacy service for $12/year.
But if the prices scare you, just remember that you'll have 27/7 SiteGround support ready to help you with any problem. Be it hosting, or domain name transfer - SiteGround support is one of the best in the industry. And that makes up the value of its domains.
- Good choice of TLDs
- Premium customer support
- Expensive domain registration
Best Domain Hosting Providers
There's a number of ways to buy a domain name. But you can actually feed two birds with one scone. With a domain, you'll also need hosting for your website. And you can actually get both a domain and hosting from the same providers. In fact, we recommend you do it - it will be much faster and you can even save a couple of dollars.
Here's our best domain hosting providers to choose from:
- Hostinger (cheap domain name hosting)
- GoDaddy (big choice of TLDs for domain hosting)
- DreamHost (premium domain name hosting)
Cheap domain hosting provider
Hostinger is one of the cheapest hosting providers that happens to specialize in domain hosting as well.
Hostinger shared hosting plans start at $0.80/mo, but if you choose the second tier, Premium plan for $2.15/mo, you'll also get a free domain. For more flexibility and daily backups, you can also choose the Business plan for $3.45/mo.
So, you can get hosting for your website and a free domain. Once you select a plan and head to the shopping cart, all you'll need to do is find your domain name and pay for the plan.
For a free domain, you'll have a selection of the most popular TLDs:
Hostinger not only one of the cheapest but also one of the best web hosting providers out there. It offers excellent server performance, reliable uptime, easy to manage control panel and outstanding customer support.
- Very cheap web hosting
- Good choice of TLDs
- Great customer support
- Free domain only for 1 year
Domain hosting with biggest TLD choice
GoDaddy is another domain hosting providers that include a free domain with all of its shared hosting plans. The good thing about GoDaddy is that you get the free domain for the whole period of your initial hosting plan.
Many providers only register domain names for free, for 1 year. Though after the initial period with GoDaddy, both hosting and domain name pricing renew at the then-current price. Some of the TLDs include:
To get your free domain, GoDaddy has 4 shared hosting plans with the starting price of $4.33/mo for the Economy plan. To get unlimited websites, you can choose the Deluxe for $7.99/mo. You can also get free SSL and DNS with the Ultimate plan for $12.99/mo, and the Maximum plan for $19.99/mo gets you 2x more power, memory, and site traffic.
GoDaddy might not be the cheapest domain hosting provider out there, although you get the full package - quality and high-performance hosting, domain name, and 24/7 support ready to help.
- Biggest choice of TLDs
- Free domain for the whole billing period
- Not the cheapest option
- Expensive renewals
Affordable premium domain hosting
DreamHost is a premium hosting provider that includes a free domain name for a year with all of its plans.
And DreamHost features all-in-one hosting deals - each of the plans include unlimited traffic, SSL certificate, daily backups, and a domain name as well.
The TLDs include:
There are only 2 plans starting at $2.59/mo for the Starter plan. If you want to host unlimited websites, there's the Unlimited plan for $5.95/mo.
There's something even better about DreamHost if you're a non-profit organization. DreamHost provides free web hosting for non-profits. So even if its plans are affordable, you don't have to spend a dime to help others.
- Affordable pricing
- Free hosting for non-profits
- High-performance hosting
- Lacks more TLDs
How to choose a domain registrar
There are hundreds of domain registrars to choose from, but only the best are worth your money.
Once you've managed to choose a domain name, you will need to think about a few things before you get started buying.
For most people, this is the most important thing, various domain registrars offer a large variety of pricing options.
Here, it's important to be smart and think ahead. Most of the time, you'll be buying a domain to use for many years in advance. So don't get hooked on the companies offering small first-year fees - after one year expires, those prices tend to increase.
Instead, total how much it will cost you to keep a domain over a 5 or 10 year period. Check the fine print and you'll save money in the long run.
2. Privacy Protection
One big thing worth mentioning here is privacy protection. One of the most important things here is WHOIS protection, which hides your personal details from public domain records. Some of the domain registrars include it as standard. Some, let's take GoDaddy as an example, ask you to pay. And the pricing can vary from $2 to $15 per year. If you're interested in that, add this number when considering pricing.
But wait, there's more!
If you're European, you won't have to worry about domain privacy at all. Because of the European Union privacy regulations (GDPR), the public WHOIS data of domain owners need to be hidden by the registrar. So you won't have to pay at all.
3. Customer Support
Getting good customer support is crucial no matter the field, so talking about domain registrars it is no different. Test the support before you buy, see how they respond and make a decision based partly on this.
In an ideal scenario, using a domain registrar shouldn't have you running off to the support. But it's always good to have options.
The best domain registrar will offer you many additional services that go well past just a domain name. Take a look at Namecheap for an example:
When looking at our cart, Namecheap is offering to purchase their shared web hosting package, an SSL certificate, a private cloud email service as well as their dedicated WordPress hosting package.
Namecheap is pretty good about their add-ons, not adding things to the cart for you to have to take out automatically. However, they still employ some pricing tricks.
That "Private Email - FREE" is misleading. If you look at the small print, it's only free for 2 months, and then automatically renews at $9.88 per year.
These add-ons may come in useful if you're looking for an all-in-one solution with a domain name, web hosting and maybe even a website builder. But don't be an impulsive buyer, and don't get hooked on the tricks.
Sometimes you may forget to renew your domain name, or possibly the payment method you used has expired.
This can lead to your domain name expiring and being open to purchasing from others.
Drop-catching basically means the registrar holds onto your domain for a certain period of time after expiry, allowing you to renew and not lose out on your hard-fought domain name.
It's an industry-standard set by domain registries, not registrars, and is different for each TLD. For example - the .com extension is set as 30-days, whereas something like .eu or .us allows for a 40-day redemption period.
Alternatively, the registrar will send you frequent reminders that your domain is about to expire, enabling you to renew before the expiration date altogether.
So, What's The Best Domain Registrar For You?
Overall, all of the 5 best domain registrars mentioned on this list are reputable and will do an absolutely great job. And while that's what's similar about them, there are still some key differences between the registrars - and they might just be reasons you choose one or another.
Let's see what are the best features of each registrar:
- GoDaddy is the best domain registrar if you want to buy a premium domain.
- Hostinger offers powerful domain name search tool and affordable options.
- Namecheap domain registrar includes extra security features with its domains.
- Dreamhost is one of the best domain registrars if you need custom name servers.
- SiteGround is a great domain registrar for its customers and includes premium support.
Also, if you are interested in getting both domain name and hosting, here are the best domain hosting providers:
- Hostinger is the cheapest domain hosting provider with a big choice of TLDs.
- GoDaddy is the best domain hosting provider offering free domains for the whole billing period.
- DreamHost is a premium yet affordable domain hosting provider.
So there you have it - these are the best. Have you used any of them? Or maybe there are some registrars that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.
Conversely, if you have any stories about your experiences with any of these registrars or any others, we'd love to hear them!