Every website starts with a domain name and finding the right one is usually quite challenging.
After all, everyone wants a name that's snappy, brandable, and easy to remember. And there are not many of those left.
So when you finally score a name that's good enough for a website and business, trusting it to anyone might not be the best choice.
There are hundreds of domain name registrars promising the most TLDs (top-level domains), the cheapest pricing, and the best security.
How many of them can actually be trusted?
Knowing all the hosting industry tricks of renewal pricing and upsells - not that many.
So in this article, I'm trying to feed two birds with one scone. I found and tested not only reliable domain registrars that help to score a domain name fast but also those that provide industry-best domain name hosting.
I strongly believe that one bill a year is better than 2. Especially when some providers include domain names in their hosting packages for free.
The Best Domain Registrar Companies
Domain registration is often a very overlooked part of website building. After all, it's so easy to do that - you simply register a domain with your hosting provider or the first registrar you find and forget about it.
At least until the next payment period comes and the price jumps two times.
So while testing the providers, I looked at their pricing system, flexibility, and other features they can offer.
Here's the list of the best domain registrar companies:
- Bluehost (premium domain registrar and hosting)
- Hostinger (cheapest domain registrar and hosting)
- GoDaddy (best domain registrar for premium domains)
- DreamHost (domain registrar for custom name servers)
- HostGator (many TLD choices and unlimited hosting)
- A2 Hosting (premium domain registrar and extra services)
1. Bluehost - Affordable and Easy to Use Registrar
Bluehost is a huge company providing domain registration, hosting, and other online presence services. With an excellent track record, it climbs to the top of my best domain registrar list.
One of the best Bluehost features is Domain Lock. It is a function to save a domain for later - if you know a perfect name for your future project but don't have a website yet. It's also an excellent feature if you don't want your website name used with different TLDs by other companies.
But that's not all. Bluehost is a premium provider - it features 24/7 customer support, a straightforward domain management panel, and a powerful search tool to find the best domains.
Talking about the prices, Bluehost is not extraordinary. For a simple .com domain it charges $11.99 - a pretty average price.
It also features other popular extensions as well as new top-level domains for an affordable price.
Domain privacy can also be purchased separately and costs $11.88/year per domain name.
So in terms of domain registration, Bluehost has excellent support as well as a very straightforward control panel. Users have complete freedom in transferring or locking their domains. But by far the best value comes when Bluehost hosting and domain registration are combined.
Premium Domain Name Hosting
Bluehost is a very well known for premium hosting packages offered at an affordable price. In fact, the provider often climbs to the top of cheap web hosting lists.
The starting package costs only $2.95/mo and includes a domain, 50GB of SSD storage, and an SSL certificate. This way, users end up saving quite a lot for the first-year domain registration - a great option for those starting on a budget.
And Bluehost hosting is one of the best I've ever used. Especially for WordPress sites - the provider is endorsed by the platform's creators as one of the easiest, best-equipped, and offering the best performance. Only 2 other hosts can say that they are recommended by the most popular website creation system itself.
With that in mind, every user gets access to a boosted cPanel. Bluehost has modified the already intuitive control platform to make it even more powerful and user-friendly.
One of the main differences - a step by step process of launching a WordPress site. An intuitive guide contains all the steps to launch and optimize the site from choosing a theme to creating an editor's profile.
By the end of the day, you'll have your site published with your brand new domain and perhaps even a couple of articles or even eCommerce store products!
So if you are looking for a domain for WordPress site, consider Bluehost not only as a registrar but also as a hosting provider. It provides the best user experience and powerful hosting equipped with a free domain.
- Domain Lock service
- Useful domain name search
- 24/7 customer support
- Powerful domain hosting
- Renewals are rather expensive
2. Hostinger - Cheap Domains and Fast Hosting
Hostinger is aiming to be the cheapest, most reliable, and overall the best in a bunch of spheres. Domain registration and hosting are among them.
The most popular .com domain costs just $8.99 and you can get several other popular TLDs like .online, .tech, and .site for less than $1. Hostinger makes it very easy to find your wanted domain too.
The domain checker tool provides not only the searched name, but also its variations, other TLDs, and pricing.
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 often used by tech companies.
Renewal of .com domains would cost $10.99, and for a transfer, it's a solid $10.99 a year too.
Hostinger is great if you know exactly what TLD you need, but it might lack the flexibility other providers can offer.
Another essential feature for those protecting their privacy - Hostinger charges $5.00 per year for domain privacy protection. It's one of the cheapest ID protection services on the list.
In terms of drop-catching, Hostinger allows the industry standard 30 days of redemption period.
Hostinger Domain Name Hosting
Hostinger is not only one of the most affordable domain registrars, but it is the cheapest hosting provider as well. Although the pricing doesn't do it justice. For under a dollar, you get a premium service - blazing performance, reliability, and professional 24/7 customer support.
Not to mention that the domain is included in the price - for the first year.
Hostinger plans start at $0.80/mo and you can even get an additional 10% off with the code HOSTINGREVIEW. Then, you'll get your shared hosting plan and a domain name included for $0.72/mo. Apart from the free web hosting, it's the cheapest you can get.
My full Hostinger review reveals more details about its hosting, ease of use, performance, and customer support. However, in short, it's a great fast and reliable option.
Hostinger is a cheap but very reliable domain registrar and hosting provider. In fact, bundling domain hosting and registration gets users the best offer - 24/7 customer support, intuitive control panel, and great performance included.
- Cheapest domain registrar for .com domains
- Powerful domain name search
- High-performance hosting
- Lacks some of the popular TLDs
3. GoDaddy - Fast Premium Domain Registration
If you have in mind a very specific domain name, GoDaddy definitely has a wide selection of premium domains.
Premium domains are the domains that 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 so high on the best domain registrar list not just because of its premium domains.
One thing that I really like about GoDaddy, is how fast domain registration is. In under 3 minutes, my site was up and running with a completely working and active .com domain.
This is really great when 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 24/7 customer support - just in case something goes wrong.
But it is not the most affordable option out there. If you want domain privacy - it will cost an extra $9.99 per year.
If you really want to save some cash, it's better to opt-out for the whole package that includes hosting and domain name.
The Best Domain Name Hosting Provider
GoDaddy includes a free domain with all of its shared hosting plans. The good thing about it 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.
And GoDaddy's hosting is rather affordable considering the premium service.
The cheapest plan is... $1/mo if you purchase it through one of the links provided. It includes both the domain, 100GB of storage, unmetered bandwidth, and 24/7 customer support.
Of course, there are options to upgrade but the 1$ hosting is simply the best domain name hosting value there is.
GoDaddy is a huge domain registrar best known for premium domains. It has one of the biggest choices of popular TLDs as well as probably the best domain name hosting offers.
- Premium domain registration
- Huge TLD selection
- Best domain name hosting
- Quite a few upsells
4. DreamHost - Flexible Domain Registrar
DreamHost has a lot to offer - but the flexibility is one of the biggest draws it has.
The company gives the possibility 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 - add on majority charges a lot extra.
DreamHost like many others offers us a 30-day redemption period for standard domains (.com, .net, etc).
The pricing is very average - some domains are cheaper than other providers can offer while others are more expensive. But it might be possible to get a better deal by combining both domain registration and hosting with DreamHost.
DreamHost Domain Name 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 includes unlimited traffic, SSL certificate, daily backups, and of course, a domain name.
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.
DreamHost is a great domain registrar with lots of flexibility and nice features. Including cheap hosting. The best part about the package is that it includes domain privacy for free - otherwise an expensive add-on for those valuing personal data.
- Custom name servers
- Free domain privacy protection
- Premium hosting
- Live chat available only on workdays
5. HostGator - Wide Choice of TLDs
HostGator is a popular online presence service provider offering great hosting and domain registration packages.
The provider features dozens of domain name extensions including new and unique ones.
The prices are on the higher side - .com domain costs $12.95/year and renews at $17.99/year. However, there are some pretty great deals for TLDs like .space and .site.
Domain privacy protection is another $14.95 a year. So while the initial offer is just what any provider can offer, HostGator’s domain hosting might offer quite a good value.
HostGator Domain Name Hosting
HostGator has always been known as an affordable and very reliable hosting provider. Combine it with unmetered storage, bandwidth, cPanel, and domain name - and you get a very good deal for $2.75/mo.
And that's just the cheapest plan.
HostGator also has options to scale - both more advanced shared hosting plans, cloud, VPS, and even dedicated server hosting.
And from what I've seen and mentioned in HostGator review - it's hosting is worth the attention. Reliable uptime, stable and fast performance, premium control panel, and great customer support are all included in the packages.
Apart from pretty hefty domain registration renewal pricing, HostGator has a lot to offer. Especially for small business and personal website owners - provider makes it easy and affordable to launch a professional site.
HostGator is a good domain registrar offering reliable service to get you a domain and manage it easily. But combining that with domain hosting - users can both save money and get exceptional web hosting.
- Cheap pricing for certain domains
- 24/7 customer support
- Unlimited domain hosting
- Renewals are rather expensive
6. A2 Hosting - Premium Domain Registrar Service
A2 Hosting is one of the best domain registrars because of the variety of the TLDs it's able to offer.
The domain names include both simple and popular ones, country TLDs, new TLDs, and much more. Some of the most interesting ones are .love, .paris, .ninja, and .blackfriday that are offered only by the biggest registrars.
And A2 Hosting is also very transparent about its pricing. Although not the cheapest on the list, the company does not lure the customers with cheap introductory pricing. The rates you see will be charged every year.
Simple .com domain costs $14.95 a year - a little higher than competition's initial offers but still very affordable even after the renewal.
Domain privacy protection is an extra $9.95 while DNS management and email forwarding are included for free for the first year. Custom name servers are also available.
Unfortunately, A2 Hosting is the only provider that does not include domain names in hosting packages for free. So if you were looking for the best domain name hosting, checking out all the previous providers is a better choice.
But that in no way means that I don't recommend A2 Hosting for hosting. In fact, it often tops our lists as a fast and affordable provider. It's just that you won't be saving a couple of dollars for the first year which makes it more expensive for budget projects.
A2 Hosting offers a wide variety of TLDs including all the popular ones, country TLDs, and new TLDs. The company is exceptionally transparent about its pricing so there won't be any expensive surprises in the following years.
- A big choice of TLDs
- No expensive renewals
- Free email forwarding and DNS management
- Pricing on the higher side
- No free domain hosting
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. It hides your personal details from public domain records.
Some of the domain registrars include it as standard - DreamHost is one of them. 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.
All of our providers are huge not only in domain registration but hosting as well. They are equipped with professional teams of support available 24/7 no matter what problem you may have.
Drop-catching basically means that the registrar holds onto your domain for a certain period of time after expiry, allowing you to renew and not lose your domain name.
Sometimes you may forget to renew it, or possibly the payment method you used has expired.
This can lead to your domain name expiring and being open to purchasing from others. Thanks to drop-catching, you are protected for some time.
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.
The Best Domain Registrar - the Verdict
Overall, all of the 6 best domain registrars I mentioned do a really 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. Especially if you bundling hosting too.
Here are the 6 best domain registrars and domain hosting providers:
- Bluehost is offering easy to use domain registration and hosting services.
- Hostinger is the cheapest domain registrar and domain hosting provider.
- GoDaddy is the best domain registrar if you want to buy a premium domain.
- Dreamhost is one of the best domain registrars if you need custom name servers.
- HostGator has a wide choice of TLDs and cheap unlimited hosting.
- A2 Hosting provides premium domain registration services.
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, I'd love to hear them!