Finding a perfect domain for your website can be very challenging.
And finding the best domain registrar is very difficult as well. Some people may tell you that the only difference between domain registrars is the prices they offer.
Well, the prices are very important. But there are many more things which help define which companies are good, and which are not.
Some domain registrars have the fastest registration times. Some offer the largest selection of TLDs. And others have security and privacy features that stand out from the rest.
And in this list, we are picking out the best of the bunch, so you can choose the best place for buying and transferring domains. Here's what we got - these are the best domain registrar companies:
- 1&1 (the cheapest domain registrar)
- Namecheap (domain registrar with the best security options)
- Hostinger (great payment options, powerful domain search)
- GoDaddy (best domain registrar for premium domains)
- Dreamhost (includes custom nameservers)
1. 1&1 IONOS
Cheap domains, good variety of TLDs
Those who are on a budget will find some really good options with 1&1. This provider stands out with low pricing for first year domain registration:
However, pay attention to the prices of domain renewal - for example, .com domains start at just $8.99, the renewal will cost $14.99 thereafter.
When registering a domain with 1&1, you get 4 options of contract duration. 1, 2, 3 and 5 years are available.
Continuing with its dealer plans, domain transfer with 1&1 is free, but they will charge you for a 1-year automatic domain renewal. That would cost the same as a usual 1-year domain registration.
Another thing it offers is free domain privacy - this service hides your personal information from the WHOIS lookup.
If you're looking for a personal domain like .shop or .online, this provider also puts a pretty large amount of thought on that. So you can find the best option to clearly convey the purpose of your business.
Looking at drop-catching, 1&1 offers the industry standard of 30 days redemption period after domain expiration.
- Very cheap for the first year
- Free domain privacy
- Good selection of TLDs
- Expensive domain renewals
Affordable domains with high privacy settings.
Namecheap aims to offer everyone premium great domain and high-quality privacy 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 just $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 of 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
Payment options galore
One big thing that puts Hostinger in contention for the title of the best domain registrar, is the variety of payment methods on offer.
You can purchase domains not just with credit cards and PayPal, as is standard, but also with a multitude of cryptocurrencies.
And the prices are quite attractive too:
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. Not as good of an offer as Namecheap - so keep that in mind.
One of the most features in Hostinger domains is the powerful 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 for .com domains
- Crypto payment options
- Powerful name search
- Not many extensions to choose from
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 usually referred to as the domains which have additional value, often due 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 domains can help as well. Domain Buy service is supposed to start a contact between a domain owner and a domain buyer and help them agree on a price.
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, as if 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 thereafter, making them quite pricey in comparison to the competition.
And the list of available TLDs just keeps going. With over 700 extensions available, it has probably the biggest selection in the business.
If you want domain privacy then you will need to pay an extra $7.99 per year.
GoDaddy gives you five 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
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.
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
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, count how much it will cost you to keep a domain over a 5, 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. They charge $7.99 to clear your records. 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 needs 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. Use 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 5 options 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:
- 1&1 is good if you're looking for the best price - especially the cheapest first-year domain registration..
- Namecheap is a perfect registrar for free domain protection and additional security measures.
- Hostinger is the cheapest place to buy and maintain .com domains.
- GoDaddy has the most extensions available, and has some features for premium domains.
- Dreamhost should be your pick if you're looking for custom nameservers.
This table should be a good guide for you:
|Best Feature||Fantastically cheap||Great support||Many payment options||Large TLD selection||Incredibly customizable|
|.com Price From||$8.99||$10.98||$8.99||$11.99||$11.95|
*Free transfer but you are charged a year of renewal costs, which is the same as one year of domain registration.
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!