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How Much Does a Domain Name Really Cost? (Expert Answer)

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If you have ever tried to register a domain name before, then you have likely seen a wide variety of prices ranging from $9 to several thousand dollars.

The cost of a domain name varies based on the domain extension (such as .com, .org, .net), domain registrar, availability, and a few other factors.

Apart from new domain names, you can also buy premium domain names from someone else who has registered them before you. Domain name investors often register premium domain names that are shorter, brandable, and easy to remember for reselling.

In this article, we will explain how much a domain name really costs. We will also show you different ways to buy a domain name, including a way to get one for free.

How much does a domain name really cost

Since this is a comprehensive guide on domain name costs, we have broken it down into a few sections:

How Much Does a New Domain Name Cost?

Buying a new domain name will typically cost you anywhere between $9 and $14.99 per year. However, these prices may differ based on your domain extension or domain registrar.

If you are starting a new website, then we recommend using Bluehost. They are one of the top web hosting companies in the world.

They are offering WPBeginner users a free domain name + a free SSL certificate on top of the 60% discount on their web hosting plans.

Since you need both a domain name and web hosting to make a website, this is the most affordable option.

If you just want to purchase a domain name, then we recommend using Domain.com as your registrar. You can use our Domain.com coupon code to get 25% off your purchase.

Here is how much a new domain registration costs with different registrars:

  • Bluehost – Free domain with hosting for $2.75 / month
  • Domain.com – $7.45 for .com domain names with our coupon code
  • Hostinger – Free domain with hosting for $2.79 / month
  • Network Solutions – $7.49 for .com with our coupon code or FREE with their web hosting package.
  • HostGator – Free domain with hosting for $2.64 / month
  • GoDaddy – $11.99
  • DreamHost – Free domain with hosting for $2.59 / month

These prices are for new .com domain names only. The pricing of other TLDs (top-level domains) or extensions, such as .net, .org, .info, .blog, .biz, etc., will vary based on the domain registrar you use.

There are also ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) like .co.uk, .de, .ca, and more. These domains can be more expensive than .com.

There are also TLDs reserved for government (.gov), military (.mil), and education websites (.edu). You cannot buy .gov or .mil domain names from domain registrars. Similarly, registration of .edu domains is reserved for recognized and accredited educational organizations.

When it comes to domain extensions or TLDs, we always recommend users use .com because it’s the most popular one.

A .com domain name is perfect for all types of websites, including personal, business, eCommerce, and more.

Tip: The easiest way to search for a domain name is by using our Business Name Generator tool or the Nameboy domain name generator.

Hidden Costs of a Domain Name

Aside from the domain registration cost, there are a few hidden domain costs and upsells that you should be aware of so you can make the most educated decision.

Yearly Renewals

Domain name registration is done yearly. You can maintain control over your domain name as long as you continue to renew your registration each year.

We recommend setting up auto-renew for your domain names to avoid accidental expiry of your domain name. It has no additional costs but helps you ensure your online presence is not hijacked.

Some domain registrars offer domain name discounts on first-year purchases, but their renewal costs are much higher. If you see a promotion where you can pay $0.99 for a domain name, then please know that it’s usually for the first year only. Your annual renewal fees will be at a much higher price.

WHOIS and Domain Privacy

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers) is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation that is responsible for coordinating the assignment and maintenance of domain names. They require each domain registrar to collect contact information for the website owner.

This information can be publicly accessed using WHOIS data. Other businesses and companies can use this information to contact you about a potential business partnership.

Having the WHOIS data publicly available can result in unwanted emails and phone calls. This is why many domain registrars sell an add-on called Domain Privacy Protection.

This addon typically costs an additional $9.99, and it’s completely optional. The problem is that often, registrars automatically add it to the cart, and you have to manually remove it if you don’t want to pay for it.

Some registrars like DreamHost offer free domain privacy with their domains.

Business Email Accounts (Email Domains)

When buying a domain name, you will likely see an addon for email domains for setting up a professional business email address.

You do not need to buy this because you can get a free business email address with most web hosting companies.

If you want a more professional option, then we recommend buying this directly from Google Workspace or Microsoft Office365, so you are not locked into a registrar.

Pro Tip: Secure Domain Discounts for Multiple Years

Some registrars like Domain.com allow you to pre-pay for multiple years upfront. This is a great way to get the introductory discount offer for multiple years.

Since you have to pay for domain renewals every year, pre-paying for multiple years can be a significant saving. Not to mention, it saves you from future price increases.

However, these hidden fees and domain cost explanations are primarily for new domains that are available to register.

What about premium domains or domains that you buy from other people? Let’s take a look at the premium domain costs in detail.

How Much Does a Premium Domain Name Cost?

Premium domain names are pre-registered domain names that are often shorter, brandable, and more memorable. Often, domain investors register these premium domain names to sell later at a higher price for profit.

The cost of premium domain names can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. It all depends on the uniqueness of the name, domain length, and its overall brand potential.

Some premium domains may even cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Here are some of the most expensive domains sold in history:

  • Insurance.com – $35.6 million
  • PrivateJet.com – $30.18 million
  • Hotels.com – $11 million
  • Fb.com – $8.5 million
  • Business.com – $7.5 million

You can find premium domain names listed for sale by private sellers on various websites.

We recommend buying domain names from reputable websites to ensure a safe transfer of the domain name. See our guide on the best places to buy a premium domain name.

How to Estimate The Value of a Premium Domain Name?

Many beginners ask us about how to find the right offer to make for a premium domain or a pre-registered domain name.

Domain names that are already taken are often sold at a higher price. However, most of the time, the asking price is outrageously high, which discourages many inexperienced domain buyers from making an offer.

We recommend users do some research and make a reasonable counteroffer. Remember, the domain investor only makes money when they sell the domain.

Like most trades, the value of a premium domain largely depends on the maximum you’re willing to pay and the lowest the seller is willing to accept.

However, you can look at domain marketplaces like BuyDomains, Sedo, or Flippa to better understand the market rates so you can make a respectable offer for a particular niche.

Flippa domains

If the domain you are looking for already has a listed price, then you can start by offering 50-75% of the listed price.

Note: Most domain value estimation tools are completely useless, so it’s best to avoid using them as a reference.

We recommend caution when buying a registered domain name. If you are unsure about the domain’s potential worth to your business, then simply walk away.

How Much Does an Expired Domain Name Cost?

Each day, thousands of domain names expire. These are the domain names where the owner decided not to renew their registration, or they simply forgot about these domain names.

Expired domains provide an excellent opportunity to find great brandable domain names. The following are a few places where you can look for recently expired domain names.

1. FreshDrop

FreshDrop

FreshDrop is a domain marketplace that allows you to follow expired and soon-to-be-expired domain names. It comes with an advanced search tool that you can use to narrow down your search.

2. ExpiredDomains

ExpiredDomains

ExpiredDomains is a search engine dedicated to expired domain names. It may not look as easy to use as other domain search tools, but it has a large and constantly updated index of domain names.

Note: You need to check for domain abuse and other problems before buying a used, pre-registered, or expired domain name (more on this later).

Cost of Expired Domain Names

Normally, you can register an expired domain name at the usual yearly rates of your domain registrar company.

However, if a domain name is soon to be expired, then you can use a domain backorder service. This allows you to place an advance order for the domain name.

If there is no other advance order for that domain name, then your order will become successful. Most domain name companies charge a small one-time fee ($25 – $99) to provide this service, which is separate from the price of a domain name.

How to Buy a Domain Name Not Listed for Sale

So far, we have talked about the cost of domain names that are available for registration or sold by third parties. What if you have your eye on a domain name already taken but not listed for sale?

There is a good chance that you can still get your hands on that particular domain name.

You see, many users register domain names to start a new online business. A lot of them end up never using that domain name or abandon the idea.

Since they are not using the domain name, you can directly contact the domain owner to make an offer.

If the domain name has a website, then you can use the contact form on their website to reach out.

Alternatively, you can use the Whois search to find the contact information of the domain owner and send them a message to show your interest.

Sometimes, people register domain names for future ideas, so even if they are not using them, they still won’t want to sell them. Some folks get greedy and will ask for a premium to part ways with their domain.

Remember, you are buying someone’s “dream idea”, so you need to be respectful but also realistic about the value.

Pro tip: If you have a business idea, it’s better to register a domain name, even if you are not 100% sure. You don’t want to risk someone else registering it before you get around to it. We consider it an insurance policy because a domain costs only $9.99.

Doing Your Homework Before Buying a Domain Name

If you are buying a domain name that has never been used before, then you are good to go.

However, if you are buying a domain name that was previously owned by someone else, then you need to do some basic due diligence.

These domain names could be violating copyright or trademark, used to distribute malware or spam, or misused in other malicious activities.

Don’t worry. There are plenty of tools that you can use to do your homework.

1. Check For Trademark

First, you would want to ensure that the domain name is not a registered trademark of an existing business.

According to ICANN rules, if a domain name violates a company’s registered trademark, then that company can claim the domain name or ask you to take it down.

You can check the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database to do a quick trademark search. Simply enter your domain name in the search box to see if it returns any matches.

Trademark search

2. Check Past Domain Name Usage

Next, you will want to see how the domain name has been used in the past. What kind of websites were made using that particular domain name?

The easiest way to do this is by using the Wayback Machine. It is a massive historical archive of the internet with snapshots of websites archived on a regular basis.

Wayback Machine

3. Check Historical Whois Records

Whois tools provide you with historical whois records for all types of domain names. This helps you see when a domain name was created, last renewed, DNS changes, and other historical data.

Whois

4. Run a Domain Health Check Test

Finally, you need to make sure that the domain is not used to send spam, launch DDoS attacks, or spread malware. You can use MxToolBox’s domain health tool to see if raises any red flags.

Check domain health check

Frequently Asked Questions About Domain Name Costs

Having helped thousands of users start a blog and website, we have answered a lot of questions related to domain names. Below are some of the most common ones:

Can I get a domain name for free?

While a domain name typically costs $14.99 / year, you can get a domain name for free as a bundled offer with various web hosting companies.

Hosting services providers like Bluehost, Hostinger, HostGator, Dreamhost, GreenGeeks, and others offer free domains with their web hosting packages.

Remember that the free domain name is usually only offered for the first year. Renewal prices may be higher.

Which is the best domain name registrar?

We believe that Domain.com is the best registrar right now because they have the features you need, and they’re offering a 25% off discount.

However, it’s a smarter money decision to get a free domain with web hosting like Bluehost because it saves you time and money.

You can always transfer your domain name to another popular domain name registrar if you’re not happy with your existing provider. On some domain registrars, you may have to pay an additional year of registration fee for domain transfer.

Do I need both domain name and web hosting to build a website?

Yes, you need both the domain name and web hosting to build a website. A domain name is your website’s address on the internet, whereas web hosting is where your website files are stored. For more details, see our guide on the difference between domain name vs. web hosting (explained).

Can I buy a domain name forever (permanently)?

No, you cannot buy a domain name permanently. Domain name prices are for annual registrations, which means you need to renew it each year. However, you can pre-pay for up to 10 years, which guarantees that you will have a domain name for 10 years.

How much does a domain name cost on Wix vs. WordPress?

When using a hosted website builder platform, the cost of your domain name will vary. It’s important to remember that website builder platforms offer a combination of hosting + domain.

For example, Wix domains cost $14.95 / year, but they are free if you choose the annual plan, which costs $13 / month.

WordPress.com domains cost $18 / year, but they are included for free with the annual Personal plan, which costs $8 / month.

But if you use a self-hosted WordPress platform, then you can start a website with Bluehost for $2.75 per month, and it comes with a free domain name. For more details, see the difference between WordPress.com vs. self-hosted WordPress.org.

We hope this article helped you learn how much a domain name really costs. You may also want to see our guide on how much it really costs to build a WordPress website.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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11 CommentsLeave a Reply

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  3. Nidhi says

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