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How to Choose the Best Domain Registrar in 2021 (Compared)

Are you looking for the best domain registrars of 2021? Domain registrars are the companies responsible for registering and managing domain names for all websites around the world.

Choosing the right domain name registrar is very important because there are so many ways to get tricked. In this article, we will show you how to choose the best domain registrar by comparing their pros and cons.

Choosing the best domain registrar

Quick Summary: Want to skip the reading and get our expert pick? In our research, best domain registrar is either Domain.com if you’re just buying a domain name, or Bluehost if you’re looking to build a website because they’ll give you a domain name for free.

For those of you, who prefer thorough research, here is a quick overview of things you will learn in this guide:

What is a Domain Name Registrar

A domain name registrar is a company that allows you to purchase and register domain names. All domain name registrars are accredited by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organization responsible for managing domain names.

Domain names make the internet easy to use for everyone. Without domain names, you’ll have to enter long strings of numbers called IP addresses to visit websites.

Domain names solve this problem by allowing websites to choose addresses using easy to remember words, for example, wpbeginner.com or google.com.

How domain names work

To learn more, see our beginner’s guide on what is a domain name and how does it work.

To make domain names widely available, ICANN allows companies to apply for accreditation and become a domain registrar.

These companies then compete with each other to sell domain name licenses which allows you to get better service and tools when you purchase your domain name.

What Domain Registrars Really Do?

All domain name records are stored in a centralized database called registry. For a domain name to be recognized, it needs to be added into that database with all related information about it.

A domain name registrar is given permission by ICANN to make changes to your domain name’s information in the database on your behalf. A domain name registrar also provides easy to use tools to make those changes using your web browser.

That being said, let’s take a look at how to easily choose the best domain registrar for your website address.

How to Choose The Right Domain Registrar

Not all domain registrars have the license to sell all domain name extensions. For example, some domain registrars can only sell domain names with country-specific extensions (like .io, .in, or .ly).

Each domain registrar may offer different services along with the domain name registration. Some registrar may offer cheap domains as their promotional offer while others may give free add-ons to attract customers.

When choosing the best domain name registrar, we look at the following four criteria:

1. Pricing and Registration Period

The first thing you want to check is the domain name prices. For example, some domain registrars may offer low prices upfront for the first year registration, but their renewal prices can be different and significantly higher.

You can register a domain name for a minimum period of 1 year. However, some companies may require a higher registration period like 2 years minimum. You can register a domain name for up to 10 years at a time.

If you are buying a new web address, then we recommend registering your domain name for 1 year. You can turn on automatic renewal, so your domain does not expire.

You also need to check for any additional fees for domain transfers, renewal, and other charges.

2. Domain Transfers

Domain names can be moved from one domain registrar to another. Normally, you wouldn’t need to transfer your domain name right away, but if you’re unhappy with your domain registrar, then this option should be easily available.

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot transfer a domain name during the first 60 days of the registration. This initial period is decided by ICANN. After that, you are allowed to move it to any other registrar that you want.

Most domain registrars make it easy to transfer domain names without any extra fee. However, some may try to make it complicated or charge an extra fee to remove domain lock.

Make sure that you review the domain transfer policy before you buy a domain name from a registrar.

3. Domain Expiration Policies

Domain names are registered for a specific duration. You can renew your domain registration before its expiration date. However, if you forgot to renew your domain name, then it expires and anyone can register it.

For businesses, this means someone can take over their domain name. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, you can set up auto-renewals for your domain name.

Even if you use the automatic renewal feature, it is a good idea to check your domain registrars expiration policy. Some domain registrars offer a grace period even after the expiration. This grace period allows you to renew your expired domain name.

We have heard dozens of horror stories of business owners losing their domain name because their credit card expired, and their registrar did not have a grace period. This is one of the many reasons why it’s extremely important to choose the right domain name registrar.

4. Add-on Services

You may also want to review what other services are offered by your domain registrar. While you may not need these services right now, it is good to know that they have them.

These add-on services may include domain privacy, domain parking, extended expiration protection, and more. Some domain registrars may even sell WordPress hosting service, email hosting service, website builders, email marketing services, and more.

Top 3 Things to Watch Out for When Choosing a Domain Name Registrar

Due to the competition in the domain registration business, you will come across companies with some very attractive offers. While these offers may look good, there may be some downsides that you may not notice right away.

Following are a few things to watch out for when choosing a domain name registrar.

1. Add-on Pricing

Some domain name registrars can automatically pre-check add-on services when you purchase a domain name. If you don’t uncheck those options, then this would increase your bill significantly. Typically a .com domain name should not cost you more than $14.99 / year. If it does, then it should raise a red flag.

You must pay attention to the checkout page and uncheck any add-on services or upsells that you don’t need like WHOIS Guard. On top of that, it’s always a good idea to double-check the total amount you are charged in your credit card statements.

2. Bad User Experience

Most domain registrars try to make their website easy to use, so they can keep you as a customer. However, some domain registrars do the exact opposite.

This would make it difficult for you to change your domain name settings like nameservers. You will need to do that if you wanted to transfer domain to a new host, or a new domain registrar.

The easiest way to look for this is by searching for domain registrar’s online reviews. Keep in mind, that very few happy customers leave online reviews, so it’s important to read the reviews thoroughly.

3. Hidden Fees

You may also need to look for the hidden costs and fees when choosing a domain registrar.

Some domain registrars may have special offers for cheaper domains for first-time registrations. Most beginners don’t realize it, but the renewal cost of the domain are often quite different and even higher.

All good domain registrars make it easy to transfer your domain name to a different company. However, some will put an additional fee.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the best domain name registrars, and how they compare against each other.

Best Domain Registrars to Buy a Domain Name

Choosing the right domain registrar saves you from possible future problems. It not only helps you protect your brand name but also makes it easy to move your website to a new host or service provider.

Based on the criteria we discussed earlier, these are the top domain registrars to buy your domain name from.

1. Domain.com

Domain.com

Started in 2000, Domain.com is one of the most popular domain name registrar on the planet. They allow you to register all top level domain name extensions (TLDs) and even dozens of country code top level domains (ccTLDs).

Domain.com has a quick domain search tool that you can use for your domain name research. Their search also shows you premium domains as well.

You get access to all domain management tools that you would expect from a top domain registrar including private registration, whois privacy protection, free whois, bulk registration, easy transfers, easy DNS management, email account, email forwarding, and other additional services. You can even purchase web hosting from them if you like.

If you have any questions, then you can contact their helpful customer support team via live chat or email. They also have an extensive knowledgebase with helpful guides.

Domain.com is offering WPBeginner readers 25% off discount on domain products. All you have to do is either click on the link from our website, or use our domain.com coupon code: nameboy

If you only need to register a domain name without web hosting, then we highly recommend Domain.com. However, if you’re looking to start a blog or website, then option #2 might be better for you because you can get a free domain name.

2. Bluehost

Bluehost

Bluehost is one of the largest hosting companies in the world, and they are an official WordPress hosting partner. As part of their web hosting service, they also offer domain name registration.

Bluehost is offering WPBeginner users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting which is a perfect deal for anyone looking to make a website.

Basically, you can get started for $2.75 per month, and get a free new domain name.

→ Click Here to Claim This Exclusive Bluehost Offer ←

We use Bluehost as our web hosting provider for several of our small websites. Their interface is intuitive for beginners, it comes with WordPress pre-installed, and their chat support is very helpful when needed.

They also have many features that website owners need such as ability to add unlimited subdomains, malware protection for websites, professional emails through G Suite (Google Workspace), and more.

3. Network Solutions

Network Solutions

Network Solutions is one of the largest domain registrars on the planet with over 7 million domains registered with them. You can register a wide variety of domain extensions including the popular .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, and basically all other niche TLDs.

Since Network Solutions is one of the biggest domain registrars, their services offering include web hosting, website builder, website security tools, business email address, online marketing, SEO services, and even IT support.

Basically as a small business, they can be your one stop shop for your online web presence.

You can get started by using their domain name search tool to quickly see available domains. They also show you premium domains in their results as well.

Their platform comes with all the domain features that you’d expect such as DNS management, private registration, WHOIS privacy, etc.

Network Solutions is offering our readers 25% off discount on domain names. You will need to use our link from their site, and our Network Solutions coupon code: WPBEGINNER during checkout.

Note: the promo coupon code is case sensitive all uppercase.

You can also get a free domain from Network Solutions when you purchase their WordPress hosting plans or other website / eCommerce hosting packages.

4. HostGator

HostGator

HostGator is another popular company offering website owners a one-stop shop for domain names and shared website hosting. They offer a nice selection of extensions, domain privacy, and easy to use DNS management tools.

They have an easy to use domain search tool that helps you quickly find a suitable domain name for your business. Their domain management area is beginner friendly and well documented which makes it easy to transfer domains if you need to.

Aside from domain name and hosting, they have also introduced a brand new drag & drop website builder called Gator. They’re offering free domain name and hosting with all of their website builder plans.

In the early days of WPBeginner, we used HostGator as our web host. We were on their VPS hosting plans until our website got much larger, so we had to switch to the Google Cloud platform.

5. GoDaddy

GoDaddy

GoDaddy is one of the oldest and most popular domain registration company. They manage more than 77 million domain names for over 18 million customers.

They offer a wide variety of popular domain name extensions to choose from. Their prices are highly competitive, and you may even get a significant discount on the first year of your domain’s registration.

GoDaddy has a powerful easy to use domain management interface which allows you to transfer your domain name, change name servers, update contact information, manage bulk domain renewals, and customize various other domain settings.

GoDaddy also has a suite of other web services including hosting, website builder, email marketing, and more.

Related: See 7 best GoDaddy alternatives that are cheaper and more reliable.

6. Namecheap

Namecheap

Namecheap is another top domain registrar on the market. They have a powerful domain search tool that helps you find the right domain name and makes suggestions when your preferred domain name is not available.

They also offer domain add-on services like domain privacy and premium DNS. Their domain management area is clean, but it’s not as user-friendly as GoDaddy’s new interface.

One nice thing about NameCheap is that they offer free whois privacy with all their domain names.

We used to use NameCheap but ended up transferring our main domains to other providers because we simply had too many issues logging into their domain management panel.

7. DreamHost

DreamHost

DreamHost is another popular domain name registrar and web hosting service provider. They are offering our readers a free domain name with domain privacy included for anyone signing up for their Shared Unlimited hosting plan.

You can also register a domain name without buying hosting through them for $8.99 / year which also includes free private registration.

DreamHost offers 400+ TLDs and comes with all domain management tools that you can expect from a large domain provider like DreamHost.

Aside from shared hosting, Dreamhost also offers managed WordPress hosting called DreamPress which is great for larger websites.

Bonus Premium Domain Registration

8. BuyDomains

BuyDomains

BuyDomains allow you to search for premium domain names matching your search terms. Premium domain names are domain names that are already registered but are available for sale from third-party. These domains are often more memorable, shorter, and brandable which is why they are more expensive.

If you cannot find a suitable domain name, and you have the budget, then you can use BuyDomains to search for a premium domain name.

Final Thoughts – Best Domain Registrar

There are literally hundreds of other domain registrars and resellers in the market that we have not included in the list including Hover, Google Domains, Tucows, 1&1 Ionos, Shopify, eNom, Name.com, Namesilo, etc.

The reason is because they all primarily offer the same services, and we want to make it easy for our users to pick the best and most secure domain registrar without causing choice paralysis.

In our opinion, Domain.com is the best domain registrar in the market for small businesses as well as large companies. They offer the most reasonable pricing and has all the features.

If you’re looking to build a website, then you can get a free domain name from both Bluehost and HostGator when you signup for their web hosting.

They both are among the best web hosting companies on the planet, and they also offer step by step website set up for any type of website including real estate, small business site, online store, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Domain Name Registrars

Having helped over 670,000 users pick the best domain registrar, we have answered quite a lot of questions. Below are some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions about domain name registrars.

Does it matter which domain registrar I use?

Yes, it does because not all domain registrars are created equal. They may have different domain name extensions, features, prices, etc. Above all though, you want to choose a domain registrar that has good support and offer a reliable network infrastructure.

Most business owners rely on their domain registrars for DNS which basically helps route users to your website. If your domain registrar has network issues, then even if your web hosting server is online, your users will not be able to reach your website.

Furthermore, you want to ensure that domain registrars have a good support and reputation because that comes in handy in case of emergencies.

This is why we recommend using Domain.com, Bluehost, or GoDaddy because they all have a reliable infrastructure and security.

Also we strongly recommend avoiding domain registrars like NameBright who use deceptive business practices to lock users in from transferring domains away.

Which is the cheapest domain registrar?

When it comes to price, nothing beats free. So the cheapest domain registrar is Bluehost since they offer you a free domain name with web hosting.

With that said, WPBeginner users can use our Domain.com coupon code to get additional savings on Domain.com which makes the prices very attractive.

What is a reasonable price for a domain name?

Domain name prices will vary based on the type of domain extension and registrar you choose, but a typical domain should cost between $9 and $14.99 per year.

We have a detailed guide discussing the costs of a domain name, and how to evaluate premium domain value.

But as a quick guide, here is how much a new domain registration costs with different registrars:

Can I buy a domain name forever (permanently)?

No, 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.

As long as you continue to pay the annual renewal fee, you can own the domain permanently, and no one can take it from you.

The folks at Unstoppable domains are offering NFT domains for crypto wallets, and those you can buy permanently.

These Web3 domains currently do not work on all browsers natively, but we believe with the evolution of blockchain, in the future business will likely be able to own their domains forever even with popular registrars above.

Why is domain renewal more expensive?

Often domain registrars offer aggressive discounts on first year domain registration fee, and the renewals happen at the regular price.

This is why to maximize your savings, we recommend pre-paying the registration fee for 2-3 years, so you can lock-in your domain registration discount.

Who is the safest domain registrar?

All domain registrars have to follow ICANN policies, so technically they are all safe. However there are additional steps, you can take to protect your domain name from being stolen.

Such as implementing Domain Lock which prevents unauthorized domain transfers.

Furthermore, you want a domain registrar that offers two-factor authentication and security.

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.

Can I use multiple domain registrars?

Yes, you can absolutely use multiple domain registrars if you like. We have different domains registered across various registrars including Domain.com, Bluehost, GoDaddy, NameCheap, Name.com, and many more.

This is primarily because we buy / sell domains, and it’s just easier to transfer the domain from one account to another in the same registrar.

When you transfer domains to a different registrar, it can take up to 7 days.

Who determines if a domain is premium?

Premium domains are often domains that are owned by an existing business / entrepreneur. That person will determine the price of their premium domain.

Sometimes the domain registry themselves will hold back some premium domains and only release them at premium prices. In this case, the prices are determined by their sales team.

For example, we acquired a two letter am.co domain for our company Awesome Motive, and this was a premium domain.

Which are the top 3 best domain registrars in your opinion?

Our top 3 choices for the best domain name registrar are:

  1. Domain.com – Best domain registrar (overall). Bonus: offering special pricing for our readers too.
  2. Bluehost – Best domain registrar if you’re looking for web hosting. Bonus: domain name is free.
  3. Network Solutions

No this last question is not a joke. We seriously get this question even after referring people to this guide.

We hope this article helped you learn how to choose the best domain registrar for your business. You may also want to see our guide on how to get a free business email address, and how to get a free business phone number for your website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us.

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Reader Interactions

81 CommentsLeave a Reply

    • For someone just starting out, it is a low-cost starting point where if they decide later that they want to change their domain or start a different type of site that they are not stuck with a domain that they are not using.

      Admin

  1. I have being using namecheap.com for my domains and hosting of websites all this while. But I will try domain.com for my next domain and see how their’s works!

  2. Thanks for this list. Looks like I’ll be checking out Bluehost when I’m ready to build my site.

  3. Do you ever recommend renewing Site Hosting? Or should we buy a new one every year to save money…?

    • That is personal preference, if you have a specific registrar that you are comfortable with then it can be worth a raise in price for comfort.

      Admin

  4. You guys have best tutorials and very informative platforms for newbies and also for pros.

  5. I always stuck on choosing a good registrar to buy domain but this post cleared my all doubts.

    Thanks for publishing such an amazing article. Just 1 word for this article, “MInd Blowing”

  6. Thanks for sharing. I like how informative it is. Will try Domain.com on my next domain name. I do think what registrar you use is a matter of preference. Cheers!

  7. I am using GoDaddy for domain registration. Is it possible to transfer the registrar to some other hosting company?

  8. Tbh, this community has helped me alot in tackling WordPress issues and improvements. Thank You :)

  9. I have a domain and namecheap hosting, I also had Bluehost and Godaddy, Namecheap has been the best option for me.

    • If you have recently purchased a domain you need to wait 60 days before you can transfer your domain.

      Admin

    • While not required, that would be one of the few upsells that would be helpful to purchase if you wanted to hide your email.

      Admin

  10. Thank you for the email I have a workspace account that I’m going to cancel and they told me I need to transfer my domain name to another register very good information I just happened to stumble across you first and you answered all my questions very informative. Thank you for the info.

    • Yes, for 3 sites you would normally want 3 domains unless you are putting the other sites in a subfolder :)

      Admin

  11. Hi,
    Greetings, Hope you all are doing good.

    Great! to know about the Domain registration details, it sure dose help.

    Good work and keep it up.

    Take care and stay safe.
    Thank you,

  12. Once I’ve chosen a registrar, will they make the domain name for me or will I be able to create it myself? Thanks in Advance!

  13. A really useful guide, thanks. One query though, if changing registrars, how easy is it to transfer the hosting of the site too?

  14. As a domain investor/seller, is it advisable to register a domain name with an hosting site that offers free domain registration with an hosting plan?

    • That would be a personal preference question rather than a best practices question. We do not have a specific recommendation for that at the moment.

      Admin

    • You would need to transfer the domain to the new registrar before being able to renew with them

      Admin

  15. If I purchase a domain name from the above sites, can I build my website up in any other platform?

    Thanks in advance!

  16. Hi – how do we get the free domain with dreamhost? I went to the site using the link in the blurb, but did not see an option for free domain. It’s charging me.

  17. If I use one of the hosting sites that provide the domain. Do I own the domain name or do they? I don’t want to be trapped into their service I’ve not owning my domain.

    • You would own your domain name and be able to transfer it after the 60-day transfer restriction that all domains are currently under.

      Admin

  18. Thank you for your article. I had some confusion. After reading your article it helps me to clear my ideas.

    • The coupon code should still work at the moment, you may want to ensure there are no typos or you didn’t copy a space before the code when pasting it in

      Admin

  19. Thanks for the article. I’ve had some problems with GoDaddy and I’m thinking of switching to HostGator. The customer support at GoDaddy is not impressive – I rarely get through and they will add things to my cart that I don’t need or want. I already have office360 and don’t need it again for e-mail. Plus they limit email accounts.

  20. Hello, I just opened a real estate investment business. I am new to domain/hosting. Can someone recommend a domain for beginners? I also need to set up a email for my business. Thank you!

  21. Isn’t it interesting how life can be?

    I’ve never had any issue with Namecheap for almost ten years now but you did.
    Godaddy is cool with domain and not their hosting services but what I don’t like is the lack of 24/7 live chat support system.

    Anyways, good collection you have there!

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences with these providers and glad you like our article :)

      Admin

  22. On the host, does a host provide an SSL certificate even when the domain name is registered with a different domain registrar?
    Another question about BlueHost: does BlueHost offer domain privacy options and if yes, what would be the price of your discounted offer of $2.75/month in case one required that they offer domain privacy or does the package still come with domain privacy as an option to choose from?

    • You would want to reach out to the host, in this case BlueHost, and they can let you know the specifics on how they handle SSL and their current pricing for domain privacy

      Admin

  23. We use Namecheap.com not only the good price but for the DNS management panel and moreover for the support 24/7. We used rarely but when we had the needs they were there, also the weekend and at late hours during the week. For an agency this is very important.

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