Are you looking for the best domain registrars of 2023? 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.
Quick Summary: Want to skip the reading and get our expert pick? In our research, the best domain registrar is either Domain.com if you’re just buying a domain name or Bluehost if you are 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
- What Domain Registrars Really Do?
- How to Choose The Right Domain Registrar
- Things to Watch Out for When Choosing a Domain Name Registrar
- Best Domain Name Registrars
- Frequently Asked Questions About Domain Name Registrars
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’d 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.
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 to become domain registrars.
These companies then compete with each other to sell domain name licenses which allows you to get better service, functionality, and tools when you purchase your domain name.
What Do Domain Registrars Really Do?
All domain name records are stored in a centralized database called a registry. For a domain name to be recognized, it needs to be added to 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 registrars 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 looked 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 of 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 that 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 won’t need to transfer your domain name right away, but if you are 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 registrar’s expiration policy. Some domain registrars offer a grace period even after the expiration. This grace period allows you to renew your expired domain name.
Whereas bad domain registration services will immediately auction your expired domain to the highest bidder.
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 a domain registrar offers. 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.
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 very attractive offers. While these offers may look good, there may be some downsides that you may not notice right away.
Here 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 these will 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 registrar services or upsells that you don’t need, like WHOIS Guard, site builder, security features, and so on. 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 will make it difficult for you to change your domain name settings like nameservers. You will need to do that if you wanted to transfer a 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 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 costs 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 and have a transparent pricing policy. However, some will put an additional fee.
That being said, let’s 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 helps you protect your brand name and 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.
Started in 2000, Domain.com is one of the most popular domain name registrars 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 phone support, live chat, or email. They also have an extensive knowledge base with helpful guides.
Domain.com is offering WPBeginner readers a 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 are looking to start a blog or website, then option #2 might be better for you because you can get a free domain name.
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.
Basically, you can get started for $2.75 per month and get a free new domain name.
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 the ability to add unlimited subdomains, malware protection for websites, professional emails through G Suite (Google Workspace), and more.
If you need help with anything, then you can always contact them through live chat support or call their 24/7 phone number.
Hostinger is a fast-growing domain registrar and web hosting company for small businesses. They offer a free domain name with the purchase of any web hosting plan on their website.
Aside from a free domain name, you also get access to a free business email address, a free SSL certificate to make your website secure, and other business growth tools.
You can use Hostinger to quickly create your website in just a few clicks by either using WordPress or their own website builder.
Our expert team did a detailed Hostinger review and found them to offer among the fastest WordPress hosting and support.
Don’t forget to use WPBeginner’s Hostinger coupon to access exclusive savings.
Network Solutions is one of the largest domain registrars on the planet, with over 7 million domains registered. 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 include web hosting, a website builder, website security tools, a 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 a 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 and 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.
GoDaddy is one of the oldest and most popular domain registration companies. They manage more than 84 million domain names for over 20 million customers.
They offer a wide variety of popular domain name extensions to choose from. They offer competitive pricing, and you may even get a significant discount on the first year of your domain registration.
For professionals, GoDaddy offers premium Domain club membership that offers discounted domain pricing. This makes sense if you are registering or managing hundreds of domain names.
GoDaddy has a powerful, easy-to-use domain management interface that 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 the best GoDaddy alternatives that are cheaper and more reliable.
Namecheap is another top domain registrar. 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 purchases.
We used to use Namecheap but ended up transferring our main domains to other providers because we simply had too many issues logging in to their domain management panel.
Also, we’ve heard way too many complaints about their managed WordPress hosting plan because it doesn’t support popular plugins like AIOSEO, and the platform isn’t ready for scale despite what their support tells you.
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 the 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.
HostGator is another popular company offering website owners a one-stop shop for domain names and shared website hosting. They provide 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 are offering a 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.
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 a 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.
What Is the Best Domain Registrar?
There are 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, Porkbun, and more.
The reason is that 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 on the market for small and large businesses. They offer the most reasonable pricing and have all the features.
They both are among the best web hosting companies on the planet, and they also offer step-by-step website setups for any type of website, including real estate, small business sites, online stores, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domain Name Registrars
Having helped over 670,000 users pick the best domain registrar, we have answered many questions. Here are some 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 good support and reputation because that comes in handy in case of emergencies.
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?
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:
- Bluehost – Free domain with hosting for $2.75 / month
- Hostinger – Free with hosting for $2.69 / month
- Domain.com – $7.45 for .com domain names with our coupon code
- 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
Can I buy a domain name forever (permanently)?
No, you cannot buy a domain name permanently. Domain name registration is done every year. However, you can pre-pay for up to 10 years, which guarantees that you will have a domain name for ten 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, businesses will likely be able to own their domains forever, even with the popular registrars above.
Why is domain renewal more expensive?
Often domain registrars offer aggressive discounts on first-year domain registration fees, 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.
These include implementing Domain Lock, which prevents unauthorized domain transfers.
Furthermore, you want a domain registrar that offers two-factor authentication and security.
If you are looking for enterprise solutions, then many businesses trust Cloudflare Domains and MarkMonitor for safety.
Can someone steal my domain name?
Yes, domain name theft (also known as domain hijacking) is a common crime. Losing your domain can be devastating for small business owners. This is why it’s important that you choose a well-known domain registrar with a good reputation.
The way hackers can steal your domain name is by obtaining access to your domain registrar account. It’s important that you use a strong password and set up two-factor authentication.
We also recommend small business owners use an identity theft protection service to get near-real-time alerts of identity fraud because, generally, domain theft, domain hijacking, and domain ransomware are often a byproduct of another hack.
Can I use multiple domain registrars?
Yes, you can 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 a premium domain?
Premium domains are often owned by an existing business/entrepreneur. That person will determine the price of their premium domain.
Sometimes the domain registry 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:
- Domain.com – Best domain registrar (overall). Bonus: offering special pricing for our readers too.
- Bluehost – Best domain registrar if you are looking for web hosting. Bonus: domain name is free.
- Hostinger – Best domain registrar with a free domain and cheap web hosting.
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.
Disclaimer: To help our readers avoid choice paralysis, we only compared the best domain registrars, in our opinion. This list doesn’t include other domain registrars like Namesilo, Porkbun, Donuts, Name.com, Dynadot, Google Domains, Hover, Shopify, WordPress.com, Enom, Tucows, Netim, IONOS (formerly 1&1), Wix, etc because we believe the solutions mentioned in this article are simply better.