Looking to register a domain name for your site? Then it’s important to pick a good domain registrar. There are so many out there, and they don’t all come equal.
But what about the BEST domain registrar? After much investigation, our team’s top pick is Namecheap for its free WHOIS privacy and very user-friendly interface! However – it’s not the only great option.
This article will cover the best 7 domain registrars for different users, and some REALLY important things you should keep in mind when signing up (trust us – don’t skip them).
7 Best Domain Registrars for Your Website
Tips for Picking Your Domain Registrar
Let’s get to it.
First – a tiny bit of background.
A domain name is how people find you on the internet. Without one, people would need to type in an ugly string of numbers to land on your site.
ALL domain name records are stored in a centralized registry. And that’s where registrars come in – they’re the guys authorized by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to manage this information.
Part of the process of setting up a website is to register a domain name with an approved registrar. This gives you the rights to use that domain for a set period of time.
One of THE most important things to consider is the reputation of your domain registrar.
Firstly – make sure they’re ICANN-accredited.
Secondly – be sure to choose a registrar that has a long history and a strong reputation. Not doing so can be risky business.
Just remember the fiasco of ALPNames – a registrar that vanished in 2019 (5 years after it launched). It left thousands of customers in limbo; unable to renew domains or log into their accounts. ICANN stepped in to save the day, but it was a nightmare for all involved.
The moral of the story? Always check a registrar’s reputation and history.
Here’s the rest of our criteria for all the domain registrars on our list today:
Right – let’s get to the registrars!
After much research, here are the top 7 domain registrars that met our criteria.
This domain registrar is our first choice for its affordability, free WHOIS for life and great interface.
Coming up tops is Namecheap.
This is a fantastic ICANN-accredited domain registrar and hosting company that’s been around since 2001. They’re based out of Phoenix, Arizona, and offer 10 million domains.
The first great thing about Namecheap is that they offer free domain privacy with all domain purchases. In our opinion (and most others), domain privacy is mandatory.
To explain – ICANN requires every domain registrar to maintain a WHOIS database that publicly displays the details of domain owners. Things like your names, home addresses and phone numbers.
Most domain registrars will offer to ‘mask’ this info for an annual fee (around $8 – $13 usually ), but Namecheap offers this service for free, indefinitely. This lets you keep your details private, and helps prevent domain-related spam.
On top of that – Namecheap offers a great user experience, before and after you register any domain. Their great search tool helps you easily find a domain you like.
You can search by price range and suggested extensions. You’ll be able to browse popular, discounted, and new domains in a flash.
Namecheap is one of the most affordable registrars around. It’s not THE cheapest, but they offer constant promos throughout the year.
They also don’t blindside you with a big renewal fee. A .com website starts at $8.88 and will cost $12.98 on renewal. That’s pretty competitive, considering what you’re getting.
An upgrade to premium DNS is also available.
One of the oldest in the biz, great for beginners and experts.
Started in 2000, Domain.com is one of the most popular domain name registrars on the planet. They register all top level domain name extensions (TLDs) and many country code top level domains (ccTLDs).
Domain.com is good for both beginners and experts since it lets you find and pay for a domain real quick – in a few clicks!
Their nifty domain search tool makes it easy to find your domain and click through to purchase. Checkout is quick and you’ll be shown optional add-ons like G Suite, web hosting and SSL certificates and SiteLock. Feel free to skip them – SSL and SiteLock are often covered by most good web hosts.
They also offer 24/7 customer support via live chat or email, and a great knowledge base.
You can get a .com domain com for $9.99 per year – very reasonable.
However – one drawback is that Domain.com charges $8.99/year for domain privacy (which it adds automatically into your cart). But if you do opt in, you’ll also benefit from malware scans and blacklist prevention from SiteLock.
Familiar interface from the experts in UX, powered by Google tech.
Obviously, Google needs no introduction. Google Domains is a domain registration service launched in January 2015 and offering 300 extensions.
You can access Google Domains by using an existing Google user account. This is great since there’s no need for separate log-ins. It’s also easy to connect to other Google services, like G-suite and Google Search Console.
The thing I probably like most about it is just how familiar it feels. Their simple management dashboard has the same aesthetic and UX as other Google services.
Another big plus is the DNS you get with this registrar, since DNS can affect how quickly your web pages load. Google Domains will hook you up with Google’s Cloud DNS – guaranteeing you premium-level speeds at no extra cost.
Pricing for Google Domains depends on the extension but they are very reasonable for .org and .com – each costs $12.
However, they get expensive on some domains. An .io domain will cost a whopping $60
The good news is they are transparent with their prices which will save you from any nasty surprises when it’s time to renew. Domain privacy is free too.
GoDaddy is the big daddy of domain registrars with a strong reputation and lots of choice.
GoDaddy is one of the oldest and the most popular domain registrar on the market. Founded in 1997, they became ICANN Accredited in 2000.
They now serve an enormous customer base of 20+ million, and manage 82+ million domains. Those numbers are pretty mind boggling, and reassuring. It’s safe to presume they’ll be around for a lot longer.
At Bitcatcha, we’ve set up dozens of test sites (to run our coveted speed test tool on) and GoDaddy has been one domain registrar we’ve personally used on repeat – and had no complaints.
They offer a huge selection of extensions. Plus, they have tools that make domain set-up and domain transfers very simple.
One of the biggest attractions to GoDaddy is its competitive prices. They generally offer BIG discounts on the first year.
In fact, in the time it took to write this section of the article, I’ve seen the price plummet again to $1.00.
I read multiple critiques that GoDaddy’s promotional pricing was a bit sneaky and needed a 2 year minimum contract. However – this may no longer be the case – it seems like I could snag their lowest offers even on a 1 year contract.
Just be aware that prices will jump up on renewal (up to $18.99 for a .com domain) which is actually pretty expensive compared to other registrars on this list.
Godaddy offers default free WHOIS privacy, and you can pay an upgrade for greater privacy and protection – more details here.
The original experts in domain registry.
Network Solutions is another of the world’s largest and oldest domain registrars with 25 years of expertise under their belt. They were actually the first (and only) registry for .com, .net, .org, and .edu domains, back in the day.
In short – they know what they’re doing. They’re also trusted by Fortune 500 Companies.
They actually offer a whole suite of products, including web hosting and security tools. You can register a wide variety of extensions – from the popular ones (.com, .net) to most niche TLDs.
Something unique is they actually let you set up a domain for 100 years! Most domain registrars max out at 10 years.
A .com costs $9.99 for the first year. However, domain privacy is not included and will need you to pay an extra annual fee of $9.99. Other domain extensions can get pretty pricey – with an .io costing a whopping $79.99.
They also have a ‘Buyer’s Club’ designed for customers who want to pre-register new domain names that are launching. Club members will nab a 10% discount on every new domain pre-registered.
User-friendly domain registrar that’s not the cheapest.
Coming in at #6 is Bluehost. These guys are actually a reputable web hosting company that also happens to offer domains, and is ICANN registered.
Just like their website and products, the experience of purchasing a domain with Bluehost is very user friendly and feel-good. They also have a great knowledge-base with articles to explain things for beginners and experts.
You can use Bluehost’s lightning-quick search system to find your preferred domain. It’s clear to use and will show you lots of alternatives if your preferred option is already taken.
Just be mindful of the things that might jump into your cart as you check out – you might not need all of them.
Bluehost domains are generally quite affordable. Their average .com domain is $12.99 per year and .org from $9.99. However, if you buy any of their shared web hosting plans (which we’ve reviewed here), you’ll get a free domain name thrown in for the first year.
However, you’ll need to upgrade if they want things like domain privacy and protection (which will cost $14.88/year on renewal – a little on the pricey side). Professional email hosting also can be purchased separately.
No frills domain registrar with cheap and transparent pricing.
Last on the list is Internet.bs. These guys are a little newer to the scene (formed in 2015) but still have years of experience. Based in the Bahamas, they offer a huge range of extensions.
They have a transparent and matter-of-fact website that’s very much ‘what you see is what you get’. It’s not as user-friendly or modern as other registrar websites and their knowledgebase is very bare-bones.
BUT their prices are some of the cheapest on the market, making it great for domain investors. Plus, checkout is very quick and straightforward and there are no heavy upsells – quite rare in the industry.
You also get free WHOIS privacy for life.
Internet.bs is actually the cheapest on our list! A .com domain costs $8.99 per year and increases very little upon renewal.
The thing we appreciate the most about Internet.bs that they have a very transparent pricing system. You can see exactly what ANY domain extension will cost to register and renew, over time, by viewing their pricing table here.
Now you know the big players, here are some really important things to bear in mind when purchasing a domain from ANY registrar.
You should apply the following tips whether or not the domain is from our top 7 list (after all, prices and policies change).
Trust us – you’ll want to keep reading.
A great domain registrar will offer value for money. BUT be careful not to get suckered in by glitzy deals.
As you go through the check-out process, double-check the fine print in the following areas:
Some domain name registrars will automatically put add-ons into your cart as you check out.
Pay attention before you put your payment details in – is there anything in your cart that you don’t actually need? Remember – you might be getting some of those extras from your web host or website builder. You may need to remove these add-ons manually.
As we’ve mentioned, domain privacy is an important consideration if you want to keep your personal details and reputation safe and out of the hands of spammers.
Some domain registrars like Namecheap and Google Domains include it for free – whilst others charge extra. We would definitely recommend you get it.
Another workaround would be to sign up for a domain using your business information, since those details are already publicly available.
When your domain is due to expire, you’ll need to renew it. If you don’t, someone else might snap it up and it might be gone – forever!
Many businesses (including Google and Microsoft) have made the major boo-boo of letting their renewals lapse.
To prevent this, most registrars let you set up auto-renewal. Make sure you take advantage of this! You can always switch it off if you change your mind.
You can also check your registrar’s expiration policy. Some domain registrars will extend the window of renewal a little past the expiry date, which is helpful.
Register your domain name for 1 year and turn on automatic renewal.
You should always shop around. If you already have a desired domain name, check the price with multiple registrars.
I suggest you pick a few registrars from this article and type your domain into their search tools.
The price differences can be huge, especially for niche domains! For example, a .solutions domain costs $27.99 with GoDaddy, but $3.48 on NameCheap.
To give you an idea of how prices can differ, here’s a chart.
|Namecheap||Domain.com||Google Domains||GoDaddy||Network Solutions||Bluehost||Internet.bs|
|Domain Privacy||Free||Extra fee||Free||Free||Extra fee||Extra fee||Free|
The above is just a snapshot of this point in time [May 2021], to give you an idea of comparative pricing. Prices change rapidly – make sure you check the on-site prices.
If you are buying a country-specific domain (e.g. a .br domain for the Brazilian market), you can also check prices with local domain registrars in that country. Just make sure they’re accredited and reputable.
We’ve spoken about price a lot, but there’s something important I want to bring up: don’t get too caught up in tiny price differences.
Remember – it’s actually the registries who set the prices for domains. Like any middle-man, domain registrars simply add their fees on top. It’s how they earn.
‘Value’ isn’t always a dollar by dollar comparison. Always consider what you’re actually getting with each domain registrar:
The difference between registrars is often just a few dollars, but higher-quality service or a stellar reputation can be worth much more.
Lastly – if you’re setting up a website, remember that many web hosting companies also offer domain registration.
Some people prefer to keep domain and hosting separate, since this may give more flexibility to change web host / domain registrar in future.
However, if you don’t plan to buy lots of domains, you might want to bundle your web hosting and domain together for convenience’s sake.
What you SHOULDN’T do, is register a domain name and ‘add on’ any old web hosting package from there. After all, a web host affects the speed and uptime of your website. A bad host leads to a bad website.
If you want to go for a bundle, it’s much better to choose a strong web host provider first, and see if they have domain options.
One option we stand behind is Hostinger – we trust them and have personally used their domain services to set up our test sites.
To recap, our top picks for domain registrar are:
Once you’ve purchased a domain – what’s next? Many people want to set up a website.
Our team has spent thousands of hours building and testing websites and writing lovingly about our findings. Make sure you check out Bitcatcha’s other articles on all things website and freelance-related.
You can start by checking our comprehensive guide on how to set up a website.
Dani is an editor and writer based between KL and Mexico City. Sprung from the advertising and travel industries, she’s also spent the last 10+ years freelancing for a slew of creative online businesses around the world. Connect with her via LinkedIn.