Setting up your own website today is easier than it’s ever been, especially if you use a website builder. However, part of the process you can’t avoid is registering a domain name — and for that, you need a domain registrar, no matter who’s handling the back end registration system.
Which are best domain registrars? That’s what we’re going to break down in this guide, to help you find the one that’s right for you.
Although most modern domain registrars make the actual process of buying and renewing a domain name easy, there are a lot of other factors to consider. Do they handle domain transfers and renewals? What is their pricing like? Do they have good customer support?
If you need help making your site, we have a guide to the best web-design tools, too.
Consistently found atop different registrar ranking lists and with good reason, Namecheap combines ease of use with decent pricing, a solid support system, and an expansive selection of top-level-domains (.com, .uk, .net etc.) to choose from.
Prices start at just $0.50 for the first year, with prices rising to just over a dollar a year after that for the less-common top-level-domains (TLD), ranging up to around $9 for the more favored options. As with many domain registrars, there are also hosting options available, but that’s a discussion for another guide.
Additional features include WHOIS privacy protection for $3 a year, guaranteed uptime through its PremiumDNS system for $5 a year, and options for SSL certificates starting at $9 a year. Signing up for any domain name gives you a year of WHOIS privacy protection and two months of private email for free — if you ever need a disposable email, read this.
One caveat with Namecheap is that it only offers online support via its ticket and live chat system. They’re both responsive and customers have praised both the systems in place and support staff themselves, but that does mean that if you ever want to pick up the phone can call someone, you won’t be able to do so.
A much purer domain registrar than some of the other entries in this list, Hover makes it clear what its focus is right on its homepage. It’s also very upfront and straightforward with its pricing. Domains start at $5 a year, and you can see the cost of renewals and transfers on the very same page. It also offers discounts for purchases of more than 10 domains at once.
There are 16 different options for top-level-domains, ranging from the classic and popular .comsm to the more recent vogue TLDs, like .io. Hover doesn’t have any hosting options, but makes it easy to point your name to where you want it to go.
For the privacy conscious, Hover takes a step that most other registrars don’t, and includes WHOIS privacy protection in all of its packages for free. Saying that you “shouldn’t have to opt in to protect your identity,” it takes privacy a little more seriously than some of the other options on this list.
Additional options include email forwarding to your domain name starting at $5 a year, or the creation of a domain inbox for $20 a year. Support isn’t available 24-hours a day, but it’s there for most of it, and you can ring through, email or chat to someone live online. There is also a detailed knowledge base for those who would rather learn how to do it themselves.
As one of the oldest domain registrars out there, Gandi has a strong pedigree for offering clear and simple domain registration for nearly 20 years. Its motto has always been “no bullshit,” and it operates that as an internal and external company ethos. That means that the sales pitch is clear and uncluttered, and you don’t have to be concerned about being sold something extra you didn’t need.
Gandi offers the largest list of domain extensions we came across, with more than 700 options. You can grab everything from .abogado, to .zone, and everything in between. It also has regularly updated lists of top-level-domain options, as well as articles discussing new ones that are set to become available soon, so you can get on them as soon as they’re released.
Prices at Gandi are some of the lowest we’ve come across, costing as little as $0.50 for certain domains for the year, though more common options like .com will set you back $15.50. Whatever you opt for though, prices are clear, and you can search for your preference based on the cost of renewal or transfer.
Every domain registered through Gandi comes with free WHOIS privacy protection, so you don’t need to worry about your personal information being available to the public. You also get two email boxes with up to 1,000 aliases included at no extra cost.
Additional features include LiveDNS for managing your domain name server, and options for SSL certificates that start at the low price of absolutely free.
The only lacking part of Gandi’s service is that its support is limited to email only. While users do report staff get back to you quickly, there is no phone number you can ring, nor a live-chat option. It does have a detailed wiki to help you out with common problems, though.
Although most commonly marketed as a website hosting service rather than a domain registrar, BlueHost does offer great options for registering your first domain name. If you opt to take out hosting at the same time as your domain name you’ll get one for free, or you can buy one separately, starting at $5 for the year. WHOIS privacy protection costs $1 a month.
BlueHost’s web interface is one of the cleanest and easiest to navigate out there, which makes it a good choice for those just starting out. When registering a domain there is a solid list of top-level-domain options, from .com through to .store and .tech.
One of the main reasons people choose BlueHost to register domains is its stellar support system. Its staff are available 24-hours a day whether it’s over the phone, live-chat, or email. Better yet, it also has video tutorials for much of its site and services, letting you figure out how to do something by yourself if you prefer.
Although there are a few negative reviews for iPage’s hosting services doing the rounds online, its domain registration service is one of the best. It has a huge selection of TLDs. That means there are a lot of niche ones which are unlikely to apply to your service, but if you really want a .beer or .bingo domain, you can get it on iPage.
Prices start at $2 a year for the less popular options, up to $34 for the newer ones, and you can add WHOIS privacy protection for $10 a year. If you do opt to use its hosting services you can also get yourself a domain name for free as part of the deal.
One interesting feature iPage offers is the ability to pre-register domain extensions. If you find out one is going to be made available in the future which you particularly want, you can pre-register with iPage to lock it down for when it becomes available. There is a caveat that someone willing to pay more than you might come in and swipe it, but the option is at least there to notify your interest before anyone else.
In terms of customer support, you can contact iPage’s team via live chat, or call its dedicated support hotline 24-hours a day. There are also expansive user guides, and an email support system.
Another long-standing, long-lasting domain registrar, Name offers both domain registration and hosting services. When it comes to domains it keeps things simple and clear, so you shouldn’t feel confused about what you’re buying.
There are hundreds of options for top-level-domains, and prices start at as little as $2 for the year for the less common extensions. Its pricing page also breaks down the associated costs for transfers and renewals. You can add WHOIS privacy protection for an additional $5 a year and it also offers domain restoration following a deletion for $120.
If you’re looking to capitalize on an existing domain name that is no longer in use, Name also offers a breakdown of domains that are soon set to expire. The list is populated with everything from domains registered just a year ago, to those that are a decade old or more.
Name’s support system is a little lacking compared to the competition. It has no live chat, nor phone support, and it forces you through its knowledge base before giving you access to its web form. It’s serviceable, but if you expect to need a helping hand, the other entries in this guide will probably be a better choice.