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

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best domain registrars

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If you’re ready to get your website off the ground, you’re probably in the market for the best domain registrars to get started. Website domain registrars are the companies that register and manage domain names for websites on a global scale. 

Selecting from the best domain registrars is very important because there are so many different companies out there and you need to avoid getting swindled; you don’t want to pay hefty fees. We’re going to discuss in this article the best domain registrars and what you can expect.

In terms of where to register a domain, you’ll ultimately need some sort of domain registrar company, and it’s typically not free. We will offer one possible choice for a free domain name, which you can check out in #2, but choose wisely. “Free” doesn’t always mean “right for everyone.” 

Let’s get started!  

What is a Domain Name Registrar

As we briefly mentioned above, a domain name registrar is a company that provides domain names to clients for a fee. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, is the accrediting organization for all domain name registrars. They’re responsible for managing domain names. 

Without domain names, the internet would be a very different place. Domain names are assigned to websites to make the user experience a positive one; if domain names didn’t exist, you would have to enter long number strings called IP addresses. Each website has an attached IP address. 

Domain names avoid this by allowing websites to choose how their users will find them, for example, projectcool.com, or even facebook.com. 

To streamline the process and the demand for domain names, ICANN provides accreditation for companies that seek to become domain name registrars. The companies then go up against one another, vying for customers and offering specific services and tools to help you after you purchase the domain name. 

The best domain registrars are the ones that offer fair prices and a simple, seamless service. 

What Do Domain Registrars Really DO? 

In order for a domain name to be recognized and functional, it has to be added into the central database called registry with all pertinent information. This is where your domain name record will be stored once you purchase it from one of the best domain registrars. 

These registrars have permission from ICANN that allows them to make changes to your domain name’s information directly in the database, or it can also provide you with user-friendly tools to help you make the changes from your web browser. 

So, how can we choose the best place to register a domain? Let’s take a look! 

How to Choose The Right Domain Registrar

You may also be aware that not all domain names have the same domain name extensions. The most common domain name extension is .com, and the best domain registrars will have the ability to provide you with an array of extensions. 

Some website domain registrars are only able to sell domain names ending with country specific extensions like .io, .in, or .ly. 

In addition to extension, some domain name registrars offer an array of services alongside registering the domain; some offer cheap domains as a promotional offer and some offer free add-ons to gain more customers.  

There are four main criteria that you should keep an eye out for when deciding on the best domain registrars: 

1. Pricing and Registration Period

It’s logical that the first thing you need to take a look at is the domain name pricing and registration. It’s common that even some of the best domain registrars offer low upfront pricing for the first year, but then change the pricing after the first year for renewal. 

The minimum period for domain name registration is 1 year, and some registrars may even require you to register them for more, such as a 2+ year minimum. The maximum period of registration is 10 years. 

When buying a new domain name, it’s recommended to register the domain name for a year and even use automatic renewal so that the domain name does expire. Also verify additional fees that may incur for domain transfers, renewals, or other charges. 

2. Domain Transfers 

best domain registrars bluehost domain transfer

Domain names aren’t stuck to the registrar that you purchase them from; they can be moved from one to another. This isn’t something you may need to do, but if you decide at one point that you’re not completely satisfied with your domain registrar, you want the option to be there. 

Keep in mind that the domain name won’t be transferable within the first 60 days after registering; this isn’t determined by the best domain registrars but by ICANN. You can move it to any other domain registrar after that 60-day period. 

The best domain registrars make it a simple and easy process to transfer your domain name; it may even be free. Some, though, are set on making it complicated and perhaps even costly. 

Verify the domain name transfer policy before choosing a website domain registrar. 

3. Domain Expiration Policies 

As we mentioned above, your domain name will be registered for the time period that you selected upon registration. You can renew this domain name before the expiration date, and it’s advisable— once it expires, anyone can register it and you may possibly lose it. 

In order to avoid this, setting up auto-renewal is a good idea. It would be unfortunate if someone snuck in and captured your business’s domain while it was temporarily expired. Take a look at the example for Bluehost's automatic renewal:

best domain registrars bluehost renewal

Take a look at the expiration policy— the best domain registrars offer a grace period after the initial expiration so that you have time to renew the domain name before it’s fair game again.

4. Add-on Services

The final thing to look for in website domain registrars is what other services they may offer; while you may not need them right away, it's good to know what is available to you. 

Some common services offered by the best domain registrars include: 

  • Domain privacy 
  • Domain parking
  • Extended expiration protection 
  • WordPress hosting 
  • Email hosting
  • Website builders
  • Email marketing
  • And more 

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

There’s no doubt quite a bit of competition among even the best domain registrars, so you’ll certainly come across some that have attractive offers— they may seem enticing at first, but be sure to read the fine print. They want to catch your attention and you may pay the price later. 

Here are some common things to keep an eye out for when choosing a website domain registrar.

1. Add-on Pricing

The price that you see initially may not be the price you pay if you’re not careful. A common practice among domain name registrars is to automatically include add-on services that you’ll have to deselect if you don’t want. 

If you fail to deselect these options, you’ll end up paying quite a bit more. A domain name’s average price is roughly $14.99 per year, so if you’re paying more, you should see what’s going on. 

Pay attention on the checkout page and uncheck all of the add-ons or upsells that you don’t need to purchase. Also, verify the amount charged on your bank statement just to confirm. You’re unlikely to have an issue with the best domain registrars, but better safe than sorry. 

2. Bad User Experience 

When choosing the best place to register a domain, you should ensure that they offer a simple and user-friendly website experience. Some website domain registrars make things complicated on purpose. 

If the website is too difficult to use, it may make simple tasks like changing your domain name settings and nameservers tedious. You’ll need to do this if you decide to transfer your domain to a new host or a new domain registrar. 

Look up the domain registrar’s reviews online to see what people are saying; happy customers aren’t usually the ones that take to the internet to leave reviews, so look carefully and closely at what people are saying. 

3. Hidden Fees 

Finally, keep an eye out for hidden costs and fees. You don’t want to purchase something that will end up costing you more than necessary later. 

Some domain registrars offer a very cheap domain registration fee for those who register for the first time. This is unfortunate because many times, people just starting out don’t realize that the domain needs to be renewed and if they don’t check the fee, they’re in for an unpleasant surprise when the domain expires. 

The best domain registrars make it clear how much the renewal fee is upfront; they also make it easy to transfer your domain name to a different company. 

Let’s find out which companies stack up as the best domain registrars available today and how they compare. 

Best Domain Registrars to Buy a Domain Name

You can avoid needless problems by choosing the best place to register a domain. You’ll be able to protect your website name and also make it easier down the line to move to a new WordPress hosting provider if need be. 

Below you’ll find the 8 best domain registrars and what they offer.

1. Domain.com

best domain registrars domain.com

Domain.com has been around since 2000 and remains one of the most popular website domain registrars globally. You’ll be able to register all top level domain name extensions (TDLs), including many country code TDLs (ccTDLs). 

Upon visiting their website, you’ll see a quick domain search box that will allow you to check for possible names. You’ll even be able to see premium domains through the search. 

They offer top-quality domain management tools that you’d expect from the best domain registrars, including: 

  • Private registration
  • Whois privacy protection
  • Free Whois
  • Bulk registration
  • Easy DNS management
  • Email forwarding
  • Easy transfers
  • Web hosting
  • And more 

In terms of support, they offer friendly and responsive customer service via both email and live chat. If you prefer self-guided assistance, their knowledge base is plentiful. 

If you’re looking for domain name registration without web hosting, Domain.com is one of the best around. If you want to combine your website creation with your domain name, our second option may be even better for you because they offer a free domain name plus web hosting.

2. Bluehost

best domain registrars bluehost

When you choose Bluehost to be your hosting provider, you’ll be able to score a free domain name in the process. Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting providers on a global scale and they are an official WordPress hosting partner, making for seamless integration. 

Bluehost is one of the best WordPress hosting options for beginners because it’s very intuitive, simple to set up, comes with WordPress pre-installed, and offers a plethora of support and an extensive knowledge base. 

Once you choose your domain name and select your Bluehost hosting plan, you’ll be able to create your website using their drag-and-drop editor; you can still use WordPress directly as well, making it perfect for beginners who want to start learning how to create an awesome website. 

In addition, Bluehost offers a handful of features that are needed by site owners, including: 

  • Add unlimited subdomains
  • Malware protection for websites
  • Professional emails through G Suite 
  • And more 

You can register your domain name with your hosting plan for free; after the first year (or term that you select upon registration), you’ll pay your annual fee as normal.

3. Network Solutions

best domain registrars network solutions

Regarded as one of the best domain registrars around the world, there are over 7 million domains registered with Network Solutions. You’ll be able to register domain extensions including: .com, .net., .org, .biz, .info, and pretty much any other niche TLD you can think of. 

Because Network Solutions is one of the big-name registrars, they offer an extensive service offerings that include: 

  • Web hosting
  • Website builder 
  • Website security tools
  • Business email address
  • Online marketing 
  • SEO services
  • IT support

With their easy-to-use domain search tool you can find available domains rapidly; you’ll also be able to see premium domains in the results. 

Network Solutions provides all of the features of the best domain registrars: DNS management, private registration, WHOIS privacy, and others. 

If you purchase their WordPress hosting service, you can also obtain a free domain similar to what you’d find with Bluehost.

4. HostGator

best domain registrars hostgator

Another popular option on our list of the best domain registrars is HostGator. They have a great selection of DNS management tools, extensions, and domain privacy. 

Their simple domain search bar allows you to quickly find a domain name that is available and appropriate for your business or website. You don’t have to worry about confusing or complicated domain management, as their dashboard is very user-friendly and you can transfer domains with little issue. 
HostGator offers web hosting as well as domain names, and they’ve recently launched a drag-and-drop website builder named Gator. You can get yourself a free domain name and even hosting when you opt for their website builder services.

5. GoDaddy

best domain registrars godaddy

GoDaddy is one of the oldest on our list of best domain registrars and is without a doubt the most popular, hosting roughly 77 million domain names for 18+ million customers. 

Their prices are incredibly competitive and they offer virtually any domain name extension you’d like to adopt. They frequently offer discounts on the first year of your domain name registration. 

GoDaddy has mastered the user interface for their domain management system and can help you to easily do things like: 

  • Transfer domain name
  • Change name servers
  • Customize domain settings
  • Update contact information. 

In addition to being the best place to register a domain name for many, they also offer a variety of other services including web hosting, email marketing, a website builder, and more.

6. Namecheap

best domain registrars namecheap

If you’re looking for great add-ons and a reliable service that’s trusted by millions, Namecheap will fit the bill among the top domain name registrars. They’ve got a solid domain name search tool that will let you know if your desired name is available and offer suggestions when it isn’t. 

Other additional services include domain privacy as well as DNS; their domain privacy comes free with all of their domain names, making them a top competitor in the market. They have a sharp domain management space that makes it easy to adjust your settings, transfer, and more, which further solidifies their position as one of the best domain registrars. 

In addition to their domain registrar service, you’ll also get assistance for setup if needed; they also offer many web hosting options, managed WordPress hosting, email services, apps, and more.

7. DreamHost

best domain registrars dreamhost

DreamHost, as the name suggests, holds a solid spot among the best domain registrars for their budget-friendly pricing, variety of domain extensions, 400+ TDLs, and more. They offer privacy protection and also support domain transfers with no issues or complications. 

They offer web hosting as well, which may even get you a free domain name when you sign up for web hosting at the same time. You can expect top-quality service from DomainHost as they are one of the most reputable in the industry. 

Some of their pro services include: 

  • Web Design
  • Web Marketing
  • Site Management
  • Web Development

Bonus Premium Domain Registration

Just in case you’re not familiar, a premium domain name is one that is already registered to either a person or organization. These domain names are often catchy and desirable, and oftentimes they are purchased with the intention of later selling them to eager buyers.  

They can range from three figures to seven plus figures depending on how desirable the domain name is, which makes them pretty profitable. 

Many of the best domain registrars offer the opportunity to buy premium domain names, but we’ve included one particular company below as a bonus for those that are looking to take their domain names to a premium level.

8. BuyDomains

best domain registrars buydomains

BuyDomains is powered by Domain.com, and it’s without a doubt one of the best domain registrars if you’re looking to obtain a premium domain name. 

You can use your search terms to find premium domain names that match; these are available for sale through a third party. They can be more expensive due to their easy-to-remember nature and offer a lot of potential for branding. 

While typically a normal domain name will do just fine, if you can’t find one that will work for you, BuyDomains is an excellent place to get suitable premium domain names.

Final Thoughts – Best Domain Registrar

These are by no means the only domain name registrars out there, including options like Google Domains, eNom, Namesilo, and many, many more. 

We’ve included the ones on this list because they are widely considered to be the best domain registrars and over a straightforward service that is easily managed and fair even for beginners. 

Domain.com is one of the top options due to their reasonable pricing and expansive features; if you’re looking to build a website, you may want to consider Bluehost or HostGator as you can get your free domain name in addition to their web hosting and site builder. 

We hope that you’re ready to get out there and secure your own personal domain name from one of the best domain registrars! 

Once you’ve got your domain name and your site is up and running, check out this key info on permalinks in WordPress and how to make sure your site uses them effectively. 

Which of the best domain registrars are you going to choose? Let us know in the comments!

By Nicole

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By Nicole

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