How to Choose the Best Domain Name Registrar

How to choose the best domain name registrar? So, you’ve finally picked a domain name and are ready to register it. The problem is, there are hundreds of different companies where you can register and purchase a domain name.

Trying to figure out which one to choose can be confusing and downright annoying.

In this article, the goal is to help those interested in buying a domain name make informed decisions by explaining what a domain name registrar is, how they work, and how to choose the best registrar to register your domain.

We will also point out what to look for when reviewing domain registrars and provide a short list of our top recommended registrars.

NOTE: TarttWeb is reader-supported. This means that when you make a purchase through referral links on our site, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

If you’d like to jump to the section you’re looking for, a hyperlinked table of contents is available.

What is a Domain Name Registrar?

A domain name registrar is a company or business that allows anyone to purchase and register domain names. These registrar companies are licensed and managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

ICANN is an American multistakeholder group and nonprofit organization responsible for providing domains to approved registrars.

A domain name is a human-readable word that directs people to your website. It is your website address that people type into the URL or search bar of their web browser.

Domain names make the internet easy for everyone to use. Without them, everyone would have to type and remember long strings of numbers.

To learn more, about domain names please see the glossary.

ICANN makes domain names widely available by allowing companies to apply to become an authorized registrar. These companies then sell domain names and compete with each other, which gives you the customer the ability to shop around and get better service when you purchase your domain name.

How do Domain Name Registrars Work?

ICANN is responsible for providing licenses and managing all domain name registrars across the globe. Domain name records are stored in a centralized database called Registry. Domain names are not recognized until its added to the Registry with all the appropriate and related information.

ICANN permits domain registrars to change your domain name’s information in the Registry on your behalf. Typically these companies will have easy-to-use tools to make changes using your web browser.

Now, let’s take a look at the different things to look for when deciding the best domain registrar to register your domain name.

How to Choose the Best Domain Name Registrar

Many domain registrars will have different licenses that dictate what can and can’t be sold. For example, some registrars can only sell country-specific domain extensions such as .au, .io, .in or .mx.

Each domain name registrar will often have its own set of bundled features. To attract customers, domain registrar’s will use promotional marketing that will offer cheap and even free domain names for signing up with one of their other services like web hosting or include some type of free add-on.

Be aware that some domain name registrars will offer excellent deals on new registrations but will have hidden fees that are not immediately apparent. So be sure to read the fine print.

When choosing the best domain name registrar, keep the following criteria in mind.

Affordability – Pricing and Registration Period

Pricing will always play a significant role when choosing which registrar to register your domain. Many domain registrars will have low upfront costs for the first year of registration but will have a higher, often bloated, cost when it comes time to renew.

In most cases, you can register a domain name for a minimum of 1 year. However, some companies may require a higher registration period, such as 2 years.

Most of the time, you’ll have the option to register a domain name up to 10 years at a time, though not recommended for newbies.

The best option for buying a new domain name is to register for the first year, then turn on the automatic renewal feature. That way, your domain name will never expire.

If you find out that the renewal cost is too expensive, then you can always transfer the domain to another registrar.

Keep in mind that you’ll also want to check for any additional or hidden fees for domain transfers, renewals, and other charges; that are not immediately apparent.

Domain Transfers

It is possible to transfer domain names between domain registrars if you’re not happy with your current provider.

There is one rule, set by ICANN, you’ll need to be aware of, and that is, you cannot transfer a domain name during its first 60 days of registration. After the initial period is over, you can then transfer your domain to any registrar you decide.

Good domain registrars will be transparent and make it easy to transfer domains. Other registrars will attempt to make it complicated and charge extra fees to discourage you from leaving.

Before you buy and register a domain name through an authorized domain registrar, be sure to read their domain transfer policy.

Domain Expiration and Renewal Policies

When domain names are registered, it is for a specific duration, like 1 year. You should have an option to turn on an automatic renewal service and have the option to renew manually before it expires.

If your domain name expires, it is then up for grabs by anyone. Meaning that if for some reason you forgot to renew your domain name, anyone can purchase your domain name at that point. If your running a business, the last you want is for someone to take over your domain name.

It’s always a good idea to check your domain expiration policy even when using the automatic renewal feature. Domain registrars will often have a grace period even after the domain has expired.

Add-on Services

When looking at domain registrars to register your domain name, you’ll want to be aware of the types of services offered. Just because you don’t need them now doesn’t mean you won’t; in the future.

Typical add-on services will be things like domain privacy, domain parking, SSL certificates, extended expiration protection, and many others.

Many domain registrars will offer add-on services such as web hosting, email hosting, email marketing, website builders, and even specific WordPress hosting.

Security Features

Some domain registrars will offer bundled security features and charge a little more, which may be worth it depending on the security features they’re offering.

You should thoroughly research the registrar company you’re intending on buying a domain name through. Be sure to research their authorization and security processes to avoid domain name hijacking.

Domain name hijacking is where a devious person changes the registration information of a domain name without the registrant’s consent or knowledge.

More simply, this is a way of fraudulently taking control of a domain name. Then they try to sell it back to you or a competitor.

What to Watch Out for When Choosing a Domain Name Registrar

With so many companies in the domain registration business, you’re probably going to run into some pretty attractive offers for buying a domain name. While these offers may look good at first, there may be some downsides you’re not aware of at first.

Here are a few things to keep in mind; while shopping around for a domain registrar.

Add-on Pricing

Be sure to pay close attention when you’re purchasing a domain name. Sometimes, domain registrars will have their add-on services automatically pre-checked. This will raise your bill, so be sure to un-check the one’s you don’t want. A .com should not cost more than $20 per year. If it does, then it should raise a red flag.

Pay close attention to the checkout page before you make a purchase and uncheck any add-on services or upsells that have been pre-checked automatically.

Moreover, be sure to double-check your credit or debit card statement to be sure you were, charged the correct amount.

User Experience

Good companies will always keep the customer or user in mind when developing their websites to keep users coming back. However, some companies will do the exact opposite to confuse and mislead users, making it complicated to do things; like transferring a domain.

The safest plan is to do some due diligence and research the website or registrar that you’re interested in purchasing your domain name through.

The internet was born in 1969. So if the domain name registrar’s website looks like it was created in the “1970s or 80s,” you should probably stay clear.

A good domain name registrar will have a clean, modern website. But most importantly, it should be user-friendly. When you are on their website, it should be easy to navigate to the information you’re looking for and not hidden.

Keep in mind that when you’re looking through reviews, pay close attention and read them thoroughly. More times than not, happy customers don’t leave reviews.

Hidden Fees

Be sure to look at everything and read the fine print before making a domain name purchase through a registrar.

Some domain registrars will have a “too good to be true” offer for first-time registrations, where the domain name will seem ridiculously low. Then when it comes time to renew your domain name, you’ll be hit with a high renewal cost. After your introductory year, your domain name renewal, by itself, shouldn’t be more than $20.

All good domain name registrars will try to make things easy because they want happy customers that come back and buy more.

Now let’s take a look at some of the best domain name registrars and how they stack up against each other.

Best Domain Name Registrars

Selecting the right domain registrar from the start will save you from future headaches and problems. Understanding what to look for in a good registrar will help protect your brand and make it easier if you ever need to transfer your domain or website.

Based on the criteria laid out on this page, these are our recommended top domain name registrars to purchase your domain from.

1. DreamHost

DreamHost Domain Name Registrar

DreamHost is a long-standing, well-established company that began in 1997. It sells domain names and offers web hosting services focusing on speed, security, and green technologies.

They offer over 400 popular top-level domains with a beginner-friendly user interface that includes all domain management tools.

DreamHost has a simple domain name search tool to check the availability of a domain name and displays many domain extensions and their corresponding price.

Whether you are just looking to buy a domain name or a domain with web hosting, Dreamhost has a simple registration process and easy-to-use tools for beginners and advanced users alike, backed by excellent customer service.

Officially recommended by WordPress and used by TarttWeb, DreamHost has many affordable options for buying a domain name and even offers one free domain name for the first year.

They have some of the most flexible prices, with domain names starting as low as $0.89 for the first year and the most popular .com extension priced at $7.99 for the first year and $15.99 per year thereafter. And if you plan to purchase web hosting, DreamHost offers web hosting for as low as $2.59 per month.

What’s included with a domain name Purchase?

  • SSL Encryption
  • Domain Privacy Protection (Private WHOIS)
  • DNS Management Tools
  • Domain Forwarding / Parking
  • Transfer Lock
  • 24/7 Expert Support

What kind of Add-ons do they offer?

  • Web Hosting (Shared, VPS, Dedicated, Cloud)
  • WordPress Hosting (Basic, Managed, WooCommerce)
  • Email Hosting
  • WP Website Builder
  • DreamHost Academy
  • Website Design & Marketing Services
  • Google Workspace / G Suite

2. Domain.com

Domain.com

As the name suggests, Domain.com is one of the worlds leading, most popular, and trusted domain name registrars. Focused on secure domains at affordable rates, you can purchase all of the most popular top-level domain name extensions and over 25 country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

Whether you are an experienced domain buyer or it’s your first time buying a domain name, Domain.com has an easy registration process coupled with a beginner-friendly user interface for people of all skill levels.

Domain.com has a simple domain search tool that allows you to search for a specific domain name and see premium domain names for sale.

They offer some of the most flexible price ranges, with domains starting as low as $2.99 for the first year and the most popular .com extension priced at $9.99 for the first year and $13.99 per year thereafter.

What’s included with a domain name purchase?

  • SSL Encryption
  • Email Forwarding
  • DNS Management Tools
  • Domain Transfer Lock

What kind of Add-ons do they offer?

  • Web Hosting (Basic, Deluxe, Ultra)
  • WordPress Hosting (WP Starter, WP Essential)
  • Domain Privacy Protection (Private WHOIS)
  • Comodo SSL Certificates
  • Site Lock
  • Website Builder
  • Website Design & Marketing Services
  • Microsoft 365
  • Google Workspace / G Suite

3. Namecheap

NameCheap Domain Name Registrar

Namecheap began in 2000 with a mission to deliver the best domains at the best prices and have since then added web hosting, security, managed WordPress web hosting, and many other innovations.

Now one of the world’s most popular and trusted domain registrars, with more than 13 million domains under management, focusing on privacy, security, and customer experience, Namecheap offers all of the most popular top-level domains and many country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

They have a powerful domain search tool that is more like a domain name generator once its “Beast Mode” function is activated. Just click Beast Mode inside the domain search tool box. You’ll then be able to enter up to 5,000 domains or keywords with an option to show premium domains, select specific domain extensions, along with some other fun stuff.

Namecheap, like the name suggests, has many affordable options when it comes to domain names. They offer domains priced as low as $1.00 for the first year, with the most popular .com domains priced at $8.88 for the first year and $12.98 per year thereafter.

What’s included with a domain name purchase?

  • Email Address (2-month free trial)
  • Domain Privacy Protection (Private WHOIS)
  • DNSSEC Security
  • DNS Management Tools
  • URL Forwarding
  • 24/7 customer support

What kind of Add-ons do they offer?

  • Web Hosting (Shared, VPS, Dedicated, Reseller)
  • WordPress Hosting (Basic, Managed)
  • Email Hosting
  • Site Maker
  • Logo Maker
  • Business Card Maker
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • SSL Encryption (Web hosting plan)
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Google Workspace / G Suite

4. GoDaddy

GoDaddy Domain Name Registrar

GoDaddy, one of the oldest domain registrars, began in 1997 as Jomax Technologies, later changing its name in 1999, is probably one of the most popular registrar companies thanks to their aggressive advertising campaigns. Focused on helping entrepreneurs grow online by delivering the tools they need, GoDaddy boasts 82 million domains under management.

GoDaddy offers a wide variety of popular domain extensions, including all of the most popular top-level domains and many country code top-level domains.

They have a domain search tool that allows you to search for a specific domain that also shows premium domains for sale. On top of that, they have a powerful domain management interface that’s easy to use and includes plenty of tools.

They have domains starting as low as $0.99 for the first year, with the most popular .com extension priced at $11.99 for the first year, and $18.99 per year thereafter.

What’s included with a domain name purchase?

  • Domain Forwarding
  • Up to 100 subdomains
  • 24/7 Customer Support

What kind of Add-ons do they offer?

  • Web Hosting (Economy, Deluxe, Ultimate, Maximum)
  • WordPress Hosting (Basic, Deluxe, Ultimate, WooCommerce)
  • Email Hosting
  • Domain Privacy Protection (Private WHOIS)
  • Website Builder
  • Online Store Builder
  • SSL Encryption
  • Website Design & Marketing Services
  • Microsoft 365

Wrapping it Up!

In conclusion, a domain name is part of your brand, so choosing the best domain registrar will save you from future headaches and play a vital part in its success.

We’ve covered what a domain registrar is, how they work, and what to watch out for when choosing a registrar to purchase your domain through.

We hope this helps you in your journey and wish you the best of luck in finding the best domain registrar to register your domain name.

If you found this article helpful, let us know in the comments section, follow us on social media, or subscribe to our newsletter for more.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get our latest guides and tips delivered to your inbox.

Leave a Reply