These are the best domain registrars (our recommendations)
What is one of the first steps (and often one of the more difficult ones) you have to take when building a website? Yes, the domain name. Sometimes it’s easy – if you already have a company name or if you use your first and last name. But more often it’s a lot harder and takes a lot of thinking. You have to take into account
search engines, branding and it all has to fit in your budget. It can be
difficult to come up with the best domain name, but at least we’re here to help you choose the best registrar.
Domain registrars are everywhere – from the popular GoDaddy commercials to NameCheap’s online ads. These registrars often offer a search feature that lets you search for available domain names and extensions. You can then purchase these domains through them.
Some of these registrars even offer various add-ons, such as hosting, website building, and email services. However, the key question is: is there a difference between registrars and which ones are best? Time to find out!
What is a registrar?
A registrar, sometimes also called a domain registrar or domain registrar, is a company that manages and mediates the sale of unique domain names on the Internet. To sell domains, the company must be accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assign Names and Numbers (
ICANN) or by a national registry for top-level domain names. For the Netherlands it’s top-level
domain .nl and is managed by the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands (SIDN). Some of the most common generic extensions of top-level domain names (gTLDs) are .com, .net, .org and .info. Examples of top-level domain names at country level (ccTLD) are .de, .uk, .fr and, of course, .nl.
The characteristics of a good domain registrar
Not all registrars offer the same quality of service. In fact, you’ll probably come across some that you wouldn’t want to spend a penny on. For example, some registrars are missing some important top-level domain names (TLDs).
A TLD is a variation on a domain, such as .com, .net or .ca. It’s always good when a registrar is constantly adding new top-level domain names and doing his best to offer as much as possible.
That said, it’s also important to know that some domain registrars focus exclusively on niche domains, for example country-specific ones like .de or .in.
In short, it might seem as if all registrars are the same, but with a little research, you’ll soon find out that there are huge differences. Some are (much) lower priced, offer better security and so on.
Here are some things you should look for.
For most consumers, the search starts with price comparison. Although this is not always wise in our eyes, this is the reality. Support can be important, even for a registrar – even though good support is of course more important with, for example, a hosting package from Kinsta. For the most part you will probably have after
purchase</ac probably only once or twice a year with your registrar. In some cases, you probably never even have to call on support.
That’s why the price level with registrars is very important. After all, you already pay enough for things like hosting and other things like themes and plug-ins. And if you don’t have to, why pay too much for a domain?
The great thing is that domain names are terribly cheap to keep. In some cases you can register a domain with an offer for €1 or €2 per year. However, the average is somewhere between €10 and €12 per year. Not bad!
Cheap domain name
For this reason, it is wise to avoid registrars who offer their services (far) above this amount. Moreover, we also want to warn you not to go into business with domain name brokers or sellers with insanely high prices.
What we mean by this is that there are people who own valuable domain names and try to sell them for hundreds of thousands of euros. The temptation to own the ‘perfect’ domain name may be strong, but I can assure you that this will not affect the success of your online business.
That’s why it’s usually much better to go for a cheaper alternative. Unless your name is Glen and you happened to discover a gap in the market with
the purchase of a $20,000 domain name.
Free WHOIS protection
All domains can be searched using a so-called
WHOIS Lookup tool. ICANN requires that the contact information of all domain names is publicly available. For this purpose, the information you provided when registering the domain name will be used:
Even though no sensitive information is shown, some organisations or individuals are not waiting for their contact details to be made public. Actually, the only advantage of publishing is that someone can try to reach you (but of course you can also use a contact form for that!).
The ICANN requires a minimum of contact information to be attached to your domain name. For this reason, some of our favorite registrars exchange your personal information with their company details. So in the case of NameCheap, you will find this company as a registrar when you run a WHOIS Lookup. However, the registrant’s contact information will be replaced by something like WhoisGuard Protected, instead of the real name.
However, since the
GDPR and the AVGin have entered into force.
still not quite clear how this affects the amount of information displayed in WHOIS.
In any case, our favorite domain registrars offer this WHOIS privacy protection for free. If this is not the case, in most cases you pay an annual fee to use this service.
Different options for registration deadlines
You can’t register a domain name for one or two months. The legal minimum is one year. So expect to register a domain for the period of one year when searching for a domain registrar.
In some cases, the registrar requires you to register a domain for a period longer than one year. If you run into one of these registrars, consider looking elsewhere for help.
It’s best if you have a choice of different registration terms.
We like to see registrars who offer terms of one and two years – or even longer. This way, you can decide for yourself how long you want to register the domain and possibly even receive a discount for closing a multi-year registration.
Register domains at a discount
The maximum period that you can register a domain is ten years. After these ten years you have to renew.
In general, we recommend to secure a domain name for one year, unless you are offered a significant discount when closing for a longer period. In between:
that the length of a domain name is the
SEO-ranking influences, is a myth!
Automatic renewals and reminders
Since you register a domain name for a certain period of time, this means that at some point you have to renew your domain name.
Fortunately, the better registrars offer the possibility to do this automatically when you add a credit card (or for example PayPal) to your account. We also appreciate it when registrars offer a grace period after the domain expires, which prevents you from losing a domain immediately after it expires.
Sometimes you may have replaced your credit card. In that case, make sure your registrar notifies you when your domain is about to expire.
Important: if you don’t renew your domain name, it will eventually be released to the public for sale (some registrars use an ‘interim’ period). This means that anyone can buy the domain name to keep it or sell it back to you for a large amount of money. This is not unusual, so make sure you
credit card up to date and your
activates automatic renewal.
A wide range of top-level domain names (or the niche domains you are looking for)
Without going into too much detail, you can say that a top-level domain name is at the top of the hierarchy of domain names.
These are for example .com, .org or .net.
When I look at the best domain registrars, they usually offer hundreds of options to register a top-level domain.
Take NameCheap, for example. A search results in dozens of top-level domain names within the same search, along with a few alternatives if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
Unique top-level domains
After one search I see .club, .design, .store, .info and much more.
Most customers are satisfied with this selection. But if you’re interested in unique domains, like for specific countries or for specific organisations, it’s important to look for a niche registrar. For instance, .io is a popular TLD among start-ups and tech companies, but not every registrar supports .io domain names.
Would you like to see an overview of every possible top-level domain name,
Check out this updated list from IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).
What about restricted domains?
Some top-level domains are created and managed by specific organizations or countries. In order to access these domain names you must meet certain criteria. Another name for these domains are Brand TLDs.
Most limited domain names can’t be found at regular registrars.
For example, .gov is only issued if you work for the U.S. government. Some countries and companies manage their own unique domain extensions. For example, the .apple domain extension is managed and distributed by Apple Inc.
Additional products and services (potential for free domains)
Although at the moment you may only need a domain name, it’s good to know that the better registrars also provide other products and services.
Moreover, they can – sometimes at a discount – offer packages containing various services or even give you a domain name as a gift when you sign up for hosting, for example.
It all depends on the registrar, but you could think of:
Discounts if you register many domain names at the same time
Tools for online shops
managed website hosting
Website security and backups
Professional email addresses and inboxes (some have nice discounts on
G Suite licenses!)
However, it is always wise to contact your hosting provider before purchasing any add-ons. For example, at Kinsta we offer
free SSL certificates. And these are much easier to install if you do it via our MyKinsta dashboard than if you buy one from a domain registrar.
Avoid a registrar with these features
If you search for a registrar through Google, you’ll soon discover that there are thousands of such companies. The list of
ICANN Accredited Registrars are recognized domain sellers from all over the world.
However, the fact that a domain registrar is accredited does not mean that it offers high-quality services, user interfaces or customer support.
It is therefore essential that you get an idea of the factors that contribute to a registrar’s best experience.
As with many cheap hosting companies, some registrars try to attract customers with extremely low prices. However, after the offer has ended, prices rise significantly. Many people don’t realize this or realize it too late, so it’s best to find a registrar that offers a single, fixed price. Just to be clear, we’re not talking about a registrar offering you a soft price when you commit a domain for several years. They are the
hidden costs that worry us.
Sometimes you even come across a registrar who makes you pay a fee when you leave for another registrar. The best domain registration companies don’t do this. Do a Google search before you buy a domain name from a specific company to see what costs you’ll incur in the future.
Poor customer service
Most reputable registrars are large companies with many employees. That means, in terms of customer service, they should provide the whole picture, from chat help to a phone number. Also, it’s always useful if they have an extensive knowledge base, so you can find solutions yourself.
We recommend working with a company that offers 24/7 customer support. You might even consider testing their technical support by asking some pre-sale questions.
It is also smart to look for online reviews of the company, but keep in mind that most of the reviews of these large companies are made by dissatisfied customers. It is best to read these on content and not just look at the average score.
Doubtful user interface
A registrar’s high-quality user interface often includes a simple search function to find a domain name and a streamlined dashboard where you can park, transfer or modify your domain with clear buttons.
It all has to look understandable for a beginner.
I also believe that a positive customer experience goes hand in hand with an
smooth buying process. If you’re being pelted with offers and upsells from left and right during the purchase of a domain name, consider going to another registrar.
Earlier we already discussed hidden costs. Nothing is as annoying as hidden costs. You should therefore check your shopping cart to see if there is more in it than just the domain name. Some registrars provide the ‘service’ to select add-ons for you.
These are almost always upsells. However, make sure that you don’t get something you don’t want added.
Most domain names cost around €10 (some unique ones are around €30 and €40), so anything that is (far) above this should be a warning that something has been added.
With pre-selected add-ons you can think of WHOIS Privacy, company protection,
The best registrar options (most reputable)
It’s impossible to choose the absolutely best registrar, but we do have a solid list of top candidates. Some of them are relatively new, others have been around a bit longer and can therefore offer incredible prices.
We also asked our followers and with over 100 votes, 39% of users chose NameCheap as their favorite.
Please note that the price of domain names varies depending on availability, the registrar and the domain extension. We try to let you know if a registrar is known for its lower prices, but it all depends on the domain name you choose.
All of the registrars listed below support two-factor authentication.
1. Google Domains
Google Domain is currently in the beta stage, but already connects nicely to the already existing suite of their email and storage services. Originally launched in 2015, this service has since undergone many improvements.
Make sure you use our
Google Domain Reviews (Pros vs. Cons.) blog post reads.
Google supports hundreds of TLDs, from .com to .dating. Google is also transparent in its prices: you can find all top-level domain names and their prices in a list. Prices may change, but currently a .com domain name costs $12 per year. It’s also worth mentioning that renewal is done on a yearly basis and you will receive a timely reminder if you are in danger of losing your domain.
However, Google Domains can be expensive for certain domain extensions. For .io domains, you pay $60 per year, which is about $25 more than you see at some other registrars.
Google has kept the user interface simple, so everyone can use it. You choose a domain name, purchase one that is available and then link it to a site builder or host of your choice. You also have the option to subscribe to a custom email address for your domain name. This service is optional and costs money, but is affordable and makes your business more professional.
Google Domains – What this registrar can offer you:
Google Domains has a privacy service included at no extra cost. Although this does not apply to all domain extensions, the most popular ones will hide your data.
Of course, the integration with the email service G Suite is seamless and you can easily sign up for it.
Customer support is provided via phone, chat and email from Monday to Friday from 06:00 to 21:00 PST.
You can create up to 100 e-mail aliases with your purchased domain name.
The domain management tools are simple enough for the average user to perform tasks such as domain lock and
Perform DNS configuration.
You can maximally
Create subdomains, such as blog.example.com.
Google integrates with a wide range of website builders and hosts. Many of them offer one-click installations.
Supports two-factor authentication.
One drawback of Google Domains that we would like to mention is that the domain names are by default connected to someone’s Google account. For security reasons, it can be useful to use different providers for hosting, e-mail and domains (and sometimes even DNS).
Why? If an account is hacked, they are not all at risk. Even with two-factor authentication, your Gmail can be hacked. And then what? They would have direct access to your e-mail and domain names.
An easy way to get around this with Google Domains is to simply open a second Gmail account that you only use for domains.
Cloudflare is known as a reliable WAF and/or Content Delivery Network (CDN). They are also freely accessible, as you can integrate the service with many hosts and plug-ins, especially via WordPress. Cloudflare is known as a socially responsible, transparent company with a background in faster free websites (also as a premium subscription).
However, Cloudflare has now also taken steps as a domain registrar. Currently it offers an early access program for current users. The program is released in steps, depending on how long you have been a Cloudflare customer. We were one of the first to use their domain registration service and we can vouch for it! It all works smoothly and moving domain names to Cloudflare is easy.
Domain registrar Cloudflare
If you are not a customer of Cloudflare, you can sign up to reserve a seat in the queue. We assume that after the trial period, a sales page and a domain name search module will be available on the Cloudflare website. Based on the current landing page, Cloudflare plans to offer affordable domain names at no extra cost. You can also get a lot of security features, Cloudflare integrations and bulk domain transfer.
Cloudflare – what this registrar can offer you:
Cloudflare as a registrar focuses on lowering prices by offering domain names at wholesale prices. According to their website, a .com domain will cost about $8 a year.
Cloudflare claims that they don’t plan to raise prices after the first year – something many major domain registrars are known for.
Hundreds of TLDs are supported, so you get the exact domain you’re looking for.
Cloudflare offers two-factor authentication and a free WHOIS privacy service to secure your domain and personal information.
The system supports automatic domain renewal and reminds you if your credit card information is not up to date.
No add-ons are required to get a secure, useful domain name.
Of course, you can easily integrate the purchased domain name with the products and services of Cloudflare. So you can easily combine them with, for example, their CDN, DNS and SSL services. You also get support for advanced security.
A number of possible (current) disadvantages:
You cannot register new domains, only move domains to Cloudflare.
You cannot use an external DNS provider, so you are stuck with the DNS of Cloudflare.
Because the program is still in early-access, it is possible that these drawbacks are solved at launch. The future will tell.
You’ve probably guessed that
Namecheap specializes in selling cheap domain names. For the most part this is also true, since the prices in my tests were invariably around $8 for .com domain names. Namecheap also has a lot of specials that allow you to receive a cheap domain name for the first one or two years. Even though many of these promotions are temporary, it looks like Namecheap will keep the prices low, even after the insurmountable price increase.
The main reason why I appreciate Namecheap is because of its intuitive, fast website interface. Within a few seconds, you will have a domain name secured and ready in your account. The support team is helpful when you contact them via chat or email.
Registering a domain on Namecheap is a piece of cake and you might even get one year of free domain registration with your domain transfer. The company also has a special search function for personalized domains, perfect for freelancers and freelancers. With a seemingly endless list of top-level domain names, Namecheap generally does a great job.
Namecheap – what this registrar can offer you:
Namecheap has been active as a registrar since 2001!
Namecheap offers one of the most affordable SSL certificates on the market. Not only that, you pay almost nothing if you want to add one to your domain name.
Customer support is available 24/7 via chat, e-mail and has an extensive knowledge base.
The free Domain Name System (DNS) provides a fast and secure service with support for e-mail forwarding and record changes in real time.
Private email addresses are sold at a favourable rate.
Supports two-factor authentication.
Possibly the most recognizable brand of this list is
GoDaddy, a company best known for its Super Bowl commercials. Most of us know that GoDaddy’s success is largely due to the sale of domain names, but the company also offers many add-ons. The company is also one of the oldest registrars founded in 1999.
That said, the search for a domain name is pleasant and there aren’t nearly as many add-ons and pop-ups as GoDaddy used to show. Many of the domain names are cheaper than most of the competitors, but you need to know how long the promotions last.
Over the years, GoDaddy has added many features, including security features, tools to build websites and even a section with tips to help you with your domain names. For example, after you’ve searched for a domain, GoDaddy will let you know if it contains high-value keywords.
Although GoDaddy has extremely low domain prices, not much is included in the purchase. For example, privacy protection is sold as two packages: personal and business.
GoDaddy – what this registrar can offer you:
Domains at GoDaddy usually only cost 1 or 2 euros for the first year. Of course it depends on the domain name, but at GoDaddy it should be possible to keep the costs low.
You can create an email address that matches your domain.
You will receive a free website builder and the possibility to link your site directly to your domain name.
Privacy protection is possible.
You can also find SSL certificates and other website security options.
SEO and email marketing services are offered if you want to upgrade.
Supports two-factor authentication.
Hoveris a registrar that is far removed from website builders and the hosting business. The reason for this is that this registrar believes that domain registrars should only be concerned with helping their customers with their domains. If you like to work with companies that only focus on one thing (instead of spreading their wings here and there), then Hover is what you’re looking for. So after purchase, you can decide what you want with your domain and you won’t be pressured to choose a particular host or website builder.
Hover offers hundreds of domain extensions, including some that are harder to find. You can also quickly create your own professional e-mail addresses and link them to a mailbox of your choice.
Floating doesn’t seem to take sides when it comes to his partners. Instead, the service offers a large list of services that you can use for your domain. Think of Shopify, Squarespace, Blogger and more. So you shouldn’t have any problems with Hover’s interface and I can’t imagine you’ll see many upsells along the way. It doesn’t get more minimalistic than this.
Keep in mind that since Hover only sells domain names, they are a bit more expensive than the competitors (about $2 a year).
Hover – what this registrar can offer you:
Hover offers a huge collection of TLDs.
When you search for a domain, you can filter within the results by industry. For example, you can enable a filter and only search for domains related to real estate or the sports industry. This feature is unique.
Although the prices are a bit higher than the other registrars in this list, you don’t have to worry about upsells like hosting or web security.
Transfers are done by the Hover team.
You can set up automatic renewal and receive updates when your credit card is out of date.
Lots of integrations with external site builders and hosts.
Email services are sold at reasonable prices, allowing you to create email addresses using your professional domain name.
Supports two-factor authentication.
OVH sells a wide range of services and products, from domain names to dedicated servers. The registrar claims to have access to more than 800 domain extensions and it seems that this is certainly the case. You can even find a number of regional or national domain extensions, for which you need verification and which are nowhere else to be found.
A number of services are included with the purchase of a domain name. You will receive an email address with 5GB of storage space. You can also choose to hide your WHOIS data for free. Finally, you can use the
Use the OVH free DNS. It is designed to secure all communications that pass through your domain.
OVH does a good job when it comes to offering translations and currency conversions. Simply select your country and you will be shown prices in your local currency – and in your own language. For all extensions the prices seem reasonable. In addition, OVH provides a long list of suggestions if your domain is unavailable. You will also be shown a number of alternatives even if your first choice is just available.
OVH – what this registrar can offer you:
OVH has a streamlined website with a clear path leading you to the purchase of a domain name. In addition, the website is translated into many languages and supports multiple currencies.
Regional and national top-level domain names have also been considered. Everything is very reasonably priced.
You get access to e-mail, WHOIS protection and a DNS for which you don’t have to pay anything extra.
There is an option to speed up the speed of your DNS against payment.
Supports two-factor authentication.
Enomb offers its services in the following categories: domains, web security, websites, hosting and e-mail. You could call it a one-stop-shop for all your website essentials. As usual, it all starts with selecting a domain name. You do this through the large search bar, which then shows the regular extensions like .com and .org, together with some special options like .life and .today.
Enom is not exactly known for its low prices, but the standard domain extensions should be about $13 to $15 – which is still within reasonable standards. Furthermore, a very useful feature is that you can filter based on your location, occupation or educational background. We also appreciate that Enom’s support team is available 24/7 and can also be reached by phone! Enom has been around since 1998.
Every domain name you buy comes with support for a domain transfer. You also get a number of options for WHOIS protection and trademark protection. The search
. The search for premium domains is an obvious part of the Enom website (or: expensive domains that go over the counter for thousands of dollars). As we said in the introduction, there is usually no reason to deposit these kinds of amounts for a domain name.
Something we do want to emphasize is the fact that you have to pay for most add-ons and services.
And that’s why – what this registrar can offer you:
Enom has an impressive library of domain extensions to choose from. Many of them are unique, including a number of exclusive options for locations and industries.
Although you probably have to pay for them, Enom offers services to help your domain such as security, emails and more.
Domain transfer is completely free and the support team is at your service day and night.
A bulk search function is also available if you want to create a network of sites or acquire domains similar to your current site.
Supports two-factor authentication.
A company that is almost synonymous with the domain industry is
Name.com. The brand is known for its cheap unique domain names and possibilities to create email addresses. A bulk search function is available if you want to quickly find multiple domain names. Name.com also has a unique link shortener for brand names. So you no longer need to use generic shortened links, but you can use links that are related to your business.
During my search I noticed that many of the domain names were very low priced. Name.com sometimes recommends the more unique extensions and premium domain names which will cost you a lot of money.
As mentioned, Name.com offers several other services. However, you shouldn’t expect a lot of free extras when buying a domain. Instead, you will come across some upsells during the payment process. However, these are reasonably priced and are not promoted too aggressively. For example, you can upgrade to the streamlined website builder or host your domain name in Name.com’s hosting. You can also use your own professional email for a few euros per month.
Name.com – what this registrar can offer you:
Name.com is cheap. You can choose the domain you want, and receive a number of interesting suggestions.
The payment process is fast and the upsells are not too intrusive.
If you go with Name.com, you don’t have to search far for other features. The company also sells SSL’s, web hosting, email addresses and more.
You can use the URL shortener to increase the number of clicks on your link.
Name.com also offers integration with G Suite, so you can save on this service and get all the functionality of Google Business.
You receive a number of small benefits, such as DNS management, forwarding to social media accounts and two-factor authentication.
If you know a little about how the world of registrars works, you can quickly save a lot of money. Take NameCheap, for example. This service is cheaper than most other options in this list and has a very nice user interface. Google Domains and Cloudflare both offer transparent, fixed prices so you won’t be misled by hidden costs or future price increases.
It’s hard to choose the one that’s best from this list. What we do recommend is to choose the registrar you feel most comfortable with. There is nothing more annoying than an outdated or complicated interface when you need to make some quick changes to the domain settings. But also think carefully about the price, not only today, but certainly how it will change in the future. And finally, please don’t forget to enable two-factor authentication!
If you have any questions about the best domain registrars, feel free to let us know in the comments below. Do any of these have your preference?
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