How to Choose the Best Domain Registrar

How to Choose the Best Domain Registrar

Choosing the best domain registrar for your website is a bit more complicated than just looking for the lowest price. While cost is a major factor, many registrars that offer low prices do not include privacy protection in the base rate—leaving your personal contact information publicly available in the global ICANN registry for anyone to access. In order to protect yourself, you need to factor in this service when selecting a registrar.

Some registrars wear multiple hats, allowing you to register a domain, host and design your website in an all-in-one package. Be sure to take your unique situation into consideration when selecting a service, and remember that introductory rates generally do not carry over when it’s time to renew.  We looked at the best domain registrars available to help you pick the best for your business.

The best domain registrar can make or break the start of your journey of creating an online presence. Once you’ve come up with your unique domain name, selecting the right domain registrar for it is the natural next step.

Registration isn’t difficult, but first you must choose from the hundreds of companies competing for your business, and there are several things for you to consider before committing to one firm.

A domain registrar is an entity that registers domain names with an international body called ICANN, which manages domain names (and TLD – top level domains such as .com or .org) globally. It therefore acts as a proxy and will make sure that you’re the official recognized owner of that domain name.

Some of the best website builder(opens in new tab) services and the best web hosting(opens in new tab) providers also offer domain registration services, which makes so much more sense to go for an all inclusive, one stop shop offer.

To help you get started on our online journey, we’ve rounded up the best domain registrars on the market right now so that there is one less thing you have to worry about.

We’ve tested all of the domain registrars on our list by purchasing real domains from each service and adding it to test websites we created with website building services. We know our way around a domain registrar and have used each service in our features comparison checks in order to find out which one is the best value for your money.

What is a Domain Name Registrar

A domain name registrar is a company that allows you to purchase and register domain names. All domain name registrars are accredited by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organization responsible for managing domain names.

Domain names make the internet easy to use for everyone. Without domain names, you’ll have to enter long strings of numbers called IP addresses to visit websites.

Domain names solve this problem by allowing websites to choose addresses using easy to remember words, for example, wpbeginner.com or google.com.

How domain names work

To learn more, see our beginner’s guide on what is a domain name and how does it work.

To make domain names widely available, ICANN allows companies to apply for accreditation and become a domain registrar.

These companies then compete with each other to sell domain name licenses which allows you to get better service and tools when you purchase your domain name.

What Domain Registrars Really Do?

All domain name records are stored in a centralized database called registry. For a domain name to be recognized, it needs to be added into that database with all related information about it.

A domain name registrar is given permission by ICANN to make changes to your domain name’s information in the database on your behalf. A domain name registrar also provides easy to use tools to make those changes using your web browser.

That being said, let’s take a look at how to easily choose the best domain registrar for your website address.

How to Choose The Right Domain Registrar

Not all domain registrars have the license to sell all domain name extensions. For example, some domain registrars can only sell domain names with country-specific extensions (like .io, .in, or .ly).

Each domain registrar may offer different services along with the domain name registration. Some registrar may offer cheap domains as their promotional offer while others may give free add-ons to attract customers.

When choosing the best domain name registrar, we look at the following four criteria:

1. Pricing and Registration Period

The first thing you want to check is the domain name prices. For example, some domain registrars may offer low prices upfront for the first year registration, but their renewal prices can be different and significantly higher.

You can register a domain name for a minimum period of 1 year. However, some companies may require a higher registration period like 2 years minimum. You can register a domain name for up to 10 years at a time.

If you are buying a new web address, then we recommend registering your domain name for 1 year. You can turn on automatic renewal, so your domain does not expire.

You also need to check for any additional fees for domain transfers, renewal, and other charges.

2. Domain Transfers

Domain names can be moved from one domain registrar to another. Normally, you wouldn’t need to transfer your domain name right away, but if you’re unhappy with your domain registrar, then this option should be easily available.

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot transfer a domain name during the first 60 days of the registration. This initial period is decided by ICANN. After that, you are allowed to move it to any other registrar that you want.

Most domain registrars make it easy to transfer domain names without any extra fee. However, some may try to make it complicated or charge an extra fee to remove domain lock.

Make sure that you review the domain transfer policy before you buy a domain name from a registrar.

3. Domain Expiration Policies

Domain names are registered for a specific duration. You can renew your domain registration before its expiration date. However, if you forgot to renew your domain name, then it expires and anyone can register it.

For businesses, this means someone can take over their domain name. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, you can set up auto-renewals for your domain name.

Even if you use the automatic renewal feature, it is a good idea to check your domain registrars expiration policy. Some domain registrars offer a grace period even after the expiration. This grace period allows you to renew your expired domain name.

Whereas bad domain registration services will immediately auction your expired domain to the highest bidder.

We have heard dozens of horror stories of business owners losing their domain name because their credit card expired, and their registrar did not have a grace period. This is one of the many reasons why it’s extremely important to choose the right domain name registrar.

4. Add-on Services

You may also want to review what other services are offered by your domain registrar. While you may not need these services right now, it is good to know that they have them.

These add-on services may include domain privacy, domain parking, extended expiration protection, and more. Some domain registrars may even sell WordPress hosting service, email hosting service, website builders, email marketing services, and more.

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

Due to the competition in the domain registration business, you will come across companies with some very attractive offers. While these offers may look good, there may be some downsides that you may not notice right away.

Following are a few things to watch out for when choosing a domain name registrar.

1. Add-on Pricing

Some domain name registrars can automatically pre-check add-on services when you purchase a domain name. If you don’t uncheck those options, then this would increase your bill significantly. Typically a .com domain name should not cost you more than $14.99 / year. If it does, then it should raise a red flag.

You must pay attention to the checkout page and uncheck any add-on registrar services or upsells that you don’t need like WHOIS Guard. On top of that, it’s always a good idea to double-check the total amount you are charged in your credit card statements.

2. Bad User Experience

Most domain registrars try to make their website easy to use, so they can keep you as a customer. However, some domain registrars do the exact opposite.

This would make it difficult for you to change your domain name settings like nameservers. You will need to do that if you wanted to transfer domain to a new host, or a new domain registrar.

The easiest way to look for this is by searching for domain registrar’s online reviews. Keep in mind, that very few happy customers leave online reviews, so it’s important to read the reviews thoroughly.

3. Hidden Fees

You may also need to look for the hidden costs and fees when choosing a domain registrar.

Some domain registrars may have special offers for cheaper domains for first-time registrations. Most beginners don’t realize it, but the renewal cost of the domain are often quite different and even higher.

All good domain registrars make it easy to transfer your domain name to a different company. However, some will put an additional fee.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the best domain name registrars, and how they compare against each other.

Best Domain Registrars to Buy a Domain Name

Choosing the right domain registrar saves you from possible future problems. It not only helps you protect your brand name but also makes it easy to move your website to a new host or service provider.

Based on the criteria we discussed earlier, these are the top domain registrars to buy your domain name from.

  1. Bhosting
  2. Hostbliz

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