A domain registrar allows you to search for and buy a domain to use with your business’ website and email address. We reviewed 20+ registrars to find the six best — including the best overall — that offer affordable .com and .net extensions, tools to prevent domain theft, matching email addresses, and helpful customer support.
Top 6 Domain Registrars 2019
|Domain Name Registrar||Best For|
|(Best Overall) Companies needing both domain name registration and web hosting at an affordable price.|
|Non-tech-savvy companies needing superior customer support.|
|Companies that need to acquire a domain name that’s already owned by someone else.|
|Businesses needing to purchase multiple domains at bulk discount rates.|
|Companies needing a unique extension, such as .guru or .yoga at an affordable price.|
|Entrepreneurs needing to purchase a .com domain name on a very limited budget.|
How We Evaluated the Best Domain Name Registrars
When launching a small business website, companies need a domain registrar that can supply them with an affordable domain name they can use for both their website and email address. To include the best registrars on our list, we considered price, domain protection and security, available domain names, and add-on features like matching email addresses.
We evaluated each based on the following criteria:
- Price – The domain registrars on our list offer domains between $12 and $20 a year. We also considered free add-ons like domain names with web hosting packages, email addresses, and domain privacy to prevent spam.
- Domain Extension Selection – We looked for domain registrars that offer standard domain extensions like .com and .net, as well as niche-specific domain extensions like .boutique, .army, .education, and .tech.
- Ease of Use – Intuitive central dashboards for managing domains are critical for efficient setup and maintenance, which is why this was central to our consideration.
- Customer Service – We searched for domain registrars that offer responsive, knowledgeable, and patient customer support staff.
- CMS Compatibility – Registering a domain is only the first step of building a site, which is why we sought out domain registrars that easily pair with popular CMS platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.
- Email – To keep website and email setup as seamless as possible, our list includes domain registrars that offer free email addresses to match registered domains, as well as those that offer inexpensive email at no more than $4 per month.
- Security – We expect the top domain registrars to provide security features that protect domains against theft, fraud, and spam. These options include domain privacy to prevent people from spamming your business, and domain lock to prevent domain theft.
After considering the above criteria, we believe Bluehost is the best domain registrar for small businesses due to its competitive pricing for combined domain registration and web hosting, along with extensive add-ons, security features, and an intuitive user experience.
Best Overall Domain Name Registrar for Small Businesses: Bluehost
Bluehost is a domain registrar and web hosting provider that stands out because of its affordability and comprehensive add-ons. Starting at $2.95 a month, Bluehost offers a domain, domain security and privacy, website hosting, business email accounts, and impressive storage, among other features. Given these offerings, Bluehost best serves small businesses needing a turnkey solution for domain registration, web hosting, and email hosting at one low cost.
Bluehost’s .com domains are $11.99 per year and their .net domains are $12.99 per year. Other extensions vary by price. However, you get a better deal on domains via Bluehost’s web hosting plans; for $2.95 per month, you get a domain for a year, email, a website, an SSL certificate, 50 GB of space, and unlimited bandwidth.
Bluehost offers more features than many domain name registrars. Their entry-level web hosting package includes not only domain registration, but also web hosting, email addresses, and impressive storage. You must purchase domain privacy separately, however.
Here’s a closer look at Bluehost’s features:
- Domain Registration – You can search for and purchase your domain name on the Bluehost website.
- Extensions – Bluehost offers .com, .net, .org, .us, .biz, and .info domain extensions. They don’t offer a lot of the extensions some registrars like HostGator offer, however, including industry or location-specific extensions.
- Domain Privacy – When you buy a domain through Bluehost, you can also add domain privacy for $.99 per month, a much better price than HostGator’s. This protects your website and email from hacking and spam.
- Domain Lock – Domain lock keeps your domain name from being transferred to a website by any unauthorized person. You can unlock it at any time by logging into your Bluehost account.
- SSL Certificate – This certificate offers encryption for all your customers’ personal data, including their credit card and other private information. Customers are notified you are protecting their information with a lock next to your domain name in their web browsers.
- Email – If you buy a domain by itself through Bluehost, it does not come with email accounts. However, like NameCheap (another registrar on our list), email accounts are included in Bluehost’s web hosting packages. The Basic plan includes five accounts.
- Hosting Storage – Bluehost’s web hosting Basic plan offers 50 GB of website storage, not quite as much as HostGator offers in their most basic web hosting plan. Their larger plans offer up to unlimited website storage.
- Hosting Bandwidth – Each Bluehost web hosting plan offers a different amount of bandwidth. The Basic $2.95 per month plan offers unmetered bandwidth. This means they don’t limit your site traffic on a monthly basis.
Ease of Use
Registering a domain on Bluehost is remarkably easy. After clicking on Bluehost’s homepage “Domain” tab, you can search for the domain you’d like to buy. From there, add the domain to your cart or, if it’s not available, choose from a list of Bluehost suggestions. Then, fill out a form to buy it. Be sure to indicate whether you want domain privacy or not by leaving the form as is or x-ing out of them.
Once purchased, you can manage domains via the Bluehost domain manager. This gives you one place to easily lock your domain to prevent transfers or unlock it to transfer it, purchase more domains, and renew the ones you’ve purchased.
While Bluehost is WordPress’ recommended web hosting and domain registration provider, it is also compatible with Joomla and Drupal. They have also recently partnered with Weebly to offer Bluehost customers a more basic, user-friendly website builder. You can quickly and easily manage the installation of each of these CMSs from Bluehost’s intuitive cPanel.
You can contact specialized Bluehost web experts 24/7 via web, chat, or phone. They boast experts on web security, personal website creation, blog building, website speed and performance, traffic generation, web security, website services and solutions, and general sales. Customers say their customer support can be slow to respond, however, and often don’t have answers to customer questions.
What Bluehost Is Missing
Bluehost customer service isn’t as responsive or thorough as the support offered by NameCheap. Also, Bluehost domain extension choices are very limited compared to domain registrars like HostGator and Hover.
What Users Think About Bluehost
Customers like that Bluehost offers fully-featured web hosting with a free domain name at an unbeatable price. They also appreciate that the service is easy to use, even for beginners. However, they don’t like that customer service can be slow to respond and are often unable to solve customer problems. They also don’t like receiving Bluehost’s frequent upsell emails.
Best Domain Name Registrar for Customer Service: NameCheap
NameCheap is primarily a domain registrar, but also offers web hosting. They’re known for great customer service, which is praised for being knowledgeable, responsive, and friendly. Therefore, they best serve businesses with little technical knowledge needing to register a domain. These often include new entrepreneurs with little digital knowledge and long-standing business owners who are just starting to use the internet to market and grow their clientele.
NameCheap offers .com domains for $8.88 for the first year and renewed .com domains at $12.98 per year. Their .net domain names start at $9.88 per year and renew at $14.98 per year. À la carte options, like domain privacy and matching email addresses, are available for additional fees.
When registering your domain name, NameCheap allows you to choose from a wide variety of extensions. Each domain purchase also includes domain transfers, domain privacy, and domain lock. You also get a free email account for two months, which you can purchase for $9.88 per year after the trial period.
Here is a closer look at all the features NameCheap offers for your domain registration needs:
- Extensions – NameCheap offers .net and .com domain names, along with hundreds of niche and location-specific extensions like .agency, .boutique, .us, and .ai. View a full list of available domain extensions by clicking on the “Domain” menu tab on their website.
- Domain Privacy – NameCheap offers WHOIS Guard privacy protection for free with domain purchases. This service replaces your contact information in the public domain registration database with NameCheap’s information. This shields you from identity theft and spam.
- Domain Lock (aka Registrar Lock) – NameCheap offers free Registrar Lock (which other domain registrars call Domain Lock) for each purchased domain. It is automatically enabled to protect you against unauthorized domain transfers or “hijacking.”
- Domain Transfer – It is free to transfer your domain to NameCheap. You will be charged for domain renewals, however, which will be added on to the end of your current registration period.
- Email – Each domain comes with a free two-month email trial, which includes an email address to match your domain name. To keep your email after this trial period, you must pay $9.88 per year for each email address, 3 GB of storage, and anti-spam protection.
Ease of Use
NameCheap offers an account panel for managing all your domains in one central place. You can track information like domain privacy status, registration expiration dates, whether or not each domain is set for auto-renewal, what website or platform your domains link to, what email addresses are associated with each domain, if your contact information is up to date, and the status of domain transfers. Most actions can be completed with just a couple of clicks.
NameCheap offers a long list of tutorials for connecting your domain name to content management systems and applications like WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Blogger, Squarespace, Zoho, Azure, Adobe Profile, About.me, and Shopify. To view their list of tutorials for connecting your domain to these platforms, browse the knowledge base on their website. This is accessible on NameCheap’s home page footer menu; just click “3rd-Party Service Setup.”
NameCheap offers 24/7 ticket, phone, and live chat support to resolve customer problems quickly and completely. We found that NameCheap clearly stands out as the provider with the best customer support; users say the support is fast and thorough, and staff are careful to patiently guide new users. You can also access their knowledge base from their website footer menu for tutorials on NameCheap products.
What NameCheap Is Missing
NameCheap does not offer a free email address with each domain name, like 1&1 IONOS, except for a free two-month trial. Unlike GoDaddy, they also don’t offer free domain appraisal services to help you acquire a domain you want from another owner.
What Users Think About NameCheap
Users like that NameCheap’s customer support is very responsive, knowledgeable, and quick to resolve customer problems. They also like that they offer domains for more affordable prices than other registrars, including GoDaddy. Though most reviews were positive because of their attentive customer support, users did complain about downtime with their web hosting plans.
Best for Acquiring a Currently Owned Domain: GoDaddy
GoDaddy is a domain name registrar and web hosting provider that specializes in helping businesses acquire domains currently owned by another person or business. Their domain appraisal and broker services help businesses get the best price, while their pre-registration services help businesses get first access to newly available domains. They are best for established companies that need to buy a currently owned domain that matches their brand.
GoDaddy offers $13.99 per year “.net” domains and $0.99 per year “.com” domains (with two-year contracts). For $9.99 per year, users can get privacy protection, which prevents spam and identity theft. A matching email address is $3.99 per year.
With GoDaddy, you can appraise someone else’s domain for free. This will give you a base price to begin negotiating a domain purchase from its current owner. If you don’t want to negotiate with the current owner yourself, you can hire a GoDaddy Broker for $69.99 plus a 20% commission on the final purchase price. They will settle on a price and purchase the domain for you within one month.
GoDaddy offers standard features like domain extension selection, privacy protection, and domain lock. In addition, you can purchase an email address to match your domain name. What’s unique about GoDaddy, however, is their appraisal/broker services for already-owned domains.
Here is a closer look at GoDaddy’s domain registration features:
- Domain Extensions – GoDaddy offers hundreds of domain extensions you can search for by categories like education, health, or real estate. You can even pre-register a domain name using an extension that’s slated to become available in the near future.
- Privacy Protection – For $9.99 per year, GoDaddy’s domain privacy protection replaces your contact information in the public domain database with generic information from GoDaddy’s partner, Domains by Proxy. This protects you against spam and identity theft.
- Domain Lock – GoDaddy’s domain lock is called Business Protection by GoDaddy, but serves the same purpose. It blocks accidental or unauthorized domain transfers—unless you manually unlock your domain.
- Domain Backorders – If the domain you want is currently owned by someone else, you can pay to get first access to it if the owner sells it or it becomes available for purchase.
- Domain Broker – You can hire a GoDaddy Broker to negotiate with a domain’s current owner to purchase it from them. Broker services cost $69.99, plus a 20% commission on the price of the acquired domain.
- Domain Value Appraisal – GoDaddy will appraise any domain name for free. With this appraisal, you learn exactly how much you should pay to acquire it.
- Personal Domains – For a more professional feel to your personal brand or ecommerce marketing, you can purchase a domain and then point it to non-website platforms like your YouTube channel, your Etsy shop, or your LinkedIn profile.
- Email – When you purchase a domain name, you can also add a matching email address to it at checkout starting at $3.99 per month. With the entry-level plan, you will receive 5 GB of storage. More expensive email address plans offer more storage.
Ease of Use
By logging into your “My Products” page in your GoDaddy account, then clicking “Manage All,” you can access your Domain Manager. Here you can easily view a list of your domains and their statuses (transferred, expired, or active), monitor your domain buying and selling activities, add domain privacy, turn your domain lock on and off, and seek support in managing your domain names and features. All of these can be managed with just a few clicks.
GoDaddy works closely with WordPress, offering one-click installs for a WordPress website, but they also work with Joomla, Drupal, and Magento. You can also connect a domain to platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, and ecommerce stores Etsy and eBay. This allows you to showcase your domain name on platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other third-party sites where you may have a business profile.
GoDaddy offers 24/7 phone support. You can also log into your account, click on “My Products,” and then on the “Help” and “Domain Support” links to access a long list of FAQs and tutorials to guide you through domain-related processes. These include unlocking a domain name, protecting your domain, transferring a domain, and forwarding a domain to platforms like Facebook or Etsy. You can also click the “Chat” button to talk to someone online 24/7.
What GoDaddy Is Missing
GoDaddy’s domains are more expensive than many domain registrar prices on the market, including those offered by HostGator, Bluehost, and Hover. Customers also say they don’t offer the attentive and knowledgeable customer support NameCheap does.
What Users Think About GoDaddy
GoDaddy customers like that GoDaddy domain purchase and management are intuitive, and that they offer extra services like appraisals and domain broker services. Customers don’t like that their domains are often more costly than competitor domains. While they like that GoDaddy’s customer support is friendly and patient, users have noted staff are not as knowledgeable or responsive as customers would like.
Best for Registering Multiple Domains: Hover
Hover is a domain name registrar that also offers business email. Their biggest draw, however, is bulk discounts on multiple domain registrations. Companies often use bulk registration to buy different extensions of the same website address to prevent competitors from building a brand off of them. Given this, they best serve growing online brands needing to claim and protect their brand names from competitors, or companies that own multiple websites.
Hover’s .com domains start at $12.99 per year and their .net domains start at $15.95 per year. Other domain extensions vary greatly in price. They offer a bulk discount on multiple domain registrations. You can save $0.25 to $1 per domain, depending on how many you register. A matching email address is $5.
Hover is a no-frills domain name registrar. Aside from domain registrations and domain security features, the only other feature they offer is email to match your domain name (email@example.com, for example). Domain security features (like domain privacy, transfer lock, and auth codes) come automatically with each domain registration, so you don’t have to go through extra steps to add them.
Here is a closer look at Hover’s domain name registration and email features:
- Domain Extensions – Hover offers .net and .com extensions, along with hundreds of more unique domain extensions. Niche domain extensions, for example, include .investments, .art, and .attorney, while location extensions include .berlin, .barcelona, and .boston.
- Domain Privacy – Hover offers free domain privacy with each domain, which conceals your address, phone number, and email address when your domain is listed in the public WHOIS domain name database. This protects you against spam and unsolicited calls.
- Transfer Lock – You can lock your domains so unauthorized people cannot transfer them. This protects your domain name from being stolen.
- Auth Codes – This is a code assigned to your domain to create a second layer of security against unauthorized transfers. If you purchase this service, you would have to supply an auth code in order to transfer your domain to a new registrar.
- Email – You must purchase a business email account separately but, once you do, your email addresses will match your domain (firstname.lastname@example.org, for example).
Ease of Use
Customers report that buying a domain from Hover is a straightforward process with few distractions. Many features, like domain privacy, are provided automatically with each domain registration, meaning you don’t have to find and sign up for them separately, nor deal with a lot of upselling attempts. Hover offers a control panel where you can see and manage domains and their email accounts, what CMS or platform your domains point to, domain transfer statuses, and more.
Hover offers a long list of CMS and application compatibilities, including Weebly, Wix, Shopify, Zenfolio, Squarespace, and WordPress. It is also compatible with blog platforms like Blogger and website builders like PageCloud and About.me. You can even point your domain to a professional or business profile on LinkedIn or Twitter.
While Hover only offers customer service via phone on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, and on weekends from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET, customers report they receive excellent support. You never have to talk to a machine; a representative answers customer calls right away and offers thorough and expert guidance for all customer questions and concerns.
What Hover Is Missing
Hover does not offer 24/7 customer support like Bluehost and some other domain registrars do. They also don’t offer web hosting packages like HostGator and Bluehost do. Lastly, their domain names can be somewhat expensive compared to 1&1 IONOS, Bluehost, and HostGator.
What Users Think About Hover
Users like that Hover offers responsive customer service during their normal operating hours. They also like that Hover is easy to use. They do, however, wish that the platform offers web hosting plans like Bluehost or HostGator do. Users also report that they don’t always offer the latest domain extensions.
Best for Affordable Unique Extensions: HostGator
HostGator is a domain registrar and web hosting provider. They partner with domain.com to offer the newest and most unique domain extensions at affordable prices. Because of this, HostGator is best for niche brand startups that are on a budget and want a unique extension to market themselves, including accounting firms seeking the .accountant domain extension, travel brands seeking the .cruise extension, or healthcare brands wanting to purchase a .healthcare extension.
HostGator’s domains start at $12.95 per year. They also offer domain transfers at $7.95 per year. For free transfers, you have to sign up for web hosting at $2.75 per month. When you transfer in a domain, they add a year extension to your current registration. Domain privacy is $14.95 per year.
HostGator offers a huge selection of domain extensions via their partnership with domain.com. When you purchase a domain name, you also get Domain Locking for free. In addition, you can purchase domain privacy and domain transfers separately. You must sign up for a HostGator web hosting plan to get a matching email address for your domain.
Here is a closer look at HostGator’s domain name registration features:
- Domain Locking – To prevent unauthorized transfers of your domain, you can enable and disable Domain Locking through your password-protected HostGator control panel.
- Extensions – HostGator offers .com, .club, .co, .space, .us, .website, .org, .net, .me, .bix, .info, .hot, .online, .site, and .tech extensions. They also partner with domain.com to sell new and unique extensions.
- Domain Privacy – When you opt in to HostGator’s domain privacy for $14.95 per year, they replace your contact information (like your address, phone number, and email) with their own so your identity is protected from spam and theft in the WHOIS domain database.
- Domain Transfers – You can transfer all of your domains to HostGator, then manage them from one control panel. Transferring a .com or .net domain costs $7.95 per year. This year-long registration is added onto the end of your existing registration period.
- Pre-registration and Priority Pre-registration – If a new domain extension is soon to hit the market, you can pre-register to get first access to domains with that extension. If you priority-pre-register, you are put higher on the list of those who have paid for first access.
- Email – To get a matching email address for your domain, you must sign up for one of HostGator’s web hosting plans, which start at $2.75 per month.
Ease of Use
To make managing your domains as easy as possible, HostGator offers a domain portal where you can check the status of your domains, including their registration and expiration dates, their Domain Locking status, their auto-renewal dates, and the contact information associated with the domain, and you can then make changes as needed. When you log into the domain portal, you just have to click on a domain to begin managing these features.
HostGator offers web hosting with one-click installs of WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Wiki, and phpBBB. Once you’ve installed one of these, you can easily link your domains and manage your websites from one central HostGator customer portal.
HostGator offers live chat and phone support 24/7. You can also submit a ticket for problem resolution via your customer portal. You will receive email updates on the status of your issue and when you can expect it to be resolved. Lastly, they offer a plethora of video tutorials on everything from managing your domain with another registrar to creating a subdomain, updating your contact information, setting up a domain transfer, and using domain forwarding.
What HostGator Is Missing
HostGator does not offer a free domain name with web hosting like Bluehost does. They also don’t offer free domain privacy with domain registration like Hover does. In addition, you can’t sign up for an email for your domain without purchasing a web hosting plan. To sign up for just a domain name and an email address, you’d do better with Hover or GoDaddy.
What Users Think About HostGator
Customers like that HostGator offers services at competitive prices, that the cPanel (HostGator’s control panel) makes it easy to manage domains, and that video tutorials make it easy to learn anything that isn’t intuitive. However, they don’t like that customer service can sometimes be slow to respond to customers on entry-level plans. To get the best service, users recommend using live chat.
Best Domain Registrar for Inexpensive .Com Domains: 1&1 IONOS
1&1 IONOS is a domain registrar and web hosting provider that offers .com domains for $1 for the first year. A domain purchase comes with a matching email address, domain privacy, and domain lock. They are best for companies that are just starting out and have extremely limited budgets, such as freelancers.
1&1 IONOS Pricing
1&1 IONOS’ .com domains are $1 for one year, then $15 per year thereafter. Their .net domains are $9 for the first year, then $20 per year after. Domains come with a free matching email, domain lock to prevent unauthorized transfers, and domain privacy. With a $2 per month email plan, you get a free domain for a lifetime.
1&1 IONOS Features
1&1 IONOS’ stand-out feature is its affordability. With .com domain extensions at just $1 for the first year, they stand out from other providers on this list. If you sign up for an email hosting plan for $2 per month, you will also receive a free forever domain of your choosing. They also offer free domain lock, domain privacy, and domain transfers.
Here is a closer look at 1&1 IONOS’ domain features:
- Extensions – 1&1 IONOS offers a very long list of domain extensions, from the more common .com, .net, and .org to more unique domain extensions like .boutique, .catering, and .finance.
- Domain Privacy – To hide your personal contact information, preventing spam and identity theft, 1&1 IONOS offers free domain privacy when you sign up for a one-year registration.
- Domain Lock – This feature ensures your domain cannot be transferred without authorization from you. A domain can only be unlocked or locked when you log into your password-protected 1&1 IONOS account and unlock it.
- Domain Transfers – Domains can be transferred to 1&1 IONOS for free. Unlike HostGator, each domain is renewed at full price for one year automatically the day you transfer it to 1&1 IONOS, instead of after your existing registration period ends.
- Domain Forwarding – Like GoDaddy, 1&1 IONOS allows you to link your domain name to an ecommerce platform like Etsy or to platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Pre-registration – If you know that a domain extension is soon to hit the market, you can pre-register for a domain using that extension.
- Email – 1&1 IONOS offers a free matching email address with each domain name you register. For larger businesses, they have a $2 per month email plan that comes with 25 matching email addresses and a free lifetime domain.
Ease of Use
1&1 IONOS offers a control panel, but not the standard cPanel many domain registrars offer. Still, you can manage your domains, including connecting your domain to a website or platform; viewing and managing domain status information like those that are in pre-registration, transferred, or ongoing transfers; and managing renewal dates and whether your domain is locked. Users say this control panel is not very intuitive compared to the standard cPanel.
1&1 IONOS offers tutorials on how to connect your domain to a variety of website builders and CMS software, including WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Blogger, Weebly, and Jimdo. They also offer tutorials on how to link a 1&1 IONOS domain to social media sites like Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vimeo, YouTube, and Google+.
When you purchase a domain name from 1&1 IONOS, you also get access to a personal consultant who’s available 24/7 via phone, onsite chat, or email to answer any questions. These consultations include tips on how to best market your business and what products can help.
What 1&1 IONOS Is Missing
Though there are many ways to contact 1&1 IONOS’ customer support, it is not as thorough or attentive as NameCheap’s. In addition, 1&1 IONOS’ version of a control panel is cluttered, dated, and not intuitive—a sharp contrast to the intuitive cPanel offered by Bluehost and HostGator.
What Users Think About 1&1 IONOS
Users like that 1&1 IONOS domains are affordable and that it offers friendly customer support, though their staff is often not very knowledgeable. They say buying a domain is fast and managing them is a decently easy process, though not as intuitive as with registrars that use cPanel, like Bluehost and HostGator. Many users say that both paying a bill and canceling a service online can be tedious and sometimes require multiple attempts.
“It’s important to choose a registrar with great customer support, since it’s vital that your domain name operates as expected to avoid any interruptions in potential traffic. A quality customer support team not only helps when an issue arises, but they can even offer assistance when you’re choosing a domain name.”
– Paul Nicks, General Manager and Vice President of Aftermarket, GoDaddy
A domain registrar allows businesses to search for and purchase a domain name for their websites. To rank the best domain registrars, we looked for registrars that have .com and .net domains for under $20 per year. We also looked for features to help businesses successfully use their domains, like protection against spam and domain theft, business email, web hosting, intuitive domain management panels, and responsive and knowledgeable customer support.
Based on the above criteria, we found Bluehost to be the best domain registrar. Their $2.95 per month web hosting packages include a free domain name, domain protection, and other tools small businesses need to put their domains to work for their businesses, including a website, website security, and matching email. Click here to get a free Bluehost domain.