Hosting & Domains

How to Get Cheap Domain Names

In the past decade, the cost to purchase a domain name has not changed all that much but with one giant caveat: how popular is the domain name? There are still plenty of domain names available for cheap, but don’t expect to find any common one-word domains for cheap. However, if you are looking for a unique name or phrase, your odds are pretty good at finding what you’re looking for without burning a hole in your wallet. Let’s walk through some of the reasons for purchasing a domain name, and what kinds of choices you have when it comes to registering or buying that domain.

Reasons for Purchasing a Domain

The reason for purchasing a domain can play heavily into who you purchase it from and what you need included with that purchase. The top reasons for purchasing a domain name, according to my research, are as follows (ordered by prevalence):

  1. To use for your main website landing pagepen-idea-bulb-paper2
    so people don’t need to remember your IP address in order to get to your website
  2. To purchase and resell a domain
    for a profit
  3. To prevent other people from owning a domain
    because it’s similar, or a common misspelling, to a domain you already own
  4. To use as a temporary eye catching website address
    for redirects to your main site or email marketing campaigns

How to Get the Cheapest Domain for Your Needs

It doesn’t matter if you are a multi-billion dollar enterprise or a tween with a deep yearning to show off a screenshot library of your Minecraft prowess; everyone must register their domain with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) through an accredited registrar (full list here).

According to many online sources the first .com domain name was registered in 1985: symbolics.com. It was basically free to own a domain back then; you just had to register it. So what determines the price of a domain name? Well, just like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, a domain name can be as valuable as the potential buyer deems it to be. According to BusinessInsider.com, the most expensive domain ever sold was Insurance.com, ringing in at a cool $35.6 million in 2010.

Domain Registration Only Option

If you’re strictly looking to purchase and register a domain without any bells and whistles that come with hosting, web forwarding, email, etc, the following list of registrars will sell you a .com domain for a fair price. Be sure to read the terms when buying to see what the rate will be after the first year.

  • namecheap.com – as low as $10.69/year (and the same price for renewals!)
  • registrar_logos1and1.com – as low as $0.99/1st-yr ($14.99 after)
  • godaddy.com – as low as $2.99/1st year ($14.99 after)
  • dynadot.com – as low as $8.99/yr
  • name.com – as low as $12.99/yr (one of the top rated domain registrars)

Bottom Line

It’s not hard to find a cheap domain name, but going into the purchase without a full understanding of what your web hosting needs are could leave you with extra fees for additional features to pay for down the road.  One other thing you will undoubtedly see during the checkout process on any of these registrars is a peppering of additional “features” and add-ons that you can add in exchange for a handful of nominal fees. Be sure to keep a close eye on each step of the checkout process to make sure things aren’t being added that you don’t want. Making a checklist of what your needs are before you make any purchases can be a big help. Your list should include, at a minimum, answers to the following questions:

  1. How much are you willing to spend?
  2. Do you need someone to host your domain? Or do you have your own server you plan to build/maintain?
  3. Do you want an email with the domain?
  4. How long do you plan to keep the domain?

Happy domain hunting!

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