How Much Does a Domain Name Really Cost? (Expert Answer)
If you have ever tried to register a domain name before, then you have likely seen a wide-variety of prices ranging from $9 to several thousand dollars.
The cost of a domain name varies based on the domain extension (such as .com, .org, .net), domain registrar, availability, and few other factors.
Apart from new domain names, you can also buy premium domain names from someone else who has registered it before you. Domain name investors often register premium domain names that are shorter, brandable, and easy to remember for the sole purpose of reselling.
In this article, we’ll explain how much does a domain name really costs. We’ll also show you different ways to buy a domain name including a way to get one for free.
Since this is a comprehensive guide on domain name costs, we have broken it down into few sections:
- How much does a new domain name cost?
- What are the hidden costs of a domain name?
- How much does a premium domain name cost?
- How to estimate the value of a premium domain name?
- How much does an expired domain name cost?
- How to buy a domain name not listed for sale?
- Things to look for before buying a domain name
- Frequently asked questions about domain name costs
How Much Does a New Domain Name Cost?
Buying a new domain name would typically cost you anywhere between $9 and $14.99 per year. However, these prices may differ based on the domain extension or the domain registrar you choose.
They are offering WPBeginner users a free domain name + free SSL certificate on top of the 60% discount on their web hosting plans.
Since you need both a domain name and web hosting to make a website, this is the most affordable option to get started.
Here is how much a new domain registration costs with different registrars.
- Bluehost – Free domain with hosting $2.75 / month
- Domain.com – $7.45 for .com domain names with our coupon code
- HostGator – Free domain with hosting $2.64 / month
- GoDaddy – $11.99
- DreamHost – Free domain with hosting $2.59 / month
These prices are for new .com domain names only. The pricing of other extensions such as .net, .org, .info, .blog, etc. will vary based on the domain registrar you use.
When it comes to domain extensions, we always recommend users to use .com because it’s the most popular one.
Hidden Costs of a Domain Name
Aside from the domain registration cost, there are few hidden domain costs and upsells that you should be aware of, so you can make the most educated decision.
Domain name registration is done on a yearly basis. You can maintain control over your domain name as long as you continue to renew your registration each year.
Some domain registrars offer domain name discounts on first year purchase, but their renewal costs are much higher. If you see a promotion where you can pay $0.99 for a domain name, then please know that it’s usually for first year only. Your annual renewals will be at a much higher price.
WHOIS and Domain Privacy
ICANN is the not-for-profit public-benefit corporation that is responsible for coordinating the assignment and maintenance of domain names. They require each domain registrar to collect contact information for the website owner.
This information can be publicly accessed using WHOIS data. Other businesses and companies can use this information to contact you about a potential business partnership.
Having the WHOIS data publicly available can result in unwanted emails and phone calls. This is why many domain registrars sell an add-on called Domain Privacy.
This addon typically costs an additional $9.99, and it’s completely optional. The problem is that often registrars automatically add it to the cart, and you have to manually remove it if you don’t want to pay for it.
Some registrars like DreamHost offer free domain privacy with their domains.
Business Email Accounts (Email Domains)
When buying a domain name, you will likely see an addon for email domains for setting up a professional business email address.
You do not need to buy this because you can get a free business email address with most web hosting companies.
Pro Tip: Secure Domain Discounts for Multiple Years
Some registrars like Domain.com allows you to pre-pay for multiple years upfront. This is a great way to get the introductory discount offer for multiple years.
Since you have to pay for domain renewals every year, pre-paying for multiple years can be a significant saving. Not to mention, it saves you from future price increases.
But these hidden fees and domain cost explanation is primarily for new domains that are available to register.
What about premium domains or domains that you buy from other people? Let’s take a look at the premium domain costs in details.
How Much Does a Premium Domain Name Cost?
Premium domain names are pre-registered domain names that are often shorter, brandable, and more memorable. Often domain investors register these premium domain names to sell later at a higher price for profit.
Cost of premium domain names can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. It all depends on the uniqueness of the name, domain length, and its overall brand potential.
Some premium domains may even cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Here are some of the most expensive domains sold in history:
- Insurance.com – $35.6 million
- PrivateJet.com – $30.18 million
- Hotels.com – $11 million
- Fb.com – $8.5 million
- Business.com – $7.5 million
You can find premium domain names listed for sale by private sellers on various websites.
We recommend buying domain names from reputable websites to ensure a safe transfer of the domain name. See our guide on the best places to buy a premium domain name.
How to Estimate The Value of a Premium Domain Name?
Many beginners ask us about how to find the right offer to make for a premium domain or a pre-registered domain name?
Domain names that are already taken are often sold at a higher price. However, most of the time the asking price is outrageously high which discourages many inexperienced domain buyers from making an offer.
We recommend users to do some research and make a reasonable counter offer. Remember, the domain investor only makes money when they sell the domain.
Like most trades, the value of a premium domain largely depends on the maximum you’re willing to pay and the lowest the seller is willing to accept.
However, you can look at domain marketplaces like BuyDomains, Sedo, or Flippa to better understand the market rates, so you can make a respectable offer for a particular niche.
If the domain you are looking for already has a listed price, then you can start by offering 50-75% of the listed price.
Note: Most domain value estimation tools are completely useless, so it’s best to avoid using them as a reference.
We recommend caution when buying a registered domain name. If you are unsure about the domain’s potential worth to your business, then simply walk away.
How Much Does an Expired Domain Names Cost?
Each day thousands of domain names expire. These are the domain names where the owner decided not to renew their registration, or they simply forgot about these domain names.
Expired domains provide an excellent opportunity to find great brandable domain name. The following are a few places where you can look for recently expired domain names.
FreshDrop is a domain marketplace that allows you to follow expired and soon to be expired domain names. It comes with an advanced search tool that you can use to narrow down your search.
ExpiredDomains is a search engine dedicated to expired domain names. It may not look as easy to use as other domain search tools but it has a large and constantly updated index of domain names.
Note: You need to check for domain abuse and other problems before buying a used, pre-registered, or expired domain names (more on this later).
Cost of Expired Domain Names
Normally, you can register an expired domain name at the usual yearly rates of your domain registrar company.
However if a domain name is soon to be expired, then you can use a domain backorder service. This allows you to place an advance order for the domain name.
If there is no other advance order for that domain name, then your order will become successful. Most domain name companies charge a small one-time fee ($25 – $99) to provide this service.
How to Buy a Domain Name Not Listed for Sale?
So far we have talked about the cost of domain names that are available for registration or sold by third-parties. What if you have your eye on a domain name that is already taken but not listed for sale?
There is a good chance that you can still get your hands on that particular domain name.
You see, many users register domain names to start a new online business idea. A lot of them end up never using that domain name or abandon the idea.
Since they’re not using the domain name, you can directly contact the domain owner to make an offer.
If the domain name has a website, then you can use the contact form on their website to reach out.
Alternatively, you can use the Whois search to find contact information of the domain owner and send them a message to show your interest.
Sometimes people register domain names for future ideas, so even if they’re not using it, they still wouldn’t want to sell it. Some folks get greedy and will ask for a premium to part ways with their domain.
Remember, you’re buying someone’s “dream idea”, so you need to be respectful but also realistic about the value.
Pro tip: If you have a business idea, then it’s better to register a domain name even if you’re not 100% sure. You don’t want to risk someone else registering it before you get around to it. We think of it as an insurance policy because a domain costs only $9.99.
Doing Your Homework Before Buying a Domain Name
If you are buying a domain name that has never been used before, then you are good to go.
However, if you are buying a domain name that was previously owned by someone else, then you need to do some basic due diligence.
These domain names could be violating copyright or trademark, used to distribute malware or spam, or misused in other malicious activities.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of tools that you can use to do your homework.
1. Check For Trademark
First, you would want to make sure that the domain name is not a registered trademark of an existing business.
According to ICANN rules, if a domain name violates a company’s registered trademark, then that company can claim the domain name or ask you to take it down.
You can check the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database to do a quick trademark search. Simply enter your domain name in the search box to see if it returns any matches.
2. Check Past Domain Name Usage
Next, you would want to see how the domain name has been used in the past. What kind of websites were made using that particular domain name?
The easiest way to do this is by using the Wayback Machine. It is a massive historical archive of the internet with snapshots of websites archived on a regular basis.
3. Check Historical Whois Records
Whois tools provides you historical whois records for a domain name. This helps you see when a domain name was created, last renewed, DNS changes, and other historical data.
4. Run a Domain Health Check Test
Finally, you need to make sure that the domain is not used to send spam, launch DDoS attacks, or spread malware. You can use MxToolBox’s domain health tool to see if raises any red flags.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domain Name Costs
Having helped thousands of users start a blog and website, we have answered a lot of questions related to domain names. Below are some of the most common ones:
Can I get a domain name for free?
While domain name typically costs $14.99 / year, you can get a domain name for free as a bundled offer with various web hosting companies.
Which is the best domain name registrar?
We believe that Domain.com is the best registrar right now because they have the features you need, and they’re offering a 25% off discount.
However it’s a smarter money decision to get a free domain with web hosting like Bluehost because it saves you time and money.
You can always transfer your domain name to another popular domain name registrar if you’re not happy with your existing provider.
Do I need both domain name and web hosting to build a website?
Yes, you need both the domain name and web hosting to build a website. Domain name is your website’s address on the internet whereas web hosting is where your website files are stored. For more details, see our guide on difference between domain name vs web hosting (explained).
Can I buy a domain name forever (permanently)?
No, you cannot buy a domain name permanently. Domain name registration is done on a yearly basis. However, you can pre-pay for up to 10 years which guarantees that you will have a domain name for 10 years.
How much does a domain name cost on Wix vs WordPress?
When using a hosted website builder platform, the cost of your domain name will vary. It’s important to remember that website builder platforms offer a combination of hosting + domain.
For example, Wix domains cost $14.95 / year, but they are free if you choose the annual plan which costs $13 / month.
WordPress.com domains cost $18 / year, but they are included for free with the annual Personal plan which costs $8 / month.
But if you use a self-hosted WordPress platform, then you can start a website with Bluehost for $2.75 per month, and it comes with a free domain name. For more details, see the difference between WordPress.com vs self-hosted WordPress.org.
We hope this article helped you learn how much does a domain name really cost. You may also want to see our guide on how much does it really cost to build a WordPress website.
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