Your domain name is essentially where you live online—and in order for people to find you easily, your online address needs to be clear, descriptive, and available. Domain registration prices vary depending on factors such as which domain registrar you choose, your domain extension, and whether someone else has already registered the name before you.
However, pricing isn’t the only factor at play when registering a domain. Customer service of the provider, ease of use, cost transparency, and being able to manage everything in one place are other key considerations when it comes to investing in a domain that’s right for your personal brand or business.
Learn more about how domain registration pricing depends on different TLDs, premium domains, renewal fees, and more—so you can make the best choice for your needs.
How is domain pricing determined?
When you’re building your website, you have the choice of purchasing a new domain name or one that’s already been registered. While every registrar charges different prices for domains, a new domain name is generally inexpensive while purchasing an already registered domain will be more expensive and vary depending on popularity.
When you’re purchasing a new domain from a registrar, the prices are determined by that registrar. When you’re purchasing an already existing domain, however, you’re buying from a private registrant. In this case, price is negotiated between you and the registrant.
For new domain registrations, prices usually don’t differ too much from registrar to registrar. For example, the price of a .com domain will usually only vary by a few dollars. Domain registries—you can think of them as the manufacturers in the domain industry—have a cost for their products. Registrars—the retailer—then add a markup.
Something important to consider when comparing domain name prices is the services being offered by that registrar. Registrars offering cheaper domain names may not offer as high a quality service and access to domain name management as those who charge an average price.
How much does a .com domain cost? What about other TLDs?
In 2022, a new, standard .com registration will typically cost $10-$20 per year, but registrars will often provide short-term promotional discounts, sometimes as low as $0.99. Domains can be registered for up to 10 years, and each additional year usually has the same pricing as Year 1.
There are hundreds of other TLDs, and pricing can swing to extremes. Some are typically very inexpensive, like .live, .online, and .xyz—these domains often have standard pricing below $5.
Other TLDs attempt to create exclusivity with very high standard pricing. TLDs like .cars, .inc, and .rich carry $1,000+ price tags.
However, most TLDs are priced in more comfortable price ranges. Popular TLDs like .org, .co, .net, and .io are usually in the $10-$30 range.
How much does it cost to renew a domain name?
Domain names have to be renewed each year, unless you previously registered or renewed the domain for multiple years. Accidentally letting your domain expire can cause your website to go offline and allow your domain to be purchased by someone else. This could lead to a poor user experience and even lost revenue for your business.
Domain renewal prices usually increase after the first year, but that all depends on the registrar and the length of the renewal. Domains can be renewed an indefinite number of times, but cannot be extended for more than 10 years at a time.
How much does it cost to transfer a domain name?
Domains can only be transferred if they’re older than 60 days, haven’t been transferred within the last 60 days, and have been unlocked in your account. Domain transfer costs are dependent on the registrar you are transferring to, but it’s a relatively simple process. Domain transfers are typically less expensive than new registrations or renewals.
What is an ICANN fee?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for preserving the operational stability of the Internet. As a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation, ICANN is dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable, and interoperable. It does this, in part, by promoting competition and developing policies on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
ICANN charges a mandatory annual fee of $0.18 for each year of a domain registration, renewal, or transfer, while the registrar that owns the domain can charge whatever they want per domain. Most registrars include ICANN fees in the cost of registration, renewal, or transfer, so you typically won’t see an $0.18 line item when you make a purchase, but there are some exceptions.
Why are premium domain names so expensive?
A premium domain is a high-quality domain that attracts investors to buy and sell with the aim of making a profit. The owner of the domain gets to determine the sale price. They often have short, catchy, and memorable names that are already registered by a person and/or organization. Premium domains are so expensive because of what they bring to a website. The domain most likely has a high page ranking in search engines, brings more traffic to a website, and contains keywords and phrases with high search volumes.
High value domain names can also have premium pricing set by the registry. In these cases, the registry determines that the domain is more valuable than a standard registration, and sets a higher price.
Do domain names ever go on sale?
Registrars frequently discount domain names. Some domain registrars provide domain discounts via promo codes, while other times a discount will be automatically applied. Much like furniture retailers, some registrars have domains “on sale” in perpetuity.
You’ll also find discounts that are exclusive to new customers, such as offering a new registration for $0.99. These discounts will often include hidden fees though, the renewal price may be much higher than the original registration price, or the first-year price might be a line item in a required multi-year registration.
Beware of hidden fees when buying a domain name.
While you can find websites advertising domains at low costs, these deals can seem too good to be true. Some registrars will attract first-time domain purchasers with low prices filled with hidden fees down the road, or initial discounts that end up costing you more money later on. When purchasing a domain, either for the first time or hundredth time, you want to be aware of any hidden fees associated with the registrar. These are some ways registrars become more expensive:
- Upselling. Registrars will grab your attention with cheap domains but try to upsell you on hundreds of different services you will never use or need. Make sure you are only purchasing products and services that you want and need.
- Initial Discounts. After the first year with your domain name, and that first-year discount, you may run into the situation where the price to renew is higher. Some registrars may lock you in for two or more years at the time of purchase while the second-plus year prices increase by a significant amount. Make sure you know what you’re getting before registration.
- WHOIS Privacy. WHOIS is an online public database that allows you to look up contact information about an individual, business, or organization that registers a domain. Each and every new domain must be registered with WHOIS, so you need to fill out appropriate information before your domain is officially registered. During the registration process, you want to make sure this information is kept private and inaccessible to the public. Some registrars offer privacy protection for free or include it in the price of a domain, while others charge an additional fee. Make sure you’re aware of everything that is offered with the domain before you purchase it.
How do domain prices from different registrars compare?
Purchasing a domain name is exciting whether your company is big or small, but there’s more to it than just crafting the perfect name. You’ll want to compare registrars and what they offer, including customer service, user friendliness, and cost.
Price is a big factor when making this decision, which can be difficult to navigate because every registrar prices their services differently. You should beware of hidden costs, including add-ons, extras, and additional fees. Some registrars may try to cross-sell, up-sell, and bundle things you don’t need, so you should also make sure that you’re buying only what you need and want.
You should look for a registrar that offers transparency in their practices, high quality customer service, and ease of use. You should be able to easily access their rates, read their policies for domain registration or renewal, and reach customer service if and when you may need it.