Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
If you want to start a website, you need a domain name. Buying one takes less than five minutes. And costs a lot less than you think, especially when you bundle it with web hosting. You need both to build a website, so why not get them together? If you’re wondering exactly how to buy a domain name or how to save money when buying a domain, you’re in the right place.
Two Methods for Buying a Domain Name
Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter where you buy your domain. At the end of the day, a domain is a domain, and you won’t find any variations in quality based on where you buy one.
The biggest difference from one domain registrar to the next is the price—some offer domains for just a few dollars a year and others can go as high as $20 per year or more. There are two ways to get a domain name, one of which is free for the first year and the other is not.
1. Bundled With Web Hosting (Free)
If you’re starting one website with a single domain name, you can bundle your domain name with web hosting services. This is the most popular route for beginners because it’s easier to manage your domain name registration and web hosting under one roof.
Plus, you can get your domain name for free.
2. Through a Domain Registrar (Not Free)
If you’re buying more than one domain name or want to manage your domain and hosting services separately, you can use a domain registrar like domain.com or NameCheap.
This route makes sense if you’re launching a business website and want to buy all the possible variations of your business name to prevent others from doing so. Many domain registrars offer bulk discounts but you won’t be able to get your domain(s) for free.
Check out our top domain registrar recommendations, here.
How to Get a Domain for Free
If you already have hosting services, you won’t be able to use this method unless you’re ready to upgrade to a better plan or switch to a new host. As such, timing is an important consideration if you’re set on getting a domain name for free for the next year.
But if you’re starting a website from scratch, you need web hosting services in addition to a domain name.
So, it makes sense to bundle them together. It’s an easy and affordable way to get everything you need in one transaction while saving a bit of money.
The biggest consideration is choosing the right host for your website. So, let’s talk about how to do that.
Web Hosts That Offer Free Domains
Launching a new website can be a costly endeavor, so we want to help you save as much money as possible.
Many web hosts offer free domain names and affordable web hosting services for beginners to help you get set up and running as fast as possible. Our top recommendations for this include:
- Wix – Best website builder
- Hostinger – Most affordable option
- Dreamhost – Best WordPress hosting
- Bluehost – Best shared hosting
- Hostgator – Best for budget-friendly scalability
- InMotion Hosting – Best VPS hosting services
1. Wix – Best All-in-One Website Builder
Best Website Builder
If you're looking for an all-in-one package, Wix is the way to go. It includes web hosting, an intuitive drag-and-drop website builder, ecommerce functionality, 800+ free starter templates, and a free domain name for the first year starting at just $14 per month.
Wix is perhaps best known for its user-friendly drag and drop website design tools that let anyone create a professional-looking website. However, Wix also offers free domains as long as you’re okay including a Wix reference in the name.
For example, instead of yourname.com your site would say yourname.wix.com.
The good news is you can always upgrade to a custom domain if your site grows and you want to ditch the Wix tag for a private domain name.
If you want a private domain or you plan on using your website for ecommerce, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium Wix plan. Fortunately, the premium plans also come with a free domain for one year.
Wix doesn’t have the cheapest web hosting around, but it offers a solid and reliable service. The most affordable web hosting plan costs $14 per month and comes with a free domain for one year.
2. Hostinger – Most Affordable Shared Hosting
Hostinger offers some of the most affordable web hosting services on the market. But like with most hosting companies, you have to sign up for multiple years at a time to get the best monthly rate.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the cheapest plan ($1.39 per month) doesn’t come with a free domain name. However, all of the other plans do. So, if you’re on the hunt for a free domain name, you’ll have to go with the $2.59 per month plan instead.
To qualify for the free domain offer, you have to sign up for at least one year of web hosting under the premium plan or business plan.
If you go with the premium plan, you’ll pay $2.59 per month if you sign up for 48 months. If you only want to pay for a year in advance, the price jumps up to $5.99 per month, but you do still get a free domain name.
The prices are higher for Hostinger’s business plan, which gives you the most disk space. If you buy 48 months of web hosting services, you’ll get a free domain and pay $3.99 per month for hosting.
For the one-year plan, the domain is free, but the cost of web hosting increases to $8.99 per month.
3. Dreamhost – Best WordPress Hosting
Best WordPress Hosting
Starting a WordPress site? Get all the essential features you need, like automatic core and plugin updates, WordPress pre-installed, a free SSL certificate, unlimited traffic, a drag-and-drop website builder, and a free domain name starting as low as $2.59 per month.
Dreamhost is another web hosting service provider that offers a free domain name. Like some other web hosting companies, Dreamhost also offers both regular shared web hosting and WordPress-specific hosting.
Regardless of which option you go for, you’ll receive a 97-day money back guarantee, along with unlimited storage and bandwidth.
The shared web hosting offerings are straightforward and easy to understand. You can pick from two packages: the “shared starter” and the “shared unlimited.”
Both packages come with a free domain as long as you sign up for a minimum of one year.
The starter package is $2.59 per month with a three-year web hosting plan and $3.95 per month with a one-year plan. If you need email, however, it’s an additional charge at $1.67 per month.
The unlimited package, which includes email, costs $4.95 per month for both the three-year and one-year plans.
If you prefer dedicated WordPress web hosting, there are three plans to choose from. The “WordPress Basic” plan is $2.59 per month with a three-year hosting sign up.
The “DreamPress” plan is $16.95 per month for a three-year term. The “VPS for WordPress” plan is $27.50 per month if you sign up for three years.
VPS stands for “virtual private server.” This means your site will be hosted on its own server rather than grouped with other sites. Because the site is managed on a single, dedicated server, it tends to be faster and more responsive.
Unless your site grows and starts receiving tens of thousands of visitors per day, you can typically get by just fine with shared web hosting.
4. Bluehost – Best Shared Hosting
Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting service providers on the market. It’s known as being reliable, beginner-friendly, and affordable.
Plus, you can get a free domain name for the first year when you sign up for their web hosting services.
After the first year, you can expect to pay $12.99 per year for your domain.
Each domain name also comes with full control via an intuitive interface, DNS record access, auto-renewal options, domain locking, and 24/7 expert customer support.
Plus, Bluehost’s web hosting plans are hard to beat if you’re on a budget since they start at just $2.95 per month.
To get this price, however, you have to pay three years in advance. Which… may sound scary at first, but building a profitable website takes time and you’ll save money by paying in advance.
If you decide to sign up for 12 months instead, it’s $5.95 per month.
However, this is still an affordable price, putting you at $71.40 for a year’s worth of web hosting.
You can also upgrade to a better plan as your website grows and you need more advanced hosting features.
Bluehost also offers VPS hosting, managed hosting, WordPress hosting, and dedicated hosting if you end up needing more than your shared hosting plan provides.
5. Hostgator – Best for Budget-Friendly Scalability
Best for Budget-Friendly Scalability
If you're creating a fast-growth website on a shoestring budget, Hostgator offers numerous pricing plans that affordably scale as your website gets more traffic. Get a free domain for the first year with plans starting as low as $2.75 per month!
Hostgator is a web hosting company that guarantees uptime 99.9% of the time. It also offers 24/7 support an impressive 365 days a year via phone and live chat.
Hostgator is also affordable. There are three hosting plans to choose from: the hatchling plan, the baby plan, and the business plan. If you go with the most affordable plan, you’ll pay just $2.75 a month for web hosting.
Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to sign up for three years of web hosting to receive the lowest monthly price and your domain name is only free for the first year.
After that, it renews at $17.99 per year.
If you prefer a one-year term, the monthly fee increases to $3.95, with a free domain for the entire one-year duration.
The free domain offer is available with all three plans and you can choose from a .com, .net, or .org. While it may sound like a restriction, it’s actually a bonus because you get one of the best extensions for free!
You must also sign up for 12, 24, or 36 months of web hosting to take advantage of the free domain name offer.
The business plan lets you connect unlimited domains, but you only get one domain for free. So, you’ll have to purchase any other domains you’d like to use.
6. InMotion Hosting – Best VPS web hosting
Best VPS Hosting
Looking to upgrade from shared hosting? InMotion Hosting's VPS hosting plans are affordable and the perfect option if you're just getting started with advanced hosting options. Get a free domain name for the first year with all VPS plans starting at just $17.99 per month!
InMotion Hosting offers both shared hosting and VPS web hosting. Both types of hosting come with a free domain as long as you sign up for a minimum of 6 months.
VPS hosting is an excellent choice if you’ve outgrown shared hosting and are seeing considerable site performance issues.
Going with VPS ensures your site loads faster and efficiently handles dynamic resource demand. Plus, you get a lot more control over your hosting environment.
With that said, VPS hosting is a bit more expensive since you’re getting more features and improved site performance.
InMotion Hosting’s three-year VPS plans include:
- 2 GB RAM – $31.99 per month
- 4 GB RAM – $41.99 per month
- 6 GB RAM – $61.99 per month
- 8 GB RAM – $77.99 per month
If you’re switching from shared hosting, the introductory plan is more than enough and you can upgrade as you need more server resources.
You can choose from monthly, six-month, one-year, two-year, and three-year agreements. However, you have to opt for at least a six-month contract to get a free domain name. But signing up for three years in advance gives you the best deal.
InMotion Hosting also offers unmanaged VPS hosting options for developers and advanced website designers looking for even more flexibility with advanced command-line control.
How to Buy a Domain: What to Look for When Making Your Final Decision
Deciding on the right web hosting company (free domain name included) isn’t always easy. With so many options to choose from, it can feel like a daunting task.
However, be sure to use the following criteria when making your final decision.
There are dozens of web hosting services and domain registration companies out there. When you choose one, it’s a good idea to go with a company that’s been around for a while. Founded in 2002, Hostgator is one of the oldest web hosting companies, as well as one of the biggest.
In addition to a 45-day money-back guarantee, Hostgator also offers an uptime guarantee. Under this guarantee, you’ll receive a one-month account credit if the server hosting your website falls below the 99.9% uptime guarantee.
Hostgator also offers a hard-to-beat value. Unlike a lot of web hosting service companies, Hostgator’s prices remain reasonable whether you sign up for three years at a time or opt for a 12-month plan.
While you’ll get the best price ($2.75 per month) by signing up for 36 months, the monthly fee increases to just $3.95 if you prefer a 12-month web hosting plan.
This means you’ll receive one year of web hosting for just $50.53. When you include a free domain for one year, it’s easy to see why Hostgator outpaces the competition when it comes to price.
Hostgator is also known for providing excellent and prompt customer support. When a website goes down, you want it back up and running as quickly as possible.
With Hostgator, you have free access to live support via phone, email, and chat 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. This level of customer support is reassuring when you’re running a website, blog, or ecommerce store.
Our Top Recommendations for Getting a Free Domain
If you’re looking for an all-in-one website builder, a Wix paid plan is the best way to get a free domain name. However, if you want to go the self-hosted route, Hostinger and Dreamhost are excellent choices for most users.
Equipped with your free domain and affordable web hosting, you have everything you need to get your new website up and running in no time.