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:
- Hostinger – Most affordable option
- Wix – Best website builder
- DreamHost – Best WordPress hosting
- Bluehost – Best shared hosting
- HostGator – Best for budget-friendly scalability
- InMotion Hosting – Best VPS hosting services
1. Hostinger – Most Affordable Shared Hosting
Most Affordable Option
If you're on a really tight budget, you won't find a better rate for getting hosting and a domain than Hostinger. For WordPress sites or basic shared hosting, you're getting quality web hosting at a steal of a price, plus a free domain on most plans.
If you’re on the hunt for affordable hosting that doesn’t feel cheap, Hostinger is the way to go.
You can snag a free domain on many Hostinger plans. If you don’t need the high-octane power of VPS or cloud hosting, look to Hostinger’s shared or WordPress hosting for a great deal that includes a custom domain.
Hostinger’s mid-tier plans for each—Premium Shared Hosting and WordPress Starter—start at just under $4 per month for a 48-month term. You’ll need to commit to at least one year up front on those plans to snag your free domain.
For most people, their Premium Shared Hosting plan will do the trick nicely. You get solid speed and uptime (as we found in our testing for the best shared hosting plans), that free domain, and more for $3.49 per month.
The best rate is usually that four-year term, which means you’d pay $167.52 at checkout to take care of your web hosting for a good while.
What’s nice is that, if the four-year commitment is a bit too much in terms of either time or money, you can get the same deal on a single-year term. Just be advised, you’ll be looking at a higher renewal rate after that term lapses ($8.99 per month from year two onward, as opposed to $6.99 per month after the four-year commitment ends).
Also, splitting the difference doesn’t punish you too much. It’s just 50 cents more per month to go with a two-year term.
All three options allow you to snag that free domain, though.
Hostinger’s premium plan comes with more than enough resources for new websites or anyone migrating an existing site from a different hosting provider.
- 100 GB of storage space
- Up to 25,000 monthly visitors (approximately)
- 100 free email accounts
- One-click WordPress installation
- Automatic plugin and core updates
- LiteSpeed caching plugin to improve site speed
- Weekly backups
- Up to 100 subdomains
Despite its affordable price tag, you get everything you need (domain name included).
When you’re ready to choose a domain name, there are hundreds of top-level domains (TLDs) to choose from, including .com, .net, .tech, .online, .live, .digital, and more.
So, there’s no shortage of options. Plus, Hostinger’s easy DNS management makes configuring your domain name easier than ever, even if you’ve never done it before.
Try Hostinger risk-free for 30-days to see if it’s right for you (and to snag your free domain name)!
2. 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 an all-in-one website builder that’s a great starting point for blogs, ecommerce stores, business websites, portfolios, and more. Its drag-and-drop interface is approachable for beginners and comes with more than 900 professionally designed templates without sacrificing design freedom.
Everyone from complete beginners to developers appreciates Wix’s ease of use.
On Wix’s free plan, you get a free Wix subdomain for free, forever. Instead of your domain name being yourdomain.com, it’ll look like yourdomain.wix.com.
It’s certainly not as sleek but it’s a great place to start, especially if you don’t want to spend any money.
If you upgrade to one of Wix’s paid plans, you’ll be able to use a domain without the .wix portion. And the good news is that all of Wix’s premium plans come with a free custom domain name for the first year.
And, regardless of whether you choose a free or paid plan, you get managed security and infrastructure maintenance to ensure your site is protected, safe for visitors, and always available.
Wix’s plans aren’t the cheapest we’ve seen, but it’s one of the easiest site builders on the market that comes with a complimentary domain name for one year. The most affordable plan is $14 per month. It includes 3 GB of storage space, the renowned Wix drag-and-drop editor, nearly one thousand free templates, and complete design freedom to design the website of your dreams.
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.
If you want to host a WordPress site, DreamHost is a top choice that offers a free domain with its annual plans.
On top of a free domain name, you also get a 97-day money-back guarantee, unlimited storage, and unlimited bandwidth so you never have to worry about running out of space. With automatic WordPress installation and a free WordPress drag-and-drop site builder, it doesn’t get much easier.
Plus, there are only two plans to choose from, which helps eliminate overwhelm when deciding on the best package for you. If you’re just starting out, the Starter plan is more than enough.
Both come with a complimentary domain name for the first year as long as you sign up for a one-year agreement.
At just $2.59 per month for three years in advance or $2.95 per month for a one-year agreement, it costs less than a cup of gas station coffee per month.
To sweeten the deal, the Unlimited Plan starts at $2.95 per month with a one-year agreement, making it the same upfront cost as the Starter Plan. If you opt for the higher package, you’ll be able to host as many websites as you’d like while still enjoying the easy WordPress setup and free domain name.
As you grow and need more from your hosting provider, DreamHost offers DreamPress (a managed WordPress hosting solution), VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated servers.
So it easily scales alongside you to deliver all of your hosting needs without ever needing to migrate elsewhere.
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.
But HostGator’s plans are incredibly affordable, to the point where they make it easy on your wallet if you don’t want to settle for the most basic of hosting plans.
If you need shared hosting for more than one site, the Baby Plan allows you to host as many as you need for just 75 cents more per month.
What makes HostGator particularly scalable is their unmetered bandwidth and site storage on all shared hosting plans. That means you can accomodate as many site visits and use as much storage space as you need, within reason.
Most sites won’t have to worry about using up too much of their server’s resources. And you’ll never again have to count monthly visits to make sure you don’t exceed your limit.
If you prefer a one-year term, the monthly fee increases to $3.95 for the Hatchling Plan and $5 for the Baby Plan, 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.