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If you want to start a blog, website, or E-commerce store, you probably know that you need a domain name, along with other things like web hosting.
You can think of a domain name like the address of your house or apartment. Behind every domain name is a string of numbers called an IP address. And as you might imagine, remembering a series of numbers for every website you want to visit would quickly become burdensome.
This is where domain names come in. Instead of keeping a list of IP addresses in the back of your mind, you can simply remember domain names like google.com, walmart.com, or fbi.gov.
There are around 360 million registered domain names today, with more being added all the time. If you launch a website, yours will join that growing list.
First, however, you need to purchase your domain name. To use the home address analogy, you can’t build a house until you’ve bought the land it sits on.
The 2 Methods for Buying Domains
Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter where you buy your domain. In other words, a domain is a domain, and you won’t find any variations in quality based on where you buy one.
Even better, many domain sellers offer domain names for free — typically as part of a deal when you purchase other services.
There are two common ways to buy a domain.
1. Through a Domain Registrar
You can use a domain registrar like domain.com or NameCheap. Check out our top domain registrar recommendations, here.
This works well for people who need to buy a bunch of domains at once.
For example, you might do this 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.
2. Bundled With Web Hosting
This method tends to work better for people who want to launch a single domain and build a website on it. It’s typically more convenient to go this route, as it keeps your domain name registration and web hosting with one provider.
While both methods have their pros and cons, the second method lets you get a domain name for free.
How to Get a Domain for Free
If you’re in the market for a domain name, you can usually get one for free by signing up for web hosting with a hosting service provider. There are a number of reputable hosting services that offer these kinds of deals.
Before you register a domain, it’s worth shopping around. In many cases, you can get a discount on hosting along with a free domain name.
Web Hosts That Offer Free Domains
Launching a new website can be a costly endeavor, so you want to save money wherever you can. The following web hosts are known to offer deals on domain names and other services that can help you stay on budget as you set up a new site.
1. Bluehost – Best Overall
Bluehost is a well-known web hosting service provider known for being reliable and affordable. With Bluehost, you can get a free domain name for one year when you buy a hosting plan.
Since you already need web hosting to launch a website, it makes sense to snag a free domain name while you’re at it. Many people also like the convenience of having their domain name and hosting with a single provider.
When it’s time to renew, you only need to visit one site.
If you’re on a budget, Bluehost is hard to beat. Web hosting plans start at just $3.95 per month for a “Basic” hosting plan. To get this price, however, you have to sign up for three years of hosting at a time.
If you sign up for 12 months at a time, the price increases to $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’ll also receive free SSL encryption, which can help your website rank higher in Google’s search results.
2. Hostgator – Best for Budget-Friendly Scalability
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. If you prefer a one-year term, the monthly fee increases to $3.95.
The free domain offer is available with all three plans, however, you must register a .com, .net, or .org domain to receive the free domain.
You must also sign up for at least 12 months of web hosting to take advantage of the offer.
3. InMotion – Best VPS web hosting
InMotion offers both standard web hosting and WordPress-specific web hosting. Both types of hosting come with a free domain as long as you sign up for a minimum of 12 months.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between regular web hosting and web hosting made just for WordPress, the answer is it depends. Generally speaking, you don’t necessarily need WordPress hosting just because you plan to build your website with WordPress.
On the other hand, some web hosting providers offer web hosting specifically for WordPress sites. When they do this, they typically reserve specific servers for WordPress-only sites. This can allow them to configure the servers in a way best suited to WordPress websites.
InMotion offers four tiers of WordPress web hosting services, and each tier comes with a free domain name. The cheapest web hosting package costs $6.99 per month. To get this price, however, you have to sign up for a two-year hosting plan. If you go with just one year of web hosting, the price goes up to $8.99 per month.
One of the possible downsides of InMotion hosting is that it can be a little more expensive compared to its competitors.
For example, to qualify for the lowest-priced “launch” package, which costs $6.39 per month, you must sign up for at least two years of web hosting services. If you purchase one year of web hosting, the price increases to $7.46 per month.
4. Hostinger – Most Affordable
Hostinger offers some of the most affordable web hosting services on the market, but you have to sign up for multiple years at a time to receive the best monthly rate.
Unfortunately, its most cost-effective plan, which is priced at just 99 cents per month, doesn’t come with a free domain.
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 $2.89 per month if you sign up for a minimum of 48 months. If you’re only willing to be locked in for a year, the price goes up to $10.99 per month plus a $4.99 set up fee.
The prices are higher for the 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 $15.99 per month plus a $4.99 set up fee.
5. Dreamhost – Best WordPress Hosting
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.
6. Wix – Best All-in-One Website Builder
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 E-commerce, 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 $13 per month and comes with a free private domain for one year.
7. SiteGround – Best Customer Service and Transparent Pricing (No Free Domain Name)
Unlike the other web hosting companies on the list, SiteGround doesn’t offer a free domain with its web hosting plans.
However, it’s on the list as an honorable mention due to its popularity and competitive, transparent prices.
In addition to affordable web hosting, SiteGround offers good prices on domain registration. You can register a .com domain for as little as $15.95 per year.
SiteGround’s web hosting packages are also competitively priced. The StartUp package is the cheapest, costing just $3.95 per month for 12 months.
This means you’ll receive a year’s worth of web hosting for just $47.40. When you add in the $15.95 domain charge, you can get a new site off the ground for as little as $63.35.
While you won’t get a free domain with SiteGround, keep in mind that most web hosting service providers can’t beat the $3.95 per month hosting fee for a 12-month commitment.
To get that kind of rate, the majority of SiteGround’s competitors want you locked in for three years of web hosting.
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 E-commerce 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, Bluehost and Hostgator 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.