How much does a domain name cost?

WWW and COM domain name technology concept
(Image credit: Shutterstock/garagestock)

Whether you wish to spread the word about your webcomics or show off your shop’s vast variety of cartoon-themed socks, creating a website is a superb way to draw in a wide audience, stimulate sales, and increase your income. 

However, before creating a site and starting to build your online presence, you’ll want to get a domain name for it. So, you might be wondering much a domain name costs. Well, it depends on a few factors, and we’ll go through all five of them in a minute.  

Also, there are a few ways you can get a completely cost-free domain name but all of them come with slight flaws. If you go for a free domain registrar, you’ll end up with a sketchy-looking URL. On the other hand, if you purchase a product that comes in the same package with a free domain name - such as a web hosting service - you’ll have to pay for the package anyway, so it’s not actually cost-free. 

So, to help you figure out how much a new domain name will cost you, we’ll look into the factors that affect its pricing and the additional charges you’ll want to consider.

macro view of group of color cubes with domain names on laptop or notebook keyboard

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Oleksiy Mark)

Factors that affect a domain name's price 

The price of your domain will depend upon a few factors. Here are the ones you should look out for:

1. The popularity of a domain name

As you can guess, the more popular a domain name is, the pricier it will be. However, we’re not talking about popularity itself but also trust that a domain can instill in visitors to your site. 

Let’s take the .com extension as an example. As one of the first top-level domains (TLDs), .com has been around for over three decanted making most people associate it with the web. So, if your future visitors forget parts of your domain, they’ll probably assume it ends with .com. That’s why some .com domains come with a surprisingly steep price tag.

Also, as a result of its popularity, TLDs such as .com have far fewer keywords available than less popular extensions. So, the supply of good-looking domain names is running low, and a lower supply leads to a higher price.

If a domain name has already been owned - particularly if it enjoys popularity and has pre-existing traffic - it will be much pricier than a new domain. 

2. The type of domain name

As a rule, TLDs are more expensive than non-TLDs. However, not all TLDs share the same price tag - on the contrary, popular generic TLDs such as .com, .org, .info, .net, and .biz are pretty pocket-friendly with prices ranging from $10 to $15 per year. Also, country-specific domain name extensions - such as .uk, .us, and .de - will set you back for about $10 per year, which is rather reasonable. 

Domain names that suggest a specific organization and carry more credibility than others are specialized TDLs. These include extensions such as .gov (which is used for US governmental organizations), .mil (used for the US military), .edu (intended for educational institutions), and many more. Unsurprisingly, this type of TDL is more expensive than others. For example, .gov could cost you a couple of thousand dollars - even second-level domains (SLDs) like could cost you a bomb. 

3. The domain name availability

Once you come up with a perfect domain name for your site, you’ll want to check its availability straight away - go to any of the top domain registrars, type your domain name in the search box, and hit Enter button. In a matter of seconds, you’ll find out if the domain name you wish to use is available, and if not what are the most similar alternatives. 

If you’re bent on getting a domain name that’s already owned, your only option is to contact the owner and convince them to sell it to you. In that case, the owner sets the cost of the domain name, which is almost always more expensive than getting a new domain name. However, if you feel lucky, you could haggle with the owner and perhaps pull down the price.

4. Domain name registrars

Another thing that’ll affect the total cost of your domain name is where you’re purchasing it - not all registrars charge the same.  

In addition to the pricing, check what additional features a domain registrar provides and whether they’re included in the total cost or if they come as an add-on. For instance, you could look for an SSL certificate, DNS management, or email hosting service. 

You can find domain registration services with many popular web hosting providers (like Hostinger, HostGator, and Bluehost) and you can get a “two for the price of one” type of deal or even get a free domain name for a year. 

5. Privacy protection

When you register a domain name, the registrar will be required to provide your personal information (your name, email address, and phone number) for the WHOIS domain directory where all registered domains and their owners are listed. However, although you’re required to provide these pieces of information, that information doesn’t have to be publicly available. 

In addition to selling you a domain name, some domain registrars will also make sure your personal information can’t be seen in the WHOIS directory. Sometimes, this will cost you extra cash, while rare registrars provide the WHOIS protection free of charge - usually for one year. 

So, before choosing what registrars you're going to use, check whether they provide privacy protection and at what cost.

Are there any additional costs to consider? 

If you’re planning to get a free domain as a part of a web hosting package, keep in mind that it won't be free forever. Once a promotional period runs out - usually after one year - your domain will be renewed at regular rates. 

Also, auto-renew can be a convenient choice if you’re not going to change your domain name anytime soon. However, many domain registrars include auto-renew from the first sign-up forcing users to contact customer support for auto-renew cancellations - and the process is sometimes less straightforward than it could be.

We should also note that renewal prices are often more expensive than domain registrations - any discount you got will eventually expire - so, it’s smart to keep an eye out for multi-year registration sales or special offers regarding the renewal.

Other costs you should consider are domain name transfers, which can be completely free or come at a hefty fee - the cost differs from one provider to another.

How much does a new domain name cost?

Purchasing a new domain name usually costs between $10 and $15 per year, and this includes generic TLDs such as .com, .org, .net, .dev, and .app. 

You’ll also find domain extensions such as .tech, .store, and .info at attractive promotional prices but remember that the price will likely spike up at the renewal. This is also true if you get your domain for free by purchasing a “two for the price of one” type of product such as a web hosting service or all-in-one site builder. 

On the other end, there are ridiculously exclusive domain extensions such as .rich, .luxury, and .gold - as you might expect, some of them could cost you a tidy sum. 

Ultimately, the cost of your domain depends on what you want for your site. 

Mirza Bahic is a freelance tech journalist and blogger from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the past four years, Mirza has been ghostwriting for a number of tech start-ups from various industries, including cloud, retail and B2B technology.