The domain registration market is highly competitive.
Website owners can purchase domains from top-level domain name companies such as eNom, domain reselling companies, hosting companies, website design companies, and more. All of these companies are fighting for your business.
For new customers, the experience of buying a new domain name can be overwhelming and as a result many beginners buy from the wrong company. I have talked about this in the past.
For example, in my article “Make Sure You Always Control Your Domain Names” I warn against using a free domain name offered by your hosting company as they usually have high fees for transferring your domains out.
There are genuine discounts out there for domain names, but are they worth it?
Let's delve deeper and find out.
The Enticing Domain Discount
For around 17 years I registered my domain names through eNom, however a year or so ago I switched to Google Domains.
I like the simplicity of the Google Domains interface. I also like their simple pricing policy. There are no discounts or special offers. Just one price for each type of domain extension.
Their .com domain names retail at $12 per year, or £10 per year for us in the UK. Tax is added to these prices at checkout.
Their pricing page explains the cost of registering a domain for each domain extension. You will find domain name companies that offer cheaper domains, but I believe their prices are simple and fair.
Many companies do it differently and offer a heavy discount in the first year or two of the domain's life.
Perhaps the best example of this is GoDaddy.
Even before their founder was killing elephants, I was not a fan of GoDaddy as their user interface is a mess. They also bombard you with dozens of upselling offers before and after checkout, which makes the whole experience is frustrating. I speak about this issue more in my articles GoDaddy vs NameCheap and Google Domains vs GoDaddy.
Despite this, their domain offers are very popular.
Here in the UK they reduce the cost of a .com domain name to £0.99 for the first year, so it is easy to see why so many new website owners opt for them over other companies.
The catch is that you are required to register the domain name for two years and the second year is billed at £16.10. Therefore the effective yearly rate is £8.55 per year. This is, of course, still a great deal; but there is a catch.
The catch is that every subsequent year is also billed at £16.10. This means that if you do not move your domain away after the second year, you will be paying over 50 percent more to renew your domain than using a service such as Google Domains.
Therein lies the problem with domain name offers. There is always a catch.
- If you take a free domain name with a hosting company, you are charged a high fee to move your domain elsewhere
- If you pay just a few dollars for the first year of your domain registration, your renewal costs will be high
- If prices are too good to be true, you better believe support is awful
The bottom line is that there is nothing inherently wrong with purchasing a domain name using a promotion or special offer. You just need to be aware of the hidden costs that the company is not being upfront about.
The Big Picture
If you look at the whole picture and take into account all initial costs and future costs, you will be able to make an informed decision.
This normally requires you to do a bit of searching as domain name companies are not always fourthcoming with their policy of transferring domains away.
To evaluate the cost of registering a domain with a company, I recommend taking into account the following.
- The discount on offer for the first year or two
- The cost of renewing your domain with the same company
- The cost of transferring your domain to another company
You also have to take into consideration the quality of support you can expect from the company. You can check services such as TrustPilot to get a general idea of whether a company is well-regarded by its customers.
Despite not using them, I am a fan of their pricing policy as it is fair (plus they have a five star rating on TrustPilot).
For UK based domain extensions such as .co.uk, they charge £1.95 for the first year, however LCN focus more on offering major discounts to those who register their domains with them long term.
Whilst Google Domains charges £10 per year for .co.uk domains, LCN charges £15.95 for two years of registration, £34.95 for five years, and £61.95 for ten years. This greatly reduces the effective yearly cost of registering domains with them.
I understand why GoDaddy's £0.99 yearly has proved to be popular, however if you look at the total cost of domain registration for three years, five years, and ten years; GoDaddy's offer is not as good as it first appears.
In constrast Google Domains has a straight-forward pricing policy that charges the same amount every year. LCN charges more at the beginning, but rewards long-term customers for longer registration terms.
For LCN, the big picture is that to register a .com domain with them:
- It costs £5 to transfer a domain name in and you get a year extension to your year
- Renewal costs are £13.95 for one year, £24.95 for two years, £54.95 for five years, and £95.95 for ten years
- There is no fee for transferring your domain to another company
The mistake that most beginners make is that they only look at the cost of registering the domain for the first year. As you can see, this can prove to be costly.
The purpose of this article was not to advise you to use any particular domain registration company. Everyone has their own preferences as to where they register their domains.
My point is that it is clear that special offers and discounts can sometimes save you money, however you need to pay attention to the big picture and look at the total cost of the domain over a longer period of time.
You also have to look at the inconvenience of transferring your domain to another company later; something which you need to do with many special offers if you do not want to pay high renewal costs.
Personally, I would rather pay a little more than have to transfer my domains to another company every year or two as it saves me time. If you are registering many domains, you may feel the savings justify transferring every year or two. Just remember to look at all initial costs and future costs before paying for any domain registrations.