There are many places where you can purchase a domain name these days. From the big national – global providers to the smaller less popular companies.
You may have notice certain companies offering a free domain name if you purchase hosting from them (usually with a 1 year term agreement, or longer). This may seem attractive and like a good deal, but be sure to read the fine print and ask questions before jumping into one of these deals. They can be a little sneaky about what happens after the 1 year term agreement is up, and if you want to leave or transfer the domain elsewhere.
Sometimes to renew it for another year is much more than you were expecting to pay, and you may wish that you hadn’t register it with them to begin with.
Other hosts sell domain names separately, which also sounds appealing because you can have your hosting and domain name all in one place. The problem is some of them make it difficult if you want to transfer the domain name out to another registrar or provider, and sometimes charge you $25-$35+ to do so. They call it a fee to unlock your domain, which is ridiculous. You shouldn’t have to pay for something that you can do yourself at other providers for free in less than five minutes.
So what do you do?
NameCheap – Domain names starting at $10.69 per year (dot com and others). The first year comes with free Whois Guard (after that it’s $2.88 per year).
GoDaddy – Domain names starting at $14.99 per year (dot com and others). If you want Whois Privacy Protection it’s $7.99 per year. They frequently reduce prices to $11.99 for new domain name registrations.
You get much more control over your domain at a registrar like NameCheap or GoDaddy than you do when purchasing one through an hosting company. You can lock and unlock your domain at will in a matter of seconds, and freely transfer your domain name out at anytime with no additional charges. Plus they are usually cheaper.