Purchasing a domain name is the first step towards building a website and establishing your online presence. Doing that comes with a fee, and although it’s a fee most businesses can (and need to) handle, if you’re just starting out, you might want to avoid it.
In this article, we’ll show you how to get a domain name for free and why you should consider biting the bullet and paying for one in the end.
How to Register a Domain Name Free
There are several ways you can get a domain name for free. In most cases, however, you’ll still need to pay up. Hosting service providers, domain name registrars, and website builders offer free domains as a benefit to one of their paid subscription plans. The domain name remains free for a limited time (usually one year).
For example, Bluehost offers a free domain for the first year in all of its hosting plans, meaning that you can get a domain name and hosting service for $2.95 a month. The good news is that you can get a reputable domain type for free with this deal.
The process of registering a domain name for free is the same as with a paid one.
First, you need to choose a domain name. The name should be easy to spell and memorize, avoid hyphens and special characters, and represent your brand and products appropriately. If you’re struggling to come up with a name that ticks all the boxes, you can use our AI-powered domain name generator to get 1,000+ catchy name ideas for free by using keywords and industry filters to get the best results.
Once you settle on an idea, you need to check if the domain name is available. If you use our generator, it will check availability for you automatically. Otherwise, you can use a DNS lookup tool or our availability checker here:
If it’s up for grabs, you can start the registration process. When you have a free domain as a feature in your premium account, you need to follow the steps of the platform you’re using.
Different Ways to Register a Free Domain
You can get a free domain name via:
- Website builders,
- Hosting providers.
How to Get a Domain Name for Free With Website Builders
If you don’t have a developer to create a website from scratch and you’re not much of a coder, you can build a website with ease by using website builders. You can benefit from their easy-to-use features, such as dragging and dropping elements onto a page and using ready-made templates.
Builders like WiX, Squarespace, and Weebly offer free domain names with transfer rights to premium users with annual plans. You can also get free hosting during the trial period. However, the “entirely free” versions come with unremovable branding or are actually subdomains. For example, you won’t get YourDomain.com; instead, you’ll have YourDomain.weebly.com.
We’ll now walk you through the process of getting a domain name for free on WiX:
- Create an account,
- Choose a pricing plan,
- Search for an available domain name on their platform (you need to be logged in to access it),
- Click Get It,
- Select a one-year registration period,
- Enter your contact information and choose privacy options,
- Click Continue,
- Enter your free domain name voucher on the payment page,
- Click Submit Purchase.
The process differs slightly depending on the platform, but the idea is the same. Note that once the registration expires, you’ll be able to renew it for a fee.
How to Get a Domain Name for Free With Hosting Providers
Hosting providers offer a similar deal – you need to have a premium plan paid annually to get a free domain. The difference is in the additional features bundled in the plan. For example, you don’t have to pay for hosting separately, and you can choose the most reputable top-level domains (TLDs).
You also have the freedom of choosing how you want to create a website, be it by coding or using a content management system like WordPress or Joomla. Similarly to website builders, hosting providers have their own processes for getting a domain name, but they differ only in minor details.
Let’s walk through the process of registering a free domain name with Hostinger:
- Visit Hostinger and enter your preferred domain name,
- Click on Add to Cart next to the name,
- Choose the Premium or Business plan (you’ll need to get an annual subscription),
- Add your contact and payment information,
- Click on Submit Secure Payment.
Free Domains: Website Builders vs. Hosting Providers
Although both options offer free domains, you’ll need to pay a fee to unlock that option. Website builders are best for beginners who don’t know how to create a website and want to experiment with various design options. If you already have an idea of how to build a website and want to use a standalone CMS like WordPress, you should subscribe to a hosting service.
Check out the table below to see how they compare:
|Getting a Domain Name for Free With Website Builders||Getting a Domain Name for Free With Hosting Providers|
|Pros||– Free SSL|
– Easy website creation
– No coding knowledge needed
|– Free SSL|
– Free email hosting
– CMS solutions
– Greater selection of TLDs
|Cons||– Separate email hosting required|
– Annual billing needed
|– Annual billing needed|
– Domain registration usually set on auto-renewal
– Some website-building experience required
Buying a Domain Name vs. Free Domains
Whether you go for a domain name via a hosting provider, website builder, or directly through a registrar, you’ll still end up paying a fee. While the name registration may be free itself, you need to get a paid plan, and even then, the registration is free for only a year.
Still, the expenses of registering a domain name and hosting the website are not something that will cripple your business. You can buy a domain name for the average price of $9.99 to $19.99 per year.
It’s worth pointing out that there are registrars that offer completely free domain names, but you should stay away from them if you want to have a reputable and trustworthy brand.
Firstly, you can’t get a popular TLD, such as .com, .net, .us, or .org. You’ll have to settle for .tk, .ml, or similar that raise users’ eyebrows when they come across them. Additionally, you have no control over what ads show up on your pages (and their locations). You don’t want your business associated with spammy links and advertisements.
All of this can affect users’ experience, which will have a negative impact on your SEO ranking. Getting a free domain name can prove to be a lot costlier than paying for registration. Check out our video on free domain names and why you should avoid them:
When you run a professional website, you have various expenses, such as security software, email and website hosting, web design, and ecommerce platforms. Registering a domain name is another one that you can avoid if you choose your subscription plan smartly.
Still, the registration fee is nothing compared to losing your customers’ trust and internet traffic due to having an untrustworthy domain name that’s free. If you’re serious about your online business efforts, you should avoid using registrars such as Freenom and Dot TK. Remember, if something is free, you’re the product.