Register.com is a domain registrar owned by Web.com (one of the largest and oldest website hosting/builder brands in the industry). They were one of the first give companies chosen by ICANN to participate in the initial test phase of the new competitive shared registry system, making them one of the oldest and most established domain registrar companies in the game outside of Network Solutions.
Aside from domain purchasing and management, Register.com offers a range of products, from marketing to hosting to web design. Their main pitch is that their services and solutions cover all ranges of business sizes and especially help small businesses build their web presence without the need for technical experience.
Given Register.com has a certain level of brand recognition and clout, I decided to try them out as a domain registrar. Here’s my Register.com review – structured with pros & cons based on my recent experience as a customer.
Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Pros of Register.com
There are a lot of Register.com reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine, but I take a different approach. There is no such thing as a “best” domain registrar. The “best” is the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience and expertise. Just because one company is not a good fit for you does not mean it’s not a good fit for someone else.
Register.com is different. Their only pro is their brand name and corporate history. They do offer domain registration & web services, but they simply do not excel at providing any value beyond the assurance of their brand name.
Based on my professional opinion, they are a classic case of a company coasting on their name while other companies out-compete on raw value.
Even for “meh” companies, I try to pull out some reasons to choose them over others. But I really could not find a single reason to use Register.com over someone else besides their brand recognition and positioning. I liken Register.com to finding a McDonald’s at an Interstate exit in the middle of Kansas. Even if you dislike everything about McDonald’s, if it’s the only recognizable option and you’re hungry, you’d probably choose them.
But the Internet is not a highway exit in Kansas. There are so many other choices that are just a click away. Which means while Register.com carries corporate clout, that clout doesn’t outweigh the lack of value.
If you’re curious about the details, I’ll cover more in the cons section below. If not, you can skip to the conclusion and next steps for alternative options.
Convoluted Domain Buying Experience
The actual process of buying a domain from Register.com is pretty horrendous, especially compared to the big leaps in UX that other companies have made..
For starters, when you search for a domain, Register.com automatically adds it to your cart if it’s available without showing any pricing information. Even if I search for just the root of a domain and don’t specify the TLD, the .com version is still automatically added without me knowing the price.
There also isn’t pricing information for suggested domains. This complete lack of transparency with pricing is one of the company’s biggest flaws (more on that in a bit).
Next, I tried to see my cart to view pricing info, but I was forced to create an account first. Personally, this makes me uneasy. I’m already feeling iffy with the lack of pricing transparency and the auto add to cart… now I can’t even review my cart without signing up with Register.com? No bueno.
Once I was able to finally see my cart contents, I learned my domain would cost $5, but I have to pay an additional $11 for private domain registration. There appears to be a discount applied, but to get details you’ll have to click through for more information.
However, with the information provided, I have no idea how much it will cost me to renew my domain each year.
Aside from the pricing issues, the checkout process was also littered with upsells. Which brings me to…
When a domain registrar offers complementary products (like hosting, website builders, etc.), I expect some upselling. It’s not inherently bad or annoying — it’s an option for customers who want complementary products but also keeps prices low for those who don’t.
So when I see a registrar is upselling, I try to pay special attention to how. Is it subtle and user-friendly? Or does it stall what I’m actually trying to accomplish?
Register.com does two things wrong with upsells. First, they appear at nearly every opportunity instead of only when I’m looking (AKA at checkout or in an upgrade section). Plus, the upsells in checkout impede my progress (there were at least two upsells I had to click through before I could enter my payment information).
Second, their messaging for many upsells is so oversimplified, it’s misleading. Take this messaging about my online effectiveness score…
The combination of oversimplified and frequent upsells is both annoying and makes me wonder who they’re really looking out for.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest cons of Register.com is their lack of transparency in their pricing. I couldn’t find a full list of prices for TLDs, and when I searched for domains, none of the options provided had prices listed.
Unfortunately, the complications don’t end there.
When I purchased my first domain, I could get a few basic TLDs (.com, .org, etc.) for $5 with a first-time discount that applied to my first three domains.
However, if you log back in during a new session, you’ll have to manually enter the promo code, and if you try to create a new account, you may not get the promo — it appears Register.com aggressively tag new users with cookies to prevent promotions.
After that promo was up, my next .com domain was $38 plus an additional $11 for privacy.
This is outrageously expensive for a simple domain. Even a big brand like GoDaddy will sell a .com domain at $11.99 and renew at $14.99, while more up and coming brands like Namecheap will sell at $2.98 and renew at 12.98 for .com domains.
Transparency (Or Lack Thereof)
All of Register.com’s cons can essentially be summed up into one glaring issue: a lack of transparency. I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of domain pricing by TLD, nor could I find a comprehensive list of TLD options. I couldn’t check out without upsells, but it’s unclear which upsells I really need due to oversimplified messaging.
All in all, the experience made me very wary of Register.com. I’m all about information — I like to know what to expect and to compare options. When there’s such an obvious lack of information, it makes me wonder why that info isn’t provided.
Conclusion + Next Steps
Overall, I was throw by how bad Register.com was. I figured for a company that carries such brand recognition, surely there has to be some value… but I really couldn’t find anything besides their corporate name. If you are still sold on them, go check them out here.
But remember… this isn’t an interstate exit in Kansas with only one recognizable option! So with that said…
If you still want to purchase domains from a well-known brand but want some deep discounts, check out GoDaddy here.
If you prefer an overall excellent domain registrar with the best long-term pricing, then I recommend checking out NameCheap here.
And if you want to just get a domain with your hosting company to keep everything convenient, then take my hosting quiz to find the right company for you.