Over the years, I have received many questions about domain names from thesitewizard.com's visitors. Among them are a set of queries with a common theme: why did the domain name that the visitor choose cost substantially more than the prices given on the registrar's price list? Others felt cheated because after they went through the shopping checkout process, they ended up with a total bill that was more expensive than that listed price.
For those who are not familiar with the jargon used here, a domain name is (loosely speaking) just the Internet address of your website. For example, the domain name of this site that you are reading is thesitewizard.com. If you were to type the latter into the address bar of your web browser, you will end up at the main page of this site.
Disclaimer: the following is derived from my own experience of buying my domains. I'm not omniscient, so the list below is not exhaustive. There could be other reasons for the apparent price difference.
There are a few reasons why the final price you pay at the end of your shopping process is not the same as that mentioned in the registrar's price list.
The price of a domain varies according to the suffix (or extension) you choose for the name.
In this context, a suffix refers to the part of your domain that comes after the last dot. For example, the suffix
for "thesitewizard.com" is "
The official technical term for such suffixes is "top level domain", or "TLD" for short. However, since my aim here is to explain things rather than make it harder to understand by descending into even thicker jargon, I'll stick to the plain English words commonly used by webmasters and webmasters-to-be.
You may not realise this, but the different suffixes (".com", ".org", ".net", ".uk", ".us", ".eu", etc) are run by different entities behind-the-scenes, all of which charge different prices to the registrar. The latter, in turn, passes the cost to the end-users (ie, you and me). As such, while a domain name with a ".com" may cost only (say) $10, the same name with a different suffix like ".bank" may cost more.
Sometimes people put up domains they own for sale. They do it either because they no longer have any use for those domains, or because they deliberately bought them so that they can resell at a higher price.
If the domain you choose is one of these, then its price is determined by the current owner, and not the registrar. The latter is probably just acting as an intermediary. I suspect that the prices in such a case will always be substantially higher than those for brand new domains.
Some people buy multiple variations of their domain name (such as "example.com", "example.org", "example.net", etc), for example, so that they can be sure that visitors who spell the name wrongly or use the wrong suffix can still reach them. This is fine, and a standard practice with some webmasters, but if you do so, remember that your final bill will be more than the $10 (or whatever) that you saw on the price list. That $10 (or whatever it may be) is for a single domain using a specific suffix, and doesn't cover the cost of the extra domains you added to your cart.
If you added things like domain name privacy and web hosting to your shopping cart, these things will also be added to your total bill.
For those wondering what these terms mean, domain name privacy is when the registrar hides your personal particulars from the public record for that domain. Without this, anybody can look up your domain to find your mailing address, telephone number and email address. While this is not a problem if you are a company, it may be an issue if you are an individual and don't want your personal data displayed to all and sundry.
Web hosting: Those who have bought a domain as a precursor to setting up a website will also need to get a web host. While a domain name serves as the address for your site, a web host provides the physical location where the site's data actually lives. Without this, the domain is just a name that points nowhere, analogous to registering the name of a new shop in the brick and mortar world, but not actually constructing (or buying/renting) a building to go with the name. Since most registrars also sell web hosting, some people opt to use them as a web host as well.
Depending on your registrar, you may or may not be charged for the privacy option. But I believe that all registrars will bill you for web hosting, since running a decent web hosting operation actually costs money.
Note that there may be other things sold by your registrar as well that I did not mention here. Obviously, if you added those to your shopping cart, they will probably show up in your final bill as well.
Although all of us loosely speak of "buying" a domain name, in actual fact, we are merely paying an annual fee for the right to use that name. We can continue to use it for our website as long as we renew the domain when the year is up (ie, pay for another year).
Some people choose to pay multiple years in advance. They may do this because they are given a special discount at the moment, and so want to "lock in" that discounted price for multiple years. For example, if a registrar gives a discount so that a domain costs only $9 a year, but its usual price is $10, a webmaster may choose to pay 10 years in advance for a total of $90 ($9 x 10 years), instead of only paying $9 this year but $10 per annum subsequently. Other people prefer to pay in advance because they are afraid they may forget to renew it in future years.
If you choose to pay multiple years in advance, this will of course affect your final bill.
Note that I'm merely explaining why the final amount differs from the initial price listed. Some of these extras that I mentioned will eventually be paid for one way or another. For example, if you are designing a website, you will definitely need a web host, and you can either use your registrar's web hosting facilities, or choose some other company. Likewise, even if you don't pay multiple years in advance, you will eventually need to renew the domain. In other words, I'm just giving an explanation for the price discrepancy; I'm not trying to tell you whether the extras are needed or not.
All the best for your site!
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