Are you ready to launch a new website? Finding and registering a domain name is the first step in this process.
For those of you who have never done this before, it can be a bit intimidating. You might not know where to start, and you’re probably hesitant to spend money.
Fortunately, you don’t have to pay to register your domain. There are plenty of different ways to get a free domain name for your new website.
Whether you’re starting a blog, online portfolio, small personal site, or business website, this guide will show you how to get a free domain.
How To Get a Free Domain Name Using Bluehost
When you sign up for hosting with Bluehost, you’ll get a free domain. You’re essentially killing two birds with one stone, and one of those birds is free.
I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of getting a free domain name with Bluehost.
Step #1: Go to Bluehost.com
The first thing you need to do is visit the Bluehost website. When you get here, you’ll see several different menu navigation options.
One of those menus says, “Domains.”
Do NOT go to the “Domains” page.
This is a common mistake. Since you’re looking for a domain name, this would seem like the logical place to get it. But if you take this route, you won’t get your domain for free.
Instead, click on the “Hosting” menu.
Bluehost offers three different types of web hosting:
- Shared hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
All of these come with a free domain for one year.
Shared hosting is the best option for the vast majority of people. This is especially true if you’re starting a website from scratch. The other hosting types are more expensive and provide resources you likely won’t need right now.
Step #2: Select a Web Hosting Plan
Now we need to choose a hosting plan.
Bluehost has four different shared hosting plans. Here’s a look at the different price points for each of those plans:
I’ll give you a quick overview of the features and benefits of each plan to help you decide which one is the best for your website.
- Host one website with 50 GB of storage
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate
- Five parked domains and 25 subdomains
- Host unlimited websites with unlimited storage
- Unlimited domains, parked domains, and subdomains
- Spam experts
- Office 365 Mailbox free for 30 days
- Unlimited websites and unlimited storage
- Domain Privacy and protection
- Site Backup – CodeGuard Basic
- Unlimited sites and storage
- 2 Spam experts
- High performance
- Dedicated IP
The Basic plan is plenty for most. You can always upgrade to another plan down the road as your website scales. Check out our full Bluehost web hosting review for more information about these plans.
Again, you’ll get a free domain name for one year regardless of the plan you choose.
Step #3: Choose a Domain Name
After selecting a hosting plan, you’ll be redirected to the following page:
From here, you’ll have three options:
- Create a new domain
- Use an existing domain (that you already own)
- Create a domain later
Already know the domain you want? Search for it in the box on the left side of the screen.
Bluehost offers domains with different extensions, including:
In most instances, a .com domain will be the only one I recommend. But there are two reasons why you might get an alternative domain extension: price and availability.
Getting a .site or .tech domain is cheaper than a .com extension. But in this case, you’re getting a year for free anyways.
Price aside, .com domains will be better for the long term success of your website.
Another reason why people consider an alternative extension is if the .com domain is unavailable. For example, if you try to create a domain using quicksprout.com, Bluehost will give you this alert:
Rather than using an alternative extension suggested below, you’re better off coming up with a completely new .com domain. For more tips on choosing a domain, review our guide on how to buy a domain name.
Step #4: Create Your Account
Choose an available domain. You’ll then be prompted to create a Bluehost account.
As mentioned above, you can also skip the domain registration for now and go directly to this step. You’ll still get a free domain when you eventually register it.
The account creation is about as straightforward as it gets. Simply fill out the form fields with the required information.
This is all pretty standard stuff. You’ll be asked to fill out the same information on the checkout page of nearly any website.
You cannot get a free domain without creating a Bluehost account.
Step #5: Choose Your Billing Terms
Now time to choose your plan.
Bluehost offers web hosting for 12, 24, and 36-month contracts. The price varies based on your term length.
These are the price points for the entry-level Bluehost shared plan:
- Basic 12 month — $5.95 per month ($71.40 total)
- Basic 24 month — $4.95 per month ($118.80 total)
- Basic 36 month — $3.95 per month ($142.20 total)
These rates are only valid for your first contract. Bluehost Basic renews at $7.99 per month.
The 36-month contract gives you the best overall rate but requires you to pay the most upfront when you sign up. This is just a matter of personal preference. Some people would rather pay more to avoid a long-term contract. Others are happy to pay extra today for the best deal over three years.
Step #6: Select Add-Ons (Optional)
Before you enter your payment details and finalize the contract, Bluehost has a handful of extras that you might want to consider.
Get domain privacy and protection. Trust me. Without it, your personal information will be listed on a public database.
This includes your name, phone number, mailing address, and email address. So anyone, including spammers, can access it. With domain privacy and protection, this information is hidden from public view.
Every other add-on is optional. You could also opt-in for CodeGuard Basic. It handles things like daily backups, automatic monitoring, and one-click version restores. These features are available through other methods as well, such as WordPress plugins. So don’t feel pressured to get it now.
SiteLock Security Essential is another popular add-on. It covers added malware protection, blacklist monitoring, automated malware removal, file-level scanning, and things like that.
Again, you could always get this extra security at a later time using a plugin or another service.
The final step is entering your payment details. Bluehost lets you pay with a credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express) or via PayPal.
Once you agree to the terms of service, your hosting account will be set up, and you’ll have a free domain name for one year.
Bluehost has a 30-day money-back guarantee. So you can get a full refund on your hosting costs if you change your mind during that time.
Other Ways to Get a Free Domain Name
While Bluehost is definitely the best way to get a free domain name, it’s not the only way. Below are a few free alternative ways to get a domain name.
Use a Free Subdomain
Many website builders offer subdomains.
A subdomain is a personal domain that exists within an existing domain name. It’s a domain name in a domain name (yo dawg).
For example, if you use a free website builder like Wix to create your website, you won’t have to pay anything for a domain. However, your site will have a subdomain in this format:
Here’s what that would look like if your Wix username was “My Stunning Website 123” and the domain you wanted was “myblogsite.”
This is obviously not ideal. No credible website has a domain like this. The only time I would consider using this method for a free domain is if you were just experimenting with the free features of the website builder. But overall, this isn’t a viable long-term strategy.
Why? You want your domain name to be short and memorable. With a subdomain, it’s neither of those things. Just another generic domain with a bunch of letters your customer has to remember (or rather, forget). Plus, it shows people you’re not even willing to invest the money into an actual domain name. Automatic no go.
WordPress is another popular option for a free subdomain. It’s not as invasive as Wix.
The format for a free WordPress subdomain is:
You can get away with this for a while if you’re using WordPress to run a small blog or personal site. But you’ll eventually want to ditch the subdomain if you want to establish any sense of authority online.
Pay for a Premium Site Builder Plan
Keeping in the same vein as above, you’ll likely notice if you build a site with Wix (or Squarespace, Zyro, or most of our other recommended website builders) that you may not have to settle for the free subdomain.
The catch? You’ll need to bump up to a paid plan with your website builder.
The other catch? It’s only free for the first year.
This may not be a worthwhile solution for some folks. Paying for a premium site builder plan is likely to not only negate the savings of a free domain—it’ll almost certainly cost you more. Plus, whatever savings disappear after one year.
But, if you’re setting up an ecommerce site or something else that needs the enhanced features of a premium Wix or Squarespace plan anyway, this can be a way to mitigate some of that first-year expense.
And, fortunately, even the base-level paid plans for Wix ($14/month) and Squarespace ($12/month) come with this bonus. In the case of Zyro, you’ll need to choose their Unleashed plan (second-cheapest) or higher. Fortunately, Zyro often slashes prices on their paid plans, too, for the first year.
However, be very careful to research the rates at which these domains will renew. You don’t want to get stuck with a bad deal that totally wipes away the savings of the first year for free and is more expensive in the end than just paying for a domain from the get-go.
Domain Registrar Ad Programs (Not Recommended)
Domain registrars sometimes offer to give you a free domain in exchange for running ads on your website.
Don’t do this.
There’s nothing wrong with ads on your website. However, you won’t have any control over the ads and their placement with this method. This will not only hinder the experience for your website visitors, but it will also damage your SEO ranking.
Plus, what if your website got one million views? You wouldn’t see a dime from those ads. All you get is a free domain.
If you want to run ads on your website, do it through a legitimate advertising network, like Google. Don’t exchange ads for a free domain.
Free ccTLD Services (Not Recommended)
The web is full of free TLD (top-level domain) services for different country codes (cc). This refers to the extension after your domain name.
So you can register your domain with country codes like:
- .tk — Tokelau
- .ml — Mali
- .ga — Gabon
- .cf — Central African Republic
- .gq — Equatorial Guinea
You can get these from services like Freenom or Dok.tk.
But I really don’t recommend this.
Not only does this make your website look sketchy, nobody likes it. If you look up reviews on the web about these services, you’ll find nothing but criticism. From malicious ads to adult content and randomly removing the domain, you won’t have a pleasant experience.
Bluehost is the best way to get a free domain name. Just sign up for a web hosting plan, and they’ll give you a free domain for one year.
There are other ways to avoid paying for a domain: using a free subdomain, joining an affiliate program, or using a sketchy ccTLD service. But I personally wouldn’t recommend the majority of alternative options.
If you’re thinking about getting a free domain using a random country code from some island in the South Pacific, don’t do it. Saving a few dollars isn’t worth the cost of running a spammy website.
Stick with Bluehost, or check out the best domain registrars for paid alternatives. They’ll give your website and brand a professional edge. First impressions are everything. You don’t want yours to be ruined by a bad domain name.