What's up with "premium" domain names?

I'm looking a domain name for my project.

The last time I bought a domain name was five years ago, and something I've noticed that is different today is that almost every available domain name I think of is listed as a "premium domain" by registrars and costing anywhere from $2,000 to $40,000. This includes non-.com extensions like .io or .co which is really surprising to me.

What's up with this? According to the Namecheap website (which is what I use), they don't choose "premium domains" – they claim that "the registries" choose, whatever that means.

Many of these "premium" domain names are pretty average, and so the pricing seems ridiculous.

Are premium domain prices negotiable? Should I email Namecheap and say "I see you've listed this domain at $5,000, but I'd be willing to pay $1,000?

At these prices, it would seem almost better to find a taken but unused domain name and try to negotiate a better price.

I'm also worried about the following scenario: [appname].com is available for $10,000 but I don't want to pay that much before I know whether my business will be successful. I decide to get a less desirable name like try[appname].io but in the meantime, someone else snatches up or squats on the .com domain.


How did you get your domain name?
  1. Bought a premium domain name from a domain registrar
  2. Bought a non-premium domain name from a domain registrar
  3. Negotiated a purchase for a domain name that was taken but not being used
  4. Other
  1. 7

    I believe these are domains owned by others and are either for sale or are an estimated price of value. You can typically use a domain name broker to negotiate the sale for you. We've done this through GoDaddy and their broker service with mixed success.
    But yeah, domain name squatting is a big business.

    Also make sure to do a trademark search:

    Last think you want to do is buy ACMEapp.com and find out that there is an obscure business in your same field you couldn't find called ACMEtech.io that has a Trademark in an industry for the key part of their name.

    I have been on both sides of cease and desists regarding domain name usage so always check the Trademark database too.

    1. 2

      Good advice re: trademark. Thanks!

    2. 1

      This happened to me a few years ago. Best to check trademarks first before establishing a lot of SEO into a domain you can’t have.

  2. 5

    I've never spent more than $15 on a domain name. I don't consider anything else than .com. I always find a .com name that is good enough... There are still many, but it can take a while to find one that is good enough and cheap.

    1. 2

      Wow, you're frugal and resourceful!

      1. 3

        You can't compete if you need the same amount of money to achieve similar results...

    1. 1

      Thanks, hadn't heard of porkbun before. Is there something unique or special about them (other than their cute branding) compared to other domain registrars?

      I've used hover and namecheap in the passed, liked them both but found that namecheap was cheaper (as their name would imply).

      1. 2

        Well, yeah it's a fun branding....

        • The UI is incredibly easy.
        • Great customer service.
        • Super low prices.
        • free whois privacy.
        • free SSL...

        For unicornsfeed.com and wickedtemplates.com I paid....Around 5 dollars each...

        I have even moved my domains there all.

        1. 1

          Cool, thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out!

            1. 1

              The branding alone is really cool.

  3. 2

    I've done a lot of domain buying for projects and I ran into the same issue as well and it does really suck. As Namecheap said, some registrars do set a premium price for example three letter .io are reserved for a premium (I can't remember where I saw this), and for instance .iq domains start at $3000 2 char, $2500 3 char, $2000 4 char (source).

    If I were you I would just settle for a try[appname].com app unless your domain really matters (like a shortlink app). Here is a whole article from Neil Patel explaining ways to get around your name being unavailable: https://neilpatel.com/blog/domain-name-unavailable.

    I would definitely not pay out the premium price for a domain before knowing if it's worth it. Just wait until you're successfully making money and then decide if it's worth it. It's pretty unlikely that someone will spend thousands to buy the better version of your domain just to spite you, and if they did you may be able to dispute it anyway via UDRP.

    If you can find the name on an unused site thought I have seen people have decent luck reaching out to the site owners or hiring a third party to do so. It will still cost a good amount but much cheaper than "premium" price if it's a really good name. This is how most domain flippers get good deals, there'd be no money to make if they only waited til it dropped and bought it at a premium.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the advice Justin, much appreciated!

  4. 1

    i try to pick one and go, usually for 99 out of 100 projects.

    but, for larger projects, i'm willing to spend a little coin — a few thousand dollars if necessary.

  5. 1

    I can suggest you:

    • Use domain names that means in other languages than English. So you have more chance to find a free domain name.
    • Use any domain name that seems good (with prefix or suffix). After making your goals you can rebrand your product.
    1. 1

      Thanks for the suggestions Naser!

  6. 1

    I recommend park.io for finding short good domain names at a decent price. I've been able to purchase several for $99 that I don't think I could have purchased otherwise.

  7. 1

    Also, I think many of the domain names I'm brainstorming have been marked as premium because they are 7-10 letters long. Another alternative is that I could try to find longer domain names that are 10+ letters.

    1. 1

      If you are ok with two words you can usually find something.

      1. 1

        Most of my domain ideas are combos of two short words, and they are still designated as "premium" 🙁

        1. 1

          Maybe you know how the domain name space works but that sounds like it's "premium" due to previous buyer trying to sell-on rather than a registry (who do mark certain domains as premium but I've only ever seen single words). If you can contact owner direct then can make offer but many are dreamers and not reasonable. You don't know until you try.

  8. -2

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