.inc Domain Names: Why are inc Domains So Expensive?

mushfiq sarker

There have been hundreds of TLD extensions released into the market over the past decade, and most made very little, if any, impact on the general market. There are exceptions as .io and .co emerged as the popular alternatives for .com, and .ai will likely get even more popular with the advancement of artificial intelligence.

The .inc TLD came out of the gates classified as a premium domain extension. They cost $2,500 per year. That’s not just an initial cost that then goes to $20 a year like domains sold as premium domain names.

That’s an expensive domain name, but there are some clear advantages to going for a .inc domain name. Are they worth that high a price?

Let’s jump in and find out!

.inc Domain Meaning

The .inc extension stands for “incorporated.” An entity that wants a .inc domain TLD extension must be incorporated in the United States. Incorporation simply refers to a business practice of creating a corporation for a business.

This gives the assurance that a website on one of these domain names is actually incorporated businesses.

This is meant to give some degree of early trust or authority to the site. When .inc is kept as a premium option for larger incorporated companies or entities, there is a certain gravitas that goes with that.

There should also be no confusion about what a .inc domain name is. It’s the website of a large incorporated company.

Why Go For .inc Domains? 

While these are pricey compared to other options, there are some reasons why a .inc TLD could be a good option in some situations.

Let’s take a look at the top reasons why a .inc might be worth the purchase.

Premium Territory 

Having a .inc domain in addition to a .com or other TLD where the main site is already established can provide a site focused on a very specific demographic. For example, sites like paypal.inc are used to direct investors towards pages that are aimed at investment or public marketing relations.

Many of the largest companies purchasing their .inc domains are using these in similar ways. The well-known .com site is where general traffic goes, and .inc is the version where venture capitalists and other investors go for information or special contact information.

That allows the .inc version to be used as the go-to “premium” version of a company’s website specifically catering to investors or high-money clients.

Member Benefits

There are many companies offering benefits for first-year .inc purchases. These can vary as even from the first time .inc TLD extensions became available to now, some of these have changed.

The push for major incorporated companies to take .inc TLD extensions has included

  • Up to $1,000 in free credits for transaction fees from Square
  • Free tax ID, name check, and other benefits from LegalZoom
  • Free marketing credits from VistaPrint
  • Other benefits from companies like Google Ads and Indeed

Double-check to see what’s being offered when looking to purchase a .inc extension, but unlike other TLD extensions, the push to make this recognized as a commonly used premium domain extension among incorporated companies means there is that “private membership club” feeling.

The benefits from these other companies for buying a .inc only apply to year one. They’re not an annual package.

However, that package of benefits could potentially be a good boost for a business looking to kickstart an active project.

How Are .inc Domain Prices Established? 

Prices are determined by the Registries. The .inc is a bit unusual in that it’s being treated as a premium domain extension from the get-go. The registry in charge of .inc determines the base price, and then all registrars that can sell the TLD from there add their own pricing.

While there might be minor differences between prices from one registrar to another, the base price being set by the Registry means that all the registrars will be in the same neighborhood as far as pricing goes.

In case you’re not familiar with how domains work, and some of the terms are similar, this is the general summary illustration of how the process works.

ICANN → Registry in charge of TLD → Registrars (GoDaddy, NameJet, etc.) → Customer

There’s not necessarily any set of rules or guidelines that set the base price. At least no public ones. The base price is simply determined by the registry which then allows registrars to sell the names.

In this case the .inc was clearly created to be a premium domain so the starting price is far higher than more open domain TLDs like .com, .io, or .org.

Many of the original TLDs have rules and regulations on them, but that is not the case with many TLDs that were released after 2011. This is why the price for new .com domains can’t just shoot up, but new TLD prices can vary enormously.

There are no laws, rules, or regulations forcinga price change so if .inc is being created and marketed as a premium domain name then the price for them will remain high.

What Are the Costs of Purchasing and Renewing? 

One of the potential drawbacks to going with a .inc domain name is that the costs are extremely high. These are even worse than premium domains in some ways. A premium .com might be $2000 for year one, but it’s the normal $15-20 a year after that.

That’s not how .inc domain names work. The renewal price doesn’t drop dramatically after year one.

A .inc is expensive. The prices vary a bit more now than when they were first released. GoDaddy lists .inc as starting from $1,000 in year one, but it might go much higher in the years that follow.

TLD List was listing them from $750 to $3500 for .inc domain TLDs while Tech Republic puts the average price at $2500 a year.

Whichever of these price points you find, they are still on the expensive side for a domain TLD. Renewal prices will generally be the same as year one, assuming year one is not a sale. If it is, then the renewal price per year will be the higher regular price.

Are .inc Domains Worth It?

For the solo entrepreneur or blogger, a .inc domain name is probably not worth it. These are an expensive premium domain, and they are already being commonly used by larger incorporated companies as a “side site” specifically aimed at venture capitalists, shareholders, and investors.

If you are running an incorporated business that has regular interactions with these groups then a .inc could be a good professional way to do this.

For most webmasters, the .inc won’t make a lot of sense compared to other available options. At least not at current prices.

In some cases .inc will be able to fulfill the role that .biz was meant to, but never did. For most people, the price of a .inc will heavily outweigh the potential benefits.

mushfiq sarker

Analyzed by Mushfiq Sarker

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 218+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. He is the founder of The Website Flip. Check out all Mushfiq's articles, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

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