SSL Certificate Buyer’s Guide: FAQ & Compare Best SSL Certificate Providers (Certification Authority)

With Google Chrome browser now labeling all websites using HTTP encryption as “not secure”, installing SSL and implementing HTTPS on your website is no longer an option.

If you were one of those website owners who are learning and switching to HTTPS for the first time – this article is for you. We will look into some important points you should know before buying a SSL certificate issues and compare 10 popular Certificate Authorities.

What is SSL and SSL Certificate?

Secured Socket Layer (SSL) is the technology that make sure data between two machines (in our case – a browser and a server) is transmitted securely in an encrypted connection (HTTPS).

An SSL Certificate is a digital certificate that confirm the identity of a website.

To implement SSL on your website, you will need to get an SSL Certificate from a SSL Certificate Provider, aka. Certification Authority.

How SSL connection works

The following diagram shows how data is transferred through an SSL connection.

How SSL works
How SSL works (Source: Exabytes)
  1. A user access a HTTPS website
  2. User's browser requests a secure SSL connection from the server
  3. The server responds with a valid SSL certificate
  4. The secure connection is now established
  5. Data is encrypted and transferred

How can I tell if a website has SSL connection?

The use of an SSL Certificate on a website is usually indicated by a padlock icon on web browsers and the website address will show HTTPS. In some cases, a green address bar is shown.

If a SSL certificate is not recognized by the browser (or it does not pass certain checks), the browser will display a warning to the visitor.


Buying an SSL Certificate

Things to have before buying an SSL certificate

To make sure that your SSL purchase process goes smoothly, we recommend that you get the following things ready.

  • A unique website IP address
  • A certificate signing request (CSR)
  • Updated and correct WHOIS record
  • Validation documents for your business/organization

Types of SSL certificate

There are three types of SSL certificate – Domain Validated (DV), Organizational Validated (OV), and Extended Validated (EV).

Domain Validated (DV)

  • Verification – DV only verifies that the applicant is the registrant of the domain.
  • Implementation costs – It takes few minutes to few hours. The fee is minimal.
  • Ideal for – Suitable for small websites or blogs.

Organizational Validated (OV)

  • Verification – OV verifies the ownership of the domain including full company name and address details.
  • Implementation costs – It might take a few days. The fee is higher than DV.
  • Ideal for – Suitable for organizations and medium-sized businesses.

Extended Validated (EV)

  • Verification – EV requires an extensive validation of the business that turns the address bar to green.
  • Implementation costs – It might take up to weeks. EV is the most expensive SSL certificate.
  • Ideal for – Suitable for websites that conduct financial transactions.

Despite the types of validation, all the certificates are having the same levels of data encryption. The only difference is the assurance about the identity of the business behind the website. You can compare SSL prices and features from all major brands at The SSL Store.

Examples

Here are examples of different types of validation.

Examples of the different types of SSL validation level
Examples: Moz and Amazon (left) have the standard SSL validation (DV or OV) – The address bar shows “Secure”. Telling visitors that the connection between the browser and the website is encrypted. American Express and PayPal are using extended SSL validation – The company name is showing on the address bar in green color – The “Green Bar” Both companies went through extensive validation to make sure the business entity is legal.

Certification Levels: Single, Wildcard, Multi-Domain

wildcard and single domain ssl certificate
wildcard and single domain ssl certificate

When you are buying buy an SSL certificate, you need to choose the number of domains you want to secure.

There are three levels of certifications: Single, Wildcard, and Multi-Domain.

Single Domain SSL Certificate

  • Protection – Protects one domain name. A certificate purchased for www.domain.com will only allow you to secure all the pages on www.domain.com/
  • Ideal for – Suitable for a single website, small to medium business managing a limited number of websites.

Wildcard SSL Certificate

  • Protection – Protects a single domain and all sub-domains of that domain. This certificate will secure www.domain.com, it also protects blog.domain.com, help.domain.com, etc.
  • Ideal for – Suitable for fast growing business as this certificate will automatically secure any sub-domain added.

Multi-Domain SSL Certificate

  • Protection – Allow to protect up to 100 domains. A multi-domain certificate can secure multiple different domains such as domain-a.com, domain-1.com.sg, etc
  • Ideal for – Suitable for large business that has different entities. It's easy to manage and keep track using a single certificate.

10 Best SSL Certificate Provider to Buy from

There are plenty of Certificate Authorities (CA) that you can go for securing an SSL certificate on your website. The 10 providers that we’ve listed below are the places that we recommend due to their business track record and pricing.

1. SSL.com

Homepage of SSL.com – The website offers an easy-to-use wizard to help users choose the right SSL/TLS (try it here).

SSL.com is a top rated certificate authority (see BBB rating A+ here) that was founded back in 2002. They offer a wide range of digital certificates such as SSL/TSL server certificates, document signing code signing, and S/MIME email certificates.

Being a leading authority in the industry, SSL.com offers a number of features for its users, such as 256-bit SHA2 https AES encryption, free site seal, 24/7 support, and free unlimited certificate reissues during the lifetime of the certificate.

Benefits:

  • Automated validation for Basic SSL
  • Protect both domain.com and www.domain.com
  • Unlimited server license and reissues
  • Up to $2 million relying party warranty
  • Within 5 minute issuance of certificate
  • Up to 90 days of carryover time
  • Phone, chat and email support available
  • 30 day money back guarantee

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • Basic – $36.75 /yr
  • High assurance (OV) – $48.80 /yr
  • Premium (up to 3 subdomains) – $74.25 /yr
  • Multiple domains  – $141.60 /yr
  • Wildcard certificate – $224.25 /yr

Visit SSL.com

 

2. Namecheap

Namecheap SSL

NameCheap offers the full gamut of SSL certificates so you’ll find something there no matter what your requirements or budget. Standard Domain Validation certificates (Positive SSL) start from $8.88 per year, but there are also premium certificates that go for up to $169 per year.

Benefits:

  • Free SSL replacement with no payment required
  • Complete range of SSL certificate types
  • Advance SHA algorithm
  • Robust security with 256-bit encryption
  • Free, unlimited reissues
  • No paperwork required for DV certificates
  • Specialized customer support for SSL products
  • 30 days money back guarantee

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • PositiveSSL (DV) – $7.88 /yr
  • Essential SSL (DV) – $16.88 /yr
  • InstantSSL (OV) –  $18.88 /yr
  • EssentialSSL Wildcard – $72.88 /yr

Visit Namecheap

 

3. The SSL Store

The SSL Store
Users can compare and purchase various SSL (and other security) products at TheSSLStore.

The SSL Store was founded in 2009. The company partnered with some of the biggest Certification Authorities (CAs) and offer a wide range of website security solutions. CAs in The SSL Store's partners list include: Symantec, RapidSSL, Thawte, Sectigo (Comodo), as well as GeoTrust.

Standard Domain Validation certificates (Positive SSL) start from $14.95 per year (RapidSSL), but there are also Organization Validated and Extrended Validation certificates that go for up to $2,600 per year.

Benefits:

  • Platinum partners with world's leading CAs (see all brands here)
  • Learn, compare, and purchase from different CAs at the same place
  • Best price guarantee – The SSL Store has the cheapest SSL deal in market
  • Specialized technical support (with dedicated account manager) for SSL products
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Expert SSL installation service at $24.99

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • Basic Domain Validation – $14.95 /yr
  • EssentialSSL (Wildcard) – $94.50 /yr
  • PositiveSSL (Wildcard) – $130.00 /yr
  • Organization Validation (OV) – start from $86.50 /yr
  • Extended Validation (EV) SSL – start from $82.30 /yr

Visit The SSL Store

 

4. GoDaddy

GoDaddy SSL

While GoDaddy is more known for being a domain registrar with aggressive discounts for its first-time customers, they also offer SSL certification services. Their SSL certificates are often issued online within minutes and come with a 256-bit encryption.

Benefits:

  • Padlock in the address bar
  • Protects unlimited servers
  • Display a security seal
  • Unlimited free reissues
  • 24/7 security support
  • Strongest SHA2 & 2048-bit encryption
  • Up to $1 million liability protection

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • Basic Domain Validation – start from $59.99 /yr
  • Wildcard SSL – start from $279.99 /yr
  • Extended Validation (EV) SSL – Start from $99.99 /yr

 

Visit GoDaddy

 

5. GlobalSign

GlobalSign SSL

Founded in 1996 and based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, GlobalSign is one of the more popular SSL Certificate Authority in the market.

GlobalSign established themselves as a well-reputed identity service company by providing cloud-based PKI solutions to business who wants their website to have secure connections, conduct safe e-commerce transactions, and perfect content delivery to its users and customers.

Benefits:

  • The same certificate to use for www.domain.com and domain.com
  • Using SHA-256 and 2048 bit RSA keys encryption
  • Over 2.5M certificates issued worldwide
  • WebTrust accredited CA since 2001
  • Free SSL installation and management tools
  • Up to $1.5 million warranty
  • ECC support available

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • Domain SSL- $249 /yr
  • Organization SSL – $349 /yr
  • Extended SSL – $599 /yr
  • Wildcard SSL – $849 /yr

 

6. DigiCert

DigiCert SSL

The company motto for DigiCert is “Your success is built on trust”. This should give you a good idea of how seriously they take security. With a primary focus on SSL innovation, DigiCert aims to be the trusted security partner for all avenues of industry and commerce.

DigiCert was also the founding member of the CA/Browser Forum, and it's one of the few authorities involves in developing new SSL technology. The SSL certificates that they provide are OV Certificates, EV Certificates, and even DV Certificates for smaller businesses or websites.

Benefits:

  • Trusted company – member of CA/Browser Forum
  • Secure both www.domain.com and domain.com
  • Free unlimited reissues for the lifetime
  • SHA-2 algorithm and 256-bit encryption
  • Free tools available for certificate management
  • Fast certificate issuance – within hours
  • Award-winning customer support

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • Standard SSL -$175 /yr
  • EV SSL – $295 /yr
  • Multi-Domain SSL – $299 /yr
  • Wildcard SSL – $595 /yr

 

7. Thawte

Thawte SSL

Thawte has been known for providing affordable SSL certificates as well as 17 years of reliability. They offer a comprehensive list of SSL products which includes EV, OV, DV, SGC, Wildcard, and even SAN SSL certificates.

As a low-cost SSL certificate provider, Thawte SSL plans are priced reasonably with their cheapest going for $149 per year which includes a number of features such as 256-bit encryption. There is an option available to add Wildcard to the plan with additional charges.

Benefits:

  • Thawte free trial SSL certificate for 21-day
  • Company's site seal logo available
  • Install the certificate on unlimited servers
  • Free re-issue certificate at no extra charge
  • Tools to help you manage and install the certificate
  • 99% browser compatibility
  • Warranty up to $1.5 million

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • SSL Web Server – $199 /yr
  • SSL Web Server with EV – $299 /yr
  • SSL 123 – $149 /yr

 

8. GeoTrust

GeoTrust SSL

At GeoTrust, you can opt for a number of SSL certificates which include True BusinessID with EV, True BusinessID, True BusinessID Wildcard, and QuickSSL premium. Among them all, True BusinessID with EV is the recommended SSL certificate with the highest assurance and warranty at a competitive price.

Startups and small business would find GeoTrust pricings attractive, plus they offer a number of features such as 256-bit encryptions, extended validation, warranty ranging from $100,000 to $1.5 million, 99% browsers compatibility, and unlimited customer support.

Benefits:

  • GeoTrust 30 days free trial SSL certificate
  • Short certificate issuance time
  • Certificate management console
  • Up to 256-bit encryption, 2048-bit root
  • Green browser address bar available
  • Warranty up to $1.5 million
  • Free SSL expert support

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • True BusinessID (OV) – $199 /yr
  • True BusinessID (EV) – $229 /yr
  • True BusinessID Wildcard (OV) – $599 /yr
  • QuickSSL Premium (DV) – $149 /yr
  • QuickSSL Premium Wildcard (DV) – $745 /yr

 

9. Entrust

Entrust SSL

Entrust considers themselves as a forward-thinking company that provides security in a wide breadth of diverse industries. They provide security solutions for those in need of transactional security, secure mobile authentication, and of course, SSL certificates. They offer EV and OV certificates with prices starting at $174 per year.

Benefits:

  • SHA-2 signing algorithms
  • RSA 2048 bit / 3072 bit / 4096 bit key
  • Security features included protecting against website vulnerabilities
  • Unlimited server licensing and reissues
  • Site seal security with the real-time check
  • Certificate management platform
  • Optional platinum support 24x7x365

Certificate type & Pricing:

  • Standard (OV) – $174 /yr
  • Advantage OV – $182 /yr
  • EV multi-domain – $373 /yr
  • Wildcard (OV) – $609 /yr

 

10. Network Solutions

Network Solutions SSL

Established in 1979 and headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, USA, Network Solutions have constantly evolved their SSL services throughout the years and continues to provide the lowest priced SSL certificates for users. Especially when it comes to multi-year term SSL certificates, Network Solutions offers some of the more affordable pricing in the market. For example, their nsProtect Secure Express will only set you back $59.99 for a 2-year term. In comparison, GoDaddy offers similar services that cost $74.49 per year.

Benefits:

  • 256-bit encryption
  • Guarantee up to $1 million
  • Site seal and closed padlock available
  • 99% browser recognition
  • Green address browser bar available
  • 24/7 real person live support
  • Standard issuance time

Certificate type a& Pricing:

  • Xpress (DV) – $59.99 /yr
  • Basic (OV) – $124.50 /yr
  • Advanced (OV) – $199.50 /yr
  • Wildcard – $579.00 /yr
  • Extended (EV) – $399.50 /yr


 

The FAQs when Buying SSL Certificates

Why do we need an SSL certificate?

The primary reason for using an SSL certificate is to make sure the data sent across the Internet become encrypted. So, everyone else can't read the information except for the server you are sending the information to. This can prevent hackers and cyber-thieves from stealing your data.

How much does an SSL certificate cost?

The SSL certificate prices vary depending on the type of certificate and the number of domains you want to protect. Most hosting providers include a free shared SSL in their business hosting plans. Alternatively you can install Let's Encrypt shared SSL – which is free of charge. A dedicated SSL certificate for a single domain starts at $7.88 per year. A wildcard SSL certificate that protects unlimited subdomains starts at $72.88 per year.

Do I need an SSL certificate for my website?

Yes, it's recommended to have an SSL certificate for your website. Search engines now label websites without SSL as “Non-secure” websites and that might impact your ranking. Also, having an SSL certificate can earn your visitors' trust because the visitors know their data is secure.

Is SSL certificate required for online store?

It's recommended to install an SSL certificate for your online store even though it's not compulsory. SSL certificate encrypts customer data, sensitive information, payment details, etc and keeps it protected during transfer. Besides securing the website, by installing an SSL certificate, it helps to gain customers' trust and encourage them for safe and secure online shopping.

What's the difference between a free SSL certificate and a paid SSL certificate?

There's no difference in security between a free SSL certificate and a paid SSL certificate. The major differences between both are in terms of the type of certificate, level of validation, support and warranty. For instance, free SSL certificates only come with Domain Validation (DV) and no warranty. On the other hand, a paid SSL certificate covers everything you required.

What SSL certificate do I need?

If you are running a small website or a blog, a DV certificate is good enough. If your website conducts financial transactions, it's best to go for an EV certificate that turns the address bar to green.

Is free SSL safe?

Yes, there's no risk of using a free SSL certificate. However, a free SSL certificate does have some shortcomings such as limited period, only offers domain validated, no support from the company, and no warranty. If you are running an online store, a free SSL certificate might not be a suitable choice.


SSL Certificate Pricing Summary

Here's the summarized pricing table for the 10 SSL certificate providers listed above.

SSL Provider Single Domain, DV Highest Level Learn More & Order
SSL.com $36.75/year $224.25/year Click Here
Namecheap $7.88/year $72.88/year Click Here
TheSSLStore $14.95/year $130.00/year Click Here
GoDaddy $59.99/year $279.99/year Click Here
GlobalSign $249/year $849/year Click Here
DigiCert $175/year $595/year Click Here
Thawte $199/year $299/year Click Here
GeoTrust $149/year $745/year Click Here
Entrust $174/year $373/year Click Here
Network Solutions $59.99/year $579/year Click Here

Should I go for the cheapest SSL deal?

A cheap SSL offers the same security as the expensive ones. So in most cases, there is no need to opt for a “branded”SSL certificate – which be expensive.

The only time that you should really consider purchasing an expensive SSL certificate is if you’re a big eCommerce company that’s looking to perform transactions on a device that uses its own proprietary software.

 

* Traslation: EN ID

About Jerry Low

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Geek dad. SEO junkie. Web marketer. Investor. Jerry developed a passion for web dev and SEO in his early 20's. He has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004

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