SSL certificates have long become mainstream. And they aren’t just a cog in the wheel but an essential element of website building. Without SSL, there’s not even a point in running a website these days. 

Browsers flag unencrypted sites as not secure, while visitors get worrying security messages. On top of that, unsecured content doesn’t feature in search engine results pages (SERPs). All in all, no SSL means no trust, no traffic, and no cash.

The best time to install an SSL certificate and secure connections between users’ browsers and your server is before the launch. This way, you can fix any potential SSL errors and avoid unnecessary outages. 

But with SSL certificates being so accessible, many website owners have just one question on their minds. Why buy SSL when you can get the same encryption strength with a free option? A quick overview of free SSL certificates will suffice to answer this question.

The limitations of free SSL certificates

Unless you have a blog or a small business website that doesn’t collect sensitive data, we don’t recommend free SSL. As often is the case, what’s free comes with the price, and in the SSL certificates case, the price you pay is decreased customer trust and susceptibility to phishing attacks. 

Did you know that over half of phishing sites use free SSL certificates to look more professional and trick unsuspecting users? Getting a free cert is quick and easy. All you have to do is verify domain ownership. 

For business websites, a free SSL certificate may inadvertently tarnish a brand reputation if their name is associated with a phishing scam. But phishing is just one shortcoming of free SSL from a list of many. Check the rest out:

  • No Business Validation support
  • No Extended Validation support
  • No Multi-Domain SSL support
  • No site seal to further boost users’ trust
  • No SSL warranty against potential data breaches

All these limitations are the reason why commercial SSL certificates are so diverse and sought after. They’re selling like hotcakes right now, with websites and businesses of all Next, we’ll show you where to buy an affordable SSL certificate for your project and places you should avoid, so you don’t pay silly money for the same features.

Where to buy (and not to buy) an SSL certificate?

Many websites sell a wide range of SSL certificates, and everyone makes their prices. You may find the same certificate at two different providers and wonder why there’s such a price discrepancy. 

The answer is in the distribution and business model. You can get an SSL certificate directly from a certificate authority or third-party hosting companies. Other options are SSL resellers and coupon code websites, so who has the best SSL price and deals on the market? 

Certificate Authorities (not recommended)

Certificate Authorities’ websites are the first place that comes to mind for many users when they search for an SSL certificate. They erroneously think the official SSL issuer should have the best price, but the opposite is true. CAs prices are steep because of their distribution model. 

They sell their certificates in bulk to SSL resellers at highly discounted prices allowing them to pass the savings onto the final customers.  That’s why when it comes to SSL prices, CAs and SSL resellers are on the opposite side of the pricing spectrum, with CAs reaping profits both ways.

Hosting providers and domain registrars (not recommended)

Buying an SSL certificate from a hosting provider or a domain registrar seems convenient. Indeed, you do all your website shopping from one place, but long-term, you end up overpaying for your cert. The initial offer for the first year is appealing, but the renewal price is way too expensive compared to cheap SSL certificates at specialized SSL vendors.

For hosting providers and domain registrars, SSL certificates are just an upsell to their main service and an easy way to earn extra profit. If something goes wrong with your SSL certificate, you’re more likely to get a faster and more dedicated response from an SSL reseller rather than a hosting company.

SSL resellers (recommended)

SSL resellers specialize in SSL certificates only. They have premium partnerships with the leading certificate authorities and offer a wide range of cheap SSL certificates. Best of all, you get regular discounts and excellent around-the-clock customer service. 

At SSL Dragon, for example, we also offer multi-year SSL subscription plans (more on this later) that allow you to streamline SSL management and save even more with each year you purchase. Overall, SSL vendors are the most optimal choice for business and certificate, as you get the best price on the market for high-quality encryption and support.

Coupon codes (recommended)

Coupon code websites are ever so popular and for a good reason. They offer discounts on almost anything, and SSL coupon codes aren’t an exception. You can save up to 10% on any SSL certificate you buy from SSL Dragon by simply entering the coupon code at the checkout.

When the SSL vendor isn’t running an official promotion, coupon code websites are your go-to option for that extra discount. And, if you buy SSL certs for multiple years, the reduction adds up to hefty savings.

Multi-Year SSL subscription plans

SSL certificates have a one-year validity, a far cry from the five-year lifespan of the late nineties. But while their duration has gradually waned, the security increased substantially. Renewing your certificate every year may seem overwhelming, especially when you manage multiple certs, but that’s no longer an issue with multi-year SSL subscription plans.

You can still buy a two or three-year SSL Certificate and get the multi-year discount while complying with the CAB Forum SSL requirements. The whole process is quick and easy.

Thirty days before your SSL certificate expires, your SSL provider, on behalf of the CA, will notify you and ask you to reissue your SSL to get the additional (replacement) one-year certificate, according to your plan. All you have to do is validate and install the new certificate. Best of all, the validation should be quicker as you’re details are already available to the CA.

If you have a Domain Validation SSL Certificate, a short verification of your domain name via Email, HTTP or DNS will be required. Business Validation SSL and Extended Validation certificates require full verification of your legal details.

You can still reissue your certificate at any time and as many times as you like during your multi-year SSL subscription plan.

Final Words

Buying an SSL certificate has never been easier. You just need to know the right places with the best prices. For any business or individual, every penny saved can help with other expenses. That’s why the SSL provider you choose matters, especially when you must renew the SSL every year to comply with the latest security and SEO guidelines.