Best SSL Certificates

By Ivan Stevanović January 21, 2021

Created to protect military and government secrets transmitted across the public internet, SSL technology now makes the web safer for all of us. While you don’t necessarily need the best SSL certificate that money can buy, having no SSL certification is a death sentence for your website.

Best SSL Certificates in 2021

  • Web-hosting veteran with a great reputation
  • Competitive first-year pricing
  • Excellent customer support
  • Expensive after first year
Best price $37.99/year
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  • Impeccable reputation spanning almost 30 years
  • Quick processing
  • Unlimited reissues and server licenses
  • Expensive
Best price $199/year
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  • Free certificate for 90 days
  • Best value option on the market
  • Cancel at any time for a prorated refund
  • Middling customer support
Best price $125/year
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  • Long industry experience
  • Affordable prices
  • Fast certificate issuing
  • Poor customer support
Best price $59.99/year
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  • More than 100 million certificates issued worldwide
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Free PCI scanning service
  • Validation can take time
Best price $125/year
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What is an SSL certificate and why do you need one?

The term SSL – secure sockets layer – refers to a scheme in which data traveling over the internet is encrypted before it is sent and decrypted by the receiving computer. Both web browsers and web servers encrypt and decrypt data.

Encryption could have been part of the original specification for internet communications, but computers and networks were slow in those days, and security wasn’t a major concern. SSL was created to support the transmission of government and military information over the public internet. The first specification was drawn up in 1987 by the US National Security Agency, the National Bureau of Standards, the Defense Communications Agency, and a dozen tech companies. An implementation of the era’s best SSL technology first became available to the public in 1995 as part of Netscape’s Navigator browser.

In 1999, tech companies began replacing SSL with TLS – transport layer security. SSL has been deprecated, or officially designated obsolete, since 2015. The old SSL name has stuck, however. No one refers to SSL certificates as TLS certificates, though that is what they really are.

The SSL certificate is a small digital file, issued by an SSL certificate authority, guaranteeing that a domain or web server belongs to a particular organization. That domain validation allows the server to access the private key it needs to encrypt and decrypt internet communications.

Once a trusted SSL certificate has been installed, the website’s address prefix is changed from http:// to https://. Web browsers, mobile apps, and other applications check for the presence of SSL certificates on the servers they communicate with.

In 2014, Google announced an initiative called HTTPS Everywhere as part of an effort to make all internet communications safe and secure. In 2018, the Chrome browser began issuing warnings when users connected to websites without SSL/TLS encryption. Websites without SSL certificates rank lower in Google search results and in some cases they are denied participation in Google’s advertising programs.

TLS protects you and your users. You need an SSL certificate.

1. GoDaddy

" Best SSL certificate for small business "

  • Certificate types
    Single domain, Wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption, SHA-2, and 2,048-bit RSA keys
  • Processing time
    5-7 business days
  • Free trial
    30-day money-back guarantee
  • Customer support
    24/7 phone line, email, knowledgebase, community forums

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Web-hosting veteran with a great reputation
  • Competitive first-year pricing
  • Excellent customer support
  • Expensive after first year

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Web-hosting veteran with a great reputation
  • Competitive first-year pricing
  • Excellent customer support
  • Expensive after first year
  • Certificate types
    Single domain, Wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption, SHA-2, and 2,048-bit RSA keys
  • Processing time
    5-7 business days
  • Free trial
    30-day money-back guarantee
  • Customer support
    24/7 phone line, email, knowledgebase, community forums

A veteran in the web hosting industry, GoDaddy provides a range of affordable SSL certification services. What makes the company stand out is a unique pricing scheme. Instead of charging more for complex validation processes, GoDaddy prices plans according to the number of websites, domains, and subdomains they cover.

Starting at just $37.99 per year, GoDaddy offers possibly the best cheap SSL certificate solution if you need to protect just one site and domain. Using Secure Hash Algorithm 2 (SHA-2) cryptographic functions and 2,048-bit RSA keys for encryption, it offers excellent security at a bargain price – especially when you consider that you can get extended validation certificates at this price. Renewals will cost you $79.99 per year.

If you’re looking to protect multiple websites, UCC/SAN SSL certification will cost you $159.99 per year ($199.99 when renewing) and provide you with a Godaddy SSL certificate valid for up to five domains. Finally, if you’re looking to get the best SSL certificate price for protecting one domain and an unlimited number of subdomains, $295.99 will cover your GoDaddy Wildcard SSL certificate for a year. Subsequent years will cost you $369.99.

The company also offers managed SSL service for people who can’t be bothered with renewals and maintenance. For $149.99 per year, it will automatically buy SSL certificates for you, then take care of reissuing, reinstalling, and maintaining your TLS/SSL coverage. This feature gets more expensive with successive renewals; it’s $199.99 annually after year one – a fair price for the issuer of the internet’s best SSL certificates.

GoDaddy SSL certification can be a bit slow for extended validation, taking five to seven business days. However, you can count on 24/7 support through dedicated phone lines if you have any questions or concerns about your certificates. If your interactions with them are anything like ours, you are sure to find the company’s customer-service agents easy to reach and eager to answer your questions about the company’s technology, products, prices, and policies.

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2. Entrust

" Best SSL certificate for e-commerce "

  • Certificate types
    Single and Multi-Domain, Wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption, 2,048-bit RSA and ECC keys
  • Processing time
    1-5 business days
  • Free trial
    30-day money-back guarantee
  • Customer support
    Phone, email, chat, social networks

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Impeccable reputation spanning almost 30 years
  • Quick processing
  • Unlimited reissues and server licenses
  • Expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Impeccable reputation spanning almost 30 years
  • Quick processing
  • Unlimited reissues and server licenses
  • Expensive
  • Certificate types
    Single and Multi-Domain, Wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption, 2,048-bit RSA and ECC keys
  • Processing time
    1-5 business days
  • Free trial
    30-day money-back guarantee
  • Customer support
    Phone, email, chat, social networks

A veteran in the SSL security field, Entrust was founded in 1994. Acquisition by the Datacard Group in 2013 and subsequent rebranding into Entrust Datacard solidified the company as a leader in digital certification. In September 2020, Entrust Datacard dropped the “Datacard” part of its name.

The company offers lots of certification options, including Standard, Advantage, SAN and EV Multi-Domain, Wildcard, and Private TLS SSL certificates. You can certify from one to 250 domains as well as unlimited subdomains. 

All plans include state-of-the-art security with SHA2 cryptography, X.509 compliance, and 2,048-bit RSA keys. That’s just what you’d expect from a company that has announced its ambition to be the best certificate authority on the market. 

SSL pricing starts with the $199/year Standard plan, which provides an SSL certificate for one domain. The Advantage plan’s two domains and optional ECC support bump the annual cost up to $239, while the SAN Multi-Domain package costs $319 per year for four domains – upgradable to 50 for standard and 250 for enterprise accounts.

The Extended Verification Multi-Domain package bumps up the cost of SSL service to $429/year. It adds extended ID validation to everything in the standard multi-domain package. 

Finally, the Wildcard package offers the best SSL certificate solution for those who need to certify an unlimited amount of subdomains. It raises the yearly cost to $699.

In addition to unlimited reissues and server licenses, you can also count on universal browser compatibility, compliance with the x.509 international public-key infrastructure, and a web security bundle that includes malware protection, monitors the reputation of your site, and runs regular website and network vulnerability scans. You get the full package with Entrust.

Turnaround time is terrific – usually no more than a couple of days for all but the most complicated of certifications. Customer support is available through phone, email, live chat, and social networks.

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3. Sectigo Comodo

" Best value SSL certificate "

  • Certificate types
    Single and Multi-Domain, Wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption, 2,048-bit RSA and ECC keys
  • Processing time
    1-5 business days
  • Free trial
    90-day free certificate
  • Customer support
    24/7 phone line, email, chat, knowledge base

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Free certificate for 90 days
  • Best value option on the market
  • Cancel at any time for a prorated refund
  • Middling customer support

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Free certificate for 90 days
  • Best value option on the market
  • Cancel at any time for a prorated refund
  • Middling customer support
  • Certificate types
    Single and Multi-Domain, Wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption, 2,048-bit RSA and ECC keys
  • Processing time
    1-5 business days
  • Free trial
    90-day free certificate
  • Customer support
    24/7 phone line, email, chat, knowledge base

Comodo is a household name in the world of trusted SSL certificate providers. Purchased in 2017 by Francisco Partners and rebranded in 2018 as Sectigo, the New Jersey-based company invented the first Extended Validation SSL certificate, which was approved in 2007. Despite its position as a well-respected industry veteran, Sectigo Comodo offers some of the cheapest SSL verification options on the market.

Sectigo Comodo offers standard DV, OV, and EV certificates in single, UCC, and multi-domain variants. SSL certificate cost depends on both the type of validation performed and whether you are looking to protect a single website or multiple domains.

When it comes to getting an SSL certificate at the best price, you’ll want a simple DV certificate and to ideally sign up for long term service. Sectigo charges $125 per year for a simple plan with a five-year commitment. A Wildcard option that extends protection to unlimited subdomains increases the price to $405 per year.

Multi-Domain plans cover from two to 250 with prices starting at $295 per year.

All Sectigo Comodo SSL certificates include warranties that protect users if they lose money due to credit card fraud as a result of the failure of a Comodo certificate. Warranties start at $500,000 and range up to $1.75 million.

Like all the best SSL certificate providers in 2020, Sectigo Comodo offers premium extended validation options too. Just be prepared for a price hike: a single domain will set you back $210 per year with a five-year commitment.

The company also offers High Assurance OV SSL certificates and Code Signing certificates, as well as many other web security tools and protocols. Encryption has both 128- and 256-bit options and you get 2,048-bit keys as well. Customer support is available 24/7 but can be a bit slow to respond. On the other hand, DV certificates are issued within minutes and even EV certificates take a couple of days at most.

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4. Network Solutions

" Best SSL certificate for WordPress "

  • Certificate types
    Single, Wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption
  • Processing time
    1-5 business days
  • Free trial
    No
  • Customer support
    24/7 phone line, email, help center

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Long industry experience
  • Affordable prices
  • Fast certificate issuing
  • Poor customer support

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Long industry experience
  • Affordable prices
  • Fast certificate issuing
  • Poor customer support
  • Certificate types
    Single, Wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption
  • Processing time
    1-5 business days
  • Free trial
    No
  • Customer support
    24/7 phone line, email, help center

Virginia-based Network Solutions was founded as a technology consulting company in 1979, then acquired by web.com in 2011. The company offers web hosting and LLC certification services at very affordable prices.

Network Solutions offers domain, organization, and extended validation as well as single, wildcard, and UCC certificates. All plans feature 256-bit data encryption.

If we determined the best SSL certificate provider based on the number of plans, Network Solutions would be a strong candidate. The starting plan is called Xpress, and it costs $59.99 per year with a two-year commitment paid in advance. That gets you single domain validation, a $10,000 warranty, and extremely quick processing times. The UCC plan lets you validate additional domains for just $50 per year for the first three domains.

The Basic plan raises your SSL price to $124.50 per year on a two-year plan, but extends certification options to organization validation and adds a site seal while increasing the warranty to $50,000. The Advanced plan offers the same features, but further increases the warranty to $1 million. That one’s not a cheap SSL certificate; it costs $199.50 per year with a two-year commitment.

Many SSL certificate reviews point out the importance of wildcard certificate plans that give you unlimited certificates. This service will cost you $579.00 per year from Network Solutions. Finally, if standard SSL verification doesn’t cut it, you can pay $399.50 per year for two years of extended verification features, a $1 million warranty, and all the features of the lower-priced plans.

Certificates are usually delivered within a day, though extended validation plans can take a week. The Network Solutions customer support staff is available 24/7 through phone and email, but we have found response times leave a bit to be desired.

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5. Comodo SSL

" Best SSL certificate for those on a budget "

  • Certificate types
    Single, multi-Domain, wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption
  • Processing time
    1-5 business days
  • Free trial
    90-day free trial
  • Customer support
    Phone, email, chat, ticket, online contact form

Things we liked / disliked:

  • More than 100 million certificates issued worldwide
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Free PCI scanning service
  • Validation can take time

Things we liked / disliked:

  • More than 100 million certificates issued worldwide
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Free PCI scanning service
  • Validation can take time
  • Certificate types
    Single, multi-Domain, wildcard, UCC
  • Validation level
    DV, OV, EV
  • Encryption
    256-bit encryption
  • Processing time
    1-5 business days
  • Free trial
    90-day free trial
  • Customer support
    Phone, email, chat, ticket, online contact form

Launched in 1998, Comodo is a New Jersey-based computer software provider. With more than 100 million SSL certificates issued worldwide, this provider is a global leader among certification authorities. To top it off, Comodo has made a huge contribution to the field of website security by inventing extended validation (EV) SSL certificates.

Comodo’s product selection includes domain, organization, and extended validation as well as single, multi-domain, wildcard, and UCC certificates. All plans come with 256-bit data encryption and 2048-bit root keys.

As far as pricing goes, it’s safe to say that Comodo is the best SSL certificate issuer for those on a budget. First, there’s the three-tiered plan offering DV certificates. Starting from $125/year for a single domain, $295/year for a multi-domain solution, and $359/year for a DV SSL certificate wildcard, this plan is available in one-, three-, and five-year subscription durations.

It comes with unlimited server licensing, round-the-clock multi-language support, and a $500,000 SSL certificate warranty. Comodo’s DV certificate plan also enables https and padlock image, can be issued within minutes, and offers compatibility with all the most popular web and mobile browsers.

As the best SSL certificate authority for EV certificate solutions, Comodo lets you choose between two pricing options. Annual fees start at $210 if you opt for the single-domain option and $465 if you go for the multi-domain solution. Both extended validation SSL certificate options provide the highest level of encryption and authentication. In addition to enabling https and the padlock image, they activate the green bar in select browsers, offer organization details in the certificate, come with the Comodo trust logo, and provide an SSL certificate warranty worth $1,750,000.

As far as Comodo’s organizational validation SSL certificates go, there are three plans to choose from. The single-domain version comes at a starting price of $165/year, the multi-domain option will set you back a minimum of $380/year, while the wildcard solution has a starting annual fee of $845. By authenticating the business’s legitimacy, OV SSL certificates offer an additional level of online trust. They can be issued in up to three business days and come with a $1,000,000 SSL certificate warranty.

In addition to its comprehensive but affordable service plans, Comodo is also considered the best place to get SSL certificate for its 24/7 multi-language support. The company’s customer service agents can be reached via phone, email, live chat, ticket, and online contact form.

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Creating a secure website

If you’re looking to purchase an SSL certificate so you can secure your website, here are some things to keep in mind:

Choose a reliable SSL certificate issuer

While just about anyone can issue SSL validation, the legitimacy of your SSL certificate depends entirely on the reputation of the company that issued it. All universally trusted SSL certificate providers have prospered through years of intense public scrutiny. In addition to reputation, check out the provider’s customer service team and make sure they’ll be there if and when you need them.

Use strong private keys

It seems that 2,048-bit RSA and 256-bit ECDSA keys are rapidly becoming the industry norm. Most good SSL providers will not offer to create keys for you unless it is done under very specific circumstances and in a secure environment while using hardware tokens. Even the industry’s top SSL certificate providers should never be in a position to know your private encryption keys – and they do not need them to do their job properly. Give access only to people you trust and be sure to renew it regularly.

Configure servers properly

Make sure to use the latest SSL/TLS protocols and install complete certificate chains. Make sure all potential hostnames are covered with a certificate using perfect forward secrecy to ensure that compromised encryption keys will not endanger keys used for previous sessions. Consider using OCSP stapling to ensure your clients’ browsers will automatically get notified if your website’s certificates have been revoked.

Our methodology

To identify the best SSL certificate providers on the market, we’ve created a list of requirements that all good SSL certificate vendors should be able to satisfy.

Price

Cost can be the key deciding factor for many people. When it comes to SSL certificate pricing, costs range from free (for a limited time) to almost $1,000 per certificate.

With such a large range in pricing, it can be tricky knowing where to start. Many people looking to purchase SSL certificates simply go for the cheapest option. While this can be a tempting route to take, you should remember that the cheapest SSL certificate plans usually include minimal setup assistance, documentation, and features.

Our advice: Prioritize the provider’s reputation and quality of service. Be sure you have a clear idea of what sort of certification you need. Then you can compare the prices of providers with a similar reputation and service quality.

Certification

One of the key tasks in picking a good SSL provider is looking at the types of certification that they provide. SSL certification generally fits into one of three categories depending on the level of validation. The best SSL certificates naturally are the most complex to implement and are therefore the most expensive.

  • Domain validation: DV is the budget option. These certificates simply prove that you own a domain. They satisfy the requirement to have an SSL certificate and communications with users will be encrypted, but they don’t provide much protection beyond that.
  • Organization validation: OV is the basic expectation for commercial websites. In addition to domain validation, the organization that owns the website will be asked to provide a name and address.
  • Extended validation: EV is the best and most expensive option. This type of certification typically takes the longest. It’s offered only by the top SSL certificate providers. Organizations looking to get this type of validation will have to submit to a full background check that ensures they are legally registered as businesses, operate out of the addresses provided, and so on. This is the go-to certification for e-commerce websites, financial institutions, and large companies.

There’s also the matter of how many domains a certification authority covers with a particular program. Typically, programs come in Single Domain (one domain only), Wildcard (domain and unlimited subdomains), Multi-Domain (several domains), and Unified Communications Certificate (multiple domains and hostnames) flavors. Your job is to pick which one best meets your needs.

Processing time

This is the time it takes to have your website certified. When you’re looking for the best place to buy an SSL certificate, processing time can be a crucial factor – especially for e-commerce websites.

While there are clear differences in speed when it comes to different certification authorities, it is usually the level of certification that plays the most important role in determining the speed of the certification process.

Customer support

While it may not seem as important as the other factors we’ve mentioned, good customer support can make all the difference when buying an SSL certificate. Here we consider everything from how well documented the company’s offer is on the website to how easy it is to reach the customer support staff.

FAQ

What is the best free SSL certificate?

There aren’t many good SSL certificate providers that offer these services for free. Your best bet is GoDaddy, which awards free certificates to open-source projects. You may find that an SSL certificate is included at no charge with your web hosting agreement.

Is an SSL certificate worth it?

You should be asking if you can afford not to have an SSL certificate – and the answer is no. These days, any site without encryption is flagged as dangerous on Google and suffers a major drop in search engine rankings.

Which is better: SSL or TLS?

TLS is the current version of SSL. As a practical matter, all sites with SSL certificates are actually using TLS.

What is the best SSL certificate to buy?

That depends on your budget and your online goals. Check out our reviews for some good suggestions. In our opinion, you cannot go wrong with GoDaddy, Sectigo Comodo, Entrust, or Network Solutions.