Website security is a top concern for site owners and visitors alike. If your site isn’t secure, people won’t feel safe browsing, clicking, purchasing, or entering any information on your pages.
Equally as important, search engines like Google penalize websites that aren’t secure.
How can you improve site security and privacy on your website? At a minimum, you need to have an SSL certificate.
SSL stands for “secure sockets layer.” This is a protocol to encrypt the links between servers and web browsers. With an SSL, visitors see “HTTPS” preceding your domain when they land on your site (as opposed to HTTP, without the “s”). SSLs ensure that the site is encrypted, authentic, and that a third party has not altered the pages in transit from the server to the web browser.
An SSL certificate not only makes your site more trustworthy but also improves security and privacy.
The Top 6 Best Free SSL Certificates
- Bluehost — Best Web Hosting Provider with a Free SSL Certificate
- Wix — Best Website Builder with a Free SSL Certificate
- GoDaddy — Best Free and Paid SSL Certificates
- Let’s Encrypt — Most Popular Free SSL
- SSL For Free — Best For Free 90-Day Certificates
- GoGetSSL — Best Free SSL For Fast Verification
There are dozens of ways to get an SSL certificate online—some free and some paid. After extensive research and testing, we’ve narrowed down the top six free SSL certificates available on the web today.
#1 – Bluehost — Best Web Hosting Provider with a Free SSL Certificate
- Automatic renewal
- Free SSL certificate with web hosting
- Recommended by WordPress
- 30-day money back guarantee
Bluehost is one of the best web hosting companies in existence. Over two million sites worldwide rely on this provider—the company’s reputation speaks for itself.
Every Bluehost hosting plan comes with a free SSL certificate.
Technically speaking, you’ll still be paying for something. But you won’t have to pay for the SSL certificate. You need web hosting to get your site up and running anyway, so it makes sense to go with a hosting provider that will give you freebies like this. In addition to the free SSL certificate, Bluehost also offers a free domain for the first year of your subscription.
Bluehost is an excellent choice for new and existing websites that want to switch web hosts.
You don’t have to worry about renewing the SSL or anything like that. Bluehost takes care of everything for you.
#2 – Wix — Best Website Builder with a Free SSL Certificate
- Website Builder + SSL
- No coding needed
- SSL certificate included
- Thorough security protocols
If you’re creating a new website from scratch, Wix is arguably the best website builder available on the market today. The platform makes it easy for anyone to build a site without any coding or design knowledge.
Just choose a template and use the drag-and-drop builder to customize your site, all from an intuitive web-based interface.
Every Wix plan comes with a free SSL certificate. So, you can rest easy knowing your site is secure without having to go through any extra steps.
Additionally, Wix has other security protocols built-in to its plans, including:
- Level 1 PCI compliance
- ISO 27001 & 27018 certificates
- 24/7 site security monitoring
- DDoS protection
- TLS 1.2
- 2-step verification
- GDPR and CCPA compliance
For an all-in-one solution to building your website and getting a free SSL certificate, look no further than Wix.
#3 – GoDaddy — Best Free and Paid SSL Certificates
- All-in-one website provider
- Free SSL certificate with web hosting
- Single or multiple sites
- 30-day money back guarantee
GoDaddy is a name that many of you are likely familiar with. This company provides an extensive list of web services, including domain registration, web hosting, web design services, SSL security, and so much more.
More than 20 million customers worldwide rely on GoDaddy for various needs. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for hosting, domain registration, and site security, GoDaddy should definitely be on your radar.
When it comes to getting an SSL certificate with GoDaddy, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Technically, the SSLs alone are not free. If you’re seeking an SSL, and only an SSL, expect to pay.
However, you can get an SSL for free with GoDaddy by purchasing another service. For example, select web hosting plans with GoDaddy come with a free SSL. Depending on the package you select, you could get a free SSL for one year or even a free SSL for your plan’s lifetime.
All GoDaddy SSL certificates offer:
- SHA-2 and 2048-bit encryption
- Free SSL checker and free malware checker
- Unlimited servers and reissues
- Site secure trust marks
GoDaddy’s SSLs are compatible with all major web browsers and mobile devices. You’ll also benefit from award-winning customer support from the GoDaddy team, 24/7.
Whether you need to protect a single site or multiple sites, GoDaddy has you covered. Even though you have to pay for an SSL certificate as a standalone product, GoDaddy offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, you can try it risk-free.
#4 – Let’s Encrypt — Most Popular Free SSL
- Nonprofit Certificate Authority
- Highly transparent and secure
- Works with your web hosting
- Certified over 225 million sites
Let’s Encrypt has become a name that’s synonymous with SSL certificates. As a nonprofit certificate authority (CA), Let’s Encrypt has provided SSL certificates to more than 225 million sites and counting.
One unique standout of Let’s Encrypt compared to other SSL providers is the fact that it’s a nonprofit organization. The service is run for the public’s benefit and is backed by sponsors like Cisco, Mozilla, Google Chrome, AWS, Shopify, Fastly, Facebook, and other industry leaders.
Anyone with a domain name can get a Let’s Encrypt SSL for free.
Let’s Encrypt was founded on the concept of creating an internet experience that’s private and secure. They want people to install free SSLs in a way that’s as user-friendly as possible.
Another reason why we recommend Let’s Encrypt is because of its versatility. You can install a Let’s Encrypt SSL using SSH access from your web host or through control panels like cPanel, Plesk, and WordPress.
Let’s Encrypt recommends installing your SSL with built-in support from your web hosting provider. If your hosting provider does not offer Let’s Encrypt support, there are clear instructions that you can follow online to install it manually.
Transparency is another key component of Let’s Encrypt. Every certificate issued or revoked by Let’s Encrypt becomes a public record, and it’s available online for anyone to view. Let’s Encrypt uses advanced security best practices on the certificate authority side and ensures that website operators can secure their servers properly.
If you’re searching for a free SSL certificate, Let’s Encrypt should be one of the first places to start.
#5 – SSL For Free — Best For Free 90-Day Certificates
- Free 90-Day Certificates
- Certificates in under a minute
- No strings attached
- Trusted by 99.9% of browsers
As the name implies, SSL For Free is another way to get SSL for your website at zero cost.
Getting started is really simple and straightforward. SSL For Free issues certificates in less than one minute. The platform supports single domains, multiple domains, wildcard SSLs, and more.
Over three million SSL certificates have been created for free from this provider. There are dozens of free tutorials on the SSL For Free website with instructions about SSL verification and installation, depending on your server’s setup.
Unlike some of the other SSL providers on the web, SSL For Free truly lives up to its name and offers free SSLs with no strings attached.
Anyone can quickly create an SSL using any modern web browser. SSL For Free uses the Web Cryptography API and generates a private key to create the certificate.
You can use SSL For Free to generate 90-day certificates. But you’ll have to keep renewing the certificate manually. That’s the only catch and one of the reasons why the service is free. Fortunately, the process is so easy that the extra couple of minutes every three months isn’t bad. The hardest part is just reminding yourself to take care of it.
#6 – GoGetSSL — Best Free SSL For Fast Verification
- BV, EV, and wildcard SSL
- No paperwork or callbacks
- Free for up to 90 days
- 30-day money back guarantee
GoGetSSL is another highly trusted name in the world of SSL certificates. It’s trusted by over 81,500 customers in more than 220 countries worldwide.
If you want to get a free SSL quickly, GoGetSSL should be a top consideration. You can use this provider for a domain validation (DV) SSL certificate without filing any paperwork or waiting on a callback from someone to verify the details. GoGetSSL’s automated system issues SSLs in less than five minutes.
In addition to domain validated SSLs, GoGetSSL offers business validation (BV) SSL certificates, extended validation (EV) SSL certificates, and wildcard SSL certificates. The BV SSLs are typically validated and issued within two to four days. EV SSLs are issued within two to seven days.
Technically speaking, GoGetSSL is not 100% free. But you can try it free for 90 days, which is long for a free trial. Beyond that, GoGetSSL offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re unsatisfied for any reason, you can get a full refund for your SSL purchase.
GoGetSSL also offers a price-match guarantee. So if you can find a cheaper SSL from another provider, just contact their team to get the best possible price.
For those of you who are new to SSLs and how they work, the security experts at GoGetSSL have an awesome resource and detailed comparison tool to help you compare the different SSL certificates available. The resource is 100% free, which is super helpful as you’re shopping around and comparing your options.
How to Find the Best Free SSL Certificate For You
With so many different SSL certificates available on the web, finding the right one for you and your website can feel like a tall task. Here’s the methodology that I used to pick the winners listed and reviewed above. These factors will help you narrow down the best free SSL certificate for your unique situation.
Type of SSL Certificate
Generally speaking, SSL certificates fall into one of three categories:
- Domain Validated (DV) Certificates
- Organization Validated (OV) Certificates
- Extended Validation (EV) Certificates
DV certificates are the quickest type of SSL validation available. You don’t need many documents to apply for one. This is the lowest level of encryption, and it’s generally reserved for internal projects, as opposed to the open web. But some sites that don’t need strict encryption can get away with a DV SSL.
OV certificates fall into the medium-range for encryption. The certificates are issued after multiple steps are taken by the certificate authority to verify who owns the domain and ensures the organization operates legally. OVs can take an extra day or two to get issued, but they offer a higher encryption level than DVs.
An EV SSL certificate is best for sites that need a high standard for security. This is for you if you’re collecting sensitive visitor data or credit card information for online transactions.
Beyond these certificate types, every SSL certificate will fall into another category—single-domain or wildcard. Single-domain SSLs are cheaper because they are used to protect a single website. Wildcards are a bit more expensive because they help protect multiple subdomains.
Ease of Implementation
Once purchased, the SSL certificate isn’t automatically installed on your website. Some additional steps need to be taken.
Look for detailed instructions for getting started. You should have an in-depth explanation of the procedure for getting the SSL validated by the certificate authority and getting it installed. The steps required and length of time to implement the SSL will vary from provider to provider.
If you’re not too tech-savvy, it’s probably in your best interest to go with an option that involves the least amount of manual work on your end.
Encryption Strength and Warranties
Standard SSL certificates typically offer 128/256-bit encryption. But the actual encryption strength will actually depend on other factors, such as the end-users and the processing power of your servers. For example, a 256-bit encryption strength only refers to the certificate’s capability, not necessarily the encryption’s actual strength.
It’s common for SSL certificates to come with warranties if there’s an issue due to a mistake by the certificate authority. Low-end warranties might cover up to $10,000 in damages. High-end SSLs could cover up to $1.5+ million in damages.
The warranty is actually in place to protect site visitors, not the website itself. If a CA issues a certificate to a fraudulent site, users could potentially take legal action against the certificate issuer and website. That’s where the warranty comes into play.
With any free product or service, you should always be asking yourself, “What’s the catch?”
Not every free SSL certificate comes without strings attached. In some cases, you can only get a free SSL certificate at the most basic encryption level, which won’t be enough for certain websites. Furthermore, many free SSLs are only issued as 90-day certificates. So you’ll have to keep renewing them every few months.
Some service providers offer free SSLs when you purchase another related product or service. For example, you can get a free SSL from a website builder or web hosting company. Technically, you’ll still be paying something, but the SSL itself is free.
What’s the best free SSL certificate? It depends on what you’re looking for.
GoDaddy has both free and paid SSL certificates. To get a GoDaddy SSL for free, you’ll need to sign up for another qualifying service and choose the right package. Wix is a DIY website builder that offers a free SSL certificate with every plan. If you want to get a free SSL directly from your hosting provider, go with Bluehost.
Regardless of your needs, you can use the reviews in this guide to get a free SSL certificate for your website.