True Story – Save Yourself $50!

I recently had a new client purchase my website service and later found out that he had created his previous website with Vistaprint’s website service. When it came time to transfer his domain, he found out that he would need to pay $20 just to transfer the domain from Vistaprint! I did some research and found out that when you get a domain name through Vistaprint, you are not the domain owner – Vistaprint is. If you are already a Vistaprint customer or thinking about purchasing their website service, read below and find out avoid this problem and save yourself some headache and cash.


WARNING! Vistaprint Domain Name Policy Takes Hostages

Vistaprint Domain TransferWhen you purchase a website from Vistaprint, you pay a monthly price for website hosting and access to their website builder. They will include a domain in the service but it’s important to realize that you do not own the domain if they purchase it on your behalf. You are essentially leasing it. Since you are not the domain owner, your name will not be listed in the domain WHOIS information for the domain.

So why is this important?

It’s important because if you decide to cancel your Vistaprint website in the future but want to keep your domain name, you won’t be able to easily transfer it. You’ll have to go through a process of requesting the domain from Vistaprint and paying an “administrative fee” to release the domain. Many people say this is around $20 but I’ve had people tell me Vistaprint was charging them $50+ for a domain transfer.

This may not seem like a lot but in terms of the cost of domain names which are typically $10/year, this is substantial chunk of change. Some people are calling it extortion. I don’t think I would use a word that strong, but it is definitely not standard procedure among similar companies and it is smart to avoid it altogether.

Read Vistaprint’s website terms


Business Cards AND Websites?

Vistaprint websitesVistaprint is known for their printing and a lot of people go there for business cards. I just bought my business cards from them yesterday actually.

But just like many companies who are in the small business space, they offer a website builder as an add-on to take advantage of the thousands of customers they already have who need websites.

Whether or not their website service is good is answered in my full Vistaprint Website Builder review.


Transferring Your Domain Away from Vistaprint

So if you’re already a Vistaprint customer and wish to cancel your Vistaprint website but keep your domain name, you will need to contact Vistaprint customer service and ask them what the fee will be to transfer your domain name away from Vistaprint. After paying the fee, Vistaprint will give you access to change the domain contact information to your own. Once that is done, you can initiate the domain name transfer. I recommend setting up a Godaddy account and starting the transfer here. Just type your domain in the box on that page and then proceed to pay the transfer fee to Godaddy. This is usually under $10 and you’ll get an extra year added on to your domain registration so it’s a good deal. This is separate from the administrative fee that Vistaprint is charging.

Check out this other post for more details and a video walk through of the domain transfer process

After initiating the transfer with Godaddy, an email will be sent to the domain name owner which is now you. You’ll simply need to confirm the transfer with an authorization code in your new Godaddy account and that should complete the transfer.


Before You Start a Vistaprint Website

If you are reading this and considering purchasing a website from Vistaprint, the smart move is to purchase your domain name first from Godaddy and then link it to your Vistaprint website. This is easy to do and will ensure that YOU own the domain name, not Vistaprint. You won’t be held hostage over a domain name and have to pay an administrative fee if you ever want to point your domain away from the Vistaprint service. The domain name is one of the main assets of your website so it is important to own it yourself.


Questions? What Was Your Experience with Vistaprint?

Please comment below if you have any questions about the process. And please share your experience with Vistaprint websites and the domain transfer process if you think it might be helpful to others.


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  • Jim Thornton

    Thanks for the info on vistaprint. But why would you ever recommend GoDaddy? If you’re getting an affiliate commission just disclose that. But if you’re going to be an affiliate, why not recommend a better hosting company?

    • Ryan Bowman

      Hi Jim, thanks for the comment. I recommend GoDaddy for domain names because I have used them for 10+ years and found them to be reliable and fast with DNS changes, transfers, etc.. I don’t recommend them for hosting since I am not a big fan of their hosting service and have not used it much.

      I recommend HostGator for hosting because I’ve used them for 10+ years and found their product and service to be excellent. There are a lot of good domain registrars and hosting companies out there but I only recommend the ones I use myself.

      I am an affiliate for many services I recommend and also recommend many services that I am not an affiliate for. If you read my blog posts, you’ll see I give an honest opinion throughout regardless of affiliate relationships. I do disclose affiliate relationships more often now but didn’t on some of my older posts. It’s also easy for people to spot an affiliate link if they care to know.

      • Jim Thornton

        Fair enough. and again thanks i did find your article helpful.

  • Jesnescakes

    So once I pay for the transfer and move my domain name to godaddy, will I be the official owner of the domain name?

    • Ryan Bowman

      Yes, that’s correct. After the transfer is complete, you’ll have full control of the domain and be the owner.

  • Deb

    More on owning your own domain name – the process for still using VistaPrint to host (hassle to move everything and redesign) but own my own domain name is the same. Transfer to GoDaddy then point from Vistaprint, right?

    • Ryan Bowman

      Not sure I understand what you’re saying but yes, you can own your own domain name and point it to Vistaprint. You can contact Vistaprint and ask them for instructions on pointing your domain name to their hosting. You can probably search on their website and find instructions too.

  • emma

    I wish i had read this before I did a free trial with vistaprint. I presumed as i hadnt paid anything they would not have bought the domain i typed into the trial web builder. I think this is more of a scam to be honest, when you are just playing around.

    • Ryan Bowman

      Did you give your credit card for the free trial? I didn’t realize they purchase domain names when you enter them for a free trial. I’m sure there is some small print somewhere when you select a domain name.

  • Bahama Mama

    Vistaprint should be held up to another class action lawsuit. They will go through the process to transfer your domain name but will then give every excuse in the book (it went to spam, the automated messaging service isn’t working, the department who sends the messages is closed,…) to deny you the information necessary to actually transfer the domain name. If their web builder wasn’t so terrible maybe people would stick with them. They lost ALL of our pictures (with comments) that were posted as time moved along on our website and all we got was a hollow sorry. They couldn’t restore the webpage to a previous version where the pictures were available so nothing actually was fixed. It was recommended we use their “new” builder (when the pictures disappeared from the old builder) but you cannot transfer the old content into the new builder. What’s the point of making a complete website all over again! All of the customer service is located in Jamaica (I wonder why?) and they don’t care one bit about the “customer”. They just bring in money and when the customer chooses to stop for horrific service and web building capacity that same customer is worthless since they won’t deliver funds. What a crock!

    • Ryan Bowman

      This is why it’s better to not get your domain name from Vistaprint if you decide to use their website builder. That way you don’t have to go through the motions with them to recover it.

      I’m not familiar with their backup system but I’d be nervous with most of the website builders because most do not have a backup facility. This is a good thing to ask before choosing a website builder.

      Are they charging you a fee for the transfer?

  • Kiera

    Yep vistaprint is painful. I purchase my domain name for $20 and now they expect another release payment to release the name to me. its bullshit and so much work. regret buying the domain name. Vistaprint are terrible in the web department.

    • Ryan Bowman

      I understand why they do it but not many other companies do this in the same case. This is why I always recommend that people keep their domain separate from their website provider in most cases.

  • Kelly Berger

    I would like to know, if I cancel my page with Vistaprint without transferring my domain name, what happens to it? Can I simply wait a period of time and then register it with GoDaddy after?? Or do they keep it held hostage until I pay their fee??

    • Ryan Bowman

      I would recommend transferring your domain name BEFORE you cancel your Vistaprint account entirely. If you cancel the account before transferring, they may say they don’t have to transfer the domain at all. You could wait for the domain to expire in that case but it could be a long time. Regardless of when you transfer the domain from Vistaprint, they will likely charge you the admin fee.

  • Ashley Sherkat Eldridge

    I am attempting to transfer my vistaprint Domain to my companies new blogger site. It has been a nightmare and I cant seem to get a straight answer from anyone at Vistaprint on how to do this. they told me it was possible but wont give me any information after that. I cant call because I am never able to understand the people on the other end. anybody know how to do this or am I screwed?

    • Ryan Bowman

      Click on my link above to read Vistaprint’s domain terms, specifically the part on domain names. You can watch my video here for info on transferring domain names

      The kicker with Vistaprint is that they ask you to pay a fee before they give you the transfer codes. Ask them for the EPP code to transfer your domain name. They will probably ask you to pay the fee then before giving you the code. Once you have the code, you can follow the steps in my video.

  • iSingh

    OMG this is a freaking nightmare. I signed up for a website with VistaPrint and they owned the domain. Fare enough! They said I needed additional features and that my account needed to be upgraded to premium. That was fine too except I had to cancel the first order then purchase the new plan. When I went to put in the domain name that I wanted for the new order, it was unavailable as it was still tied up in the old order. I still stated that it was the domain name that to be used. They said it would be available in 4 – 5 days and it would be used in the new order.
    Lo and behold I checked my website dashboard with VistaPrint and the domain was not as I specified. Sure enough, the domain is now owned by someone else who wants a MINIMUM of $799.

    VistaPrint says there is nothing they can do about that.
    Can anyone advise?

    • Ryan Bowman

      Wow – that’s pretty awful! It sounds like the domain expired and someone recovered it. Sounds like a company that specializes in printing – not websites and domains! Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like there’s much you can do in this case if someone else already owns the domain, unless you pursue damages with Vistaprint. I’m not sure that would be worth $800 though. This is another reason to keep your domain name separate from your website builder – especially if it’s Vistaprint!

    • John Norman

      Complain to Opensrs, Tucows, should not allow this. Tucows have turned into a money grabbing pirate as well. That, no doubt is why VistaPrint is with them. VistaPrint is not a registrar, Tucows aka: Opensrs is. Take them on they will fold. Insist your name be returned or you will start an ICANN action.