The Difference Between Paid and Free SSL Certificates

If you found this article, then you are either new to SSL Certificates and wondering whether you need to pay for one, or already have one and wondering why you paid for it. Don’t worry, your website can be secure irrespective of whether it has a paid certificate or not. Both of these types of certificates are valid and are offered by many vendors.

There are many differences between free and paid SSL Certificates. We’ll be looking at them in detail in this article and we hope that it will help you to identify whether you need a paid SSL Certificate.

The Level of Trust offered

The trust offered by a well-known and reputed Certificate Authority (CA) is the most important aspect of an SSL certificate. This is true irrespective of whether certificates are free or paid. Such CAs are able to instill a sense of trust and security in your users so that they are assured about transmitting personal data via your website.

To more savvy users, this trust comes with the knowledge that these CAs have robust security in place to protect their private and public keys, security servers and other assets. This provides a sense of security, not only in the transmission of data but also in that the CA is able to counter any malicious attacks.

While it is not possible to measure the level of trust offered by CAs, it is more of a perceived value based on reputation and historical data.

The Type of Certificate offered

This is another important aspect of digital certificates. Many free services offer only Domain Validation. This type of validation can only tell your users that your domain has been validated and that data is being submitted with encryption.

Paid SSL certificates can provide more in the forms of Organization Validation and Extended Validation. Organization Validation provides information about your organization so that users can identify who they are sharing their data with. This adds an extra layer of trust.

Extended Validation provides more security, especially for organizations involved in financial transactions and credit card payments. These industries required a higher level of security and EV is one way of assuring users that your website adheres to these standards.

Read our article about SSL, TLS, and HTTPS to learn more about these types of certificates.

The Level of Validation offered

Irrespective of whether your SSL certificate is free or paid, it is important that some organizational information is provided to users.

This is where paid SSL certificates gain their advantage. SSL certificates will be deemed meaningless in certain industries and within certain user groups if Organization Validation is not available. This can also be true regarding the absence of Extended Validation.

So ensure that you understand the level of validation that you require before selecting an SSL Certificate. It is also important to assess the perceived value assigned by users in this regard.

Validity Period and Renewal

Free SSL certificates are usually made available for shorter periods like 30 – 90 days and have to be renewed regularly. This can be fine for a short period but can become troublesome for organizations with on-going businesses.

As such it is important to consider the validity period when purchasing an SSL Certificate. Paid services usually offer a validity period of about 1 – 2 years.


Support for installing and managing certificates becomes very important in cases where the organization does not have the know-how to manage their certificates on their own. This is especially true for organizations with a large number of certificates. A good support mechanism can make this process very smooth.This type of service is provided by most paid SSL vendors and we highly recommend getting such a certificate if you require support. Use our Hosting Finder tool to find a good hosting deal with SSL and premium support.


The differences between paid and free SSL Certificates should now be clear to you. The type of SSL Certificate that suits your website is a decision that needs to be made by you with much care, and we hope that we have pointed you in the right direction.

If you need more information, HostingReview has many articles that can help you.