Wildcard SSL Certificate Vs. SAN Certificate – An In-Depth Comparison Guide

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
Wildcard SSL vs SAN Certificate

A Comprehensive Technical Comparison of Wildcard SSL Certificate Vs. SAN Certificate

Gone are the days when you had to buy separate SSL certificates from each of your websites and their subdomains. This had an adverse impact on enterprises as it required huge expenses and a lot of administrative work. There are now a variety of SSL certificate types, like Wildcard SSL Certificates, SAN SSL certificates, and UCC certificates which allow multiple websites and top-level subdomains to protect with a single certificate on multiple web servers.

However, with the advent of solutions like multi-domain certificates (SAN) and wildcard SSL certificates, enterprises can use a single certificate to secure numerous domains and all sub-domains. But several individuals still fail to comprehend the difference between the SAN certificate vs. Wildcard SSL certificate.

To ensure optimal security of your websites and subdomains, it’s crucial to learn the use cases of these certificates. Take no worries, as this article will help you uncover an in-depth comparison of SAN vs. Wildcard certificates. So, let’s start.

What is a Wildcard SSL Certificate?

A Wildcard certificate is a subdomain SSL certificate that lets you secure and protects numerous subdomains simultaneously. This certificate makes things simpler by alleviating the need for redeploying the certificate while incorporating subdomains.

When it comes to wildcard certificates vs. SAN certificates, the former is the ideal choice if you currently use numerous subdomains and often add them. It eliminates the need for separate SSL certificates – which involve a lot of expense – while ensuring the security of HTTPS.

How Does Wildcard SSL Work?

You should know that any SSL certificate is used for a single domain. The wildcard certificates work in a similar manner while ensuring numerous benefits to the users. There is only a single listed primary (major) domain in a wildcard certificate – like, for example, *.domain.com.

However, an asterisk (*) – which is a wildcard character – enables it to let the user protect an infinite number of subdomains, such as

  • search.domain.com
  • mail.domain.com
  • login.domain.com etc

Moreover, updating the SSL certificate when adding, modifying, or replacing the sub-domains is no longer necessary. So, using wildcard SSL certificates will be highly beneficial and reasonable for you if you use plenty of sub-domains.

Wildcard SSL Use Cases

When establishing Browser Access applications, ZPA permits the use of wildcard certificates within a solutions market. Within this specific application segment or across many application areas, you can utilize a wildcard certificate for many fully qualified domain names (FQDNs).

You might design two application portions, for instance:

  • App1 has app1.example.com in it
  • App2 that includes app2.example.com.

You utilize the same wildcard certificate, *.example.com, for both application segments. A wildcard application can also employ a wildcard certificate. The wildcard certificate, however, only matches against the top level, while the wildcard application supports subdomains.

Top Wildcard SSL Certificates

1. Comodo Positive SSL Wildcard – Best For Small Companies

The Positive SSL Wildcard is the finest security option you’ll discover if you’re a small business or organization wishing to safeguard your domain and subdomains at a fair price. The Positive SSL Wildcard is ridiculously cheap.

2. Certera SSL Wildcard – Best For Medium-Sized Businesses

The Certera SSL Wildcard offers firms full security while also offering certified business information anytime users verify the certificate or click a website mark for enterprises that are a little more recognized but could still benefit from a boost when it concerns establishing confidence.

3. Comodo Wildcard SSL – Best For All Enterprises

These SSL certificates from Comodo are explicitly designed to meet the various Enterprise requirements. This premium wildcard certificate ensures quick, seamless, and effective securing of your organization’s overall website portfolio. 

What is a SAN Certificate?

When it comes to SAN certificate vs. Wildcard certificate, the SAN SSL certificate is much like the latter one, as you can secure multiple domains leveraging only one certificate. However, there are several differences between a multi-domain SAN certificate and vs. wildcard certificate that you must know.

Firstly, you can leverage the SAN certificate with numerous websites and top-level domains. Nevertheless, a comprehensive list, along with all the SSL certificates, is a must when incorporating or adding domains. It implies that every time you include a server on the list, you’ll have to redeploy the SAN certificate.

How Does SAN SSL Work?

SAN or Subject Alternative Name, like Wildcard, is an SSL protocol extension. It enables multiple values in relation to an SSL certificate via alternative names, like:

  • Fully Qualified Domain Names
  • IP addresses
  • Multiple Websites
  • Common name RDN or DNS names
  • Distinguished names or Directory names

SAN SSL Use Cases

When learning the difference between SAN vs. Wildcard SSL certificates, it’s crucial to understand their use cases. We have already explained the use cases of Wildcard SSL, now let’s take a look at the use cases of SAN SSL certificates:

  • It is used for applications that need Client Authentication certificates. These comprise several enterprise application services like 802.1x EAP-TLS servers, VPN clients, and more.
  • SAN is used in every application that offers services over HTTPS and needs an X.509 certificate. To get a SAN DnsName entry, almost all the applications need these certificates so that the entry matches the hostname.
  • You can also add SANs in the CSR (Certificate Signing Request) while submitting it to a Certificate Authority. This is done to ask the CA to make additions to the issued certificate and incorporate those SANs. However, the decision to incorporate all or any of the SANs in the CSR is totally up to the CA.

Top SAN SSL Certificates

1. Comodo Multi-Domain SSL Certificate

The Comodo Multi-Domain SSL certificate is one of the best SAN SSL certificates. It is a one-of-a-kind SSL certificate that comes with several powerful features like unlimited server license, Up to 256-bit SSL security, and more.

2. Sectigo Multi-Domain SSL Certificate

Even though this certificate is explicitly made for Microsoft Exchange & Communication servers, they work seamlessly with other servers too. This lets you secure unlimited subdomains and up to 250 main domains.

3. Comodo UCC SSL Certificate

This certificate comes with several unique features. Besides MS exchange and communications, this certificate can also be deployed on other servers.

Wildcard SSL Certificate Vs. SAN Certificate: Outlining The Differences

We can now discuss the differences between a Wildcard SSL vs. SAN certificate since we are aware of how these two types of SSL certificates operate. Let’s quickly review how they differ from one another:

  • SAN certificates cover multiple FQDNs and SANs. For a few brands, this can go as high as 250 domains.
  • On a single level, wildcard certificates can protect an infinite number of subdomains.
  • Only the OV and DV validation choices are available for wildcard certificates.
  • Any level of elementary or commercial validation is possible for SAN certificates (DV, OV, or EV).

SAN Certificate Vs. Wildcard SSL Certificate – Features, Benefits, And Drawbacks

ParticularsSAN SSL CertificateWildcard SSL Certificate
FeaturesSecures numerous subdomains and domains and comes with all SSL types: DV, OV, and EV.Secures unlimited subdomains and comes with OV and DV SSL type but no EV type
Domain CoverageSecure a maximum of 250 domainsSecures unlimited sub-domains
Server LicenseUnlimitedUnlimited
BenefitsA single SAN certificate lets you secure both primary domains and subdomains without any hassle. Similarly,  You can incorporate as many subdomains as you want without the need to reissue them.
Encryption Lengthit provides 256-bit encryption for your website’s optimal security and protection.It offers 256-bit encryption, ensuring the maximum level of protection.
The Browsers and Mobile OS CompatibilityCompatible with over 99% of desktop and mobile browsersOver 99% of mobile phone and desktop browsers recognize this certificate.
PriceIt starts at $10.99It starts at $19.99
Refund Policy30 Days30 Days
Buy SAN SSL CertificatesBuy Wildcard SSL Certificates

Wildcard SSL Certificate Vs. SAN Certificate – Top Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing Between Them

When choosing between a SAN cert vs. Wildcard cert, ask yourself the following questions:

  • The type of website you want to secure with an SSL certificate: Is it an e-commerce website or a software application site?
  • The number of domains you need to secure – whether it’s single or multiple domains?
  • How much priority do you give to your customers’ trust building?
  • Lastly, consider your budget and how much you can spend maximum on an SSL product.


With this comprehensive Wildcard vs. SAN certificate comparison, you can now better decide which certificate to choose. Nevertheless, here’s what you should summarize and remember while making a decision:

  • Go for the Wildcard SSL certificate if you want top-notch encryption security for numerous subdomains while having the likelihood of incorporating more subdomains in the near future. This will surely provide the flexibility you seek.
  • The multi-domain SSL certificate (SAN) is the ideal choice if you have two or more primary domains. This will be a cost-effective choice in such a scenario.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.

Buy Cheap Wildcard SSL