by Juan Robin II
If you’re looking for the best cheap web hosting available, it’s likely for one of two reasons. The first is a kind of “no need to pay a lot for something I’ll hardly use” mentality: you know your website is neither big nor complex nor particularly well-trafficked. Maybe it’s even going to be a temporary site, like for an event. If that sounds like you, we recommend looking into a free website builder first. You might be able to get what you need for no money at all.
If that’s not you, you do need hosting. If you’re looking for hosting that’s cheap, it means you’ve decided you don’t need the very best ever — kind of like shopping for a new car knowing you’re more in the market for a Mazda than a Maserati. For those looking for hosting that’s really cheap — we’re talking under $3/month — there are some decent options.
Like cars, though, you tend to get what you pay for with web hosts: a higher price tag means smarter technology, a faster site, more customer support, and better security. The customer support alone usually makes the price worth it, and some top-of-the-line shared hosting providers don’t actually cost much at all.
The Cheapest Web Hosts
Best for Multi-Year Contracts
Best for Monthly and Annual Contracts
The Best (and Still Pretty Cheap) Web Hosts
What cheap plan is best comes down to who has the most robust Mazda for the least amount of cash. But even that isn’t always straightforward. You’re going to have to do some math.
How to Figure Out How Much Your Web Hosting Will Cost
Remember to compare intro pricing to a plan’s long-term pricing
Pretty much every web host out there offers some sort of introductory pricing, typically for the length of your first contract. These prices tend to be dramatically lower than the base rate of the plan. (iPage, for example, offers a one-year contract for $3/month. The second year, that same plan bumps up to $10/month.) A provider’s promotional pricing isn’t consistent — throughout the year, some discounts are bigger than others — but it’s pretty much constant. Think of it like shopping at Old Navy: pretty soon, everything will go on sale.
There are a handful providers that don’t participate in much promotional pricing. These hosts tend to scale pricing with the length of the contract: longer contracts mean lower monthly pricing. FastComet sells one of its shared hosting plans for $6/month on a month-to-month basis, but drops it to $3/month if you sign on for three years.
Both situations beg the question: What’s the best contract length? There’s no single good answer. The cons of a short-term contract are pretty clear: they are more expensive. Go for a long contract, though, and you lose the flexibility to switch to a different, more interesting, more powerful provider should you outgrow your host’s services or become unhappy with its quality after the initial money-back guarantee period.
Three additional costs to keep in mind
Depending on what you hope to achieve with your website, the hosting part of a web host’s services isn’t the only price point to consider.
- SSL certificates: Free – a couple hundred bucks a year, depending on level
Secure Sockets Layer encryption is what makes a website secure enough for sensitive data like credit card info and passwords. They’re mandatory for all ecommerce businesses, but also important for pretty much any website: SSL certificates make your website safer for users and will increase your search rankings. Most web hosts sell SSL certificates (which is our recommended place to buy one).
- Domain registration: Approx. $15/year (but depends on the domain)
If you’re looking to set up a brand new website, you’ll need to purchase a domain as well. Most web hosts give you the option to register a new domain as you purchase a hosting plan; some also include a promotion deal. There is plenty of advice on keeping your domain hosting separate from your web host, including convenience if you ever want to move your site, more options in domain extensions, and increased security (if someone hacks into your web host, your domain won’t be impacted, and vice versa). They also tend to be cheaper and the service more reliable.
Generally, we also recommend registering domains through a separate domain registrar, if only because that’s what their expertise is — a hot dog from a hot dog stand is always going to better than a gas station hot dog, even though they are functionally the same thing. That said, it’s not necessarily bad to host your domain through your web host, especially if you’re only working on one website. Just know they may not have the extension you want, and they probably are going to charge a little more.
Don’t forget about domain privacy: Approx. $12/year
When you register a domain, whether it’s with a domain registrar or your web host, we recommend opting into domain privacy. It’s what keeps your personal information, like your physical address and phone number, out of WHOIS public records — and therefore out of the speedials of lots of spammers. (At least for now. This all may be changing soon. After the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, went into effect mid-2018, some domain registrars have stopped publishing this type of information to avoid liability. Paying extra for domain privacy may become a thing of the past!)
- Upgrading: Price varies
This factor won’t impact everyone, but it’s worth taking into consideration if you envision building a bigger, more complex website over time, and/or you are expecting that traffic to your site will grow. The cheapest web hosting is on a shared server. Most hosts have a few tiers of shared hosting to accommodate more robust, higher-traffic websites, but as websites grow, upgrading to a VPS server is a high probability. If you have goals for your site, it’s worth it to evaluate the long-term costs of hosting, especially if you’d rather not move hosts.
Other Things to Consider When Looking for a Cheap Web Host
Shopping around for a great cheap web host isn’t all that different than looking for a great web host in general. As we reviewed our top picks for best cheap web host, we took into consideration the following in addition to price:
- Customer support: You want 24/7 live support and a robust, well-organized knowledge center.
- Storage and bandwidth: These are limitations on how big and heavy your website can be, and how much oomph you have to deliver that content to your visitors, before having to upgrade to a higher-tier plan.
- Migration: Free supported migrations are a nice-to-have if you are transferring an existing site to a new host (as opposed to launching a new website).
- Free trial: A money-back guarantee gives you the opportunity to really dig into customer support, as well backend features and usability. Longer is better, though most cheap web hosts offer only 30 days.
Our Two Favorite Cheap Web Hosting Providers
WebHostFace – Best for Multi-Year Contracts
WebHostFace is relatively new to the web hosting scene and is making a name for itself with extremely low promotional pricing — we’re talking under a dollar. And because that promotional pricing is available on both short month-to-month contracts as well as big three-year contracts, you can get a lot of hosting for not much money. (That said, at about $7-10/month, its plans’ base rates aren’t all that “cheap.”)
Typically, we don’t recommend hosts that are only 5 years old: longevity is a good marker for quality. But for the rock-bottom price, we like WebHostFace’s free Let’s Encrypt SSL and one free assisted site migration. We also like that SSD disk space and CDN is included, which will give websites more optimized performance. There are hard caps on storage space — the cheapest plan tops out at 15GB, the next bigger caps at 20GB. That’s plenty of room for most websites, but something to keep in mind if your site is particularly big or complex.
- Promotional price: $0.69/month
- Regular price: $6.89/month
- Contract lengths: month-to-month, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years
- Domain registration (.com): $15/year
- Domain privacy: $11.95/year
- SSL: Free (provided by Let’s Encrypt)
- Storage: 15GB (SSD)
- Bandwidth: Unmetered
- Migration assistance: Free for 1 site
- Money-back guarantee: 30 days
- Uptime guarantee: Yes
- Support: Email and 24/7 live chat
WebHostFace doesn’t offer any promotions or deals on domain registration. We generally recommend registering with a separate domain registrar than your hosting company, and in this case, it makes extra sense. Domain registration through a provider like Namecheap will score you a better deal, and you’ll still get to take advantage of extremely low hosting costs.
Hosting Plus Domain Registration and Domain Privacy
Price for 1 year: $35
Price for 3 years: $106 ($35 per year)
Price for 5 years: $324 ($65 per year)
On the cheapest shared hosting plan and longest contracts, including registering a new .com domain and opting into domain privacy.
Price for 1 year: $8
Price for 3 years: $25 ($8 per year)
Price for 5 years: $190 ($38 per year)
On the cheapest shared hosting plan and longest contracts.
Upgrading to WebHostFace’s middle tier (about $10/month) increases disk space and grants users SSH access. VPS is significantly cheaper than some of the competition, with plans starting as low as $10/month.
Namecheap – Best for Monthly and Annual Contracts
Namecheap is best known as a domain registrar, but also offers budget hosting with a beautifully intuitive and easy-to-use backend, and a decent knowledge center. Like WebHostFace, it has caps on its storage (the cheapest plan offers 20GB). Unlike WebHostFace, its disk space is SSD-accelerated (as opposed to pure SSD). Not a problem for a simple, low-key website, but something to keep in mind if you’re afraid of sluggish speeds. Also unlike WebHostFace, it charges for an SSL certificate — not great, especially since it’s de rigueur for lots of web hosts to include one for free.
Namecheap plays hard in promotional pricing, with first-year discounts on everything from hosting to domain names to SSL certificates. It also offers only two contract lengths — month-to-month or one year — which means you aren’t going to score the mega deals that a host with multi-year contracts can offer. That said, the non-promotional price for its cheapest plan is comparatively low: under $3/month. (WebHostFace’s equivalent plan is nearly $7/month if you’re paying in full). If long-term contracts make you nervous, and you’d prefer to purchase hosting monthly or year-by-year, Namecheap is going to be your best deal.
There are two other things we appreciate with Namecheap hosting. The first is domain privacy is free for life if you register your domain with (or transfer it to) Namecheap. This is pretty rare — Dreamhost is one of the only other hosts that offers this add-on for free. Also, migration assistance is included at no cost, which is a nice-to-have if you’re looking for a new host for your existing site.
- Month to month: $2.88
- Annually: $1.29/month for first year, then $2.57/month
- Contract lengths: month-to-month and 1 year
- Domain registration (.com): $8.88 for first year, then $12.98/year
- Domain privacy: Free
- SSL: $1.99 for first year, then 10.49/year (provided by Comodo PositiveSSL)
- Storage: 20GB (SSD-accelerated)
- Bandwidth: Unmetered
- Migration assistance: Free
- Money-back guarantee: 30 days
- Uptime guarantee: Yes
- Support: Email and 24/7 live chat
Namecheap is our favorite domain registrar, and it’s the only one we’d even consider hosting a site with — despite it’s less-than-stellar specs. That said, if you’re comfortable paying for web hosting three years at a time, you’re going to get better site performance and more robust customer support for about the same price if you register your domain with Namecheap and host your site on Dreamhost.
Registering a Domain and Hosting a Site with Namecheap
Price for 1 year: $26
Price for 3 years: $135 ($45 per year)
Price for 5 years: $244 ($49 per year)
On the cheapest shared hosting plan, assuming registering a new .com domain, opting into domain privacy, and purchasing an SSL certificate.
Registering a Domain with Namecheap and Hosting a Site with Dreamhost
Price for 1 year: $56
Price for 3 years: $128 ($43 per year)
Price for 5 years: $249 ($50 per year)
On the cheapest shared hosting plan with the longest contracts, and assuming registering a new .com domain.
The next cheapest shared hosting plan jumps to about $5/month (or $52/year), and increases storage limits, email accounts, and some control panel features. Upgrading to VPS starts at $20/month.
How Our Other Favorite Web Hosts Compare
When we reviewed the best web hosts for small businesses, three shared hosting providers stood out with reputations for excellent customer support and even better performance. If you have growth goals for your website, we think one of these hosts is worth the additional expense. In some cases, that expense might not end up being all that extravagant: these providers also deal in promotional pricing and free add-ons.
Dreamhost – Cheapest Managed WordPress Hosting
DreamHost isn’t our favorite web host ever. It has enough little quirks — like a custom, non-universal control panel and phone support you have to pay to use — to keep it out of our top slot for lots of small businesses. But, when you compare it to “cheap” web hosts, it’s a pretty stellar deal, especially considering even its lowest-tier shared hosting plan has managed WordPress hosting built right in.
On top of that, DreamHost provides a free SSL and free domain privacy (if you choose to register your domain through DreamHost), and it offers a massive 97-day money-back guarantee. There’s no promotional pricing with DreamHost either, which means you can get 50GB of storage and unlimited traffic for under $3/month, if you opt for a three year contract. Buy a plan year by year and you’ll get it for just under $4/month.
InMotion Hosting – Best Customer Support
We think of InMotion as the Subaru of web hosts: it’s an all-around provider with a solid reputation. It especially stands out for its customer support, with a knowledge center that’s recognized as one of the best in the business. It also offers a full 90-day money-back guarantee — second longest only to Dreamhost.
For those looking for cheap web hosting, its plans are discounted at a fairly comfortable $4-5/month, depending on whether you opt for a two-year or one-year contract. After that, shared hosting runs about $8/month.
SiteGround – Best Reputation
SiteGround has a glowing reputation and the performance to back it up — it’s typically one of the first hosts to introduce new and developing technology to its shared hosting customers. If you’re looking for excellent web hosting, you’ll be very happy with SiteGround. If you’re looking for cheap hosting, you probably won’t go for it. At around $4/month, its promotional pricing is on par with lots of other web hosts. But after your initial contract (either one, two, or three years) that price triples to $12/month.
Other Cheap Web Hosts We Considered
1&1 Ionos offers big shared hosting plans (100GB) for a dollar a month for the first year before bumping up to $8/month. It also offers a sort of “pay for what you use” model when it comes to traffic — its cheapest plans can accommodate around 100 visitors/minutes. To be able to handle more, you can either pay $2/month per “performance level” (up to level 5) or upgrade to higher-tier plan.
Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosts around — along with SiteGround and Dreamhost, it’s one of WordPress’s three recommended web hosts. We like it, but don’t love it. For the same price (about $4/month for the first contract and then $8/month) you can go with InMotion, which offers similar specs, but better customer support, higher ratings, and a longer free trial. Bluehost does stand out for offering a five-year contract, though. InMotion caps out at two years.
FastComet offers cloud hosting for reasonable rates. It’s an interesting option for those looking for fast performance and dependable uptime, but isn’t the cheapest option out there. FastComet scales pricing with contract length: opt for a three-year contract, and you’ll get hosting for under $3/month, while month-to-month hosting runs about $6.
Hostgator is another extremely popular host with decent pricing, especially if you sign up during a good sale and lock into a nice, long, three-year contract. Like Bluehost, though, its technical specs are similar to InMotion’s and for available for a similar price: about $7/month. We prefer InMotion.
Hostinger is the closest contender to a runner-up for great cheap web hosting. It’s not quite as cheap as WebHostFace, though, plus its plans are smaller (10GB) and it only includes a free SSL on its highest tier of shared hosting. A couple of things we do like, though: one free site migration, and the promise of a 24-hour turnaround on all help tickets.
iPage is a budget sister provider to popular web hosts Hostgator and Bluehost, and stands out for offering only one shared hosting plan at deep discounts for its long-term contracts: hosting for under $2/month for three years before it bumps up to around $7-10/month. Pretty cheap, but you can do better with both Namecheap and WebHostFace, especially considering storage isn’t SSD and migrating a site will run you a whopping $150.