A Complete Guide to Bluehost Pricing, Plans, and Features
Bluehost is an incredibly popular web hosting service that powers well over 2 million websites as of 2020. The service is a very solid choice for both veteran and novice webmasters thanks to its wide variety of hosting packages, affordable prices, good performance, and award-winning customer support. While many other hosting providers try to specialize in a particular area, Bluehost offers a little something for everyone. This jack-of-all-trades approach makes the service overall very easy to recommend.
That said, things can get a bit tricky for newcomers due to the sheer amount of options available. And, similar to most other hosting providers, Bluehost has a pricing system that can seem a bit confusing at first glance. Prices tend to vary greatly depending on the length of your contract and all hosting plans are a lot cheaper during the first term. In addition, many of the plans don’t support monthly payments and require a rather large upfront investment.
We know that looking into every hosting plan can be time-consuming so we decided to do most of the work for you. In order to save you some valuable time, we analyzed all the services offered by Bluehost and created this comprehensive article that tells you everything you need to know about the various plans and prices. We’re going to gradually go over everything but let’s start off with the most popular type of hosting.
Bluehost Shared Web Hosting Plans
Shared hosting is perfect for small to medium-sized websites and blogs. This is the default choice for webmasters who are looking to launch their very first website and can also be a pretty good pick for established sites, provided you go with one of the higher-tier plans. Needless to say, this is the cheapest type of hosting you can find and while it can get the job done in the beginning, it’s definitely not the best in terms of performance.
Prices and Features
If your main concern is the price you’ll definitely want to start with the Basic shared hosting plan. The plan costs anywhere between $2.95 per month and $4.95 per month depending on the length of your contract. In order to get the absolute best offer, you’ll need to sign up for a 3-year contract but keep in mind that the contract requires you to pay for the full 36 months upfront. Going with the $4.95/mo option is more affordable short-term because it only locks you into – and requires upfront payment for – 12 months. Bluehost doesn’t support monthly billing cycles with shared hosting plans.
As far as the features are concerned, Basic comes with 50 GB of SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, SSL certificate, a free domain name for the first year, and support for a single website. Pretty standard compared to other hosting providers both in terms of price and features. Basic does come with some limitations but you can get rid of them by upgrading to the Plus tier for $5.45/mo. In exchange, pretty much everything becomes unlimited, including the storage, parked domains, subdomains, and the number of supported websites.
One step beyond that you have the Choice Plus tier, which is also priced at $5.45/mo with a 3-year contract. Keep in mind that Choice Plus renews for a higher price than Plus once your first term expires. During the first term, however, Choice Plus undoubtedly offers the best value out of any shared hosting package. In addition to everything you can find in the Plus plan, Choice Plus also comes with domain protection along with a backup & restore tool. It’s worth noting that both can also be purchased separately and added to any of the first two packages.
Last but not least you’ve got the Pro plan, which is quite a bit harder to recommend due to its high price of $13.95 per month. This plan does include a dedicated IP and features the best performance but there’s little else to write home about otherwise. If you’re looking to upgrade past Choice Plus, you’re better off going straight for a VPS or a managed WordPress plan.
Bluehost Managed WordPress Plans
It’s no secret that Bluehost is one of the best providers for hosting WordPress-based websites. Bluehost is one of only three hosting providers officially endorsed by the folks who created the popular content management system. Just in case you’re curious, their other two picks are SiteGround and DreamHost.
If you’re looking for unmanaged WordPress hosting, Bluehost offers three plans that are nearly identical to the first three shared hosting packages we talked about earlier. The main difference being that these plans come with automatic WordPress updates and $200 worth of marketing credits. Also, Bluehost installs WordPress for you as soon as you buy one of the hosting plans.
In addition to the unmanaged plans, you can also find three managed WordPress packages that are quite a bit more expensive. However, they also come with a nice selection of advanced features, many of which aren’t available with the regular plans. Since you already know what to expect from the unmanaged plans, let’s take a closer look at the WP Pro (managed) ones.
Prices and Features
The cheapest WP Pro plan known as Build comes in at $19.95 per month on a 3-year contract and comes with unlimited everything, just like the Plus and Choice Plus packages. One of the biggest features here is the marketing center, an all-in-one dashboard that allows you to monitor the performance of your websites and manage things like SEO, emails, social media, and more. You also get the JetPack plugin pre-installed on your website along with daily scheduled backups, domain privacy, malware removal, SSL certificate, staging environment, free domain, spam protection, and more.
The Build package offers a pretty good value proposition but if you want to take things further, you can get a few extra perks by upgrading to Grow. This plan costs $10 more than the previous one but includes JetPack Premium, Bluehost SEO Tools, and business review tools, among other things. Very important to note is that Grow also gives users access to Blue Sky, a special customer support service that we’re going to talk about more a bit later on.
As far as the final plan is concerned, it goes by the name of Scale and will set you back $49.95 per month. Certainly not cheap but it does come with a couple of features that some people may find very useful. The highlights here include JetPack Pro, PayPal integration, unlimited video compression, and Elastic Search. That last one is an advanced filtering, search, and analytics engine that aims to improve the user experience of your visitors, though it has a few other uses as well.
Bluehost Virtual Private Servers
Signing up for a WP Pro plan can make your life a lot easier but that type of hosting isn’t really a must for most people. A VPS (virtual private server), on the other hand, is definitely essential for websites that are quickly starting to outgrow the limited capabilities of shared hosting. A VPS gives you access to a chunk of resources that you don’t have to share with anyone. You’re not getting access to an entire server (more on that later), but the dedicated resources you do get will speed up the performance of your website by a significant margin.
Pricing and Features
With shared hosting, you generally pay more in order to unlock extra features, not extra resources. VPS plans are the complete opposite. You can expect roughly the same features regardless of which package you choose, but paying more unlocks extra resources. And, needless to say, extra resources means better performance.
Features that are common across all plans include things like root access, instant provisioning, multi-server management, and enhanced cPanel, to name just a few. You can also expect the basics like free domain name and SSL certificate along with an interesting feature that allows you to instantly add extra storage to your VPS whenever you want. In exchange for a certain fee, of course.
Once again, there are three packages to choose from but unlike shared hosting plans, virtual private servers support monthly payments in addition to yearly and multi-annual contracts. Bluehost doesn’t mention anything about monthly billing in the VPS section but you will find the option during checkout.
Signing up for a 3-year contract will allow you to buy the cheapest VPS for just $18.99 per month. If you go with monthly billing, on the other hand, the price goes up to $29.99/mo. Bluehost clearly wants to encourage users to pick the long-term contract but the choice is ultimately up to you. The other two plans also feature similar price differences.
Aside from getting increasingly more resources, upgrading past the basic tier will also net you additional bandwidth and an extra dedicated IP address. There are no special features available with the final two tiers but there are a few optional paid add-ons available will all VPS packages. These include things like domain privacy, SEO tools, and SiteLock.
Bluehost Dedicated Servers
Dedicated servers are generally only used by companies rather than individuals due to their high costs. But if you can afford one, a dedicated server is definitely the best hosting solution in terms of performance. While a VPS only gives you access to a portion of a server, with these plans you get the whole thing all to yourself. Make sure you can actually take full advantage of the extra resources before you switch from a VPS to a dedicated server because the price difference between the two is pretty massive.
Prices and Features
As I’m sure you’ve already noticed by now, Bluehost likes to offer its hosting plans in sets of three, a trend that applies to dedicated servers as well. The features are very similar to those included with the VPS plans but there are a few notable differences. For example, the provisioning isn’t instant in the case of dedicated servers. You’ll need to wait anywhere between 24 and 72 hours for Bluehost to build and set up your server. The other main difference is that dedicated servers use RAID1 storage to mirror and protect all your valuable data.
Just like VPS plans, dedicated servers can be purchased using monthly payments. However, doing so will cost you a pretty penny as the cheapest server comes in at $149.99 per month. Meanwhile, the same server will only set you back $79.99 per month if you were to sign up for a 3-year contract right off the bat. If you don’t want to commit to such a lengthy contract but still want to save a bit of money, you can instead go for a 3-month or 6-month payment plan.
All servers come with quad-core CPUs and at least 4 GB of RAM. Storage ranges between 500 GB and 1 TB depending on the server but you're not getting SSD drives like you would with the shared hosting and VPS plans. Also, the feature that lets you add extra storage on the fly to a VPS isn’t available here either. The dedicated servers aren’t as easy to recommend as the other products offered by Bluehost due to the high price tag. But if you value performance above all else, this is as good as it gets.
Bluehost eCommerce Optimized Plans
While you can build an online store using any of the hosting plans described earlier, Bluehost offers a few packages that will make the process easier. These are all essentially shared hosting plans based on WooCommerce. In case you’re not already familiar with that name, WooCommerce is a popular WordPress plugin that allows you to turn any website built using the CMS into a fully-featured eCommerce platform.
Prices and Features.
The main appeal of the eCommerce plans is that they allow you to sit back and relax while Bluehost sets up the storefront for you. Buying any of the three packages will also grant you a free SSL certificate, domain name, unmetered bandwidth, $100 worth of marketing credits, a 30-day trial for Microsoft Office 365 mailbox, and a free setup call. Bluehost doesn’t give any additional details in regards to the setup call but that’s probably just another way of saying that the company will take care of the installation process.
The prices here are a bit higher than those of the regular shared hosting plans but lower than the WP Pro packages. Namely, the Starter plan will set you back $6.95 per month with a 3-year contract or $13.95 per month if you choose to pay once per year. Monthly billing isn’t available here so I’m afraid it doesn’t get any cheaper than that. Starter comes with 100 GB of SSD storage and only supports a single online store.
The Plus and Pro packages remove both limitations while also adding a couple of extra features in order to sweeten the deal. The only additional feature found in the Plus plan is a backup & restore tool known as CodeGuard while Pro includes both CodeGuard and SEO tools. Quite frankly, the Pro plan doesn’t offer a very good value proposition considering that it costs $11.95 per month. It’s probably best to stick to Plus ($7.95/mo) or even Starter if you don’t want to build multiple online stores and know how to manually back up your files.
Additional Bluehost Products and Services
Bluehost is primarily known for its hosting plans, however, the company also has various other products and services you may want to check out. These include the following:
Upon request, Bluehost can help you with everything from website migration and SEO to marketing assistance, pay-per-click campaigns, and more. The company can even build and optimize a website for you if needed. This is a paid service whose price can vary greatly from project to project. At this time, Bluehost only offers consultation services to customers within the United States.
We briefly mentioned this one before when discussing WP Pro but you can sign up for Blue Sky regardless of what type of hosting you’re using. Blue Sky is a premium customer support service that specializes in WordPress websites. The service costs anywhere between $29 and $99 per month so it’s definitely pretty expensive and probably not worth it unless you’re running a profitable website.
Bluehost works alongside Microsoft to provide customers with professional mailboxes via the Office 365 suite. Many of the hosting plans come with a free 30-day trial for Office 365 but you’ll need to buy a license if you want to continue using the suite once the trial expires. Office 365 licenses cost between $2.99 and $9.99 per month and include not just domain emails but also things like calendars, cloud storage, file sharing, Outlook web access, and more.
There’s no need to register a domain name separately if you buy a hosting plan because Bluehost will give you one for free. But if you need additional domains or want to buy domains without hosting, you’ll need to purchase each one separately. Each (.com) domain will cost you $11.99 for the first year and then $17.99/year upon renewal.
These are just a handful of extra tools that you can add to your hosting plan in exchange for a monthly fee. Some of them are included for free with certain hosting packages but, for the most part, you’ll need to purchase them separately.
- Domain Privacy + Protection: Costs $11.88 at first and then $14.88 per year upon renewal.
- Codeguard Basic: A backup, monitoring, and restore tool that costs $2.99 per month and is billed to the end of the hosting term.
- Bluehost SEO Tools Start: Search engine optimization suite that costs $1.99 per month and is billed annually at $23.88/year.
- SiteLock Security – Essential: A tool that protects websites from malware and malicious attacks. Costs $2.99 per month and is billed annually at $35.88.year.
Bluehost Pricing FAQ
Does Bluehost Offer a Premium Site Builder?
Bluehost doesn’t have its own site builder but it does include access to the free version of Weebly with most of its hosting plans. If you want to upgrade to the premium version, you’ll need to spend between $5 and $38 per month depending on which package you choose.
Does Bluehost Charge Any Hidden Fees?
Sort of. Although technically not hidden, Bluehost automatically throws in certain optional add-ons and selects the longest possible contract during check out. And while regular SSL certificates are free, advanced ones start at $49.99 per year and require a dedicated IP address, which may or may not be included for free with your hosting plan. Also, if your hosting plan expires and you forget to renew it in time, Bluehost charges a $30 reactivation fee.
What is Bluehost’s Refund Policy?
Bluehost includes a 30-day money-back guarantee with all hosting plans. The policy doesn’t extend to domain names and optional add-ons like CodeGuard or SiteLock.
Can I Cancel My Bluehost Account at Any Time?
You can, but you will need to contact customer support if you want to cancel it immediately. If you’re no longer eligible for the 30-day money-back guarantee, you may still benefit from a prorated refund but it depends on how long your contract has been running for. If you want to stop renewing your hosting subscription once it expires instead of canceling it immediately, you can do so from the dashboard.
Bluehost is a solid hosting provider that has something to offer for everyone. Whether you’re thinking about launching your very first website or looking to expand an established business into the digital realm, you’ll be sure to find a hosting plan that fits your exact needs.
While not necessarily the cheapest hosting provider on the market, Bluehost can be a very affordable option if you don’t mind committing to a long-term hosting plan. But if lengthy contracts aren’t your cup of tea, you can still go with a VPS or dedicated server and pay for it on a monthly basis.
Just like any of its many competitors, Bluehost has its fair share of pros and cons. If you’re still browsing for the perfect hosting provider you should check out our top 10 Bluehost alternatives for more options. Or maybe read up on our top free web hosting services of 2020 if you’re on a tight budget and you’re looking to launch a small website without spending a penny.