Creating a professional new website can be a somewhat expensive endeavor if you decide to pay somebody else to build it for you. But even if you’re willing to create it all by yourself, you still need to take into account the costs of web hosting. Most companies would have you believe that signing up for a hosting plan only costs a couple of bucks per month. Well, that’s not exactly the full story. Hosting providers love to advertise their cheapest packages front and center on their websites, but what they often fail to mention is that they charge a lot more for month to month web hosting.
So what do I mean by month to month hosting? In essence, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Instead of signing up for a yearly or multi-annual hosting plan, you pay for it on a monthly basis. Opting for a monthly billing cycle is often a lot more expensive than going with a contract, at least in the long run. If we’re talking short-term, however, it’s definitely cheaper because it doesn’t require a large upfront investment. Monthly billing cycles also give you more freedom since you can cancel your hosting at any time without taking a huge financial hit.
If you’re on a tight budget but still want quality hosting, a month to month plan can be an excellent solution. Unfortunately, it can be a bit confusing to figure exactly out how much hosting companies charge for their plans based on the length of the contract. Don’t worry, though, because we’re here to help. In order to help dispel the mystery, we recently took a close look at how much some of the most popular hosting services on the market charge for their month to month plans. Here’s a quick summary of our findings:
- DreamHost – Starts at $4.95/mo billed monthly.
- Namecheap – Starts at $2.88/mo billed monthly.
- Hostwinds – Starts at $8.99/mo billed monthly.
- 1&1 IONOS – Starts at $4/mo ($3/mo WordPress plans) billed monthly.
- A2 Hosting – Starts at $10.99/mo ($5/mo unmanaged VPS plans) billed monthly.
- Cloudways – Starts at $10/mo billed monthly. It only offers cloud hosting.
- HostGator – Starts at $10.95/mo ($11.68 after taxes) billed monthly.
- SiteGround – Starts at $11.95/mo billed monthly, but the first month requires a $14.95 setup fee.
- GreenGeeks – Starts at $9.95/mo billed monthly, but the first month requires a $15 setup fee.
- Hostinger – Starts at $9.99/mo billed monthly, but the first month requires a $14.99 setup fee plus taxes.
While the price was one of the most important factors we took into consideration, we didn’t want to create another list of the overall cheapest web hosting providers of 2020. Instead, we focused specifically on companies that offer good value to users who pay on a month to month basis.
You’ll often find DreamHost at the top of lists like these and there’s a very good reason for that. The company offers some of the best shared hosting plans on the market, both in terms of price and features. While not the absolute cheapest option on this list, DreamHost’s Shared Starter package includes everything you need to build and launch a new website, all for just $4.95 per month if you go with the monthly billing cycle. The $10.95/mo Shared Unlimited plan is a little bit more difficult to recommend if you’re working with a very tight budget, but its cheaper counterpart is definitely a steal.
DreamHost is an especially good option for hosting WordPress-based websites, but the service can easily handle any sort of project. Virtual private servers start at only $15/mo and you can also find affordable dedicated servers and cloud hosting solutions. Scalability isn’t a problem at DreamHost and the performance is usually top-notch. In addition, you would also be getting access to a nice range of useful features, so there’s quite a bit to love about DreamHost.
Pros and Cons
The Shared Starter package only supports a single website but it comes with unmetered bandwidth, a free website builder, automated daily backups, free SSL certificate, and domain privacy. A rather unique feature of DreamHost that was introduced only recently is a free automated site migration tool. The tool does have some limitations, with the main one being that it only works with WordPress websites, but it’s still a very nice addition to the service. Especially when you consider that most hosting providers charge a pretty penny for site migrations. DreamHost also offers free domain names and a 97-day money-back guarantee but, unsurprisingly, those aren’t available with month to month billing cycles.
As far as the cons are concerned, the most obvious one is the lack of free emails with the Shared Starter plan. You can add a mailbox to your package but it will cost you $1.99 per month. Alternatively, you can go for the $10.95/mo Shared Unlimited plan and get as many mailboxes as you want at no additional charge. Another drawback worth noting is that the basic shared hosting plan only comes with 50 GB of storage, albeit on a fast SSD drive. While DreamHost does offer more storage than some of its competitors, there are companies that don’t limit the amount even with their cheapest plans. Finally, DreamHost has 24/7 customer support via live chat and tickets, but there’s no phone support.
Originally launching as an affordable alternative to domain registrars like GoDaddy, Namecheap eventually began shifting its business more toward web hosting. As you may have already guessed based on its name, this company is all about offering cheap services. More specifically, you can get a basic shared hosting plan for just $2.88 if you’re opting for month to month payments. If you decide to go with the yearly contract, the price drops to just $1.44. However, the 50% discount only applies for the first term. After that, the yearly plan renews at $2.88, just like the monthly one.
Aside from offering very affordable shared hosting packages, Namecheap also has a killer deal on managed WordPress plans. This type of specialized hosting, which is usually pretty expensive, only costs $3.88 per month. But the best part is that Namecheap only charges $0.01 for your first month of managed hosting. That’s essentially the equivalent of offering free web hosting or a free 30-day trial. Just like DreamHost, Namecheap also offers VPS and dedicated servers, which start at $11.88 and $44.88. Although a dedicated server isn’t really a great choice if you’re on a tight budget, we do have to admit that Namecheap’s offer is extremely appealing.
Pros and Cons
Given the low price of $2.88/mo, you wouldn’t necessarily expect the cheapest hosting plan to include a lot of features but the selection is actually not too shabby. You’re getting support for three websites right off the bat along with unmetered bandwidth, a free website builder, SSL certificate, and free site migration. Namecheap promises that it can migrate your website in 24 hours or less but it gets even better. If the company fails to meet that promise, you can expect your first year of hosting to be completely free. That’s quite an amazing offer that speaks volumes about Namecheap’s confidence in its own services.
On the flip side, the cheapest shared hosting plan doesn’t include automatic backups and only comes with 20 GB of storage. Those limitations are removed if you upgrade to the $4.88/mo plan but the storage is once again limited – at 50 GB this time – if you upgrade to the $8.88 plan. The most expensive plan does feature cloud storage, but 50 GB is still a pretty small amount for many webmasters. Storage aside, you can expect the SSL certificate to stop being free past the first year, which is pretty unusual. Possibly the biggest drawback is that choosing to host your website on the UK-based data center will cost you an extra $1/mo. That brings the total to $3.88/mo but, admittedly, you can decide where you want your website to be hosted and can avoid the additional fee.
Hostwinds is a specialized web hosting provider that primarily focuses on virtual private servers and cloud hosting solutions. In addition, you can also find affordable (and customizable) dedicated servers along with some very appealing shared hosting plans. As always, shared hosting is the cheapest and starts off at $8.99 per month. That may seem a bit expensive compared to our first two options, but it’s still cheaper than most hosting services that allow month to month payments. And as far as the actual value for money is concerned, you’re definitely getting a very good deal here.
Speaking of good value, it’s hard to argue with Hostwinds’ $10.99/mo Linux-based VPS plans. The entry server is pretty basic but it’s instantly scalable so you can easily upgrade to the next tier whenever you need a bit more juice. As far as the cloud hosting packages are concerned, you don’t need to worry about any lengthy billing cycles because Hostwinds allows you to pay by the hour. The cloud hosting prices are also very competitive, to the point where Hostwinds can give even big players like DigitalOcean a run for their money in this department.
Pros and Cons
The advantages of signing up for a shared hosting plan with Hostwinds are quite numerous. The basic package comes with unlimited bandwidth and SSD storage along with a free dedicated IP, free website transfers, SSL certificate, unlimited email accounts and databases, free domain (with yearly billing), and a free website builder. Check out our Weebly review if you want to learn more about the website builder in question. In addition to the basic shared hosting plan, Hostwinds offers two more packages that come with support for more than one website. The $10.99/mo plan can support up to 4 websites while the $12.99 one supports an unlimited number of them.
Hostwinds doesn’t have a lot of disadvantages aside from the fact that its money-back guarantee is only good for 14 days. The good news is that the refund policy also applies to monthly billing cycles, which is often not the case with other services. On the other hand, the company stopped offering full refunds a while back and now only works with prorated ones. Another thing you may find annoying is that Hostwinds makes you create an account on its website before it allows you to see the prices for the various billing cycles. That’s a pretty unnecessary extra hurdle and not very good for business either.
4. 1&1 IONOS
1&1 IONOS is a very underrated hosting provider that you should definitely not ignore, especially if you’re looking for a company that lets you pay on a monthly basis with no strings attached. The plans do have certain limitations but the prices are pretty amazing. You can get a basic shared hosting package for as little as $4 per month and the best part is that you can cancel at any time. If you want to go even lower, there’s also a $3/mo WordPress plan. Even more impressive is the fact that 1&1 includes free domain names complete with domain privacy for the first year even with monthly billing. The icing on the cake is that you can quickly pay with PayPal and don’t have to waste any time filling out personal information.
But if you’re looking to jump straight into the business shared hosting plan, you’ll be happy to know that it only costs $8 per month. Quite a bargain but it gets even better. You can get your first month of business hosting for just $1. No setup fees and no need to sign any contracts. This makes the business plan an incredible value proposition for new users who want to see what IONOS has to offer. Meanwhile, there’s also a third shared hosting plan known as Expert, which costs $14 per month. Not a bad price considering this is the most expensive plan.
Pros and Cons
The price alone is reason enough to give IONOS a shot but, of course, you should always take into consideration the features as well. Some of the highlights include SSL certificate, DDoS protection, unmetered bandwidth, daily site backups, 1-click installs for 70+ apps, and email accounts, among other things. As always, upgrading to the next tier will unlock a few more features while going one step further to Expert gives you access to everything. The WordPress plans are sort of like a combination between managed and unmanaged hosting, and the $1 per month offer is available there as well.
We already mentioned that IONOS comes with some limitations, so let’s take a closer look at them. The $4/mo plan only includes 10 GB of storage, 512 MB of RAM, 10 email accounts, and 10 MySQL databases. Another thing that may cause a bit of concern is the fact that 1&1 lists the performance level for each of the three shared hosting plans but it’s hard to say what the descriptions really mean. For instance, the cheapest package is said to have a Basic performance level while the most expensive one has performance level 5. Given the low price, you can probably expect the performance not to be amazing but it should be good enough for most small websites.
5. A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting is another jack-of-all-trades provider that doesn’t focus on a specific area but rather tries to offer something for everybody. And, for the most part, it certainly succeeds. The company has affordable shared and WordPress hosting solutions along with virtual private servers and dedicated servers. In addition, A2 also has some of the most popular reseller hosting packages out there, with prices starting at $14.70 per month for the first term. Reseller hosting can be quite profitable but it’s not really meant for beginners so we recommend sticking with shared hosting if you’re on a budget.
Speaking of which, a shared plan at A2 Hosting will set you back $10.99 per month. That’s roughly the market average for services that allow month to month payments so it’s hard to argue with that price, even though there are a couple of cheaper options out there. Meanwhile, an unmanaged VPS will only cost you $5 per month. That’s an absolute bargain, however, this type of hosting is aimed at tech-savvy users and a basic server doesn’t come with a whole lot of resources. Still, we can’t really complain about it too much since it’s very difficult to find a VPS that cheap elsewhere.
Pros and Cons
A2 Hosting’s biggest advantage is its anytime money-back guarantee, though that’s not very helpful unless you go with a yearly or multi-annual billing cycle. Aside from that, you can expect a free site migration, 100 GB of SSD storage, unlimited email accounts and bandwidth, free SSL certificate, Cloudflare CDN, staging site, and free website builder. You can also choose between four different data centers and the company is throwing in automatic backups along with a few other useful features if you decide to upgrade past the basic tier.
A2 Hosting includes a lot of great features with its plans but most of them won’t be available to you if you stick with the $10.99/mo plan. Server backups are one prime example but you would also be missing out on Site Accelerator, Turbo Mode, and various performance plugins, among other things. But the main drawback here is the extremely low amount of physical memory included. The basic plan only comes with 0.7 GB of RAM, so expect the performance to be pretty average. Of course, you can upgrade your plan to unlock more memory but you’ll need to spend at least $20 per month to get a decent amount (2 GB).
Cloudways is a fairly unique example of a month to month web hosting service. The platform essentially acts as a middleman between the user and various cloud hosting providers like DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud. Signing up with Cloudways will give you access to data centers and resources owned by those companies, with some very nice ease of use feature on top. The goal here is to make cloud hosting as accessible as possible for everywhere. Among other things, the company makes it very easy to integrate cloud hosting with content management systems like WordPress or Magento.
Cloudways offers a wide variety of hosting packages and there’s something for every pocket here. The cheapest plan will only set you back $10 per month and will allow you to use DigitalOcean’s data centers. Past that, you’ve got Vultr data centers for $11/mo and Linode data centers for $12/mo. The server specs are identical regardless of which of the three you choose so it mostly boils down to personal preference. Unsurprisingly, AWS and Google Cloud plans are a lot more expensive. In addition to monthly billing, Cloudways also supports a pay-as-you-go model and even gives new customers a free 3-day trial.
Pros and Cons
The amount of features offered by Cloudways is truly amazing. You can expect everything from a dedicated environment and SSD storage to firewalls, free site migration, automated backups, SSL certificates, and so much more. The company only works with managed hosting plans, so you can also rely on its team of experts to help you out with any technical issues you may have and take care of certain aspects related to the security of your server. The cherry on top is that you can choose between 50+ data centers around the world.
But despite all its great selling point, Cloudways does have a couple of cons you should keep in mind. The most obvious being that the company specializes entirely in cloud-based services so you won’t be able to find shared hosting, VPS or dedicated servers here. While offering great bang for the buck, the starter packages do come with some limitations. Particularly when it comes to resources. You only have 1 GB of RAM and 25 GB of storage to work with while the bandwidth is capped at 1 TB per month.
HostGator is a veteran domain registrar and hosting provider that has been operating for almost two decades at this point. Despite having its fair share of ups and downs over the years, HostGator remains one of the most popular providers around thanks in no small part to its accessibility and reliable customer support. As far as the prices are concerned, they can be considered fairly standard, with the cheapest shared hosting plan hovering around the $10.95/mo mark. However, that price doesn’t include taxes and the actual cost is closer to $11.68 for one month of hosting.
The company also offers other types of hosting like VPS and dedicated servers but these are a bit harder to recommend for month-to-month payments. Then, you have plans for the Gator website builder, which start at around $6 per month. Gator works similar to platforms like Wix or Squarespace where you get an all-in-one package that comes with hosting, domain name, website builder, and more. These types of platforms are great for beginners but Gator is still pretty barebones at this stage and doesn’t come with a lot of interesting features.
Pros and Cons
The cheapest package includes more or less what you would expect. You only get support for a single website but you don’t have to worry about the bandwidth or the storage and the plan includes things like SSL certificate, unlimited emails, eCommerce support, and a few other bits and baubles. You can upgrade the basic plan if you need support for more than one website but the other extra features aren’t anything to write home about. The main highlights are the free dedicated IP and SEO tools but those are only available with the most expensive plan.
HostGator has a bit of a reputation for trying to sell you more than you want to buy. Granted, that could be said about a lot of companies but in this case, the approach is fairly aggressive. For one, the company’s website automatically selects the longest billing cycle for the hosting plan you’re trying to purchase, which locks you into a 3-year commitment. Moreover, a couple of optional add-ons are also added automatically to your cart, raising the total price to a lot more than you would probably want to pay.
SiteGround is one of our favorite hosting providers but its prices can be a bit steep if you decide to pay on a month to month basis. However, the company currently has a limited-time offer that’s incredibly appealing, at least for the short term. You can get three months of shared web hosting for a total of just $0.99. That’s only $0.33/mo but you do need to sign a contract for the entire 3-month period. If you don’t already have a domain name, you will need to register one for $15.95/year. That brings the final cost to $16.94 or a bit less than $6/mo. That’s an incredibly generous offer and perfect for short-term projects.
Once the offer expires, you’ll need to pay quite a bit more than that. The same basic shared hosting plan will usually set you back $3.95 per month with the caveat that you also have to pay a setup fee worth $14.95, so the total is around $20. Past the first month, the plan will cost $11.95/mo moving forward. SiteGround’s payment system is a bit arbitrary, especially when you consider that the setup fee for the other two shared hosting plans is $10 more expensive for no apparent reason. If you’re willing to overlook this little problem, you’ll find that SiteGround does try its best to provide good value in exchange for your money.
Pros and Cons
Sticking with the basic shared hosting plan will give you access to unlimited databases, email accounts, and bandwidth along with SSD storage, free CDN account SSL certificate, automated daily backups, spam protection, eCommerce supports, and FTP accounts, among other things. SiteGround also has a very neat tool that allows you to set up and customize WordPress websites with incredible ease. There’s no free site transfer with the basic package but you can unlock it by upgrading to the next tier. Doing so will also give you access to on-demand backups and a few other useful features.
SiteGround has many strong selling points but, unfortunately, the storage amount isn’t one of them. With the basic plan, you’re only getting a measly 10 GB to work with while the most expensive package comes with just 40 GB. The basic plan comes with another major flaw in that it doesn’t allow you to add collaborators, which makes it suitable exclusively for solo projects. It’s also worth noting that while you do get access to as many databases and mailboxes as you want, their size isn’t unlimited.
Just as its name suggests, GreenGeeks is all about being environmentally friendly and doing its best to power its servers by using clean energy. That’s certainly a very noble cause that makes GreenGeeks a good pick for users who are concerned about the environment. But that’s not why GreenGeeks is on the list. In addition to being eco-friendly, the company also has reasonable prices and several types of hosting plans to choose from. This includes Shared, WordPress, VPS, and reseller hosting. The only thing missing here are dedicated servers.
The pricing system is very similar to that of SiteGround. You can get your hosting for cheap if you opt for yearly billing but you can also choose month to month payments if you don’t mind dishing out a bit more. A month of shared hosting starts at $9.95 but there’s a one-time setup fee you’ll need to pay on top of that. In addition, there’s no free domain with monthly billing so, unless you already have one, you’ll need to pay an extra $13.95 for that as well. That brings the total to $38.90 including the domain when you first sign up. Past the first month, you’ll only need to pay $9.95/mo moving forward.
Pros and Cons
The features are pretty standard and include the usual suspects like unmetered bandwidth and unlimited storage, SSL certificate, website builder, free website transfer, unlimited MySQL databases, nightly backups, eCommerce functionality, and more. Upon reaching the higher levels you can expect enhanced performance, free dedicated IPs and a few other features, though the increased performance is the main reason for why you may want to upgrade. The WordPress plans are pretty much identical to the regular ones but include a 1-click installer for the CMS.
There aren’t too many negatives to mention here aside from the setup fee and the lack of free domains But it is worth noting that GreenGeeks doesn’t include free domain privacy either, though you can buy it separately for $9.95 per year. If you decide to buy a domain complete with privacy when you sign up for a hosting plan you’re looking at an investment of close to $50 right off the bat. By comparison, paying for a full year in advance comes in at around $70. In other words, GreenGeeks is not easy to recommend for monthly billing but, again, it does get a lot cheaper past the first month.
Hostinger is up there with the likes of Namecheap when it comes to affordable web hosting, at least as far as multi-annual contracts are concerned. If we’re talking about month to month payments, Hostinger isn’t nearly as easy to recommend as Namecheap but it’s still a decent option to keep in mind. The gist here is that you can get a shared hosting plan for only $0.99 per month, however, you’ll need to commit to a 4-year contract and pay in advance for the entire period. If you want to opt for monthly payments, the cost goes up to $17.83/mo.
The huge discrepancy comes from the fact that Hostinger enforces a $4.99 setup fee along with $2.85 worth of taxes. Without taking those into account, the hosting itself would only cost $9.99/mo. Meanwhile, paying for the entire 4-year period would only cost you a total of $56.55, including taxes. Needless to say, the multi-annual contract gives you vastly better value for your money in this case. But if you want to stick to monthly payments regardless, we recommend going with the premium plan as it only costs a bit more ($19.02/mo) but comes with many more benefits than the basic one.
Pros and Cons
Hostinger’s unusual pricing system can be considered both a pro and a con depending on how you look at it. But at least the features themselves are pretty good, provided you stick to the premium shared hosting plan. With this package, you get unlimited bandwidth, email accounts and support for as many websites as you want along with two times more resources than with the basic plan. In addition, you can also expect a free SSL certificate, domain name, weekly account backups, unlimited databases, and more. As always, upgrading to the higher tiers will unlock even more useful features.
The basic shared hosting plan is already a hard sell due to the price alone if you’re looking to pay on a monthly basis. However, it gets even worse once you take a look at what’s included. For starters, the bandwidth is limited to 100 GB, which is pretty terrible, as is the fact that you can only create one domain email address. Moreover, a lot of other things like databases, subdomains and FTP accounts are also very limited and there are no daily backups either.
Monthly Billing vs Yearly/Multi-annual Contracts
As you might imagine, hosting providers would prefer if you signed up for a long-term contract rather than go with a monthly billing cycle. Picking the long-term option means that you would pay in advance for the entire period, whether that’s 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, or more. That’s one of the reasons why companies always promote these contracts on their home pages while conveniently failing to mention the part where you need to make a large upfront investment.
With a couple of exceptions like DreamHost or Namecheap, hosting providers tend to hide the fact that month to month payments are even supported. It’s not uncommon to have to start the checkout process in order to be able to see all the available billing cycles. While there, you’ll often be surprised to find that there’s a big difference between the advertised monthly price and the price you actually have to pay when selecting the month to month option.
There are clearly some disadvantages to going with a long-term contract, but are there any benefits? Most certainly. While you do need to pay a hefty sum upfront, you won’t need to worry about your hosting for one or several years afterward if you decide to go down this path. In addition, companies tend to offer significant discounts on yearly/multi-annual contracts that will indeed save you a lot of money in the long run. Granted, the discounted prices are usually only available during the first term, but it’s still worth it regardless.
Another important thing to mention is that not a whole lot of hosting providers work with monthly billing. Quite a few of the biggest players on the market right now don’t support that option, including Bluehost, InMotion Hosting, iPage, and many others. In other words, you have a lot more companies to choose from if you don’t mind signing up for a yearly plan.
Then, you also have to take into consideration the features because some of them won’t be available with month to month payments. Most notably, almost all providers include free custom domain names for the first year with their shared hosting plans, and some of them even throw in domain privacy as well. However, this freebie is usually reserved for yearly contracts. Another useful feature you might be missing out on is the money-back guarantee. There are some exceptions to this but, more often than not, refund policies don’t apply when you’re paying on a monthly basis for your hosting plan.
But while monthly billing does have its drawbacks, it can certainly be a very appealing option for many users. For one, you can cancel your hosting at any time without taking a serious financial hit because you didn’t invest a whole lot, to begin with. Monthly billing is a fairly risk-free option that also works great when you just want to test a certain service before you commit to a longer payment plan. And, of course, paying month to month is great for users on a budget who simply can’t afford to invest a large chunk of money upfront into their web hosting but can spend a little every month.
Compiling this list was a bit tricky since only a small handful of hosting providers make it clear right off the bat that they support monthly billing. Most companies do their best to encourage you to buy a long-term plan, which definitely makes sense from a business perspective. The goal of this article was to present what we believe are the best monthly web hosting plans right now, but every user has different needs and expectations so the choice is ultimately up to you.
If you want our personal opinion, however, we encourage you to check out DreamHost first if you’re looking for a service that offers a good balance between price and features. Namecheap is probably your best bet if you’re in the market for raw affordability while Hostwinds is a bit more expensive but also offers a lot more in return. Some of the other providers on the list have a lot to offer in the short term but become harder to recommend once the limited-time offers and discounts expire.