Namecheap vs. Bluehost: Which Low-Cost Host Is Better?
Namecheap is a great domain registrar. In fact, I recommend it – even over Bluehost. When it comes to web hosting, however, Namecheap doesn’t stand much of a chance. Bluehost is faster, cheaper, and easier to use. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Read on to see for yourself.
If nothing else, Namecheap is true to its name. Few other web hosts offer such low prices, which got me thinking: Is this a fantastic bargain or is it a classic case of “you get what you pay for”? When you match Namecheap against a web hosting giant like Bluehost, can it stand its ground or does it fall behind, like most other very cheap hosts?
I signed up with both services to find out. Over several months, I tested Bluehost and Namecheap in terms of performance, customer support, SEO, security, and more. As you’ll see below, Namecheap underdelivered in many aspects of this comparison. What a shame.
Don't have enough time to dive into the full comparison? Here's a summary of our research:
Don’t get me wrong: Namecheap is still one of the best domain registrars out there. Even its web hosting isn’t that bad, especially considering the super low cost. However, Namecheap doesn’t specialize in hosting, and this shows. If speed and stability are important to you, it might be worth spending a couple of extra dollars per month for Bluehost.
All in all, Bluehost vs Namecheap is a pretty tight matchup, so let’s dive into the details straight away.
Speed and stability are the two things that I value the most in a good web host. A fast website is one of the key ingredients to creating a positive experience for your visitors, which means more leads, more conversions, and more sales. And since search engines focus primarily on user experience, a faster site will also help you rank higher in SERPS (search engine results pages).
Of course, both Bluehost and Namecheap claim that they offer blazing fast speeds. Almost every single web host out there does. But I wanted to see for myself how these two hosts do against one another. I signed up for each of their cheapest plans and created two dummy websites to run some essential tests. Ready to put your nerd hat on?
Full Page Load Time
First, I wanted to know how long it would take for my website to load on Namecheap compared to Bluehost. This is one of the most important metrics to look out for as you consider different hosting options, because a slow website is virtually irrelevant in today’s fast-paced world.
On GTMetrix, Bluehost got a stellar result. Grade A means that Bluehost’s servers are well-optimized, and there are no nasty bugs or resource bottlenecks to slow down my website. All other performance metrics were also in the green, so I didn’t have to put in any extra effort to speed up my site. The average full page load time was just over 2 seconds, which is also pretty decent.
Unfortunately, Namecheap didn’t do as well. The overall performance grade was C, so its servers could be better optimized. Either that or the servers are very busy, which can make my website significantly slower. In any case, not what I wanted to see. What’s worse, the average full page load time was a whopping 4 seconds, so nearly double compared to Bluehost.
So far, Bluehost is clearly in the lead. And honestly, that makes sense. Bluehost has a bunch of built-in performance features such as the Nginx reverse proxy and Varnish caching. Namecheap has nothing to show for itself in this category.
CTA: A slow website might cost you more than you think, so why take any chances? Bluehost has a track record for consistent speed and uptime. Plus, you can try it for free before you commit to a plan.
Time to Interactive
A user doesn’t need your website to load fully in order to interact with elements on a page. In fact, lots of server-side optimizations focus on delivering an interactive page first while loading the rest of the website in the background.
A low Time to Interactive (TTI) means that your visitors don’t have to wait as long to start exploring your content. In turn, this contributes to a better user experience and a lower bounce rate.
On Google Insights, Bluehost scored a nearly perfect 100, with an average TTI of 1.5 seconds. The speed index was also good, so I had no complaints. If anything, this confirmed the excellent results that Bluehost got on GTMetrix.
Surprisingly, Namecheap also did pretty well in this test. With an overall score of 97 and an average TTI of 1.5 seconds, it wasn’t far behind Bluehost. That said, its speed index was much lower, so even though the site I was testing became interactive faster, it still took way too long to fully load.
Load Impact Test
This is where things get a bit tricky. So far, I’ve only tested how Bluehost and Namecheap respond to single user requests. In practical situations, however, your website will be accessed by dozens (even hundreds) of visitors at the same time. To see how the two hosts would perform under this kind of pressure, I ran a load impact test on each.
Once again, there were a few surprises in store. For one, Bluehost didn’t do as well as I had expected. With an average full page load time of 4.7 seconds, it was significantly slower than before. I wouldn’t say this was a bad result given that I ran the test for 200 concurrent visitors, but still, it wasn’t great.
Namecheap actually did better, with an average full page load time of 1.946 seconds. I was really impressed.
You have to keep in mind that I ran these tests using the two hosts’ cheapest plans. It’s very likely that you’ll see even better results with any of the superior packages.
Of course, it doesn’t matter that a host is super speedy if it doesn’t keep your website online at all times. It’s rare to see 100% uptime during a month, but still, you want your host to come very close to that. The good news is that both Bluehost and Namecheap do.
Over the course of six months, I recorded an almost perfect uptime of 99.98% with Bluehost. Namecheap got a slightly lower 99.96% uptime, but this was still well above the industry average. No complaints here.
Bluehost vs. Namecheap: Which Host Has Better Performance Overall?
As far as I’m concerned, GTMetrix offers the most relevant metrics for web hosting, so I have to hand the victory over to Bluehost. Even though the two services scored roughly the same in terms of Time to Interactive, Namecheap was about twice as slow compared to Bluehost on most parameters.
Bluehost did fall slightly behind during the load impact test, but there are two reasons why I’m not too worried about that: 1) I ran the test with 200 concurrent visitors, which is a lot more than a regular website would get at any given time, and 2) I used Bluehost’s cheapest plan, so if you ever need more power, you can always upgrade.
Already have a high-traffic website? Learn more about Bluehost’s advanced hosting solutions in our in-depth Bluehost VPS review.
Pricing and Value
Both Bluehost and Namecheap offer a broad range of services, from domain registration to shared hosting, VPS, and dedicated servers. Across the board, Namecheap has lower baseline prices compared to Bluehost, but this doesn’t tell the whole story.
Do the lower costs mean that you have to compromise on essential features? I did a little digging into both hosts’ shared hosting plans to find out. Then, I put the plans side by side for an easier comparison. Here’s what happened.
Bluehost Basic vs. Namecheap Stellar
If you want to host a single, simple website, these are the two plans you should consider first. At $2.95 per month (with this special offer), Bluehost’s Basic package is slightly more expensive than Namecheap’s Stellar, but still very affordable. It comes with one website, 50GB of storage space, unmetered bandwidth, and free email hosting @yourdomain.
On the other hand, Namecheap’s Stellar plan gives you three websites with unmetered bandwidth, but only 20GB of storage, which is less than half of what you get with Bluehost. Email hosting is available, but if you want a professional address @yourdomain, you have to pay an extra fee per mailbox.
Both hosts include a free domain name for one year if you buy at least one year of hosting, which is great. There’s also the cPanel control panel for easier website management, a one-click installer for WordPress and other CMS, as well as a basic website builder. In short, everything you need to get online quickly.
That said, Bluehost does have some aces up its sleeve. For example, it gives you an integrated CDN for better global performance and free advertising credits to help you get started on Google Ads. More importantly, Bluehost’s SSL certificates are always free, whereas Namecheap makes you pay for them after the first year.
Renewal fees are higher with Bluehost, but I’d argue that all the extra features (plus the generous storage space) are worth the cost.
Bluehost Plus vs. Namecheap Stellar Plus
Should you want to host more than one website, your best bet is to go with either Bluehost’s Plus or Namecheap’s Stellar Plus. Both come with unlimited websites, storage space, and bandwidth, although once again, Bluehost gives you free email hosting, whereas Namecheap makes you pay extra for it.
Aside from the lower price, Namecheap does have some advantages of its own. For instance, it gives you domain privacy and protection for free if you register your domain with Namecheap, and it has automatic daily backups, which Bluehost lacks.
To get these two security features with Bluehost, you have to opt for the Choice Plus plan. It costs roughly the same as the Plus prior to renewal, but it comes with domain privacy, as well as automatic backups.
All in all, Namecheap is in the lead here, mainly because its Stellar Plus plan costs about half of what you’d pay for Bluehost’s Plus (or Choice Plus). Just remember that you might have to make a few compromises when it comes to performance with Namecheap.
Bluehost Pro vs. Namecheap Stellar Business
These are the plans you’ll want to look at if you have a medium- to high-traffic website or online store. So, let’s start with the pricing. Bluehost’s Pro will cost you double compared to Namecheap’s Stellar Business, but if I’m being honest, the difference is actually worth it this time around.
Why? For one, Bluehost gives you unlimited SSD storage, whereas Namecheap has a 50GB cap. Bluehost also offers a dedicated IP, which is very rare with shared hosting. Especially if you sell products online, you’ll want a dedicated IP in order to better secure your website and establish brand authority. If you share your IP with other users on the same server, you might get blacklisted for their actions.
But more importantly, Bluehost’s Pro plan comes with a massive boost in computing resources. Not only do you get more CPU and RAM, but your website is hosted on a server with fewer neighbors, which translates into noticeably better performance.
Namecheap’s Stellar Business plan has some attractive features – such as cloud storage, for example – but it doesn’t give you any significant performance boost. If you get a lot of visitors every day, it might not hold up.
Bluehost vs. Namecheap: WordPress Hosting
You can host a WordPress website on virtually any Bluehost or Namecheap plan. However, if you want your hosting provider to take care of routine tasks (such as WordPress updates and backups) for you, then you might want to consider a managed WordPress package instead. Both Bluehost and Namecheap offer such plans.
That said, Namecheap’s managed WordPress hosting is rather lacking. You do get a one-click installer, a cache plugin, as well as automatic updates and backups, but an SSL certificate is not included in the entry-level plan, and neither is the CDN.
Compare this to Bluehost’s WP Pro Build plan, which gives you double the amount of storage space, a free SSL, CDN access, a one-click staging environment, a Jetpack Daily Security license, plus several security features to boot.
The Jetpack license alone makes up for the difference in price. It comes with dozens of premium WordPress themes, automatic backups and malware scanning, website analytics, advanced caching, and more.
The staging environment is a nice bonus because it lets you clone your website and test any changes before you push them to live. You can play around with different plugins and layouts without breaking your site.
Yes, Namecheap is roughly two to three times cheaper than Bluehost, depending on the plan you choose, but it gives you very few WordPress-oriented tools to work with. It might be fine for a very simple project, but if you’re serious about your WordPress website, Bluehost’s WP Pro plans are the best way to go.
Which Is Cheaper, Bluehost or Namecheap?
Namecheap is undoubtedly cheaper than Bluehost, at least in terms of baseline pricing. However, Bluehost gives you more useful features for your money, and it’s still pretty affordable compared to the industry average.
If, for example, you count in the cost of email hosting with Namecheap, you end up with a total cost that’s much closer to Bluehost’s pricing for equivalent plans. As for managed WordPress hosting, Bluehost might be more expensive, but it also packs far more value.
It’s up to you and your budget, really. Namecheap is a decent low-cost host, but if you can afford to pay a little extra, Bluehost is well worth the difference, just as we saw in the Bluehost vs. WordPress comparison.
Looking for a no-fuss, affordable web hosting plan that has everything you need to get online quickly? Bluehost is your best bet. Even with its cheapest plan, you get generous amounts of storage and bandwidth, as well as several tools to help you get started.
Ease of Use
Both Bluehost and Namecheap are built with beginners in mind, so they’re very easy to use by any standards. The signup process is simple, and connecting your domain takes only a couple of minutes. If you buy your domain from Bluehost or Namecheap, respectively, getting started is even easier.
On regular shared hosting plans, you’ll have to use the one-click installer to set up WordPress (or a different CMS), and you’re good to go. If you opt for managed WordPress hosting, the CMS is preinstalled for you, so there’s even less hassle.
Now, WordPress doesn’t come with a website builder, and while it is easy to use, it’s not exactly drag-and-drop. That said, you can download Elementor, BoldGrid, or another similar tool to be able to edit your theme through a drag-and-drop interface. If you do, you can get your website up and running in a matter of hours.
Alternatively, you can skip WordPress entirely and use the provided website builder instead. Namecheap has its own, proprietary builder, while Bluehost gives you the free version of Weebly. Both come with several themes to help you out.
The only noteworthy difference between the two hosts in this category is Bluehost’s website launch checklist. This is a step-by-step guide to setting up, optimizing, and launching your first website, which I believe can be super helpful for beginners.
Whatever advantage Namecheap gains in pricing, Bluehost makes up for it in terms of features. It’s not that Namecheap doesn’t cover the basics – it does. But that’s about as far as Namecheap goes. Bluehost, on the other hand, has several advanced features that can speed up and better secure your website.
If you opt for one of Bluehost’s shared hosting plans, this is what you can expect:
- Unlimited websites, storage space, and bandwidth on most plans
- Free email hosting
- A free domain for the first year
- A free SSL certificate on all plans
- The Weebly website builder
- A neat website launch checklist
- Integrated CDN (content delivery network) for improved performance worldwide
- Office 365 trial on most plans
- Automatic backups (on Choice Plus and Pro)
- Domain privacy (on Choice Plus and Pro)
- Optimized servers for high-traffic websites (on Pro)
Namecheap’s offer for shared hosting is decent, but it has fewer tools to help you get started. This is a brief rundown of what you’re getting with its plans:
- Unlimited websites and bandwidth, but capped storage space on most plans
- A free domain for the first year
- Free SSL certificates, but these are only available for one year
- A proprietary website builder
- Automatic backups (on Stellar Plus and Stellar Business)
- Domain privacy on all plans
- Cloud storage (on Stellar Business)
All in all, Bluehost takes the lead in this category. It might be a bit more expensive than Namecheap, but the extra features more than justify the added cost.
Here’s an important aspect of web hosting that often gets overlooked. Did you know that even a minute of downtime can cost you anywhere between $137 and $9,000, depending on the size of your business? With massive online stores, these figures grow exponentially.
When downtime does occur, you depend on customer support to get your website back online. In addition, customer support is your only source of reliable information during the entire crisis. So, are Bluehost and Namecheap up to the task?
|24/7 Support||Via Phone||Via Live Chat|
I’ve tested Bluehost’s customer support over a dozen times while building my dummy website, and it never took more than a couple of minutes to get a reply. There’s 24/7 support through live chat, phone, and tickets, while the agents themselves are polite and knowledgeable.
With Namecheap, I had a somewhat different experience. Namecheap offers 24/7 support, but only through live chat and tickets, so there’s no way to get in touch by phone if you have an urgent request. I had to wait a bit longer for an agent to respond, and they weren’t always able to solve my issue.
Namecheap does have priority support on its Stellar Business plan, but if you ask me, you shouldn’t have to pay extra for a great customer support experience.
Search Engine Optimization
Even though search engines are constantly evolving, SEO is still one of the best ways to increase your revenue through organic traffic. That said, not all web hosts give you tools that can help you boost your website’s SEO without the help of an expensive agency.
In the case of Bluehost vs Namecheap, for example, Bluehost is already off to a better start thanks to its superior performance. Websites that load slowly are penalized by search engines, so they rank lower in SERPs.
Aside from this, Namecheap doesn’t give you any SEO tools that you can use to quickly optimize your website. The provider does have lost of DIY articles about SEO in its knowledge base, but that’s about it.
By comparison, Bluehost offers a complete SEO toolkit for a modest monthly fee. Or, you can get it for free if you opt for one of the superior WP Pro plans. The kit includes useful site stats, keyword research tools, a way to monitor your competition, on-page optimization features, and more.
You even get actionable tips about what you should do next, and the in-depth visitor statistics help you keep track of your progress. Although it isn’t free, Bluehost’s SEO toolkit can save you tons of money in the long run, which makes Bluehost the clear winner in this category.
How far do Bluehost and Namecheap go to keep your website safe? Well, both hosts include free SSL certificates on all plans, which is a great start. However, Namecheap’s SSLs are only available for the first year. After that, you’ll be paying a pretty sum to keep your website padlock-protected, and that’s a big drawback.
SSL certificates were not always the norm, but they are absolutely necessary today. They encrypt your users’ data and connections, and they even give your website a small boost in SERPs because search engines now favor websites with an active SSL.
Both hosts offer basic DDoS protection and domain privacy on most plans, but with Namecheap, that’s about everything you get. With Bluehost, you can buy the SiteLock add-on for a small fee in order to get a proper malware scanning and removal tool. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Namecheap.
It’s also worth noting that automatic backups aren’t included in either Bluehost’s or Namecheap’s entry-level plan. You can create your own backups (and you most definitely should), but it’s not as easy as it could be.
All things considered, both hosts could do a bit better in terms of security, but at least Bluehost gives you free SSL certificates that stay free. That’s an important advantage in my book.
If you need more power for a high-traffic website, both Bluehost and Namecheap have VPS and dedicated server solutions at affordable costs. However, there are some notable differences between them.
For example, Bluehost’s entry-level Standard VPS and Namecheap’s Pulsar have the same amount of CPU and RAM, and roughly the same storage and bandwidth, but Bluehost costs twice as much. Both plans are self-managed, so Namecheap is clearly more advantageous.
The same holds true for dedicated servers. In addition, you can only get up to 4 CPU cores per dedicated server with Bluehost, whereas Namecheap lets you add as many as 12 cores.
Namecheap also gives you the option to buy managed support as an add-on, whereas with Bluehost, you’re entirely on your own. There is the performance angle to consider since Bluehost is overall faster than Namecheap, but overall, Namecheap has the upper hand in scalability.
This isn’t something you need to worry about if you have a regular website. However, if you have a complex or high-traffic website with thousands of daily visits, you should carefully consider the two hosts’ advanced solutions.
We’ve turned this Bluehost vs. Namecheap comparison on its every side, so it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What are the main differences between these two hosts, and should they influence your decision? Take a look:
- Pricing. Bluehost is more expensive than Namecheap, but it’s still pretty affordable compared to most other hosts. It also includes everything you need to build and host your website, so there’ll be no surprises down the line.
- Speed and Reliability. During most of my tests, Bluehost performed significantly better than Namecheap. If speed is important for your website, I’d rather trust Bluehost to deliver.
- Managed WordPress Hosting. Bluehost has three outstanding managed WordPress plans that pack a lot of value. No wonder it’s one of the three hosts officially recommended by the WordPress foundation.
- Namecheap is more budget-friendly than Bluehost, so it might be worth considering if you’re looking for a low-cost option. Just remember that hidden fees for email hosting and an SSL certificate might come up later on.
- Namecheap isn’t terrible in terms of performance, but it’s definitely lagging behind Bluehost. As a massive domain registrar, Namecheap doesn’t focus on hosting, and it shows.
- Namecheap’s WordPress plans are cheaper, but they include almost no WordPress-specific features. Even in you’re on a tight budget, I’ve seen better options for this CMS.
All in all, the biggest difference between the two is the fact that Namecheap is a domain registrar while Bluehost is a web hosting provider. Thus, when comparing their hosting services , the later will always come up on top since they've been in this business for a very long time.
Namecheap vs. Bluehost: Our Pick
There’s pros and cons with both hosts, but having broken down every aspect of this matchup, I’m confident that Bluehost is in the lead. Although it lost some ground in terms of pricing, Bluehost was better than Namecheap in almost every other category:
- Performance: Bluehost did better than Namecheap in almost every speed benchmark. Uptime was similar with both hosts.
- Pricing and Value: Namecheap is definitely cheaper, but Bluehost gives you more value across most plans.
- Ease of Use: Both Bluehost and Namecheap are very easy to use, but Bluehost has a few extra tools to help you get started.
- Features: Bluehost’s plans are jam-packed with features, especially when it comes to managed WordPress hosting. Namecheap covers the basics.
- Customer Support: In my experience, Bluehost’s customer support is more readily available, and the agents are better trained to deal with most issues.
- SEO: Bluehost has an SEO toolkit that’ll help you optimize your website, whereas Namecheap doesn’t.
- Security: Both hosts have basic DDoS protection, but Bluehost has unlimited free SSL, while Namecheap will make you pay extra for SSL certificates after the first year.
- Scalability: Namecheap has VPS and dedicated server configurations that are more advantageous compared to Bluehost’s.
Aside from the lower cost, Namecheap pulls ahead in scalability thanks to its super affordable VPS and dedicated server solutions. For most regular websites, however, Bluehost is a better option.
Namecheap is surprisingly solid as both a domain registrar and as a hosting provider. However, the average performance and subpar customer support make it very hard to recommend over Bluehost. Frankly speaking, Bluehost is a very well-rounded provider that offers a better bang for your buck.