5 Affordable Web Hosts Under $3 Per Month

A list of the top cheapest web hosting companies with affordable, yet reliable, web hosting plans to get your website online with a low budget of $3/mo.

Our official guide to the best budget web hosting

Looking for the cheapest web hosting? Many webmasters understandably seek the lowest price they can get to keep their site up and running. When it comes to web hosting, a shared hosting plan is the cheapest type you can get. Often referred to as bargain web hosting, this type is ideal for brand new sites just starting off or for small, existing ones with little traffic. In this guide, we list the top 5 cheapest choices for hosting your website, all under $3 per month. Of course, cost is not the only factor you should look at when it comes to web hosting and we have also taken into account several others – such as the reliability of service, quality of hardware, value of bonus options, extra tools available on platform, and the renewal rate.

IMPORTANT TIP: The length of the term when signing up for a hosting plan plays an important factor on price. For example, signing up for a 3 year term often gives you a lower rate than a 1 or 2 year term. Although paying ahead of time for 3 years may cost more upfront, it will greatly save you more in the long run.

The Cheapest Web Hosts at a Glance

A quick overview of the cheapest choices for web hosting, all available at a price of under $3 per month (depending on term length):

Web Host3 Year Price:2 Year Price:1 Year Price:Learn More:
GreenGeeks$2.95/mo$3.95/mo$4.95/moVisit Site
iPage$1.99/mo$2.49/mo$2.99/moVisit Site
HostGator$2.78/mo$3.98/mo$5.37/moVisit Site
1&1 IONIS$8.00/mo$8.00/mo$1.00/moView Site
Bluehost$2.95/mo$3.95/mo$4.95/moVisit Site
Jay Douglas touring the 1and1 Ionos data center
A picture of Jay Douglas, founder of HowToGetOnline.com, inspecting server hardware at the 1&1 Ionos datacenter in Lenexa, Kansas.

How to Choose a Cheap Hosting Plan for Your Site

Unlike nearly everything else we buy on this planet, web hosting prices fortunately tend to fall, rather than rise. This is due in part to the economies of scale. As more servers are added, bandwidth, memory, processing, and data storage costs go down. It costs hosting companies less from year to year to host the same number of clients. For example, in 1998, Hostway.com gave you 14 MB for every dollar you spent on hosting. In 2008, they gave you 860 MB per dollar spent. Now you get 7,194 MB (equivalent to 7.2 GB) for every hosting dollar. We predict this upward trend in value compounded with a downward trend in cost will be the case for the foreseeable future, or until some other industry disruptor comes into play.

That being said, web hosting is a very competitive industry and although the costs of hardware are decreasing, marketing and advertising costs are high. Many web hosts are pinching pennies to get you the best deal to stay competitive.

How “Cheap” is Cheap?

There's an old saying “you get what you pay for” and just like with most consumer services, this applies to web hosting. Cheap web hosting is very popular, but notorious for having slow speeds and frequent downtime. When compared to other services and commodities, we define cheap as less than $3 per month for unlimited shared Linux web hosting.

We typically don't recommend skimping on web hosting, however we do realize that not all websites published on the web are profitable enough to generate sufficient income to cover the monthly cost of a high-performance web hosting plan.

QUICK FACT: Nearly 95% of all websites published on the web are simply not profitable enough to generate sufficient income to cover their monthly web hosting fees. This single fact illustrates why bargain web hosts are so popular year after year with netizens.

Fortunately, anyone on a budget – whether it be small businesses, start-up companies, eCommerce store owners, students, non-profit organizations, bloggers, or independent web publishers – can succeed with a cheap web hosting plan if they choose a good web host and use it appropriately. In website development where high performance is most important, site owners are advised to go with a VPS, cloud, or dedicated hosting solution.

What to Look for in a Cheap Hosting Plan

Below is some advice on what to look for when purchasing a cheap hosting plan and how to get the lowest price.

Avoid Aggressive Upselling & Cross-selling Practices

Many web hosts will try to upsell and cross-sell to their customers. Although sometimes this may be necessary and beneficial for the customer, often times it's spammed too aggressively and is not needed. Even at checkout, many web hosts try to cross-sell additional products/services.

Example of cheap web hosting cross-selling
Here's a cross-selling example from iPage, at checkout, with two additional products already pre-selected.

Always check what features and services are included in your web hosting plan at the price being advertised. As you can see from the screenshot above, these few additional cross-sells can significantly increase your initial cost.

Choose a 3+ Year Term & Invest in the Long Run

As previously mentioned, most web hosts give you the best rate if you purchase the longest term. The basic rule of thumb is the longer the term you purchase, the cheaper the introductory price.

Pricing example with term length
Here's an example from Bluehost, at checkout, showcasing the introductory pricing differences between the length of terms.

If you want the lowest rate, choosing a 3+ year deal is mandatory. You'll pay more upfront, but save more in the long run. We almost always recommend choosing the longest term as most web hosts offer a 30+ day money-back guarantee and a pro-rated refund afterwards. However, be sure to check the refund policy as not all web hosts do this. For example, Bluehost offers a 30 day money-back guarantee, but does NOT offer a refund after 30 days. They used to… but changed this. Sneaky!

Check the Renewal Rates

The introductory price that you see advertised is almost always the cheapest price you're going to get throughout the lifetime of your hosting service with the company. After your first term has passed, your web host will renew your hosting service at their regular rate. This is why we recommend choosing their longest term initially!

Example of web hosting renewal rates
A screenshot of iPage's renewal rates… which are no longer at $1.99 per month!

It is typical for the renewal price to be significantly higher than what was signed up for initially. That said, some web hosts are notorious for this. With iPage, for example, after signing up at $1.99 per month, the contract renews at $7.99 per month (assuming a 3 year term). The result is a 4x (or $216) higher bill than last time. Always be sure to check the renewal price!

QUICK TIP: Avoid host hopping if you're happy with your web host. Higher renewal rates are standard for most web hosts and something you should expect to see. Hopefully by the time your initial term ends, your site will have grown enough to produce revenue that can well exceed its hosting costs.

Get the Lowest Price by Taking Advantage of the Secret “Walk Away” Offer

Speaking of introductory pricing, some web hosts have a secret “walk away” offer that is even lower priced. This is ultimately the lowest price you can get when signing up. The idea is that a customer is about to signup, but then decides to back out. The web host then offers an even lower, special price to entice the user to continue with their purchase.

Cheap web hosting secret offer
Some web hosts, like iPage as shown above, will show a secret “walk away” offer if you pretend to back out or take too long to fill out your order information when on the checkout page. Their pricing just went down from $1.99 to $1.75!

Not all web hosts offer this, but some of the ones on our list currently do 😉

Look for Additional Bonus Features & Freebies

Many web hosts throw in hundreds of dollars worth of free addons like advertising credits, directory listings, a domain name (typically free for the first year only), and other goodies that can help cut down the cost of launching your website. Some web hosts include promotional SEO and SEM services or anti-spam and security utilities. The value of these extras are largely determined by the different needs and requirements you may have.

Example of bonus features that many cheap web hosts offer
An example of some bonus features that iPage offers – including a tool-free business phone number.

Check for Implementation of New Web Standards & Latest Software Versions

Bargain web hosts are sometimes known to lack the advanced support of new web standards or implement the latest software versions on their web servers. Only when cPanel rolls out security updates and/or platform support for most of the web standards, will the bargain hosts follow. The provision of advanced caching features like APC, OPcache, & Memcached is standard, but turned off on some bargain web hosts for better PHP performance on older hardware.

Cheap web hosting often lacks the latest software version
Cheap hosting plans often lack the latest software versions. In the example above, our Hatchling hosting plan from HostGator is still running PHP Version 5.6. WordPress currently recommends Version 7.3 or greater.

Plans that include free SSD storage, cloud optimization of network traffic, and premium hardware configurations should be preferred over companies that do not have these options available.

Check What Tech Support is Available With Your Plan

Some web hosts consider technical support and telephone access to staff for issue resolution a bonus feature (although generally these are a standard of service shared by most companies in the industry). There is increasingly a trend for budget web hosting companies to rely on issue tickets over phone staff for greater technical support efficiency in operations.

Finding the Right Mix Between Affordable & Reliable

All of the web hosts listed above offer decent shared web hosting plans based on a single, standardized product of Enterprise Linux web servers (CentOS or CloudLinux) with cPanel (or vDeck for iPage). Shared Linux web hosting is the least expensive option primarily because of the advantages of using free, open source software. The LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) is a basic requirement for most contemporary websites running open source scripts for content management, eCommerce, or specialized tasks. Many small business owners and individuals start off with a cheap hosting plan to easily launch websites based on open source script frameworks. It's the best, most cost-efficient method to launch complex, new websites on a tight budget.

QUICK FACT: Websites generally with low budgets have little traffic and are thus suitable for an inexpensive hosting plan.

Although there is often a bias towards high performance hardware and new web standard implementation on web hosting platform reviews, many customers are looking for a simple and easy-to-use service without a lot of extra features that they do not need. Just because it is possible to install 5 or 10 different CMS scripts with databases on a bargain web host does not mean that the websites will operate under high traffic conditions or need to scale effectively on the web servers. Prospective customers are advised to pay attention to the amount of server resource allocation provided to every bargain hosting account, as well as the CPU limitations for I/O request processing. By making proper use of page caching solutions, multi-domain publishers can develop CMS websites for many low traffic domains on a single bargain hosting account, while still receiving industry standard software administration features and high-level hardware performance on the remote network.

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