5 Cheapest Web Hosts Under $3 Per Month

A review of the best, cheapest web hosting companies of 2017. Find an affordable, yet reliable web host to help get your website online with a low budget.

Our official guide to the best budget web hosting

Looking for the cheapest web hosting? Many webmasters understandably prefer the lowest prices on web hosting services but do not want to pay in advance for long-term plans. Because a 3 year contract is often the only way to secure the lowest rates on web hosting costs, and most users are forced into this decision without being able to fully test the platform services in advance, we have reviewed our recommendations for the best bargain web hosting companies below. The general factors that contributed to the selection were: reliability of service, quality of hardware, price of contract, value of bonus options, extra tools available on platform, network optimization, uptime guarantees, and level of innovation in cloud solution provision. Some of the bargain web hosting companies only provide a single hosting plan, while other web hosts offer a discount plan as part of a larger package of platform services.

The Cheapest Web Hosts at a Glance

A quick overview of the top 5 choices for budget web hosting with plans all available at a price target of under $3 per month:

Web Host3 Year Price:2 Year Price:1 Year Price:Learn More:
iPage$1.99/mo$2.49/mo$2.99/moVisit Site
HostMetro$2.95/mo$3.45/mo$4.95/moVisit Site
Bluehost$2.95/mo$3.95/mo$4.95/moVisit Site
WebHostingPad$2.29/mo$2.99/mo$3.99/moView Site
eHost$2.75/mo$3.49/mo$4.99/moVisit Site

Finding the cheapest web hosting

Choosing a Bargain Web Host

Bargain web hosting plans are popular with everyone from small businesses, start-up companies, and ecommerce store owners to students, non-profit organizations, bloggers, and independent web publishers. The sad reality is that more than 95% of the websites published on the internet are neither profitable nor even generating income sufficient to cover the monthly web hosting fees. This single fact illustrates why bargain web hosts are so popular year after year with netizens. Cloud companies and popular media sites may serve more page views per day than thousands of independently published websites that operate without paid staff, sales & marketing budgets, or official business organization. Nevertheless, small companies can compete successfully on the internet by leveraging the power of open source tools for web publishing and database management to build new software solutions.

A critical aspect to the long-term stability and success of independently published projects on the web is the ability to contract low cost hosting plans. In the current environment, it is possible to sign-up with a few bargain web hosting companies for less than $3 per month. Since this is an exceptional price when compared to renewal prices at $12 to $15 per month being fairly standard with major companies in the industry, we have assembled a list of the best bargain web hosting companies to reference when seeking service plans with the lowest overall prices. Independent web publishers are looking for quick and easy access to open source script management tools with a shared Linux hosting plan, where cPanel is the industry standard for domain name and web server administration. We have only selected bargain web hosts with unlimited domain plans for these reviews.

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. However, 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 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.

Finding the Right Mix Between Affordable & Reliable

All of the web hosts listed above offer shared web hosting plans based on a single, standardized product of Enterprise Linux web servers (CentOS or CloudLinux) with cPanel and over 80% of the client websites hosted on the platforms are running PHP scripts for web publishing. 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 shared Linux hosting to easily launch websites based on open source script frameworks. It's the best, most cost-efficient method for start-up entrepreneurs, small business owners, and individuals to launch complex, new websites on a tight budget.

In addition to providing cheap web hosting, many web hosts also offer free website builders and templates which dramatically help cut down on costs of web development services. There are thousands of free or inexpensive website templates to help get your business online. You can cheaply build your own website and host it without hiring a professional web designer. These site builder tools also work in the hosting company's favor because the out-of-the-box site builder tools are security tested and have easy to access reference resources when something goes wrong. That efficiency is passed along to you in the form of a cheaper overall web development bill as part of the bargain hosting solution. The right set of web development tools included in a shared web hosting plan can save thousands of dollars through time saved in custom programming costs for PHP & MySQL database solutions.

How Much is Cheap?

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 or to add more. 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. Nevertheless, when compared to other services and commodities, we define cheap as less than $3 per month for unlimited-domain shared Linux web hosting.

Many web development projects have budgets where the difference between $20 per month and $3 per month is not significant. In website development where high performance is most important, site owners are advised to go with a VPS, cloud, or dedicated hosting solution. However, many website owners with no budget for their projects are forced to seek rock-bottom pricing for high quality services. Even though it might be tempting to set your hosting budget at the exact monthly amount as your host charges, you may want to pad that by about 50% to ensure that, should you need to upgrade or if you get hit by any kind of bandwidth or storage overage, or you need to buy an SSL certificate or other add-on, you'll be covered. Therefore, if hosting costs you $3.99 per month, budget $5.99 per month just to be safe. The larger problem comes with the terms of the bill that may require up to three years of advance payment to secure the lowest prices on the deal.

Investing for the Long Run – 1, 2, or 3 Year Terms?

The basic rule of thumb with bargain web hosts is that, “The longer the term you purchase, the cheaper the introductory price.” If web hosting is considered like a commodity, sold by the pound or kilogram, most shared Linux plans at bargain hosts already include unlimited domain support, bandwidth, storage, and MySQL databases. With platform features (Apache, PHP, Python, Perl support, MySQL, FTP, email, etc.) standardized, the length of term of the service contract is used to determine rates. For example, if you sign up for 1 year the rates may be $4.99 per month, with discounts to $3.99 per month on a 2 year plan, and $2.99 per month for one year. This is seen as reasonable because of the size of the upfront payment on the account, but also comes with the risk if the platform service is untested or if the underlying hardware remains upgraded over the course of the deal.

Because of this, there can be different advantages and disadvantages to signing up for a long term web hosting plan. If you want the lowest rates, a 3 year deal is mandatory. The determining factor is how much of a mark-up the company charges on hosting plan renewal rates. Because it is more difficult to transfer websites to different servers to secure better rates on web hosting, many companies take advantage of long term customers who pay monthly to charge the highest rates for services. Developers with many low traffic websites that must remain always online can easily take advantage of a three year deal by using a bargain web host as a staging environment to build new websites and then transfer them to other hosting solutions if traffic requirements scale. In this way, bargain web hosts function as part of a larger collection of web development solutions for business.

Renewal Rates

After your first term has passed, your web host will renew your hosting service at their regular rate. Be sure to check the renewal rates, as these can be significantly higher than those signed up for initially. Some web hosts are notorious for this – after signing up for a one year contract at $2.99 per month, the contract renews at one year at $12.95 per month. The net result is $120 higher bill that must be paid to keep all of the hosted domains online. This is where the bargain web host rates become most valuable for those on a tight budget. But even the moderately frugal can appreciate the basic principle of not paying more for the same services at one company over another. Because even bargain web hosts can have different policies concerning renewal rates, it is important to confirm and plan for these in advance when managing long term web publishing projects.

WebHostingPad is the one company distinguished here by offering the same rates on renewal as when signing up for a new account. Many customers may prefer the deep discounts on registration, but WebHostingPad keeps its rates at the lowest levels in the industry. Although it is difficult to sign-up for a 5 year account just to lock in the $1.99 rates, the savings can be significant enough for many projects that it becomes reasonable and the difference between $2.29 per month for a 3 year contract will not break the bank. However, many customers have problem paying $120 more per year for the exact same service provided for a product at other companies. In general, eHost and iPage are both very high with their renewals, while Bluehost also charges more after the first contract, making WebHostingPad and HostMetro the most honest about renewal rates of all the companies listed.

Bonus Features & Addons

Many web hosts throw in hundreds of dollars of free addons, like Google Adwords, Yahoo! & Bing Ad credits that can be applied to launch keyword advertising promotion campaigns. The value of these extras largely is determined by the different requirements of the customers signing up for the plans. Web development platform tools can be useful for those regularly using cPanel to launch many new domains. While the cPanel experience is largely standardized across bargain web hosts, some offer additional features like CloudFlare CDN integration. Although CloudFlare requires a DNS server redirect, it can be used to reduce strain on the local web server to increase website performance and pageload speeds through advanced international data center caching options. Other bargain web hosts include free SEO promotion tools, anti-spam & security utilities. Most of the cheaper shared Linux hosting plans do not include support for PHP 7, HHPV, HTTP/2, PostgreSQL, or PHP extensions like APC, OPcache, and Memcached.

The basic trade-off with bargain web hosts is between advanced support of new web standards and providing rock-solid shared Linux hosting solutions on established protocols. The bottom line is that whenever cPanel rolls out security updates and platform support for most of the web standards, the bargain hosts will 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. Bargain web hosting 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. Some companies consider technical support and telephone access to staff for issue resolution bonus features, but 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.

Bargain Web Hosting – Summary

In terms of price, WebHostingPad is the lowest cost cPanel web hosting company, but the $1.99 per month rate is only available on 5 year contracts. The $2.29 per month cost of the 3 year contract is also excellent. While providing everything required for complex CMS website development on the LAMP stack using MySQL & PHP, WebHostingPad competitively provides the same service as other, more established companies like HostGator, GoDaddy, GreenGeeks, and Bluehost at a price of more than $10 per month less for the same service. By refusing to offer different rates on renewals, WebHostingPad also distinguishes its budget plans from the industry and competition on the issue. Probably no reason leads to more website files being transferred between servers and web hosting companies than the excessive rates charged on renewal contracts after the discount terms have expired.

iPage leverages the slight margin difference between software licenses on vDeck vs. cPanel to offer unlimited shared Linux hosting at a monthly price of $1.99 as well. For most users, there is not a large amount of difference and the operating system on the server is otherwise also CentOS. Some people prefer Softaculous and Fantastico to MOJO Marketplace and QuickInstaller so this could be a red flag issue for avoiding vDeck altogether and going with a cPanel host. The iPage tools are designed to help people publish online through site builders, but most developers will prefer to use open source scripts. Consider the Bluehost platform to be more than 90% the same as WebHostingPad and iPage, but at twice the price. Other web hosting companies charge even more for the same service. In our research, these are the top two lowest priced web hosts to be found online in 2017.

eHost and HostMetro both have built success by combining a strong brand identity with cut-rate pricing in the bargain web host sector. The websites are easy to use and details about the plans can be understood quickly through the information provided. The bottom line is that with cPanel and CentOS supplying the basis for Apache server management across a large number of competing platforms in the web hosting industry, the main distinguishing factors are: the quality level of the underlying hardware; cloud optimization on the network; web standards implemented in the stack installation; platform software innovation; and customer service. eHost and HostMetro both earn high marks in our reviews in these areas, with the exception that neither is actively working in advancing cloud platform software innovation and open source CMS development like Bluehost.

Even though Bluehost and eHost are both EIG sister companies, they are very different in geo-location, business strategy, management team, brand identity, data center facilities, platform software installation, etc. Nevertheless, on a fundamental level, all of the five companies are competing at providing the same cloud service of shared Linux servers running Apache, PHP, & MySQL. Bluehost is distinguished by having members of their corporate team actively developing for WordPress core, for being the number one recommended web host for WordPress by Automattic for 12+ years, for independently developing a unique cloud hosting platform optimized for WordPress with Nginx, Varnish Cache, etc. Bluehost is also actively supporting open source software development projects financially through contributions to the community. For many small business owners, independent web publishers, software programmers, and web developers, Bluehost's industry leadership in these areas are reason to pay the marginal extra cost for services with the company.

In summary, while there is more going on with technical innovation in cloud hosting at Bluehost than any of the other companies on the list, this makes Bluehost the most expensive of all the budget web hosts in comparison. Bluehost's shared Linux hosting account is competitively priced vs. other large companies like GoDaddy, HostGator, GreenGeeks, etc. at $5.75 per month, but that is the lowest priced unlimited domain account the company offers on Linux (i.e., functions as a gateway to higher level web hosting products at the company). The other bargain web hosting companies do not have cloud platforms, VPS, or dedicated server plans. They are competing with Bluehost for marketshare by providing the same service that Bluehost does without the same overhead of expert staff, global marketing, corporate management, and data center industry platform software development.

In some instances, like WebHostingPad and iPage, the cost is less than half per month than Bluehost for the same services provided to customers – unlimited shared Linux hosting with cPanel/vDeck and CentOS servers (Intel/AMD) running Apache. Prospective customers can do extensive benchmark testing on the hardware differences between the various web hosting companies, but when the service fees renew at $12.95 to $14.95 per month, the cost difference between the $1.99 plans will become evident quickly in the bottom line of any business or project development budget. Overall, WebHostingPad and HostMetro stand out as independent companies with a strong target for the budget hosting market sector and a realistic understanding of the product they are providing to customers that is combined with a more reasonable approach to pricing web hosting services at the cheapest rates.