Namecheap vs Bluehost: cheap versus reliable?
In this Namecheap vs Bluehost comparison, I’ll analyze both providers in depth. The main areas of focus will be their pricing, ease of use, performance, security, and customer support. These are the main factors that you’re paying for when buying hosting, after all.
Looking for affordable yet reliable web hosting is not an easy task. But narrowing a choice to Namecheap vs Bluehost is a good start.
Namecheap is one of the cheapest hosting providers out there. Its prices are so low it almost becomes suspicious. That’s why the provider is much more known as a domain registrar rather than a reliable provider.
Alternatively, Bluehost is one of the industry leaders. While its prices are higher, it still falls under the affordable spectrum. Prices that don’t make you question if you’re getting a cat in a bag.
Regardless, both providers have their pros and cons. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in with a quick overview.
Namecheap vs Bluehost: general info
Both Namecheap and Bluehost offer affordable solutions for beginners as well as advanced users with various options to choose from. While Namecheap, as suggested by “cheap,” is more affordable than Bluehost, the latter is faster and more reliable.
Here is a quick summary of both providers. You can choose to jump to a specific area of interest or go straight to the bottom of the article if you’re looking for a summary of findings.
|Pricing:||From $2.95/month||From $1.58/month|
|Ease of use:||Modern native dashboard with the classic cPanel integration||A native hosting management panel with an original cPanel integration|
|Performance:||99.99% uptime and 361ms response time||99.82% uptime, 1.05s response time|
|Security:||SSLs and server monitoring||Free SSL, firewall, automated backups|
|Support:||24/7 live chat and phone||24/7 live chat and ticketing system|
Namecheap vs Bluehost pricing
Namecheap is significantly cheaper than Bluehost, with prices starting as low as $1.58/month for shared hosting plans. The priciest plan with Namecheap is $4.68/month. On the other hand, Bluehost’s cheapest shared hosting plan comes for $2.95/month. And prices can go as high as $13.95 for its shared hosting plans.
But cheap is not always the criterion for the win. The more important thing is - what’s included in those plans?
Both hosts have quite a few similarities. Namecheap and Bluehost both offer a free domain for a year as well as a free SSL certificate in their entry plans. And while Bluehost provides more SSD storage, Namecheap allows to connect up to 3 websites.
- Namecheap Stellar ($1.58/month) allows connecting up to 3 websites and includes 20GB SSD, unmetered bandwidth, 30 email accounts, and backups.
- Bluehost’s Basic ($2.95/month) allows to connect 1 website and includes 50GB SSD, unlimited bandwidth, and 5 email accounts.
So just by looking at the cheapest plans, we can see that Namecheap offers a more inclusive package. It’s not very often that a provider allows more than 1 website on its entry plans. However, the storage it offers is significantly smaller than Bluehost’s.
So really, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re planning on more than one website, Namecheap has you covered, but you will be limited by a quite small SSD storage limit. If you’re looking to run a personal site or a small business website, bigger storage may tempt you more.
Regardless, the initial prices, as it’s very common in this industry, are only a one-time off thing. Renewals always catch up to you, so this is what it would look like with Namecheap and Bluehost.
|Provider||Plan||Billing period||Total initial price||Total renewal price|
Overall, Namecheap is significantly cheaper than Bluehost. After all, the “cheap” part is even in the provider’s name. The renewal rates increase the total quite a lot. But that’s just unavoidable, sadly.
So far, I compared two of the cheapest offered plans, but that doesn’t mean that they offer the best value. So which ones you should consider? After taking some time to really inspect all plans, here’s what I discovered.
Namecheap has 3 shared hosting plans ranging from $1.58/month to $4.68/month with a 2-years billing period.
Like most providers, Namecheap also points out which plan is the most popular among the users. And I back up this suggestion. The Stellar Plus plan is what you would call a golden middle.
Unlike Stellar, it offers unlimited websites and more storage. Also, Stellar Plus is very similar to Stellar Business in terms of resources, just half the price.
- Stellar Plus for $2.68/mo is unlimited in terms of the number of hosted websites and storage space when compared to Stellar. It also adds automatic backups, which are guaranteed (Stellar apparently offers them but not guarantees them… Okay...).
One thing I should mention is that even though Stellar Plus includes unmetered SSD storage, Stellar Business limits it to 50GB SSD. You might know it already, but that means that Stellar Plus won’t have any more than 50GB SSD too. Sneaky, right?
To get the best deal with Namecheap, you should choose the Stellar Plus plan with a 2-years billing period. The plan is $2.68/mo, which totals $63.88 for the initial payment. After the renewal, the price goes up to $136.88 for the next 2 years.
Now, Bluehost here has 4 shared hosting plans ranging from $2.95/month to $13.95/month with a 36-month billing period.
Bluehost also puts its two cents in by recommending you the Choice Plus plan. And in my opinion, Plus offers much better value for the price point.
- Plus $4.95/mo includes unlimited websites and SSD storage in comparison to Basic.
Additionally, Choice Plus adds domain privacy and automatic backups. This, however, comes with a much higher renewal pricing than Plus. That simply makes it not worth it.
The same goes for Pro. If you’re not planning on running a high-traffic site that requires an extra layer of security, Pro is just too pricey.
The best value with Bluehost hides under the Plus plan. To get the best price, you should opt for the 36-month billing period. This makes the plan $4.95/mo or $178.20 in total. The renewal rates go up to $11.99/mo or $431.64 in total.
If you look at the money-back policies, you’ll see that both Namecheap and Bluehost offer a 30-day money-back guarantee which is pretty common in the industry. Another common thing is for a provider to not refund everything, which both of them do. For instance, Bluehost will not refund a domain, and Namecheap will not give your money back for the renewal of any services.
All things considered, Namecheap not only offers cheaper services but its plans are more inclusive. The prices are too good to be true, which makes me wonder what’s lacking? Bluehost’s prices aren’t too high either, but in comparison to Namecheap’s, they seem much more premium than they really are.
Hosting management: ease of use
In Bluehost vs Namecheap comparison, both providers offer easy-to-use and functional user interfaces. However, Bluehost is slightly better. Not only does it integrate cPanel seamlessly, but it also has a custom dashboard for beginners, as well as additional features to help you out with website and business management. Namecheap, at the same time, uses cPanel as its main management tool and includes a free logo maker.
So this is how it all looks if you’ve ever wondered.
Account management dashboard
Equally clean and modern dashboards greet you whether you log in to Namecheap or Bluehost. But then there are differences. While Bluehost’s dashboard is made very functional in terms of both account and website control, the Namecheap dashboard is meant for navigation and account/services management.
Looking at Namecheap’s dashboard, you realize that everything is in the right place. Just as any client area should be.
You can manage any settings regarding your hosting account and websites from here. You’ll be able to add more domains, renew registrations, and add products to your hosting service. However, this dashboard is meant more for navigation. All the important features like file, email, and database management are in the cPanel.
Bluehost’s dashboard, however, is much more functional. There is no clutter, and it comes with a nice addition that beginners will most certainly appreciate.
Do you see those checkboxes? That is some sort of to-do list for your website. It’s manna from heaven if you just started flirting with website hosting and creation. Just keep in mind that the list only applies if you install WordPress. If you install another CMS, you’ll have to write that list down yourself.
Other than that, this dashboard is truly functional.
Not only can you manage your account and services but also websites. It’s possible to start a new website, connect a domain, reach a mailbox, configure performance and security settings, and basically all the main things. The whole site can be set up from this dashboard. cPanel is there under the “Advanced” tab, but you might not even need it.
The conclusion you can draw here is that both Namecheap and Bluehost have easy-to-use dashboards. At the same time, Bluehost is more functional and beginner-oriented, allowing you to manage not only the account but also the main website-related settings.
Control panel comparison
Namecheap and Bluehost both use cPanel control panels. The difference is that Namecheap uses cPanel as the main management tool, while Bluehost leaves it just as an additional tool for advanced management options.
If you’ve been dealing with website hosting for a while now, surely, you’ll recognize Namecheap’s control panel.
It is the main hosting management panel for Namecheap. Everything you need is one click away. Here you can install WordPress or Joomla. Email, file, database, as SSL management are also found in the cPanel. This control panel is known for its ease of use and functionality, so from a beginner’s standpoint, it should be effortless to navigate.
Bluehost also uses a slightly modified cPanel. You can find it by clicking “Advanced” on the left side menu.
The difference here is that Bluehost uses cPanel for more advanced management options such as databases, cron jobs, and SSH access. Meanwhile, all the main settings can be set up from the native account management dashboard. So for beginners, cPanel might not even be necessary.
For example, Bluehost even decided to take out the regular "Domains" management from the cPanel. It's now located in the main dashboard. So "Advanced" really lives up to its name.
All in all, Bluehost did introduce some modifications to up its game regarding its control panel. Panel-wise, Namecheap vs Bluehost comparison comes to a draw. The main difference is that Namecheap uses it as the main management tool, while Bluehost has it as a side perk.
Extra hosting management features
Apart from the main control panels, both hosts have some extra features that make them more appealing. Namecheap offers a free logo maker. However, Bluehost blows it out of the water with features like site staging and marketing management.
Namecheap gives you access to its free logo maker. It is a pretty basic tool where you get to do some customization. Just not a lot. Although, it is very useful if you’re looking to get some ideas out of your system.
The logo will be quite simple and won’t look anything otherworldly, yet it is free to download. And not a lot of free logo makers allow that.
Bluehost arguably offers much better tools like staging and marketing management.
Staging allows you to create a copy of your website. This copy becomes your playground where you can experiment with your site as you wish. No worrying about something breaking or lagging. Your original site stays as it is, and only when (or if) you wish you can push those changes to the actual website.
You can find it in the WordPress admin panel under the Bluehost plugin. Creating a copy is very easy. Few clicks and you’re done. The same goes for pushing those changes to the live site.
More so, Bluehost offers the possibility to set up marketing right there in your dashboard. For easy use, tools like Google My Business and Google Ads are already integrated.
- Google My Business will put your website on Google Maps. It’ll help you rank on more indirect queries such as “cafe nearby.”
- Google Ads is a simplified ad manager.
You can easily live without these tools. Yet, if you’re a beginner, it helps loads to really make sure that your site is functional and has a visible presence.
Overall, Bluehost has more useful extra features than Namecheap. Just another thing to add to Bluehost’s ease of use and functionality list.
To sum up, both providers are very easy to use. Namecheap and Bluehost both use the native management panel with cPanel integration. However, Bluehost’s hosting management and extra tools are more functional and intuitive.
Namecheap vs Bluehost performance
In terms of performance, Namecheap vs Bluehost had a clear winner. Bluehost was much more reliable and demonstrated great uptime and fast loading time. Parallelly, Namecheap’s performance was below satisfactory. However, it did handle more traffic on the site.
Uptime and response time
Both providers were examined over a different period. Bluehost was monitored for slightly more than 2 months, while Namecheap had around 2 weeks.
In just 2 weeks, Namecheap had 16 outages – 31 minutes of downtime in total. This resulted in an extremely low 99.82% uptime. It becomes even more concerning when you know that Namecheap has a 100% uptime guarantee... So, where is it?
Talking about the response time, it was not much better - at 1.05s. Just know that the market average stands at 600ms.
Bluehost, in its examination time, had 6 outages, causing 11 minutes of downtime. The response time, even though not very stable, was much better than Namecheap’s. Bluehost’s average response time stands at a very respectable 361ms.
In sum, Bluehost showed much better results. The uptime was reliable, standing at 99.99%. The response time was very good too. Namecheap stands on the other end of the spectrum. The guaranteed 100% uptime is nowhere to be seen, and the response time is much higher than the market’s average.
Both of the providers are hosted in the US data centers, and the load test is performed from the US as well. This means that you’re seeing the best results with no extra-distance strain.
Performance results are also affected by server location. Namecheap has servers in the US, EU, and the UK. However, both the UK and EU cost an extra $1/mo. Alternatively, Bluehost only has data centers in the US alone.
Just like with uptime and response time, Namecheap lacks speed too. Its Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) time is 2.3s. And it’s struggling. The recommended maximum time for this measure is 2.5s. Anything over that, and you just might land on Google’s naughty list.
LCP is one of the measures that Google considers when ranking sites on the result page. More so, this time is quite often almost the same as Fully Loaded Time. Only then can the visitor freely interact with the site.
That’s not the case here, sadly. Namecheap’s Fully Loaded Time is 2.7s. This, also, barely fits into the recommended 3s. 3 seconds is the approximate time at which visitors start to notice that the site doesn’t load immediately.
And what do we do with slow sites? We leave.
Looking at Bluehost, we have a different story. The LCP is far from perfect here too, yet it’s much better than Namecheap’s. Bluehost’s LCP and Fully Loaded Time are the same at 1.8s.
Simply put, Bluehost falls under the “speedy” website category. And while the results could be even better, compared to Namecheap, they’re great.
Therefore, Bluehost takes the throne in the speed department. It simply is quicker, and there’s no way around it.
Stress testing results
The last test regarding performance is the stress test. What I do is send 50 virtual bots to go to the site and roam around. This test shows me how well each provider handles an increase in the number of visitors.
Does the server respond quickly? How many visitors is just about the maximum it can handle? Well, let’s see.
Even though Namecheap didn’t succeed with 50 visitors, it still pleasantly surprised me by handling 30 VUs.
The blue line (response time) has quite a few jumps but is relatively balanced. The average response time ended up being great - just 267ms. But I must point out, even though it passed, Namecheap still failed to deliver 83 requests. Something’s telling me we’ve hit the roof here.
What surprised me even more, and not very pleasantly, was Bluehost’s results. This is the first performance test where Bluehost gave way to Namecheap.
Bluehost’s first pass was with 15 visitors.
The blue line (response time) went a little crazy, which means that increased pressure (gray line - number of visitors) on the server did its job and slowed down the server.
That shows in the average response time that jumped to 1.7s. Seems that this might be the maximum too.
These are not great results, but in retrospect, 15 VUs is not a small number either. 50VUs is what I expect only performance-oriented shared hosting providers to handle.
In a nutshell, in terms of performance, Namecheap vs Bluehost were not equals. Bluehost was the frontrunner. The provider showed reliable uptime, and its loading time was very speedy. Namecheap’s results were disappointing overall, yet it handled bigger traffic than Bluehost.
When it comes to security, Namecheap includes more tools to protect both servers and websites. Bluehost, though, likes to charge extra for most common security features. Fortunately, both providers include the absolute basics like SSL certificates and DDoS protection.
Both Namecheap and Bluehost offer free SSL and take care of the installation. But while Bluehost makes the activation easy, Namecheap just claims to be easy. I had to contact support for SSL to work properly.
More so, Bluehost uses Cloudflare for CDN, and the activation is as simple as two clicks in your dashboard. Namecheap uses Supersonic CDN, which is much less known and respectable.
Now, advanced features:
- Namecheap also includes a Web Application Firewall (WAF) together with the already mentioned Supersonic CDN. This way, you can protect the website against threats such as SQL injection or cyber threats. Although you have to pay for this one, and the price starts at $8.88/mo.
- Bluehost doesn’t have a default firewall. You have to purchase one, and it’s not cheap. It costs $5.99/mo.
When it comes to backups, the situation is unclear too:
- With Namecheap Stellar Plus and Stellar Business both come with free automatic backups. Stellar, however, has the same policy as Bluehost for Basic and Plus. ‘We might, or we might not perform backups.’ The option to purchase backups with Stellar seems to be missing too.
- With Bluehost, you have to purchase at least Choice Plus to receive backup options. Otherwise, it’ll be a $32.95/year extra charge.
The bottom line is that both providers offer enough security features for shared hosting. Truth be told, a regular Joe doesn’t even need all those advanced settings. But, if you plan on doing some business, you may want to chip in for some more advanced security measures.
When it comes to customer service, the two contenders have 24/7 support options. Namecheap has live chat and ticketing, while Bluehost has both live chat and phone support. However, quality-wise, Namecheap is way ahead.
Live chat is always the first option I go for. And that’s exactly what I’ve tested for this Namecheap vs Bluehost comparison. After all, chatting on the phone is stressful, emails take too long, and why read the knowledge base if someone can solve a problem for you?
I’ve asked both providers the same question. I wanted to know a little more about the free CDN included in all plans. Where can I find it, and if it is activated automatically, or do I need to do something?
First, I contacted Namecheap. I got connected to an agent in less than a minute, which is impressive. The agent was very polite, and the replies were very speedy.
Right away, I got a link to where I can find the free CDN and what requirements I have to meet to be able to use it. This part showed me that the agent was knowledgeable and knew what he was talking about.
However, the part on how to set it up was left unanswered, so I asked again.
This time, I got a less detailed explanation and a link to the knowledge base. This isn’t bad, but I like to get a quick step-by-step from an agent, rather than read a long article. If I wanted that, I wouldn’t have contacted the live chat in the first place.
Now, onto Bluehost’s live chat. I’m going to tell you right from the start that Bluehost disappointed me here.
The wait wasn’t too bad. It took me 4 minutes to get connected to an agent, and that’s fine. I was warned beforehand that it’ll take up to 5 minutes, so they’re doing good so far.
However, that’s the end of good news. The replies after that were slow and lacked detailed information. I got no links, no guiding, just simple one-sentence answers.
And that would be fine. They did, more or less, answer my question. But the conversation took 20 minutes… TWENTY.
For something that simple, it’s a little disappointing. More so, it almost felt like I was bothering the agent. Not very pleasant, let me tell you that.
Besides the live chat option, both providers have pretty detailed and well-organized knowledge bases. You will find articles, blog posts, frequently asked questions, as well as tutorials and guides.
What I want to add is that Namecheap’s knowledge base seems to be easier to navigate.
As you can see, everything is neatly organized. There are different topics on more than hosting, and you can see the latest articles. I like that.
Bluehost, however, dealt with its knowledge base a little bit more simply.
You have a few categories listed there, but the rest is up to you to search for. Now, I’m not saying that there’s something wrong with that. I just like it better the way Namecheap does it.
The bottom line is that while Bluehost offers more support channels, I was more pleased with Namecheap’s live chat. It has a better-organized knowledge base, and the agent was much more pleasant. It’s not to say that Bluehost’s customer support is bad in its entirety. Simply not all agents are fully committed to solving every problem.
Namecheap vs Bluehost: final recommendation
In this Namecheap vs Bluehost comparison, we’ve seen that low prices aren’t everything. Even though Bluehost is pricier, you get much higher quality, ease of use, performance, and security for that price. Namecheap's cheaper plans and speedy customer service cannot redeem its performance.
|Price||Namecheap is much more affordable with prices starting at $1.58/month, compared to Bluehost’s $2.95/month.|
|Ease of use||Both providers use a mixture of native user interface and cPanel, which is very easy to use.|
|Performance||Bluehost was both faster and more reliable than Namecheap. The formers uptime was 99.99%, compared to Namecheap’s 99.82%. However, Namecheap handled bigger traffic surge on the site.|
|Security||Both offer SSL certificates and DDoS protection. However, Bluehost has much clearer security terms and conditions. Its SSL works just fine, and CDN is much easier to activate.|
|Support||Namecheap and Bluehost both offer 24/7 live chat support. Namecheap also has a ticketing system, and Bluehost offers phone support. My experience with Namecheap’s live chat was much speedier and pleasant.|
Altogether, Bluehost comes on top. Its dashboard is slightly better and more intuitive. Also, the performance is way, way above Namecheap’s. So, Bluehost will be best if you are building a business website, online store, or any website that should generate money.
Alternatives to Namecheap vs Bluehost
Generally, Namecheap is not impressive, and Bluehost might not be everyone’s piece of cake. Needs differ, I get it, and for that, there are quite a few alternatives. For instance, if you want something cheaper than Namecheap, Hostinger might suit you. But if you’re looking for something more business-oriented, HostGator is a viable option.
Hostinger is a lot cheaper than both Bluehost and Namecheap. However, unlike both of them, it delivers even better performance. User experience, customer support, and all the basics are also top-quality.
The cheapest Hostinger shared hosting plan is only $1.39/month, and the resources you get are quite generous. Free SSL certificates and generous storage will be waiting for you.
HostGator is in about the same price range as Bluehost and more expensive than Namecheap. The cheapest shared hosting plan comes for $2.75/month. It delivers shared WordPress, VPS, Cloud, and dedicated hosting. Plus, it has its own website builder, called Gator, which’s not half bad.
The provider offers a very easy-to-use control panel. You can set up your whole site from there. That’s why it’s a very beginner-friendly option. You get the whole package - ease of use and good performance.
More Namecheap comparisons you might want to read
More Bluehost comparisons for you to check out
- Bluehost vs GoDaddy
- Bluehost vs HostGator
- WP Engine vs Bluehost
- SiteGround vs Bluehost
- Hostinger vs Bluehost
- Wix vs Bluehost
- Bluehost vs Squarespace
- Bluehost vs DreamHost
- Bluehost vs WordPress
- InMotion Hosting vs Bluehost
Namecheap vs Bluehost FAQs
Which provider delivers better value for money, Namecheap of Bluehost?
When it comes to better value for money, I think Bluehost is better. Both services are well-rounded, and the prices are low. However, by delivering better performance, Bluehost takes the wheel here.
Is Namecheap suitable for an e-shop?
No, I wouldn’t say that Namecheap is suitable for an e-shop. Especially on shared servers that proved to offer disappointing performance. Personally, I wouldn’t try any more expensive plans but look for a more reliable provider instead.
Which provider offers better VPS hosting options?
I think Namecheap offers better VPS hosting. If you take a look at both Namecheap and Bluehost’s VPS plans, you’ll see that the cheapest packages deliver pretty much the same thing, but Namecheap is cheaper. Namecheap’s Pulsar is $11.88, while Bluehost’s Standard is $18.99. But again, performance is on the line.
Does Bluehost provide domain registration?
Yes, Bluehost provides domain registration services. It may not be as famous for it as Namecheap, but you can get one or more domains. Besides, all plans include one.