Bluehost Price Increase to $4.95/m: A Warning?

Big news coming out of Bluehost – they’ve increased the pricing on all their shared hosting plans by $1/m. Here’s a screenshot of the price increase even for the full 36-month duration:

Increase in Bluehost Pricing to $4.95/m
New Pricing of $4.95/m with Bluehost

This affects all the Bluehost discounts, including the pricing on their WordPress plans. With this change, Bluehost is no longer positioning itself as one of the cheapest hosting providers with a free domain name. Previously, that competition was neck and neck between Hostgator and Bluehost. Now it isn’t even close.

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Now let’s take a deeper look at the recent price increase.

Why Did Bluehost Increase Prices?

EIG (the parent company of Bluehost) was acquired by Clearlake Capital in November 2020 and then merged into Newfold Digital. This was a leveraged buyout, and likely took place at the ultra-low interest rates that prevailed during the pandemic.

However, with interest rates rising, the era of free money appears to be over – at least for now. Newfold Digital is a private company, so we don’t have any insight into their debt schedule and interest payments, but it’s a fairly safe bet to say that they need to ramp up the profitability of all their subsidiary companies, including Bluehost and Hostgator.

Given these constraints, it’s quite likely that these price increases will happen simultaneously across all of Newfold Digital’s holdings at the same time.

When Did the Bluehost Price Increase Happen?

It seems to be a somewhat “under the radar” move from Bluehost to increase their price in this manner. Less than ten days ago, they celebrated their 16th anniversary on the 15th of July 2019, and gave a pretty cool $2.65/m deal as shown here:

Most recent Bluehost discount at $2.65/m
Most Recent Bluehost Discount at $2.65/m

So less than 10 days ago, Bluehost still had their regular plans. It’s only recently that they’ve started charging $4.95/m.

Which Bluehost Plans are Affected by the Price Increase?

I haven’t been able to get consistent results with Bluehost’s price changes. When I connected via a VPS server, the price was back at $3.95/m in an incognito window. Long-time hunters of web hosting deals are familiar with this. Bluehost uses all kinds of criteria to determine which deal shows up for a particular user. For example, it requires a lot of roundabout steps to get the famous $2.95/m coupon.

As a result, it’s entirely possible that the price change we’re seeing is an experimental change by Bluehost to see how it will impact their revenue. Hostgator might also be trying something of the sort with changes to their 60% off coupon.

The bottom line is that we don’t know how widespread, or for how long this price increase will last. It might not last at all, in which case even you might never see it. Or it might slowly become the norm. Who knows?

Bluehost Still Retains its Free Domain

As of now, Bluehost remains one of the most cost-effective options for getting web hosting with a free domain if you sign up for 36 months or more. If not, just use a Hostgator coupon code and purchase the domain name separately. It’ll turn out to be cheaper in the end.

How to Save Money on Bluehost Despite the Price Increase

First the good news – if you’re an existing Bluehost customer, you won’t be impacted by the increase in price, since you have a set contract for renewal. So you don’t need to worry about an unexpected increase in bills. If you’re a new Bluehost customer and are seeing elevated prices on the checkout screen, here are a few ways you can try and get the old price.

First, try opening an incognito window and trying again. Bluehost often tries random experiments with pricing, and it’s possible that you got caught in a test sample. Opening the site and trying again in incognito mode can “reset” your profile and throw you out of the test group.

Second, try to access the site with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if possible. Preferably from another country. This further rests your profile and has the highest chance of showing you the old pricing.

For maximum effect, combine the above two methods, and you’re almost guaranteed to sidestep the higher prices that Bluehost shows. If you’re really keen, try accessing it at a different time of the day as well.

Bluehost WordPress and Shared Hosting Plans are in Lockstep

Sometime last year, Bluehost created a new WordPress hosting plan that’s pretty much identical to their shared hosting package. Almost no difference. Now their real managed WordPress hosting is called “WP Pro” and is a much more expensive version of their watered-down WordPress plan.

Their shared and basic WordPress plans move in lockstep, price-wise. Any increase in one is immediately reflected in the other, and vice-versa. So if you want the WordPress package and you see a lower price for their shared hosting plan, you should immediately check the corresponding WordPress package since it’ll be at the same price.

Best Alternatives to Bluehost After the Price Increase

For cheap hosting, the best alternative to Bluehost is Hostgator. Here’s the complete Bluehost vs Hostgator comparison.

As mentioned above, there have been rumblings within Hostgator as well that they’re thinking of reducing the effectiveness of their 60% off coupon code to just 50% instead. Luckily they say that this won’t affect the custom coupons of their affiliates, so any purchases you make from this site will still be discounted at the maximum value. As of now, Hostgator still has the best pricing.

Another great alternative to Bluehost is NameHero Hosting. I like NameHero’s team, and their LiteSpeed web server combined with their free backups and malware make it a compelling alternative to Bluehost, where you have to pay for these services.

But overall, it points to a trend of upward price pressure by hosting companies. The challenge, of course, is how to do this without any of them losing market share. Since the hosting industry is so competitive, any price change will have an immediate impact on sales. Whatever happens, I’ll be covering the latest changes right here on WP-Tweaks!

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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