The Bluehost $2.95 Deal is Elusive: How to Make it Appear

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Sometimes when you view the Bluehost shared hosting plans, they have a special $2.95/month pricing. Here’s a screenshot:

Bluehost $2.95 Deal

However, it isn’t always available. Most of the time you see the $3.95/month pricing instead:

Normal $3.95 Discount

Actually, there’s yet another plan at just $2.65/month. You get this plan only if you hang around the order page for a while after selecting the basic plan. Then you get a popup with the special offer as shown here:

$2.65 Month Offer

I haven’t been able to determine when exactly the pop up appears. It seems to be random. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t. Though maybe there’s a deeper algorithm in the background that determines when it shows.

Note however, that the yearly price of hosting remains the same. It’s only the 36-month plan that receives the discount:

Unchanged Yearly Price

During Special Promotions or Sales Only

Puzzled at this apparent discrepancy between their $3.95/month and $2.95/month deals, I sent an e-mail to Bluehost asking them how exactly to get the lower price on their pages. Here’s the response I got:

Bluehost Special Pricing is Limited

Based on this, it seems clear that we get $2.95/month only during special events, sales, and promotions. The rest of the time it’s $3.95/month. So if you visit the Bluehost page and see the lower price, it might be a good idea to act fast before it changes!

BUT…It’s Only for 3-Year Billing Cycles!

There’s a huge caveat though. These special prices are only if you choose to host for at least 3 years. If you want to take hosting for just a year, the price remains unchanged at $4.95 for the first billing cycle.

These are the annual price comparisons between various web hosts. And here’s the total price you pay for 1-year and with the $2.95/month plan for 3 years:

  • 1-year hosting: $4.95*12 = $59.4
  • 3-year hosting: $2.95*36 = $106.2

As you can see, while you do save on a “per month” basis, the actual up-front amount you pay for the $2.95/month plan is a lot more. Which makes sense since you’re buying for 3 years at a time.

Different Bluehost Renewal Rates as Well

The discounts you see on the order pages are for the first billing cycle only. After that, you are charged the full amount. What is less known, is that this amount differs based on the billing cycle as well! For example, here are the renewal rates for 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year cycles for the Bluehost basic plans:

  • 1-year renewal rate: $8.99
  • 2-year renewal rate: $8.49
  • 3-year renewal rate: $7.99

The differences are quite low, and I don’t think you should make up your mind based solely on the renewal rate. Honestly, it’s such a small difference that I don’t know why they even have it. But it exists nonetheless.

With Free SSL, Bluehost is a Lot More Attractive

For a long time, Bluehost charged for SSL, which web hosts like SiteGround provided free Let’s Encrypt certificates to all their users. But now that Google’s insisting on HTTPS for all sites, Bluehost decided to stop charging for SSL.

With this, Bluehost is every bit as price competitive as its counterparts like DreamHost, InMotion, and SiteGround. Previously, I wouldn’t recommend Bluehost to anyone because their SSL was so expensive. Now that problem has been removed.

Don’t Forget the Free Domain

Annual Bluehost plans are still more expensive than SiteGround, whose yearly shared hosting starts at $3.95 per month. But this ignores the free domain that Bluehost offers for the first billing cycle.

Since the cost of purchasing/transferring a domain is around $12-13 a year, you end up paying the same amount with Bluehost.

Bottom Line: Get $2.95/month Plan If You Want to Host for AT LEAST 3 years

The take away from all this is that the $2.95/month Bluehost plan is fleeting, and we can’t predict when it will show up. If you see it and want to lock in the discount, make sure that you choose a billing cycle of at least 3-years. That’s the only way in which you come out ahead. Otherwise, you end up paying the same amount regardless of what it shows on the homepage.

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