Namecheap vs Bluehost: Going Toe-to-Toe in 2023
Bluehost — owned by Endurance International Group (EIG) — is one of the biggest names in the hosting business. Although the brand didn’t make the cut in our best web hosting guide, it still put up a good fight in our SiteGround vs. Bluehost and DreamHost vs. Bluehost comparisons.
We’ve featured Namecheap less often — thus far only in our Namecheap vs. GoDaddy matchup. However, in that comparison alone, Namecheap impressed, showing that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get excellent service. In this Namecheap vs. Bluehost comparison, we’re going to see which service is right for you.
Although we’ll compare them point-for-point, we still recommend reading our Namecheap review and Bluehost review. There, you’ll find a more in-depth analysis of each service, as well as how they stand up to scrutiny when compared to the rest of the market.
Setting Up a Fight: Namecheap vs. Bluehost
Our reviews consist of eight sections, and although each is important to rating a service in isolation, they aren’t all equally important when comparing two services. Instead, we’ve condensed some sections, not only to make the comparison shorter, but also to make each section more fair.
We landed on five areas: features, pricing, ease of use, speed and security. We’ll compare Namecheap and Bluehost in those areas, awarding a point to the service we think is better. We will crown the service with the most points at the end as our champion.
At the beginning of the round, we’ll lay out the ground rules, establishing what we’re looking for from our competitors. Next, we’ll talk some about each service and give some thoughts on how they compare. Finally, we’ll declare a winner and award a point.
We use the point system to quickly show which provider we prefer, but the analysis doesn’t start or stop there. Instead, we use points to punctuate our thoughts, and in some rounds, that’s important to know. We recommend reading through each section — especially the close ones — so you have an idea of why we made our decision.
$2.88 / month(All Plans)
$3.95 / month(All Plans) 1-day money-back guarantee
Features are a vital aspect of choosing a hosting service. Although it’s easy to get derailed by free ad credit offers, such as with Site5 (read our Site5 review), they don’t really do much for your website. Much more important are features like LiteSpeed server software and caching, both of which are are available with Hosting24 (read our Hosting24 review).
A good host should provide a features list that helps you build, optimize and secure your site. Although there can still be features outside of those areas, the host must first cover those basics.
Considering the price, Namecheap has an impressive list of features, although there’s one glaring omission. Nearly all hosts allow you to register a free domain when you purchase a subscription (read our A Small Orange review for just one example). Namecheap does, too, but there are limitations on what you can register.
It offers a free “.website” domain, but not a free “.com” domain. Considering “.com” domains are, by and large, the most popular, Namecheap skipping past it doesn’t make any sense. We’ve seen other domain-registrars-turned-web-hosts — such as GoDaddy (read our GoDaddy review) — offer “.com” domains for free with a hosting package, so there’s no reason Namecheap can’t jump on board.
The rest of the features are excellent, though. For example, Namecheap includes multiple website builders. The standard option, simply named “website builder” in cPanel, isn’t impressive, but you can use Weebly or Strikingly through the app store, too. As you can see in our Weebly review, it’s one of the best website builders available. Strikingly isn’t bad, either, but we had a few issues with the free plan (read our Strikingly review).
Outside of that, Namecheap also offers 50 free PositiveSSL certificates, daily backups and domain privacy. Although the lack of free “.com” domain registration is a bummer, Namecheap’s features list can stand with the best of them, such as SiteGround (read our SiteGround review).
Even more so than other EIG brands, Bluehost has a long list of features. While some Bluehost features are only available for the higher tiers of hosting, you still get many at the low end — much unlike HostGator (read our HostGator review). From building to optimizing to securing your site, Bluehost has you covered.
Regardless of the plan you choose, you’ll get a free SSL/TLS certificate and daily backups for your website. If you can make the jump to Bluehost’s top-tier Pro plan, you’ll also get $200 in ad credits, two SpamExperts licenses, CodeGuard Basics, a dedicated IP address and free domain privacy.
For building your site, Bluehost integrates with Weebly, giving you access to Weebly’s Connect plan, which normally costs $60 per year. This plan, which includes your own domain, is free through Bluehost , but if you need to upgrade, Bluehost makes it easy to do so. The higher tiers of Weebly include expanded storage and more e-commerce functionality. That’s standard for most EIG hosts, though.
Bluehost stands out with its deep WordPress integration. Although Bluehost missed our best web hosting for WordPress guide for various other reasons, the WordPress-centric control panel is the stuff of dreams. We’ll talk more about it in round three.
Round One Thoughts
Namecheap has an impressive list of features, especially for the price. However, we can’t ignore the lack of a free “.com” domain. Bluehost covers everything Namecheap does, but also provides one of the best control panels for WordPress that we’ve seen. That’s enough to push it ahead in this first round.
Point for Bluehost
A lot of hosts start to fall apart when it comes to pricing (read our Arvixe review for an example). Some hosts stand above the rest in terms of deceptive pricing, but Bluehost isn’t among them. Namecheap thankfully is. During this round, we’re going to evaluate the list of services at their respective prices, but more than that, we’re going to judge how clearly Namecheap and Bluehost communicate that price.
Namecheap provides, well, cheap web hosting. It’s one of the most inexpensive hosts around, even rivaling bargain-bin brands, like 1&1 IONOS (read our 1&1 IONOS review). We’d expect nothing less from a brand that has “cheap” in its name, but Namecheap goes even further. It not only makes its plans inexpensive, but also clearly communicates that cost.
The price Namecheap displays on the product page is the price you’ll pay, which is rare to see. That means that comparing Namecheap’s rates with, say, Hostinger doesn’t look impressive (read our Hostinger review). However, upon renewal, the price is cheaper than Hostinger. Namecheap offers plans for a month or a year, with the latter receiving a 6 percent to 7 percent discount.
That’s true for shared and WordPress plans. VPS and dedicated users can pay quarterly, and resellers can buy up to two years. Regardless, the price is low. That’s further showcased with the clearance-dedicated servers. Namecheap repurposes dedicated servers that are out of date, and although they won’t perform as well as the servers at LunarPages (read our LunarPages review), they’re the only way to get dedicated hosting for less than $50 per month.
You have 30 days to change your mind if you try the service and decide it’s not for you. VPS users have their own money-back guarantee, which only allows two weeks. Although a month is standard for most hosts, we’ve seen longer refund windows, such as InMotion’s 90-day guarantee (read our InMotion Hosting review).
When it comes to deceptive pricing, no one does it quite like Bluehost. That’s a shame, really, as the price itself isn’t the worst we’ve seen (read our Pagely review for that). The problem with Bluehost isn’t the price it charges, but rather how confusing it is to find the price you’ll pay.
- Price for longest term
- Price for longest term
- Price for longest term
- Price for longest term
Let’s take shared plans, for example. The product page displays an initial rate, as well as the renewal rate. That’s standard for most hosts, but what it doesn’t communicate is that you can buy only between one and three years of hosting, and that the price per month increases as the duration increases.
None of these practices are bad in isolation. It’s the fact that Bluehost waits until checkout to let you know what’s what (read our A2 Hosting review for an example of how a host should accomplish this pricing scheme). Furthermore, Bluehost pre-selected multiple add-ons at checkout, which often equals twice your hosting price.
As for getting your money back, Bluehost offers 30 days. Compared to Namecheap, though, we’re going to dock Bluehost for that.. While both offer a month to receive a refund, Bluehost initially forces you into a multi-year plan.
Round Two Thoughts
Bluehost makes it difficult throughout the checkout process to know what price you’ll be paying. The rates themselves aren’t bad, but they’re not impressive, either. Namecheap, on the other hand, is clear about its rates, and those rates are cheaper than most of the market, pushing it in the lead for this round.
Point for Namecheap
3. Ease of Use
Everything from choosing a plan to purchasing it to setting up your site constitutes ease of use for web hosting. Frankly, launching a site is hard, so anything that helps ease the process is important. As we’ve seen with hosts like Kinsta, a fluid checkout and setup experience can make all the difference (read our Kinsta review).
In this round, we’re going to describe the experiences we had when setting up an account with Bluehost and Namecheap.
Choosing a Namecheap plan isn’t difficult, especially with how clearly it communicates the price. Checkout is a different story, though. Although Namecheap doesn’t require any more information than any other host, it segments each step of the checkout process to separate pages.
That makes what should be a straightforward process feel unnecessarily lengthy. Account creation is one page, billing information is another and confirming your order is yet one more. The entire process could be condensed to a page or two. Thankfully, you set your password during checkout, so you don’t have to sift through emails after paying.
After that, you can login. From a web hosting perspective, the control panel is disappointing. Namecheap clearly focuses on the domain registration side of its business, using the tabs in the left-side menu as a way to further advertise hosting for your domains. We saw similar issues during our WestHost review.
Furthermore, the bombardment of advertisements makes it difficult to find cPanel, which is buried in an option hierarchy from the control panel’s main page. cPanel is fine, but it’s nothing special. Outside of an “exclusive” apps section at the top of the screen, the implementation is stock.
Bluehost gave us a few problems during checkout, but the process itself wasn’t difficult. Outside of the pre-selected add-ons, checkout goes by smoothly, with everything segmented into a couple of pages. After confirming your payment, you’ll go to a password creation screen, which is where we had issues.
Well aware of the dangers of cybercrime, we generated a password with one of our best password managers, LastPass (read our LastPass review). Every time we pasted in a password, though, we had an error. Finally, we typed in a password and it worked, which suggests that the password creation page has something wrong with it when pasting entries. That’s ridiculous, frankly, as a password manager is a staple for most modern browsers.
It’s easy to overlook all of that once you consider the control panel, though. Bluehost has a wonderfully intuitive and highly functional dashboard that allows you to manage WordPress sites without ever logging in. It made our best web hosting with cPanel guide for a reason.
cPanel itself works excellently, too. Instead of sending you to a seperate area, Bluehost integrates cPanel into the control panel. Thankfully, the integration works, unlike HostPapa (read our HostPapa review). From the dashboard to cPanel, Bluehost is a joy to use, especially if you’re running a WordPress site.
Round Three Thoughts
One of Bluehost’s strongest points is ease of use, and it shines particularly well when compared to Namecheap. Although Namecheap isn’t difficult to use, it lacks Bluehost’s polish, pushing it further behind in this round.
Point for Bluehost
4. Speed and Uptime
We test web hosting speed by launching a site with the most inexpensive shared plan and installing a blank copy of WordPress. We then run that test site — which we don’t fill with any content — through two benchmarks: Load Impact and Pingdom Speed Test. In this round, we’re going to compare the results we gathered for Bluehost and Namecheap.
Namecheap performed well during our Pingdom test, though we’ve seen better. Our test site scored 90 out of 100, which is decent, but not great. You could likely improve the result by following the steps in our how to improve website loading times guide.
As you can see in the graph above, a lot of time was wasted while the browser was waiting to receive data. Compression and caching can usually solve this issue, the latter of which Namecheap doesn’t include in its most inexpensive shared plan. Namecheap’s top tier of shared hosting includes eAccelerator and xCache, which should improve your loading times.
Our Load Impact test went off without a hitch, though. We use this tool to send 50 virtual users to the server within five minutes, which simulates a modest load. Namecheap was able to withstand the pressure without any issues, maintaining a consistent response time throughout the test and returning no errors.
As for uptime, Namecheap has a 99.9-percent uptime guarantee for reseller and VPS plans, and a 100-percent guarantee for everything else. Should your site experience downtime, Namecheap will provide one day’s worth of service for each non-scheduled hour your site is down.
Bluehost is one of the fastest web hosting providers we’ve tested. In our Pingdom test, it scored 94 out of 100 — only beaten by the 96 out of 100 we received from SiteGround, A2 Hosting and Hosting24. The graph below suggests there’s some amount of out-of-the-box caching going on, which is why Bluehost performed better than Namecheap.
Load Impact produced less-than-desirable results, though. Our test was the same: 50 users within five minutes. However, Bluehost couldn’t handle it. The majority of the VUs returned a response time of zero milliseconds, which means the site didn’t load at all. Furthermore, we experienced multiple HTTP errors.
This usually suggests that there are too few resources for the number of users on the server. Instead of waiting to load the site, the server becomes overloaded and returns errors to the request. It’s likely that Bluehost is stuffing its shared servers to the brim, which potentially makes your site inaccessible while under load.
Bluehost also doesn’t guarantee uptime. It cites the “complexity and nature of a shared web hosting environment” as a reason for potential downtime, which is ridiculous. Shared hosting is complex, but it’s Bluehost’s job to deal with that complexity. If other hosts can provide an uptime guarantee, Bluehost can, too.
Round Four Thoughts
This round is tough. Bluehost is technically the faster service, but all things considered, Namecheap is the better option. It has an uptime guarantee and performed better in our Load Impact test. As for the speed, you can likely improve it with caching and compression, which isn’t difficult to do.
Point for Namecheap
5. Security and Privacy
Our last round focuses on security and privacy, and unfortunately, the writing is already on the wall. As we mentioned earlier, Endurance International Group owns Bluehost, and if you’ve read any of our EIG reviews — such as our iPage review — you know this bodes poorly for security and privacy.
Namecheap gives you all the tools you need to ensure website security. As mentioned, you get 50 free SSL/TLS certificates with your plan, meaning you can protect multiple domains and subdomains. Additionally, you have access to free daily backups and malware scanning.
The last item is the rarest. Namecheap allows you to scan your site for malware once per day by using the “virus scanner” tool in cPanel. It’ll just scan your site — not clean it — which is a bummer. However, considering that most hosts charge $2 to $5 for a similar tool, we’re content.
As for privacy, Namecheap is solid. It includes domain privacy with every domain, which means it replaces the information in your WHOIS record with dummy information. Namecheap even includes domain privacy on domain transfers — which even privacy-focused hosts, such as Midphase, lack (read our Midphase review).
It should come as little surprise that Bluehost doesn’t include free domain privacy across plans. However, some plans do. The Pro shared plan, for example, includes domain privacy and a dedicated IP address.
The security features are decent, although we wish it included some version of SiteLock across its plans. You get a free SSL/TLS certificate and automatic daily backups with your plan. Malware scanning with SiteLock should be included for free, but it isn’t, unfortunately.
We have no idea how Bluehost protects its servers, either. We reached out to Bluehost support to ask about ModSecurity and BitNinja, which are standard security features for Apache servers. The rep wasn’t able to help, simply referring us to the Cloudflare and SiteLock product pages instead of answering our question.
Round Five Thoughts
As mentioned in the beginning of the round, the writing was on the wall. Bluehost has horrible privacy. The security package isn’t impressive, either, especially since SiteLock integration would be so simple. Namecheap not only surpasses Bluehost when it comes to security and privacy, it surpasses most hosts.
Point for Namecheap
6. Final Thoughts
Having won three round, Namecheap is our champion, but only by a little bit. If you glance through our web hosting archive, you’ll see that Namecheap’s name doesn’t come up much. It’s not that Namecheap is a bad service — it’s that Namecheap isn’t the best service. Across the board, it’s slightly above average.
You’ll see Bluehost much more often, but only because it has some extreme highs and lows. The bright parts of the service make it one of the best around, but its issues are too great to ignore.
Do you agree that Namecheap is the better option? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.