Shared Hosting Introductory Rates vs. Renewal Rates

This post didn’t go public until early 2019, but the data in it is from the middle of 2018.

It’s common for shared web hosting providers to advertise introductory rates that are far lower than the long-term rates for hosting packages. I figured it would be interesting to try and quantify how big the difference is between the introductory prices and the prices upon renewal.

I couldn’t find a good third-party list of the most-used shared web hosting service, so I created a list of 10 popular web hosts off the top of my head:

  1. GoDaddy
  2. HostGator
  3. BlueHost
  4. DreamHost
  5. InMotion
  6. iPage
  7. FatCow
  8. A2
  9. SiteGround
  10. Yahoo[1]

I figured that the difference between intro rates and long-term rates might differ between a single provider’s plans, so I pre-committed to relying on the most prominent plan displayed on each provider’s website. If you want to verify my work, the links in the list above all direct to archived copies of the most relevant web page for each company.

Here’s what I found:

Company Intro price Renewal price Percent difference
GoDaddy $4.99 $10.99 120%
HostGator $2.75 $6.95 153%
BlueHost $3.95 $7.99 102%
DreamHost $7.95 $7.95?[2] 0%
InMotion $6.39 $7.99 25%
iPage $1.99 $7.99 302%
FatCow $4.08 $13.95[3] 242%
A2 $3.92 $7.99 104%
SiteGround $5.95 $19.95 235%
Yahoo $6.79 $6.79[4] 0%

Renewal rates were on average 2.28 times as expensive as introductory rates.[5]

In many cases, the best discounts on the regular rates were only available with long-term plans. For example, Hostgator offered its 60.5% discount with a 36-month billing term, 55% off at 24 months, 33.52% off at 12 months, and no discount with shorter billing cycles.[6]

The data in the table above might understate the difference between the initial rates people get and the long-term rates. As I closed out of a BlueHost page, I received an offer dropping the introductory rate from $3.95/month to $2.65/month. I expect that consumers frequently use coupon codes that lead to rates in the first billing cycle that are even lower than the advertised rates.

It’s worth noting that listed renewal rates might not match what customers purchasing packages today will actually pay for renewals—hosts may change renewal rates in the future. On FatCow’s webpage listing renewal rates, this possibility is mentioned explicitly with a note that “prices are subject to change.”[7]

Footnotes

  1. I struggled to successfully archive Yahoo’s webpage, so instead link directly to the live page.
  2. While I’m not confident, the rates DreamHost listed did not appear to be special, introductory rates.
  3. The advertised $4.08/mo introductory rate was available with a billing cycle of 12, 24, or 36 months. Renewal rates were $14.95/mo, $13.95/mo, and $12.95/mo for renewals of 12, 24, and 36 months, respectively. In the table, I use the middle (24 month) rate of $13.95. Renewal rates were not available on the FatCow homepage, but I archived a list of the rates here.
  4. I didn’t go all the way through the checkout procedure, so I’m not confident, but it looked like Yahoo did not use an introductory rate.
  5. My math can be viewed in this Google Sheet.
  6. The checkout page showing different prices and discount levels is archived here.
  7. See an archived version of the page here.

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