Years ago, cheap VPN providers often couldn’t match up to the very best VPN services on the market, and sacrificed power and functionality in order to offer the lowest price. Things have now moved on, though, and even the some of the cheapest VPNs are fast, secure, and user friendly.
The hardest part is picking a good one, as there are still plenty out there you should steer clear of. So, you should definitely do your homework to see which of the cheap VPNs you’ve shortlisted deliver quality speeds, have watertight privacy policies, can access streaming sites and are generally simple to use.
Or, of course, you could check out our ranking of cheap VPNs below – we’ve done all the hard work in our comprehensive reviews, and rounded up the top 5 VPNs that offer the most attractive combination of affordability and function.
What makes a great cheap VPN?
Thanks to the VPN boom in recent years, there’s now a huge range of providers out there, and that has subsequently driven down prices across the board. Regardless of price, though, the most important thing to ensure is that your chosen provider has excellent privacy and security features.
Beyond that, good streaming support for Netflix and other sites is often a priority, as well as torrenting support and apps for a wide range of devices. All the services we’ve listed below tick these boxes, and we highly recommend them to anyone looking to save their cash while staying private online.
Our favorite cheap VPN is Surfshark. As well as being very affordable, it has a good track record of content unblocking, delivers impressive speeds, and its apps are polished and premium – in truth, it’s better than many services twice the price. However, we’ve also rounded up a few alternatives, so all you need to do is keep scrolling, and pick the VPN that suits you best.
The best cheap VPNs today
Surfshark has made a real name for itself since its inception in 2018, and while it’s one of the newer services in the industry, the BVI-based VPN has quickly cemented itself as one of the very best. What’s more, although it’s available at a bargain price, it doesn’t scrimp on features – one of the most important being security.
Fire up Surfshark and you’re protected by a full complement of security features, including OpenVPN UDP & TCP and IKEv2 protocols, a private DNS, double-hop VPN using an AES-256 encryption, plus a kill switch. On top of that, there’s also a zero-logging policy, so no data is kept on you anywhere, and Surfshark is the only true fake GPS VPN available – there’s an inbuilt GPS spoofer to trick apps and games.
Despite that excellent security, the experience remains swift no matter where you are in the world, thanks to Surfshark’s 3,200+ servers spread across more than 100 locations in over 65 countries. That great selection of servers also helps with delivering excellent streaming power, giving access to US Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more.
However, one of Surfshark’s real party pieces is its unlimited simultaneous connection policy, meaning that even if your household has 20, 30, or even 50 devices you’d like to protect with a VPN, you can do it with Surfshark for less than $2.50 a month.
And, on that note, you’ll have a fine choice of apps for tons of devices too. While they’re not quite as in-depth as some of the pricier competition, Surfshark’s apps have a great amount of features, and pretty much everything the vast majority of users will need from a VPN.
From a relatively new face on the block to a seasoned veteran, Private Internet Access (PIA) has been a user favorite since 2010 – and it’s easy to see why.
With a monstrous server count that now tallies above 35,000, finding a reliable, uncongested location to connect is super simple. And, since over 10,000 of these are reportedly in the US, the majority of its users should expect good speeds no matter where they are.
PIA used to have some issues with streaming support, but in our latest round of reviews, we saw a great improvement. Now, it’s capable of unblocking just about any service, including US Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer and more. Great for TV and movie buffs, then.
What PIA is most famed for, though is it’s wide selection of security and privacy features, with some in-depth options not often offered. Alongside the classic 256-AES encryption, PIA also has an effective kill switch, remarkably powerful borwser extensions, and those looking for a torrenting VPN may also appreciate the Port Forwarding function.
A couple of the few negatives of note are the fact that PIA hasn’t yet undergone an independent audit of its servers, and while OpenVPN speeds are very good, topping out at 300Mbps, WireGuard speeds are distinctly average at around 450Mbps.
However, no other cheap VPN at this price can compete with PIA, and while Surfshark offers a slightly better service overall, Private Internet Access is even more affordable.
PureVPN doesn’t often feature in our VPN roundups because, while it’s a reliable provider, it can’t quite match up in terms of performance with the biggest hitters like ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark.
However, seeing as you’re looking for the cheapest VPN, we thought we’d show it to you! Undercutting just about every other legitimate service on the market, PureVPN offers unrivalled value.
Of course, if PureVPN was a load of rubbish, we wouldn’t even suggest you consider it, but in practice it’s quite capable. You’ll be able to unblock iPlayer from outside the UK, watch US Netflix anywhere in the world and, most impressively, it’s passed an independent zero-logging audit, meaning it doesn’t store any logs of your activity.
There are a few downsides – slightly slower speeds, a poor support site, and apps that aren’t quite as polished as the very best – but for the price, PureVPN is an incredible deal, and is well worth testing out.
CyberGhost is a Romanian-based VPN service that offers a staggering 7,100+ servers across more than 90 countries – that gives you tons of scope for finding the best connection. Security is also tight with a selection of protocols for you to pick from, plus automated HTTPS redirection and optional data compression for when on mobile – find our more in our full CyberGhost VPN review.
CyberGhost’s real power lies in its streaming and torrenting functionality. While the apps aren’t the very best, they do offer an excellent filtering system which helps users identify and connect to servers which will perform best at a certain activity.
These filters include the best servers for Netflix and torrenting, which for some will be a very useful feature that’s lacking from pretty much any other VPN service available – cheap or not.
Also, in our latest review we found that connections speeds have improved considerably, and now CyberGhost is able to reach the heady heights of 770Mbps when using WireGuard – that’s up there with the fastest VPNs.
Although CyberGhost’s user experience isn’t quite up there with the best, it’s a fantastic choice for those looking to stream and torrent without breaking the bank – and you’ll also be covered by an unusually long 45-day money-back guarantee, so you’ll be able to test it thoroughly before committing.
Not previously known as much of a bargain, Hotspot Shield is now offering massive deal to Tom’s Guide readers, matching Surfshark’s per-month price of $2.49 – and while you’ll have to commit to three years rather than two, the price doesn’t rise when you renew.
In our Hotspot Shield review, we found that it’s a powerful all-round VPN which covers just about all the bases – good encryption, excellent connection speeds, and well-designed apps.
In our streaming testing, we found that while Hotspot Shield was able to unblock iPlayer, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. However, it struggled getting access to any Netflix library PC. If you’re looking for a Fire Stick VPN, though, Hotspot Shield is the very best for unblocking Netflix! Weird…
All things considered, though, Hotspot Shield is a quality service that’s worth considering – both boasting simple, effective apps as well as all the essential features like a kill switch and split tunneling.
OK, ExpressVPN isn’t quite as cheap as some of the other VPNs on this list, but we think the package it offers makes its worth its slightly higher price tag. In fact, our ExpressVPN review found it to be the best service we’ve ever tested.
With a wide range of server locations, all of which provide blazing speeds no matter where you are – or where you want to appear to be – you’ll be able to find a great connection.
Express’s apps are also incredibly easy to use, but under the surface you’ll find a huge amount of powerful features. There’s a wide range of protocols, split tunneling, a kill switch, and the VPN also uses ‘Perfect Forward Secrecy’, which uses a brand-new key each time you connect, as well as changing it every hour when you’re connected.
You’ll also be able to stream from plenty of Netflix locations, as well as access Hulu outside the US and iPlayer from outside the UK – plus, its great selection of mobile VPN apps means you can cover just about every device you own, no matter what it is.
Even cheap VPNs need great support, and Express has the best in the business – the live chat works very well with replies coming in seconds, and no matter what your issue is, the operator will be able to help.
The only downside is the fact that Express is a little more expensive than other services, but when you consider what you’re getting, we reckon it’s worth the investment.
Is a cheap VPN worth it?
If you pick the right one, it certainly is. While some cheap services might not have many servers, provide poor connection speeds or, at worst, leak sensitive data, all of the options on this list provide premium-quality VPN protection for a great price.
If you really can only spare $2.49 a month, Surfshark is the absolutely the best cheap VPN. However, if you can spare a little more we’d steer you towards ExpressVPN. Although you might be spending a few extra dollars a month, Express’s functionality is class-leading, and is top of our best VPN services guide, and now offers a year of Backblaze backup absolutely free.
Are cheap VPNs secure?
While quality varies a lot in the VPN market, the five services on this list are all reliable, secure VPNs that we rank among the top VPNs no matter the price.
All feature at least AES-256 encryption, most have extra features to keep you and your data private, and they’ll all also work well as a Netflix VPN, Suffice to say, if you pick your cheap VPN from this list, your data will be as secure as it would be with any other VPN
Can you get a VPN for free?
It’s not impossible to get a free VPN, but if you do you’ll be sacrificing a lot in terms of performance and, in some cases, security.
Free services still have to make money, so if users aren’t paying the provider directly with a subscription, it uses other techniques to earn revenue. Often you’ll find the VPN might inject ads into pages you’re browsing, and in the worst case it may well be selling your data.
Also, many free providers offer paid options as well, so the free versions are limited to encourage you to upgrade. You may find your connection speeds are throttled, and you’ll usually have a data limit which is measured in Mb rather than Gb.
While free options are available, if you’re looking to stream TV or use a VPN daily, it’s worth spending the $2.49 a month on Surfshark rather than risking it – at least you know where your provider is making its money if you pay for a subscription.
Why are VPNs so expensive?
In actual fact, while some VPNs can be fairly pricey, on the whole they’re one of the cheaper digital subscription services – especially if you go with one of our recommended cheap VPNs.
However, good VPNs aren’t free because they need constant maintenance to ensure their servers are running reliably and securely, and technical teams to keep updating the service to ensure you can still access sites that actively block the use of VPNs – think Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Also, none of the VPNs on this list will show you any sort of advertising when you’re using it, and you’ll also have unlimited bandwidth and data to use. Therefore, the only place they make their money is from user subscriptions, and starting at less than $2.50 a month, we think that’s a pretty reasonable price to pay for total internet anonymity and data security.