Picking the best cheap VPN used to involve some sort of sacrifice – perhaps streaming or torrenting wasn’t supported, the apps would crash every other time you connected, or there were rumors of you data being collected and sold.
However, thanks to the massive boom of the best VPN services, prices have plummeted and quality has hugely improved.
Now, there are tons of bargain providers worth using, some of which we rank very highly even when price is no object. The trickiest part of the process is choosing between them, as while there are a number of fast and secure options, there are still plenty of duds littering app stores worldwide.
If you don’t want to do the digging yourself – and who does? – just check out our ranking of cheap VPNs below. We’ve done all the legwork in our comprehensive reviews, and rounded up the top 5 VPNs that offer a killer combination of affordability and performance.
What makes a great cheap VPN?
Now that some of the very best providers are incredibly affordable, your criteria for choosing a cheap VPN shouldn’t allow any shortcomings. Top-tier privacy should always come first, and we trust all the providers on this page to protect you while you’re online.
User-friendly apps that work on a wide range of devices are also a must, and if you’re looking to use a VPN to stream more content on Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other sites, ensure that your chosen service can deliver the goods.
After reviewing dozens of providers, we consider the best cheap VPN to be 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 very good alternatives, so all you need to do is keep scrolling, and pick the VPN that suits you best.
The best cheap VPNs today
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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 Nertherlands-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 – the most important of which is security.
Fire up Surfshark and you’ll be protected by a full complement of security features, including OpenVPN UDP & TCP and WireGuard 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, when using WireGuard 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 95 countries. That great selection of servers also helps with delivering excellent streaming power, giving access to US Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and more.
However, one of Surfshark’s real party pieces is its unlimited simultaneous connection policy. So, 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 tons of features, and pretty much everything the vast majority of users will need from a VPN.
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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 reportedly tallies above 10,000, finding a reliable, uncongested location to connect is super simple. And, since it boasts at least one server in every state of the US, it’s a great choice for a US VPN.
In our most recent round of testing, PIA proved pretty useful when it came to unblocking streaming services, with US Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime posing no problem. As an improvement from last time, it can also access BBC iPlayer, which will appeal to Brits abroad.
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 elsewhere. Alongside the classic 256-AES encryption, PIA also has an effective kill switch, remarkably powerful browser extensions, and those looking for a torrenting VPN may also appreciate the Port Forwarding function.
Overall we were very impressed with PIA, but a couple of negatives to 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 relatively poor at around 250Mbps. Of course, this could be down to our testing environment, but many other VPNs scored better, and PIA has never been the very fastest VPN.
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.
Sign up now on the PIA website (opens in new tab)
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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, this guide is all about the cheapest VPNs, and at a staggering $1.69 a month at the time of writing, PureVPN is unbelievably cheap.
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 (although Netflix and others are off limits), but most impressively it’s passed an independent zero-logging audit, meaning it doesn’t store any logs of your activity.
Speeds are much faster than last time, at around 840Mbps, but there are a few downsides – a poor support site, and apps that aren’t quite as polished as the very best. For the price, though, PureVPN is an incredible deal, and is well worth testing out.
Sign up now on the PureVPN website with the code TECH15 (opens in new tab)
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CyberGhost is a Romanian-based VPN service that offers a staggering 7,800+ 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 VPN 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 850Mbps when using WireGuard.
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.
Sign up now on the CyberGhost website for just $2.29/mo (opens in new tab)
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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, a useful kill switch, P2P support and well-designed apps.
In our streaming testing, we found that while Hotspot Shield was able to unblock Netflix, iPlayer, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. If you’re looking for a Fire Stick VPN, Hotspot Shield has historically been very effective on that platform, too.
All things considered, though, Hotspot Shield is a quality service that’s worth considering – and while its proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol can’t quite match up with WireGuard-touting providers, it’s still quick enough for daily use.
Sign up now on the Hotspot Shield website – claim your exclusive $2.49/pm price (opens in new tab)
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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.
The big news, however, is that ExpressVPN has partnered with premium cloud backup provider Backblaze to offer a year’s free backup, as well as the regular three months free of VPN.
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 $2.50 a month, Surfshark is the absolutely the best cheap VPN (opens in new tab) – and will even leave you some change. However, if you can spare a little more we’d steer you towards ExpressVPN (opens in new tab). Although you might be spending a few extra dollars a month, Express’s functionality is class-leading, 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 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 most will 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 decent 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 pikcing up a cheap service like 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.