Bitwarden offers open-source customization at a low price, but it lacks the polish of big-name competitors.
TLDR: For pennies on the dollar, the small but mighty Bitwarden serves up one of the most customizable password managers on the market. However, the cheaper price shows in the less-than-stellar app fluency and customer service.
Bitwarden Pros and Cons
✅ Great free plan and inexpensive Premium plan
❌ Not as many features as competitors
✅ Open-source and flexible
❌ Not as intuitive as some rivals
✅ Heavy security
❌ Bare bones customer support
✅ Diverse browser support
Bitwarden is not as popular as some of the bigger names in the field, but the small team driving Bitwarden has already made a name for itself as one of the premiere open-source password managers.
With above-and-beyond support for browsers and devices, along with a wealth of end-to-end encryption features, Bitwarden offers some of the most sought after features at the lowest prices. Read our review of Bitwarden below to gauge if it’s the right password manager for you.
Bitwarden was originally released in 2016 and has its headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. The company runs a tight ship, with a small management team listed on its website and 44 employees currently listed on LinkedIn. Bitwarden features strong global support with communication offered in more than 40 languages, but the company doesn’t say how many users and businesses it serves.
Bitwarden’s free plan is packed with features, and its Premium plan is extremely affordable.
Bitwarden doesn’t offer a free trial for individual accounts or a monthly payment option, but it does provide a 30-day refund policy. You can also try a Family plan free for seven days. Below, you’ll find Bitwarden’s pricing for individual and family plans:
If you’re interested in Bitwarden’s business plans, you can check those out here.
Bitwarden Basic Plan (Free)
- Unlimited passwords
- Unlimited devices
- One-to-one text sharing
- Password generator
- Two-factor authentication
- Cloud and self-hosting options
With unlimited passwords and notes, you can store as much as you need to in your encrypted vault. You will also have autosync available across all your devices. Bitwarden offers more accessibility in its free plan than we’ve seen in other password managers, which often restrict password sharing to paid plans.
What we don’t like: Extra features, such as security reports and scores, aren’t available in the free plan. Plus, you can only share passwords (no files) with one other person through the company’s text sharing feature Bitwarden Send.
What we do like: One of the most interesting features is Bitwarden’s self-hosting option, which allows you to run Bitwarden from your device without ever having to connect to its servers. Most people won’t need to self-host, but the option to store passwords locally is a nice option.
Bitwarden Premium Plan ($10/year)
- Emergency access
- 1GB of encrypted file storing
- One-to-one file sharing
- Bitwarden Authenticator (TOTP)
- Vault health reports
- YubiKey, Universal 2nd-Factor (U2F) and Duo support
- Priority support
For $10 a year, Bitwarden’s Premium plan is a major deal. You get everything from the free plan, plus a host of additional features such as Bitwarden Authenticator. The proprietary authenticator generates six-digit Time-Based One-Time Passwords (TOTPs) using Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA-1), and the passwords expire every 30 seconds. For an added measure of security, Bitwarden Authenticator can be used instead of Google Authenticator or Duo.
What else we like: Bitwarden’s vault health reports identify weak or compromised passwords. Other password managers like Norton make it a bit easier to take action and change poor passwords, but Bitwarden does identify logins where you can enable two-factor authentication and instructions for doing so.
Bitwarden Family Plan ($40/year)
Bitwarden’s Family plan includes the same Premium experience, plus you can add a maximum of six people to the plan. You’ll also have access to unlimited collections and shared folders to share passwords and files between users, something that’s not available to Premium members.
Bitwarden offers some of the cheapest Family pricing we’ve seen. As we mentioned earlier, you can even try a seven-day, free trial to make sure Bitwarden works well for your whole family before making a total commitment.
Which Personal Bitwarden Plan Is Right for You?
Bitwarden’s free plan is a great option for most users. If you’re interested in the authenticator, emergency access and the vault health reporting, making the jump to Premium won’t break the bank. For $10 a year, you gain access to a lot of features, which especially comes in handy if you have sensitive files that you need to keep safe.
If you are looking for service only for yourself, we recommend starting with the free plan.
Bitwarden for Businesses
Bitwarden has kept its business plans simple, too. It’s rare to see a free plan for businesses, but Bitwarden has one. Be warned: You’ll have storage for unlimited passwords across unlimited devices, but you can only have two users on the free business plan. You’ll also only be able to create two collections for grouping items, and you’ll miss out on the 1GB of encrypted file storage, which can be a significant miss for businesses.
Bitwarden Business Plans
$36 per user/annually
$60 per user/annually
What we like: Paid business plans come with priority customer support and Directory Connector, which syncs users, groups and associations. Enterprise users gain Single Sign-On (SSO) Authentication with an administrator password reset feature known as SAML 2.0.
Bitwarden Review: How It Performed in Our Tests
We conducted tests on Bitwarden’s iOS app, Safari’s mobile browser, the Chrome extension on Mac and Firefox for Windows. Signing up online was easy and only required an email address, name, master password and a password hint. After entering that information, you’re signed up for the free version of Bitwarden and can start adding passwords.
What we don’t like: Setting up a Bitwarden account requires more manual work than other competitors, such as Dashlane and LastPass, require. Autosync and autofill both work across browsers and the app, but you do have to turn on those features manually. They don’t work immediately like some other managers.
On a desktop computer, autofill did not come up automatically. We had to click on the Bitwarden extension icon and select the specific website we wanted to sign in to.
We also found the mobile app to be a bit lacking. It’s a simple interface to navigate, but it certainly lacks competitors in the areas of design and ease-of-use. Bitwarden’s lower price (leading to lower quality) can be felt most here.
What we like: Bitwarden puts heavy emphasis on Bitwarden Send, even giving it its own tab in the mobile app and web vault. The good news is it’s extremely easy to send and share a password or file. It’s also easy to set deletion and expiration dates.
Bitwarden Security Features
- End-to-end AES-256
- Salted hashes
- PBKDF2 SHA-256
- GDPR, Privacy Shield, HIPAA and CCPA compliance
- SOC Type 2 and 3 certifications
- Member of FIDO Alliance
- Regular, third-party security audits released
- Open source
- Password generator
- Zero-knowledge encryption
Bitwarden uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption for securing the passwords in your vault. Additionally, the password manager offers salted hashing and Password-Based Key Deviation Function 2 (PBKDF2) Secure Hash Algorithm 2 (SHA-256). Put simply, these hashing features allow random, unique data to be input each time you enter a password. That means hackers are even less likely to be able to manually guess your passwords.
One of Bitwarden’s greatest strengths is the number of platforms and browsers it supports. Bitwarden offers Windows, Mac and Linux native apps, and it is available in multiple packages and operating systems. Android and iOS mobile apps are also available.
Bitwarden’s browser extensions go above and beyond, supporting:
- Tor Browser
You can also write and execute your own Bitwarden scripts in the command line in Windows, Android, Linux, NPM, Chocolatey, Homebrew and Snap.
Overall, we’re impressed with Bitwarden’s flexibility. The level of customization runs deep, and you don’t have to access these features if you don’t want to. Overall, even for computer and tech junkies, Bitwarden offers more than enough options.
Bitwarden Customer Service
Since Bitwarden’s team is so small, the company’s customer service support is limited. You can message the company on its contact page, but there’s no phone or chat support besides directly reaching out to developers on message boards.
Bitwarden offers priority support for its Premium and Family users, but you still won’t be able to chat with or call a customer service representative directly. Bitwarden is more focused on being a custom “do-it-yourself” password manager. While the company does offer a nice Help Center, we recommend looking elsewhere if direct communication with a customer service team is important to you.
Due to Bitwarden’s open-source nature, it’s found grassroots support from developers and software engineers who like its flexibility. With a smaller base in a niche community, Bitwarden touts an impressive 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Trustpilot.
Since Bitwarden hasn’t been around as long as some of its competitors, its perfect security track record with no security incidents or breaches isn’t as impressive, but we appreciate the company’s dedication to transparency and regular audits.
Bitwarden: Is It Worth It?
We’re big fans of Bitwarden’s open-source nature. Anyone in the world can review Bitwarden’s code and make contributions on GitHub, Docker and Community, which is also where you can directly chat with Bitwarden’s developers. The level of transparency and customization Bitwarden offers its users is much higher than many of its competitors.
It also means Bitwarden might be a best fit for do-it-yourselfers who want to take advantage of self-hosting and other options. That doesn’t mean Bitwarden is only for the tech crowd, though. We found Bitwarden’s super-low price and the interface accessible enough that anyone could use it, but it won’t be quite as easy or intuitive as some pricier competitors with greater customer support. Bitwarden is worth a second look if you need a strong password manager for low to no cost.