Virtual private network (VPN) companies structure pricing and plans differently, but prices range from $5 to $12.99 for a monthly subscription. Some providers offer deep discounts for signing long-term contracts as a first-time user, while others make a basic plan free.

We compared apples to apples by looking at VPN deals for one month  instead of annual plans. Free versions were not included. Not every cheap VPN service, however, is the same — you’ll need to decide what’s most important to you: VPN connection speed, server locations, limited or unlimited simultaneous devices, countries supported or the cheapest VPN service cost.

During our month-long testing and review of more than a dozen VPN providers, we took all of these factors and more into consideration, so you can determine the best value for you.

Cheapest VPNs for 2021

Service

Price for One-Month Subscription

ProtonVPN

$5.00

Visit Site

IVPN

$6.00

Mullvad VPN

€5

Private Internet Access

$9.95

Visit Site

TunnelBear

$9.99

Visit Site

NordVPN

$11.95

Visit Site

Surfshark

$12.95

Visit Site

ExpressVPN

$12.95

Visit Site

CyberGhost

$12.99

Visit Site

Hotspot Shield

$12.99

Visit Site

Lowest Cost: ProtonVPN

$5.00

In This Article:

    Why Not Use a Free VPN?

    While discussing the cost of a VPN, free VPN services cannot be ignored. A free VPN service is attractive because it can provide the internet protection you’re looking for without an extra cost. You may, however, have to make significant sacrifices when it comes to data logging, security coverage and customer support if you decide to use a free VPN in place of a paid VPN service.

    Cybersecurity firm, Norton found that 72% of free VPN services tracked users’ data. Its study indicated that of the 10 VPNs most likely to be infected with malware, six of them were free VPN versions.

    If you’re lucky enough that your free VPN isn’t tracking and selling your personal data, it’s highly likely that your browsing experience will be loaded with advertisements, or you’ll lack full access to VPN features that may be important to you. For example, a free VPN service may block access to streaming sites, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Disney+, or you could experience speed throttling when accessing file-sharing services.

    Companies that offer free VPN services still need to make money. If that profit isn’t coming from users’ subscription fees, then it’s likely coming from their data. This unfortunate scenario defeats the purpose of using a VPN in the first place.

    Best Cheap VPNs

    We sorted providers from lowest to highest cost on a one-month plan. VPN services often advertise lower monthly prices for longer contracts, but keep in mind that you may have to pay the annual or biennial cost upfront.

    ProtonVPN

    ProtonVPN has a no-logs policy, provides speeds up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps), allows up to 10 VPN simultaneous connections, offers torrenting support and more. Users can also choose from four different VPN plans: Free, Basic, Plus and Visionary. The Plus Plan is likely the best option if you want to access geographically restricted content via video streaming services.

    ProtonVPN’s reputation as a leader in the sphere of online privacy is due in large part to the features provided at a low price, including the ProtonMail email service that provides users with fully anonymous and encrypted email access without a monthly fee. ProtonVPN can be a strong choice with affordable prices if your primary reason for using a VPN is protecting your data. All plans include a 30-day money back guarantee.

    ProtonVPN Pricing

    Free

    Basic

    Plus

    Visionary

    $0

    $5 month
    $48 annual
    $79 two-year

    $10 month
    $96 annual
    $159 two-year

    $30 month
    $288 annual
    $479 two-year

    IVPN

    IVPN is a strong contender for internet users who are looking for pricing flexibility. The company offers plans that can renew as often as once per week. This option is perfect for people who may only need VPN coverage for a short period of time, such as travelers who are visiting countries with content restrictions.

    Depending on the plan you select, you can connect two to seven devices to your VPN at one time. IVPN supports Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux and more.

    The company’s services and reputation are strong as well. IVPN has a versatile multi-hop connection feature available for IVPN Pro users, which stands out from the competition.

    IVPN Pricing

    One-Week

    One-Month

    Annual

    Two-Year

    Three-Year

    IVPN
    Standard
    Pricing

    $2

    $6

    $60

    $100

    $140

    IVPN Pro
    Pricing

    $4

    $10

    $100

    $160

    $220

    Mullvad VPN

    Mullvad VPN uses a unique pricing model. The company charges five euros (roughly $6 at the time of publication) per month, regardless of how long of a commitment you make. The company also accepts cash, as long as you’re willing to pay the postage to Sweden.

    Whether you want a month-to-month deal or would rather pay for a decade of use in advance, you’ll always be charged the same rate. This can be a useful if you’re not ready to make a long-term commitment to a VPN service right away, as most competing VPN services encourage users to subscribe to a long-term plan by offering deep discounts on two-year (or longer) plan options.

    Mullvad VPN Pricing

    One-Month

    Annual

    10-Year

    €5/month ($6.09)

    €5/month ($6.09)

    €5/month ($6.09)

    Private Internet Access

    Private Internet Access is another VPN provider with rave customer reviews. The VPN service keeps your data protected, unblocks censorship barriers and allows you to access desired content from anywhere in the world. Private Internet Access also allows you to connect 10 devices simultaneously, includes a blocker for ads, trackers and malware, and has a no-logging policy.

    Private Internet Access Pricing

    One-Month

    Annual

    Two-Year

    $9.95

    $39.95
    ($3.33/month)

    $69.95
    ($2.69/month)

    TunnelBear

    TunnelBear’s VPN is used by millions of people around the world due to its data protection, unblocking of restricted content and IP-based tracking prevention. TunnelBear is a solid choice due to its free VPN version, which you can try before signing up for a subscription. The free VPN version is limited in features, but it does provide a decent scope of what the service offers before purchasing a plan.

    TunnelBear Pricing

    One-Month

    Annual

    Three-Year

    $9.99

    $59.88
    ($4.99/month)

    $120
    ($3.33/month)

    NordVPN

    NordVPN is consistently ranked as one of the top VPN providers on the market because it offers some of the fastest VPN servers, has a no-logging policy and provides a full VPN suite for business use. NordVPN provides app support for Mac, iPhone, Android, Windows, Linux, Chrome, Firefox and more.

    In the past, we have recommended NordVPN for business users due to its comprehensive privacy infrastructure, fast connection speeds with NordLynx (which is built around Wireguard protocols) and a variety of tunneling options, but NordVPN also serves casual internet users.

    NordVPN Pricing

    One-Month

    Annual

    Two-Year

    $11.95

    $59
    ($4.92/month)

    $99
    ($4.13/month)

    Surfshark

    Surfshark provides useful features, such as a whitelisting service for sites that you want to bypass the VPN. You can whitelist your bank account website or app, which may block your access if it is routed through your VPN. You can also use CleanWeb browser, which hides ads while you use the internet. If you don’t like online advertisements, Surfshark is a good VPN service to consider.

    Surfshark Pricing

    One-Month

    Six-Month

    Two-Year

    $12.95

    $38.94
    ($6.49/month)

    $59.76
    ($2.49/month)

    ExpressVPN

    ExpressVPN offers a split tunneling feature that lets you choose the types of traffic that pass through your VPN’s encryption. This can be useful when you want to watch a foreign film that isn’ available in your country. Instead, you can connect to a VPN server within the country that supports the specific foreign film you want to watch, and then you’ll have access to the film and more.

    During our VPN speed test, we were able to access fast file-sharing speeds, as well as a wealth of privacy options and protocols through ExpressVPN.

    On top of these features, the VPN provider also has a Network Lock kill switch. If your VPN suddenly loses connection, your device will automatically stop interacting with whatever network it’s on. This ensures that none of your data is accidentally leaked.

    ExpressVPN Pricing

    One-Month

    Six-Month

    15-Month

    $12.95

    $59.95
    ($9.99/month)

    $99.95
    ($6.67/month)

    CyberGhost

    CyberGhost consistently ranks high in VPN service comparisons. Features such as no-logging, dedicated streaming servers, 7,000+ servers and more stand out among this company’s offerings. With CyberGhost, you can easily hide your IP address and have your data kept safe with military-grade encryption. In 2011, the company became the first in the industry to publish a transparency report, a practice it continues today.

    CyberGhost Pricing

    One-Month

    Annual

    Two-Year

    Three-Year

    $12.99

    $47.88
    ($3.99/month)

    $83.76
    ($3.49/month)

    $87.75
    ($2.25/month)

    Hotspot Shield

    Hotspot Shield’s VPN comes with an automatic kill switch and 1,800 individual servers that allow users to tunnel into the internet through 80 countries. It also provides users with military-grade data encryption, global internet access without restrictions and unlimited bandwidth. Depending on your plan selection, you can connect up to 25 devices on the VPN simultaneously.

    Hotspot Shield Pricing

    Basic

    Premium

    Premium Family

    $0

    $12.99 month
    $95.88 annually

    $19.99 month
    $143.88 annually

    Which VPN Offers the Best Value?

    Now that we’ve looked at some of the features of the most widely used and inexpensive VPNs on the market, which one offers the greatest bang for your buck? The answer to this question will depend on how you define value when it comes to VPNs.

    For example, many users are looking for a high-quality VPN that costs them as little as possible each month. If all that you care about is the standard monthly VPN cost, then you’ll get the most value out of ProtonVPN.

    If you’re more interested in signing a long-term deal with a VPN company to get a higher discount, companies like CyberGhost and Surfshark should be at the top of your list.

    If you’re willing to pay more for a VPN company that offers specific features you find valuable, ExpressVPN’s long list of supported streaming devices is convenient while NordVPN offers plans for small businesses.

    Which VPN Should You Choose?

    At the end of the day, all of the VPNs on this list are strong options. Your VPN cost will vary depending on the VPN you choose, but this doesn’t mean you should always choose the lowest priced option. Our advice is to start by figuring out which VPN features matter the most to you. Once you’ve done that, you can then compare the prices of all the options that satisfy your criteria to figure out which one offers what you need at the best price.

    Pricing is current as September 8, 2021.

    Our Methodology for Testing Cheap VPNs

    As the Gizmodo Advisor editorial team, we personally research and test virtual private networks so we can make the best recommendations for you. Our VPN reviews are completely independent and aren’t influenced by commissions we may receive from any VPN purchases. You can find how we can research and rate VPNs in our methodology below.

    Factor

    Score

    Description

    Privacy and Stability

    30%

    Nothing is more important in a virtual private network than your privacy and security. What encryption does the VPN use? How many servers does it provide? How does it perform in data leak tests?

    Features and Functionality

    30%

    The best VPNs offer top-tier features while keeping their products simple and easy to use. Can you access servers in a wide variety of locations? Are streaming, torrenting and split tunneling available? We score based on the number of features, speed, as well as app and browser experience.

    Reputation and Credibility

    20%

    We evaluate factors like time in business and changes in service (good and bad). We read community forums and reviews to look for patterns of where a company stands out or is lacking.

    Customer Experience

    10%

    VPN services should answer customer questions quickly. Is there a 24/7 customer support team? How easy (or difficult) is it to contact them? Are their websites helpful and easy to navigate?

    Plans and Pricing/Value

    10%

    There’s a VPN for every budget, so we look at the number of pricing options and whether the cost is proportional to the value customers receive in features, privacy, customer experience and trust.

    Cheapest VPN Frequently Asked Questions

    • Why do I need a VPN?

      Virtual private networks (VPNs) keep your online history private and anonymous. Whether you’re logged into public Wi-Fi or your own router at home, VPNs encrypted your online data so no one can view or track what you’re doing.

    • Are VPNs safe?

      Many VPNs are safe to use, but other VPNs (especially free options) exploit your online data — the opposite of what any VPN should do. All the VPNs we’ve listed above are safe and trustworthy for you to start using.

    • Will VPNs work with Netflix?

      Not all VPN plans will let you stream. For instance, ProtonVPN only allows Netflix streaming on its more expensive plans instead of its free version or Basic plan. Our VPN reviews help you decide which VPN plan options will allow you to stream.