For many, a reliable VPN has become an indispensable part of their daily, digital life. Whether on your desktop or mobile device, VPNs provide security while on public WiFi, anonymity when surfing from home, and make it possible to bypass region restrictions on video streaming content. Naturally, these services aren't available without some (financial) investment.
Completely free, as well as premium VPN providers with free subscriptions (more on this later) do exist, however, to really enjoy everything that a VPN has to offer, you'll need to pay for one. The costs aren't unreasonable, and a good VPN will only set you back a few dollars per month.
We reviewed 22 VPN services and determined which offer impressive quality at low prices.
Top 5 Low-Cost VPNs
We didn't just look at the price tag when selecting our Top 5, but also assessed what users get, in other words, each service's price-performance ratio. To compare providers, we selected the least expensive monthly rate for each, which typically requires at least a one-year commitment. So that performance would also be represented, only those services that received a "good" rating in our overall review were taken into consideration.
Here are the Top 5:
Surfshark — Best Price-Performance Ratio
Surfshark has the best price-performance ratio of all the VPN providers we assessed. The relatively young service offers up user-friendly apps packed with handy features, such as split tunneling and MultiHop, which aren't yet standard to all VPNs. To top it off, Surfshark delivers excellent performance.
With their high security standards and good customer support, it's clear that Surfshark is an excellent all-around choice. Taking their low prices into consideration, $3 per month with a 2-year subscription, the VPN is even more appealing.
Multitude of features, including split tunneling
Server network could be a bit larger
CyberGhost — Good and Inexpensive
CyberGhost performed strongly in a number of review categories: they have a huge server network, user-friendly applications, and a support team that quickly responded to our questions. Their performance is also solid, although we did experience occasional connection issues during testing.
Unfortunately, CyberGhost hasn't submitted to an independent security audit for quite some time. This makes us skeptical, especially since they (along with other competitors such as ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate) are owned by Kape Technologies, a company with a somewhat shady past.
However, those willing to overlook the above issues will be treated to a very capable VPN service at an excellent price, especially if booking their 3-year plan.
NordVPN — Review Winner At a Reasonable Price
NordVPN isn't the least expensive VPN service on the market, but it is the best (and still manages to be relatively affordable). This Panama-based provider took first place in our review thanks to its optimal performance, features, and user-friendliness.
NordVPN also topped our speed test, and their package gives you access to all of the most important features, such as split tunneling. At less than $4 per month with a 2-year subscription, NordVPN offers a great price-performance ratio.
Windscribe — Low-Priced Newcomer
Windscribe is relatively new to the VPN scene and stands in the shadows of larger providers. They fared well in our speed test but did not lead the pack.
The VPN does rack up points owing to its variety of features, great apps, low pricing, and rather generous free version.
Private Internet Access — Inexpensive and Customizable
Like Cyberghost, Private Internet Access belongs to Kape Technologies. So if you're looking for a VPN without any baggage, you may be in the wrong place. That being said, this provider won us over with their user-friendly VPN client, the modules of which can be customized. They also offer an impressive server network.
Less impressive is Private Internet Access's performance, which saw them finish in the lower half of our speed ranking. Also, an independent audit is well past due, especially considering the company's affiliation with Kape Technologies.
All the same, PIA's 2-year plan is one of the most attractively priced VPN offers on the market.
Free VPNs as an Alternative
Do low-cost VPNs seem too expensive? If you're determined not to pay for a VPN service, you'll have to accept some trade-offs. With free VPNs, you're usually only afforded access to specific servers in certain countries, with the bypassing of region restrictions for streaming video content usually not on the cards. Most free VPNs also impose strict data and speed limits.
Complicating things is that there are a number of dubious providers in the free VPN realm, to whom you should not entrust your data. For that reason, we only recommend using free versions of well-known premium VPNs. Despite the drawbacks, there are a few whose free versions are worth considering.
Of these, Proton VPN is the best in our opinion. It grants access to a limited number of VPN servers, however, you won't need to worry about connection speed or data caps.
For more on the best free VPN services, be sure to consult our guide.
Anonymous surfing doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, with many VPNs available for less than the price of a cup of coffee. The VPN providers with the best price-performance ratio include Surfshark, Cyberghost, NordVPN, Windscribe, and Private Internet Access. Generally speaking, the longer the subscription, the lower the monthly price. So before signing a contract, make sure you fully understand what the service has to offer. Our VPN comparison can help you make an informed decision.
There are, of course, cheaper—and even free—VPNs out there. However, these come with some limitations; region restrictions on streaming platforms cannot be reliably bypassed with free VPNs, and they usually cap data and connection speeds (Proton VPN is one of the exceptions). We have a separate article dedicated to the best free VPN services.
The least expensive VPN from our EXPERTE.com sample was Zenmate, which only costs about $1.60 per month for a 3-year plan. However, their program received a "satisfactory" rating in our EXPERTE.com review and wasn't included here. The best price-performance ratio is offered by Surfshark, which scored significantly higher in all test categories and will only set you back around $2 per month.