Best Cheap VPNs: The 5 Best High Quality, Low-Cost VPNs

Martin Gschwentner
Author
Last update

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:

1.

Surfshark — Best Price-Performance Ratio

Surfshark VPN Test
Surfshark VPN
(75,808)
3200+ servers in 65 countries
Unlimited number of devices
Many apps (Linux, FireTV, ...)
Saves no logs
Very cheap on the 24-month plan
Surfshark is one of the cheapest providers on the market, but besides the price also impresses with strong protection, many features and a great support with 24/7 live chat.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
unlimited
Protocols
3
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
Surfshark 24 months
$2.49
monthly price
Visit Website »
Get 83% Discount
Review Score
4.4 / 5
good

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

Intuitive applications

Excellent speeds

Server network could be a bit larger

Review Score
4.4 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Customer Support
4.3 / 5
Server Network
4.0 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.0 / 5
2.

CyberGhost — Good and Inexpensive

CyberGhost VPN Test
CyberGhost VPN
(166,961)
6400+ server
90 countries
Saves no logs
45 days money-back guarantee
Reliable Streaming
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
7
Protocols
6
Contract Period
1 - 36 months
CyberGhost 3 Years
$2.48
monthly price
Visit Website »
45 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good

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.

Review Score
3.9 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Server Network
4.7 / 5
Customer Support
4.3 / 5
Installation and Features
4.3 / 5
Performance
3.3 / 5
Security and Privacy
3.0 / 5
3.

NordVPN — Review Winner At a Reasonable Price

Best Overall 2022
NordVPN Test
NordVPN
(577,766)
5400+ servers, 60 countries
Excellent performance
No logs
6 devices simultaneously
Inexpensive 2-year package
NordVPN combines speed, user-friendliness and functionality into a coherent overall package that is also fairly affordable.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
6
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
NordVPN 2-year plan
$3.29
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Best Overall
4.7 / 5
excellent

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.

Review Score
4.7 / 5
04/2021
excellent
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.7 / 5
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.7 / 5
Server Network
4.3 / 5
4.

Windscribe — Low-Priced Newcomer

Windscribe VPN Test
Windscribe VPN
(105,037)
500+ servers in 60+ countries
Free version with 10 GB limit
Connect unlimited devices
Good for video streaming
Headquarters in Canada
Data volume
10 - ∞
Devices
unlimited
Protocols
2
Contract Period
0 - 12 months
Windscribe Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Download for free
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good

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.

Review Score
3.9 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Performance
4.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.0 / 5
Server Network
3.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
3.0 / 5
5.

Private Internet Access — Inexpensive and Customizable

Private Internet Access Test
Private Internet Access
(142,148)
34,000+ servers in 75 countries
Very good VPN client
Wide range of features
No independent security audit
Weak performance in speed test
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
10
Protocols
2
Contract Period
1 - 36 months
Private Internet Access 3 Years
$2.19
monthly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
4.1 / 5
good

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.

Review Score
4.1 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Installation and Features
5.0 / 5
Server Network
4.7 / 5
Customer Support
4.0 / 5
Performance
3.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
3.0 / 5

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.

ProtonVPN Test
ProtonVPN
(41,581)
Strong focus on security
1200+ servers in 55 countries
Headquarters in Switzerland
Solid performance
Open Source & external audits
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
1 - 10
Protocols
3
Contract Period
0 - 24 months
ProtonVPN Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
4.3 / 5
good

For more on the best free VPN services, be sure to consult our guide.

Conclusion

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.

FAQs

Which VPN is the least expensive?
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.

Which VPNs are free?
Many VPN providers have a "freemium" option - a free version with limited features. Of these, ProtonVPN is the best. You can find completely free VPN services without premium plans, however, there are many dubious offers among them. As such, it's best to be cautious when considering a free VPN.

How much does a VPN cost?
VPN services typically cost between $2 and $11 per month. Generally speaking, the longer the contract, the more affordable they become. If you're looking to spend just a few dollars per month, you'll likely need to sign on for a 1-, 2- or 3-year subscription.

Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
Translator & Editor: Lisa Torelli-Sauer
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