Strange as it may sound, cheap Virtual Private Network (VPN) services can be very robust! The best cheap VPNs offer solid security and performance at a fair price.
Surfshark has long been my top pick as the best cheap VPN around. It’s improved steadily over time while demonstrating an excellent balance of performance, features, and price!
Whilst the concept of ‘cheap’ digital security seems to defy common sense, several brands managed to achieve that perfect “Zen” in performance, features, and cost. I’ve tested the VPNs on this list for years now, and they’ve simply grown better over time.
Price shown is lowest based on plans available from each VPN service provider.
VPNs have become a big part of my life for a long time for many reasons. The Internet has become a battleground of sorts, so I use them for everything from Netflix to data protection.
In honesty, cheap VPN services aren’t always that far from their premium brethren. What’s more important is they offer much better privacy and security over most free options. If you’re looking for a solid VPN that won’t cost a fortune, this is a list of my favorites.
- 3,200+ servers
- Unlimited devices
- WireGuard protocol
- MultiHop connection
- Ad blocker
“Surfshark is my dream VPN; it’s cheap, has a decent feature set, and simply works.”
My relationship with Surfshark goes back almost to the time they launched. The first thing that drew me in was the price, but the great Netflix experience is what kept me onboard. Over time, they’ve improved an already excellent service.
Surfshark hasn’t bloated itself with an increasingly large number of features. Instead, it’s remained focused on expanding its server network and improving speeds. Thanks to WireGuard, they’ve achieved the latter admirably.
What makes Surfshark an excellent cheap VPN
- Growing server networkBuilding global server networks isn’t easy or cheap. When they first came to market, Surfshark came out fighting with a few hundred servers. Within the past three years, that number has swelled to over 3,200.
- Buffer-free Netflix experienceSince I first connected to Surfshark, I’ve never once encountered the dreaded Netflix M7111-1331-5059 error code. That’s when Netflix detects you’re on a VPN and blocks your connection. It’s been smooth sailing all the way.
- WireGuard is stable and fastSurfshark implemented WireGuard “as is”, without feeling the need to modify it into something customized. So far, it’s worked well. I would never have believed that a VPN could offer such speed, matching my 500Mbps connection byte for byte.
- No device limitI use many VPNs personally and for work, so running out of connections I can use isn’t uncommon. Surfshark is the only VPN brand so far that hasn’t imposed these restrictions. In the age of digital, unlimited connections are a godsend.
The downside: None, really
Early on, I had the excuse that Surfshark was the new kid on the block. Compared to other established brands, it remains younger. Nevertheless, the newness is wearing off, and so far, it’s proven reliable and trustworthy.
Learn more about Surfshark
- 5,200+ servers
- 6 devices
- Server obfuscation
- NordLynx protocol
- Double VPN
“NordVPN is an industry behemoth that tramples over the competition in almost every aspect.”
In the early days when I was searching for a VPN, NordVPN caught my eye due to its attractive pricing. It was one of the few brands offering two-year subscriptions (the norm then was three to five years) – at reasonable prices.
Since then, they’ve raised rates a little, but it remains a fantastic choice considering the excellent quality of service. One more thing to consider is that NordVPN is one of the more forward-looking brands, regularly pushing updates and new features.
What makes NordVPN an excellent cheap VPN
- Massive server networkAmong VPN brands, NordVPN has one of the largest server networks available. This reach is impressive given how they’ve managed to keep prices somewhat under control as well. More servers to choose from is always better, especially for accessing geo-locked content.
- No-Logging policy is auditedNordVPN once had a server breach. While that wasn’t great, the company learned from its mistake and locked everything tightly. Since then, it has undergone regular audits to ensure nothing similar happens again.
- Easier to bypass VPN blockersMany websites and digital service providers don’t encourage VPN use. Some, like Netflix, will do their utmost to block VPN connections. Server obfuscation on NordVPN helps prevent this blockage by masking VPN use as regular web traffic.
- NordLynx is fastNordVPN felt they could do better than use the default WireGuard protocol. It enhanced the protocol to increase security, offering users NordLynx. Despite this modification, NordLynx speeds are impressive and more than a match for vanilla WireGuard.
The downside: Increasing prices
While NordVPN remains a highly affordable choice, it has raised prices considerably over the years. Still, it’s a small price to pay for a VPN that offers such speed and quality of service. NordVPN also uses those funds to innovate and increase the features offered.
Learn more about NordVPN
- 7,400+ servers
- 7 devices
- NoSpy servers
- Streams Netflix well
- WireGuard protocol
“CyberGhost is one of the rare VPNs that has somehow lowered its prices over the years.”
CyberGhost and I have a love-hate relationship that’s remained relatively consistent over the years. There are many things in its favor ranging from low prices to its massive worldwide network of servers.
Yet as a perfectionist, I simply can’t stand the few defects found. For example, despite that extensive server network, some are real lemons, pretty useless in terms of speed. Still, the good goes with the bad, I guess.
What makes CyberGhost an excellent cheap VPN
- The rock-bottom pricesYou may, perhaps, find a cheaper VPN than CyberGhost, but certainly not at the same level. Given how established this VPN service is, plus the extensive server network, there aren’t many who can match it in price and features.
- Decent speedsFor the price you’re paying, speeds are pretty decent on most CyberGhost servers. You’ll find the odd lame duck, but most will get you going at reasonable rates. This fact is especially true given they now support the WireGuard protocol.
- Secure NoSpy serversCyberGhost maintains a stable of NoSPy servers. These servers get handpicked and placed far out of 14 Eyes country jurisdictions. In addition, nobody gets to touch them aside from CyberGhost staff. They’re the cream of the crop.
- Netflix streams wellEven as I complain about some CyberGhost server speeds, there’s no denying that most will handle Netflix streaming perfectly well. No buffering, no long waits, and no interruptions. It simply works for streaming fans.
The downside: The lemon servers
With over 7,400 servers, it can be challenging to manage them all adequately. Unfortunately, that’s the position in which CyberGhost has found itself. Still, there are many alternative options if the one you first pick turns out slow.
Learn more about CyberGhost
4. Atlas VPNhttps://www.atlasvpn.com/
- Unlimited Devices
- SafeSwap Servers
- Ad & tracker blocking
- 700+ servers
“AtlasVPN’s stunning performance is made readily available by sweet pricing levels.”
I love to get early looks at VPN service providers. One of the latest coming under the radar is Atlas VPN. Normally, it’s easy to tell if a brand is destined for greatness, even from an initial glance. Atlas VPN happens to be one of those services with incredible potential.
Even better is the fact that prices here are extremely competitive. But let’s be honest, that low price is only outstanding because of how well the service performs. From media streaming to downloads and personal privacy, Atlas VPN offers a robust mix of goodies.
What makes Atlas VPN an excellent cheap VPN
- Formidable speedsA big part of what makes Atlas VPN great is the speedy performance. Thanks to WireGuard, websites load at breakneck speeds, even as your devices are kept secure. There’s little point in being safe and private online if your browsing experience sucks.
- Smooth streaming experienceMovie buffs often get upset at paying for a VPN to access international media libraries. Atlas VPN eases the pain with low prices and a seamless movie streaming experience. Why pay more for endless buffering and error messages when you can simply subscribe to Atlas VPN?
- Privacy protection includedDespite its new entry, Atlas VPN offers some unique features that help increase your digital privacy. Its SafeSwap servers rotate IP addresses each time you connect, so your devices are even harder to track.
- Unlimited connectionsAtlas VPN allows you to secure unlimited devices on your subscription. Honestly, the concept of “X devices” is kind of outdated nowadays, given how many smart devices each household is likely to own.
The downside: It’s new
For those who want a tried and tested service, Atlas VPN isn’t suitable. While it has been on the market for a while, the service is still relatively new. There’s no baptism of fire that only time can provide to each brand.
Learn more about Atlas VPN
- 40+ countries
- 10 devices
- Ad blocker
- NAT firewall
- P2P optimized
“FastestVPN remains far from top brands, but there’s no beating its ultra-low prices.”
FastestVPN is the youngest contender on this list of cheap VPN services. I’ve seen them grow since the early days. While there’s been remarkable improvement, it remains pretty far from the optimum level of capabilities for a decent VPN.
Still, if you’re interested in nothing but price, it’s the lowest around. Honesty, FastestVPN is dirt cheap – but functional. There’s potential here, though, and if you’re on a budget, get in with them from the ground floor and watch them grow.
What makes FastestVPN an excellent cheap VPN
- The price!For the price that FastestVPN is available, you’re not likely to find a cheaper option elsewhere. There are free VPNs, but none to whom I’d entrust my privacy and security. Seriously, an order of small fries at McDonald’s will cost you more than FastestVPN’s monthly rate.
- Dedicated P2P serversI find it hard to trust brands that allow “full-speed P2P” on all servers when torrenting. Given how this activity sucks bandwidth, it’s simply not practical. That’s why I prefer brands like FastestVPN who streamline it to specific servers.
- Lean appsThe FastestVPN app is pretty basic, but that means there’s less overhead involved in running the app. It’s ideal for running on a light system, even if speeds slow down due to the overhead required for encryption.
- Student discount availableEven as my mind gets blown at how cheap FastestVPN is, it gets even better. For those with a StudentBeans account, you can get another 20% off the subscription price. That means your FastestVPN subscription will cost less than a dollar each month.
The downside: The tiny network
FastestVPN doesn’t state how many servers it operates, but the network spans around 40-odd countries. That’s somewhat acceptable but far from the reach offered by premium brands. Still, at this price, you can’t complain overly much.
Learn more about FastestVPN
What Makes a Good, Cheap VPN?
Aside from considering the price, there are undoubtedly other essential aspects that make a sound, cheap VPN. However, not all of them may apply to you since we all tend to use VPNs for various reasons.
My main reason for using a VPN is to circumvent Netflix region blocks, but I also like that they help keep me more secure online. As a guideline, you should consider these areas when choosing your ideal VPN service:
- Performance – speed and availability
VPNs typically offer a good range of servers, but sometimes, these can go down. A good VPN service provider should maintain decent speeds on as many of those servers as possible. In addition, the servers should be primarily available when needed and not constantly “under maintenance.”
I’ve seen VPN service providers that boast of the massive server farms as a selling point. Yet, in real life, many of those servers end up offering such poor performance that it negates the advantage of choice.
- Privacy features
Some VPNs also offer value-add features like RAM-only servers, self-owned and operated servers, or ad-blocking. While excellent to have, these aren’t a “must-have” if your crucial consideration is price.
As a rule of thumb, most VPNs will support the highest encryption levels available today, 256-bit. You may find some who will allow you to lower encryption levels to improve speed, but I don’t recommend this at all. The main objective of a VPN should be privacy and security, so don’t lower yours unnecessarily.
Some VPNs will go the extra mile, such as VyprVPN with their NoSpy servers. It isn’t alone, but for the most part, I’ve found these nifty names to be neglectable in the overall scope of security. Remain focused on encryption, make sure there’s a no-kill switch, and you’ll be good to go.
- Streaming and P2P
Most VPN services today support streaming for popular platforms and P2P activities. Look beyond the big label and check to see if the specific streaming platform of your choice is supported. Even for Netflix, some VPNs may provide access to a select range of countries only.
For P2P, it’s a matter of personal choice. I prefer brands that streamline their P2P towards specific servers. You might instead like one that allows P2P on all servers. This factor is less vital compared to streaming support – as long as they don’t ban P2P.
- User experience
Many aspects of a VPN can influence user experience. Some have very clunky apps that are a pain to navigate. Others might take forever to connect to VPN servers. While this factor doesn’t affect the connection quality, it might give you a massive headache if you choose the wrong service.
- Customer service
Even if you’re a pro at privacy and networking, I assure you that customer service will come in handy one day. Thankfully, it’s easy to see if a VPN brand will do well here. Most offer a live chat service on their websites – just ask them a random question and see how they respond.
Some live chats aren’t live or conversations and will instead send you an email response. This system isn’t ideal, so look for one that responds quickly. More importantly, they should be knowledgeable and professional in the conversation.
Understanding Cheap VPN Speeds
Many VPN users often have a similar complaint; “Why is my VPN so slow?” Some may feel it may be due to signing on with a cheap VPN, but that isn’t necessarily true. VPN speed is affected by a few factors:
- Server load
VPN servers are essentially machines that need to route the Internet connections for many users. The more users crowd a server, the more limited the bandwidth becomes – potentially lowering overall speeds.
While cheap VPNs may have a higher likelihood of this happening, it isn’t necessarily the case. Take, for example, Surfshark, which offers reasonable prices but manages to maintain a broad, high-performing network.
How far your data needs to travel impacts the overall VPN experience. That means the further away a VPN server is from your physical location, the more likely you’ll experience slowdowns.
You don’t always need to connect to a far-away server. I suggest linking to the nearest VPN server in a location you know that has excellent infrastructure. That will lower latency and likely boost your VPN speed significantly.
- Server quality
The final element involved in speed is the overall quality of a VPN server. Unfortunately, this isn’t something easy (or possible) to tell. If you note that a server consistently gives poor speeds, it’s likely a server quality issue.
Why You Need a Cheap VPN
VPNs are a fantastic tool that you can use in many ways. Some come at premium prices with many bells and whistles. It isn’t always necessary to sign up for the top dollar. Some cheap VPNs are extremely capable and versatile; it just depends on why you’re using the service.
If all you want a VPN for is binge-watching Netflix content or region-specific streams, many cheap VPNs will get the job done. The only thing you need to keep an eye out for is whether the VPN supports the service you want.
The most crucial factor for getting a cheap VPN is that even the most affordable offers more protection than not using one. Today, the Internet is a dangerous place to wander, and everyone from hackers to legitimate companies grabs as much data from you as possible.
VPNs help prevent this. They are an essential tool that keeps your data private, quietly working to prevent websites from sucking you dry. Digital privacy is a right that is eroding, and VPNs seem to be the only way we can maintain some semblance of privacy online.
Verdict: Which Is The Best Cheap VPN Service?
Here’s the recap of our best cheap VPN providers for 2023:
By now, you should know that I’m a big fan of Surfshark for their very well-balanced offering. It’s been a multi-year journey, and while I test other brands consistently, it remains my favorite child. But that’s just me.
I do not doubt that you may prefer another, and thankfully the choices are abundant. Depending on your priorities, any of the other brands on this list may work just as well for you. Don’t forget that most of them come with a money-back guarantee, so hop on board and take one for a spin today.