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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most significant advantage VyprVPN offers over the competition is that it boasts one of the lowest price points around. Despite its somewhat limited range of servers, the brand introduces some quite exciting and pretty unique stuff.
While I wasn’t overly impressed with the speeds here, that’s not VyprVPN’s key focus. Instead, the brand goes heavy on the privacy and security element, which many VPN users should be happy about.
Although VyprVPN has been around for pretty long, it hasn’t expanded its network overly much. That means limited choices for users and some mediocre speeds. Still, if you need a cheap VPN that comes value-packed, VyprVPN is a good candidate.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the recap of our best cheap VPN providers for 2021:
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.
Yes, cheap VPNs are secure. All the cheap VPNs I’ve covered here offer high levels of encryption and robust security and privacy features. They also provide solid protocols that have been tried and tested industry-wide.
Yes, there are free VPNs available. These mostly fall into two categories. Some offer a free tier as a gateway to their paid plans. Others are universally free, but these are often dangerous to use and may steal and sell your data. You’re usually better off choosing a robust cheap VPN off this list.
Operating a VPN service involves expensive hardware and software, lots of bandwidth, plus high levels of technical expertise. Funds also need to go into marketing and R&D for network expansion and service improvements.
My favorite all-rounder for everything, including Netflix, remains Surfshark. It offers the best balance of price and performance among the most reputable brands in the market. Plus, I only need to sign two-year subscriptions.