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The Best Cheap VPNs of 2024

Illustration of a Podium Displaying First, Second and Third Place

Callum Tennent oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his VPN advice has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society.

Fact-checked by Simon MiglianoAdditional Testing by David Hughes

With VPNs, what you get isn’t always correlated with what you’ve paid. Just because a VPN costs less it doesn’t mean it won’t outperform a more expensive one.

We carried out extensive analysis on the prices of VPNs, which revealed that the average cheapest monthly price of a top-20 VPN is $4.11 on yearly (or longer) pricing plans. Paying month-to-month, the cost rises to $11.77.

Thanks to this guide, you can get a top-rated VPN at a discount, and as little as $2.00 per month by taking advantage of the latest promotions.

Summary: The Best Cheap VPNs

Based on our tests and research, the best cheap VPNs are:

  1. Private Internet Access: Best Cheap VPN Overall
  2. PrivateVPN: Best Cheap VPN for Beginners
  3. Surfshark: Budget VPN with Many Extra Features
  4. CyberGhost: Inexpensive VPN with a 24-hour Free Trial
  5. NordVPN: Excellent Yet Affordable VPN

OUR VERDICT: The cheapest high-quality VPN we’ve reviewed is PIA VPN. It’s very affordable at $2.03 per month on a two-year plan, and stands out for its excellent privacy standards and torrenting performance. As for a pay monthly VPN, we recommend Mullvad, which offers highly-secure apps for only $5.50 a month.

The Best Cheap VPNs Compared

The table below compares these affordable VPNs based on the best monthly price available, pay monthly price, highest discount, refund guarantee period, and free trial length.

These low-cost VPNs provide the best quality-price ratio. They will protect your internet privacy and security, and unblock streaming platforms at an affordable monthly price.

If these budget-friendly VPNs are still too expensive for you, you can always sign up to a VPN free trial to test a paid service for free.

Why Trust Us?

We’re fully independent and have been reviewing VPNs since 2016. Our ratings are based on our own testing results and are unaffected by financial incentives. Learn who we are and how we test VPNs.

VPNs Tested65
Total Hours of Testing30,000+
Combined Years of Experience50+

Analysis of the Best Cheap VPNs

  1. 1. PIA: Best Cheap VPN Overall

    The best affordable VPN, ideal for private browsing and torrenting.

    Ranked #1 Best Cheap VPN out of 65 VPNs
    Private Internet AccessVisit PIA VPN

    • Largest server network: 18,651 servers in 91 countries
    • Verified no-logs privacy policy
    • Optimized for anonymous torrenting & P2P traffic
    • Extremely fast short-distance speeds
    • Effective ad & tracker blocker (MACE) included
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    • Mac client has usability issues
    • Beginners may not find it as user-friendly
    • Fire TV Stick app needs improving
    • Smart DNS doesn't unblock streaming apps
    • Based in the US (FVEY jurisdiction)

    Overall Cheap VPN Rating: 9.5/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.5/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.3/10
    • 9.1/10
    • 9.7/10

    While Private Internet Access (PIA) is slightly more expensive than its closest rival, PrivateVPN, it’s a better product overall and represents greater value for money.

    What stood out in our tests, is how well PIA performed in many areas of testing, especially for privacy, security, speed, and streaming.

    We were extremely impressed with the VPN’s performance in our privacy and torrenting tests. If sharing files anonymously is important to you, then there is no better VPN than Private Internet Access.

    the Private Internet Access iOS app

    Cheapest Price$2.03/mo over 28 months See all plans
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 Days
    Free Trial Duration7 Days
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Countries with Servers91
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    A Secure & No-Logs VPN for Torrenting

    PIA doesn’t cut corners when it comes to internet security or privacy.

    The service’s no-logs privacy policy has been verified on several occasions in real-life court cases.

    It also comes with high-end security features including the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, AES-256 encryption, a VPN kill switch, and effective IP leak blocking.

    This high levels of security, combined with very fast torrenting bitrates, make PIA VPN an exceptional VPN for anonymous P2P file-sharing.

    18,651 VPN Servers Worldwide

    Private Internet Access offers access to the largest VPN server network, with 18,651 servers around the world.

    Furthermore, PIA has VPN servers in 50 US states – the highest number offered by a VPN service.

    PIA Servers on iOS

    This helps to account for its exceptional international connection speeds, which aren’t affected by server congestion.

    For the price of $2.03 per month (billed as $56.94 the first two years), Private Internet Access offers exceptional value for money considering its speeds, security, and server network.

    If it doesn’t meet your needs, there’s also a 30 day money-back guarantee. However, PIA does not offer a free trial.

    Useful for Getting Cheaper Netflix

    PIA is also useful to get a Netflix account for cheaper.

    We were able to successfully sign up for a Netflix account using PIA’s Ukraine server, which resulted in a 50% discount compared to the US subscription plan.

    PIA’s Pricing Plans

    • Monthly: $11.99/month
    • 6 Months: $7.50/month
    • 28 Months: $2.03/month
  2. 2. PrivateVPN: Best Cheap VPN for Beginners

    The cheapest top-rated VPN overall, built with beginners in mind.

    Image of PrivateVPN's app on mobileVisit PrivateVPN

    • Cheapest monthly price (on a 3-year subscription plan)
    • User-friendly applications ideal for beginners
    • Surprisingly effective at unblocking streaming platforms
    • Very quick short-distance connection speeds
    • Doesn't collect any web usage logs
    • Works in high-censorship countries like China

    • Only 200 VPN servers
    • Inconsistent live chat availability
    • Long-distance speeds have been slowing down
    • No VPN browser extensions & no Smart DNS
    • No WireGuard protocol or advanced settings

    Overall Cheap VPN Rating: 9.4/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.5/10
    • 9.3/10
    • 9.1/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 9.1/10

    PrivateVPN is the second best cheap VPN thanks to its good overall performances and great affordability. It costs just $2.00 per month, or $72.00, every three years. This is even cheaper than PIA VPN and represents excellent value for money.

    You can also try PrivateVPN for free by utilizing its 30-day money-back guarantee.

    PrivateVPN is a very good choice for streaming fans, with dedicated streaming servers that unblock over 10 Netflix libraries, Max (HBO), Disney+, and many other mainstream services.

    PrivateVPN's app for iOS

    Cheapest Price$2.00/mo over 3 years See all plans
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
    Free Trial DurationN/A
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Countries with Servers62
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Unblocks 10 Netflix Regions

    PrivateVPN is very affordable, and also one of the best streaming VPNs on the market.

    Its streaming capabilities are impressive. PrivateVPN can stream 10 Netflix libraries on its dedicated streaming servers, and it works well with BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video.

    Testing PrivateVPN with Netflix on macOS

    PrivateVPN is a great budget VPN for Netflix.

    However, the VPN’s small network of 200 servers leads to inconsistent international streaming speeds at times.

    Small Server Network & Limited Customer Support

    The downside to using PrivateVPN is that it has a much smaller server network than its rivals, which sometimes impacts its speed performance.

    PrivateVPN currently manages 200 servers, compared to Surfshark’s 3,200 and PIA’s 18,651.

    Operating a large VPN server network can be very expensive, which means VPN companies with less financial power often end up having smaller networks.

    Another disadvantage of PrivateVPN is that live chat support is not available 24/7, unlike other top-rated VPNs.

    If you have a problem using PrivateVPN and you can’t find a solution online, you’ll have to email customer support and wait for a response, which won’t be immediate in our experience.

    PrivateVPN’s Pricing Plans

    • Monthly: $9.90/month
    • 3 Months: $6.00/month
    • 3 Years: $2.00/month
  3. 3. Surfshark: Budget VPN with Many Extra Features

    A budget price tag for a VPN with many advanced features.

    Surfshark appVisit Surfshark

    • Great range of extra privacy & security settings
    • GPS spoofing tool for Android phones
    • Audited logging policy
    • Unlimited simultaneous devices
    • Excellent for streaming

    • Kill switch not enabled by default
    • No IPv6 leak protections
    • NoBorders mode is very unreliable in China
    • Slower than Private Internet Access
    • Based in Netherlands (EU jurisdiction)

    Overall Cheap VPN Rating: 9.3/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.4/10
    • 8.7/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.1/10

    We ranked Surfshark as our third best cheap VPN thanks to its excellent security standards and technical features. If you’re looking for a highly secure VPN for a low price, Surfshark is a great choice.

    It offers excellent value at $2.29 per month on a 26-month subscription, billed at $59.76 the first 26 months, and annually thereafter.

    The VPN provides reliably fast speeds, strong security, and excellent streaming capabilities that compete with more expensive rivals like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost.

    Surfshark VPN's app for iOS

    Cheapest Price$2.29/mo over 26 months See all plans
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 Days
    Free Trial Duration7 Days
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Countries with Servers100
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Excellent Extra Features

    Unlike many cheap VPNs, Surfshark is highly secure and offers a wide range of additional features.

    The sheer amount of these additional settings and tools is astonishing considering Surfshark’s price.

    The tools we enjoyed the most testing were the multi-hop servers, rotating IP addresses, and GPS spoofing.

    Multi-hop, also known as Double VPN, routed our traffic through two VPN servers to add an additional layer of stealth.

    The Rotating IP feature automatically changed our public IP address every five to 10 minutes, while keeping our VPN location the same.

    Surfshark’s Rotating IP changes your IP address every 5-10 minutes.

    But the GPS spoofing tool steals the show in our opinion. Alongside Windscribe, Surfshark is the only VPN provider to offer this solution.

    The tool changes your GPS coordinates on your Android smartphone, for improved privacy but also to unblock GPS-based apps.

    Surfshark VPN's Override GPS location feature

    You can override your GPS location with Surfshark VPN.

    It’s rather fiddly to configure, but once set up we used it to unblock the ESPN+ Android app and watch blackout NHL games.

    Excellent Streaming Capabilities for Under $3.00

    The other highlight of Surfshark is its ability to unblock video content platforms.

    In our tests the VPN accessed 9 different Netflix regions, as well as BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video.

    The video below demonstrates how easy it is to unblock the American Netflix using Surfshark.

    Unblocking US Netflix using Surfshark VPN.

    Also, Surfshark is still the best VPN for Disney Plus, in part thanks to its Smart DNS tool which worked well to unblock the service on Apple TV, Xbox, and PlayStation.

    If you’re not prepared to pay buy it just yet, sign up for Surfshark’s 7-day free trial first.

    Surfshark’s Pricing Plans

    • Monthly: $15.45/month
    • 12 Months: $3.99/month
    • 27 Months: $2.29/month
  4. 4. CyberGhost: Best Cheap VPN with Free Trial

    A secure, affordable VPN with a 24-hour 100% free trial.

    CyberGhost appVisit CyberGhost

    • 24-hour, three-day & seven-day free trials
    • Automatic WiFi protection setting
    • User-friendly apps for popular devices
    • Anonymous dedicated IP system
    • One of the most effective Smart DNS solutions
    • Long 45-day money-back guarantee

    • International speeds have worsened
    • Browser extensions only cover four countries
    • Mobile & macOS apps lack important settings
    • BBC iPlayer & HBO Max servers are unreliable

    Overall Cheap VPN Rating: 9.2/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.4/10
    • 8.6/10
    • 9.5/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 8.5/10

    CyberGhost is a great VPN to try for free. You can trial it for 24 hours without registration on your desktop, for three days on Android, and seven days on iOS.

    If you then decide to subscribe it costs $2.03 per month on a 26-month plan.

    The apps’ eye-pleasing designs are particularly suitable for beginners that want a user-friendly and cost-efficient service.

    CyberGhost isn’t the fastest VPN we’ve tested, but it’s good for streaming and browsing the web securely.

    Cyberghost's VPN app for iOS

    Cheapest Price$2.19/mo over 26 months See all plans
    Money-Back Guarantee 45 Days
    Free Trial Duration1 Day
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection94Mbps
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Countries with Servers100
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Good Usability & Device Compatibility

    CyberGhost is one of the easiest VPNs to use, and it’s ideal if you’re specifically looking to use a VPN for streaming.

    It’s dedicated streaming servers have significantly improved recently, and work very smoothly.

    CyberGhost Streaming Servers

    CyberGhost’s dedicated streaming servers.

    The only servers that don’t always work are the BBC iPlayer and Max (HBO) ones.

    CyberGhost also has one of the best-looking Fire TV Stick app interfaces, and our tests confirm it works very well with US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

    Unlike PrivateVPN, CyberGhost comes with arguably the most effective free Smart DNS solution offered by a VPN provider.

    On our test Apple TV, we used it to successfully unblocks US, UK, Dutch, French, and even Japanese streaming apps.

    Slowing International Speeds

    Despite the very good streaming performance, CyberGhost’s speeds have been slowing down in the past few years.

    It’s not yet affecting streaming picture quality, but the VPN is trailing the likes of PIA and Surfshark by some margin.

    The most evident gap is connecting internationally: CyberGhost averages a download speed of 81Mbps compared to PIA’s 86Mbps.

    CyberGhost must improve its speed performance in order to represent better value and compete with the very best cheap VPNs.

    CyberGhost’s Pricing Plans

    • Monthly: $12.99/month
    • 6 Months: $6.99/month
    • 28 Months: $2.03/month
  5. 5. NordVPN: Popular & Affordable VPN

    A great all-round VPN with excellent security & privacy features.

    NordVPN Mobile App ScreenshotVisit NordVPN

    • Advanced security features like multihop & diskless servers
    • Audited logging policy & safe jurisdiction
    • Very fast speeds across 6,328 servers
    • Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer & Disney+
    • 7-day free trial on Android
    • High compatibility with most devices

    • Renews at a much higher monthly cost
    • PayPal unavailable as a payment method
    • Fire TV Stick not very reliable with Netflix
    • No longer bypasses web blocks in China
    • Fixed size of PC & Mac applications

    Overall Cheap VPN Rating: 9.1/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 8.5/10
    • 9.5/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 9.5/10

    NordVPN is incredibly popular but also one of the very best VPNs we’ve reviewed. That’s been the case since 2016, when we started reviewing VPNs.

    The VPN has very few weaknesses, and if you can afford to spend a little more, then you’ll enjoy even better speeds and streaming access than using PIA VPN.

    However, it does cost $3.29 per month on a two-year plan, which is more expensive. Plus, your subscription will renew at an even higher price.

    NordVPN's app for iOS

    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    Money-Back Guarantee 30 Days
    Free Trial Duration7 Days
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Countries with Servers111
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChromeOS
    5. iosiOS
    6. androidAndroid

    Committed to Internet Security & Privacy

    NordVPN’s software comes with a wide selection of advanced security features.

    The VPN’s main protocols, OpenVPN and WireGuard (branded as NordLynx) deliver fast and secure connections encrypted using the ChaCha20 cipher.

    Furthermore, the VPN includes a kill switch on all its applications, to prevent your IP address from leaking in the rare event the VPN disconnects.

    NordVPN's kill switch settings on its Windows client

    You can choose between a system and application level kill switch on NordVPN.

    Moreover, the VPN service uses diskless servers that never store any data locally.

    All these settings, combined with its audited logging policy, make NordVPN one of the most secure and private VPNs we’ve reviewed.

    Fast Speeds Across 6,328 Servers

    For a slightly higher price, NordVPN offers extremely fast international speeds across a wide server list.

    In fact, it’s one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested connecting to nearby VPN servers. Locally, it recorded a speed loss of just 5%.

    Connecting internationally, NordVPN’s average speed loss was 14%, which beats most competitors. In comparison, Surfshark’s speed reductions was 17%.

    Desktop Apps Could Look Nicer

    An area where NordVPN falls short of some of its competitors is the user-friendliness of its desktop apps.

    While its Windows and Mac apps are certainly not hard to use, their design isn’t as modern looking and as intuitive as PIA’s, for example.

    NordVPN's Windows and macOS apps side-by-side

    NordVPN’s Mac app (bottom) is more user-friendly than its Windows app (top).

    We find the locations map redundant, especially as it takes up a lot of desktop space.

    Taking PIA’s approach to a slicker desktop UI would go a long way to please more design-focused users.

    NordVPN’s Pricing Plans

    • Monthly: $11.99/month
    • 12 Months: $4.99/month
    • 2 Years: $3.29/month

Other Popular VPNs We Tested

The cheap (and safe) VPNs we recommend in this guide ranked the highest based on our price-quality assessments.

After testing and reviewing 65 VPNs, a few very popular ones didn’t make the cut, often because of how much they cost.

Below are five popular VPNs we don’t consider affordable enough to qualify as highly-rated cheap VPNs.

ExpressVPN: Too Expensive

ExpressVPN Windows and Mac Apps

The home screen of ExpressVPN’s Windows app (left) and macOS app (right).

ExpressVPN is the best VPN we’ve tested overall, with very intuitive apps that are formidable at unblocking geo-restricted websites and apps. Sadly, it’s also expensive compared to the likes of Private Internet Access and Surfshark.

  • Pay Monthly Price: $12.95
  • Best Price: $6.67/month over 15 months

Atlas VPN: Not Private Enough

Atlas VPN's Android and iOS apps positioned side-by-side

The Android app (left) displays ads but the iOS app (right), doesn’t.

Atlas VPN is certainly very affordable on multi-year subscription. What drags it outside of our recommendations is its less than pristine privacy and logging policy.

  • Pay Monthly Price: $10.99
  • Best Price: $1.99/month over 3 years

IPVanish: Unblocking Shortcomings

IPVanish's iOS and Android apps side-by-side

IPVanish’s Android app (right) offers more features than its iOS counterpart (left).

IPVanish is a very good VPN with excellent speed and security qualities. Unfortunately, it doesn’t unblock streaming platforms as effectively as the higher-rated cheap VPNs.

  • Pay Monthly Price: $10.99
  • Best Price: $2.19/month over 12 months

ProtonVPN: Lacks Important Features

Proton VPN's mobile apps for Android and iOS side-by-side. They're very similar in appearance.

Both of Proton VPN’s mobile apps are well-designed and feel responsive to use.

Similary to ExpressVPN, Proton VPN is not affordable enough for most users. It’s relatively expensive on longer-term plan, and it also lacks important product features like 24/7 live chat and a Smart DNS solution.

  • Pay Monthly Price: $9.99
  • Best Price: $4.99/month over 2 years

PureVPN: Underwhelming Experience

PureVPN macOS App

PureVPN’s macOS application.

PureVPN is a mediocre VPN which collects too much data, suffers from software malfunctions, and disappointed us in our latest unblocking tests.

  • Pay Monthly Price: $10.95
  • Best Price: $1.99/month over 2 years

The Cheapest Pay Monthly VPNs

The longer you subscribe to a subscription-based VPN, the greater the monthly saving.

But maybe you only want a VPN for a short period of time, for instance, if you’re traveling abroad.

The table below shows the cheapest pay-monthly VPN plans currently available, all priced $10.00 or under.

Analyzing the one-month subscriptions of the top 35 VPNs, we calculated the average cost as $11.77 per month. This is substantially higher than the cheapest prices you can get from multi-year subscriptions.

Having said that, Mullvad (ranked #15) and IVPN (ranked #23) cost less than $6.00 per month.

Mullvad VPN: Best Cheap Pay Monthly VPN

Highly secure yet affordable VPN that costs only $5.50/month.

Connecting to a server on the Mullvad macOS app

Connecting to a server on the Mullvad macOS app.

This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

Overall Cheap VPN Rating: 8.4/108.4

Price & Value: 7.5/107.5

Privacy & Logging Policy: 9.3/109.3

Security & Technical Features: 9.3/109.3

Streaming: 3.0/103.0

Speed & Reliability: 8.7/108.7

Mullvad VPN is the best cheapest pay monthly VPN we’ve reviewed. It’s a good VPN to keep your internet connections private and secure.

For years, Mullvad has delivered strong results in our security tests. We’ve particularly enjoyed using the VPN’s multi-hop servers to encrypt our data transfers twice.

Uniquely, Mullvad’s kill switch is built-in and can’t be turned off. It’s always running, and always protecting your VPN connection from unexpected interruptions.

Mullvad's Built-in Kill Switch.

Mullvad VPN comes with an automatic, in-built kill switch.

Also, Mullvad’s apps look good and work well, with settings easy to find and customize. Despite the presence of many preferences, the nice design makes these apps easy to use.

The area Mullvad disappointed us in is unblocking, whether it’s bypassing strict internet filters or streaming geo-blocks.

The VPN provider has never focused on bypassing video geo-restrictions and it’s no surprise it can’t unblock Disney+, Max (HBO), Hulu, US Netflix, and many more popular services.

And despite having developed an anti-censorship technology called Bridge Mode, Mullvad often doesn’t work in our China-specific tests.

The Absolute Cheapest VPNs

Outside of our rankings, the absolute cheapest (safe) VPN is FastestVPN. It only costs $1.11 per month over three years ($39.95 upfront), for a saving of 75%.

FastestVPN even offers a lifetime VPN subscription plan for just $40.00.

Purely looking at price, the five cheapest VPNs right now are:

  • FastestVPN: $1.11 per month
  • Ivacy: $1.00 per month
  • PureVPN: $1.99 per month
  • ZoogVPN: $1.87 per month

While these VPNs cost much less than $2.00 per month (on longer-term plans), they significantly under-perform the cheap VPNs we recommend in this guide.

Are Cheaper VPNs Worse Than More Expensive Ones?

Price does not always indicate better VPN security, speed, or streaming capabilities.

In fact, we’ve given low ratings to some of the most expensive VPNs on the market. On the flip side, many cheap VPNs are amongst the best we’ve tested.

In the chart below, we’ve compared the cheapest monthly price of each top-rated VPN against its overall rating.

A scatter plot showing the cheapest monthly price and overall rating of various VPNs. These include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, PIA VPN, Surfshark VPN, PrivateVPN, IPVanish, CyberGhost, Hide.me, Proton VPN and Windscribe. NordVPN offers the best value (3.29 dollars) for money as well a high overall rating of 9.4 out of 10. ExpressVPN has the highest overall rating at 9.6, however it comes at a monthly cost of 6.67 dollars

The VPNs towards the top-left of the chart provide the worst value, whilst those towards the bottom-right offer the best value. You can use it to see how a VPN’s price corresponds to its quality.

Though it’s not always the case, our analysis does reveal a strong relationship between price and performance. Generally speaking, the more expensive the VPN, the better it performs in our testing overall.

How We Test Cheap VPNs

To identify the best cheap VPNs, we test each VPN’s performance in a number of key areas related to affordability, value, and overall capabilities.

We reward the VPNs that offer the highest quality service for the lowest price. The quality-price ratio is crucial to determine the best cheap VPNs.

We give every VPN a rating out of ten in each of the key areas, and then combine those ratings to calculate an overall ‘cheapness’ rating.

For cheap VPNs, we test for:

  • A monthly subscription price of under $3.00 per month.
  • Affordable short-term subscription prices (12 months or less).
  • Exceptional long-term cost saving, like a lifetime subscription.
  • A money-back guarantee, free trial period, or free version.
  • A no-logs privacy policy and robust security suite.
  • Fast local and international connection speeds.
  • A diverse server network in global locations.

The table below shows how the five best cheap VPNs performed in each key testing category:

Here’s a more detailed look at our key decision-making areas, what goes into them, and how they’re weighted:

1. Price & Value: 40%

Minimum Requirement: A monthly price of $3.50 or less.
We Recommend: $2.50 a month or less.

The most important data point for a cheap VPN is the lowest price per month you can buy it for.

We work out the monthly price based on the VPNs best deal, which most often come with longer-term subscriptions.

Some VPNs charge as much as $10.00 a month for a subscription, even on multi-year deals. When it comes to our cheap VPN recommendations, we’re looking for a maximum of $3.00 per month on its best price deal.

The very cheapest VPNs on the market get the highest rating, irrespective of quality. The more expensive the VPN, the lower the rating.

We’ve researched the prices of all the major VPN services and our team works hard to keep this information up to date.

Alongside the VPNs cheapest monthly cost, we also factor in the length of the subscription, the other available pricing plans, whether there are cost-effective alternate plans like a lifetime offer, and whether the VPN has a money-back guarantee or free trial option.

2. Privacy & Logging Policy: 20%

Minimum Requirement: A plain-language policy with anonymized connection logs only.
We Recommend: A zero-logs policy with strictly no activity or connection logs.

While cost is important, when we recommend the best cheap VPNs we take into account how well it protects your privacy.

We only recommend VPNs that you can trust not to log your personal information. To do this, we conduct a detailed analysis of every VPN’s privacy policy. We read the small print to ensure there are no hidden catches.

The best VPNs don’t keep any connection logs that could be used to identify you. Ideally, the VPN should have a zero-logs policy which has also been verified by an independent third-party audit.

3. Security & Technical Features: 20%

Minimum Requirement: AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN protocol, IP & DNS leak protection.
We Recommend: AES-256 encryption, multiple protocols, leak protection, VPN kill switch.

Any VPN we recommend needs to be secure and safe to use. There’s no point using a VPN just because it’s cheap if it’s going to leak your IP and fail to encrypt your traffic.

We look for secure encryption ciphers like AES-256 and a safe protocol like OpenVPN, WireGuard, or IKEv2. We run regular packet-inspection tests to ensure the VPN isn’t exposing your activity to ISPs, hackers, or other eavesdroppers.

We also conduct IPv4, IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests to ensure that absolutely no personal information is on show.

The best value VPNs should also include a VPN kill switch. This protects your identity by stopping your internet connections if the VPN connection ever drops, even for a moment.

4. Streaming: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Unblocks Netflix USA.
We Recommend: Unblocks multiple streaming platforms around the world.

We have active subscriptions to many popular streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer.

We run weekly tests to see which VPNs can bypass streaming geo-restrictions, and which can’t

Our minimum requirement is that a VPN can unblock the American Netflix library from overseas.

In addition, we test if a VPN can unblock other popular platforms like Disney+, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.

5. Speed: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Local download speeds above 60Mbps and respectable international speeds.
We Recommend: Local download speeds above 80Mbps and fast international connection speeds.

Even cheap VPNs can be fast. All VPNs slow down your connection speed to some degree. But with the best cheap VPNs the speed loss is barely noticeable.

We conduct regular manual speed tests, alongside our automated VPN speed test tool. Taken together, these tests provide us with an accurate picture of how fast the VPN is.

For cheap VPNs, we’re interested in local connection speeds (good for regular browsing and torrenting downloads) and longer-distance speeds (good for unblocking Netflix libraries).

The fastest VPNs won’t reduce you internet speed by much at all. You’ll able to establish international connections with enough bandwidth to stream Netflix in Ultra HD quality.