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Best Free VPN for USA

By Simon Migliano | Updated September 21, 2019

Illustration of the flag of the USA

Using a VPN in the United States is a total necessity for American citizens and visitors alike.

The country’s invasive privacy laws mean the government and your ISP can track your every move online.

And VPNs don’t stop at protecting your privacy; they unlock the world’s content, too. With a VPN you can access foreign websites and even watch geo-blocked sporting events.

Want to use a VPN without paying a cent?

Good news – you can!

While many free VPN services are unsafe and should be avoided, there are safe and reliable ones.

We’ve tested hundreds and listed the best free virtual private networks for the US below.

These VPNs provide fast, secure, and private internet access to those living in the country – and those on vacation hoping to catch up on their favorite shows from abroad.

What We Value the Most in a Free US VPN

  1. VPN servers in & around the US
  2. No logs and no IP & DNS leaks
  3. The biggest VPN data allowance possible
  4. No caps on download speeds
  5. Allows torrenting & P2P activity
  6. Easy to use apps on popular devices

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

Best Free VPNs to Connect to/from the US

1. Windscribe Free

Ranked #1 Free VPN for the US

  1. Nine VPN servers in eight US cities
  2. Good speeds on nearby VPN servers
  3. Minimal logging policy
  4. Torrenting permitted on most free VPN servers
  5. Sleek, simple custom VPN apps
  6. Unlimited simultaneous connections
  1. No live chat feature
  2. 10GB VPN data cap
  3. Doesn’t reliably unlock Netflix
  • Top Speedi

    54Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    10 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Windscribe is the best free VPN for the US, and our most recommended free VPN overall.

There are nine Windscribe VPN servers in the United States available to free users.

Windscribe’s free VPN servers cover eight American cities, which makes it possible for users to access state-specific content.

Windscribe Free produces some pretty fast speeds (for a free VPN) – the closer you are to the VPN server, the quicker the speeds will be.

The free VPN service also offers very high levels of privacy to keep you safe online. There’s a VPN kill switch, IP/DNS leak protection, and Windscribe doesn’t log your IP address.

One particular feature that stands out from other free VPN services is Windscribe’s ability to be used on as many devices as you want. There’s no limit.

Despite being the best free VPN around, Windscribe’s free service is far from perfect.

The one major downside is Windscribe Free’s 10GB data cap, which restricts the amount of internet data you can encrypt and protect each month.

However, this data cap is one of the most generous we’ve seen from free VPNs, but you can’t use it to watch Netflix as it remains blocked. This is the case with most free VPNs.

There’s also no (human) live chat support if you get stuck, and Garry the live chat bot ranges from fairly useful to downright infuriating.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Windscribe Free review.

2. Hide.me Free

Ranked #2 Free VPN for the US

  1. Two US VPN server locations available
  2. Fast VPN speeds
  3. Privacy-friendly logging policy
  4. Torrenting permitted on free VPN servers
  5. User-friendly VPN apps
  6. Loads of privacy extras
  1. 2GB monthly VPN data cap
  2. Small VPN server network overall
  3. No access to streaming content like Netflix
  • Top Speedi

    81Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    4 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

The free version of Hide.me may offer fewer US city-level servers than Windscribe but it’s slightly faster than our top free VPN for the States.

Hide.me doesn’t allow free users to drill down to city level per se but they can choose between East Coast and West Coast.

Selecting these VPN servers will automatically connect users to one of Hide.me’s nine US city-level server locations. Reconnecting to the server may change the city you’re connected to.

While it’s not easy to get a state-specific IP address for accessing certain content, being able to choose between east and west is good for optimizing speeds.

Hide.me Free is also one of the best free VPNs in terms of privacy, with a very minimal logging policy and a ton of security extras like a VPN kill switch and split tunneling, making it super safe to use.

The 2GB data cap will be limiting, however, and Hide.me Free’s speeds drop considerably if you try connecting to a faraway VPN server (say, the free Singapore server).

You can only use Hide.me Free on one device at a time, as opposed to the five simultaneous connections permitted on the premium plan.

Like Windscribe, you shouldn’t choose Hide.me free if streaming Netflix is your priority, as it hasn’t worked consistently with the service in our recent tests.

Hide.me is one of the only free VPN services with 24/7 live chat support, though, so if you need any help with the VPN you can get answers immediately.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Hide.me Free review.

3. TunnelBear Free

Ranked #3 Free VPN for the US

  1. VPN servers in the US, Canada & Mexico
  2. Fast speeds on nearby VPN servers
  3. Privacy-friendly logging policy
  4. Simple custom VPN apps
  5. Advanced security features
  6. Access to 23 countries
  1. 500MB monthly VPN data cap
  2. Doesn’t work with popular streaming sites like Netflix
  3. Limited customer support
  • Top Speedi

    52Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    23 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid

The Bottom Line

TunnelBear is another safe and secure free VPN, and a decent choice for those living in or visiting the USA.

There’s only one US VPN server location so you can’t choose any specific states or cities.

However, TunnelBear Free also provides VPN servers in nearby Canada and Mexico, with 23 worldwide server locations in total – that’s the same number as the paid version.

It’s not exceptionally fast VPN but TunnelBear Free is certainly quick enough for most everyday users.

TunnelBear is very much aimed at VPN beginners, with simple VPN apps for the main four platforms.

Don’t let the cutesy bear-themed apps fool you because they pack in a range of advanced security features like a kill switch and IP/DNS leak protection.

However, TunnelBear’s data cap is particularly stingy, at just 500MB per month, so you won’t be able to do much before hitting your limit.

TunnelBear’s free apps should be considered as a test run for the premium version and not a long term standalone VPN solution.

For a more in-depth look, read our full TunnelBear Free review.

4. ProtonVPN Free

Ranked #4 Free VPN for the US

  1. Two VPN servers in the US
  2. Good speeds on nearby VPN servers
  3. Unlimited VPN data
  4. Minimal logging
  5. Range of security extras
  6. User-friendly VPN apps
  1. P2P not permitted on any free VPN servers
  2. Doesn’t work with Netflix
  3. Very limited free VPN server network
  • Top Speedi

    59Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    3 countries, 8 servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid

The Bottom Line

ProtonVPN is a very good free VPN but its tiny server network means that it doesn’t make it into our very top spots for VPNs for the USA.

There are two VPN servers located in the US, though, but you can’t choose a particular state or city.

Unlike TunnelBear there aren’t other VPN servers in nearby countries, with the remaining free server locations comprising of just the Netherlands and Japan.

This may lead to congestion at peak times and decreased speeds.

However, ProtonVPN is one of the safest and most private free VPNs around and it doesn’t come with any restrictive data caps like all of our other recommended VPNs in this list.

That means that you can use PrivateVPN Free to protect as much internet data as you’d like for as long as you’d like (though, only on one device at a time).

ProtonVPN maintains a very minimal logging policy, collecting only a timestamp of your last successful login attempt.

The free VPN service also comes with some great security extras like a VPN kill switch and split tunneling.

Unfortunately torrenting isn’t permitted on the free servers, and you can’t watch Netflix either.

Despite its flaws, ProtonVPN Free is a great choice for Americans who prioritize privacy over accessing the latest TV shows abroad.

For a more in-depth look, read our full ProtonVPN Free review.

5. Avira Phantom Free

Ranked #5 Free VPN for the US

  1. Reliable speeds on nearby VPN servers
  2. Minimal logs policy
  3. DNS/IPv6 leak protection
  4. Custom VPN apps for popular platforms
  5. Unlimited simultaneous connections
  1. 1GB monthly VPN data cap
  2. No manual server selection
  3. Lacks VPN kill switch
  4. No customer support
  5. Not good for streaming
  • Top Speedi

    51Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    1 country

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid

The Bottom Line

Avira Phantom just about makes it onto our list of free VPNs for the USA because of its overall reliability and minimal logging policy designed to put your online privacy first.

It misses out on the top four spots due to its lack of manual server selection, meaning you can’t choose which country to connect to.

Avira Phantom’s free US-based users will simply be connected to the closest available server to their physical location.

Avira Phantom’s data cap is very restrictive too, at just 1GB per month, meaning it’s best suited for general browsing, and the apps lack advanced features such as a VPN kill switch.

It does come with DNS and IPv6 leak protection, though.

Unfortunately Avira Phantom’s free users can’t access customer support, which is limited to paying customers, so be sure to read our full review for all the details about the free VPN service.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Avira Phantom Free review.

Popular Questions

What’s the Best Free VPN for the USA?

The best free VPN for the USA is Windscribe – you can choose between eight VPN server locations within the country:

  • Atlanta
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York
  • Seattle
  • Washington DC

Screenshot of Windscribe Free VPN app displaying server locations list

Above all, Windscribe is safe to use – unlike many other free VPNs on the market.

However, if you want the absolute best VPN for the USA you’ll have to pay for it. Most free VPN services come with restrictions including speed throttling and data caps.

If want unlimited data usage, loads of city-level VPN servers in the US, and the best speeds, we recommend ExpressVPN.

Do I Need a VPN in the US?

Yes, you absolutely do.

If you live in the US you have access to some of the best streaming content in the world, so why is it still necessary to use VPN?

In short, the US is well-known for being a total privacy nightmare, particularly in light of Edward Snowden’s leaks in 2013.

You need to use a VPN if you want to ensure your online activity remains private.

Not only does the US government (the CIA, FBI, and NSA especially) monitor web traffic constantly, ISPs also no longer need your permission to share your confidential data with third parties.

 

NSA logo

The US government is also part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, meaning that your personal information could cross borders, too.

“I’ve got nothing to hide,” you might say.

The websites you visit, the links you click on, and the things you buy online all build up a comprehensive online profile that could be used and abused by third parties.

You could be put under scrutiny simply for searching for one suspicious word.

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
– Edward Snowden

Using a VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic and hides your original IP address, a piece of data that can be used to identify you online.

Without a VPN you also put yourself and your personal details at risk of hacking when using public WiFi hotspots in the US (and abroad, too).

Your entire online identity can be sold for around $1200 on the dark web. That’s scary stuff.

VPNs can also prevent advertisers from targeting you with tracked ads.

Aside from the wide array of online privacy and security issues associated with the US, Americans are also subject to sports blackouts.

Screenshot of sports blackout message

This means that certain regional and national sporting events are unavailable on the streaming platforms that usually broadcast the games.

Sports blackouts affect the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA), among other sporting events like boxing.

Nobody wants to watch a blank screen when their favorite team is playing, so you’ll need a VPN to get past the blackouts.

While censorship isn’t as common on a government-level as, say, China, some institutions such as schools, colleges, and libraries often put restrictions on the content you can view while connect to their network.

A VPN can help you to evade institutional censorship and blocks, too.

All considered, using a VPN in the US is a no-brainer.

Yes, it is perfectly legal to use a VPN in the US.

There are no laws in the US that prohibit internet users from using a VPN.

A VPN’s main purpose is to protect your personal data and hide your true IP address, and this is perfectly legal.

In fact, a lot of major companies actually use VPN software to protect sensitive data from potential hackers, as well as to allow employees to access company files when working remotely.

One thing to remember when using a VPN, though, is that you’re not exempt from other laws, particularly those regarding copyright.

This means that you shouldn’t use a VPN to do anything that you wouldn’t do without one.

Is It Safe to Use a VPN in the US?

It’s safe to use a VPN in the US as long as you stick with a trusted provider – like the VPN services we’ve listed above.

You won’t get punished for using a VPN in the US, but you may get into trouble if you do something illegal while using one.

How to Install, Set Up, and Use a Free VPN for the USA

It’s really easy to set up a free VPN for the US if your chosen service offers custom apps for your preferred devices.

Our recommended VPNs above have free apps for Microsoft Windows, Apple MacOS, Android, and iOS (you can find the best services for each platform by clicking the relevant link).

Simply download and install the relevant VPN software on your device, and log in with your credentials.

Screenshot from Hide.me's website linking to the free VPN subscription registration

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll want to check the security settings and make sure that the VPN kill switch and IP leak protection features are enabled.

If you can choose the VPN protocol, we recommend OpenVPN for the best balance between privacy and performance.

Now choose the VPN server you’d like to connect to – the closer to your actual location it is the better the performance will be.

If you want to set up the VPN on a device, which your VPN doesn’t have a custom app for, check out our ‘How To Install a VPN’ guides for step-by-step installation instructions, including routers.

Can I Watch US Netflix with a Free VPN?

Most free VPN services don’t work reliably with Netflix, including the VPNs we selected for this list.

You will, therefore, need to use a paid VPN provider if you want to use a VPN to stream Netflix.

When you use a VPN that doesn’t work with Netflix, you’ll see this annoying error message:

“Oops, something went wrong… You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy.”

Screenshot of the streaming error screen on Netflix

Sometimes the error message will go away if you clear your cookies and try a different VPN server, but that’s not always the case.

We recommend using a VPN that comes with dedicated streaming servers like CyberGhost for quick and easy access to your favorite shows.

Remember that using a VPN won’t allow you to watch Netflix for free – you’ll still need a subscription to the service.

What’s the Best VPN for US Netflix?

Now that you know how tricky it is to watch Netflix using a free VPN you’d probably like to know which paid-for VPNs are best for streaming your favorite shows.

The best VPN we’ve tested for Netflix is ExpressVPN – it’s fast, it’s consistent, and it’s super easy to use.

Most of ExpressVPN’s US servers work with Netflix but if you get the dreaded proxy error message just re-connect to a different server and try again.

What’s the Best VPN for Torrenting in the USA?

You should definitely use a VPN for torrenting and other privacy-sensitive tasks in the USA.

There are some free VPNs that you can use for torrenting – such as Windscribe – but the data caps and speed limitations will be a huge hindrance.

Screenshot of live chat conversation on Windscribe's website

If you’re a heavy torrenter take a look at the overall top VPN picks for P2P here.

Be sure to enable the VPN kill switch and IP/DNS leak protection before you start downloading files.

How to Get an American IP Address

Perhaps you’re an American on vacation and you want to watch your favorite local shows from abroad. How do you do that?

It’s easy with the right VPN subscription.

You can visit American sites and streaming services by connecting to a VPN server located in the US, as this will give you an American IP address.

If you want to watch US Netflix or Hulu be sure to check that your VPN service can get past the blocks that the streaming services impose on VPNs.

Not many free VPN services work with Netflix and Hulu, though, so you’ll have to buy a premium VPN subscription if streaming is a priority.

Once you’ve connected to a US VPN server, you’ll be able to access all the websites you usually visit at home.

Be sure to double check that you have an American IP by running a VPN leak test on browserleaks.com.

Screenshot of Windscribe Free's leak test results on browserleaks.com

Windscribe Free leak test results connected to a US VPN server. We test from the UK.

If you need a state-specific IP address – to get around sports blackouts, for example – you will need to use a VPN service that provides VPN servers in that particular state.

Once you have set up the VPN software, simply find the VPN server you need and click connect.

You’ll be watching your favorite baseball team play in no time.

Note that free VPN services rarely come with loads of US city or state-level VPN servers, so you may need to pay for a premium service if your state isn’t covered.

You can check that your city or state is covered by visiting the server locations page on the VPN provider’s website, or by getting in touch with the VPN’s customer support team.

Some Free VPNs to Avoid

Here are some free VPNs that you should avoid if you live in or are visiting the US:

  • Free VPN by FreeVPN.org
  • Hola
  • Turbo VPN
  • Snap VPN
  • VPN Proxy Master

These free VPNs don’t provide the levels of privacy and security required for staying safe online in the US.

The list is in no way comprehensive; there are loads of dangerous free VPNs available.

Which VPNs Are Based in the US?

Some VPN services are based in the US. Here are our reviews of some examples of American VPN companies:

While the US is far from the ideal place for a VPN to set up shop due to the serious privacy issues associated with the country, it shouldn’t be an issue if the VPN service doesn’t log users’ connection data or personally identifiable information.

If you are looking for the highest levels of online privacy it’s best to opt for a no-logs VPN service based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, like NordVPN.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon leads our investigations into VPN safety and internet freedom research. His work has been featured on the BBC, CNet, Wired and The Financial Times. Read full bio