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The Best VPNs for USA

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Illustration of the Statue of Liberty Holding a VPN
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
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Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

The NSA monitors the online activity of millions of Americans. US ISPs can legally sell your personal browsing data. And web censorship is on the rise.

The best US VPN services help protect against these dangers. VPN software encrypts your internet data transfers and masks your real IP address.

Top VPN services also bypass US sports blackouts, and let you stream US content from abroad on platforms like HBO Max, US Netflix, and Hulu.

Based on our security, privacy and streaming tests, the best US VPNs in 2021 are:

  1. ExpressVPN: The best overall VPN for the US, with servers in 14 US cities and 10 states. Read Summary or Visit ExpressVPN
  2. Private Internet Access: A highly-secure US VPN with 14,000 US VPN servers. Read Summary or Visit Private Internet Access
  3. NordVPN: A popular no-logs VPN service with servers in 15 US cities. Read Summary or Visit NordVPN
  4. HideMyAss: A beginner-friendly VPN with servers in 48 US states. Read Summary or Visit HideMyAss
  5. IPVanish: The best US VPN for torrenting, Kodi and Fire TV Stick. Read Summary or Visit IPVanish

The recommendations above are based on US connection speeds, the number of US servers available, reliable access to streaming services, and strong security.

The VPNs we chose work for internet users in America, but also for those located abroad looking to get a US IP address.

The Best VPNs for America Compared

The table below compares the top VPN services for the United States. You can compare each VPN by US server count, US-specific speeds, US Netflix compatibility, and more.

Performance Ratings of the Best US VPNs

Use the below table to compare how the best US VPNs perform in each key testing category:

5 Best VPNs for the United States

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for USA

    Strong security, reliable streaming access, and servers in 14 American cities.

    Ranked #1 out of 68 VPNs for the US
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     96% 
    (1,773 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    Pros

    1. Audited zero-logs VPN
    2. 81Mbps New York download speeds
    3. Servers in 10 US states
    4. Access to 19 Netflix libraries
    5. Bypasses sports blackouts
    6. Unrestricted torrenting on US servers

    Cons

    1. Most expensive VPN for the US
    2. Kill switch absent on iOS apps
    3. Fire TV Stick app needs updating
    4. Issues accessing British TV
    5. Unknown number of individual US servers

    Overall US Rating: 9.7/10

    The overall US VPN rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test US VPNs.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.99.9/10

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN for the US thanks to its impressive security and server list. There are servers on the East and West coast as well as the Southern states.

    It’s a no logs VPN, proven by audit, that comes packaged with an in-house protocol called Lightway. It picks up fast local speeds and unblocks multiple streaming services. We wish it was cheaper, but it’s still worth the price.

    US States10
    US Cities14
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    88Mbps
    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    JurisdictionBritish Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Compatible with
    Data LeaksNo
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Impressive privacy package evades US surveillance

    ExpressVPN is #1 for the US as it’s the most reliable and secure VPN on the market. It’s easy to use, too.

    It comes with a proven no-logs privacy policy, which means that it doesn’t store your data. The company is also based in Panama, where there are no intrusive data-retention laws. US intelligence and its partners in the Five Eyes have no jurisdiction here.

    ExpressVPN uses the highest standard of security encryption and has no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks. It has Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS), which generates a new encryption key every 60 minutes. This means that if someone did encrypt your data transfer, they’d only ever be able to get 60 minutes of data.

    Even more impressive is ExpressVPN’s zero-knowledge DNS servers. In other words, ExpressVPN handles all the DNS requests you make (the websites you visit), and never a third party.

    There’s also TrustedServer, ExpressVPN’s in-house technology that ensures your web data is stored on RAM only and never on a hard drive. Therefore, data cannot be physically seized by US authorities such as the FBI.

    The one concern we have is the lack of kill switch on ExpressVPN’s iOS apps. If you’re using ExpressVPN on an iPhone or iPad and it disconnects, your real IP will be visible. This is a flaw in otherwise watertight security.

    Servers across the USA

    ExpressVPN has servers available in 14 cities across 10 states. This includes California and Washington on the West coast and New York and New Jersey in the East.

    There are also plenty of Southern options, including servers in Texas and Georgia. It’s evenly spread, meaning all American VPN users can access fast speeds.

    ExpressVPN has servers in the following US states:

    • California
    • Colorado
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Illinois
    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • Texas
    • Utah
    • Washington

    ExpressVPN has 3,000 servers in 160 cities across the globe. This is one of the largest server networks available. If you want to connect out of the US and get an international IP address, you’ll have plenty to choose from.

    None of ExpressVPN’s US servers are virtual. Instead, they are physical. This means that, for example, a Texas server really is in Texas, and the servers can offer better performance.

    Bypasses streaming blocks and sports blackouts

    ExpressVPN gets around blocked websites with ease, including geo-restrictions on streaming services. It’s just as impressive as an entertainment package as a security one. You’ll be able to watch Hulu or HBO Max outside the US, too.

    Based on our streaming tests, it works with 18 Netflix libraries across the globe, too. It’s optimized for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, Now TV, Peacock, and more. Torrenting is also permitted on all of ExpressVPN’s servers without restriction or data-storing.

    It’s a simple solution for getting around national and regional sports blackouts. Fans of MLB, NHL, and NFL can bypass the private agreements between broadcasters and the sports leagues that prevent you from watching based on your location.

    ExpressVPN is less reliable for accessing BBC iPlayer, though. You can still bypass British restrictions by using the less secure PPTP protocol, or the browser add-on. But this compromises security. If you want to watch British TV, we suggest NordVPN.

    Lightway protocol for fast US speeds

    ExpressVPN is very fast. Connecting to our server in New York, we recorded local download speeds of 81Mbps. This is an 8% speed loss from our normal internet connection, which is very good for any VPN.

    ExpressVPN is consistently one of the top three fastest VPNs, and has been for years. It picks up impressive speeds on OpenVPN protocol, but you can also use ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which is equally fast.

  2. 2. PIA: Fastest VPN in America

    A cheap alternative with fast speeds and a record 14,000 US servers.

    Private Internet Access
     86% 
    (29 user reviews)
    Visit PIA VPN

    Pros

    1. 14,000+ servers in 14 US cities
    2. 91Mbps local speeds – the fastest
    3. Budget choice but high-quality
    4. Impressive privacy credentials
    5. Reliable access to streaming sites
    6. Very good for torrenting

    Cons

    1. Based in Denver, Colorado
    2. Fire TV Stick app could be improved

    Overall US Rating: 9.6/10

    The overall US VPN rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test US VPNs.

    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.89.8/10

    Private Internet Access is impressive for its server quantity (the most US servers of any VPN on this list), security package, and cheap price. It’s another zero-logs VPN equipped with top encryption.

    But it’s incorporated in the USA, which can pose a potential privacy risk. That said, we still recommend PIA over ExpressVPN if you’re looking for a budget alternative.

    US States10
    US Cities14
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    98Mbps
    Cheapest Price$2.08/mo over 26 months See all plans
    JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Compatible with
    Data LeaksNo
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Fast speeds across an enormous US server network

    For server quantity, Private Internet Access is the best VPN for the US. It comes with an unparalleled 14,000 US servers, spread from New York to California. It has a slightly smaller selection of states compared to NordVPN, but there are more individual servers.

    PIA’s US servers are located in:

    • California
    • Colorado
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Illinois
    • New Jersey
    • Nevada
    • New York
    • Texas
    • Washington

    This is a similar selection to ExpressVPN, and the same number – 10 states. So it’s just as good as our #1 choice for server diversity and reach. Whether you’re in the East, West, or South, PIA has you covered.

    But globally, it’s not as expansive as ExpressVPN. PIA offers 78 countries compared to ExpressVPN’s 94. But it’s still one of the better VPN networks on the market.

    And we picked up 91Mbps download speeds when testing PIA’s local New York speeds. This is only a 6% speed loss when connected to an encrypted PIA server. Simply put, there’s barely a difference between normal internet speeds and using PIA.

    No-logs policy makes PIA safe

    Because PIA is based in Denver, Colorado, it is subject to data requests from US authorities, often justified by laws like the Patriot Act.

    However, PIA has proven its “no-logs” claims. When the US authorities requested data, PIA had simply no information to give. Russian authorities have also seized PIA servers and retrieved no information. PIA responded by removing all of its servers from Russia.

    Image of the Private Internet Access mobile app on iPhone.

    For these reasons, we’re not too concerned about PIA’s US corporate headquarters.

    It has the same top encryption and protocol options as ExpressVPN, as well as the innovative WireGuard protocol. Our tests confirmed that PIA’s in-built DNS, IP address, and WebRTC leak protection work, too.

    As with ExpressVPN, PIA runs its own private DNS servers, so your website visits are handled in accordance with its own privacy-conscious practices and not your untrustworthy ISP.

    Unblocks Netflix & British TV

    Private Internet Access works with Netflix. It unblocks libraries from Canada, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, and the US. It’s nowhere near as many as ExpressVPN, or the leader Windscribe. But it does allow you to continue watching US shows abroad.

    At the moment, PIA is more reliable than ExpressVPN when it comes to BBC iPlayer. US fans of The Great British Bake Off, for example, can use PIA to stream the latest series through the ‘UK-London Streaming’ server.

    PIA also works with Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Hulu. Its Amazon Fire TV Stick app is superior to that offered by ExpressVPN.

    PIA excels as a torrenting VPN. A no-logs policy, fast upload speeds, and robust security makes for risk-free and quick P2P activity, which is permitted on all US servers. More so, it has port forwarding and there’s a built-in ad-blocker.

    Budget alternative for USA

    PIA is competing for the top spot, which makes it a strong budget option. Those put-off by the ExpressVPN price tag should consider PIA. It only costs $2.08 per month on its best deal.

    For that small cost, you can use PIA on 10 devices at the same time. It’s compatible with all major devices and platforms and its apps are sleek and easy to use. There’s also 24/7 live-chat support and other helpful resources, in case you do need help.

  3. 3. NordVPN: Best for US East Coast

    1,600 servers in 15 US cities, NordLynx protocol for fast US speeds, and great for BBC iPlayer.

    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     94% 
    (246 user reviews)
    Visit NordVPN

    Pros

    1. Connect to 14 US states
    2. Fast US download speeds
    3. NordLynx protocol improves speed
    4. Panama-based zero-logs service
    5. Easy for streaming & torrenting
    6. Best US VPN for fans of BBC iPlayer

    Cons

    1. Fewer US servers than PIA
    2. No PayPal payments
    3. Limited protocols on Windows & Android

    Overall US Rating: 9.5/10

    The overall US VPN rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test US VPNs.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.49.4/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.39.3/10

    NordVPN is a great all-rounder for US users. It covers more US states than both ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, and comes with over 1,600 coast-to-coast servers.

    It’s one of the fastest VPNs for the US and boasts an extensive security package. It’s our #1 choice for BBC iPlayer and it will hide your IP from NSA surveillance.

    US States14
    US Cities15
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    93Mbps
    Cheapest Price$3.30/mo over 27 Months See all plans
    JurisdictionPanama (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Compatible with
    Data LeaksNo
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Server network for Americans on the East Coast

    NordVPN is fast and has an impressive 1,600 servers in 14 US states.

    NordVPN has servers in the following US states:

    • Arizona
    • California
    • Colorado
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Illinois
    • New Jersey
    • Missouri
    • North Carolina
    • New York
    • Texas
    • Utah
    • Virgina
    • Washington

    This is a diverse US network. But the presence of North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia state servers tilts NordVPN in favor of those on the East Coast. If you live here, you’re likely to get the best NordVPN performance.

    NordVPN will deliver fast speeds across the country – for example if you’re in New York can expect local speeds of 87Mbps if you’re on a 100Mbps connection. This amounts to a 13% speed loss, which is small enough that you should hardly notice a difference.

    Private jurisdiction & secure technology

    NordVPN is based in Panama, which is a privacy haven. The region is not subjected to intrusive US jurisdiction or the surveillance threat of US partners in the Five Eyes. This means that it’s harder for US authorities to spy on you.

    NordVPN is a zero logs VPN, meaning that it records no data whatsoever about its customers. This privacy status has been verified by an independent auditor twice, in case you doubt the company’s claims.

     

    Screenshot of the NordVPN iOS app for iPhone and iPad

    NordVPN comes with one of the best online security suites on the market. It has the best protocols, including WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and its own bespoke NordLynx. NordVPN’s in-house protocol is faster than OpenVPN and more secure than WireGuard. It is the best of both worlds.

    Its VPN apps are encrypted via AES-256 and come with Perfect Forward Secrecy. On top of that, NordVPN has a double VPN feature, split tunneling, leak protection and Onion over VPN for use on the Onion network. And you won’t find any leaks.

    NordVPN did suffer a security breach in 2018, but it has since introduced special security measures and initiatives. This includes RAM-only servers, co-located servers, and a bug bounty program that rewards those who spot vulnerabilities in NordVPN’s code.

    The best US VPN for British TV

    NordVPN is the most reliable way to watch British TV from the UK. It always works to unblock the BBC iPlayer service from the States. All of its UK servers work, so you don’t have to trial a bunch of UK connections either.

    It’s US to UK speeds are very fast, registering 75Mbps from New York to London on the OpenVPN protocol. Connecting to the UK from the US on the NordLynx protocol, we picked up an astonishing 85Mbps international connection speed.

    This is an incredibly fast result for such a large geographical distance. You’ll have no problem with buffering.

    NordVPN is also well equipped to unblock other popular streaming sites. All of its 100 US servers work with US Netflix. You can stream 15 other Netflix libraries across popular devices, including your Smart TV and Firestick TV. It works with HBO Max and Disney Plus.

    One hiccup is NordVPN’s inability to unblock Hulu through its apps. However, you can get around this by using the Smart DNS feature.

    Affordable and compatible across devices

    It’s not as cheap as PIA, but NordVPN is still an affordable service. It only costs $3.30. This is great value when considering the package on offer, including 24/7 live chat support should you need assistance.

    And NordVPN is compatible with a large number of devices and platforms. It’s available across the Mac, iOS, Windows and Android, as well as fully-featured Amazon Fire TV stick and Android TV apps. NordVPN is great for your Smart TV. You can also install it at router level.

  4. 4. HideMyAss: Best for Streaming Sports

    IP addresses in 48 US states makes HMA VPN ideal for sports streaming.

    Screenshot of HideMyAss' Mobile App
     80% 
    (5 user reviews)
    Visit HideMyAss

    Pros

    1. Servers available in 48 of 50 US states
    2. No logs privacy policy
    3. Very fast local US speeds
    4. Reliable streaming access
    5. Good free trial
    6. User-friendly & good for beginners

    Cons

    1. Only 240 US servers overall
    2. History of cooperation with the FBI
    3. Not safe for torrenting
    4. Based in privacy-unfriendly England
    5. Expensive short-term plans

    Overall US Rating: 9.3/10

    The overall US VPN rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test US VPNs.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 9.69.6/10

    HideMyAss isn’t the most private VPN on this list, but it covers the most US states. This makes it ideal for sports fans interested in a VPN for NFL and MLB.

    It’s also very fast on US connections and unblocks Netflix and BBC iPlayer. HMA offers a beginner-friendly and sleek entertainment solution, but it’s got a controversial history.

    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    96Mbps
    Cheapest Price$2.99/mo over 3 years See all plans
    JurisdictionUK (Five-Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    Compatible with
    Data LeaksNo
    SupportLive Chat

    Connect to almost every US state, and almost every country

    HideMyAss has servers in nearly every state of the Union. The only locations not included are New Jersey and New Mexico. This is highly impressive, and good news for nearly every American VPN user looking for top performance. For this reason alone, it makes the list.

    Servers in all those states means it’s great at getting around sports blackouts. HMA offers an easy way to watch your favorite sports by acquiring an anonymous IP address in a region that hasn’t been blocked.

    You can connect to up to 65 American cities. This is by far the most we’ve encountered.

     

    Image showing the HideMyAss app for iPhone and iPad.

     

    HMA uses virtual servers to achieve this reach. This means that while you can acquire an IP address in say, Michigan, there may not be any server infrastructure there. This is not uncommon and it is beneficial for speed, but there are some minor security risks too.

    HMA actually has the largest server network of any VPN. You can connect to 189 other countries (nearly all the countries on the planet). This is ideal if you’re looking to connect out of the US, or if you’re in a remote region looking to connect back home.

    Good streaming capabilities

    HideMyAss is a strong contender when it comes to streaming. It has dedicated servers for the most popular services, and these servers are very reliable. If you’re abroad, the ‘Liberty Island’ server provides instant access to US Netflix.

    If you’re a fan of UK TV, the ‘Donkey Town’ servers grant quick access to BBC iPlayer. However, If you’re in a country without Disney+, HMA won’t be able to help as it is still unable to unblock that service.

    HMA has very impressive US speed results. We recorded 91Mbps on a local New York network. This is just as good as PIA’s speeds. With these results, content streams seamlessly and speeds are indistinguishable from a normal internet connection.

    Safe but some privacy concerns

    Although HMA has an extensive server network, it’s let down by some privacy issues.

    HMA is still based in the privacy-unfriendly UK and has a history of cooperating with US authorities.

    For example, a member of the hacker-activist community, Anonymous, was arrested based on connection logs given to the FBI by HMA following a UK court order. In another instance, someone was arrested for harassment based on identifying connection timestamps provided by HMA.

    We don’t condone the use of VPNs for nefarious or illegal purposes, but consumers should be able to trust their VPN provider to live up to its privacy promises.

    HMA has since revamped its logging policy, but this history places HMA behind other top providers when it comes to trustworthiness and reputation.

    For this reason, we don’t recommend using HMA to torrent. Although it now has a no-logs policy, users of the VPN have reported their accounts being suspended for alleged violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and its attitude towards torrenting is muddled.

    While HMA is safe, and comes with all the security measures you’d expect of a premium VPN, it’s not pushing the envelope in VPN security like other top providers are.

    Good free-trial and user-friendly apps

    HMA is very suitable for beginners. Those who value a well-designed service will appreciate HideMyAss’s consumer-friendly and intuitive apps.

    It’s got a free seven-day trial, too. This grants unrestricted access to the full HMA experience. This way you don’t have to commit before trying it.

    This is especially useful as HMA is very expensive on short-term plans. To get your money’s worth, it’s best to invest in the three-year deal, which comes to a nicely affordable $2.99 per month.

  5. 5. IPVanish: Best for US Firestick Users

    A zero-logs VPN with 900 fast US servers in 19 cities.

    IPVanish VPN
     96% 
    (175 user reviews)
    Visit IPVanish

    Pros

    1. Records no user data
    2. Very fast local US speeds
    3. Best for Android, Fire TV Stick & Kodi
    4. 900+ servers in the US
    5. Torrenting permitted on all US servers
    6. Works with US Netflix

    Cons

    1. Doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer or HBO Max
    2. US jurisdiction
    3. History of cooperating with FBI
    4. No Smart DNS

    Overall US Rating: 9.2/10

    The overall US VPN rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test US VPNs.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 8.28.2/10

    You should consider IPVanish if you’re a US user of Fire Stick TV, Kodi, and Android. This VPN is tailor-made for these devices and platforms. It’s fast, private, and comes with a very good number of US city servers. It’s a disappointment when it comes to streaming, but great for torrenting.

    US States14
    US Cities19
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    84Mbps
    Cheapest Price$3.20/mo for 12 months See all plans
    JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Compatible with
    Data LeaksNo
    SupportLive Chat

    Top VPN for Fire Stick TV, Kodi & Android

    IPVanish is the best VPN if you’re a Fire Stick TV user. It’s one of the few VPNs that has designed and built a custom app. This app is functional and a pleasure to use. We can’t always say the same for other VPNs on Firestick.

    It’s also a highlight for Kodi users. IPVanish protects your IP from copyright trolls when using the video service. Based on the IP and DNS leak tests in our IPVanish review, it’s also leak-free.

    However, unless you’re using Firestick or Kodi, IPVanish is an inferior VPN for streaming. It’s only useful if you want to unblock US Netflix and there’s no Smart DNS. If you want to watch Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, or Hulu you should use another VPN.

    Owns 800 US servers across 14 states

    IPVanish has an extensive US server network. It comes with over 900 servers in 19 cities, spread across 14 states. The list of states covers each US coast and the Southern states, too.

    All these servers deliver fast US speeds. Testing IPVanish on our local New York server, we picked up speeds of 89Mbps. It’s not the absolute fastest VPN for the US, but it’s not far behind.

    Globally, you can connect to 76 other countries. All of these servers are owned and managed by IPVanish with no virtual servers used or rented. This is great for security reasons.

    Robust security, great for torrenting

    IPVanish will hide your IP and encrypt your data well. It’s an effective tool against ISP monitoring and privacy threats from the US government.

    It uses AES-256 encryption and comes with protocols OpenVPN and IKEv2. There’s a kill switch (although not on iOS) and we’ve never seen a compromising IP, DNS, IPV4, or WebRTC leak.

    All of this makes it a great VPN for torrenting. It’s fast and safe for P2P activity and has SOCKS5 proxy – a favorite for torrenters.

    And there are additional features like split tunneling and obfuscation technology, which is useful should censorship increase in the US.

    USA jurisdiction & FBI involvement

    Like PIA, IPVanish is based in the US. This is bad as US authorities have legal power over IPVanish as a company. Any data that the VPN has on its users is subject to invasive data requests.

    And like HMA, IPVanish was forced to deal with the consequences of a privacy-unfriendly jurisdiction. In 2016, the FBI identified a suspect due to IPVanish logging data.

    Criminal activity cannot be condoned, but what concerns us is the “no logs” claims that IPVanish made at the time.

    Since then, IPVanish has been taken over by a company with a good reputation. The current logging policy is zero-logs. The only information it collects is your email address and payment method. As long as these claims are true a US jurisdiction is little to worry about.

How We Test VPNs for the US

We judge VPNs for the US based on a number of specific categories relevant to US users.

When it comes to VPNs for the US, we test for:

  • A large quantity of US servers for optimal performance all over the country.
  • Fast US speeds with barely any speed loss compared to your normal internet connection.
  • Security practices that protect your right to privacy and free speech, and keep away the FBI, CIA, and NSA. This includes no-logs privacy policies, robust VPN technology, top encryption ciphers, and additional protections like double VPN.
  • Reliable access to blocked websites and geo-restricted streaming services, including sports blackouts.
  • Value for money, user-friendly apps, and ease of use for VPN beginners.

Below you can read about the science behind our testing process and see what percentage of the overall US rating each key category accounts for.

1. US Speeds: 30%

Minimum Requirement: Average local download speeds above 70Mbps.
We Recommend: Average local download speeds of 80Mbps or higher.

VPN speeds are an essential priority because it determines the overall effectiveness of the VPN. Nobody wants a VPN that drastically slows down their internet speed.

We regularly test the average local download speeds you can expect to pick up in the US. We use our New York server to record data on long-term VPN performance.

The less difference between our normal internet connection and our internet connection running a VPN the higher our rating is.

This is important for optimal internet performance, fast downloads, seamless streaming, and more.

2. Number of US Servers: 30%

Minimum Requirement: A selection of US servers.
We Recommend: Many servers on the US East Coast, West Coast, and Southern States.

We record just how many US servers each VPN has and how many cities and states are available to connect to. The more there are the stronger the rating.

The US is a huge country, so it requires lots of servers in order to offer optimal performance for each VPN user in the country.

If you’re in Texas and a VPN only has servers in Washington, your speeds will suffer. More so, if there are only a few servers that means all the VPNs users will be using, and congesting, those servers.

That’s why we praise those that cover as many states, covering the landmass as far and wide as possible.

3. Logging Policy: 20%

Minimum Requirement: A transparent privacy policy that anonymizes user data.
We Recommend: An evidence-based no-logs VPN.

A VPNs privacy credentials are essential when it comes to the US.The US is one of the biggest privacy offenders on the planet, so a VPN with a clearly written dedication to strict protection of your online data matters.

We go beyond the promotional material and read every VPNs privacy policy in depth, inspecting for hidden logs.

The best VPNs record no activity data at all. If a VPN does record some data, we determine whether this is unsafe or not.

We heavily penalize VPNs that record more logs than necessary.

4. US Streaming & Torrenting: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Unblocks US Netflix and has the ability to torrent.
We Recommend: Access multiple streaming sites both abroad and at home and has P2P-optimized servers.

A VPN is a privacy tool useful against the federal governments unwarranted intrusion in your life, but it’s also a useful entertainment device.

We attribute 20% of the overall rating to a VPNs ability to unblock popular US streaming services and get around sports blackouts.

We manually test each VPNs ability to unblock streaming platforms like Netflix and HBO Max from abroad, and BBC iPlayer for those who want to stream UK TV.

The more effective a VPN is at getting around streaming geo-restrictions, the higher the rating.

We also account for how well a VPN will protect the users privacy when torrenting and sharing files. We look for features like IP leak protection, a kill switch, and P2P optimized servers.

Why Do I Need a VPN in the US?

Surveillance & Data Gathering: What’s the NSA?

The National Security Agency (NSA) is one big reason to get a US VPN. It is the largest US intelligence agency (bigger than the CIA), and it monitors, collects, and processes data on large swathes of the population, indiscriminately. This is called mass-data collection.

The details of this were top secret until 2013, when Edward Snowden revealed the scale of the surveillance.

Although the NSA has had to deal with the fallout of the Snowdon revelations, it is still spying on US citizens. It can still access your phone records, it forces big tech companies to part with your data, it can hack and track at will.

Not even foreigners are free from its sphere. The NSA is known to spy on the citizens and leaders of other countries, even if they’re considered a political ally.

On top of that, the US shares data between governments. The Five Eyes Alliance is the name of a surveillance alliance between US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand governments. It is arranged so that these countries can exchange information on each other’s citizens.

Net Neutrality & Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

In July 2018, the US government repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order, also known as ‘Net Neutrality’. This rescinded on the principle that ISPs must not discriminate or behave differently based on what content people were accessing, or which platform they were using, or who was doing it.

This regulated against US ISPs from doing whatever it wanted, like throttling customer speeds. Following the repeal, it came as no surprise that American ISPs were reported to be slowing down Netflix and YouTube streaming speeds.

A VPN gives you power over your internet connection. Unable to monitor your internet activity, your ISP won’t be able to discriminate against your behaviour or slow down your internet speed.

American ISPs don’t even require permission to share your personal data with third-parties. With a VPN you can decide what your ISP knows about you and what it doesn’t.

Unblock Websites & Deter Cybercriminals

Many US institutions block access to websites like YouTube and Instagram, such as schools, libraries, and work offices. A VPN will bypass those restrictions.

More so, the internet can be a bit like the Wild West. A VPN protects you from annoying ads, trackers, malware, and viruses. If you’re a torrenter, they can even avoid the copyright trolls.

A good VPN shields your sensitive information from hackers and cyber-criminals who can exploit the dangers of public wifi to steal information. As our research shows, your entire identity can be stolen and sold on the Dark Web for as little as $1,200.

Privacy Alert: Since 2010, the United States’ Freedom House score has declined considerably. In a 10-year period, the country has gone from a global freedom score of 94 to 83. Its internet freedom score is even worse – only 76/100.

Which US VPN Should I Get Where I Live?

Using our testing research, we’re able to provide recommendations of which VPNs cater best to each US state.

East Coast

The Eastern Seaboard of the US is made up of the states Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

If you live on the US East Coast, or want to connect to a VPN server there, we recommend NordVPN. It has city-level servers in North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, and Virginia.

West Coast

The West Coast states are made up of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.

For those on the West Coast, or looking to connect to it, we recommend Private Internet Access, which has 14,000 fast servers, most spread across California and Washington.

Southern States

Other websites often discuss the balance between East and West coast VPN servers but fail to mention the Southern states.

The US federal government defines the South as Alabama, Arkansa, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield, IPVanish, and Windscribe are all great VPNs for the South specifically.

It’s a shame that states like Alabama and Mississippi go ignored, but almost all these VPNs cater to Florida, Georgia, and Texas. ExpressVPN also includes Oklahama, as does Hotspot Shield.

Windscribe Pro has Kentucky and Louisiana servers, unlike every other VPN with the exception of HMA. On Windscribe Free you can still use free servers in Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami.

ExpressVPN is the #1 choice for the Southern states because it has a good selection of Southern states and is the best VPN for the US overall.

How Do I Use a VPN to Get Around US Sport Blackouts?

Illustration of a VPN Getting Around US Sports BlackoutsUS sports blackouts are common and frustrating. It affects the big sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA) and means you often won’t be able to watch your team play, either on cable or online.

National blackouts happen because of private agreements between the sports leagues and broadcasters. For example, if a national broadcaster like ABC or CBS acquires the rights to a game, viewers in the home team’s locality won’t be able to watch the game on other channels.

There are also regional blackouts, so only viewers in a specific area will be able to watch the game.

NFL fans are often subject to device-based blackouts, too. Some blackouts affect specific devices, like Roku, Chromecast, and mobile devices.

To get around these blackouts, you need a VPN with a large number of US IP addresses. We recommend HMA because it has IPs in almost every state. However, VPNs like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PIA will also work. Through an extensive server network you can connect to a US region that is not subject to blackout restrictions.

There’s also advantages to obtaining an international IP address. For example, you can use a VPN to watch NFL Games live on DAZN and through NFL Game Pass International.

You can check your IP address location by using our What Is My IP tool.

Additional research by David Hughes

FAQ

Are VPNs Legal in the US?

VPNs are legal in the US. There are no anti-VPN laws. It’s perfectly legal to protect your personal data.

In the US, like in the European democracies, you have total freedom to download and use a VPN. However, this doesn’t mean that illegal things conducted using a VPN are legal. Using a VPN doesn’t exempt you from any US law.

If you’re interested in VPN legal questions, read our in-depth guide to VPN laws.

What is the Best Cheap US VPN?

If cost is an issue but you don’t want to compromise on quality or suffer restrictions, it’s worth looking at the best cheap VPNs.

PIA is the cheapest US VPN on this list, and well worth the money. It costs as little as $2.08 per month on its best price deal.

NordVPN is also affordable at $3.30 per month ($89.00 every two years).

There’s also the option to sign up for a top VPN free trial, which will give you free access to a VPN for a limited amount of time.

The best free trial belongs to PrivateVPN. For seven days you are given unrestricted access to the VPN.

This allows you to connect to servers in Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, New York and more (nine US cities in total). It also requires no payment details to sign up and expires automatically.

What is the Fastest US VPN?

The fastest US VPN is Private Internet Access, followed closely by HideMyAss. Both VPNs consistently register over 90Mbps local download speeds on local New York speed tests.

How Do I Watch British TV from the US?

Watching British TV from the US isn’t as simple as getting a UK IP address.

That’s because the BBC actively clamps down on VPN use. So to stream from BBC iPlayer you need a VPN with a proven track record accessing the service. This usually means a VPN with specially optimized streaming servers.

NordVPN is the best VPN for BBC iPlayer. It works with BBC iPlayer consistently, on all platforms, and offers fast speeds.

It also works to stream other British streaming services like BritBox, All 4, and ITVPlayer, too.

Should I Avoid VPNs Based in the US?

A US jurisdiction can pose a privacy threat. The US has unprecedented surveillance reach and the legal powers to invade on your privacy.

While Private Internet Access is based in Colorado, we’re comfortable recommending it thanks to its proven privacy practices. It logs zero data from its users, so even if US authorities did ask for information, PIA has none to give.

If a VPN is based in the US, you need to be extra careful and ensure that its logging practices are proven. If it’s not, the US courts can make legal requests and the VPN company will be obligated to cooperate. This has happened with HideMyAss.

The safest places to incorporate a VPN business are privacy-havens like the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Panama, or Seychelles. ExpressVPN is based in the BVI for this reason, and NordVPN is in Panama.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio