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Watch HBO Max from Anywhere with a VPN

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A VPN is the only way to stream HBO Max outside the US, but not all VPNs work. This guide shows you how to access HBO’s streaming service from any country, which VPN is the best, and what to do when your VPN isn’t working.

How to Watch HBO Max with a VPN

HBO Max is the updated version of HBO Now and HBO Go, but it’s only available in the US, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Scandinavia.

With a top HBO Max virtual private network (VPN), you can get a US IP address to bypass these geo-blocks and access HBO-exclusive movies and TV shows from any country, including Australia, Canada, and the UK.

Short on time? The best VPN to unblock HBO Max is ExpressVPN – try it risk-free for 30 days.

In this article we’ll show you how to watch HBO Max Originals, as well as Warner Bros, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, and TNT content, from outside the United States.

To watch HBO Max from outside the US, follow this very simple process:

  1. Register for, download, and install a VPN that works with HBO Max.
  2. Launch your VPN, connect to a US IP address, and subscribe to HBO Max.
    You’ll need to use an HBO Gift card or US payment method.
  3. Log in to your HBO Max account.
    Keep your US VPN connection running to start streaming HBO content.

If you also want to watch content on other platforms, see which streaming VPNs work with a range of streaming services.

How to Use a VPN to Stream HBO Max

The video below shows you how to use a VPN with HBO Max. We’re using ExpressVPN here, but the process is identical for other VPNs:

If you want to stream HBO Max but you’re outside the US, you’ll need two things: a good VPN, and access to a US payment method.

Sadly, you can’t get HBO Max for free and there’s no free trial.

If you don’t have a US payment method, we’ll walk you through other ways to get HBO Max.

Here’s how you stream HBO Max from anywhere in the world:

  1. Sign up for and download a VPN. We strongly recommend you subscribe to one of the VPNs the work best with HBO Max.
  2. Open the VPN app and connect to a US server, or a dedicated HBO Max server if there is one.
  3. Head to the HBO Max American website and create an account.
  4. You can pay directly if you already have a US payment method. If you don’t have a US payment method, see how to get one here.
  5. Once your account is created, keep your VPN on and log in as normal to stream HBO Max. You’ll have to use your VPN every time you want to use the service. If the US server you selected isn’t working, try a different one.

EXPERT TIP: If your HBO Max VPN still isn’t working or your VPN is detected, try these HBO Max VPN troubleshooting tips.

How to Pay for HBO Max Outside the US

Even if you don’t have an American payment method, you can still sign up for an HBO Max account from the UK, Canada, Australia, or any other country.

 

HBO Max payment page

You need a US payment method to subscribe to HBO Max.

There are four easy ways to pay for HBO Max from outside the US:

Method 1: Use an HBO Gift Card

The easiest way to subscribe to HBO Max from outside the US is to purchase a HBO gift card. You can buy one from any country.

Follow these steps to get a HBO Max gift card:

  1. Buy an HBO gift card from MyGiftCardSupply. You’ll then receive a redemption code.
  2. Use a VPN to connect to a US server.
  3. Redeem your HBO gift card on the HBO Now website by submitting your redemption code.
  4. Go to the HBO Max website and sign in using your HBO login details.

That’s it. It’s an incredibly simple way to get HBO Max from anywhere.

To learn more about redeeming HBO Now gift cards, read this helpful article.

Method 2: Use a Third-Party Card Service

Another easy way to sign up for HBO Max is to use US card payment services like StatesCard or USUnlocked, which have guides for HBO Max specifically.

For a small fee these payment card services provide US payment details and US zip codes that can be used to register for HBO Max.

Method 3: Create a US Apple ID

Getting a US Apple ID and paying for HBO Max isn’t as easy as just changing your region in App Store settings.

You need to start from the bottom up and pay with a US gift card. You also need an Apple computer, like an iMac or MacBook.

Follow these steps to do it:

  1. Connect to a US server with your VPN.
  2. Open iTunes and sign out of your account if you already have one.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the iTunes window and select the option Country or Region in the bottom right corner.
  4. Now create a completely new Apple ID account. Select the United States as your Region/Country if it hasn’t automatically changed already.

    Apple ID creation screen

    Choose the United States as your country when creating a new Apple ID.

  5. It’s essential that you do not include any payment information as part of your new account. Select None when asked to include payment information and insert a random US address.

    Apple ID payment detail screen

    Make sure to select ‘None’ as a payment method.

  6. With your new US Apple ID registered, purchase a US gift card for iTunes – enough to cover the cost of HBO Max. We recommend that you use Best Buy or My Gift Card Supply.
  7. Once purchased, open the Apple App Store, head to the bottom of the window, and select the Redeem option. Sign in with your new US account if you haven’t already. In the screen that follows, enter the code of the gift card you purchased.
  8. With credit now tied to your account, you can use your VPN to connect to a US server and sign up for HBO Max, paying with your iTunes gift card.

Method 4: Create a US Google Account

If you don’t use Apple devices, you can also get HBO Max on Android devices by setting up a US Google account.
Follow these steps:

  1. Connect to a US IP address through a VPN installed on your Android device.
  2. Now you need to create a new US Google account. To do this, go to your Android Settings.
  3. Select Google and tap the arrow beside your current account.
  4. Tap Add Another Account and fill out the details. Do not add any information that could reveal your real whereabouts.
  5. Once completed, you need to go and purchase a US Google Play gift card. These can be bought at Amazon.com.
  6. The gift card code will be sent to the email of your new account. Copy the code and paste it into the Google Store to redeem it. The Redeem gift code option is found under Payments and subscriptions. If asked to, enter a random US ZIP code.
  7. Now that you have a US Play Store account and a gift card cashed in, you can search for and install the HBO Max app.
  8. Download the app and register for a HBO Max subscription using your gift card balance.
  9. Now you can stream HBO Max from wherever you like just as long as you are connected to a US server. You can use the same login for any device you want to stream HBO Max on.

How to Use a VPN with HBO Max On Your TV

The best way to watch the latest HBO Max blockbuster like Mortal Kombat or The Suicide Squad is via your home cinema setup.

You can do this by installing HBO Max onto your Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, or Roku device. If you’re in the US, you can do this as you would normally.

If you’re outside the US, you’ll need a VPN that has a Fire TV Stick app or Smart DNS feature. The VPNs we recommend all come with good Fire TV Stick apps and Smart DNS tools.

At the least, your VPN should be compatible with routers. But this process is more complicated than installing a bespoke app.

Use Smart DNS for HBO Max

Smart DNS works by spoofing your online location so that you can fool HBO Max into thinking you’re in the US.

Unlike a VPN, it doesn’t encrypt your traffic or change your IP address. Instead, it changes the DNS server that your traffic is routed through, enabling you to access geo-blocked websites on devices that lack VPN applications, like Smart TVs, Apple TV, and games consoles.

Smart DNS is a useful tool for streaming movies on larger-screen devices, as it accesses HBO Max content reliably and with fast speeds.

You’ll need a VPN that has a Smart DNS feature if you want the big-screen experience. You can activate your Smart DNS via your VPN provider’s website.

We list the VPNs that have Smart DNS in our HBO Max VPN comparison table.

The installation process is different for every VPN service, but they all follow the same principles. In this example, we did it with Surfshark.

Here’s how to set up Smart DNS for HBO Max:

  1. Login to your VPN provider’s members area via its website and head to its Smart DNS tool. Some providers give its Smart DNS feature bespoke names. ExpressVPN calls it MediaStreamer, for example.

    Surfshark Smart DNS

    Surfshark Smart DNS tool.

  2. Click the Get started button. Surfshark will then automatically detect your IP address. You can see below that our London office IP address is detected.

    Surfshark's Smart DNS IP detection

    Surfshark’s Smart DNS automatically detects your IP address.

  3. Click the Activate Smart DNS button. This automatically takes you to a page that generates alternative DNS addresses. You can only activate Smart DNS on one IP address.

    Surfshark generates alternative DNS addresses.

    Surfshark’s Smart DNS generates alternative DNS addresses (redacted as this is a premium feature).

  4. With Smart DNS now activated, you can now set it up on your various devices. Surfshark has tutorials for multiple devices. Generally speaking, as part of your network settings your device allows you to manually configure your DNS server.
  5. Simply insert the DNS server address provided by Surfshark when your device prompts you.
  6. Restart your device after you’ve manually changed your DNS server. You’ll now be able to stream HBO Max from the US on your TV.

How to Get HBO Max on Amazon Fire TV Stick

To install HBO Max on your Firestick from outside the US, it’s not as simple as changing your IP address with a VPN. You’ll need to register a US Amazon account.

Even with your VPN on, if your Fire TV Stick is linked to an Amazon account registered in the UK, for example, HBO Max won’t appear in your Amazon App Store searches.

To fix this, create an Amazon profile with a US address.

You can do this by following these simple steps:

  1. In your browser, head to your Amazon account.
  2. Select Accounts & Lists > Manage Your Account and Content.
  3. Change the region to the US.
  4. Go to your Amazon Firestick and select Settings > My Account.
  5. Unregister and then sign back in with your now-US Amazon account.

Once this is done and linked to your Fire TV Stick, you can find HBO Max in the app store search bar.

However, this means you will lose access to region-specific apps, like BBC iPlayer.

Switching between US and UK Amazon accounts on your Fire TV Stick isn’t an instant process, either. You’ll have to repeat the process in reverse each time.

HBO Max VPN Not Working? Here’s How To Fix It

Not all VPNs work with HBO Max. HBO tries to detect VPN connections and block access outside permissible regions.

You’ll know your VPN isn’t working if you see the error message “Not in Service Area or VPN Detected” or “Sorry, HBO Max isn’t available in your region yet.”

HBO Max has geo-detection methods

HBO Max has geo-detection methods.

So how do you fix it? If your VPN isn’t working with HBO Max, follow these steps:

  1. Change your HBO Max account password. If you’ve been using a VPN with HBO Max for a while, it may eventually start blocking you from logging in, informing you that the username and password is incorrect even if you haven’t changed it. At this point, all VPNs will stop working with HBO Max. We suspect this is done when HBO Max detects your account is being used by multiple IPs. But you can fix this by simply reseting your password.
  2. Connect to a different US VPN server. HBO Max’s detection methods aren’t as sophisticated as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, or DAZN, so a change of server might fix it.
  3. Check for any IP or DNS leaks. If your VPN connection is leaking data, it can expose your real location to HBO Max. ​​You can use our leak test tool to check that your VPN is leak-free.
  4. Clear cache and cookies. If the server change doesn’t work, clear your browser cookies and cache to remove any traces of your geo-location. You can also try accessing HBO Max in an incognito window.
  5. Contact VPN support. You can always contact your VPNs support team for any recommended servers or protocols for unblocking HBO Max. This can be done by live chat features or contact emails on your VPN service’s website.
  6. Use Smart DNS. If you’re still encountering problems with your HBO VPN, it’s worth checking whether it has a Smart DNS feature. Setting this up changes your default DNS servers and replaces them withUS servers, which is a reliable way to access US streaming sites.

If none of these troubleshooting steps have worked, it probably means that your VPN isn’t equipped to get around region blocks.

Even good VPNs like CyberGhost and IPVanish don’t work with HBO Max. If you want to avoid VPN detections, we recommend that you stick to our recommendations for HBO Max, which have been thoroughly tested.

If your VPN isn’t working with HBO Max, check to see if you can claim a refund (most come with 30-day money-back guarantee periods) and try a better VPN. This is the best course of action for other US streaming services too, and is the best solution for bypassing Hulu VPN blocks.

Fix HBO Max Error Codes 905, 100, 321

Whenever you get an HBO Max error code, you can first use downdetector.com to see whether the problem lies with the HBO Max service or your own connection. Errors can occur due to heavy traffic or a faulty server.

If the problem lies with your connection, you should check for any updates to the HBO Max app. Out of date software often leads to error codes. It’s also worth restarting your HBO app and device.

If your VPN connection is running, turn it off and see if HBO Max returns to normal. If it does, reconnect with a different VPN server.

If the problem persists, delete your device cookies, clear your cache, and then restart the console again. That should make it work again.

The error code 03-37-215 occurs for people watching HBO Max on PlayStation. To fix this, simply restart your console.

If any problems persist, you’ll have to contact HBO support.

What's the Best VPN for HBO Max?

You need a VPN to watch HBO Max. But which one? Not all VPNs work, especially free VPNs.

We’ve tested 68 VPNs for HBO Max and can recommend three services:

  1. ExpressVPN: The overall best VPN for HBO Max.
  2. NordVPN: A fast and reliable VPN for streaming HBO Max.
  3. Surfshark VPN: The cheapest VPN for HBO Max.

During our testing, we rated the top three VPNs for HBO Max in five key testing areas. Here’s a table summarizing how they perform:

You can read how we came to these ratings further down the page.

We’ve also put together a table comparing 10 popular VPNs for HBO Max. You’ll find details of each VPN’s compatibility with HBO Max, average speeds, number of US server locations, and Smart DNS offering:

1. ExpressVPN: The Best VPN for HBO Max

PROS CONS
  • Streams HBO Max on all US servers
  • Fast and reliable long-distance connection speeds
  • Effective servers in 14 US cities
  • One of the best Fire TV Stick apps
  • Smart DNS available for Apple TV and games consoles
  • User-friendly apps for all platforms
  • More expensive than other VPNs

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for HBO Max. It consistently unlocks HBO on all of its US servers with fast speeds and compatibility with almost every streaming device, making the installation process hassle-free.

You can use ExpressVPN with Apple TV and it also offers a user-friendly Firestick App to stream HBO Max on your Amazon Fire TV Stick.

In fact, ExpressVPN is our top recommendation for most streaming services, and is currently the best Netflix VPN too.

 

HBO Max home screen using ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN can access HBO Max.

There’s also an easily-installed Smart DNS feature called Media Streamer. This lets you stream HBO Max on devices that don’t support native VPN apps such as Apple TV, Roku, and PlayStation 5.

As speeds go, ExpressVPN has outstanding long distance connections to the US. For example, we recorded a download speed of 84Mbps, which is phenomenal for such a long-distance connection.

These fast international connections mean you’ll have no buffering issues when streaming US content outside America.

Moreover, ExpressVPN has exceptional customer support and the apps are some of the best when it comes to usability and design.

It’s the most expensive VPN we recommend for HBO Max, but it’s also the most reliable. If you’re interested in using ExpressVPN to stream content from other services too, you can read our full ExpressVPN review for more information.

2. NordVPN: A Cheaper Alternative

PROS CONS
  • Consistent access to HBO Max
  • Simple and effective Fire TV Stick app
  • 15 US cities available
  • Impressive long-distance speeds
  • More affordable than ExpressVPN
  • Smart DNS feature
  • PayPal not accepted
  • Security breach in 2018

NordVPN falls behind ExpressVPN in all the important HBO Max categories, but only very slightly. We happily recommend it if ExpressVPN is too expensive for you.

NordVPN unblocks HBO Max on almost all its 15 US server locations. However, the easiest way is to use its automatic US server selection.

 

NordVPN accessing HBO Max

NordVPN can bypass HBO Max geo-blocks

Also, the simple Fire TV Stick app and Smart DNS tool have never failed to unblock HBO Max in our testing.

NordVPN beats ExpressVPN in terms of US server locations, and it’s not too far behind ExpressVPN’s long-distance speeds, too. You can read our comparison of NordVPN vs ExpressVPN for more details.

NordVPN is a comfortable second option, but the clincher may be the cheaper price. Compared to ExpressVPN’s $6.67 per month, NordVPN only costs $3.30 – more than 50% cheaper.

3. Surfshark VPN: A Budget VPN for HBO Max

PROS CONS
  • Cheapest VPN for HBO Max
  • Highest number of US city servers
  • Fast international speeds
  • Best Fire TV Stick app for HBO
  • Quality Smart DNS feature
  • Excellent customer service and nice apps
  • Not all US servers unblock HBO Max
  • HBO Max servers are unidentified
  • Less reliable unblocking HBO Max
  • Slower than ExpressVPN and NordVPN

Surfshark works with HBO Max on many of its 20 US server locations, but not all of them. For this reason it’s not as good as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Finding a Surfshark VPN server that works is a bit of a guessing game. Thankfully, the default US connection currently works.

Surfshark alongside the HBO Max app

Surfshark requires a little more patience, but can still access HBO Max.

To watch HBO Max on Fire TV Stick, Surfshark is the best option. Its Fire TV stick app has advanced features like a kill switch and a split tunneling tool. The Smart DNS is easy to set up too.

Surfshark isn’t as fast or reliable as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but it does have the advantage of being the cheapest option.

The VPN service only costs $2.30 per month, with little compromise on quality.

What’s the Best Free VPN for HBO Max?

The best free VPN for HBO Max is Windscribe. It has a free version that successfully gets around HBO’s VPN blocks with fast speeds and zero data leaks

However, Windscribe Free only comes with 10GB of free data, so how much you can stream is limited. It’s also incompatible with Firestick and Apple TV, so you’ll have to upgrade to the premium version or choose a different VPN if you want to watch HBO Max on your Smart TV.

We don’t recommend any other free VPNs for HBO Max. The vast majority don’t work, and some are even dangerous to use.

Hide.me Free, for example, is a safe free VPN but it failed our HBO tests. That makes Windscribe the only effective free VPN for HBO Max users.

Testing Methodology: How We Picked the Best VPNs for HBO Max

We tested 68 VPNs to discover which services meet our HBO-specific testing criteria. The best VPNs for HBO Max access the geo-restricted streaming service quickly, consistently and without issues.

They deliver fast long-distance network speeds to ensure smooth, buffer-free streaming from abroad thanks to a large number of streaming-optimized US servers. A good Fire TV Stick app and Smart TV compatibility is important, too, to watch HBO titles on larger screens.

An effective Smart DNS feature is also ideal to stream content on devices that don’t support VPN applications. These include Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and more.

Moreover, a VPN should be easy to use and come with helpful customer support with knowledge of HBO Max.

The overall HBO Max rating is calculated based on the amount of value we assign to each category.

Here are the testing categories we use to calculate each VPN’s rating for HBO Max, and how much of the overall rating they make up:

  • Easy and consistent access to HBO Max: 40%
  • Long-distance speeds (based on London to New York connections): 20%
  • Number of available US Servers: 20%
  • Quality of Fire TV Stick app: 10%
  • Smart DNS feature: 10%

 

Additional research by David Hughes

About the Author


  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

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