Top10VPN is editorially independent. We may earn commissions if you buy a VPN via our links.

The Best VPNs for HBO Max & How to Fix Your VPN Not Working

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

The most effective way to unblock HBO Max is to use a VPN that consistently bypasses the platform's geo-restrictions. In this guide, we'll explain which VPN is the best for HBO Max and what to do if your VPN isn't working with HBO Max.

How to Watch HBO Max with a VPN

HBO Max (now called Max) is the updated version of HBO Now and HBO Go. The service is only available in the USA, Latin America, the Caribbean, and select European countries (see the full list here).

HBO Max serves different content the location of your IP address, with some countries offering a lot more content than others.

To bypass HBO’s geo-restrictions, you’ll need a streaming-optimized VPN, which changes your IP address to a foreign one and allows you to unblock ‘hidden’ titles from anywhere.

Once you have an account with HBO Max, and a working VPN, you can easily change your IP location and access international titles in USA, Mexico, Brazil and many more countries.

Many VPNs don’t work well with HBO Max, though, which is why we only recommend five services out of the 65 we tested with the streaming service.

Summary: The Best HBO Max VPNs

Based on our unblocking tests, our top-rated VPNs for HBO Max are:

  1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for HBO Max Overall
  2. NordVPN: Best Alternative for HBO Max
  3. Surfshark: Best Cheap VPN for HBO Max
  4. Windscribe Free: Best Free VPN for HBO Max
  5. PrivadoVPN Free: Fastest Free VPN for HBO Max

ExpressVPN is by far the best VPN for HBO Max, with an outstanding test rating of 9.6/10. It unblocked HBO’s American catalog on all its US servers, as well other international libraries like Mexico and Spain. ExpressVPN also worked on all streaming devices we tested it with, including Fire TV Stick and Apple TV.

Our Top-rated HBO Max VPNs Compared

The table below compares the best HBO Max VPNs for access to HBO Max from overseas, international speeds, cheapest monthly price, and more.

In this guide, we’ll analyze our recommended HBO Max VPNs in detail, and explain what to do if you VPN isn’t working with HBO Max.

Why Trust Top10VPN?

We’re completely independent and have spent 8 years reviewing VPNs for HBO Max using our unbiased testing process.

Our ratings are based on our own data, and are unaffected by financial incentives.

VPNs Tested65
VPNs That Work with Max34
Test Platforms/DevicesPC, Mac, Fire TV, iPhone, Android, Apple TV & PS5

The Best VPNs for HBO Max Analyzed

Since 2016, we’ve tested 65 VPNs to find the most effective at unblocking HBO Max.

From 34 VPN services that currently work with HBO Max, only five (three premium, two free) truly stood out in our tests.

1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for HBO Max

ExpressVPN's app for iOS

Pros Cons
Unblocked HBO Max on all 16 US server locations Expensive short-term plans
Fast & reliable international connection speeds Smart DNS only unblocks US and UK services
Worked with all international HBO Max libraries we tested
Well-designed and user-friendly applications
Excellent Fire TV Stick and Apple TV apps
Overall HBO Max Rating: 9.7/10

This overall score is based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our HBO Max VPN testing methodology.

Unblocks HBO Max: 9.9/109.9

US Server Locations: 9.6/109.6

Speed: 9.7/109.7

Streaming Device Compatibility: 9.3/109.3

ExpressVPN remains the best VPN for unblocking HBO Max from abroad.

It’s impressive how consistently all of ExpressVPN’s US servers unblocked the American content library in our tests. The VPN also unblocked all other HBO Max libraries we tested it with, including popular catalogs like Mexico, Brazil, and Spain.

Using ExpressVPN with HBO Max

ExpressVPN unblocked HBO Max every time.

As international streaming speeds go, ExpressVPN delivered outstanding speed performances. We recorded a download speed loss of just 15% connecting to servers around the world.

These fast international connections resulted in not a single buffering issue while streaming HBO Max from abroad.

Device compatibility and software usability are also areas where ExpressVPN shines. The VPN’s compatibility with such a wide range of streaming devices is remarkable. No other VPN comes close.

In addition to its excellent computer and smartphone software, we found it particularly easy using ExpressVPN with Apple TV and on Fire TV Stick thanks to its bespoke apps.

ExpressVPN Apple TV App

Testing ExpressVPN’s Apple TV app.

To stream HBO Max on Roku, we used ExpressVPN’s exceptional (and rare) VPN router app, and on PlayStation and Xbox its Smart DNS solution called MediaStreamer.

The one downside of MediaStreamer is that you can only use with US and UK streaming services, so it will only work with the American HBO Max library.

In our experience, ExpressVPN is better than any other VPN at unblocking geo-restricted streaming services, which is why it’s also the best Netflix VPN we’ve tested.

While it’s outstanding for unblocking HBO Max, ExpressVPN is not cheap. If it’s too expensive for you then consider using NordVPN, which is cheaper on the initial two-year subcription (although it renews at a higher price than ExpressVPN).

2. NordVPN: Best Alternative for HBO Max

NordVPN's app for iOS

Pros Cons
Consistent access to HBO Max in the US and around the world Doesn’t accept PayPal
Very fast international streaming speeds Renews at a much higher annual subscription price
16 US server locations available Firestick has some usability issues
More affordable than ExpressVPN on sign-up Apps aren’t as well-designed as ExpressVPN
Smart DNS solution works with HBO Max USA
Overall HBO Max Rating: 9.5/10

This overall score is based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our HBO Max VPN testing methodology.

Unblocks HBO Max: 9.8/109.8

US Server Locations: 9.4/109.4

Speed: 9.7/109.7

Streaming Device Compatibility: 8.9/108.9

NordVPN falls behind ExpressVPN in several of our key HBO Max testing categories, but only very slightly. Despite the marginally weaker performance, we happily recommend NordVPN if ExpressVPN is too expensive for you.

NordVPN unblocks HBO Max on almost all its 16 US server locations. The easiest way is to use its automatic US server selection, although one or two US locations didn’t work in our latest tests.

Using NordVPN to unblock HBO Max

NordVPN bypassed HBO Max’s US geo-restrictions.

We were also able to access HBO’s international catalogs, like with ExpressVPN, using a variety of NordVPN apps. Its simple Fire TV Stick app and Smart DNS tool rarely failed in our tests, although ExpressVPN never failed.

Moreover, NordVPN’s applications aren’t as eye-pleasing as ExpressVPN’s, particularly the Windows and macOS software.

NordVPN's apps for Windows and macOS

When it comes to streaming HBO Max, NordVPN is a great alternative to ExpressVPN, particularly in light of its cheaper subscription price.

Compared to ExpressVPN’s $6.67 per month, NordVPN only costs $3.29 – more than 50% cheaper. However, NordVPN will renew at a much higher subscription price.

3. Surfshark: Best Cheap VPN for HBO Max

Surfshark VPN's app for iOS

Pros Cons
Cheapest VPN for HBO Max Not all US servers unblocked HBO Max
Highest number of US server locations HBO Max servers are not labeled
Good international speeds Slower than ExpressVPN and NordVPN
Great Fire TV Stick app Slow server connection times at times
Smart DNS worked smoothly with HBO Max USA
Overall HBO Max Rating: 9.3/10

This overall score is based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our HBO Max VPN testing methodology.

Unblocks HBO Max: 9.4/109.4

US Server Locations: 9.8/109.8

Speed: 9.1/109.1

Streaming Device Compatibility: 8.9/108.9

Surfshark worked with HBO Max on many of its 25 US server locations, but not all of them. This one of the main reasons why it’s not as good as ExpressVPN or NordVPN to unblock HBO Max.

Finding a Surfshark server that could unblock HBO Max was somewhat of a guessing game. As of writing, the automatic US server location connection works well, so we recommend you use that one if you choose to use Surfshark.

Unblocking HBO Max using Surfshark

We unblocked HBO Max using Surfshark’s New York server.

An area where Surfshark did beat ExpressVPN and NordVPN was streaming HBO Max via its Fire TV Stick app. In fact, Surfshark proved to be the best option during our testing, thanks to the app’s great usability and much faster server connection times compared to its computer and mobile software.

Also, Surfshark’s Fire TV stick app comes with a split tunneling setting, which allows certain apps to use the VPN connection and others your normal line.

Surshark's Firestick app

The home screen of Surfshark’s Fire TV app.

Overall, Surfshark isn’t as fast or as reliable as ExpressVPN or NordVPN to stream HBO Max, but it is considerably cheaper. The VPN service only costs $2.21 per month on a two-year subscription.

The Best Free VPNs for HBO Max

Sadly, there aren’t many safe free VPNs that can bypass HBO Max’s geo-blocks. The only two we can recommend are Windscribe and PrivadoVPN. Both offer free apps that beat HBO’s VPN blocks relatively easily.

Accessing geo-blocked HBO Max content using Windscribe

Windscribe bypasses HBO Max’s geo-blocks.

Windscribe is more reliable than PrivadoVPN, but the latter delivered much faster streaming speeds in our tests.

PrivadoVPN Free HBO Max Test

The free version of PrivadoVPN unblocks HBO Max at high speed.

We found Windscribe’s speeds fluctuating a lot, often resulting in intermittent blurriness.

The main issue with using both free VPNs is that they only offer 10GB of free data each month. This limits how much you can realistically stream.

If you want to watch many hours of HBO Max, then you’ll have to upgrade to their premium version, or choose a different VPN.

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

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 Geo-Detection Error Notice

HBO Max’s geolocation error message.

1. Change Your HBO Max Account Password

After using a VPN with HBO Max for a while, you might experience the service blocking you from logging in, stating that your username and password is incorrect even if you haven’t changed it.

We suspect HBO Max does this when it detects many different IP addresses logging into your account. You can easily fix this by resetting your password via HBO Max account settings.

2. Connect to a Different US VPN Server

HBO Max’s detection methods aren’t as sophisticated as those used by BBC iPlayer or Netflix. Connecting to a different US server often works to unblock HBO Max.

ExpressVPN US Server Locations

ExpressVPN has multiple US server locations.

3. Clear Your Browser Cache and Cookies

If changing server doesn’t work, delete your web browser cookies and cache to remove traces of your geo-location.

Clearing Browsing Data on MacOS Chrome

Clear Browsing Data option as seen on MacOS Chrome.

Similarly, you can also try accessing HBO Max in a Google Incognito or Firefox Private Browsing window.

4. Change VPN Protocol

If the current VPN protocol your VPN app is using isn’t working with HBO Max, try using a different protocol. You can change this in the VPN’s settings.

ExpressVPN's protocol settings

Lightway protocol encryption settings.

In our streaming tests, we found that ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol and NordVPN’s NordLynx are the best for bypassing HBO’s VPN blocks.

5. Check for IP or DNS Address Leaks

If your VPN leaks your real IP address, HBO Max will detect it and block you from streaming its video content.

Use our VPN leak test tool to check that your VPN is secure and doesn’t leak your IP and DNS credentials.

6. Contact Your VPN’s Customer Support

You can always contact your VPN’s support team, asking them for recommended servers for unblocking HBO Max.

The best VPN services offer 24/7 live chat support, so you can get a prompt answer on which servers work best for streaming.

7. Use Smart DNS

If you’re still encountering problems with your HBO VPN, use the service’s Smart DNS tool, if available.

The tool changes your default DNS servers and replaces them with US servers. It’s an easy to way to unblock HBO Max on Apple TV and games consoles.

The Smart DNS settings page in our Surfshark account

The Smart DNS settings page in our Surfshark account.

8. Use a Residential IP Address

Residential IP addresses belong to household internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon.

In other words, residential IP addresses appear the same as regular IP addresses for US-based internet users.

In order to get a residential IP address, you’ll have to buy one separately from a VPN service. Windscribe is the best VPN to offer residential IPs.

While Windscribe is the best free HBO VPN, residential IP addresses are only available to paid subscribers, and cost extra.

The residential IP section of the Windscribe app

Windscribe’s residential IP addresses worked with HBO.

If none of the troubleshooting steps above work, it most likely means your VPN isn’t equipped to beat HBO Max’s geo-restrictions.

Even good VPNs like CyberGhost and IPVanish don’t work with HBO Max. If you want to avoid VPN detections, stick to our recommended VPNs for HBO Max.

Trying a better VPN is the best course of action for other streaming services too, for example to bypass Hulu VPN blocks.

How to Watch HBO Max with a VPN

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:

Using ExpressVPN to unblock HBO Max's American video library.

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

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

Step-by-step Guide on How to Watch HBO Max with a VPN:

  1. Subscribe to, download, and install a VPN. We recommend you use one of our recommended VPNs for HBO Max.
  2. Run the VPN and connect to a server in a country where HBO Max is available, or a dedicated HBO Max server if there is one.
  3. Head to the HBO Max website or app, and create an account.
  4. To create a US account, you can use a US payment method. If you don’t have one, see how to get one here.
  5. Once you’ve created an account, keep your VPN on and log in as normal.

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

How to Pay for HBO Max Outside the US

If you want to subscribe to HBO Max USA even if you don’t have an American payment method, you can still do so using the four methods outlined below.

 

HBO Max payment page

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

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 get a US Apple ID and pay with a US gift card:

  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 to create a US Google account:

  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.

Which HBO Max Region Has the Most Titles?

HBO Max displays different catalogs based on your geographical location. This location is determined by your IP address.

The table below lists the number of content titles available in 12 of the countries where HBO Max is available:

HBO Max Region Number of Titles
USA 3,138
Mexico 2,926
Perú 2,925
Argentina 2,924
Chile 2,923
Colombia 2,923
Venezuela 2,922
Brazil 2,773
Spain 2,110
Netherlands 2,169
Denmark 1,591
Sweden 1,582

As the table shows, the most content-rich libraries are those in the USA and in Latin American countries, like Mexico and Brazil.

On the other hand, catalogs in European countries like Spain and Netherlands have significantly less video content available.

Generally speaking, the American library is the best for English speakers, the Mexican one for Spanish speakers, and the Brazilian one for Portuguese speakers.

EXPERT TIP: Head over to www.justwatch.com to see which content is available in each HBO Max regional library.

HBO Max VPN Testing Methodology

We tested 65 VPNs to determine which services meet our HBO-specific testing criteria.

The table below summarizes how the best HBO Max VPNs performed in our key testing categories:

The best VPNs for HBO Max access the geo-restricted streaming service quickly, consistently and without issues.

Top HBO Max VPNs deliver fast long-distance network speeds to ensure smooth, buffer-free streaming from abroad thanks to a large pool 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 equally ideal to stream content on devices that don’t support VPN applications. These include Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and more.

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

Our overall HBO Max VPN rating is calculated based on the weighted value we assign to each testing category:

  • Reliable access to HBO Max: 40%
  • Speed: 20%
  • US Server locations: 20%
  • Streaming device compatibility: 20%