How Much Does a VPN Cost?

Headshot of Site Editor 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

Our Verdict

A good VPN will typically cost around $2-5 per month, if you’re willing to sign up for a long-term subscription and pay the full amount up front. VPNs are more expensive if you pay on a month-to-month basis though, costing around $8-12 for a premium service.

illustration of a man purchasing a VPN from a computer screen that is designed like a vending machine

VPN prices vary widely based on the provider you choose and the length of your subscription plan.

Almost all premium VPNs require at least a 12-month commitment in order to take advantage of the cheapest monthly price. However, most offer some form of money-back guarantee or free trial as well, so you can try out the service free of charge.

As is often the case, the best VPN for you isn’t necessarily the most expensive one. Our general guideline is that anything under $3.00 per month is cheap, while anything over $6.00 is erring on the expensive side.

There’s also the option of free VPNs, but the majority of these will actually put you at greater risk than not using one at all.

Here are just some of the questions we’ll answer in this guide to VPN costs:

  • How much do the best VPNs cost?
  • How do VPN prices compare?
  • Can you get a safe VPN for free?
  • Is a VPN worth the money?

VPN Price Comparison: How Much Do the Best VPNs Cost?

Price isn’t always an accurate indicator of quality within the VPN market. That said, the best VPNs aren’t free, and you should expect to pay a modest monthly fee to protect your privacy, security, and freedom online.

Based on the cheapest available price for each of our top 20 VPNs, the average monthly cost of a VPN in January 2021 is $3.96. If you only want to pay for a month at a time, the average price rises to $11.32

To get the best deal on a VPN, you’ll almost always need to commit to at least a 12-month contract. You’ll probably also need to pay for the entire subscription up front.

Purchasing a VPN can therefore feel like quite an investment, so it’s worth doing your research. Here’s how 15 of the most popular VPN providers around compare in terms of pricing (the links in the table will take you to an in-depth review of each service):

VPN Provider Cost Per Month Required Plan Length Free Trial Option Money-Back Guarantee Our Ranking
ExpressVPN $6.67 15 months Yes 30 days #1
NordVPN $3.71 24 months No 30 days #2
CyberGhost $2.75 36 months No 45 days #3
IPVanish $3.33 12 months No 30 days #4
PrivateVPN $1.98 24 months Yes 30 days #5
Surfshark $2.21 27 months Yes 30 days #6
PIA $2.69 24 months No 30 days #7
Windscribe $4.08 12 months Yes 3 days #8
ProtonVPN $4.00 24 months No 30 days #9
VPNArea $2.99 36 months No 30 days #10
HideMyAss $2.99 36 months No 30 days #11 $3.75 24 months No 7 days #12
FastestVPN $0.83 36 months No 15 days #13 $4.99 26 months Yes 30 days #14
VyprVPN $1.66 24 months No 30 days #15

A money-back guarantee is similar to a free trial, but you need to pay for the duration of the subscription first and then claim a refund.

Let’s take a detailed look at how much our five highest-rated VPNs cost:

ExpressVPN Price

ExpressVPN costs $6.67 per month when you sign up for a 15-month subscription. You’ll have to pay the full $99.95 up front to access this price, though. If you’d rather pay every month, it will cost you $12.95.

ExpressVPN accepts payments by credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, AliPay, and UnionPay, and all payments come with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. There’s also a seven-day free trial available to mobile users who download the ExpressVPN app through the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive VPNs we review, but it’s also the best. For the money, you get unparalleled security and privacy: the company is based in the British Virgin Islands (a privacy haven), it has an independently audited zero-logs policy, and uses industry-leading encryption standards.

It’s also an excellent VPN for torrenting and streaming, and is one of the very few services we’ve seen work reliably in high-censorship countries like China. If you can afford it, you should definitely consider using ExpressVPN.

NordVPN Price

NordVPN pricing

NordVPN costs $3.71 per month if you make a two-year commitment, and $11.95 per month for a monthly subscription. You also have the option of a year-long subscription that costs $59 up front – which works out at $4.92 a month. All subscription plans let you use NordVPN on up to six different devices.

You can pay with a credit or debit card or using cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Ethereum. NordVPN no longer accepts PayPal, though. All plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee, but there’s no free trial offering.

With over 12 million users, NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN services in the world. It has airtight security and an independently audited zero-logs policy that guarantees anonymous browsing and safe torrenting.

NordVPN unblocks various streaming services too, including the US Netflix library, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more. It even features an excellent Fire TV Stick app for unrestricted streaming on your TV.

CyberGhost Price

screenshot of CyberGhost's prices

CyberGhost costs as little as $2.75 per month, but only if you’re happy to commit to a three-year subscription plan. As a reward, CyberGhost currently gives you an additional three months at no extra cost. It therefore works out as $87.75 for 39 months.

Alternatively, you can pay:

  • $12.99 for a month
  • $47.88 for a year ($3.99 per month)
  • $83.76 for two years ($3.49 per month)

Any plan over a year long comes with a 45-day full refund period, which is the longest we’ve seen among VPN providers. There’s also a one day free trial for desktop users and a seven-day free trial for mobile users – so there’s no shortage of ways to test out CyberGhost for free.

CyberGhost is one of the best VPNs around for beginners. It’s fast, safe, and has apps that are intuitive and easy to use.

It also works well with popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and its unbreakable AES-256 encryption makes it a trusted option for torrenters and P2P users.

IPVanish Price

screenshot of IPVanish's prices

With a monthly subscription, IPVanish costs $4.99 for the first month and then $9.99 from then on.

You can get a cheaper price if you sign up for a year, but it’ll cost you $39.99 up front (equivalent to $3.33 per month). The price then rises to $6.67 per month after the first year.

We’d like to see IPVanish introduce some more anonymous payment methods because currently users are limited to just credit/debit card or PayPal. The company does offer the standard 30-day money-back guarantee, though, and there’s a special seven-day free trial on iOS devices.

IPVanish is the best overall VPN service for Kodi and Fire TV Stick users. It uses extremely secure encryption protocols, including OpenVPN and IKEv2, as well as a reliable kill switch, IPv6 leak protection and first-party DNS servers. All of this makes IPVanish an excellent VPN for torrenting and P2P file-sharing. It’s also fast, has a huge 1,400+ server network, and reliably unblocks US Netflix.

You won’t be able to use IPVanish to bypass censorship in China or stream Disney+ and BBC iPlayer, though.

PrivateVPN Price

screenshot of PrivateVPN's prices

PrivateVPN costs a very cheap $1.98 per month if you commit to a 24-month period, or a reasonable $8.49 if you’re paying monthly. There’s also a three-month plan that works out at $4.99 per month (or $14.97 in total).

PrivateVPN also offers the best and easiest VPN free trial we’ve seen. Without having to register any personal or payment details, you can get seven days of completely unrestricted use, on any device you want. Read more about PrivateVPN’s leading free trial offer here.

The VPN’s main strengths are streaming and anonymous torrenting, and it’s one of the few VPNs to work consistently in China and other high-censorship regimes.

PrivateVPN is a little let down by its small server network size. With just 150+ servers in 60 countries, the service can get congested at times which causes it to run slowly. But it’s one of the cheapest VPNs and we wholeheartedly recommend it.

Cheapest Month-to-Month Costs

If you’re not willing to commit to a long-term subscription in order to unlock the cheapest VPN prices, there’s also the option of paying on a rolling monthly basis.

Here are the VPNs with the cheapest single month prices:

VPN Provider Single Month Cost Unblock Netflix US? Works in China? Our Ranking
IPVanish $4.99* Yes No #4
Mullvad $5.80 Yes** Unreliable #19
AzireVPN $6.08 Unreliable No #23
CactusVPN $6.99 Yes Unreliable #26
AirVPN $8.33 No Yes #21
PrivateVPN $8.49 Yes Yes #5
Trust.Zone $8.88 Unreliable Unreliable #27
Windscribe $9.00 Yes Unreliable #8 $9.00 Yes Yes #12

* IPVanish costs $4.99 for the first month, but then $9.99/month after that.
** Only Mullvad’s US servers in San Jose and Charlotte successfully unblock Netflix.

Pay-as-You-Go Plans

Mullvad VPN logo in horizontal orientation.

Mullvad is unique among VPN providers in that it doesn’t offer any long-term subscription plans. You simply pay a one-time fee of $5.80 and you get to use the service for a month. If you want to use the VPN for another month, you pay another $5.80.

This pay-as-you-go approach means you don’t have to worry about remembering to cancel your subscription before the end of the month in order to avoid being charged again.

Mullvad is one of the most privacy-conscious VPN providers we’ve tested. It even lets you pay for the product in cash in order to maximize your anonymity.

Be aware, though, that Mullvad isn’t a great VPN for streaming Netflix and it doesn’t work reliably in China or other high-censorship regimes. It is, however, an excellent VPN for torrenting and P2P file-sharing. You can read more about Mullvad in our full review here.

EXPERT TIP: Some VPNs, such as KeepSolid Unlimited, also offer a lifetime subscription option. We don’t recommend this as there’s simply no telling if the service provider will still be around in a few years’ time, or if it will still be any good.

Can You Get a Safe VPN for Free?

Another option if you’re uncomfortable committing to a long-term plan is to try the service for free by taking advantage of a free trial or money-back guarantee.

The main difference between a true free trial and a money-back guarantee is whether or not you have to make a payment first. Many trials, such as PrivateVPN and, won’t require you to provide your payment details up front, so testing the service carries no financial risk.

To learn more about using premium VPNs for free, read our 2021 guide to VPN Free Trials.

100% Free VPNs

There’s also the option of using a completely free VPN that won’t cost you anything, ever. Unfortunately, while these services are certainly appealing, most of them do little or nothing to safeguard your online privacy, and some are a greater risk to your safety than not using a VPN at all.

For example, Hola VPN collects huge amounts of data on all of its users and even lets other people in the network use your IP address for their own activity. In fact, just like a worrying number of so-called free VPNs, Hola isn’t actually a true VPN. It’s a network of proxy servers that falsely advertises itself as a VPN service, but won’t deliver the same levels of privacy, security, and freedom that users want from a VPN.

That being said, our research has shown that there are still a small handful of free VPNs that are safe to use in 2021. One of the best free VPNs we’ve tested is the free version of Windscribe. It restricts you to a monthly download limit of 10GB, but it’s fast, extremely secure and is great for unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms.

Another dependable option is ProtonVPN Free, although torrenters will have to look elsewhere as it doesn’t support P2P traffic.

Check out our full list of free VPNs that are safe to use here.

Is a VPN Worth the Money?

A top-quality VPN is absolutely worth paying for and it won’t break the bank, either.

For less than the price of a cup of coffee per month, a VPN will keep you hidden from ISPs, governments, advertisers, and hackers. It’ll let you bypass censorship, communicate securely, torrent safely, and stream freely.

Simply put, a VPN safeguards your privacy, security and freedom online for as little as $2-3 per month. That’s well worth the money.

The hardest part is choosing the right VPN for you and deciding how much you’re willing to pay. Ultimately, this comes down to knowing what you want to use it for and doing the research.

For example, if you’re in China, Astrill is one of the best options for bypassing the Great Firewall, but its slow speeds mean it isn’t so good for casual use in other countries.

Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you. Our experts regularly test and review over 69 VPN products, which you can read about in our reviews hub.

Alternatively, for a more comprehensive overview, check out our list of the best overall VPNs in 2021.

About the Author

  • 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