Good news - the best VPN providers in the world don't necessarily need to be the most expensive. In fact, some of the finest services out there are also some of the most affordable ones. Plus, they can often be bought through a special deal at a much lower price, making the best cheap VPNs even more attractive.
Having to pay for a VPN should not be surprising when you consider that you’re getting top-notch performance, security and privacy that free VPN options just can't match. However, it’s definitely possible to sign up for an excellent VPN provider and pay a very reasonable subscription fee, and those are the services we’re pointing out in this article.
So if you like the idea of protecting your online life without paying an arm and a leg, taking a look at our guide to the best cheap VPN should be just what the doctor ordered. We've focused on the services that offer great value on one-year or more subscriptions, as that's where the best value lies with the cheapest VPNs.
How to choose the best cheap VPN
A cheap VPN provider is no different to any other in terms of what you’re likely to be looking for: tight security and good levels of privacy, with at least solid speeds on the performance front. And as ever, a wide coverage of devices and platforms with a range of user-friendly clients is welcome.
But more than that, make sure that it serves the purpose you want it to? Big streamer? Make sure it unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer or whatever your chosen service is. Torrenter? Make sure the service excels there. And if you're more likely to use your VPN on mobile, then be sure that dedicated Android and/or iOS apps are available, too.
Thankfully, there are reductions to be enjoyed all year around due to the hot competition in the VPN sphere. And remember to look out for a provider that has a generous money-back guarantee, so you can always quit and get your cash back if you decide you don't want it later.
1. Surfshark is the very best cheap VPN
We're not sure quite how it does it, but Surfshark really does have the competition licked when it comes to mixing quality with affordability. It appears on 'best of' lists all around the internet and yet always manages to score the best prices around - and now you get 3 months extra free, too. Wow!View Deal
2. IPVanish - huge discount for new users
Trusted provider IPVanish isn't usually thought of as cheap, but right now you get unlimited simultaneous connections an introductory price of just $31.49 for your first year - that works out at just $2.62 per month. Or just grab a month for a mere $3.50.
3. ExpressVPN - get a great deal on the world's best
OK, so ExpressVPN isn't the among the absolute cheapest VPNs on the market. But, in our view, it is the best. And because TechRadar readers are able to get an extra 3 months free with an annual plan, we still think it's well worth shouting about if you're looking for a great value plan.
- Just want the greatest? Or want to know more? Head to our VPN guide
The best cheap VPN providers in 2021
There's no wonder that Surfshark's VPN stands out so much. As well as the eye-catching name and inviting branding, the incredible sub-$2.50/£2/AU$3.50 a month subscription cost means that it usually swims out on its own in the cheap VPN waters.
And it's not all about the bottom-line cost. The fact that you can use Surfshark on as many of your gadgets and devices as you like at once improves the value even further. There's nothing really stopping you from sharing your login details out among our friends and family if you like (although, at Surfshark's price, you needn't even really bother!).
And what to you get for this meagre sum? Well, honestly, pretty much everything you'd expect from a service that sits so high up in our guide to the very best overall VPN. There are plenty of security protocols available (e.g. OpenVPN UDP, TCP, IKEv2 and the new, faster WireGuard) and a kill switch for extra security when the VPN is in use. And its Surfshark's handy 'Quick connect' option will have you connected to one of its 3,200+ servers in pretty much no time at all.
To be quite honest, IPVanish didn't normally used to make it into our best cheap VPN countdown. But it recently brought in an offer whereby your first year will cost only $31.49 - so around $2.62 per month. Look up and down this list and you'll see that's remarkably cheap... although it does leap up when the promotional period is over.
Don't wish to commit? If you only want access to a premium VPN service for a month, IPVanish will let you do so for just $3.49. That's excellent when compared to most services' one-month tariffs that tend to get up around the $10-mark.
And if you like the idea of adding secure cloud storage to the package, it's teamed up the company's SugarSync provider can be yours for less than $5 extra over the year.
In terms of VPN providers, IPVanish is a trusty old steed. It's a no-nonsense service that's easy to use and just...works. It has over 1,600 servers spread worldwide and has excellent clients and apps on a whole host of devices. It's almost the very definition of a fully-functioned virtual private network.
If that all sounds a little vague, allow us to elaborate. For starters, it offers a whole range of security protocols to choose from. IKEv2, OpenVPN, TCP, UDP, L2TP, IPSec and PPTP are all on the list (but still no WireGuard, unfortunately). And even if you're not going to use them all, having so many available is a serious show of security intent from IPVanish.
If you're looking for software to stream with, then our testing showed IPVanish to easily unblock the likes of Netflix, Hulu and more - it just doesn't tend to shout about it! And you may be comforted to know that this company is based in the US, rather than some faraway clime.
Not only do you get a rather affordable VPN with NordVPN (providing you avoid the monthly subscription), you also benefit from a service with excellent security. The provider offers a number of ‘Double VPN’ servers which route your data through not one but two separate VPN servers. There is also an option to send encrypted traffic over the Onion network for an additional layer of security, plus an automatic kill switch, and more.
NordVPN supports all kinds of platforms and devices with easy-to-use clients (or setup guides), and it allows P2P traffic. We found performance was very good too, delivering above-average speeds in our testing, and another plus point is that this provider has a ‘zero logs’ policy that's fully audited by PricewaterhouseCooper no less.
A definite bonus is the existence of a 30-day trial (in the form of a money back guarantee) to give the service a spin before you subscribe.
And thanks to its special birthday celebration offer, Nord just jumped a place in this list...
NordVPN | 2 years | £3.71 per month | 68% off
NordVPN goes big on discounts with its multi-year plan. If you commit to Nord's excellent service for the next two years, it will slash 68% off the price. Plus, for a limited time, Nord is now giving new subscribers an extra one month, one year or two years free at random. So it's a great time to sign up!View Deal
If Surfshark's appeal is its sheer simplicity, CyberGhost takes the plaudits for being such a thorough package at such a low price.
But if that sounds like it's going to be complicated to use, then please don't misunderstand us. We're really fond of how easy this provider makes it to connect to just the right server for your purpose. That means that if your main purpose for getting a VPN is streaming, CyberGhost will actively help you select the ideal server for watching Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.
CyberGhost is equipped with one of the vastest quantities of servers out there - over 6,000 in 110+ countries at last count. That does sometimes mean that speeds aren't up to the same pace as, say those of ExpressVPN. But you can discover all this for yourself with CyberGhost's generous 45-day money back guarantee - one of the lengthiest VPN free trials on offer.
CyberGhost | 39 months | $2.25 per month | 82% saving
CyberGhost is a pretty affordable VPN at the best of times - but it just recently slashed the price of its long-term plan down to a remarkable new low! It means your next three year (plus three months extra) of VPN is sorted for less than $90.
Hotspot Shield has an excellent reputation, thanks in no small part to its tempting free offering. But assuming that a mere 500MB of VPN use per day isn't enough for you (and it won't be if you want to stream and download music and movies while connected), then it doesn't cost that much more to upgrade to its premium service - just so long as you're happy to commit for three years and pay over $100 upfront.
We like the way that Hotspot Shield doesn't merely rely on the usual security protocols used by other VPNs - its developers have produced their own snazzily-named Catapult Hydra protocol, which not only seeks to keep you and your data secure but also ensures consistently rapid connection speeds.
The drawback to that extra protection means that you'll end up with a smaller range of devices on which you can use Hotspot Shield (only those that support its dedicated apps). Limiting, but not insurmountable, if you were only really going to use your VPN on laptop, desktop or mobile anyway.
Hotspot Shield | 3 years |
$12.99 $2.99 per month | 77% saving
The reduction here is clearly very eye-catching, and you can't really argue with an effective monthly cost of just $2.99 - you have to pay the full $108 upfront, but can cancel for a full refund within the first 45 days.
But what if I just want the best overall VPN?
It's always nice to save money and know that you've bagged a bargain, but sometimes it's also worth investing in the very best. One look at our guide to the best VPN services will show that the current market-leader is ExpressVPN.
There are multifarious reasons why this is the case (check out our ridiculously in-depth ExpressVPN review to discover them all), but it boils down to the obvious things - the super fast connection speeds even to far away servers, the robust no-logging security, the incredible 24/7 customer support to get you out of the tightest binds, the sheer simplicity to use...the list goes on.
And although it can't boast the best cheap VPN prices, ExpressVPN does at least offer TechRadar readers 49% off the normal cost when you sign up for a year, as well as an extra three months FREE! Plus, you can give it a try for 30 days and cancel at any time to get a full refund.