10 best US VPNs to use in 2021 (all tested to be fast and secure)

Last updated by   Ruheni Mathenge
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We tested dozens of US VPNs. This post features the providers that worked best. Based out of the USA with no-logs policies and top-notch features.
Our Top Picks

Best Overall

ExpressVPN

Editor’s Rating
9.8
/10
ExpressVPN is an excellent provider that has all the things you’d expect from a dependable VPN service. It boasts efficiency, speed, ease of use, torrent and VOD support, a strict no-logging policy, superior security and privacy features, and apps for everything.
ExpressVPN: Save 49%

Best Encryption

NordVPN

Editor’s Rating
9.6
/10
NordVPN is super secure and fast. It can unblock virtually anything on the world wide web and is unbelievably reasonably priced. Nord’s no-logging policy, added privacy and security features like Double VPN, and good speeds make it a decent choice overall.
NordVPN: Save 68%

 

While the US is not as authoritarian as China or Russia, it spies on its citizens. It is also a member of the 5-Eye countries, an alliance of countries that share intelligence information. In fact, there is a law that allows government agencies such as the NSA and FBI to force ISP’s to submit their customer’s records.

Furthermore, access to websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter is banned in workplaces, schools, and other institutions.

A US VPN is the best way to use the internet anonymously and bypass restrictions while in America. This is a piece of software that enables you to change your location and appear like you are in a different country.

In this guide, we will tell you why you need a VPN for the USA, the features you need to consider, the best VPNs for the US, and much more.

Short on time? Here is a quick list of top VPNs for America

  • ExpressVPN – Our top recommended VPN for the USA. It boasts incredible speeds, a strict zero-log policy, robust security, and 30-days money-back-guarantee
  • NordVPN – Unblocks popular geo-blocked sites, SmartPlay feature, vast global server network, effortless to set up
  • Surfshark – Unlimited simultaneous connections, camouflage mode, MultiHop mode, SmartDNS feature
  • CyberGhost – Unlimited bandwidth and data, affordable long-term plans, robust security, and privacy features
  • Private Internet Access (PIA) – Supports P2P sharing, unblocks restricted content, fast speeds
  • VyprVPN – Zero-log policy, WireGuard protocol, AES 256-bit encryption, NAT firewall, unblocks streaming sites
  • IPVanish – Affordable, SugarSync free cloud storage, 30-days money-back guarantee, DNS leak protection
  • ProtonVPN – Fast speeds, DNS leak protection, AES 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy
  • Ivacy VPN – OpenVPN protocol, AES -256-bit encryption, kill switch, 30-days money-back guarantee
  • PrivateVPN – P2P sharing, unrestricted bandwidth, DNS leak protection, dedicated streaming servers

The best US VPNs

If you live in the US, you would want a VPN that maintains your online security and privacy. Below we have compiled the best VPNs for the US based on the following criteria.

  • Strong encryption
  • The provider is not headquartered in the US
  • Observes a strict zero-logs policy
  • Offer shared addresses for anonymity
  • Support anonymous payment methods

Here is our compilation of the best USA VPNs

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Key features:

  • 37 servers in 15 US cities
  • Network Lock
  • No-logs policy
  • TrustedServer technology
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • 30-days money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN is our top recommendation VPN for the USA because of its fast-speed servers and impressive unblocking capabilities. Whether you want to stream, torrent, or play online games, its latest version is powerful enough to handle any task.

The VPN offers the best coverage in the US, with over 37 servers in more than 15 locations. With multiple servers, you can always switch the server to enjoy better speeds and reliability.

One of ExpressVPN’s striking features is TrustedServer technology. It is designed to ensure the servers operate on random access memory (RAM). Once you log out, all your activities will be deleted entirely since the RAM is incapable of storing data. This makes you less susceptible to attacks, as there will be no data to access.  

Many VPNs claim to keep you safe when using the internet, but it is not always the truth. ExpressVPN uses 256-bit encryption, one of the highest security standards available. It is combined with a 4096-bit RSA key, AES 256-bit cipher, and SHA-512 authentication.

The provider also uses perfect forward secrecy (PFS). It is an innovative security feature that changes your encryption every time you start a new session. This means that your previous sessions’ data and activities will not be related to the current one.

ExpressVPN uses the most advanced OpenVPN UDP protocol as the default. It also supports OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP protocols. Fortunately, it will automatically select the most optimal protocol so you can have a reliable connection.

The Network Lock feature is ExpressVPN’s kill switch version. It is designed to keep your IP address and traffic safe, even when your VPN connection breaks. You will not need to manually configure the feature as it is automatically enabled in the app.

Although ExpressVPN routes your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, it can still leak due to system failure. This is risky as it can make your activities visible to third parties, including government agencies and ISPs. The provider offers an effective DNS/IPv6 leak protection to keep you completely undetectable.  

Pros:

  • Works well in the US
  • Robust security and privacy feature
  • Blazing-fast servers

Cons:

  • Does not offers dedicated IP addresses
ExpressVPN review: Is it worth the asking price?
ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN

NordVPN

Key features:

  • 1,970+ servers in 15 US locations
  • Kill switch
  • Double VPN
  • CyberSec suite
  • DNS/IPv6 leak protection
  • Tor compatibility
  • 30-days money-back guarantee

NordVPN is another reliable VPN for the USA. It has a massive server network in the US, strong security features, and an affordable long-term plan.

Secure and private browsing is where NordVPN excels best. It uses AES 256-bit encryption to protect your traffic. This encryption level has almost an infinite number of codes such that no one can intercept your data or activities. It is the same encryption used by government agencies to hide top-secret files.

A kill switch is one of the best ways to stay safe online. It will automatically break your traffic if the VPN connection drops. NordVPN offers the feature on both mobile and desktop devices. There is also a kill switch extension that will enable you to control the apps to block. If the VPN connection is compromised, you will remain connected, but risky apps will be blocked.

Leak protection should be high on your list when selecting a VPN for the USA. Software faults and browser security flaws are inevitable and could leak your IP address and DNS request. This can make your location and activities visible, making you vulnerable to spies and tracking. NordVPN offers adequate DNS/IPV6 leak protection to shield your anonymity and make you secure.

NordVPN is compatible with the Tor network. In fact, it offers special Onion over VPN servers so you can connect seamlessly with the network. Combining the VPN with Tor gives you an additional privacy layer, which is essential if you live in the US.

The double encryption is another impressive feature that NordVPN offers. It takes your security to another level by routing your traffic through two servers. This means no one can access your data as your traffic does not follow a single line but bounces between servers.

Pros:

  • Easy to use apps
  • Advanced security features
  • Speedy servers

Cons:

  • Inconsistency between apps
NordVPN Review: Offers Good Speed and Security But Has a Minor Snag
NordVPN

3. Surfshark

SurfShark

Key features:

  • 500+ servers in 20+ US locations
  • HackLock
  • Zero-logs policy
  • Quick-connect feature
  • AES  256-bit encryption
  • CleanWen feature
  • 30-days money-back guarantee

Surfshark is a budget-friendly US VPN. While it is a relatively new entrant in the industry, it offers good performance and unbeatable value for money.

The high-speed connections coupled with unlimited bandwidth means you will be able to stream in high definitions. You can activate the CleanWeb feature to eliminate pesky ads for a smoother experience. It will also protect you from malware and trackers.

Is Surfshark safe? We tried it during our extensive review as well as tested it for use in the USA, and we can guarantee that it is a secure VPN. The provider uses multiple state-of-the-art security features to keep you protected.

Firstly, the DNS/IPv6 leak protection will prevent exposure of your IP address and DNS request. Secondly, it protects your traffic with 256-bit encryption, the highest protection level available. Finally, the automatic kill switch will temporarily disconnect your traffic if the VPN secure tunnel fails. This will prevent data leaks and will automatically reconnect when the VPN connection resumes.

The MultiHop mode is Surfshark’s version of Double VPN. It will route your traffic through two servers instead of one to add an extra encryption layer. While it is an excellent feature for a US VPN, it may slow your speeds.

HackLock is another exclusive feature offered by Surfshark that you won’t get anywhere else. It is designed to monitor your passwords and emails for security breaches. You will receive a message if it finds your information in a leaked database.

The provider is based in the British Virgin Islands, a privacy-friendly country outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. It also observes a strict no-logs policy and does not collect any connection or usage logs. If you want to make your payments anonymously, you can do so with the bitcoin option.

Pros:

  • Unlimited connections
  • Unblocks streaming sites
  • Strong security offering

Cons:

  • Slow speeds on some servers
Ultimate Surfshark Review: Affordable But Does It Provide Enough Value?
Surfshark

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost-Best-VPNs-600x300-1

Key features:

  • 1,318 servers in 11 US locations
  • WireGuard protocol
  • Wi-Fi protection
  • Kill switch
  • 45-days money-back guarantee

CyberGhost is a Romanian-based VPN provider. It boasts of user-friendly apps and a robust server network inside and outside the US.

It encrypts your data and activities with AES 256-bit encryption, the strongest key available. Even if a hacker or the government accidentally intercepts your traffic, they cannot decrypt it.

The automatic kill switch is enabled on all the apps. This is an essential feature as it stops leakage of your traffic if the VPN connection goes down. There is also DND/IPv6 leak protection to keep your DNS requests and IP address completely private.

You can set the VPN app to automatically launch the Wi-Fi protection feature when using a public hotspot. The feature is extremely convenient as it allows you to connect or ignore certain networks.

CyberGhost offers multiple security protocols, including IKEv2, OpenVPN TCP/UDP, and Wireguard. You can choose the protocol you prefer, but the apps will automatically select the best one based on your needs. The WireGuard is considered to be more secure and performs better than the industry-standard OpenVPN.

The VPN works well with the Tor network, especially the Onion over VPN setup. Using a VPN, together with the Tor network, gives you additional privacy and anonymity. However, this method can slow your speed as your traffic has to pass through the VPN servers and Tor relays.

Pros:

  • Fast and reliable service
  • Affordable
  • Requires minimal configuration

Cons:

  • Ineffective ad blocker

5. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Key features:

  • 11,575 servers in 14 US locations
  •  AES  128-bit encryption
  • OpenVPN protocol
  • DNS leak protection
  • MACE ad blocker
  • 30-days money-back guarantee

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a reliable VPN, although the provider is based in the US, a member of the 5-Eyes countries. However, we have included it in this list because it does not keep any identifiable logs. So, if it is forced to comply with authorities, there will be no data to link to you.

Although not always, large server networks mean better speeds because of less congestion. PIA has perhaps the biggest network in the US, with more than 11,500 servers in 14 locations. Most of the servers are fast enough to stream and even download torrents.

The provider claims to be good at keeping you safe and anonymous. Most of the features it offers reflect its commitment to security and privacy. It uses automatic kill switch, tracking and malware protection, port forwarding, firewall, and DNS leak protection.

All its apps come with AES 128-bit encryption. Even though the encryption is smaller than the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption, it will safeguard your data and activities.

Is PIA ad blocker effective? The provider offers an ad blocker known as MACE that you can easily activate in the settings. We tested it, and it successfully blocked ads, trackers, and malware we encountered.

Pros:

  • Multiple US servers
  • Watertight security features
  • User-friendly interface

Cons:

  • Inconsistent geo-blocking capabilities

6. VyprVPN

VyprVPN Best Free VPNs 600x300

Key features:

  • 8+ servers in 8+ US locations
  • Zero-logs policy
  • Dynamic server switching
  • Automatic kill switch
  • WireGuard protocol

VyprVPN is another excellent choice VPN for the US. It has significantly improved its services to offer the latest features, such as the WireGuard protocol.

Does VyprVPN unblock streaming sites? It has a proprietary Chameleon technology that will help you bypass restrictions and VPN bans of most streaming services. You will be able to access abroad sites such as Netflix UK, BBC iPlayer, Eurosport, Sky Go Germany, and more. Some of the servers offer consistent speeds to stream in HD.

The provider protects your internet activities with AES 256-bit encryption. Other additional security features are an automatic kill switch and a NAT Firewall to prevent malware. It also gives you a choice to choose between WireGuard, OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPsec protocols.

Pros:

  • Manages its server network
  • Independently audited
  • 24/7 live chat customer support

Cons:

  • Few US servers

7. IPVanish

IPVanish Best VPNs 600x300

Key features:

  • 851+ servers in 18+ US locations
  • SugarSync free storage
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • 30-days money-back guarantee

IPVanish is a robust VPN provider with a good combination of affordability, fast speeds, and advanced security features. Even though the provider is based in the US, it is reliable with a strict no-logs policy.

It has decent coverage in the US, with more than 850 servers in over 18 locations. With its impressive unblocking capabilities, you will be able to bypass restrictions of sites such as DAZN, ESPN, and Disney+. However, it is unable to unblock some services.

The VPN offers native apps for almost all platforms, including Android, Windows, macOS, Chromebook, and Linux. Fortunately, it allows you to connect as many devices as you want with its unlimited simultaneous connections.

IPVanish uses several advanced features to keep you safe and secure. They include AES 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch. You can test the services risk-free as it offers a 30-days money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Several US servers
  • Unblocks streaming sites
  • Effective kill switch

Cons:

  • Cluttered interface

8. ProtonVPN

Proton VPN

Key features:

  • 261+ US servers
  • Built-in DNS leak protection
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Perfect forward secrecy
  • No-logs policy

Generally, ProtonVPN is a small Switzerland-based VPN with a significant presence in the US. It is an excellent choice if you only want to pass your traffic through a secure channel. However, if you need fast speeds to torrent or play games, it may not be an ideal option.

The good news is that the company is committed to offering high-security standards and transparency. It offers three plans that are priced differently to meet different budget needs. There is also a free plan, making it an excellent free VPN for the US. If you upgrade to the paid plans, you will get more connections and better features.

ProtonVPN comes with robust security features to safeguard your traffic. The in-built DNS protection will mask and keep your IP address and DNS requests safe. It encrypts your data with the military-grade AES 256-bit encryption combined with a 4096-bit RSA key exchange. This is top-level security, and no one can snoop into your activities.

Pros:

  • Secure server network
  • Dependable privacy features
  • Easy to use apps

Cons:

  • Limited free plan

9. Ivacy VPN

Ivacy VPN

Key features:

  • 100+ US server location
  • OpenVPN TCP
  •  Kill switch
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • Dedicated P2P servers 
  • 30-days money-back guarantee

Privacy is an exceptional VPN based in Singapore. It offers all the necessary features of a VPN at an incredibly low price for the long-term plan.

First of all, the provider will maintain your security and privacy with AES 256-bit encryption. It also supports multiple security protocols, including IKEv2, IPSec, OpenVPN, and L2TP.

The VPN has an automatic kill switch that will cut your connection if the VPN tunnel stops working. This will help to maintain your anonymity.

You can try out the one-month plan risk-free with 7-days money-back guarantee or a two-year plan for 30-days money-back guarantee. The apps are simple to navigate and use.

Pros:

  • Does not keep logs
  • Budget-friendly
  • Effortless to use

Cons:

  • Does not offer a macOS app

10. Private VPN

PrivateVPN

Key features:

  • 11 servers in 9 US locations
  • Dedicated streaming servers
  • Supports P2P sharing
  • Unrestricted bandwidth
  • DNS leak protection

PrivateVPN is a fast-growing vendor that claims to offer good security and privacy. It may not be the biggest or the most potent service but a simple, high-performance VPN.

Most providers guarantee to but unblock geo-blocked content but cannot. Others can bypass the restrictions but do not label the best servers for streaming. PrivateVPN makes it easier for you by labeling servers that can stream specific sites.

Although the provider has small global coverage, it has servers in multiple US locations. Luckily, it can maintain reliable connections and consistent speeds to stream smoothly.

It protects your connection with 128/256-bit encryption, DNS/IPv6 protection, and an automatic kill switch. Even if the VPN connection drops accidentally, your data transfer will remain safe and secure. It also supports OpenVPN UDP/TCP, PPTP, L2TP, and IKEv2.

Pros:

  • Robust encryption
  • Impressive speeds
  • User-friendly interface

Cons:

  • Few servers

Why you need a VPN in the US

There are serious online privacy concerns in the US. Here are some of the reasons why using a VPN is indispensable in the USA:

Access geo-blocked content

In most countries, some sites are geo-blocked and cannot be accessed outside the geographic location. For example, most US streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and more use tough geo-blocks to block access. The only way you can bypass the restrictions if you are an expatriate or traveling abroad is to use a VPN.

Avoid surveillance

The US government has historically abused the freedom of its citizens by practicing mass surveillance. It started way back during the First and Second Wars and continued into the Cold War with Project SHAMROCK, Black Chamber, and more recently, the PRISM program.

Five English-speaking countries (Five Eyes) formed a collaboration known as ECHELON in 1955. It is intended to intercept electronic communications, especially the World Wide Web. There have been reports of the intelligence organization spying on citizens and sharing the information. The US is part of the Five-Eye countries.

You should consider subscribing to a reliable VPN if you want to use the internet freely. It will scramble and encrypt the traffic and the data leaving your device and pass it through secure tunnels. Although government agencies such as the NSA can break a VPN encryption, it won’t be easy to get to you if you use a strong VPN based offshore.

Note:
We advise you always to use a VPN for legal purposes. While it is perfectly legal to use a VPN in the US, you can quickly get into trouble for any illegal activity. You should never use a VPN to do anything against the provider’s term of use or contradict US laws.

Online security

Your IP address and traffic will be fully open if you use the internet without a VPN. Anyone can access your information and use it the way they want.

Hackers can use this vulnerability to inject malicious code into your device. Some of the most common code injection attacks include SQL injection, script injection, shell injection, etc. These attacks can destroy data, steal your credentials, and even take control of your device.

A VPN is the best way to safeguard against cyberattacks. Many providers use secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption and other advanced security features to keep you secure.

Use public WiFi securely

Suppose you notice free WiFi when out and about. You will probably be tempted to get online quickly. These days you will get free Wi-Fi everywhere from the coffee shop, library, hotels, airports, etc. The added advantage of using public Wi-Fi is saving your data plan.

Most public Wi-Fi hotspots will not require you to enter login credentials to start using the network. They are ‘open’ networks and do not encrypt connections, leaving you at risk. Malicious people and hackers can access these hotspots to steal your information.

This can be very disturbing, especially if you didn’t know about the risks of using public WiFi. Nonetheless, you don’t have to accept the certainty of privacy risks or avoid free WiFi networks. A VPN is one of the best ways you can protect yourself when using public WiFi. It will encrypt your traffic so that no one can intercept your connections.

Shop online safely

The internet gives a shopping experience and flexibility you cannot get elsewhere. It allows you to check multiple online stores, shop everything you want, and the items delivered to your doorstep. You will not need to walk in crowded stores or queue in long lines.

International retailers like Amazon will display varied prices for the same product in different regions. This could be anything from shoes, phone, headphones, etc. The best solution is a VPN as you can switch servers in different locations to find the lowest prices. It will also protect your transactions when making payments.

Secure messaging

Simple text-based messaging has been displaced by robust cross-platform communication services like Skype, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. The problem is that most of these platforms are not encrypted, and your messages can be intercepted. A VPN will offer a better level of security to keep your conversations private as they should.

Save money on flights

Besides saving money when shopping, a VPN will also enable you to get cheaper flight tickets. Prices on flight comparison sites fluctuate regularly, making it hard to get the best deal. This is because these websites offer ticket prices based on your location, local market, and other factors. As a result, the prices for the same airline, travel date, and destination will vary in different regions.

You can get a cheap flight ticket by connecting to a server in a low-income country. For example, you’ll see different prices if you use a Malaysian IP address than booking in a first-world country like the US. This will help you save a considerable amount.

You can also get a cheaper ticket by changing your IP address to the airline’s country. Maybe you are traveling to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. If you change your IP address to that country, you will get a different price for the same journey.

The benefits of having an American IP address

There are many benefits of having a US IP address. Below are some of the common reasons why it is good to have an IP address that appears in the US.

Access local content

If you are American traveling or living abroad, connecting to a US server will give you access to local content and services. For example, you can continue watching your favorite show or check your local bank account.

More content

Most streaming services offer varied content in different regions. As a result, some countries will have more content than others. The US has the biggest catalog. There are even some titles that are exclusively available in the country and nowhere else. Getting a US IP address will help you get these titles and more.

Watch American sports

American sports such as basketball, football, baseball, and others are gaining popularity worldwide. A VPN can help you watch live coverage of your favorite sporting event from anywhere in the world. With an American IP address, you can unblock sporting channels such as ESPN, Fox Sport, etc. Check out our guide on how to watch the NFL outside the US.

Unblock Hulu and other streaming services

Currently, Hulu is only available in the US and Japan. The company is planning to expand to other regions but getting a US IP address gives you access to many exclusive titles.

Some of the most popular Hulu originals include Castle Rock, Pen15, Harlots, Veronica Mars, and more. Check out our guide on how to unblock Hulu and watch outside the US.

How to choose the best VPN for the USA

The quest for online privacy has driven most internet users to start using a VPN. It is important to note that there are significant differences between VPN providers. Here are some of the crucial things you should consider when choosing a US VPN.

Price

Pricing is an essential factor you need to consider when choosing a VPN. Some providers offer free services, while others are quite expensive.

The first thing you need to know is how far your budget can stretch. Many providers offer different packages at varied prices, allowing you to choose the one that meets your needs. In most cases, the monthly plan is costly compared to longer plans.

Privacy and logging

Different providers have varied privacy policies on what data they can hold. Most of them will require you to create an account before getting started. At the minimum, you will have to provide your login information and email. Other services will log and store your activities for a certain period. They can even turn the data to authorities when requested.

Therefore, it is worth checking the VPN’s privacy policy to know what you are getting yourself into. ExpressVPN claims to observe a strict zero-logs policy and does not gather or store any identifiable information.

Server location

The location of the server plays a crucial role when it comes to your user experience. Having VPN servers closer to your location is advantageous as you will get speedy and consistent connections. This is useful when doing tasks such as torrenting or gaming.

If you want to access US content, look for a provider with servers in the country. The servers should be placed in different locations. This will enable you to easily switch the servers if one of your connections is blocked.

Unlimited bandwidth and data

Using the internet is all about sending and receiving data. Many VPN providers are nowadays offering both free and paid plans.  In most cases, the free version will come with limited monthly data to compel free users to become paid subscribers.

Windscribe is one of the providers using this strategy. It offers 10GB of free data each month, which is more generous than its competitors.

Ensure the provider does not limit bandwidth and data, especially if you intend to use the VPN to stream, torrent, or play games. 

Device compatibility

What devices does the provider support? An important feature to consider is the ability to connect to the service with any device. Many providers offer native apps for all major platforms, including Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS.

It is recommended to connect a VPN to all of your devices that are internet-enabled. However, all VPNs have a limitation on the number of devices that can connect at once. Most services offer between 5 and 10 simultaneous devices. Yet, others like Surfshark and IPVanish have not set limits, and you can connect as many devices as you want.

When choosing a VPN, examine the devices it is compatible with and the number of connections it supports.

Provider’s reputation and location

One of the best ways to evaluate a VPN’s efficacy for the USA is to look at its past performance. You can do a quick google search to look for any issues associated with the VPN. This will help you know the provider’s capacity to handle the job.

The jurisdiction of a provider is an important consideration but often overlooked. A good VPN should be located in a privacy-friendly country like the British Virgin Islands and Panama. If you want to maintain complete anonymity, you should avoid providers based in 5/9/14 Eyes countries.

Payment methods

Another important consideration when choosing a VPN is the payment methods supported. Many VPN providers offer multiple ways you can use to make a purchase. Remember that some options are not safe and can potentially expose your data at the point of payment.

Some providers offer cryptocurrency as a payment method. This is an excellent option if you are concerned with your privacy.

Customer support

A VPN service must offer reliable customer support. The agents should swiftly respond to your questions and solve the issues promptly.

Check whether the provider has a 24/7 live chat or any other quick way such as a phone to get in touch with the support. It is always a good sign if the VPN provider is active on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Some providers go further to offer an FAQ section covering the common issues faced with the VPN. Others like ExpressVPN provide troubleshooting tips and detailed setup tutorials for a wide range of devices.

Can I use a free VPN in the US?

It is understandable to be attracted to free VPN services since you are not paying a cent. However, while you may want to save a dollar, you will pay in other ways. We advise you against free VPNs because they will compromise your security and privacy – two things a VPN should protect. Here are some of the reasons why you should avoid free VPNs.

Logging data

One of the main reasons for using a VPN is to surf the internet privately. It will encrypt your traffic and create a secure tunnel through which you can access anything you want anonymously.

Many premium VPNs adhere to a strict no-logs policy, and some have been independently audited to verify the claims. However, it is quite the opposite with free VPNs. A recent study shows that over 75% of free VPNs contain trackers.

Inferior security

The most significant advantage of a VPN is it protects you from cyberattacks. Unfortunately, many free VPN providers offer inferior security features, putting you at risk.

A scary statistic is that the majority of free VPN apps contain malware. This can cause many problems, such as a potential breach of your device, leaving you exposed. In most cases, the malware will come in the form of ads. It makes sense since the providers depend on the advertisement to make money.

That is why we advise you to use premium VPNs. Many of them come with effective ad blocker and malware protection.

Data limitations

It is challenging to find a free VPN that does not cap on data. The data limitation is hugely constraining. A good example is the market leader TunnelBear, which offers only 500MB per month. This is only enough for light surfing but not streaming or torrenting. They do this to compel you to upgrade to the paid subscriptions.

Selling bandwidth

Besides selling ads, some free VPNs have devised another way to make money. For a good example, Hola VPN allows its paying customers to use free users’ bandwidth through the Luminati brand.

The worst thing is that the brand has been involved in a botnet attack. Hackers took over all Hola free users’ computers. The botnet attack injects multiple devices with malware and brings them together to instigate malicious activities.

Since Hola does not closely monitor how Luminati works, it becomes a playfield for criminals. In a nutshell, by subscribing to Hola, you will allow the company to sell your bandwidth and put you at risk of cyberattacks.

Slow speeds

As we have previously mentioned, any VPN will affect your internet speed. While premium VPNs offer fast speeds to mitigate this issue, free VPNs will reduce your speed to a snail’s pace. Some providers will deliberately slow your speed down, which can be frustrating.

ProtonVPN prioritizes more on the paid subscribers than free users. While it offers excellent security features, free users will experience prolonged speeds. This is to encourage them to upgrade to paid plans.

Annoying ads

This is the most common strategy used by free VPN providers to make revenue. Since the free users are not paying anything, they sell advertisement space to third parties.

Some free VPNs such as Betternet claim that they don’t show ads to lure new users. However, ads will start to pop once you connect. Likewise, the Hotspot Shield’s free version is filled with ads.

These ads are not only intrusive but can also contain malware or take a toll on your internet speed. So, beware of any free VPN showing ads. Nonetheless, you can check out our guide on how to avoid annoying ads with an ad blocker.

Cannot bypass geo-blocks

Many free VPNs cannot unblock geo-blocked content. All major streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer use tough geo-blocks’ to prevent access to their content. Only a few VPNs succeed in bypassing the restrictions.

Furthermore, it limits the amount of data you can use. For example, TunnelBear’s free version offers 500MB of monthly data. This is even not enough to stream even a single episode of your favorite show.

ProtonVPN can occasionally succeed to unblock Netflix. However, since the provider deliberately slows the speed, your streaming experience will be awful.

Some reliable VPNs based in the US

As we mentioned above, it is imperitive to consider the jurisdiction of a VPN provider. While compiling this list, we left out several US-based providers due to privacy concerns. However, this does not mean they are incapable.

Here are some of the most reliable VPNs based in the US

  • IPVanish
  • Private Internet Access (PIA)
  • LiquidVPN
  • Strong VPN

The main reason why we included PIA and IPVanish on our list is because of their privacy policies. We examined the providers’ zero-logs claims and found out that they don’t gather or store identifiable information. This means there will be no data to hand over to the authorities.

VPNs you should avoid in the US

It is difficult to determine the efficacy of a VPN service based on how it markets itself. However, some providers have been caught red-handed keeping logs, injecting trackers, and selling user data. So, if you value your online anonymity, you should avoid the following services.

Hola

Hola does not have its own servers but operates as a peer-to-peer browser extension. It allows the paid members to utilize the unused bandwidth of free users. This is a major data privacy concern.

The company has been accused of taking advantage of its users’ devices to create a botnet to attack websites. This is a gross violation of privacy, and that is why we recommend you avoid Hola.

Facebook Onavo VPN

Facebook’s in-built ‘Protect’ feature for mobile apps is Onavo VPN. Even if the feature is effective, the company will always collect your mobile traffic data. It claims to use the information to improve its products and services and create better experiences.

PureVPN

Recently, the FBI acquired information from PureVPN to track an alleged stalker. The person was arrested despite the provider’s claim that it does not keep any logs. On the contrary, it turns out that it stores enough data to identify any user.

Opera Free VPN

The Opera browser has a free unlimited VPN feature for all users. However, this is not a VPN but just a web proxy. The company gathers usage data, which it may share with third parties without your consent.

VPNSecure

This VPN provider is based in Australia, which is a member of the 5-Eye countries. Moreover, a recent study found out that the service has DNS and IPv6 leaks. It also uses ‘egress points’ for residential users that work similarly to ‘exit nodes’ used by Hola VPN. Your bandwidth may be sold to other users without your knowledge.

Zenmate

A few years ago, Zenmate was found to leak IP addresses and DNS requests. This is risky and could expose your identity even if you are using a VPN. Zenmate’s support did not respond to the findings when reached for comments. That is why you should stay clear of the VPN service.

Bottom line

Digital privacy is becoming a big issue in the US and more people are looking for ways to surf anonymously. If you are concerned with your privacy, you should consider using a VPN. The biggest hurdle is selecting a reliable service since there are thousands on the market. This guide is intended to help you make an informed decision when choosing a VPN for the USA.

Besides keeping you safe and private, a VPN is also helpful in unblocking geo-blocked content. Also, it will help you shop internationally and get cheaper flights. We hope that you will find the best VPN that fits your needs. Our top recommendation is ExpressVPN because of its watertight security features and multiple servers in the US. 

Best US VPNs frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is using a VPN illegal in the US?
Is there a reliable free VPN for the US?
Can my activities be traced when using a VPN in the US?
What are the limitations of VPNs?
How will I know the best VPN service to use?
How will I get a US IP address with a VPN?
Why should I avoid VPNs based in the US?
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About the author

Ruheni Mathenge
Ruheni Mathenge

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Alex is a strong advocate of digital freedom and online privacy.

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