Surfshark and ExpressVPN are two well-known VPN providers on the market. Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark VPN offer advanced security features, excellent speeds, and are suitable options for streaming. While ExpressVPN tends to be pricier than Surfshark, Surfshark is known for its additional security features. Therefore, it's natural to compare Surfshark and ExpressVPN to determine their price-to-quality ratio.
Surfshark is more than twice cheaper than ExpressVPN, costing as low as $1.99/month, while ExpresVPN has a starting price of $6.67/month. Surfshark also has a larger server fleet, retains faster connection speed by at least 10% on average, and has more intuitive apps. Overall, ExpressVPN offers a high-quality service that fulfills the price, but Surfshark gives you a better price-to-quality ratio.
Surfshark turned out to be the better option in terms of price, speed, features, and more. But to help you decide which of these top VPNs suits you best, we tested and compared Surfshark and ExpressVPN regarding security, performance, usability, as well as price.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN
|🥇 Overall rank:||#2 out of #42||#6 out of #42|
|🖥️ Servers:||3,200 + servers in 100 countries||3,000 + servers in 105 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Price:||From $1.99/month||From $6.67/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||Surfshark VPN coupon 82% OFF||ExpressVPN coupon 49% OFF + 3 months FREE!|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2||Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||Unlimited||8|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, 24/7 live chat, email support||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat|
Plans and pricing
Surfshark is the more budget-friendly choice compared to ExpressVPN subscription plans.
Both providers offer a variety of different plans, and the longest-term subscription is always the cheapest, and here Surfshark is much cheaper in the long run.
Additionally, you can try both providers with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee to see which is the best for you.
|Lowest monthly price||$1.99/month||$6.67/month|
|Highest monthly price||$10.99/month||$12.95/month|
|Best deals||Holiday deal! Get 82% OFF Surfshark + 4 months FREE||Holiday deal! Get ExpressVPN, now 49% OFF + 3 months FREE!|
At first glance, it’s crystal clear that ExpressVPN is a pricier service. Even though the shortest plans –monthly subscriptions – cost the same amount between the two ($12.95/month); continuing with longer subscriptions, ExpressVPN noticeably surpasses Surfshark.
ExpressVPN has a 6-month subscription that costs $9.99/month and then a 1-year subscription that drops the prices to $6.67/month. Still, it’s more than twice expensive as its competitor.
That being said, Surfshark also offers a 1-year subscription for only $3.99/month, and then the cheapest option is the 2-year subscription for as little as $1.99/month.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that both providers offer 7-day free trials available on Android and iOS devices.
As for payment options, both providers offer quite a few ways to pay for services. You can choose to pay with credit card, PayPal, or cryptocurrencies with each provider.
|Credit card||✅ Discover Financial Services, Mastercard, Visa, and American Express||✅ Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Delta, Diners Club International, OneCard, and Hipercard.|
|PayPal||✅ PayPal||✅ PayPal, Apple Pay (on Apple products), Qiwi Wallet, Yandex Money, and WebMoney.|
|Cryptocurrency||✅ Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple||✅ Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, USDC, BUSD, PAX, and GUSD stablecoins|
That being said, ExpressVPN has more payment options available than Surfshark because it accepts more types of cryptocurrencies and credit cards. Either way, you can pay either anonymously or with traditional payment methods with both providers.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: which is more secure?
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN offer the same level of encryption and include a kill switch as well as DNS leak protection. However, ExpressVPN lacks an ad blocker, while Surfshark doesn’t have proprietary protocols. It isn’t such a big loss for Surfshark, as its WireGuard implementation is much faster than ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol.
|DNS leak protection||✅||✅|
One of the most important details is the encryption cipher that both VPNs match in. That said, AES-256 is currently the strongest cipher on the market, ensuring unbreakable protection from snoopers.
Not less important is a functional kill switch that both competitors have. The feature secures your IP address even at times when a VPN connection unexpectedly drops.
However, where these VPNs differ regarding security is protection from malicious ads and tunneling protocols. While Surfshark has a built-in market-leading ad blocker, ExpressVPN uses its proprietary Lightway tunneling protocol, which is known for robust protection.
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN have completely ditched hard drive servers, making all of their infrastructures run on volatile memory (RAM). This means that there’s no hard drive to store your data on. What’s more, these servers get completely wiped out with every single reboot.
|Outside of the 14-Eyes Alliance?||❌ (Netherlands – 9-Eyes alliance)||✅|
Since 2018, ExpressVPN has undergone several different audits. This provider has been independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Additionally, ExpressVPN had Cure53 pen testing and source-code audit on their own routers (Aircover). Also, F-Secure audited their Windows app.
Speed comparison: which is faster, Surfshark or ExpressVPN?
To test Surfshark vs ExpressVPN in terms of speeds, we put Surfshark’s WireGuard and ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol to a test.
The data in the table shows the average download and upload speeds from different server locations, like the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan. The distance to the server location also has an impact on the speed results.
|54% (520 Mbit/s)||14% (139 Mbit/s)|
|43% (415 Mbit/s)||16% (154 Mbit/s)|
|41% (391 Mbit/s)||29% (285 Mbit/s)|
|82% (784 Mbit/s)||10% (97 Mbit/s)|
|100% (1,000 Mbit/s)||25% (242 Mbit/s)|
|70% (668 Mbit/s)||22% (210 Mbit/s)|
|48% (462 Mbit/s)||15% (150 Mbit/s)|
|40% (391 Mbit/s)||23% (221 Mbit/s)|
|39% (374 Mbit/s)||30% (294 Mbit/s)|
|75% (721 Mbit/s)||12% (118 Mbit/s)|
|98% (938 Mbit/s)||42% (407 Mbit/s)|
|59% (563 Mbit/s)||27% (262 Mbit/s)|
Surfshark’s WireGuard and ExpressVPN’s Lightway tunneling protocols are different protocols, but we’re comparing the two because they present the best that each provider has to offer.
From the data in the table, it is clear why Surfshark is one of the fastest VPNs on the market right now. ExpressVPN couldn’t compete with Surfshark regarding download and upload speeds. Each server location that was tested provided better speed retention for both download and upload for Surfshark. ExpressVPN put up a bit of a fight when it came to upload speed retention; however, even then it was slower than the competitor.
Regarding the providers’ ping, in the three tested locations, it was once again found that Surfshark is the winner.
|The US||~ 103 ms||~ 104 ms|
|The UK||~ 36 ms||~ 44 ms|
|Japan||~ 271 ms||~ 307 ms|
The results here were closer and ExpressVPN didn’t let up too much. However, in the end, Surfshark clearly had a lower ping, which leads to fewer lags and a more enjoyable browsing experience.
Even though a VPN’s main function is to encrypt your traffic and fake your location, extra features can greatly benefit your everyday life. While ExpressVPN offers all crucial and even additional security features, like tracker blocker, Surfshark is the leader here, offering features, such as CleanWeb ad blocker and GPS Spoofing that ensure more extensive protection.
|Split tunneling||✅ (Bypasser)||✅|
|Smart DNS||✅||✅ (MediaStreamer)|
|Obfuscated/Stealth servers||✅ (Camouflage Mode)||✅|
|Dedicated IP||✅ (6 locations)||❌|
|Ad blocker||✅ (CleanWeb)||❌|
|Double VPN||✅ (MultiHop)||❌|
|Breach checker||✅ (Alerts)||❌|
What if you only need a VPN on your browser or a specific app? That’s where split tunneling comes into play. This feature gives you a choice over which applications and websites use VPN traffic. Enabling split tunneling can be useful if you want to watch an international content library of a streaming service but still want to view other sites in your own region and language.
Surfshark calls this feature Bypasser. During our testing, this feature worked really well and we successfully customized the list of apps that needed a VPN tunnel to work.
Meanwhile, you can find this feature under the Split tunneling tab on ExpressVPN.
Nevertheless, here the split tunneling feature works just as well. Additionally, this feature is available on ExpressVPN’s Windows, macOS, and Android applications.
Stealth servers, also known as obfuscated servers, is a feature that lets your VPN connection go undetected. In other words, your VPN traffic looks just like regular traffic. This is especially useful in oppressive countries like China, however, stealth servers will also help you avoid throttling and will let you unblock websites more easily.
Surfshark calls this feature Camouflage mode. You can either select it manually or the service will kick in automatically when needed.
ExpressVPN switches to obfuscated servers as soon as it senses the need to do so, which means you won’t have to do anything by yourself.
Surfshark’s exclusive features
Surfshark offers quite a few exclusive features for security and privacy to offer. Here’s what they are:
- Double VPN. Surfshark has a double VPN feature called MultiHop. It redirects your traffic through two different VPN servers, which adds an extra layer of security.
- Dedicated IP. Surfshark offers a dedicated IP for an additional price with locations in US (Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, San Jose), UK (London), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Germany (Frankfurt), South Africa (Johannesburg), Japan (Tokyo), and Australia (Sydney).
- Ad blocker. The CleanWeb feature of Surfshark blocks malicious ads, pop-ups, online trackers, and dangerous websites.
- Antivirus. Surfshark has released its own antivirus software that is really effective when protecting your device in real-time from malicious threats.
To learn more, visit our Surfshark review.
ExpressVPN’s exclusive features
ExpressVPN also has some additional features useful for privacy and security:
- Router applet. ExpressVPN offers a router applet to make it easier to set up a VPN on a router. This can help you when you want to use an encrypted connection on devices that don’t support VPNs.
- Threat manager. ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager helps get rid of potential threats while you browse, including malicious websites.
- Password manager. This VPN also comes with a password manager. This lets you create secure and unbreakable passwords without the need to remember them.
If you want to learn more, check out our ExpressVPN review.
Surfshark and ExpressVPN offer a very similar global network of servers, however, Surfshark has just a slightly broader global coverage of server locations.
|Virtual locations||Yes, 29 locations||Yes, 57 locations|
With more than 3,200+ servers in 100 countries, Surfshark provides access to various global content. To compare, ExpressVPN doesn’t let up too much – it has around 3,000 servers, and you can find them in 105 countries.
However small, this is still a win for Surfshark, even if both providers have specialty servers to offer as well, including obfuscated ones.
Netflix and streaming performance
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are outstanding options for streaming. However, Surfshark is the one that offers a more splendid experience as a streaming VPN.
When it comes to unblocking different streaming sites, the results are pretty impressive for both providers.
|Smart DNS||✅ Yes||✅ Yes (MediaStreamer)|
|Netflix||✅ Yes (Most popular country libraries: US, UK, Canada, Germany, Japan)||✅ Yes (Most popular country libraries: US, UK, Canada, Germany, Japan)|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Max||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Hulu||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Disney+||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|YouTube||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
Any popular streaming site is easily accessible with both Surfshark and ExpressVPN. Additionally, both VPN providers support streaming on all of their servers.
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN have the Smart DNS feature. ExpressVPN calls it MediaStreamer. It’s useful when you want to watch geo-restricted content on devices that don’t natively support VPN connections. We tested the Smart DNS feature with both ExpressVPN and Surfshark and found no issues. They both worked great with Netflix and other streaming platforms.
China and countries with restricted Internet access
When you travel to a country with heavy censorship and Internet restrictions (like China), a good VPN becomes invaluable. Fortunately, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN implement their own measures to bypass Internet censorship and fall in the category of the best VPN for China.
Surfshark uses obfuscated servers, it hides the fact that you are using a VPN at all.
Just like Surfshark, ExpressVPN uses stealth servers to help you bypass the Great Firewall of China and other online barriers. This technology kicks in automatically as soon as the VPN notices that it’s needed.
No matter if you use torrents daily or once a month, you’ll need a reliable torrenting VPN. Fortunately, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN will take care of your needs, as they support P2P connections.
Since both VPN providers support torrenting on all of their servers, it won’t be an issue to find the best server with good speed. So torrenting will be easy with either of the options here.
Platforms, interface, and ease of use
There’s not much to complain about the variety of applications provided by Surfshark and ExpressVPN. The selection is almost identical with a couple of exceptions.
|Supported OS||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Other software and devices||Android TV, Fire devices, routers, and more||Android TV, Fire devices, routers, and more|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge||Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge|
|Usability level||Easy to set up||Easy to set up|
For example, ExpressVPN has a dedicated router applet. On the other hand, Surfshark has a dedicated app for Linux users, which is rare, and offers unlimited simultaneous connections.
Surfshark’s apps are modern looking, easy to use, and nicely developed. The applications are also pretty easy to navigate and use even for beginners.
Both Windows and macOS versions don’t have the map interface, instead, Surfshark has a list of countries and servers for you to pick from. Additionally, the Windows app is slightly better than the macOS version, as it lacks the Bypasser feature.
Where Surfshark’s desktop apps shine with the feature-rich graphical application for Linux users that is both easy to set up and use. A dedicated app for Linux isn’t a commodity even amongst the best VPNs for Linux.
If you like slick and modern applications, you won’t be too impressed by the Windows and macOS apps of ExpressVPN.
The best thing is that both apps have the same features, which is quite rare, as most VPNs usually mishandle their macOS applications. Here, we have a kill switch, stealth servers, and all the other features mentioned before.
There’s also an app for Linux. Even though it’s not underdeveloped feature-wise, it doesn’t have a user interface and you have to navigate it through the command line.
Similarly to the desktop situation, Surfshark’s Android app is superior to its iOS counterpart.
The Android app has GPS spoofing and Bypasser features, which the iOS version lacks. On the other hand, it still offers features like a kill switch and CleanWeb, to name a few.
The mobile apps of ExpressVPN are decent in terms of functionality.
However, keep in mind that the iOS version is inferior to the Android application here as well, as it lacks a few features like a kill switch and split tunneling.
Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections, meaning you can connect as many devices as you want and use them at the same time. You can share the VPN with your family or friends with a single subscription.
Meanwhile, ExpressVPN’s simultaneous connection allowance depends on the plan you pick. 1-month subscribers get to use up to 5 devices simultaneously, while 6-month and 1-year plans come with 8 simultaneous connections.
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN put a lot of effort into a friendly and competent customer support. That is a sign of good service.
|24/7 live chat||✅||✅|
|Guides or articles||✅||✅|
|Avg. live chat response time||Less than a minute||Less than a minute|
When using Surfshark, you get a 24/7 live chat and an email ticket system. As an alternative, you can also read through the knowledge base that has lots of questions answered or the FAQ page.
The situation is similar with ExpressVPN. It offers a huge knowledge base, FAQ, 24/7 live chat, and email support.
In terms of live chat agents, both were very helpful with my questions. Surfshark responded immediately and was very fast at answering my request. Meanwhile, the ExpressVPN agent sounded a bit robotic, like they’re using template text, but that may be why they manage to answer so quickly.
To sum up, both Sufshark and ExpressVPN won’t disappoint if you have any issues or need help. The live support options and extensive knowledge bases lead to a tie in this section.
What do Redditors say about Surfshark and ExpressVPN?
According to Reddit discussions on Surfshark vs ExpressVPN, opinions vary. Some Redditors praise Surfshark for its affordability, extensive server network, and solid privacy features. They appreciate its user-friendly interface and fast speeds.
It’s also considered a great VPN for security. Some users acknowledged the Meshnet feature and its functionality. It’s a double VPN feature that lets you connect to two VPN servers for extra, or double security.
On the other hand, ExpressVPN supporters highlight its exceptional security measures, reliable performance, and seamless streaming capabilities.
However, other users note the lack of port forwarding and having to use Lightway instead of the traditional WireGuard. This makes ExpressVPN look more suitable for daily browsing rather than torrenting and other data consuming activities.
Overall, Redditors agree that both VPNs offer reliable services, but choosing between them depends on individual priorities, such as budget and specific features. To learn more, take a look at the best VPNs according to Reddit.
Video review: Surfshark vs ExpressVPN
If you’re more of a visual learner, you can also check out our Surfshark vs ExpressVPN YouTube video review. You’ll find out everything about their features, security measures, apps, and more.
Comparison methodology: Surfshark vs ExpressVPN
When comparing Surfshark vs ExpressVPN, we followed certain criteria to evaluate which service is better. Here are the factors we took into consideration:
- Price. We evaluated the flexibility in terms of plan lengths and their prices. Together with the cost, we looked at the features offered and the value for your money that you get.
- Security features. VPNs are online security tools, so we looked for essential features, such as kill switch and split tunneling, in the package.
- Performance. We tested the average speed retention rate of each provider to see whether they’ll be able to provide a buffering and lagging-free experience.
- Server network. The more servers the VPN has, the better. A massive server fleet ensures more opportunity for less crowded servers and great speeds. Many server locations also allow you to unlock different content libraries around the world.
- Streaming capabilities. We tested both Surfshark and ExpressVPN on various streaming platforms to see which ones they can unblock effectively.
- Torrenting. Some users get a VPN for torrenting reasons – to stay anonymous. We reviewed whether the compared VPNs allow P2P file sharing and don’t compromise on speeds.
- Interface. VPNs should be easy to use even for beginners, but we reviewed the interfaces of both Surfshark and ExpressVPN to make sure they’re not buggy or overfilled.
- Customer support. It’s important that VPN providers offer various customer support options. We compared Surfshark and ExpressVPN in terms of live chat, email, phone, and other support options.
- Exclusive features. Some VPNs come with extra features, be it for security, streaming, or convenience. We evaluated the extra benefits offered.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN – who wins?
In this comparison, we’ve concluded that Surfshark is a better VPN than ExpressVPN. Surfshark provides better speed, advanced security features, a more extensive range of server options, user-friendly app interfaces, and notably more affordable subscription plans compared to ExpressVPN.
It’s worth to note that ExpressVPN had its moments where it outrivals Surfshark. For example, it has a dedicated router applet, which makes protecting home devices more convenient. Although its security suite is one of the best on the market, the price-quality ratio makes ExpressVPN a less worthy option than Surfshark, which we recommend choosing out of these two.
|Ease of use||✅||❌|
More VPN guides from Cybernews:
Is Surfshark better than ExpressVPN?
Is Surfshark better than NordVPN?
It depends. Even though Surfshark offers more simultaneous connections and a lower price, NordVPN is better at unblocking streaming services and is more suitable for torrenting, as it offers the SOCKS5 proxy.
Is Surfshark faster than ExpressVPN?
Yes, Surfshark is a faster VPN than ExpressVPN. Of course, the speed of a VPN depends on several variables, like your chosen server location, baseline network speed, selected tunneling protocol, etc. Nevertheless, on average, Surfshark retains over 86% of the original connection speed using the fastest protocol, while ExpressVPN – 77%.
Is Surfshark owned by ExpressVPN?
No, Surfshark is not owned by ExpressVPN. Surfshark is often mistaken as being owned by ExpressVPN due to shared service features and Reddit reviews. However, they are separate entities with distinct ownership, infrastructure, and business models, competing independently in the VPN market.