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How much is VPN?

VPN is an invaluable tool for online security and privacy protection. Data encryption ensures your online activities remain hidden from malicious spectators, and IP address obfuscation takes care of online surveillance at the same time.

Some VPNs are feature-rich and worth every penny, while others might oversell. So how much is a VPN exactly worth? We’ve done in-depth VPN price research to help you choose. IN fact, some VPNs offer better quality at more affordable prices, so testing them before subscribing is important.

Primarily, VPN pricing depends on the size of its server fleet, connection speed, device compatibility, subscription length, and additional features. The average monthly price for a long-term subscription is $3, which goes up to $10 for monthly plans. Like most services, one or two-year-long subscriptions offer a much better price-value ratio.

Getting the most out of your VPN is essential because the quality of cybersecurity software is not something to be overlooked. You should ensure it provides AES-256 encryption, a genuine no-logs policy, sufficient connection speed, and apps for major operating systems. Lastly, additional features like split-tunneling, malware protection, and a dark web monitor add greatly to the service's value. In this article, we overview the different pricing models of VPNs and how to choose the best one for you.

VPNs prices comparison

Before moving further into the details, it should be noted that:

Using VPN to buy things cheaper supporting

Below, you’ll find the prices and models of all the VPNs we tested hands-on:

VPNLowest price per monthPlan durationUpfront costMonthly subscription price (one-off payment)
NordVPN$3.392 years$88.83$12.99
Surfshark$2.192 years$59.76$4.29
Atlas VPN$1.642 years$49.21$1.82
PureVPN$2.112 years$49.95$10.95
ExpressVPN$6.671 year$99.95$12.95
CyberGhost VPN$2.032 years$56.97$12.99
PrivateVPN$2.003 years$72.00$9.90
VyprVPN$5.001 year$60.00$10.00
Ivacy VPN$1.175 years$60.00$9.95
Norton VPN$2.491 year$29.99$4.99
Proton VPN$4.492 years$119.76$9.99
Mullvad VPN$6.001 month$6.00$6.00
Bitdefender VPN$3.331 year$29.99$6.99
Windscribe VPN$5.751 year$69.00$9.00
Avast SecureLine VPN$4.393 years$105.36-
McAfee VPN$3.331 year$47.99-
AVG VPN$4.392 years$105.36-
Hide.Me VPN$2.4339 months$94.95$9.95
ZoogVPN$1.992 years$47.76$9.99
Betternet VPN$7.991 year$95.88$12.99

Most VPN service providers have similar pricing plans lowering the monthly VPN cost the longer the user subscribes. Monthly plans are nearly three times more expensive, costing up to $13 compared to $3 on average.

It's crucial to notice that higher prices do not necessarily convert into quality. For example, Betternet VPN takes the top, costing $7.99 monthly, but collects user data. Windscribe VPN starts from above average $5.75 but offers only 480+ servers compared to NordVPN 3.39+ for $3.39/month.

NordVPN is among the fastest VPNs in the market due to its unique NordLynx protocol. The cheapest VPN on the list, Ivacy VPN, has a similar server amount but inconsistent speed affecting streaming capabilities and user comfort. ExpressVPN doesn't have speed issues and does not collect user data, but it is more than two times NordVPN cost. In other words, VPN service quality rarely correlates to its price, so it's essential to do your homework and research or, even better – test the service before buying.

Lastly, one-off monthly VPN subscriptions are not worth it, except for Mullvad, which has a fixed price of $6.00. Some providers, like Atlas VPN, offer a free version. Meanwhile, Surfshark and NordVPN have 30-day money-back guarantees and a 7-day free trial for Android users.

Factors Affecting VPN Pricing

Here are some of the factors that affect VPN pricing:

  • Plan length. The plan length is the major factor affecting how much a VPN costs per month. For example, CyberGhost VPN costs $12.99 for a monthly subscription, but its 2-year plan is $2.03/month – six times cheaper. Because most subscription-based software providers look for long-term users, the monthly prices are exceptionally high.
  • Server network size. Another significant price contribution is the size of the server network. Because maintaining thousands of collocated servers is costly, you can expect higher prices for VPNs that own their large server infrastructures. On the other hand, it contributes to service safety, logging policies, and transparency. The same applies to connection speed: the faster the service, the more expensive – this is important for streaming and torrenting.
  • Features. Fully-developed VPNs are armed with numerous benefits that might affect the cost. The features like dedicated IP addresses come at an additional charge not included in the basic subscription. On the other hand, high-quality VPNs often include DNS leak protection, ad blocking, real-time malware protection, tracker neutralizing, and a kill switch in the core package.
  • Privacy policies. One of the most important VPN features is a no-logs policy. These VPNs do not collect, store, or sell user data. Some cheap or free VPNs collect and sell user browsing activities to maintain low prices at the cost of privacy. Reliable no-logs VPNs have independent third-party audits to prove their privacy policy, but these costly procedures also affect the price.
  • Security and encryption. The more enhanced the security is, the more pricey it can get. For example, encryption methods are a very important part of VPN’s architecture. It’s how a VPN is securing the tunnel through which the data travels. AES-256-bit encryption is one of the safest encryption standards you should for in a VPN.
  • Speed and performance. Quality VPNs offer users fast speeds by implementing VPN protocols. For example, NordVPN offers a proprietary WireGuard-variation protocol called NordLynx. With it, you can get the fastest connection speeds. These factors can also add up to the price of a VPN.

VPN pricing models types

There are three VPN pricing models: free, subscription-based, and tiered pricing. The types are self-explanatory but offer very different qualities and features. Let's go over each.

Free VPN Services

Although there are free VPNs you can use for limited online activities like browsing, we don’t recommend them. Free VPNs often get revenue by collecting users' online activity and selling it to marketing agencies to bombard them with ads. Cybercriminals can also set up free VPNs to lure unsuspecting users and infect their devices with spyware.

Another issue is performance. Free VPNs often lack sufficient resources to maintain a large and fast server network. Streaming on such services is nearly impossible, and even checking email can be painful if the server is overloaded with active users. Instead, pick an affordable premium VPN and use its free trial or money-back guarantee to save funds.

Subscription-based VPNs

This is the most popular VPN pricing type. VPN service providers offer different length plans with a better or worse price-value ratio. The monthly plan is generally expensive to encourage users into longer-term subscriptions. Simultaneously, 2-year or longer plans are more affordable and can reduce the monthly cost to a few bucks.

Surfshark VPN subscription-based pricing
Surfshark VPN prices based on subscription lenght

The lower cost is not the only reason to subscribe to a longer deal. VPNs are continuously evolving, adding new cybersecurity and quality-of-life features. Getting a longer plan will ensure you won't have to pay more if the service increases the price after an update.

VPNs with tiered pricing

Tiered pricing means paying a specific price for a set of features. The cheaper tiers offer a limited service. Meanwhile, a higher tier provides more functionalities and additional VPN benefits. This pricing model is relatively new in the VPN industry.

NordVPN Ultimate
NordVPN plans and features comparison

NordVPN is one of the services with a tiered pricing model. Its Ultimate tier adds a password manager, file encryption tool, Cloud storage, and personal data removal tool. Another example is Surfshark, which offers an antivirus and a private search engine with its Surfshark One bundle.

Additional VPN price considerations

So you have gone through dozens of VPN reviews and picked yours, let's head to the checkout, right? Not just yet. Below you will find a few ways to lower VPN’s cost even more or make the purchase anonymous.

Discounts and coupons

You can get massive VPN discounts on special occasions like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. There's no reason to spend extra if the discounts are just around the corner. Furthermore, Black Friday discounts can go up to 90%, so the difference is really staggering.

Another way to save money is through a VPN coupon. Famous influencers often promote VPN services and get a coupon code with a special deal. Check our list of VPN coupons to get the current deals and exclusive bonuses unavailable on a standard purchase.

Refund Policies and Money-Back Guarantees

You might need a VPN just for a limited time. Making a two-year subscription makes no sense, and resorting to free VPNs is also not an option. Instead, you can utilize a VPN free trial or a money-back guarantee.

You can use a 30-day money-back guarantee if a month is all you need, for example, to watch a TV show on Netflix. Simultaneously, VPN services like NordVPN and Surfshark offer a 7-day free trial for Android users, and Atlas VPN has a limited free version with servers in three locations. These are excellent picks to test the software out.

Payment Methods and Privacy

VPN is primarily a privacy protection software. Privacy enthusiasts hate sharing personally identifiable data with third parties, and that's why several VPN service providers accept cryptocurrency payments. Before we proceed, it's critical to note neither VPNs nor cryptocurrency can be used for illegal activities, and doing so will end up in legal trouble.

Otherwise, paying with cryptocurrency will make your purchase truly anonymous. You can use a temporary mail for service registration, but remember it will complicate the money-back guarantee or support troubleshooting as the VPN service provider cannot identify the buyer.

Final thoughts

VPN prices are significantly different with different features, often unrelated to the price. Expensive VPNs can collect user data, fail to unblock worldwide Netflix libraries, or bypass other geo-restrictions. Simultaneously, cheap VPNs often lack sufficient connection speed for comfortable online browsing.

In reality, it's up to you to scrutinize VPN reviews to find what's worth your money. Providers like NordVPN offer an excellent price-value ratio with thousands of high-speed servers and free additional features like an ad blocker and malware protection. Signing up for longer plans will significantly reduce the monthly subscription cost, so choose a VPN you want to stick with.


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