Money has always been the unit of measure for quality. Whether the money is used for better materials, more thorough research, or to pay for a more experienced person to handle the manufacturing process, there’s no denying that you always have to pay a premium in order to get the best possible product.
The same is true for the tech world, at least in most regards. However, it turns out that you can also pay with something else: Information. Huge corporations like Google and Facebook seem to offer most of their products for free to everyone, which is why you don’t have to pay a dime in order to use Gmail or to create a Facebook account.
In reality, the only reason these services are free is that the corporations in question make a lot of money with the information you provide them with while using them. Because of this new approach to business, people have come to expect free software for other purposes as well, which is definitely not possible – nor advisable.
VPNs are a good example of this. Why pay for a service if you can get it for free from a different company?
Naturally, this is a far more delicate matter than it seems. For starters, the whole point of a VPN is to hide your true identity and keep you anonymous, which means that the company running the service should not collect data about you. That would defeat the whole purpose of using a VPN in the first place.
Secondly, running VPN servers is very costly, and since these companies do not have the luxury of bombarding you with ads or using your data, they have to cover those costs the classic way: by charging their customers. Like it or not, that’s the only way this can work. Otherwise, most VPNs would go out of business in a matter of months.
With that being said, that doesn’t mean you should be paying an arm and a leg for a VPN subscription, especially not in 2020. We have come a long way in terms of server power and efficiency, not to mention the fact that software engineers have really perfected the protocols used by most VPNs, which means that the costs for running a VPN server have come down a lot in recent years.
Hence, you can now get a very secure and feature-rich VPN subscription for just a few dollars per month, and that doesn’t mean you don’t get the best possible experience in return. Besides, the huge companies that have grown over the years can now afford to run their own infrastructure, which means that they can get the most out of their hardware and drop their prices even more.
What can you expect from a cheap VPN?
In most regards, there are no major downsides to going for a cheaper VPN nowadays, and it’s also worth pointing out that “cheap” in this context can mean a few different things.
As such, a low monthly subscription price is actually pretty difficult to find, mainly because it is not very advantageous for the companies to operate on a month-by-month basis. In essence, if the users have to come back every month to renew their subscriptions, the company cannot make long-term investments, since its financial prospects can change from good to bad in just a few weeks.
Hence, you can definitely get a very low monthly price, but you usually have to purchase a subscription for a year or more. On the other hand, this means that you have to pay more money upfront, which is perhaps not something everyone can afford. A $2.99 price tag seems pretty low and affordable, but once you reach the checkout page and the whole thing amounts to over $100 for the three years subscription required to get that monthly price, suddenly it’s not so cheap anymore.
In terms of service quality, on the other hand, a cheaper VPN does not entail a worse experience in most cases. As mentioned above, the low subscription prices are usually reserved for longer engagements, which means that the companies still get a lot of money to work with. As it turns out, even the industry leaders can be categorized as cheap in some cases, so you definitely do not need to worry about getting a bad return on your investment.
Feature-wise, you can expect all the usual goodies, including a kill switch, multiple protocol support, wide platform support, split-tunneling, good obfuscation, as well as at least a handful of simultaneous connections.
How to choose a VPN on a limited budget
If you are not able to spend a lot of money on a one-year or two-year subscription, the first thing you should look for is a VPN that also offers slightly shorter subscriptions, while still avoiding the costly monthly tier.
As such, many VPNs offer three or six-month pricing tiers, which usually come with great discounts as well. Thanks to this, you should be able to save quite a bit of cash, while also avoiding spending a huge sum of money at once. Not only that, but you also avoid paying the full monthly price, which is also good news for your wallet.
After that, it’s also wise to think about your specific use cases, since you may actually not need most of the features that come with high-end VPNs. If your goal is to unblock geo-restricted content on Netflix or Hulu, then it’s really not worth it to also pay for additional simultaneous connections, especially if you are the only one who makes use of the VPN anyway.
Also, some VPNs make a big fuss about their wide server network – which is a good thing, don’t get us wrong – but which doesn’t help you if you are not looking to change your visible location constantly. On the other hand, you should make sure that if you go for a VPN with a smaller number of servers, there are enough locations close to your country. Otherwise, you might suffer from reduced speeds.
Lastly, even if you are short on cash and willing to settle for a cheaper alternative, you should still do some research and look into the company that operates the VPN you are interested in. If the service in question has a spotty past when it comes to harvesting user data, then it may not be worth the cost savings. As a side note, a sketchy company can also go out of business without warning, which is not something that can happen if you stick with one of the more recognizable brands.
5 cheap VPNs in 2020
With all that being said, it is time to unveil our picks for this list and present you with five VPNs that offer low subscription prices, while also not skimping too much when it comes to service quality and features.
If you want to jump to the desired entry quickly, you can use the following links:
In addition, you can also check out the table below in order to compare some of their features.
|Ivacy||Surfshark||CyberGhost||Private Internet Access||Hotspot Shield|
|Part of the 14 Eyes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Split-tunneling||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Just for websites|
|Lowest monthly price||
(for a 5-year subscription)
(for a 2-year subscription)
(for a 3-year subscription)
(for a 1-year subscription)
(for a 3-year subscription)
Ivacy has definitely created its very own cozy corner of the market in the last few years, while also continuing to grow as a service. Not only did the product become more secure and trustworthy, but more and more features were also added along the way, making it one of the most complete solutions you can buy at the moment.
However, the only thing that did not grow over time is the price. In fact, you barely have to think twice when it comes to whether or not Ivacy is worth the investment because it’s not much of a financial sinkhole to start with. Hence, at the moment, you can get an Ivacy subscription for just $1.16/month, which is incredibly generous.
Obviously, this comes with a catch: this price is only available if you are willing to engage in a five-year commitment with Ivacy. The total price for this deal comes out at $69.99, which is definitely not a big number, especially when you consider the fact that you won’t be paying another dime for the following five years.
On the other hand, this subscription period is actually long enough for other questions to become relevant, such as whether the service is going to be around that far into the future. Granted, we see no reason it will go under, but those are definitely not the type of questions you would have to consider with a simple monthly subscription, that’s for sure.
With the price out of the way, it’s time to talk about the goodies you get in exchange for your money. In short, a lot of things are part of the package, and it’s really not a bad deal when you consider the functionality provided by the Ivacy apps. Hence, you get a handy kill switch, as well as a fully-fledged split-tunneling feature, which allows you to manually white-list certain apps and allow them to bypass your VPN connection.
On top of that, there are also some interesting protocol choices, which include the IKEv2 and L2TP, which are not as popular as you might think, even in top-of-the-line products. Naturally, there are also the TCP and UDP protocols, which are by far the fastest and most popular.
If you are trying to unblock Netflix and the like, Ivacy comes to your aid as well, especially when you consider the fact that the app allows you to connect to specialty servers that are designed with this purpose in mind. To make things even better, Ivacy is also quite capable when it comes to unblocking restricted content on other platforms, including Facebook.
As a bonus, you also get a few other specialty servers, including some that are designed for secure downloading, which includes P2P and torrents. Not only that, but there’s also a dedicated IP section, and that is very nice to see at this price point, especially if you are having trouble maintaining your various services while the VPN is active and messing with your servers.
Server-wise, Ivacy boasts around 1,000 of them spread all over the world, given the fact that you can choose from over 100 countries to connect to. Granted, those numbers do not mean much if you are accustomed to a bigger VPN provider, but then again, you also pay a fraction of the price in exchange.
Lastly, you also get 10 simultaneous connections with every subscription, which is not bad at all. In our opinion, 10 connections should cover enough devices for anyone, since you can even let a few other persons in your household hook up their phones or tablets without suffering too many drawbacks in the process. Read our review.
+ Incredible price when you consider what you get in return
+ Plenty of countries to choose from
+ Specialty servers for downloads and streaming
+ Split-tunneling functionality
+ Supports IKEv2 and L2TP
+ Supports up to 10 simultaneous connections
– If you want the best price, you have to purchase a 5-year subscription
– Not as many servers as the competition
When you take a look at what kind of features you get, Surfshark’s price is actually even better than it looks on paper. As such, not only do you get a fair number of servers, modern protocols like IKEv2, and great obfuscation methods, but also the ability to connect as many devices as you want to the same account.
In short, you only have to pay $1.99/month if you choose the lengthiest subscription period of 24 months. In total, this adds up to only $47.76 for two whole years, which is by far one of the best deals you can get for such a killer VPN service. Granted, the regular monthly price stands pretty tall at $11.99, which means that it’s not a great deal if you do not have the necessary money to pay upfront for the 24-month option.
In terms of servers, Surfshark sports over 1,000 of them in 61 countries, which means that you get plenty of options when it comes to connectivity. Obviously, the 1,000 servers do not come anywhere near a more popular VPNs like CyberGhost or NordVPN, but on the other hand, some of the other features that are part of the package are even more attractive than plain-old server numbers.
We won’t waste our breath on run-of-the-mill features like the integrated kill switch option or the leak-free experience (even though they are obviously very important and nice to have). Still, we would like to mention the great protocol support. This includes IKEv2, which is notoriously excellent when it comes to obfuscation, while also not affecting your speeds too much in the process.
Another great feature is the CleanWeb component, which acts as a built-in ad-blocker for your entire connection. Thus, you do not have to rely on the browser add-on in order to stop websites from spamming you with ads, and the best part is that this is a connection-wide blocker, which also works outside your browser. In essence, this should also prevent you from seeing ads in your mobile apps while the VPN is active, which is a lot harder to achieve if you are not tech-savvy enough to build yourself a Pi-hole solution.
In case you happen to be living in China or traveling there for some purpose, it’s also worth mentioning that Surfshark is one of the few VPNs that work in China. Hence, you can keep enjoying the free Internet even while having to deal with heavy censorship, at least if you remember to get your apps installed before entering China.
Moving on from that, Surfshark also comes with MultiHop functionality, which allows you to reroute your traffic through two different servers in order to maximize your anonymity. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the static IP servers, which aim to provide you with an easy way to keep your servers accessible even when the VPN is active. This kind of functionality is not easy to find in most VPN solutions, and it’s especially surprising to see it in one of the most affordable VPNs on the market.
Speaking of which, it is also the case for the number of device connections allowed with every subscription. As mentioned before, you get unlimited simultaneous connections with no kind of bandwidth caps or limitations, which is downright unbelievable. Hence, you can easily connect all of your devices around the house to the same Surfshark account, including your PC, phone, tablet, router, and TV, without having to worry about which ones will be left out. Read our review here.
+ Great price for the sheer amount of functionality it offers
+ Great protocol support
+ Includes a kill switch and split-tunneling, as well as MultiHop and Static IP
+ Unlimited simultaneous connection with a single subscription
+ Comes with a built-in ad-blocker
– Not as many servers as other VPNs
– Download speeds can be a bit low on some servers
Surprisingly, even though CyberGhost is one of the biggest and most popular VPNs on the market right now, it also manages to be one of the cheapest options you can buy at the moment. Hence, you do not have to settle for a second-tier solution if you do not have mountains of cash on hand, which was definitely not the case just a few short years ago.
At the moment, you can get a CyberGhost subscription for just $2.75/month if you go for the 3-year plan. This also includes two free additional months, so you definitely get more than enough bang for your buck. In total, this whole deal comes out at $99.99, which is definitely not bad, but it’s also not the kind of money everyone has lying around. Hence, even if the $2.75 price tag sounds good on paper, you may need to save up a bit of money in order to afford the actual upfront price.
If you manage to do that, then you are pretty much set in terms of functionality and features. Given the fact that CyberGhost is one of the leading names in the VPN industry, you can expect everything from a huge array of servers, to impressive download speeds, dedicated servers for downloads and streaming, as well as a sleek, modern interface that looks good on any device you happen to install the app on.
CyberGhost’s server network is growing every day, given the fact that, at the moment, it features 6,046 servers in 89 countries and 112 locations. These numbers are impressive even when you compare them to some of the other VPNs in this league, let alone the other VPNs in this price range. Thus, you can rest assured that the servers will always have some spare room for you as well.
One of the interesting things about CyberGhost is the fact that the kill switch cannot be disabled manually. This is not a bad thing at all, given the fact that we do not recommend turning it off under any circumstances anyway. Still, the interesting part is that the developers decided to include the toggle button anyway, even if it doesn’t do anything. Maybe it’s more of a statement than a mistake, though.
As mentioned above, CyberGhost offers a special section of servers that are specifically designed to handle the unblocking of various streaming platforms. While these include classics like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, you can also find some more obscure platforms as well, such as many sports websites that are notoriously difficult to unlock in other countries. Hence, this VPN is definitely the way to go if unblocking streaming services is your number one priority.
On the other hand, our speed tests show that the VPN can perform incredibly well when it comes to downloads and uploads too. This is reinforced by the fact that CyberGhost does not impose any bandwidth limitations on your connection, coupled with the fact that torrenting is pretty much encouraged. On top of that, the company is also based in Romania, which is not a 14 Eyes Alliance member.
Lastly, you get 7 simultaneous connections with your subscription, which is definitely not bad. It can seem a bit underwhelming when compared to Surfshark, but then again, you also get access to far more servers, so the disadvantage is not as severe as it would seem at first. Read our review.
+ Huge server network spanning all over the globe
+ Can unlock Netflix and a variety of other similar platforms
+ Impressive download speeds across the board
+ No bandwidth limits and no restrictions in terms of P2P traffic
+ Sleek user interface
– The dedicated IP feature is an optional add-on that requires a separate payment
Private Internet Access is the kind of VPN that does not require any introduction, given the fact that you have probably heard of it before even if you are not that interested in privacy, thanks to their ample marketing campaign. Thankfully, the service does not disappoint once you decide to purchase a subscription since you are definitely getting the royal treatment in terms of features and functionality.
To make things even better, the price is significantly lower than what you would expect from a VPN of this caliber. As such, the lowest monthly subscription available right now is priced at $2.85/month, if you go for the yearly option. You also get two extra months added to your subscription, which is not a bad deal at all.
Unlike many other VPNs that try to saddle you with three or even five years of subscription time to get the best price, Private Internet Access only requires you to pay for a single year in advance, which is very budget-friendly. As such, the whole thing nets you $39.95, so you really don’t have to break the bank to get the best deal. You can also get a 6-month deal, but keep in mind that the price for that is almost double.
Once you get yourself the app, it should become clear why PIA is one of the biggest VPNs on the market right now. There is hardly anything missing in terms of features, which includes a kill switch, full split-tunneling support, generous protocol support, as well as all sorts of security features that help you avoid accidental leaks. The user interface is pretty nice as well, especially since it tries its best to stay out of your way.
Besides the fact that Private Internet Access can be installed on a plethora of different platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, you can also use the service by manually configuring your OpenVPN settings to include your PIA authentication data. If OpenVPN is not your thing, the native app also supports other protocols, including L2TP/IPsec and PPTP. Additionally, you also get SOCKS5 support, which is great.
One of the most distinguishing features that are part of Private Internet Access is the MACE feature, which functions as an integrated ad-blocker and anti-malware solution. In short, by activating this option, you allow PIA to analyze web requests and detect unwanted trackers, as well as block pop-ups and annoying ads that might hurt your browsing experience. In addition, this means that you won’t have to worry about installing ad-blocker extensions in your browser.
In terms of servers and connectivity, Private Internet Access can leverage its huge network and provide you with great speeds, as well as a variety of choices when it comes to the available locations. At the moment, the service offers over 3,300 servers in 44 countries, which is impressive, to say the least. Not only that, but the speeds you get from most of these servers are top-notch, even if the geographical distance between you and the server is fairly long.
Lastly, Private Internet Access is also very generous when it comes to how many devices you can connect at once using the same subscription. Hence, you can get up to 10 simultaneous connections, which is definitely better than many other services on the market. Furthermore, there are no bandwidth restrictions or caps of any kind, so you do not have to worry about exceeding hidden monthly quotas. Read our review.
+ Great protocol support, including SOCKS5 proxy
+ The MACE feature protects you from trackers and ads
+ Great download speeds
+ Huge network of servers in a variety of countries
+ Many customization options and security features
– Based in a 14 Eyes Alliance country
Hotspot Shield is definitely a fairly popular VPN, but it is perhaps not as well-known as other solutions, even if it was launched quite a few years ago, and it had time to grow. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that the service has had some troubling issues in the past when it comes to data collection and logging. In addition, the original company was also bought by Pango last year, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s a bit difficult for people to trust them.
Even so, the service can definitely be a great value if that is your primary goal. As such, you can get a subscription for only $2.99/month if you purchase a 3-year plan, which is quite a bit lower than the regular $12.99/month you have to pay if you want to buy a single month of subscription time. On the other hand, the full price of the 3-year plan comes out at $107.64, which is a hefty sum, and it may be rather difficult to spend that much money at once on a VPN.
If you do go through with the purchase, however, you can expect a few nice things when it comes to the Hotspot Shield app. First and foremost, we have measured some of the highest download and upload speeds out there while trying this VPN, which is great news if your primary goal is to download files. In addition, it can also successfully unlock streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, so that’s yet another plus.
As far as functionality is concerned, Hotspot Shield is quite customizable and flexible, which means that you can definitely tweak a few settings here and there. While it does come with the obligatory kill switch, it’s worth noting that the included split-tunneling functionality is not exactly premium. In essence, the app only enables you to allow certain websites to bypass the VPN and not entire apps. This can be a bit of a bummer for some people.
If you are not concerned about that, then you will be happy to hear that Hotspot Shield sports a very impressive server network. At the moment, there are over 3,200 servers in 98 locations and more than 80 countries. Very few VPNs come close to these numbers, which means that there’s hardly any place on Earth where you wouldn’t be able to get a fast VPN connection going.
One other great thing about the VPN is that you can also use it for online gaming, given the fact that the high bandwidth servers also enable you to achieve impressive pings across all continents. Hence, you can easily play on European servers even if you are in the U.S.A. or Asia, given the fact that the latency doesn’t get bad enough to make your games unplayable.
In terms of supported devices, Hotspot Shield allows you to connect up to 5 devices at the same time. This is not particularly impressive, especially when you consider that there are other, more generous offers on the market in this regard. However, you do get a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is not as common. Read our review.
+ Impressive download speeds
+ Many different locations across all continents
+ Great pings, which makes the VPN adequate for gaming as well
+ Decent functionality, with a fair number of additional features
– Based in the U.S.A., which is part of the 14 Eyes Alliance
– Requires a 3-year commitment in order to get the best monthly price
– The service had some security and data collection issues in the past
As you can see, not having a lot of money to spend on a VPN subscription does not mean you are stuck with a no-name brand. In fact, even some of the most reliable VPNs out there offer some great deals, at least if you are willing to commit to a multi-year subscription in some cases, which is not something everyone is comfortable with.
The truth of the matter is that you have many options at your disposal, regardless of what you need the VPN for. Not only that, but you should keep in mind that the same subscription can usually get you multiple simultaneous connections, so you are definitely getting your money’s worth if you also use a VPN on your other devices.