A Cybernews poll shows that over 50% of Americans aren't willing to sacrifice their privacy, even if it means it'll help authorities contain a threat (e.g. the Coronavirus). Then again, other studies show that some are willing to share their location for the price of one TacoBell taco. Regardless of your stance, the best VPNs for the US make up your first line of defense against mass surveillance.
There's no doubt that the US is a serious offender when it comes to intruding on the lives of its citizens. See, for example, the recent EARN IT Act which would allow the FBI to plant backdoors in apps that use end-to-end encryption. In short, making any sort of private online discussions impossible. Fortunately, the bill was amended to offer a safe harbor for encryption. However, that doesn't stop other attempts by the government to end free speech.
Then there's the case of greedy ISPs looking to sell your browsing history, to the point where they'll go to court over it - and argue that it's their "free speech right" to do so. Too bad they're only free speech advocates when it hurts their bottom line, right?
But what if you don't care that corporations are profiting off your private online activity (yes, even the embarrassing stuff)? Well, VPNs are an amazing tool for getting the most out of Netflix, as well as accessing foreign streaming sites like BBC iPlayer. For expats living abroad, this also means you can watch content only available back home, on platforms like Hulu.
People outside the country can get a USA IP address to enjoy the same benefits, along with unblocking US content unavailable in your region.
How to Use a VPN in the USA
Fortunately, you don't need to be a tech wiz to use a VPN nowadays. Here's how to use a VPN in the US:
- Subscribe to a VPN (ExpressVPN is a great all-rounder).
- Download and install the provider's app on all your devices to prevent your ISP from selling your browsing data, government agencies from spying on you, and hackers stealing your passwords and payment info.
- Use your account info to log in once the app finishes installing.
- Click or tap on the VPN server recommended by your provider, or choose one from their list of available locations.
That's about it. You're now fully secured and ready to enjoy unlimited content from around the world.
Best VPN for the US
Below you'll find the 6 best VPNs for the US, fit for a wide range of activities - including streaming, safe torrenting, gaming, and so on. Naturally, none of these VPNs keep any activity logs, so your data is always safe and sound.
- ExpressVPN – Best All-Around VPN for US
- NordVPN – Fast US VPN, Great Options for Extra Security
- CyberGhost VPN – Best VPN for Streaming US Shows
- Ivacy – Most Affordable US VPN, Excellent for Streaming
- Private Internet Access – No-logs Policy Proven in Court, Twice
- Surfshark – Unlimited VPN Connections
1. ExpressVPN - Best All-Around VPN for US
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ExpressVPN comes with native apps for all popular platforms and a wide range of devices. No matter your preferred system, you will find their apps' UI highly intuitive, making ExpressVPN a suitable option for complete beginners.
It automatically assigns a server based on your location so you can get the best possible speeds, but you're free to choose any location from its wide server network. Moreover, it can easily bypass VPN filters set up by streaming platforms and unblock any website out there (including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, and more).
You'd be hard-pressed to find any flaws with ExpressVPN. Does having too many useful features count? Try out their service and let us know.
Make sure to read our ExpressVPN review to find out all the spicy details about their service, as well as speed tests if you want to compare its top-grade performance to other providers on our list.
- Encryption & VPN Protocols: AES-256; Lightway, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2/IPSec, PPTP.
- Servers Located in the USA: 23 locations; Hundreds of servers.
- Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days.
2. NordVPN - Fast US VPN, Great Options for Extra Security
Even though its name gives off a Scandinavian vibe, NordVPN is based in Panama. At least that’s where the company is registered, meaning it's well out of reach of US-based intelligence agencies, as well as the infamous "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance and its offshoots.
The most prominent feature of this VPN is its double-hop servers, which provide an extra layer of protection. By encrypting your data twice, NordVPN goes a big step forward in providing you the level of privacy you need. Even though this might be overkill for home users, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Moreover, its CyberSec feature goes beyond what a regular VPN does, blocking malware and phishing domains, not to mention annoying ads and ad trackers that are a detriment to your online privacy.
There are numerous other features you need to know about, so heading over to our NordVPN review should be your next step.
- Encryption & VPN Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, NordLynx.
- Servers Located in the USA: 15 locations, 1,970+ servers.
- Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days.
3. CyberGhost VPN - Best VPN for Streaming US Shows
A VPN provider based in Romania, a country known for shooting down any attempts by the EU to impose local data retention laws - as they were declared unconstitutional. They also publish transparency reports every three months. You can see for yourself how many requests for user data were dismissed, for the simple fact that they don't collect any. In short, you can expect CyberGhost VPN to fully protect your privacy.
Romania is also known for its lax stance on torrenting (like most of Eastern Europe besides Russia). Unsurprisingly, CyberGhost offers a wide range of lightning-fast, P2P-friendly servers all around the world - including over 1,300 in the US.
Aside from that, you can pick servers based on your planned activity, which can be streaming, torrenting, using public Wi-Fi, or Web browsing. They also offer an option to pick servers optimized for specific streaming platforms. For our US readers, the most notable ones would be Netflix DE, Netflix FR and BBC iPlayer. They also have options for Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Netflix US - great for when you're vacationing abroad or if you live outside the US.
Here's our hands-on CyberGhost VPN review for a more in-depth look on their features, plus performance tests.
- Encryption & VPN Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, IKEv2, Wireguard, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP.
- Servers Located in the USA: 11 locations; 1,300+ servers.
- Money-Back Guarantee: 14 days (for 1 month plans); 45 days (6+ month plans).
4. Ivacy - Most Affordable US VPN, Excellent for Streaming
While Ivacy is a no-logs VPN like the rest of our recommended providers, it being based in Singapore (a member of the "14 Eyes") might raise some red flags for privacy enthusiasts. Still, Ivacy hasn't given any indication of logging user data, and all information points to them being trustworthy.
Its privacy-friendly features aren't its main strong point, anyway. Instead, this is one of the best VPN for US if you're on a budget. It works with most major streaming platforms, especially those in the US, making it an excellent cheap option for use abroad.
As mentioned in our Ivacy review, this VPN is perfect for home users looking for the best quality at an affordable price.
- Encryption & VPN Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2
- Servers Located in the USA: 12 locations, 75 servers.
- Money-Back Guarantee: 7 days (for 1 month plans), 30 days (all other plans).
5. Private Internet Access (PIA) - No-logs Policy Proven in Court, Twice
This VPN provider is based in the US, which might worry privacy buffs considering the country is part of the "Five Eyes" alliance, as well as the government's constant attacks on encryption. However, there's no reason to worry, as PIA have won against the FBI twice when they were sent subpoenas for information about their users. They stood strong behind their policy of not logging user data.
What makes them one of the best US VPNs is their *humongous* VPN network in the country, numbering over 35,000+ servers. No problems avoiding server congestion and getting a decent connection going, no matter where you are in the country.
Be sure to check out our Private Internet Access review for more info about their features, speed tests, and all that jazz.
- Encryption & VPN Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2. Manual configuration allows for L2TP/IPSec and PPTP.
- Servers Located in the USA: 14 locations, 11,200+ servers
- Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days.
6. Surfshark - Unlimited VPN Connections
Chances are you use the Internet on at least two devices. This might be your desktop computer or your laptop, accompanied by a smartphone or tablet. However, the list usually doesn't stop there - as our homes have become filled with Internet-capable devices. Fortunately, Surfshark offers support for an unlimited number of devices, meaning you can secure your data on all your gadgets.
Not to mention you can switch between devices on your weekend binge sessions, on your streaming platform of choice. All for the price of a single subscription. And don't let it being last on our list fool you, Surfshark can unblock content with the best of them and offers top-notch quality all the same.
Finally, it's CleanWeb feature is pretty similar to what NordVPN offers with their CyberSec option. A (literally) cleaner browsing experience, free of most intrusive advertising and protection against malware and phishing attempts.
To dive deeper into everything this VPN offers, check out our full Surfshark review.
- Encryption & VPN Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, IKEv2.
- Servers Located in the USA: 20+ locations; 500+ servers.
- Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days.
Why Do You Need a VPN in the US?
In the USA, laws that govern electronic privacy and telecommunications are incredibly vague. Known as the Patriot Act, this set of laws grants a great amount of power to the US government. Even though the main idea behind these laws is collecting data and preventing possible terror attacks, they reach far beyond that. As Edward Snowden’s leaks pointed out, the government has the power to track you and learn incredibly personal details about you via Internet and phone surveillance.
This is where a reliable VPN comes into play. They're used to encrypt your data on all devices capable of accessing the Internet. In other words, all your incoming and outgoing data becomes unreadable to any third parties, including your Internet provider. There are also some other benefits, like anonymous file downloading, watching media streaming services not available in the US, preventing bandwidth throttling by your ISP, and more.
TikTok Is Banned in the US - Can I Use TikTok with a VPN?
TikTok has been removed from the Google Play Store and the App Store in the US on September 20, 2020. Why? Well, the government cited security concerns - namely, that China is using it to spy on US citizens. We've previously covered the fact that TikTok is essentially spyware, so the decision isn't without merit.
But then again, Facebook, Google, and other "Big Tech" companies are probably all doing worse things with your data. Does anyone remember Cambridge Analytica? Yeah, the Facebook app is still up on both stores and running. You have to point and laugh at the double standards once in a while.
In any case, the short answer is yes. You can bypass the TikTok ban in the USA with a VPN. Click or tap on the link above to learn everything you need to know (including the best VPNs for TikTok).
Is It Worth Getting a Free VPN for US?
Getting a USA VPN for free seems like a good idea, until you look at the fine print (or lack thereof).
- Free VPNs log and sell your data - considering VPNs are supposed to prevent your ISP from doing the same, that's not a very good trade-off, especially when you take the next point into account. Read - Are free VPNs safe?
- Free VPNs offer few servers and poor performance - it makes sense; after all, it costs a lot of money to rent and maintain a wide server network, pay developers and engineers, provide customer support, etc.
- To top everything off, your device could get infected with malware. According to our research, many people that need a great VPN for the US also look up the "best free VPN for Android." Well, you won't be happy to hear that 38% of the free VPNs on the Google Play Store have been found to contain malicious code. To be fair, the competition doesn't fare much better. Researchers have found that most of the top 20 free VPNs for iPhone go against Apple's guidelines.
- Finally, you're probably looking for a VPN that will help you watch content from abroad and expand your streaming library. Well, free VPNs are usually the first ones to get blocked by Netflix and co., so not much luck there, either.
All in all, it's not worth the headache. At least not when all the best VPNs for the US on our list have 30 to 45-day money-back guarantees so you can try them out risk-free.
Knowing your options is a good place to start. However, we are sure that you need more information to make a well-informed decision. So, here are some commonly asked questions with answers that you might find to be helpful.
How to Get a USA IP Address?
A large portion of users around the world use VPNs to access streaming content from the US. To get the best possible results, you need a VPN with plenty of US servers, as that will reduce the chances of the VPN being blocked by streaming sites. Check out how to get a USA IP address for more info on the topic.
What’s the Best Free VPN for the US?
To recap, most free VPNs you can find online will log and sell your data, inject your browser with intrusive advertising to cover costs, or straight up infect your device with malware. Moreover, their unblocking capabilities are fairly limited, so their use for entertainment is nothing to write home about.
However, we know it's been a rough year for many of you, and anything "free" at this point would be neat. If you're on a budget, we suggest you choose the most affordable options out there. You know, without risking your payment info and passwords leaking out in the process of using the VPN.
What's the Best VPN for Torrenting in the US?
Since P2P traffic is typically associated with illegal content, some US-based ISPs block torrenting altogether. This means that you won't be able to use a BitTorrent client even if you want to stay legal while torrenting. Once again, a VPN can help out. To make sure you pick the best one for the job, take a look at our dedicated article on the best VPNs for torrenting.
What's the Best VPN for Streaming in the US?
Based on our experience, the best VPN for streaming is ExpressVPN being just an all-around great option, including for streaming purposes. It easily unblocks any website, including Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, HBO GO, Amazon Prime Video, and plenty more. To explore additional options, here's our guide to the best streaming VPN.
What's the Best US VPN for Android?
Anything we haven't covered about the best US VPNs that you'd like to know about? Let us know in the comments and we'll be glad to help out!