YouTube is reportedly canceling Premium memberships for people using VPNs to get discounts

the YouTube logo on a screen in front of other YouTube logos covering a black background
(Image credit: Shutterstock / JRdes)

If you’ve been looking to avoid YouTube’s worsening ad situation now that the site has made it near impossible to use many ad blockers – with plans to adopt server-side ads, and automatically skipping to the end of videos if it detects a blocker – then you might have turned to YouTube Premium for help. But if you paid for membership in a foreign country, using one of the best VPNs to save on the cost, then you could be in trouble; as there are reports YouTube is automatically canceling those memberships.

On the r/YouTube subreddit, there are two separate posts from users who claim they’ve been told their Premium memberships are being canceled by YouTube itself, with plenty of comments saying the same thing has happened to them. The reason? They all seem to have been using a VPN to pay for Premium in a country they don’t live in – one where subscriptions are cheaper than what they’d pay where they live.

One post explained they were told by YouTube that their subscription was ended “due to inaccurate billing country” [sic] (claiming they were paying in Argentine Pesos despite their home currency being Pounds Sterling), while a comment on another post said YouTube customer service told them “as I ‘moved’ to a different location from the one I signed up at (Ukraine but UK based), the service has been cancelled until I sign up with a UK card and address.”

We reached out to YouTube directly for a comment on this situation to verify it, but at the time of publishing it has yet to respond. 

The one silver lining for cancellations at least appears to be that YouTube is simply ending their subscription at the end of the current billing cycle – rather than cutting it off right away.

NordVPN logo on top of a mountain range

VPNs can help you access your home country's network (Image credit: NordVPN)

Why is Premium cheaper elsewhere?

For those of you wondering why YouTube Premium costs less in certain places, it’s because of a commonly used practice called geographical pricing. To simplify things, let’s say one country’s average wage is $25/hour and and another’s average is $5/hour; an $100 item would be equivalent to four hours of labor in Country A and 20 hours in Country B so people from Country B are a lot less likely to be able to afford or buy this product. With geographical pricing, the product might instead cost $100 in A and $20 in B so that it’s equally attainable.

Shipping fees, taxes, other costs, and general logistical issues make it difficult for customers to game this system for physical items, but for digital items it's easier for people to find workarounds.

This does, however, result in reduced revenue for the product or service you are purchasing, and YouTube isn’t the first service to clock onto this use of region spoofing. Back in 2021, Valve added a limit to region switching on Steam to seemingly combat this practice (via GamesIndustry.biz), while digital code cards for Xbox games and services are only valid for users in the region they were purchased (via the official FAQ) to name a couple of examples. Other companies simply ignore geographical pricing altogether.

Moving forward with or without Premium 

If you’ve not been lucky enough to dodge YouTube’s Premium cancellations then what can you do?

Well, the unfortunate answer is that you’re probably stuck with the unappealing options of simply subscribing in the country you actually live in, or stopping watching YouTube altogether.

Some Reddit users have suggested possible workarounds using payment cards registered in the country you’re pretending to be from, and then always accessing YouTube via a VPN. But we wouldn't recommend this, and we expect this and other workarounds won't last for long.

Your YouTube account is also a Google account, so if you use other Google services (like Maps for example) you'll almost certainly get caught out – meaning you could go to a lot of effort just for your scheme to crumble. 

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Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.