Only 1 in 6 VPN users are taking advantage of this money saving hack

Illustration of the letters VPN surrounded by people, devices and padlocks
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You've probably noticed, the best VPN services around all have similar properties - from strong encryption and a wide range of fast servers around the globe, to strict no-log policies and reliable security features. 

However, there's one hallmark that can vary wildly from provider-to-provider: the number of devices you can use at once.

From a standard of five simultaneous connections, device allowances have been growing in recent years. And now some top providers - like Surfshark and IPVanish - have removed the limit on devices entirely.  

That means that sharing a VPN account with friends or family members could be an effective way to cut some expenses and get the most of your subscription fees - very much like people do with big streaming platforms like Netflix.

But data gathered by TechRadar shows that fewer VPN users than expected take advantage of this opportunity to share the love.

VPN sharing is caring

We were keen to understand if VPN users are getting the most out of their subscription. So we asked over 2,400 about their habits and discovered that just a tiny 15% of VPN users share their account with people outside their household - that's only 1 in 6 people.

That feels particularly low when you consider that, among those, roughly 3 out of 5 respondents use a VPN that doesn't strictly prohibit account sharing. And 50% of those pay for a subscription with an allowance of 10 or more simultaneous connections.

Stats on VPN account sharing

(Image credit: Future)

It may be that those people are under the impression that sharing VPN usernames and passwords is - like Netflix - in direct breach of their providers' terms and conditions. So we took a deep dive into the Ts&Cs of the industry's biggest providers to see whether account sharing is indeed banned.

Does your VPN provider prohibit account sharing?

Interestingly, none of the VPN providers sitting at the top of our list of favorites expressly prohibit you to share your account with friends and family. Indeed, some services clearly refer to other people using your account in their terms and conditions.

Among these, there are Surfshark, NordVPN and Private Internet Access. While others, like ExpressVPN, neither prohibit nor encourage the practice. 

On the other hand, some VPNs explicitly state that account sharing violate their terms of service. These include IPVanish, Windscribe, StrongVPN and Tunnelbear.

In some instances, the language used is actually quite confusing. We found CyberGhost's terms and conditions to be rather vague on this point, for example. Under its section 'Safety of your account', the provider states: "Do not disclose to third parties your user information (Username and password). You are the only one responsible for the activities related to your user account as well as for the activities related to your user account which you have transferred unjustifiable to third parties."  

In these instances, we recommend to double check with your provider to make sure you are not breaking any rules. 

Getting the most from your VPN sub

It's probably not such a surprise that VPN users are missing out on an opportunity to make their subscription go further - after all, we also found in our survey that almost 90% of respondents connect their service on five devices or fewer. The great majority use their VPN on just two or three of those.   

Two infographics showing the number of devices used per VPN subscription

Our survey found that only 1 in 10 respondents actually use their VPN on more than five devices (Image credit: Future)

As this data clearly shows, individual users don't actually need so many simultaneous connections in practice. Most people might own just few devices anyway - usually a smartphone laptop, and then likely also a tablet, Smart TV/streaming device and games console. On top of that, if you install your VPN on your router, all your household will be covered using up just one connection among those available. 

And with people still opting for a free VPN - despite the risks and limitations that those entail - roughly 1 out of 4 respondents admitted to use one. So why not team up with your buddies to save some bucks and enjoy a better service instead?

Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to