Mullvad VPN axes recurring subscriptions in the name of privacy

Mullvad homepage
(Image credit: Mullvad)

If you're reading about VPN services, you probably care about your online privacy. You may even opt for one of the best VPNs to make sure your data is protected by a strict no-logs policy. However, there's always some information that needs to be stored for keeping your monthly plan running.   

This is why Mullvad has taken the decision to completely remove the ability to create new subscriptions - all in the name of storing less data about their users.

"Subscriptions clearly offer a lot of convenience but as we’ve seen that convenience comes at a cost and we no longer think this is an acceptable trade-off. We care deeply about usability but when it comes down to it, privacy has to win," wrote the provider in a blog post.

This move is a step forward in Mullvad's commitment to its users' privacy. It's actually one of the few services not to ask for any email address or other personal information to create an account.

However, when it came to recurring subscription, the provider was forced to retain record of payments in order to provide refunds, charge the user again after their initial period of cover or recover a missing account. Therefore, one-time payments appear to be the only solution. 

"We are constantly looking for ways to reduce the amount of data we store while still providing a usable service. Nowhere is the tension between privacy and usability more apparent than in the area of payments."

Mullvad's monthly fee has always been the same on every plan - around $5.50. This is very different than almost every other consumer VPN, but there's no need to stress about a price rise. 

What's more, those who currently have an active Mullvad subscription do not need to worry either. Their account will keep running as usual for at least six months, or until their subscription comes to the end of a term.

Going against the grain

When it comes to VPN plans, Mullvad's competitors have a completely different approach. In fact, almost all the big names across the industry offer discounted prices to users that decide to commit for longer. 

Let's look at some examples. The fee for getting ExpressVPN for only a month is $12,95. This drops to $9.99 for a 6-month plan and $6,67 for a 12-month + 3 free plan. This means that users are encouraged to subscribe for longer to have the same service for half of the price.

Others, like Surfshark and NordVPN, offer their long-term subscriptions for a lower initial fee, and then crank the price on automatic resubscription. After being drawn in by a tempting price, users may actually end up paying two or even three times more once the introductory period has ended. 

On the one hand, this is a shady tactic to eke more cash out of users who don't opt out of automatic rebilling – and one not merely confined to the VPN industry. On the other, though, savvy shoppers can get a much better price if they're proactive about cancelling before they're rebilled.

Mullvad VPN comes at a flat rate of roughly $5,50 a month no matter how long you subscribe for. Even before announcing it would accept non-recurring payments only, the provider has never pushed its users to commit longer than they wished. What's more, to make things easier, users will still have the opportunity to pay as many months as they want in one go.

Mullvad VPN working on a laptop

(Image credit: Mullvad)

How to create your one-payment Mullvad account

Getting started with Mullvad couldn't be easier. Just head to the Mullvad website and press the yellow Get started button placed at the top right.

You will be redirected to its account page. However, unlike most of its rivals, instead of using your email address you will simply need to tap the Generate account number button. Note this down as it will be your unique reference. 

Mullvad account page

(Image credit: Mullvad)

After that, you will need to select your desired payment method. Mullvad offers a wide choice - from a classic credit card, bank wire and PayPal to Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrencies. With the latter, a 10% discount will be applied to the monthly flat rate of around $5,50.

After selecting your payment method, you'll be able to choose how long you want to pay for. Remember, after this time runs out you'll have to resubscribe manually thanks to the change in policy.

Mullvad payments page

(Image credit: Mullvad)

Once paid, you will have to download the Mullvad app to begin to protect your privacy and anonymity when browsing the web. You will be able to use your account on five difference devices at once - whether these are Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS or Android. 

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