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VPNs with free trial: best options to try before you buy in 2021

vpn with free trials
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A VPN can be an endlessly useful tool, but if you don't know much about this nifty piece of software, you may be dubious about paying for one of the many providers available. Thankfully, there are VPNs with free trials out there that allow you to try before you buy and get a sense for what one can do, and how it can better both the security and optimisation of your device and internet usage.

Allowing you to download the software onto your chosen device, you can reap the benefits of a VPN for a period of time and see all the perks of a virtual private network. From better securing your connection and your sensitive data, to allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions and access websites, social media platforms, and stream-able content where you otherwise wouldn't be able to when in the office, at school, or abroad.

While many VPN services can be fairly affordable - especially when committing to one of their longer term plans - it's always appreciated when you can see what a particular product has to offer first. From VPN with free trials, to money back guarantees, and free, limited versions of a VPN, we've got all the details you'll need to take this piece of software for a spin.

1. ExpressVPN - the VPN with a free trial out there
Like most other providers out there, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee. But the reason we put them top of this list is because it's the best overall VPN out there... period. Fast, secure, easy-to-use and, if you do commit to an annual plan, it will throw in an extra 3 months and secure cloud storage free.
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2. Surfshark - big features at a low price
Surfshark has become a very popular VPN choice thanks to its incredible pricing - no other premium provider touches its sub-$2.50 per month multiyear plan. And if you want to give it a try, there's an option available to do so for seven days without even handing over your credit card details.
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3. Hotspot Shield - consistently good performer
Offering both a free and paid for platform, Hotspot Shield is known for its impressive speeds with its Catapult Hydra protocol, as well as  its sleek interface and geo-unblocking capabilities. Give its free version a go, before upgrading for a fully-featured experience.View Deal

  • Just want to see the overall best VPN? Click to discover the cream of the crop

Our top 5 VPN with free trial providers:

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

The number one VPN service, free or not, available right now

Free trial type: 30-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Huge selection of servers
Simple and clean client
Super secure
Fewer simultaneous connections than some others

Best free trial VPN 2021 - 100% risk-free 30-day money back guarantee

The greatest VPN of them all, regardless of free trial, is ExpressVPN. And the fact it has a 30-day money-back guarantee is just another sweetener.

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On top of that you also get some of the best security out there thanks to enterprise-level encryption, DNS content unblocking, no logging, a kill switch, P2P support and leak protection. Even payment, if you decide to go beyond the free trial, is secure with Bitcoin as an optional method.

Beyond security you also have all the benefits of a geo-location workaround system meaning you can flit between countries always appearing to be where you need to be seen from. And that works across devices too thanks to iOS, Android, Mac and Windows clients.

The 24/7 customer support service is a huge draw with help available whenever you need it. The only negative we have is that you can only use this on five devices at any one time. It's still not bad (just fewer than some other services) and since you can set this up on the router, that helps bypass that issue at home.

On top of the 30-day money-back guarantee the best value ExpressVPN price comes if you simply sign up for an annual sub, as that gets you 49% off and an extra 3 months FREE. Plus, Express has increased the value even further by throwing in one year's unlimited use of Backblaze secure cloud storage, too.

Get our #1 favorite VPN with free trial
You can tell that we really rate Express - it's the VPN we use in the office! And the good news (on top of the fact there's that 30-day VPN free trial, of course) is that TechRadar readers can get a little perk, too: ExpressVPN has agreed to give you three months extra free when you sign up to an annual plan.
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(Image credit: Future)

2. Surfshark

Big features at a low price - and a genuine 7-day free trial

Free trial type: 7-day free trial (Android only) and 30-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 60+ | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Loads of features
Unblocks Netflix
Very cheap two-year plan
Speedy live chat support
Trial is for mobile apps and Macs only
Support website needs work

Surfshark is a VPN that proves you can have an affordable version of a product that still delivers powerful features. This little gem offers a seven-day free trial that requires no credit card details at all when you download it from the Google Play Store on an Android device, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee. When you do come to pay, you get a price that's near half that of the competition, yet still crams in loads of security and geo restriction unblocking powers.

It's worth noting that the free trial is for mobile apps and Mac only, at time of publishing. However that does get you access to over 3,200 servers across more than 60 locations and, crucially, works to unblock Netflix - something many cheaper VPNs struggle with. Speeds are great and security is fierce with AES-256 encryption, IKEv2 protocols, OpenVPN UDP and TCP and a kill switch, to name but a few. Despite the complex sounding systems, the app is clear and easy to use, even for beginners. 


Hotspot Shield VPN with free trial

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

3. Hotspot Shield

Excellent free version is a great test run for Hotspot's premium VPN

Free trial type: Free version and 45-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 1,800+ | Server locations: 110+ | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Free version is an ideal test bed
Affordable
Market-leading speeds
Ease of use
Official app only

Hotspot Shield is a superb VPN that is most notable for the connection speed across its 1,800 servers running over 70 countries. Thanks to its very own Catapult Hydra protocol this gives you superb speeds no matter where you are and works with clients for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows.

But perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that you can take advantage of its full free version, that is a great reflection of its premium plan but limited to 500MB use per day. If you want to know just how good Hotspot Shield is then download the free version first and give it a whirl. Or, if you already know that 500MB will never be enough, then there's a 45-day money-back guarantee of the unlimited plan you can try instead.


(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

4. ProtonVPN

Unlimited bandwidth with its free plan

Free trial type: Free version | Number of servers: 1,200+ | Server locations: 55+ | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Not only does ProtonVPN offer a 30-day money back guarantee, you can give it a real trial run with its free version. While it may have scrapped its free trial period, ProtonVPN has the option of a free plan, which allows you to try out many of its features without spending a penny.

Of its 1,200+ servers, you can utilise 23 servers in three countries, with medium speeds and the ability to bypass restrictions on blocked content, including allowing us to watch Netflix Originals, BBC iPlayer and more. This is ideal with an unlimited data allowance, practically unheard of for free VPN providers, meaning you can stream and carry out other heavy data usage tasks without using up all your data quickly. There's unlimited bandwidth, too.

There's also a boatload of features to use in the free version like Auto-Connect, Split Tunnelling, and Alternative Routing. 

While upgrading to one of its paid-for plans gets you P2P support and use of its adblocker, as well as access to hundreds more servers around the world, with unlimited data for an unlimited time, this is a great stepping stone into the world of VPN and trying before you buy. 


cyberghost vpn with free trial

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

5. CyberGhost

Super configurable VPN with a long money-back guarantee

Free trial type: 45-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 7,000+ | Server locations: 110+ | Maximum devices supported: 7 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Great client options
Excellent performance
Torrent support
Interface issues

CyberGhost is one of our favorite VPN services for unblocking video content thanks to its server selection. Just pick the service you want, be it Netflix, Hulu, and more, then the VPN will select the best server to get you the ultimate performance.

The basics are well covered with a whopping 7,000+ servers spanning more than 80 countries, all the usual clients and an impressive live chat support service. You also get automated HTTPS redirection and optional data compression to keep you secure and save you money respectively. The interface could be simpler and the desktop trial period is only 24 hours.

The money back guarantee lasts a decent 45 days - so a bit more than the industry standard. But that doesn't apply on its 1-month sub, where the guarantee is reduced to 14 days.


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Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.