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The best cheap VPN providers 2021

Graphic of a laptop, monitor and smartphone with the word VPN at the front
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

So you like the idea of getting a VPN, but you don't particularly want to spend lots to get one? Thankfully, competition is so hot that the world's top providers are constantly tripping over themselves to try and out-price the rest. That means you can get a brilliant cheap VPN that doesn't compromise on quality.

Taking a look at our guide to the best cheap VPN should be just what the doctor ordered if you like the idea of protecting your online life without paying an arm and a leg. We've focused on the services that offer great prices on one-year or more subscriptions, as that's where the best value lies with the cheapest VPNs.

Plus, they can often be bought through a special deal at a much lower price, making the best cheap VPNs even more attractive.

How to choose the best cheap VPN

Having to pay for a VPN should not be surprising when you consider that you’re getting top-notch performance, security and privacy that free VPN options just can't match. However, it’s definitely possible to sign up for an excellent VPN provider and pay a very reasonable subscription fee, and those are the services we’re pointing out in this article.

A cheap VPN provider is no different to any other in terms of what you’re likely to be looking for: tight security and good levels of privacy, with at least solid speeds on the performance front. And as ever, a wide coverage of devices and platforms with a range of user-friendly clients is welcome.

But more than that, make sure that it serves the purpose you want it to? Big streamer? Make sure it unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer or whatever your chosen service is. Torrenter? Make sure the service excels there. And if you're more likely to use your VPN on mobile, then be sure that dedicated Android and/or iOS apps are available, too. And remember to look out for a provider that has a money-back guarantee, so you can always quit and get your cash back if you decide you don't want it later.

Today's top 3 best cheap VPNs:

1. Surfshark is the very best cheap VPN
We're not sure quite how it does it, but we think Surfshark has the competition licked when it comes to mixing quality with affordability. It appears on 'best of' lists all around the internet and yet always manages to produce great price points - currently from $2.49 per month.
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2. Private Internet Access - super cheap if you can commit
PIA has made great strides in our last couple of VPN testing rounds, and now it has complemented its excellent apps and monumental server count with a fantastic price for anybody happy to commit to the VPN for the next three years where the effective price is $2.08 per month.
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3. ExpressVPN - get a great deal on the world's best
OK, so ExpressVPN isn't the among the absolute cheapest VPNs on the market. But, in our view, it is the best. And because TechRadar readers are able to get an extra 3 months free and unlimited secure cloud backup from Backblaze included with an annual plan, we still think it's well worth shouting about.
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  • Just want the greatest? Or want to know more? Head to our best VPN guide

The best cheap VPN providers in 2021

Surfshark - the best cheap VPN - working across devices

1. Surfshark

A fantastic product that's one of the cheapest around

Overall VPN ranking: 3 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers/locations: 3,200+/100+ | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | Free trial?: 30 days

Annual plan is so incredibly cheap
Connect unlimited devices
Fast connections
High time for a full no-log audit

There's no wonder that Surfshark's VPN stands out so much. As well as the eye-catching name and inviting branding, the incredible sub-$2.50/£2/AU$3.50 a month subscription cost means that it usually swims out on its own in the cheap VPN waters.

And it's not all about the bottom-line cost. The fact that you can use Surfshark on as many of your gadgets and devices as you like at once improves the value even further. There's nothing really stopping you from sharing your login details out among our friends and family if you like (although, at Surfshark's price, you needn't even really bother!).

And what to you get for this meagre sum? Well, honestly, pretty much everything you'd expect from a service that sits so high up in our guide to the very best overall VPN. There are plenty of security protocols available (e.g. OpenVPN, IKEv2 and the new, faster WireGuard) and a kill switch for extra security when the VPN is in use. And its Surfshark's handy 'Quick connect' option will have you connected to one of its 3,200+ servers in pretty much no time at all.

Yes, you can get your VPN cheaper than Surfshark. But to do so, you either have to compromise on quality or crank up the subscription to three years. That's why Surfshark takes the top spot here.

Private Internet Access - best VPN

(Image credit: Private Internet Access)

2. Private Internet Access

A VPN growing in reputation yet keeps getting cheaper

Overall VPN ranking: 5 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers/locations: 10,000+/100+ | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Free trial?: 30 days

Excellent apps
Goes big on server count
Improving all the time
Some dodgy speeds here and there

A service that does exactly what it says in the name, Private Internet Access has been around for years but has only recently really been climbing our top VPN rankings.

In our most recent testing, we lauded the quality of its clients and apps. Not only are they easy and friendly to use, but they really pack in the extra features for anybody who wants to fully customize their VPN experience.

Its best pricing is dependent on you being happy enough to commit to it for the next few years (and pay upfront for the privilege), but any qualms should be quelled by the fact that PIA just keeps on improving.

In terms of streaming, it keeps adding more and more services to its 'unblock' list (most recently it has upped its game as a BBC iPlayer VPN). And its 2021 redesign shows - superficially at least - that this is a provider that is investing in the future.

Hotspot Shield cheap VPN

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

3. Hotspot Shield

Fast, affordable and with a fantastic free version

Overall VPN ranking: 4 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers/ locations: 1,800+/110+ | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Free trial?: 45 days

Give it a try for free
Straightforward usability
Fast speeds
Slightly underpowered mobile apps
Have to commit longer for best prices

Hotspot Shield has an excellent reputation, thanks in no small part to its tempting free offering. But assuming that a mere 500MB of VPN use per day isn't enough for you (and it won't be if you want to stream and download music and movies while connected), then it doesn't actually cost that much more to upgrade to its premium service.

We like the way that Hotspot Shield doesn't merely rely on the usual security protocols used by other VPNs - its developers have produced their own snazzily-named Catapult Hydra protocol, which not only seeks to keep you and your data secure but also ensures consistently rapid connection speeds.

But Hotspot has become more than a simple one-tricky pony (although a very fast one) in recent times. It's now among our top three overall favorite providers, due to its fantastic user experience across a range of devices and its much improved performance in our streaming service unblocking tests.

The cherry on top? Hotspot Shield has an exclusive price in place just for TechRadar readers. If you're happy to commit to a three year subscription, the effective monthly cost falls all the way down to $2.49. That's a tremendous price on a VPN that sits on our VPN podium.

Hotspot Shield | 3 years | $9.99 $2.49/pm | 75% saving
The reduction here is clearly very eye-catching, and you can't really argue with an effective monthly cost of just $2.49 - you have to pay the full $90 upfront, but can cancel for a full refund within the first 45 days.
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CyberGhost cheap VPN

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

4. CyberGhost

An amazing array of features for such a low price

Overall VPN ranking: 6 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Servers/locations: 7,000+/110+ | Maximum devices supported: 7 | Free trial?: 45 days

Superb value for money
Strong performance in our tests
An array of smart features
Interface not as usable as others
Prices only drop when you commit

If Surfshark's appeal is its sheer simplicity, CyberGhost takes the plaudits for being such a thorough package at such a low price.

But if that sounds like it's going to be complicated to use, then please don't misunderstand us. We're really fond of how easy this provider makes it to connect to just the right server for your purpose. That means that if your main purpose for getting a VPN is streaming, CyberGhost will actively help you select the ideal server for watching Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.

CyberGhost is equipped with one of the vastest quantities of servers out there - around 7,000 in 110+ countries at last count. That does sometimes mean that speeds aren't up to the same pace as, say those of ExpressVPN. But you can discover all this for yourself with CyberGhost's generous 45-day money back guarantee - one of the lengthiest VPN free trials on offer.

CyberGhost | 26 months | $2.25 per month | 82% saving
CyberGhost is a very affordable VPN - just so long as you're willing to commit. Sign up for 24 months and it will chuck in an extra 2 for free, meaning that the effective cost comes down to a rather spectacular $2.25 / £1.63 per month.
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VyprVPN - best VPN

(Image credit: google)

5. VyprVPN

Security-conscious VPN with great streaming chops

Overall VPN ranking: 11 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS | Servers/locations: 700+/70 | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Free trial?: 30 days

Incredible pricing for long term plan
User-friendly apps
Strong on streaming
Pricey 1-month plan
Not the fastest

Swiss-based VyprVPN feels like a familiar old name in the VPN game. And it remains one of the best in the business, only just missing out on our overall top 10 of the hundreds that we test.

The reason it makes this list is thanks to its incredibly priced multi-year plan. If you're happy to commit for the next three years, then Vypr asks for a flat $60 upfront. That's the equivalent of only $1.66 per month - a price that no other top VPN can get even close to matching.

But it's not all about the dollars and cents (few, as they are). As we say, VyprVPN has a strong reputation in this field, and was especially impressive in our testing when it came to streaming. From Netflix and Disney Plus, to BBC iPlayer and Hulu... we found that Vypr was up to the task of unlocking the lot so that we could watch content in just about every geo-restricted region.

It may not have some of the features of some competitors and its 700-strong server list looks on the low side in comparison, but this is still a friendly, easy-to-use VPN. Oh, and did we mention the price!?

VyprVPN | 3 years | $12.95 $1.66 per month | 89% saving
You can now get a scarcely believable 89% off VyprVPN plans, thanks to its multi-year pricing. At $60 USD for 36 months you get a fast VPN that's superb for streaming. Unlimited data usage and up to five simultaneous connections.
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But what if I just want the best overall VPN?

It's always nice to save money and know that you've bagged a bargain, but sometimes it's also worth investing in the very best. One look at our guide to the best VPN services will show that the current market-leader is ExpressVPN.

There are multifarious reasons why this is the case (check out our ridiculously in-depth ExpressVPN review to discover them all), but it boils down to the obvious things - the super fast connection speeds even to far away servers, the robust no-logging security, the incredible 24/7 customer support to get you out of the tightest binds, the sheer simplicity to use...the list goes on.

And although it can't boast the best cheap VPN prices, ExpressVPN does at least offer TechRadar readers 49% off the monthly rolling cost when you sign up for a year, as well as an extra three months FREE! Plus, you can give it a try for 30 days and cancel at any time to get a full refund.

What's more, ExpressVPN has now made the deal sweeter still by throwing in a whole year of unlimited cloud backup from trusted brand Backblaze absolutely free of charge,
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Adam is the Editor-in-Chief of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversees many of the articles TechRadar produces about antivirus software, VPNs, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews.