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The best US VPN to use in or outside the USA 2022

Illustration of a US flag and various tech devices
(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Whether you're sitting stateside and want all the benefits of a VPN, or you're an American abroad that needs the help of a US VPN to dial in back home, we've got all the finest options for you right here.

As well as allowing you to appear as if you're somewhere else completely and getting around geographically restricted content, the VPNs on this list are also excellent for enhancing your online privacy no matter if you're at home or travelling and using public Wi-Fi.

That means if you're on vacation and wish to access the likes of, say, Peacock TV, Sling, or Paramount Plus, you'll be able to get around the usual geo-blocking and stream them even if you're outside of the US. It also means you can watch the likes of BBC iPlayer without being in the UK, simply by hopping on a server in the right location.

When it comes to the best US VPN, then, we've narrowed down your options to those offering the best in terms of streaming service unblocking, security features, and the best pool of US-based servers.

Today's top 3 best US VPNs:

1. ExpressVPN - the best US VPN

1. ExpressVPN - the best US VPN
Whether it's for streaming, getting around banned websites and apps, or simply for an extra layer of security, ExpressVPN is our top choice. It's fast, secure, easy to use and you can now get it with 3 months extra free and free unlimited cloud backup or try it risk free with its 30-day money back guarantee.

2. NordVPN - one of the best in the business

2. NordVPN - one of the best in the business
NordVPN has a huge reputation in the world of VPNs, and it's certainly well earned. Unblocking geo-restricted content is easy to Nord, and it's easy to set up and use. We also like all the extra security perks it brings to the table, and the pricing isn't bad either!

3. ProtonVPN - fast speeds and streaming smarts

3. ProtonVPN - fast speeds and streaming smarts
ProtonVPN pulled out some of the very best US server speeds we saw during our most recent testing, and has also come up trumps for unlocking Netflix catalogs in the US and other parts of the world.

US flag

The top 5 best US VPN in 2022:

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

Best all-round US VPN for privacy, speed and unblocking

Number of US server cities: 14 | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Trial length: 30 days

Simple and easy to use interface
Fast and stable connection across multiple US connections
24/7 customer support
Great for streaming
Max 5 simultaneous connections

Best US VPN 2022 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan

TechRadar Editor's Choice logo

ExpressVPN is the best US VPN (and, indeed our favorite service overall) because it offers the best of everything from speed and security to ease of use, compatibility and customer service.

It's particularly well suited for use in and outside the USA as it has a whopping 3,000 servers spread across 160 locations and 94 countries - everywhere from Atlanta to Washington DC.

As well as getting high speed US-based server choices (especially when you switch on its proprietary Lightway protocol), with smart selection wizards and 24/7 live chat assistance, that goes for anybody outside the country, too.

ExpressVPN will let you watch the likes of Hulu, HBO Max and Peacock when you're outside the US (we know, because we've tried), BBC iPlayer inside the States and plenty more besides. You're secure too with Bitcoin payment, P2P support, industrial level encryption, a kill switch, DNS protection and a clear no-logging policy. 

The only downside is that while this has clients that work on lots of devices, you can only use up to five at once - that's less than some other services on our list will offer you. Never going to need that? Then this is pretty much the perfect VPN.

Get the best US VPN 2022 with 3 months extra FREE

Get the best US VPN 2022 with 3 months extra FREE
ExpressVPN tops the lot by a clear distance and isn't even that expensive when you consider that it will give 3 months FREE if you sign up for an annual plan, together with an entire year's use of unlimited, secure cloud backup from trusted provider Backblaze. Fantastic value on a fantastic US VPN.

(Image credit: Future)

2. NordVPN

Superb security at its best

Number of US server cities: 15 | Number of servers: 5,200+ | Server locations: 80+ | Maximum devices supported: 6 | Trial length: 30 days

Excellent speeds
Double encryption
Superb user experience and support
Ongoing struggles with US Netflix

You've probably heard of NordVPN - the company does a lot of VPN advertising in the US and around the world. But this is one of those services that really walks the walk, as well as talking the talk.

The engineers have really sought to take security to another level. Of course there's the usual array of 2048-bit encryption, kill switches and DNS leak protection, but there are extra features like Double VPN (that encrypts your data twice) and Onion over VPN (pushing everything through the specialist super-secure network) that really gives you peace of mind that your internet activity isn't going to be seen by anybody you don't want it to.

For USA and outside use Nord is ideal as it offers a DNS-like SmartPlay system which is made specifically for getting around geo-restricted content, so you can watch anything, from anywhere, wherever you are.

The live chat support is excellent, should you find issues. But generally the software is easy to use with decent compatibility so you can get on via smartphone, tablet, laptop and more. You can even pay anonymously using Bitcoin or PayPal.

This all sounds perfect, so why isn't it higher in the list? Well, we personally don't think the user experience is quite as good as ExpressVPN. Plus, our last few Netflix tests showed that Nord was unable to unblock Netflix catalogs outside of the US. But if that doesn't mater to you and you want a competitively priced VPN of exceptional quality, NordVPN is a very good bet.

ProtonVPN on laptop and smartphone

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

3. ProtonVPN

Exceptional US VPN speeds from a provider on the rise

Number of US server cities: 15 | Number of servers: 1,500+ | Server locations: 85+ | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Trial length: 30 days

Incredible connection speeds
Strong for streamers
Excellent mobile apps
Plus plan is quite expensive

ProtonVPN has become a frequently recommended VPN on the pages of TechRadar, and makes a great fit if you're in the USA. That's largely because of the quite remarkable speeds we witnessed during our latest testing.

They got as fast as 740Mbps when we turned on the lightning-fast WireGuard protocol. Bit even when we were slumming it on OpenVPN, they came through with a market-leading 460Mbps. The effect of that for the user is that you can happily leave ProtonVPN running in the background of your computer or phone and rest assured that it shouldn't have an impact on the performance of your device.

Outside of pure speed, we also like that ProtonVPN has really upped its game on streaming (only when you have Plus plan, though) and is now one of our favorite Netflix VPNs. As well as opening up access to US Netflix exclusives when you're abroad, it helped us unlock Canadian and UK Netflix, too.

This provider has developed apps on iOS and Android that are a pleasure to use, has plenty of features, and barely logs anything about you when in use - indeed, just the fact it's based in Switzerland just feels immediately more private.

Proton still doesn't have the vast server network that the likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN do, but it still has locations in 15 US cities. And we're afraid that if you're looking for a true bargain of a VPN deal, Proton isn't currently one of the cheapest around.

(Image credit: IPVanish)

4. IPVanish

Top torrenting tech inside and outside the USA

Number of US server cities: 17 | Number of servers: 2,000+ | Server locations: 75+ | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | Trial length: 30 days

Owned and managed servers
Superb speeds
Configurable apps
Falls short with some streaming services
Not the best mobile apps

IPVanish is the only US-based VPN on this list, which may feel like something that appeals to you in a world of providers from faraway countries like Lithuania and the British Virgin Islands.

This VPN uses a staggering 40,000+ IP addresses spread over more than 70-odd countries all while dishing out unlimited P2P traffic - so f you're looking to use your VPN for torrents while inside and outside the US then, this could be a great option.

It'll work across on as many devices as you can handle at once so you're able to download, stream, upload, listen, watch, and anything else across your tech. There's also lots of client compatibility across phones, laptops, tablets, Windows, Mac and even Fire TV.

Having taken a while to adopt the modern standard WireGuard protocol, it was certainly worth the wait. In our speed tests with WireGuard turned on, IPVanish ranked among the very fastest VPNs recorded where US servers are concerned.

We think IPVanish could do with spending a bit of time improving its mobile VPN apps (they don't get updated much and are sometimes a bit complicated to use) and IPVanish has a bit of a spotty history when used with streaming services. But all-in-all, IPVanish is a very solid VPN.

(Image credit: Future)

5. Surfshark

Proof that cheap doesn't have to mean low-quality

Number of US server cities: 23 | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 100+ | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | Trial length: 30 days

Eye-catching pricing
Use on unlimited devices
Looooads of US server locations
Privacy policy could be more detailed

The reputation of Surfshark has grown sharply in the VPN world. It's probably fair to say that its clean and friendly interface and branding are a tad less intimidating than some of the competition. And the pricing certainly is - nobody really comes close to stealing away Surfshark's spot at the top of our best cheap VPN countdown.

But unless you're an advanced user that wants all the features going, you won't feel shortchanged by Surfshark either. For starters, it's available to use on as many devices as you can handle in your household on the same, low-priced account. It's available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux and a whole host of other gadgets.

At the time of writing, it offered servers in more than 20 different US city locations. That's more than most, and feels like a commitment to the security and site unblocking of those who are stateside.


What is the best US VPN?

Honestly, pick any provider from our chart of top VPNs and you'll end up with something that's fit for purpose in the US - it's probably unsurprising that they all have an array of US servers and don't slouch when it comes to connection speeds.

But if you just want the best of the best, then you may as well head straight to the ExpressVPN website. It is brilliant at unblocking geo-restricted content, has some of the best speeds around and is just so easy to use. Plus, you can give it a try and cancel within 30 days to claim a full refund if you're not happy.

What is the function of a US VPN?

A VPN - short for virtual private network - has a number of functions. Primarily, though, it allows you to change your IP address to appear as if you're elsewhere. This means you'll be able to spoof your device into thinking you're either inside or outside of the US, giving you the advantage of unblocking and accessing other geo-restricted content.

It's also a security bonus, with other features and components including encryption to take your information and turn it into code, making it unreadable to any prying eyes. Kill switches, split tunneling and the like also prevent people from seeing what you're doing and allow you to maintain better online anonymity. 

What can I watch with a US VPN?

Travel abroad with your laptop or phone, and you'll soon find that any attempts to watch the likes of Peacock TV, Paramount Plus, ESPN Plus or any other US-focused streaming services will be foiled. The geo-restrictions that these companies enforce mean that watching outside the United States is impossible...unless you use a VPN that is! The same goes for online access to the cable channels you pay for.

And if you're sat in the US now and want to use your VPN for BBC iPlayer or other overseas streaming content, then the world's best providers can help you with that, too.

Is a US VPN illegal?

It may seem like a silly question, but it's not. While you're absolutely safe and within your right to use a VPN in the USA, there are countries that have laws against them, including the likes of China, North Korea, and so on. However, within the US, VPN services are completely legal to use.

Of course, it should go without saying just because you're connected a VPN, doesn't make any illegal activity legal, or indeed make you immune from prosecution. 

  • Want a freebie? These are the only free VPN options to consider

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.