A good VPN keeps you safe online by shielding your identity to make you practically invisible to anyone trying to track your movements. If you travel outside of North America, a US VPN is especially important. This lets you access American content, regardless of where in the world you may be.
Want to keep up on your favorite shows on Netflix, Peacock, Sling TV, or Paramount Plus? The best US VPNs allow you to slip past the usual geo-restrictions and stream from outside the USA. It can also work in reverse, making you appear outside the country to unblock services like BBC iPlayer by joining a UK server.
Over the last 15 years, we have evaluated, compared, and even tests hundreds of VPN services, so we know exactly what to look for and which ones are the best when it comes to securing your privacy. While ExpressVPN and NordVPN have historically been a couple of the best, there are reasons to consider others.
Read our guide to the best US VPNs to learn about other VPN services, why we include them on our list, and how they compare to each other.
The best US VPNs today: Our top 3 picks
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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, and 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: the best US streaming VPN
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. Private Internet Access: the best VPN based in the US
The only US VPN in our top 5 actually based in the US, for many this will be a deal-breaker. With 100% open-source apps, too, PIA is completely transparent in its intentions while also being secure and a powerful performer.
What is a VPN?
A VPN (or virtual private network) is a privacy tool that secures your online activity by encrypting your information and routing it through a secure server elsewhere. This stops people from seeing what you're doing online, and it spoofs your location.
When you connect to the internet, your device transmits a unique IP address specific to the network you're connected to. This data allows websites, government agencies, TV streaming services, marketing companies, and even cybercriminals to know where you are located. It's also used, in part, to track what you do online
Using a VPN server changes the IP address to the one used in the location of the server. This makes it a little harder to figure out where you are and collect accurate data. It also helps you connect to geo-locked content.
For example, if you're traveling outside of the US, using a VPN lets you still watch your TV streaming services from your home area. It also lets you tap into websites that are usually blocked to users outside of the US.
Encryption is a tactic used to make it harder for data to be recognized and intercepted, and if it is swiped, to make sense of it. It's kind of like using a secret code where the message is scrambled up and unless you have the key, it can't be deciphered.
More and more VPNs are upping their security game by including malware detection that focuses specifically on online threats. This includes blocking malicious websites and links and preventing access to them to decrease the risk of threats reaching your device.
What to look for in a US VPN
A US VPN isn't necessarily based in the United States, and in fact, most of the VPN services we test and review aren't. The best indicator of a VPN being good to use for you will be the number of servers located in the area you need to tap into.
For example, Private Internet Access (PIA) has over 10,000 servers worldwide with a big percentage of those located in the US. This pretty much guarantees you'll be able to connect to a server in your home state that is both secure and fast.
The Five Eyes Alliance is the biggest partnership of international intelligence sharing, though there is also a Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes pact, too. Read this article to learn more, especially how it affects VPN use.
Security is the biggest factor that should be considered when choosing a VPN. This is hard to know without testing them, and you probably don't have time to do this on your own. This is why over the last 15 years we've fine-tuned our testing strategy to approach it both as researchers, but also as everyday users.
For example, when testing security, we use experts that know what to look for and how to push a VPN to its limits to see how well it keeps your information encrypted and private. One important tool that is especially put through the wringer is the kill switch. This tool puts up barriers if the VPN connection is dropped so that your important information isn't left vulnerable.
The services on our best VPN lists are the best when it comes to overall security. While no service is 100% secure, these get pretty close. And if there are any issues you should be aware of that we learned during testing, we'll let you know about them.
The best US VPN in 2023:
Best all-round US VPN for privacy, speed and unblocking
Number of US server cities: 16 | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Trial length: 30 days
ExpressVPN is the best US VPN (and, indeed, still our favorite VPN 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 — that includes 16 locations in the US, among which are Atlanta, Tampa, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
As well as getting reliable, above-average speeds (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 is just that good, so it deserves the top spot. Learn more in our ExpressVPN review about what makes it stand out above the rest.
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 many 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 many? Then this is mostly the perfect VPN.
Get the best US VPN 2023 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 a trusted provider Backblaze. Fantastic value on a fantastic US VPN.
Superb security at its best
Number of US server cities: 15 | Number of servers: 5,400+ | Server locations: 80+ | Maximum devices supported: 6 | Trial length: 30 days
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 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 will not be seen by anybody you don't want it to.
Read our NordVPN review to learn why its double-encryption makes it extra secure when it comes to protecting your privacy.
It's also pretty impressive in the speed department, too. While it has dropped a touch, it's still one of the fastest VPN services, with consistent peaks of 730-760Mbps, soaring above those average figures.
For the 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 on the list? Well, we personally don't think the user experience is quite as good as ExpressVPN due to its sometimes more clunky map interface - though this may just be down to personal taste. If that doesn't matter to you, and you want a competitively priced VPN of exceptional quality, NordVPN is an excellent bet.
US based with a mighty network to back it up
Number of US server cities: 18 | Number of servers: 10,000+ | Server locations: 84 countries | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Trial length: 30 days
Putting across its ambition from the get-go, Private Internet Access (PIA) states its huge network of 10,000+ servers is a 'global network with a USA focus'. That's thanks to it being based in Colorado in the States - something that may appeal to those after a US VPN.
With over 10,000 servers worldwide, it would be hard to not find one to use in the US. Learn more in our Private Internet Access review.
With servers located in 18 different US cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Seattle, Silicon Valley, LA, and many others, PIA also comes feature-packed across its array of excellent clients. With a maximum of 10 connections, too, you can simultaneously run it on your smartphone, Windows or Mac computer, Smart TV, and beyond.
From its excellent kill switch to split tunneling, all its apps are also completely open source, allowing anyone to have a snoop as they wish if they're not completely convinced PIA is above board.
In terms of streaming, it may not be the best for all. While it easily unblocks Disney Plus and Prime Video, in recent times we've only been able to access the US Netflix library - ideal if you're an American abroad, but not so much if you're based in the US and want to stream overseas content. It also recently failed to unblock BBC iPlayer. That said, it has managed to in the past, so maybe there is hope yet for your next fix of British entertainment.
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
For a fast VPN that doesn't skimp on security, Surfshark is it. In our latest round of testing, it blew other VPNs out of the water with an impressive speed of 950Mbps using a WireGuard connection (190Mbps with OpenVPN.)
Surfshark's reputation 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.
Unless you're an advanced user who 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.
5. Proton VPN
Exceptional US VPN speeds from a provider on the rise
Number of US server cities: 14 + Secure Core servers | Number of servers: 1,800+ | Server locations: 85+ | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Trial length: 30 days pro rata
Proton VPN has become a frequently recommended VPN on the pages of TechRadar, and makes a great fit if you're in the USA. That's down to excellent performance across speed and unblocking.
Check out the full review of Proton VPN to learn all the TV channels and streaming services it can unlock.
They got as fast as 670Mbps when we turned on the lightning-fast WireGuard protocol - though a slight decrease in its previous performance, this is still healthily above average. The effect of that for the user is that you can happily leave Proton VPN 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 pure speed, we also like that Proton VPN has really upped its game on streaming (only when you have a Plus plan, though, it won't work on the free version) 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. It'll also make easy work of bypassing any geo-restrictions in place on BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and Disney Plus.
What's more, Proton VPN has developed apps for iOS and Android that are a pleasure to use, have plenty of features, and barely log 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 14 US cities, as well as three of its Secure Core servers, which reroutes traffic via Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden (countries that are more privacy-friendly.)
US VPN: FAQ
FAQ: US VPN
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 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.
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Adam is the Editorial Director of High-Yield content at Future. Leading an outstanding team, he oversees many articles the publisher produces about subscriptions and services including VPN, TV streaming, and broadband. In addition to identifying new e-commerce opportunities, he has produced extensive buying guides, how-to-watch content, deal news, and in-depth reviews. Adam's work can be seen on numerous Future brands including TechRadar, Tom's Guide, T3, TTR, Android Central, iMore, Windows Central, and Real Homes.