VPNs with free trial: best providers to try in March 2023

VPN design on MacBook screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A VPN is an extremely helpful tool, not only if you're looking to protect yourself online, but also for things like remaining anonymous or streaming geo-restricted content. However, one big issue is that a good VPN can be a bit pricey – especially if you aren't quite sure which provider is right for you. Thankfully, most big-name VPN services also have free trials available, typically for 30 days, so you can test the waters before fully diving in.

Before you get going, it's important to note that many providers are a bit sneaky when it comes to what a "real" free trial actually is. Typically, new customers are allowed 30 days to decide if they are happy with a VPN service, or get a full refund if they aren't. Oftentimes, VPN providers market this as a free trial, when in fact you'll actually pay for those 30 days if you continue to use the service after the "trial" period is up. So, it's kind of free, but not really free. 

That being said, it's still the added reassurance you need to make the commitment, allowing you to give the VPN service a spin within the refund period before entirely pulling the trigger on monthly service.

Whatever the case, we've curated a list of the best VPNs with a free trial that you can test out today!

The best VPN with free trials

1. ExpressVPN - the best VPN with a free trial (opens in new tab)

1. ExpressVPN - the best VPN with a free trial (opens in new tab)
Like most other providers, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. But the reason we put them on top of this list is that it's the best overall VPN out there. Fast, secure, easy-to-use and, if you end up committing to an annual plan, it will throw in an extra 3 months and secure cloud backup free.

2. Surfshark - big features at a low price (opens in new tab)

2. Surfshark - big features at a low price (opens in new tab)
Surfshark has become a very popular VPN choice thanks to its eye-catching pricing - no other premium provider touches its sub-$2.50 per month multi-year 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.

3. Proton VPN - fast, unlimited free VPN (opens in new tab)

3. Proton VPN - fast, unlimited free VPN (opens in new tab)
Who needs a free trial when you can get a secure VPN for free? Proton VPN's free version boasts unlimited data and speeds. Considering its paid-for Plus plan is one of our top choices for unblocking and performance, you can't really go wrong.

Our top 5 VPN with free trial providers:

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)
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1. ExpressVPN

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

Free trial type: 30-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 160 | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Huge selection of servers
Simple and clean clients
Super secure
Unblocks most streaming services
Above average prices
Money back guarantee only

Best free trial VPN 2023 - 100% risk-free 30-day money back guarantee (opens in new tab)

Holding the top spot across the vast majority of our VPN buying guides – whether that be for Android, Windows, Mac, Netflix, Apple TV, the list goes on – you can give ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) a try without risk thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee for new customers. 

TechRadar Editor's Choice logo

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This allows you to get a real taste of the provider and try out its excellent security with its enterprise-level encryption, DNS content unblocking, no logging, a kill switch, P2P support, and leak protection – all of which we witnessed first-hand during our testing. It's also recently thrown in its own ad and malware-blocking Threat Protection suite. Even when taking payment – which will be required upon signing up in the case of the ExpressVPN free trial – it's secure, even including Bitcoin as a payment method.

Outside of security, you also have all the benefits of geo-spoofing, meaning you can appear to be browsing from anywhere with the ability to install ExpressVPN on a number of different platforms and make use of the very user-friendly interface that we enjoyed during our review process.

The excellent 24/7 customer support service we witnessed is a huge draw, with help available whenever needed. 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.

While its 30-day money-back guarantee doesn't offer a 'true' free trial experience - you'd have to look towards the likes of Surfshark or Proton below for that - it does give you ample time to see if this is the VPN for you, all your money back! Better still, you can get the best value ExpressVPN price if you sign up for an annual sub. This gets you an extra 3 months FREE.

Get our #1 favorite VPN with free trial (opens in new tab)

Get our #1 favorite VPN with free trial (opens in new tab)
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 trial period, 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 for an annual plan, together with free cloud backup from Backblaze.

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2. Surfshark

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

Free trial type: 7-day free trial (Android, iOS, macOS) and 30-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 160+ | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Loads of features
Unblocks many streaming services
Very cheap two-year plan
Speedy live chat support
Trial is for mobile apps and Mac users 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, with innovations being introduced all the time, including Surfshark Nexus and its IP Rotator.

This little gem offers a seven-day free trial, though it does require the credit card details linked to your Google Play Store or App Store accounts. The trial is available on Android, iOS, and macOS devices (no luck for those after a VPN for Windows only).

It's worth noting however that while this will allow you to benefit from the Surfshark free trial, it will mean potentially missing out on the better rates when signing up directly through Surfshark's website.

Still, you'll also benefit from its 30-day money-back guarantee, whether you sign up through the dedicated app store or on its website. Not to mention, Surfshark offers a price that undercuts much of the competition, yet still crams in loads of security and geo-restriction unblocking powers, making it one of the best cheap VPN options out there according to our in-depth reviews. It's way cheaper than Express, significantly beats NordVPN and the only services that come in much cheaper are inferior in quality (take Ivacy VPN for example).

Get access to over 3,200 servers across more than 65 locations and, crucially, we found that Surfshark works to unblock Netflix libraries around the world, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Speeds are great (WireGuard up to 950Mbps in our latest tests) 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. 

(Image credit: Proton VPN)
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3. Proton VPN

Unlimited bandwidth with free plan

Free trial type: Free version | Number of servers: 1,700+ | Server locations: 85+ | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Full free plan with unlimited data
Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, Prime Video and more
Incredible WireGuard performance
Support not 24/7
Plans are expensive

As well as offering a 30-day money-back guarantee, Proton VPN offers a real trial run with its free version (opens in new tab) that allows you to try out many of its features without spending a penny.

Of its 1,700+ servers, you can utilize 127 servers in three countries, with middling speeds. It also offers an unlimited data allowance alongside unlimited bandwidth support - practically unheard of for a free VPN

It's worth noting, though, while Proton VPN does can bypass restrictions on blocked content, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and more, you won't be able to utilize its streaming unblocking prowess without paying for it.

That said, it indicates the kind of power Proton is capable of, held up by the average peak speed results at 510Mbps we saw in our testing.

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

While upgrading to one of its paid-for plans gets you P2P support and use of its ad blocker, as well as access to over a thousand 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, of which you'll want to reap the full rewards of Proton VPN.

Cyberghost VPN logo on tablets and smartphones

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4. CyberGhost

Super configurable VPN with a long money-back guarantee

Free trial type: 24-hour free trial, 45-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 8,900+ | Server locations: 115+ | Maximum devices supported: 7 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Great for streaming
Excellent performance
Torrent support
Some usability issues
No security audit

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 US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, or another big player, then the VPN will select the best server to get you the ultimate performance.

Better still, when it comes to a CyberGhost free trial, you can put it to the test for a 24-hours before you begin paying for it with the trial now available on desktop and mobile.

Explore a whopping 8,900+ servers spanning more than 91 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 device limitation is a bit of an annoyance, and at times it feels like the general user experience could do with some spit and polish. For example, it's strange that it doesn't notify you when you connect or disconnect, and the mobile VPN apps are somewhat underpowered compared to the full desktop versions. But in the main, this is still a provider we rate highly.

Much like Surfshark, by signing up through the Google Play Store or App Store on your Android or iOS device, you can also benefit from a free trial. For Apple users, it's a whole 7-days, while Android has been relegated to a 3-day trial.

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

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5. Hide.me

A speedy VPN with a free plan

Free trial type: Free version, 30-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 2,000+ | Server locations: 75+ | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

One of the fastest performers
Unblocks US Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus
10 GB a month on its free plan
Great mobile apps
Kill switch issues
Needs more recent security audit

Hide.me is going from strength to strength, making it an even more tempting choice - especially as it's not simply a VPN with a free trial, but one that offers a completely free plan.

Its free service (opens in new tab) offers users 10 GB a month on its limited plan, an extensive amount when you consider some free VPN limit customers to as little as 500 MB per month. You can also benefit from five locations in its free plan which support P2P for anyone looking to torrent. These locations are based in the US, Canada, Netherlands, and two in Singapore.

Unfortunately, its free variant won't offer streaming service support, and you won't benefit from its WireGuard protocol, which saw some seriously impressive results in our speed testing, hitting peaks of 880Mbps. That said, the plan will give you a strong indication of whether you want to commit to one of its paid-for plans later down the line.

If you do want to sign up for a subscription, you'll also have the added security blanket of its 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to receive a refund if you're not happy within that period.

Hotspot Shield VPN working on a range of devices

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)
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6. Hotspot Shield

Decent free version is a good test run for Hotspot

Free trial type: Free version, 7-day trial and 45-day money back guarantee | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 125+ | Maximum devices supported: 5 | Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux

Free version is ideal for testing
Unblocks US Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer
P2P support
Easy to use
Below average speeds
A little session logging
Inconsistencies between apps

Hotspot Shield is a reliable VPN in terms of its range of apps across devices, including the usual culprits Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, Android, and iOS, loaded with some nifty features including a particularly powerful kill switch, and decent browser extensions.

While it has fallen from grace with its below-average speeds - once the leading provider with its Catapult Hydra protocol - for many, this is still a great option. And thanks to its full free version (opens in new tab) it's also a tempting one.

Otherwise known as its Basic plan, Hotspot Shield's free VPN is a great reflection of its premium plan but is limited to 500 MB use per day. You'll also get limited access to its network of servers and features, with streaming remaining exclusive to premium subscribers. 

If you want to know just how good Hotspot Shield is, then download the free version first and give it a whirl. You can also benefit from a 7-day Hotspot Shield free trial of its premium service.

Not to mention, Hotspot Shield spoils new customers with its generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

VPN with free trials FAQ

What is the difference between a VPN free trial and a money-back guarantee?

It's commonplace for a VPN provider to offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, which many market as a free trial, including the best of the best like ExpressVPN. We want to be transparent, though, and point out this is not strictly a 'true' free trial.

While a free trial means you won't pay for that period of use, a 30-day money-back guarantee simply gives you the security that if you decide not to proceed with the VPN within that time frame, you'll be fully refunded. The money therefore will leave your bank account and, if you do continue your VPN subscription, that first month will be paid for.

VPN interface connecting on an iMac screen, which is on a desk with keyboard, plants, pens in a pot

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Are free trial VPNs safe?

It's good to be cautious when it comes to anything free where VPN is concerned. Completely free services certainly can have their drawbacks in terms of the degree of security they can offer. 

However, if you opt for any of the free VPN providers above, including Proton VPN, Hotspot Shield, and Hide.me, you can rest assured that they are safe with TechRadar's endorsement. Aside from the fact they have paid-for counterparts that ensure the funding of secure, strong infrastructure, we've also tried and tested them ourselves to ensure they're the real deal.

Which VPN offers a free trial without entering card details?

There are a few options for those who don't want to enter their card details to make the most of a VPN with a free trial.

CyberGhost has a 24-hour free trial (opens in new tab) that you can make use of without requiring any payment details. Simply visit the free trial page and click the 'Start your free trial' button and an .exe file will be downloaded onto your device to install.

Alternatively, both Proton VPN (opens in new tab) and Hotspot Shield offer completely free plans (opens in new tab) that install straight onto your desktop, as explained above.

Adam Zeis
Editorial Director - High Yield

Getting his start writing about BlackBerry in 2008, Adam is the Editorial Director of High-Yield content at Future. Leading an outstanding team, he oversees many of the articles the publisher produces about subscriptions and services – VPN, TV streaming, and antivirus software. From buying guides and how to watch content, to 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, and Real Homes.