best alternatives to ExpressVPN

If you’re in the market for a VPN, chances are you’ve heard of ExpressVPN. It’s one of the most popular VPNs on the market, offering fast speeds, top-notch security, and a wide range of server locations. However, it’s not the only player in town. Whether you’re looking for a more affordable option, a VPN with more features, or simply want to try something new, there are plenty of ExpressVPN alternatives worth exploring.

Join us as we delve into the top alternatives to ExpressVPN, weighing the pros and cons of each to help you find the perfect fit for your needs.

Here’s a summary of the best ExpressVPN alternatives:

  1. NordVPN: The best ExpressVPN alternative is a true peer in performance, security, and features. ExpressVPN has servers in more places, but NordVPN is cheaper.
  2. Surfshark: The best budget ExpressVPN alternative is cheaper than NordVPN or ExpressVPN, and it’s loaded with features. It lags only in customer relations.
  3. CyberGhost: An alternative that is faster than ExpressVPN. Great for live streaming and torrenting.
  4. IPVanish: VPN has exceptional speed, especially in the United States, and includes unlimited connections and phone support.
  5. PrivateVPN: Much smaller network than ExpressVPN. VPN works with all major streaming services and in China. Great customer service.
  6. Hotspot Shield: A solid all-around VPN bundles a highly-rated password manager and a spam-call blocker.

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Best VPN alternatives to ExpressVPN

Our criteria for selecting the best ExpressVPN alternatives are:

  • A wide selection of server locations
  • A privacy policy that includes no traffic logging
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Speeds fast enough for streaming media
  • Fast, responsive customer support

The full details of our testing and analysis are explained on our VPN testing methodology page.

The following brief reviews explain why each of these VPNs is a viable alternative to ExpressVPN:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is a premium VPN service that costs half of ExpressVPN’s premium price. ExpressVPN has servers in almost 100 countries, compared with NordVPN’s 60 countries. However, NordVPN has many more servers.

Speeds are very comparable. Both VPNs are among the four fastest and provide all the necessary security capabilities. Both add security features, including cloaking technology, private DNS, and kill switches. NordVPN adds ad and malware blocking, which is one of its key advantages.

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are both great for streaming and for using in China. Both companies are rated “excellent” by Trustpilot based on more than 11,000 user reviews for each posted on the site. In our tests, ExpressVPN was faster at responding to email questions.

The similarities between these VPNs far outnumber the distinctions. ExpressVPN has several advantages, most notably servers in many more countries, but NordVPN has advantages, too. The two factors that tip the scales in NordVPN’s favor are price and reputation. ExpressVPN had a sterling reputation until its recent acquisition by Kape Technologies, which has a controversial history, and one of its new executives was forced to admit to illegal hacking. ExpressVPN seems to be as good as ever, but this could be a reason to choose NordVPN.

Pros:

  • One of the best for unblocking streaming sites like Netflix
  • Unparalleled network – over 5,000 servers across 60 countries
  • No-logs policy
  • Most apps feature a process-specific kill switch

Cons:

  • Unable to select which server you want to connect to
  • Occasional slow server

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

NordVPN is a superb all-around VPN. It’s very fast, has extra security features, and is great for streaming. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of NordVPN. You can also check out how NordVPN compares to ExpressVPN in our comprehensive guide.

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2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is one of the newer VPNs, but it has grown so rapidly and added so many capabilities that it is already touting itself as a premium VPN.

ExpressVPN has a considerably larger network than Surfshark does. ExpressVPN is also one of just four VPNs that proved to be faster than Surfshark in our tests. ExpressVPN has better customer service than Surfshark does. Surfshark engages in problematic practices to keep customers from leaving, according to user reviews and our own test. ExpressVPN’s advantages are clear, but they should be when it charges nearly three times as much as Surfshark does.

Surfshark has some other advantages, too. It allows unlimited simultaneous connections, while ExpressVPN only allows five. That will matter if your family has a lot of connected devices.

Both VPNs provide all standard security capabilities. Both add extras, including cloaking technology, private DNS, and kill switches. Surfshark also blocks ads and malware. Surfshark is narrowing the gap enough to be a fine alternative to ExpressVPN.

Pros:

  • Able to unblock plenty of popular streaming services from abroad
  • No-logs VPN with plenty of security features
  • Connect all of your devices at once
  • Offers consistently high speeds

Cons:

  • Relatively small server network
  • May cause captchas on mobile devices

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

Best budget ExpressVPN alternative:Surfshark includes unlimited device connections, 24/7 support, and double obfuscation that beats strict censorship.

Read our full Surfshark review.

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3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost and ExpressVPN are now both owned by Kape Technologies. Kape’s past controversy is discussed below.

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN we’ve tested. CyberGhost’s apps are fairly easy to use, but not particularly good for first-time VPN users.

CyberGhost and ExpressVPN each have vast server networks, but CyberGhost has three times as many servers.

High speed and excellent security make CyberGhost ideal for streaming live video from abroad and for torrenting. That is also one of ExpressVPN’s virtues. While CyberGhost has been successful at unblocking streaming services, it is not able to bypass censorship in China or the UAE. ExpressVPN works in those countries.

A major distinguishing factor between the two VPNs is support for routers. ExpressVPN provides custom pre-configured router firmware. At the opposite extreme, CyberGhost doesn’t offer any apps or setup instructions for routers.

Both VPNs have good privacy policies. CyberGhost does not keep logs.

Both VPNs fare very well in user reviews; both earn a 4.7/5 rating from Trustpilot. Only three percent of CyberGhost customers rate the service as bad. CyberGhost gives you a longer risk-free money-back guarantee: 45 days versus 30 for ExpressVPN.

Pros:

  • Scored very highly in our speed testing
  • Solid privacy and security features enabled by default
  • Apps are easy to use and great for new users
  • Connect up to seven devices simultaneously

Cons:

  • No port forwarding
  • Parent company has a poor record on privacy

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST FOR NEW USERS:CyberGhost’s exceptional speed makes its service ideal for streaming media and uploading and downloading high-resolution media files. Its huge server network helps with that, too.

Read our full CyberGhost review here.

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4. IPVanish

IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish is another feature-packed VPN, with unlimited device connections and reliable connections.

VPNs, ISPs, web hosts, and certain other tech service providers make contacting them by phone very difficult or impossible. When you can’t get online, live chat and email are not much help. IPVanish gives customers great peace of mind by letting them call with questions or problems. Telephone support is particularly helpful for people who are not familiar with tech or VPN terminology and need help expressing the problem. ExpressVPN does not offer phone support.

Customer service is one of IPVanish’s assets. It is rated excellent by Trustpilot based on user reviews, and only three percent of IPVanish’s customers say the service is bad.

Speed is IPVanish’s other great virtue. ExpressVPN and IPVanish are two of the three fastest VPNs we’ve tested. ExpressVPN has many more servers in more places.

IPVanish’s biggest shortcoming is overcoming VPN blocking. In our tests, IPVanish was unable to unblock Hulu or Amazon Prime. It also did not work in China. ExpressVPN is very good at unblocking.

Pros:

  • Significantly faster than most of its rivals
  • Works with a wide range of geo-blocked services
  • Has a fantastic set of security tools
  • Zero-logs VPN with no connection limit

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a Linux app
  • Dubious company history

Our score:

4 out of 5

GREAT SUPPORT OPTIONS:IPVanish is extremely fast, easy to use, and provides exceptional support. You can even call the company via phone.

Read our full IPVanish review.

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5. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN is a smaller, but rapidly growing VPN based in Sweden. It was just acquired by Miss Group in June. Miss Group owns many web hosting companies.

ExpressVPN is the third-fastest VPN we’ve tested, but PrivateVPN is also one of the fastest. ExpressVPN has thousands of servers in almost 100 countries. PrivateVPN has a couple hundred servers in a third fewer countries.

PrivateVPN and ExpressVPN both work with all the major streaming services. Both work in China. Both provide comprehensive security and privacy capabilities.

ExpressVPN’s speed and size give it very important advantages over PrivateVPN. You’re more likely to find a server near you with ExpressVPN, and less likely to experience congestion. PrivateVPN’s best asset is customer satisfaction: it has a 4.9/5 rating on Trustpilot.

Pros:

  • Unblocks Netflix US, UK, and others
  • Swedish based provider with a strict no-logs policy
  • Kill switch and automatic wifi protection activate when connection drops
  • Slick iOS and Android apps

Cons:

  • Works with Linux but requires manual configuration
  • Live chat is not around the clock

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

HIGH CUSTOMER RATINGS:In about 1,600 user reviews on Trustpilot, fewer than two percent of customers rate PrivateVPN as poor or bad. That’s extraordinary for any type of business.

Read our complete review of PrivateVPN.

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6. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Hotspotshield.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.

Hotspot Shield is owned by its parent company Pango. The service has been improved in various ways in the past couple of years.

Hotspot Shield’s best subscription deal is higher priced than many of its strong competitors and requires a three-year commitment but is still less than half of what you’d pay ExpressVPN. Hotspot Shield has a couple of justifications for its higher-than-average prices: its VPN service includes 1Password, a password manager that earns accolades in many reviews; and a junk-call blocker. If you are already using 1Password or paying for another password manager, Hotspot Shield is a good deal.

Hotspot Shield also offers a slowed-down, stripped-down service for free. It’s sponsored by ads. That gives you a way to try the apps before you buy the full service, but the company also offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.

ExpressVPN has many more servers than Hotspot Shield does, and has servers in more countries as well (some of those are virtual servers). Hotspot Shield’s speed isn’t bad, but is trounced by ExpressVPN.

Live streaming was one of Hotspot Shield’s weaknesses, but it has become a strength. Hotspot Shield works in China, but service there and in other censoring countries can be iffy.

Pros:

  • Works in China
  • Provides reliable, high-speed connections
  • Doesn’t compromise on security
  • Unblocks plenty of region-locked services

Cons:

  • Some past privacy concerns
  • No live chat support

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

WORKS IN CHINA:Excellent unblocking ability, five simultaneous connections, and epic speeds.

Check out the full Hotspot Shield review.

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Free ExpressVPN alternatives

As a premium VPN, ExpressVPN cannot be realistically compared with a free VPN. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Several very inexpensive VPNs, such as CyberGhost, are very competitive with ExpressVPN, yet only cost a couple of dollars a month. ExpressVPN also costs several times more than Surfshark and IPVanish.

Free VPNs are compromised in some combination of performance (especially in speed), connectivity options, features, privacy, and security. Many serve ads. Many track you and sell that information. However, if you are looking for a free VPN, see our guides, “Best free VPNs for Windows” and “Best free VPNs for Windows 11 in 2022.”

The best free VPNs we’ve tested are Hotspot Shield, Windscribe, ProtonVPN, Tunnelbear, and Speedify. The best free VPNs are often extremely limited and slowed versions of commercial products from the same companies.

ExpressVPN controversies

ExpressVPN was free of any negative controversy until September 2021. Then the company was acquired by Kape Technologies, which owns several other VPNs, as well as other companies in the cybersecurity industry. Kape was formerly named Crossrider.

Many reports say Crossrider was a malware and adware distributor. Kape disputes those accusations, but the facts are confusing. No legal action was taken, which means we have no resolution of who should be held accountable for the malware that was distributed. Kape maintains it built a platform that was very widely used for legitimate purposes, but some developers used it to bundle malware. At the very least, we know that Crossrider abetted adware distribution.

Whether justified or not, Crossrider’s reputation was severely damaged. First, Crossrider discontinued the product. Then, it changed its name.

In the year since Kape spent $936 million to buy ExpressVPN, we’ve seen no indications of change on ExpressVPN’s side. ExpressVPN’s founder claims that the company is still being independently operated. ExpressVPN addresses customer concerns here.

In various web forums, you’ll find many ExpressVPN customers who say they left or will leave ExpressVPN. Yet the VPN is still enjoying explosive growth.

Also, in September 2021, three former US intelligence officials made a deal with the US Justice Department to avoid prosecution for illegal hacking. The three men were helping the UAE government spy on its enemies. This was called Project Raven. One of the men is Daniel Gericke, who is ExpressVPN’s CIO.

Gericke and his cohorts admitted that they hacked computer networks in the US, took cyber-intrusion tools, and sold them to the UAE. The trio collectively paid the US government $1.6 million instead of going to trial.

Gericke continues to be employed by ExpressVPN. He is obviously a very intelligent man with a high level of cybersecurity expertise. That was ExpressVPN’s rationale for hiring and keeping him, the company explains.

Comparitech cannot tell you how to react to these controversies. That could change. For now, we can only tell you that ExpressVPN continues to provide an outstanding product. If concerns about Kape or ExpressVPN convince you to look for an alternative, we recommend seven fine alternatives in this article.

VPN prices

Businesses of all types position themselves as premium brands. Apple, Nike, BMW, and Ray-Ban (sunglasses) are examples. Sellers of premium brands don’t all sell superior products or services, but they charge a premium price to try to convince consumers that they do. Those products and services are rarely discounted. ExpressVPN really does sell a superior service, but it may be choosing not to compete on price to cultivate a premium image. Value is in the wallet of the beholder.

That said, VPN prices are surprisingly low. Operating a VPN is not cheap. In addition to all the costs incurred with running any business, VPNs must buy many servers and other hardware devices, buy or lease space throughout the world to host those servers, pay people to develop software, regularly add content to their websites, battle VPN blockers, and hire or contract for tech support staff and other customer service staff.

The cost of customer acquisition is steep. Marketing must include advertising (including on this page) and paying affiliate commissions. VPNs that only charge $2 or $3 per month may not even be making a profit on those fees. Their business plans must be focused on:

  1. attracting huge numbers of customers, and
  2. keeping them.

That’s great news for VPN customers. VPNs must satisfy their customers to survive and thrive. Compare that with other tech service industries; such as mobile carriers, ISPs, and web hosts. Customer surveys show high levels of dissatisfaction with providers in those industries.

ExpressVPN is not literally expensive; it is only expensive in the context of its competitors that use a different business model.

ExpressVPN alternatives FAQs

Should you choose an ExpressVPN alternative?

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs. NordVPN and Surfshark are peers. If you have a capability or feature you particularly want from a VPN, several of the services we recommend offer something ExpressVPN lacks. Otherwise, the only reason to consider an alternative to ExpressVPN is price or ethical concerns, both of which are discussed below.

How does ExpressVPN handle user data?

The company says, “ExpressVPN is a privacy-focused company that does not store activity logs or connection logs of our users. ExpressVPN does collect minimal information about the usage of our services in order to identify and address technical issues, but this information cannot be used to connect you to any specific activity or behavior.”

How profitable is ExpressVPN?

No data is published. ZoomInfo says it earns $13 million, but that seems low considering that Kape Technologies paid almost a billion dollars for ExpressVPN.