The aim of many VPN users throughout much of the world is to tunnel into the United States by providing a US IP address. The US is, after all, the source of the world’s most popular entertainment, and much of it is only accessible online to those living there.
But US citizens also need VPNs, whether it be to unblock content or improve privacy. The needs of an American VPN user is probably a bit different than someone in a foreign country. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a location that the user chooses.
We’ll cover the best VPNs for the USA in more detail further down, but if you don’t have time to read the whole article below are our top picks.
Best VPNs for USA:
- NordVPN Our #1 pick for a USA VPN. Vast global network of servers that can unblock popular geo-restricted sites. Great speeds and strong security. 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark Best budget provider. Offers unlimited devices and robust security.
- ExpressVPN Strong on speed, security, and privacy. Unblocks geo-restricted streaming content with ease. Effortless to set up and use.
- CyberGhost A fast low-cost VPN with strong privacy features. Unblocks popular streaming content.
- PrivateVPN Fast speeds and can unblock most restricted content. Manual configuration can be challenging.
- Hotspot Shield A very fast, security-conscious VPN that unblocks plenty of major streaming services abroad.
- Hide.me Downloading, torrenting and P2P specialist. Good privacy but pricey.
- AirVPN Unmatched security, Tor-friendly. Needs manual configuration.
Americans are directly in the line of sight of intelligence agencies like the FBI and NSA. American corporations like Google and Apple monitor and gather information on users in the United States. As Edward Snowden revealed to the world, corporate and government espionage are often one and the same.
While those government agencies and private companies are global and spy on everyone, Americans fall under the direct jurisdiction of their authority, whereas users in other countries at least have a legal border between them. Copyright trolls are particularly aggressive toward torrenters in the USA.
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Best VPNs for USA
Americans using VPN services, then, require greater security and less access to foreign content. Below we’ve chosen the best VPNs for the US that achieve this equilibrium based on the following criteria:
- The provider is not based in the United States
- No traffic logs are stored on the provider’s servers
- Strong encryption, 128-bit AES or greater, is used by default
- Shared IP addresses are used to preserve anonymity
- Bonus points for anonymous payment methods, such as Bitcoin
If you are interested in finding out more about how we tested the VPNs in this article we will explain more about our analysis below.
See also: How to get a US IP address
Here is our list of the best VPNs for America:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN provider with a reputation for security. That includes double-hop servers that route your traffic through two VPNs and a Tor over VPN option that sends traffic through the Tor network upon exiting the VPN server. Most IPs are shared but some dedicated IP servers are also available if needed. The OpenVPN protocol uses a 256-bit encryption standard. NordVPN accepts Bitcoin payments, and it’s one of the best values any VPN provider offers. The company keeps absolutely no logs of users’ traffic or connection metadata. You may have up to six simultaneous connections on a single subscription.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.
- A veteran provider with an impeccable reputation for privacy
- Provides a secure, encrypted connection Strong privacy and security features
- Extremely fast connection speeds
- Easily unblocks a wide range of geo-locked sites
- Offers 24/7 live chat
- Sometimes takes longer to connect on the desktop apps
BEST VPN FOR USA:NordVPN is our #1 choice. Works well with most popular streaming sites. Connect up to 6 devices simultaneously from one account. Includes a risk-free 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a VPN service incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, beyond the jurisdiction of any 14-Eyes country including the UK. It operates a smaller network of VPN server locations spread across more than 60 countries. It works with all manner of streaming services, including US and UK Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more. Surfshark employs strong encryption and has a zero logs policy. Torrenting is allowed, and kill switches built into both the mobile and desktop apps prevent data collection and your real IP address from leaking. 24/7 live chat support is there to help if you need it.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. Surfshark allows an unlimited number of simultaneous devices.
- Unlimited devices
- Very strong security offering
- Solid internet speeds
- Securely access Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video
- Keeps no logs
- Menus could be neater
BEST BUDGET OPTION:Connect as many devices as you want for a very low price. Surfshark’s speeds are high, plus it’s extremely versatile and secure. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption with the OpenVPN protocol by default. No traffic logs are kept that show the content of user activity, but some metadata is recorded. The company is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, beyond the jurisdiction of the US government (and UK government, in case you were wondering). All servers use shared IPs, so you share an IP address with hundreds of other users. The company accepts payment in Bitcoin in addition to credit card and PayPal.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux (command line), and certain routers.
- Headquartered outside of the Five Eyes and offers strong data security
- Best-in-class encryption makes for solid protection and privacy
- Great at unblocking most popular streaming sites from almost anywhere
- Gets around torrent tracker sites blocks without compromising privacy
- Cheaper options elsewhere
- Could provide more control over advanced features
FAST AND VERSATILE:ExpressVPN is easy to use, blazing fast, and able to unblock all major streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full ExpressVPN Review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost is based in Romania and offers a diverse selection of privacy and internet security features to choose from. The company keeps no logs of user activity or metadata. It secures your data using OpenVPN connections and 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy. DNS leak protection and a kill switch ensure no traffic escapes the VPN tunnel. Additional features include an ad blocker, anti-malware defense, and anti-tracking. CyberGhost allows you to choose a server not just based on location, but on how you plan to use it, be it for streaming, torrenting, public wi-fi, or anonymous web surfing.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.
- Romanian based low-cost provider with strong privacy credentials
- Fast, reliable service
- Minimal configuration required means apps are beginner-friendly
- Robust privacy and security features enabled by default
- Not suitable for those that need to implement advanced configurations
- Can’t be relied on in places like the UAE
BEST FOR BEGINNERS:CyberGhost is easy to use. A budget choice that is great on online privacy and security. Unblocks Netflix and most other popular streaming sites. 45-day money back guarantee.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Based in Sweden, PrivateVPN is a relatively young provider compared to the others on this list. Despite that, it’s growing quickly thanks to features and performance on par with the bigger names. The company adheres to a strict no-logs policy. 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy protect all traffic on the OpenVPN protocol. A kill switch halts all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops. Built-in DNS leak protection prevents web page requests from being sent outside the encrypted tunnel. PrivateVPN is one of the faster VPN services we’ve tested and unblocks just about everything we’ve thrown at it. P2P filesharing is tolerated on all servers. 10 simultaneous connections are allowed on a single plan.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Swedish based provider with a strict no-logs policy
- Unblocks almost all geo-restricted streaming content that we’ve tested
- Accepts Bitcoin which helps with anonymous signup
- 10 simultaneous connections allowed per session
- Small number of servers to choose from
- May need support assistance to locate the best server for each purpose
Great Speeds:PrivateVPN is a good family choice that can connect 10 devices simultaneously. Great privacy and high speeds. It also works with streaming sites like Netflix and is suitable for torrenting. Would prefer 24-hour chat support. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.
Hotspot Shield is a Switzerland-based provider with a suite of strong security features. It boasts military-grade encryption, leak protection, and automatic wifi protection. It uses shared IP addresses and keeps very minimal logs. Although IP addresses are stored (in encrypted form) while you’re connected, they’re deleted immediately after your session so can’t be viewed by third parties. The company uses a proprietary “Catapult Hydra” protocol. This is used by some top cybersecurity organizations, including Bitdefender and McAfee and has been reviewed by many of the companies that use it.
Hotspot Shield apps are available for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- A low-cost but very fast VPN
- Offers strong security and privacy features
- Great for unblocking streaming platforms
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
- Spotty record on privacy
GOOD VALUE:Hotspot Shield good for those on a budget. This low-cost provider has a large network of high-speed servers capable of unblocking HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and more. Connect 5 devices at a time. Also includes a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Hotspot Shield review
Hide.me is a Malaysia-based VPN provider that keeps zero logs of users’ activity and metadata. It boasts solid speeds too, making it a good all-round option. Users can choose from various available protocols, although we recommend WireGuard or IKEv2 for optimum security. Each VPN connection on those protocols nets you 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy, more than enough to keep your security airtight. It’s not the most adept at accessing sites like Netflix, but for most Americans this won’t really matter. There are even a few specific servers for P2P activity.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
- Malaysian based provider with good privacy credentials
- Testing revealed surprisingly fast servers
- Offers a lot of control over security features
- Not very good for streaming
- Cheaper providers above on this list
- Some servers only allow torrenting
FAST AND SECURE:Hide.me is a torrenting and P2P favourite. Servers are more geared towards downloading rather than streaming with a good emphasis on privacy. Can achieve good speeds but is pricier than close rivals. 30-day money-back guarantee
Read our full Hide.me review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 days
If you can live with the ugly interface and poor usability, AirVPN has no equal when it comes to security. This VPN only supports the OpenVPN protocol. For added privacy, OpenVPN encapsulated in SSH and SSL are on offer. DNS leak protection, DNS routing, a kill switch, and port forwarding can all be tweaked in the settings. Zero logs are recorded. The company is based in Italy. The app is targeted at more advanced users, but it shouldn’t be too difficult for a novice to get a grasp of. AirVPN accepts Bitcoin.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Linux.
- Highly configurable, works well with Tor and even has a Linux app
- Has no monitoring nor logging of your online activities
- Accepts Bitcoin
- Mainly suited to users that are comfortable with advanced configurations
- Be ready to scour documentation and forums for answers to any questions you might have
- Small server location count
SOLID PRIVACY:AirVPN is for the security conscious. A community run VPN network that places security and privacy concerns over ease of use. Works well with Tor but be prepared for manually tweaking parameters to get it working right.
Stay tuned for our full review of AirVPN.
Good US-based VPNs
If you’re not worried about US intelligence agencies, there are several other US-based VPNs worth considering:
Other than being based in the US, these VPNs meet all of our other criteria. If you trust them not to store any usage logs, then they shouldn’t have any information to give to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the first place.
VPNs that Americans should avoid
Hola is a peer-to-peer VPN-ish browser extension that allows other members to utilize your unused bandwidth. It does not operate its own servers. This is a data privacy problem, especially because Hola isn’t very transparent about it. The company allegedly took advantage of all its users’ network power to create a botnet and attack websites in the past. Because internet service providers often impose data caps in the US, and because of blatant privacy issues, we recommend avoiding Hola.
HideMyAss is based in the UK. Because the US is good buddies with the UK, it’s not a good option for those hoping to avoid national intelligence agencies. HideMyAss infamously gave up user logs to British authorities that led to the arrest of a LulzSec hacker. HMA says it never logs the contents of its users’ internet traffic, but it does store detailed metadata logs that include users’ real IP addresses, which was enough for law enforcement to eventually jail LulzSec hacker Cody Kretsinger following his involvement in a cyber attack on Sony Pictures.
Several free VPN services will try to entice you after a quick app store or Google search, but be wary of them. First off, they are typically slow, cap your data, and limit bandwidth to save resources. Secondly, they have poor logging policies and data security. Finally, many free VPNs make money by injecting advertisements into users’ browsers, which actually decreases your privacy.
Comparitech thoroughly tests every VPN we recommend to ensure they meet our standards of quality. When it comes to VPNs for the USA, we specifically examine:
- The VPN provider’s country of origin
- The encryption specifications of the VPN connection, including ciphers, key lengths, hash algorithm, and perfect forward secrecy
- Whether the VPN servers assign shared or private IP addresses (shared is preferred for anonymity)
- Which, if any, cryptocurrencies or other anonymous payment methods are accepted.
In addition to these observations, we test each VPN for:
- Speed – We routinely run speed tests on each provider’s global network of VPN servers.
- Stream unblocking – Our testers run real-world tests to see if they can unblock major streaming platforms like Netflix from abroad with a VPN. We’ve conducted some 3,000 tests this year alone.
- Data leaks – We check each VPN for DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks that threaten the user’s privacy.
Our recommendations are based on a combination of all the above elements.
Learn more about how we test VPNs on our methodology page.
Even though Americans typically have the best pick of content, they are faced with one persistent form of geo-blocking: blackouts.
Blackouts restrictions usually apply to live streaming video, especially sports. Even if you have a subscription to a legal online streaming service, such as MLB.tv for baseball, local teams are often unwatchable online. That’s because regional TV stations often buy the broadcast rights to local games since online streaming services can’t compete.
VPNs circumvent this problem. By simply connecting to another location in the United States where the particular event is not blacked out, the stream can be unblocked. Just make sure you’re using one of our recommended best VPNs for the USA to ensure you have enough data and bandwidth to get decent quality video without constant buffering.
VPNs for torrenting in the US
Downloading and distributing copyrighted material is illegal in the United States. Internet service providers often implement a three-strike rule in which customers are penalized for illegally downloading content via BitTorrent.
While BitTorrent itself is not illegal, it’s often associated with illegal activity, primarily online piracy. However, non-copyrighted material is completely legal to download.
Copyright holders often act through copyright trolls, which record IP addresses of torrenters and send settlement letters requesting remuneration. Copyright trolls are granted the right to sue on behalf of the copyright holder. However, because an IP address does not legally constitute an identity in the US, it’s usually advisable for recipients to ignore settlement letters if they don’t contain any identifying information.
A VPN’s encryption hides BitTorrent traffic from the user’s ISP. And by masking the user’s real IP address with that of the VPN server, copyright trolls cannot trace torrent downloads back to a specific device.
VPNs for America FAQ
Can I use any VPN to torrent in the US?
While you can theoretically use any VPN to torrent in the US, many VPNs simply won’t work well. For starters, some VPNs are too slow and may throttle your bandwidth. However, the best VPNs offer unlimited bandwidth and specialty servers optimized for P2P. Furthermore, some VPNs don’t provide sufficient security. Downloading and sharing copyrighted material is illegal. It’s therefore important to choose a VPN that not only changes your IP address, but encrypts your internet traffic and protects your privacy with a strict no-logs policy.
Does the US have net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs treat all data equally without discrimination. At the time of writing (August 2020) the US does not have net neutrality. The Republican-controlled FCC repealed a net neutrality order in December 2017 allowing providers to block or throttle content as they see fit. However, various US states such as California have enacted their own net neutrality laws.
What is the difference between a tunnel mode VPN and a split tunneling VPN?
A tunnel mode VPN refers to a standard VPN that routes all of your internet traffic through a single encrypted tunnel to its own servers. However, a split tunneling VPN lets you choose which devices and apps use the VPN and which can access the internet directly. ExpressVPN offers the best of both worlds. This means you can either secure all of your data or select the individual apps you’d like to exclude.
Which VPN is best for California users?
NordVPN is our top recommendation whether you live in California or you live outside of the state and want a California IP address. Servers are available in San Francisco and Los Angeles. NordVPN even makes arrangements for California residents to implement their rights under the CCPA, a California privacy law that lets you ask NordVPN for your personal information and demand it be deleted without discrimination.
What is the best VPN near the US West Coast?
Of all the VPNs that meet our standards, Surfshark has the most server locations on or near the west coast of the United States. They include:
- Bend, Oregon
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Los Angeles, California
- San Francisco, California
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Seattle, Washington