ExpressVPN vs Betternet

Shopping for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can get complicated very quickly. After all, there are more providers popping up all the time, and their marketing often relies on jargon or technical terms that aren’t explained in much detail. This leaves potential customers stuck between researching computer networking on their own or simply taking the VPN at its word. Needless to say, neither of these options is particularly helpful. This ExpressVPN vs Betternet comparison helps to make the process significantly easier.

We believe that users should be better informed about the services they use. To help, we’ve tested two leading VPN providers (ExpressVPN and Betternet) and created detailed comparison tables. These break down every aspect of the two services, helping you see how they stack up at a glance. We’ll also be going in-depth and explaining how each feature can actually help you, which is something that’s noticeably absent from a lot of VPN websites. Even if neither of these VPNs feels right to you, this post should give you a good idea of what to look for going forward.

Editor’s note: Betternet is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company. Regardless, what you’ll find below is an honest and impartial comparison based on the merits of each service. 

ExpressVPN vs Betternet: Summary

ExpressVPN

  • Server locations in over 90 countries
  • Impressive speed and versatility
  • Strong on security, no-logs policy
  • Works with a huge range of devices

Betternet

  • Lots of locations to choose from
  • Reasonable speeds
  • Decent streaming performance
  • Beginner-friendly apps

Best Deal for ExpressVPN:Get 15 months of coverage for just $99.95.

Best Deal for Betternet:Sign up for a year to get almost 40 percent off.

ExpressVPN vs Betternet pricing

 ExpressVPNBetternet
Subscription periodsOne monthOne month
Six monthsOne year
One year
Special offerThree months free and almost half off on 1-yr plansSave 38% with an annual plan
Highest price per month$12.95$12.99
Lowest price per month$6.67$7.99
One-year price$99.95$95.88
Money-back guarantee30 days45 days

First off, some clarification. Betternet has a free plan, but this comes with certain restrictions including a 500 MB-per-day usage limit. For the fairest possible comparison, we’ve decided to focus on each service’s paid plans.

Both of these VPNs are fairly expensive if you’re looking to subscribe one month at a time. ExpressVPN is cheaper, but only barely, at $12.95 USD (GBP £9.91) per month versus Betternet’s $12.99 monthly charge. ExpressVPN also offers a six-month plan for $59.94 (£45.86) which effectively cuts the cost to $9.99 (£7.64) per month.

Luckily, the prices come down quite a bit if you’re willing to sign up for a year. Betternet’s annual plan costs $95.88 (£73.37), which is an average of $7.99 (£6.11) per month. ExpressVPN actually has a slightly higher annual price ($99.95, or £76.47) but a lower monthly cost since it gives users an extra three months of coverage for free.

ExpressVPN and Betternet each offer a money-back guarantee. This allows you to try the service without restriction or risk, and is something we’re always on the lookout for. ExpressVPN gives you 30 days to cancel for a refund, while Betternet’s guarantee lasts for 45 days. Additionally, Betternet has a seven-day free trial; you have to provide payment information but can just cancel before the week ends to avoid paying for an annual plan.

ExpressVPN Coupon
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
Get Deal >
Coupon applied automatically
Betternet Coupon
Get 39% off a 12 month plan
Get Deal >
Discount applied automatically

Features

 ExpressVPNBetternet
Simultaneous connections56
Operating system appsWindows, Linux, MacOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Firestick, routersWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android
Manual install devicesSome Linux systemsNone
Split tunnelingWindows, MacOS, Android, routersWindows
Free extrasSmart DNS service, extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and VivaldiChrome extension

Betternet can protect up to six devices at once, which is one more than ExpressVPN. The downside, however, is that it only supports the main operating systems: Windows, Android, MacOS, and iOS. Currently, it’s not possible to manually install this VPN on Linux systems or routers, which is actually quite unusual. ExpressVPN, meanwhile, provides apps for all of these devices plus Firestick, and even has its own custom firmware for routers.

Both providers allow the user to specify which apps can pass through the VPN unencrypted (a feature known as split tunneling). This might be helpful for downloading non-sensitive data as quickly as possible, or for using geo-restricted services from two regions simultaneously. Betternet only offers split tunneling in its Windows app, whereas ExpressVPN includes it in every version apart from iOS. It’s even available in the router app, which is a very welcome addition.

ExpressVPN has an edge when it comes to extra features. It offers addons for all of the main browsers. However, these act as a control for the main app instead of simply encrypting browser traffic like most VPN extensions do. Betternet has a Chrome addon too, but that’s the only browser it supports. ExpressVPN plans also include a Smart DNS service called MediaStreamer that can help you access US-only streaming services on devices that don’t support VPN apps directly (like games consoles or older Smart TVs).

 ExpressVPNBetternet
Streaming service
Netflix10+ libraries including Netflix US, UK, Japan, and CanadaSeveral popular libraries including Netflix US and UK
HuluYesYes
HBO MaxYesYes
Amazon Prime VideoYes (11 regional libraries)No
BBC iPlayerYesNo
ABCYesNo
CBSNoNo
NBCYesYes
ITVYesYes
Channel 4YesYes

Most major streaming services restrict their content by region. This means that they’re either only accessible from a specific country or that they change their content based on your location. VPNs are often used to regain access while traveling but high-profile services like Netflix have gotten very good at detecting (and blocking) VPN users in recent years.

ExpressVPN performed extremely well, securely accessing a wide range of in-demand platforms including HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu. It even worked with several Prime Video libraries, though you’ll need a separate account for each region. Betternet didn’t work with quite as many services, though it put up a good fight. We were particularly impressed that it was able to access more than just the US Netflix library since this is a common stumbling block.

China

The internet is heavily censored in China, with everything from Western social media sites to streaming platforms blocked. In fact, these restrictions (often called the Great Firewall) even prevent users from researching privacy-enhancing tech like VPNs. Even though the government is continuously expanding these restrictions and most VPN providers’ sites are inaccessible, there are still a few services that work as normal in China.

ExpressVPN users can continue to browse securely during their visit to China. Better still, there’s no additional setup required—just use the app as normal. This VPN even has a mirror site that’s accessible from the mainland, but you’ll need to ask for the address before you leave. We encourage you to save a copy of ExpressVPN’s manual setup instructions too, just in case. Unfortunately, Betternet does not work at all in China.

Setup and interface

 ExpressVPNBetternet
Automatic setup wizardWindows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, routersWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android
Main location selectionList-basedList-based
Extra settings pagesYesYes
Mobile-friendlyYesYes

ExpressVPN’s mobile and desktop apps are near-identical. Both feature a large quick connect button on the main screen, with well-organized settings menus and server lists. Notably, you can favorite locations for faster access in the future. We were pleased to see that ExpressVPN includes a brief description of what each option is for. This small touch makes a service significantly less intimidating to novice users.

Betternet also has a consistent appearance across devices. It’s nice and neat, with minimal clutter and a fairly small set of options, making it ideal for beginners. That said, we’d have preferred a server search bar (since scrolling through 80+ countries can take a while) and a few more options in the Android app. It’s not unusual to have a slightly pared down settings menu on mobile, but the only option remaining was automatic wi-fi protection, which barely justifies having an options page at all.

Servers and performance

 ExpressVPNBetternet
Server countries9485
Total number of serversAround 3,000Undisclosed

These VPNs both offer more server locations than the industry average, which is around 60. However, ExpressVPN has a slight edge, with 94 supported countries versus Betternet’s 85.

While Betternet doesn’t disclose exactly how many servers it operates, we know that ExpressVPN has around 3,000 globally. Further, it appears that most of Betternet’s network consists of virtual servers. In short, this means that they’re not physically located where they say they are, which can lead to confusion regarding which country’s privacy laws apply. ExpressVPN uses virtual servers too but for a far smaller number of locations.

To see how consistently these VPNs perform, we speed tested each multiple times using different servers at different times of day ExpressVPN delivered an average download speed of 135 Mbps, whereas Betternet averaged 52 Mbps. In other words, both are fast enough for tasks like torrenting, live streaming, and gaming, though ExpressVPN might be better if multiple people are sharing your connection.

Here’s a list of the countries ExpressVPN and Betternet support:

 ExpressVPNBetternet
Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Argentina
Armenia
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Bangladesh
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Brunei Darussalam
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Ecuador
Egypt
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Isle of Man
Israel
Italy
Japan
Jersey
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macau
Malaysia
Malta
Mexico
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Myanmar
Nepal
Netherlands
New Zealand
North Macedonia
Norway
Pakistan
Panama
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Serbia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Vietnam

These services are actually quite well matched in terms of location spread. Betternet allows you to get an IP address from Pakistan, Russia, and the UAE without actually having servers there, which is a huge win, but ExpressVPN is one of the only providers with servers in Sri Lanka and Macau. Realistically, which service is better in this area depends on what type of services you’re trying to access.

Security

 ExpressVPNBetternet
VPN protocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, LightwayHydra, IKEv2
OpenVPN data encryptionAES-256AES-256
OpenVPN control channel encryptionRSA-4096RSA-2048
Cloaking technologyUndisclosedProprietary protocol
App securityThreat manager, local traffic blocker, parallel connections feature, kill switchEnforced two factor sign in, automatic wifi protection, kill switch
DNS statusPrivate DNSPrivate DNS

These services both use a kill switch and 256-bit AES encryption to keep your data secure. Additionally, they each operate their own DNS servers and support IKEv2 connections. However, that’s about all they have in common.

ExpressVPN also supports OpenVPN and L2TP connections, plus it has its own Lightway protocol that can keep you safe even while switching to and from mobile data. It tries to connect via all of these in the background and ultimately chooses whichever is fastest so you can get protected as soon as possible. Betternet, meanwhile, uses the proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol that’s shared with other Pango-owned VPNs like Hotspot Shield.

Each VPN has a couple of security-enhancing tricks up its sleeve. ExpressVPN, for instance, can block your other apps from communicating with known trackers. Further, it can prevent other devices on the network (like printers) from sending data to your PC. Meanwhile, Betternet is able to automatically connect whenever you use an unsecured network. It also requires you to verify login attempts, which is a step we’re surprised more providers aren’t taking.

Privacy

 ExpressVPNBetternet
HQ baseBritish Virgin IslandsUnited States
Connection logsSome analytical data storedSession length, bandwidth consumed, analytical data
Activity logsNoneAnonymized logs
User details for signupEmail addressEmail address
Anonymous payment optionsBitcoin, various prepaid cardsNone

The country your VPN is based in is important since it determines what kind of data your provider is legally required to keep about its users. ExpressVPN and Betternet operate out of the British Virgin Islands and the USA respectively, two countries with no mandatory data retention legislation. It’s worth mentioning that since the US is a member of the 14 Eyes intelligence alliance, anyone in the country could theoretically have their online activities shared with any other member state.

ExpressVPN sticks to a strict no-logging policy, and refuses to store any data that could identify you. It does collect some information, such as your total daily bandwidth usage, chosen server, and the date of your connection, but this is just for analytical purposes. If you’d like to sign up without linking a personal bank account, you can pay using Bitcoin or a variety of anonymous prepaid cards.

Betternet doesn’t technically store any personally identifiable data but it does collect more than we’d like. This includes the duration of every session, the bandwidth used, and device hashes that can specifically distinguish your device from others. Additionally, Betternet logs the websites you visit, though not in a way that proves you specifically accessed them. So what’s the issue? Well, while not definitive proof of a user’s activities, this data could be used to suggest what someone did during their session. The easiest fix is to have the VPN connected at all times, thereby effectively rendering the session duration and bandwidth consumed data meaningless.

Configuration

 ExpressVPNBetternet
Address allocationSharedShared
Dedicated IP address possibleNoNo

These VPNs further enhance your privacy by using something called a shared address system. This means that every user on the same server shares a single IP address. This muddies the waters for any snoopers trying to pin down a specific user’s activity. Every additional person who connects to the server compounds this problem, until it becomes effectively impossible to tell who visited a particular website. Now, neither VPN actually keeps any activity logs, so this is all theoretical, but it’s reassuring to know that there are backup systems in place.

Some VPNs allow users to pay a little extra each month in exchange for an IP address that only they have access to. This reduces the amount of traffic coming from a single address. In other words, it’s less likely a service will notice and blacklsit it. However, in using these dedicated addresses, you give up any plausible deniability provided by the shared address system. Neither ExpressVPN nor Betternet offer this feature, with ExpressVPN specifically citing privacy as the reason why. Still, as this is a relatively common offering, the risks are worth being aware of.

Customer service

 ExpressVPNBetternet
Live chatYesNo
Ticket supportYesYes
Email supportYesYes
Phone supportNoNo
Searchable knowledge baseYesYes
Video guidesYesNo

Ideally, you’d never have to contact customer support. Still, when something goes wrong, the faster you can resolve the problem, the better. ExpressVPN has a pretty large advantage in this area thanks to its 24/7 live chat service. We’ve tested this numerous times and always received a response in a matter of seconds. It also offers video guides on its YouTube channel if you’re more of a visual learner.

Betternet users, meanwhile, can browse a searchable knowledge base to find answers to the most common questions. If you still need help after, just submit a ticket and you should hear back in around a day. This approach is fine, but it’s a little unusual to find a major provider that doesn’t offer some form of live chat.

The winner: ExpressVPN

Betternet is a decent VPN for general web-browsing but fails to really excel in any of the areas we examined. Its user-friendly design and sparse settings menu make it welcoming to novices. Unfortunately, this is somewhat undermined by how little information is provided about what each setting does and the relatively long time to get help. For this reason, ExpressVPN is the winner today.

ExpressVPN supports more locations than Betternet. It also delivered higher speeds, accessed a wider range of services, and worked in China. Despite being one of the pricier services on the market, it actually works out cheaper than its rival for long-term subscribers. If you’re looking for a versatile, secure VPN that checks all the boxes, look no further than ExpressVPN.