How to get a US IP address in 5 easy steps (still works in 2018)

Published by on May 18, 2018 in VPN & Privacy

Want to access your favorite US services from outside of America? We’ll show you how to get a US IP address with a VPN. Better still, we will reveal a clever trick to do this with a great VPN free of charge.

How to get a US IP address

People might want to obtain a US IP address for several reasons. American residents traveling abroad can use it to watch geo-restricted streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Netflix restricts its catalog depending on where you’ve logged in from so it’s a good choice if you would like to obtain the full range of movies and TV shows. That’s similar to how HBO GO and Vudu operates, so a VPN is a good use case for these two options as well.

Others might want to keep in touch with live sports such as Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), or the National Football League (NFL) by streaming ESPN. With a US IP address, folks can also access things like online banking services if they have an account in the US.

The easiest and most efficient way to obtain a US IP address is by signing up for a suitable VPN provider. In this article, we’ll teach you how to join the thousands of people across the globe that acquire a US IP address to access content and other restricted services. This method works for most popular devices including Android and iPhone mobiles, iPads and Android tablets, Macs, Windows laptops and PCs, the Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV plus many more.

How to get a US IP address:

  1. The first order of business is to sign up for a Virtual Private network (VPN). A VPN gives you a broad range of server locations and makes it possible for you to appear that you’re accessing the web from the US. We recommend ExpressVPN.
  2. Register for the service and download the VPN software or app
  3. Clear your cookies and restart your device to remove old location identifiers
  4. Log in to your VPN provider and connect to a server in the US
  5. Access your US site like you normally would

TIP: HOW TO GET A GREAT PAID VPN FOR FREE: If you just need access for a short time, for example for a trip abroad, you can access our top ranked VPN free of charge. If you sign up for ExpressVPN here, this link includes a 30 day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, however you can use the VPN for up to 30 days and cancel for a full refund. It is a ‘no quibbles’ cancellation policy and we are yet to hear of this not being honored.

What’s the best VPN to get a US IP address?

In this section, we’ll take you through our list of what we think are the best VPNs that’ll give you a speedy and stable connection to a US server. They’ve been ascertained on the following factors:

  • Large range of server locations in the US
  • Speed and stability of connection
  • Rigid encryption protocols so your location remains hidden
  • Ease of use
  • Apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN pricing

ExpressVPN is an impeccable VPN service that’s easy to set up and comes with a simple design. The service packs a punch when rated on both speed and encryption standards. The US occupies the bulk of ExpressVPN’s server locations with options in 13 cities. Overall there are over 1,500 servers spread across the world.

The company has a stated policy of not storing any user or traffic logs, so it scores high marks from a privacy angle too. The only minimal data it does extract is the “date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used”. This is used to improve service quality standards. It’s important to note that your individual IP address won’t be recorded.

If you’re still feeling skittish, we recommend you sign up for the service via a burner email account and pay through Bitcoin. It’ll become extremely difficult for your digital footprint to be traced back to you.

Encryption standards are military grade. The service leverages 256-bit AES-CBC protocols as well as HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. There’s an internet kill switch included, which ExpressVPN refers to as a ‘network lock’. This feature means all web traffic will be temporarily halted if the connection drops.

The service is able to unlock geo-restricted content on Netflix. It’s compatible with both Hulu and BBC iPlayer as well.

There are apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop clients for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

Here’s our in-depth ExpressVPN review.

READER DEAL: Comparitech readers can get 3 months free here if they sign up for the ExpressVPN annual plan. The package includes a 30 day, no quibbles money-back guarantee. Try it risk free. If you are not satisfied, you will receive a full refund.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN 3 year plan

NordVPN is an excellent option for advanced users who want customized options coupled with tier-1 service.

It’s similar to IPVanish in the sense that it holds zero user data – this includes browsing habits, timestamps, and server information. There have been instances in the past where it was summoned to hand over data but the policy meant that it simply wasn’t able to. In one case authorities even confiscated servers but were unable to glean any information. It’s great for privacy advocates.

NordVPN allows you to select servers based on your specific requirements – such as anti-DDoS, video streaming, double VPN, Tor over VPN, or P2P. US server locations number an incredible 720, making it the clear majority of 1079 servers across the world.

It’s able to overcome the Netflix VPN ban with ease, as well as unlocking content from Hulu and BBC iPlayer.

NordVPN uses the 256-bit AES protocol encryption standard by default coupled with 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled.

There’s support for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

Here’s our full review of NordVPN.

READER DEAL: Save over 70% here when you sign up for Nord’s three-year plan. That works out to be $2.75/month.

3. IPVanish

IPVanish discounted plans

IPVanish is also high on our recommended list of VPNs because of its commitment to serving users. Fast speeds and strong encryption are included in the package.

IPVanish is completely logless – meaning it won’t ever store user data of any nature. Unlike ExpressVPN, there isn’t any metadata storage either. The only inkling of data retention is when an account is registered for the first time. That’s it.

Encryption protocols are tough. The company leverages 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. The latter feature means that even if an intrusive entity breaks into your account, it’ll be impossible for it to decrypt past session data. Your web history will remain secure. Like ExpressVPN, IPVanish also includes an internet kill switch with all packages.

Servers deliver great speeds and are stable and secure. US server locations number 339 in total, which make up the bulk of approximately 850 locations across the globe. Finding an adequate connection shouldn’t be a problem.

IPVanish is also an excellent choice for BBC iPlayer but it doesn’t work with Netflix or Hulu, unfortunately.

There are apps for both iOS and Android as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

IPVanish is popular with Kodi users because it allows them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is also remote control friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse.

Read our full review of IPVanish.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT: Our readers save up to 60% on IPVanish plans.

4. CyberghostCyberghost large image

Cyberghost Pro will appeal to beginner users who want a relatively inexpensive VPN without any frills. It delivers on both speed and encryption standards with the only drawback being the fairly limited choice of servers.

The company is headquartered in Romania which means it’s not required to store any user information. It strengthens this with an internal zero-logs policy too. However, this might change after its recent acquisition by an Israeli firm registered in the UK. We’ll let you know if that happens.

US server locations are a healthy 191 – making a chunk of the 988 servers present in the world. Overall there are 27 countries to choose from.

Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

The service isn’t able to circumvent the Netflix ban on VPNs but does work on BBC iPlayer.

Encryption standards are among the best in the business. Cyberghost Pro uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. An internet kill switch is included as well.

Read our full review of Cyberghost Pro.

GREAT VALUE: Save over 70% when you sign up for a 2 year deal. 

5. VyprVPN

VyprVPN is a mature VPN provider that’s been around for over seven years. Privacy advocates love it because it’s one of the few that’s able to circumvent China’s Great Firewall.

Having said that, some users might be troubled by the fact that the company chooses to retain user data. Specifically, the data that’s stored is “the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time, and total number of bytes used.”

But VyprVPN insists that it’s only kept for a period of 30 days and is used for troubleshooting. That’s all.

And it’ll be pretty difficult for surveillance agencies or hackers to steal the data in the first place. Traffic is secured by the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. VyprVPN also owns entire data centers and doesn’t rely on third-party operators at all. This helps it secure traffic.

A premium version of the package allows access to the Chameleon ™ protocol, which scrambles OpenVPN metadata so deep packet inspection cannot recognize it.

The company operates servers in 8 US cities but it doesn’t say how many are present exactly. Globally, however, there are over 700 so obtaining a US IP address won’t be difficult.

Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

VyprVPN can unlock content on Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Read our full review of VyprVPN.

TRY IT: You can try VyprVPN with a 30 day money-back guarantee here. 

Should I use a free VPN?

Free VPNs are heavily advertised on the internet and some users may be tempted to sign up. However, many such services have a poor track record of impinging on users’ rights by stealing their data and selling it to third-party advertisers.

After all, even free VPNs are registered businesses. Hence they need to make money to pay for staff salaries, server maintenance, and general office overheads. That’s why the route for monetization becomes users themselves.

Even if your data isn’t stolen, expect bandwidth throttling, weak encryption standards, and data caps. So it’s likely that you’ll be booted out if you stream Netflix for an hour or so. Tons of invasive advertisements are also common, with the real risk of contracting a malware infection. We recommend you avoid the random free VPNs on the web.

Some VPNs to avoid

If you’re trying to obtain a US IP address, it’s pivotal that your privacy and anonymity is secured at all times. The VPNs mentioned in this list don’t have a history of handing over user data but there are several other unscrupulous ones. We think you should turn your back on them.

Here are three such cases:

1. PureVPN

There’s evidence to suggest that VPN provider PureVPN collaborated with law enforcement agencies to help identify one of its users.

PureVPN and the FBI joined forces after an unnamed 24-year-old woman filed a complaint about falling prey to an online blackmailing plot. She suspected her roommate, Ryan Lin, to be culpable.

The FBI traced the activity back to PureVPN, who then used its logs to identify the culprit. Ryan was arrested. PureVPN insists that it didn’t record the content of communications, but it did have a ‘no-logs’ policy in place. There’s a real question mark on how ethical they might have behaved. 

2. HolaVPN

Israel-based Hola, a popular VPN extension for Chrome, used its sizable user base of almost 50 million for illegal purposes. The company turned this critical mass into a massive botnet in 2015, leveraging individual user bandwidth to engage in Distributed Denial of Service Attacks and distributing copyrighted material. Users were completely in the dark.

3. Hotspot Shield

The popularity of free VPN service Hotspot Shield meant that it clearly was doing something right to win over users. Unfortunately, this service also seems to be one that went over to the dark side.

Last month, a privacy advocacy group filed a complaint saying that Hotspot Shield forcefully inserted tracking cookies in user devices, mined the data, and sold it to advertisers for a profit. The complaint added that the company knowingly diverted ecommerce traffic to partner domains – thereby earning commissions on affiliate sales.

For example, if a Hotspot Shield user typed in a request for a site like macys.com, they were navigated to a rival domain instead. That’s abhorrent behavior.

The jury is still out on Hotspot Shield but we recommend you avoid using the service until and unless it’s able to prove its innocence without a shadow of a doubt. Your privacy and data are too dear to shell out in exchange for just a few dollars in savings.

Under no circumstances do we ever condone the use of VPNs to commit acts expressly forbidden by a country’s laws. But VPN providers have an ethical and moral responsibility to be open with users about data tracking and logging policies. If it claims one thing and does another, that’s unacceptable in our eyes.

I’ve downloaded a VPN. What do I do next?

After registering and signing up for one of the VPN services we’ve recommended in this article, it’s a simple matter of downloading the client software and installing it on your device (Windows, MacOS, Android, or iOS).

Once that’s done, scroll through the list of available server locations until you come across options for the US. As mentioned before, each VPN in this list has a sizable number of said locations so this shouldn’t be a particularly cumbersome task.

The ones higher up in the list should be the speedier ones so go for those if you can. Once the connection is successfully established, a green icon should show up in the taskbar. That means you’re now ready to browse the web anonymously and with a US IP address.

Use an American DNS server

Nearly as important as your IP address is the server your device uses to look up the IP addresses of different web pages and other online content. DNS, or Domain Name System, works sort of like a phone book in which names (domains) are matched with phone numbers (IP addresses). When attempting to unblock geo-locked content, many websites not only check where you’re calling from, but where the phone book is located.

Even when you have an American IP address, if a DNS request is sent to a server outside of the US to look up an IP address, the website or app can see this and still block you. Therefore, it’s important that the DNS server you use is in the same country as your IP address. In this case, you need a DNS server inside the US.

All of the VPNs in the above list have apps that take care of this for you. When you connect to the VPN server, your DNS requests are also sent through the encrypted tunnel. Good VPNs, like the ones we recommend, operate their own private DNS servers, so your DNS requests cannot be used to track which websites you visit by your ISP or another DNS server provider. You might need to toggle this option on in your VPN app’s settings.

Some mediocre VPNs will send your DNS requests through the tunnel, but then use a public DNS service like Google DNS on the other side. This will let you use DNS servers in the US, but Google would be able to record which websites you visit and when, which is not ideal for privacy. Other VPNs fail to tunnel DNS requests altogether.

If your VPN provider doesn’t tunnel DNS traffic for you, you can manually configure DNS servers on most devices. We recommend a service like OpenNIC, which offers free DNS servers in specific countries including the US. The exact process for changing DNS servers varies between devices, but you can usually add primary and secondary DNS servers somewhere in your network configuration settings.

Windows 10 users in particular should be aware that their operating system often sends such requests in tandem, one over the IPv4 protocol and one over IPv6. Windows uses whichever one comes back faster, however, IPv6 requests are often sent outside the VPN tunnel. If your VPN doesn’t offer IPv6 leak protection, you may need to disable IPv6 altogether in your wifi settings.

What are the other ways to get a US IP address?

There’s the option of using the Tor browser. This is a free service available to everyone on the web and designed to provide encryption and anonymity. Many people including journalists, human rights activists, and whistleblowers use Tor to keep their identity hidden on the web.

It is possible to acquire a US IP address with Tor, but the process is a bit complicated and requires multiple steps. This guide breaks it down in more detail. Having said that, speeds on the Tor browser are buggy at best so if you’re looking to download or stream HD video, this isn’t a suitable option. Best to go with a VPN instead.

The last possible option is to use a free proxy server. But these work in a similar vein to free VPN services. There are download caps and unclear privacy policies. Be prepared to be booted out just halfway into your episode of House of Cards. HTTP and SOCKS proxies often aren’t encrypted, and they only route traffic from certain apps, such as your web browser.

US Love Grunge Flag -” by Nicolas Raymond licensed under CC BY 2.0

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