- What is a cheap VPN in 2023?
- How to choose the best cheap VPN provider
- Pros of cheap VPNs
- Cons of cheap VPNs
- Are cheap VPNs secure?
- Alternatives to cheap VPNs
What is a cheap VPN in 2023?
In 2023, you will come across multiple VPN providers that offer budget-friendly cybersecurity options. If you already know what a VPN does and are looking for one, you might want to opt for a cheaper one. However, the term “cheap” is very subjective — each user determines how much they can and are willing to pay to shield their online traffic from prying eyes. VPN service prices may also drop over time, with providers offering discounts and promotions. So what should you consider when choosing the right VPN for you?
How to choose the best cheap VPN provider
If you want to choose the best budget VPN provider, you have to consider both the affordability of the service and its quality. To do so, select several popular providers and evaluate their services according to the factors below.
Evaluate pricing plans
Choose several VPN providers and compare the prices of their services. Look for affordable pricing plans offering essential privacy features like strong encryption, multiple server locations, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a no-logs policy.
Typically, opting for a long-term subscription is cheaper. So go for a more extended subscription period and keep an eye out for special promotions and deals to reduce the price.
Assess the server network and geographical coverage
Consider the number of servers and their global distribution — the more VPN servers in different countries, the better. A wide range of server locations ensures better connectivity.
Make sure the provider offers servers in your region in case you need to use locally available content, especially when traveling abroad.
Examine connection speed and performance
Opt for a free trial of the VPN service and check if the connection is speedy and reliable. A VPN worth paying for should offer a fast and stable connection so you can seamlessly surf the internet.
Be wary of bandwidth limitations. Some VPN providers impose bandwidth restrictions that can negatively affect your internet speed and user experience.
Review security features and protocols
Look for robust encryption standards. A reliable VPN should use reliable encryption protocols, like AES-256 or WireGuard, or an equivalent.
Consider additional security features, like a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and split tunneling, which shield your data and enhance your online security.
Take into account the interface and compatibility
When trying out the service, test and assess the ease of use of a particular VPN service. Is it easy to set up and configure the VPN app? Is the interface user-friendly? A lower price should not mean the provider compromises on the ease of use.
And make sure the VPN app is compatible with all your devices and operating systems. The provider should support the platform you are using, whether it’s Windows, Android, Mac, or iOS.
Research customer support and reliability
See if the customer support service is responsive and helpful. A trustworthy VPN provider should offer speedy assistance if any issues or questions arise. So check the provider’s reviews and ratings online to find out what existing customers say and if they are satisfied with the VPN service.
Pros of cheap VPNs
Apart from the obvious benefit of a low price, other aspects of cheap VPNs make them appealing to potential users.
- Affordable. You will most likely be able to afford a low-priced VPN service even on a tight budget. If even a cheap VPN is unaffordable, you might be tempted to choose a free VPN but beware of the security risks you’d be exposing yourself to — we have them covered in our blog post on free vs. paid VPNs.
- Basic security. Some cheap VPNs offer basic security features that can protect your online traffic.
- Access to your home content while abroad. Some cheap VPNs can provide you with access to your local content when you travel abroad.
- Privacy. Budget VPNs provide some level of privacy by hiding your actual IP address.
Cons of cheap VPNs
Cheap VPNs might be appealing due to their affordability, but they typically come with limitations and drawbacks. Here are some of the downsides to using a budget VPN:
- Limited features. Most cheap VPNs lack the funds required to offer their clients premium services, which includes advanced security features and an extensive network of servers.
- Security risks. Some low-priced VPNs might lack the financial resources to patch security issues, making their clients’ data vulnerable to breaches and leaks.
- Poor speed. Due to a limited server network, cheap VPNs might provide you with slow internet speed.
- Logs and privacy issues. Some inexpensive VPNs might log user data and share it with third parties for monetary gain.
- Unreliable customer support. Cheap VPNs might not have the resources to maintain an extensive customer support team and be slow to respond and solve problems.
- Ads and malware. Numerous cheap VPNs bombard you with ads when you visit their website. Some of the ads might even contain malware that infects your device if you open the ad.
- Bandwidth restrictions. Some budget VPNs impose data caps, limiting your online activities.
All in all, the cons of free VPNs seem to outweigh their pros. By choosing a free VPN, you might end up opening the door to security issues.
Are cheap VPNs secure?
Yes, some inexpensive VPNs can be secure. But to understand the risks, you have to be aware of the asymmetric nature of cybersecurity. VPN providers are responsible for patching and fixing all vulnerabilities. On the other hand, a hacker has to find just one vulnerability to exploit it. Therefore, a VPN provider must hire penetration testers and cybersecurity experts to make the service as secure as possible, which is beyond the means of most low-cost VPN services. Check out our article on the dangers and data breaches of free VPNs for more information.
A quality VPN can afford to innovate, use next-generation encryption, and prevent user data leaks — something even the best budget VPNs can’t offer their users.
Alternatives to cheap VPNs
It is crucial to consider the value for money when choosing a VPN, not just the lowest price. While inexpensive options might be appealing, they have limitations. Here are some alternatives to cheap VPNs that combine cost-effectiveness, security, and performance:
- Free trials. Many reliable VPN providers offer free trials and money-back guarantees, so you can try their services without committing to a subscription. For example, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Get a free trial of a reputable VPN service and assess its performance before making a financial investment.
- Limited free versions. Some VPN providers offer free versions with limited features. The versions might not provide the same level of security and performance as premium versions, but they are enough for basic usage.
- Discounts and promotions. Premium VPNs offer discounts and special VPN deals during certain periods or on special occasions, so you can get the same top-tier service for a lower price. You can also save money by getting a long-term subscription, which is, in most cases, significantly cheaper.
- Bundles and packages. Some providers offer VPN bundles that come packed with extra features and tools, such as password managers or antivirus software. These packages provide added value at a competitive price. For instance, NordVPN offers bundles, so you can enjoy several Nord Security products for a lower cost.
- Mid-range VPN providers. If you want your VPN service to stay on the cheaper side, look for providers that offer competitive pricing and a range of features that is broader than basic. These providers balance the cost and quality of the service, providing a broad enough range of server locations and sufficient connection speed.
Remember to prioritize security, privacy, and speed when looking for alternatives to budget VPNs. Do thorough research and compare the services of different providers, paying attention to their encryption standards, server network, user reviews, and customer support to make the right choice to meet your needs.