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5 Best Cheap VPNs in 2022 — Reliable Security for Under $3

As more VPNs become available, finding one that balances quality and price can be challenging. Cheap or free VPNs might seem like a great idea, but there are risks. Many cheap VPNs have limited features, like slow speeds and weak security. Some even collect and sell your data to third parties, which can put your privacy at risk.

My team and I tested 35+ cheap VPNs and shortlisted the ones that don’t have any limitations. Whether you want to protect your data, bypass geoblocks, or enjoy lag-free streaming, these budget-friendly VPNs will do all that without breaking the bank.

Out of the VPNs tested, I found CyberGhost to be the most reliable cheap VPN. It has superfast speeds and optimized servers for flawless streaming. Plus, its strong security features keep your online activity private. You can try CyberGhost for free since it’s backed by a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not impressed, it’s easy to get a full refund.

Try CyberGhost Today

Short on Time? Here Are the Best Cheap VPNs in 2022

  1. CyberGhost ($2.29/month) — Dedicated streaming servers to unblock your favorite platforms, and an easy-to-use app. Try it free for 45 days with its money-back guarantee.
  2. Private Internet Access ($2.19/month) — PIA MACE to block ads and malware, and a massive server network. However, it’s based in the US.
  3. PrivateVPN ($2/month) — StealthVPN protocol to bypass VPN blocks and customizable security, but doesn’t accept Google Pay.
  4. ZenMate ($1.51/month) — Top security to protect your data and good speeds, but no live chat.
  5. Hotspot Shield ($2.99/month) — Catapult Hydra protocol for speedy long-distance connections, and solid security features. However, it’s privacy policy is vague.

Best Cheap VPNs for Under $3 — Full Analysis (Updated in 2022)

1. CyberGhost — Overall Best Cheap VPN With Specialty Servers to Unblock Streaming Platforms

  • Prices start from $2.29/month
  • 8,028+ servers in 91 countries, including some optimized for streaming
  • 7 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
May 2022 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 82% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

CyberGhost offers streaming-optimized servers, so you can access your favorite sites even when on a budget. You can find them listed under the “For Streaming” category within the app when you expand the menu. During my tests, I connected to its BBC iPlayer UK server and was able to access the platform in no time. I also had no problems accessing my Netlix US, Hulu, and Disney+ accounts.

screenshot showing Future Man streaming on Hulu with CyberGhost connected

I was able to connect to CyberGhost’s Hulu-optimized server in under 3 seconds

It has dedicated gaming and torrenting servers, too. Its gaming connections are designed to deliver fast speeds and low ping, while its torrenting servers let you download torrents safely and quickly. I tried its specialized gaming server in London and was able to play Dota 2 lag-free. You won’t have to spend a fortune to have a smooth gaming and torrenting experience.

Speeds are ideal even for very high-bandwidth activities. My download speed never dropped below 52 Mbps on its Seattle and San Francisco servers. It remained consistent even on long-distance London and Berkshire connections, averaging 50 Mbps. This is more than enough for HD and even 4K streaming. I watched A Champion Heart in Ultra HD on Netflix US without buffering.

All its apps are super easy to set up and use, making it an excellent budget-friendly option for beginners. It took me less than 3 minutes to download and install the VPN on my Windows 11 PC. I also liked its “Best server location” feature, which automatically picks the optimal connection with just the click of a button.

Despite being affordable, it has best-in-class security features to protect your online identity. The VPN uses AES 256-bit military-grade encryption, which is nearly impossible to crack. Its kill switch cuts off your internet connection if your VPN suddenly drops, while its DNS/IP leak protection prevents your data from being exposed accidentally. I tested its US servers on ipleak.net and found zero leaks. Plus, I also liked its Content Block feature that prevents malicious domains from loading.

Graphic showing CG DNS leak test

All of CyberGhost’s servers are highly secure

Your privacy is well-protected, too, thanks to CyberGhost’s no-logs policy. This feature prevents your browsing activity from being recorded. Plus, its home base is in Romania, a privacy-friendly nation outside the 14-Eyes Alliance. This means CyberGhost can’t be subjected to any data retention laws, so your data is perfectly safe.

To make sure you get CyberGhost for less than $3 a month, make sure you get a long-term plan for $2.29/month. It's no different from the short-term plans, which cost significantly more and come with a shorter money-back guarantee period (14 days vs. 45 days).

I tested CyberGhost’s 45-day money-back guarantee to see if it was the real deal. To do this, I asked a representative over 24/7 live chat to cancel my subscription after using the service for a few weeks. The representative didn't ask me any questions before she proceeded with my request, and I was fully refunded after 3 business days.

Try CyberGhost Today

2. Private Internet Access — PIA MACE Enhances Browsing Experience At a Low Cost

  • Prices start from $2.19/month
  • 29,650 servers in 84 countries
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
May 2022 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 82% off!

PIA offers a unique feature called MACE that blocks ads, malware, and trackers. To put this to the test, I enabled MACE from the app’s settings and visited an ad-heavy website (The Washington Post). It removed all the ads on the page. Plus, I even experienced slightly faster page load times as there was less content to load. With MACE, you’ll have an improved browsing experience for less than $3.

This low-cost VPN has customizable security features. You can choose between AES-128 and 256-bit encryption and from 2 protocols (OpenVPN and WireGuard). This lets you optimize your connection to find the right balance of speed and security, depending on your online activity. I used WireGuard for streaming because it gave me faster speeds. The VPN also includes a kill switch and DNS/IP leak protection. In addition, its multi-hop feature makes your connection more secure by routing your traffic through more than one server.

Graphic showing PIA security settings

PIA’s security settings are great for advanced VPN users

Another security benefit is that PIA is open-source, which means anyone can view its code at any time. This level of transparency lets you inspect the software for bugs, malware, and other harmful issues, which improves security by reducing the risk of vulnerabilities.

PIA’s speeds are also impressive. When I tested its US West and Seattle servers, I found an average of 44 Mbps. The speeds dropped only slightly on its long-distance Perth and Sydney servers, clocking at 41.92 Mbps. This let me download a 3 GB torrent file on my uTorrent client in less than 10 minutes. You can stream, game, and torrent with no restrictions at a small price.

The server network is more extensive than more expensive rivals, like ExpressVPN. During my tests, I connected to its US East streaming optimized server and could access all the sites that I tried, including Netflix US, Disney+, and Hulu. At first, its London server struggled to unblock BBC iPlayer. But I switched to its Southampton server and was able to access the site right away. You can watch geo-restricted content from anywhere.

A concern with PIA is that it’s based in the US, which is part of the 5 Eyes Alliance. This is a collaborative network of countries that gathers and shares data on its citizens. However, PIA has a proven no-logs policy, never having shared data with authorities in its 10+-year history, which eases my concerns.

Its cheapest plan is $2.19/month. Its 2-year plan has the same features as the short-term options but is much cheaper in the long run. Therefore, I recommend it for the best value.

You can also take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee and test all PIA’s features for free. I asked them to cancel my subscription over 24/7 live chat to see if this was legitimate. After answering 1 question about my experience, they approved my request, and I got all my money back after 4 business days.

Try PIA Today

3. PrivateVPN — Bypass Firewalls With StealthVPN At a Bargain Price

  • Prices start from $2/month
  • 200 servers in 63 countries
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

PrivateVPN’s Stealth mode helps you bypass VPN blocks and firewalls. It does this by scrambling your VPN traffic to make it look normal. I tested it on my local library’s WiFi that won’t let me access YouTube. After I enabled this feature, the site loaded quickly within 10 seconds. With this cheap VPN, you can easily access your favorite content, even if you’re in a country that censors online content.

Graphic showing PrivateVPN's StealthVPN feature

PrivateVPN can easily bypass geoblocks and firewalls

When it comes to speeds, PrivateVPN doesn’t disappoint. As I was streaming Netflix, my download speed never went below 40.2 Mbps the whole time. While it’s not as fast as CyberGhost, I could still watch Dark on Netflix US in HD. Therefore, you can watch your favorite shows without lag for hours at a cheap price.

This VPN has 200 servers in 63+ countries to get past geoblocks. While it’s not as extensive as CyberGhost or PIA, it still unblocked everything that I tried. I used its Denver server to access Netflix US and Disney+, and it worked seamlessly. Plus, all its servers are P2P-friendly, meaning you can torrent as much as you want without restrictions.

Its solid security features protect your data and hide your online identity. All of its apps have a kill switch and you can choose between AES 128-bit and 256-bit encryption to streamline your connection (128-bit is a lot faster, but it’s not as secure as 256-bit). Plus, its no-logs policy and DNS/IP leak protectition protect your sensitive information at all times. When I went to ipleak.net and tested its US servers, no leaks were found.

If you’re new to VPNs, then you’ll benefit from PrivateVPN’s intuitive app. Its interface is minimalistic and straightforward, which lets you connect to any server in one click. Plus, it’s compatible with most devices. Installing it on my MacBook Pro took me a little over 20 seconds, and the setup on my Android phone was even faster.

A minor con of PrivateVPN is that it doesn’t accept Google Pay payments. However, you can pay by credit card, PayPal, or even cryptocurrencies, providing many options. Its long-term plan is the most affordable starting at $2/month. Feature-wise, it’s no different from the short-term plans.

Since it’s backed by a money-back guarantee, you can try PrivateVPN free for 30 days. To see if this policy was trustworthy, I asked a customer service representative to cancel my subscription through 24/7 live chat after 28 days. After asking me 2 questions about the service (without being pushy), the representative canceled my account. I was fully refunded after 4 days.

Try PrivateVPN Today

4. ZenMate — A Cheap VPN With Unlimited Connections to Protect All Your Devices

  • Prices start from $1.51/month
  • 4,200 servers in 80 countries
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

Zenmate offers unlimited simultaneous device connections, making it a steal at the price. In addition to military-grade encryption, it comes with an automatic kill switch and leak protection to protect your data on all connected devices. To test its kill switch, I changed servers while downloading torrents from The Pirate Bay. The second I did that, I got disconnected from the internet and my downloads paused until the connection was re-established. This means you can rely on Zenmate’s top security to keep all your devices well-protected.

With its strict no-logs policy, you can rest assured that your online activity is safe. This VPN keeps your browsing activity, location, and actual IP address hidden from malicious parties. Added to this is ZenMate’s ad and malware blocker, which stops advertisers and corporations from collecting your data and using it against you.

As cheap as it is, Zenmate is still an excellent choice for accessing geo-restricted content, thanks to its specialized streaming servers. During my tests, I connected to its optimized servers in the US and UK and could easily unblock sites like US Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. While using these servers, I recorded a download speed of 39.5 Mbps on the US servers and 37.7 Mbps on the UK ones.

Graphic showing ZenMate with Netflix

ZenMate has plenty of servers in different countries

A minor inconvenience of ZenMate is that it doesn't offer a 24/7 live chat option. However, its FAQ page and support articles are most helpful and detailed and you can get in touch through email.

You can sign up for its Ultimate subscription for just $1.51/month. It has the same features as a short-term plan at a fraction of the cost, so it’s well worth it. There’s also a Pro plan, but it doesn’t support torrenting and only protects your browser traffic. So, I recommend signing up for the Ultimate plan for full device protection.

If you’re not ready to commit just yet, you can test ZenMate risk-free by taking advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee. To see if this policy was legitimate, I emailed them to cancel my subscription. 18 hours later, I got a reply stating that it was no issue, and I got all my money back by the end of the week.

Try Zenmate Today

5. Hotspot Shield — Catapult Hydra Protocol for Smooth Streaming On a Budget

  • Prices start from $2.99/month
  • Military-grade encryption and virus/malware protection
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

Hotspot Shield has its own protocol called Catapult Hydra that’s designed to be faster than regular protocols like OpenVPN (especially on long-distance connections). To test this myself, I used Catapult Hydra on its Atlanta and Houston servers and got an average download speed of 38.7 Mbps. When I tested the same servers with OpenVPN, my speeds came in at 31.5 Mbps, so the drop was substantial. I watched Bridgerton on Netflix US completely lag-free with Hydra. You can have a flawless streaming experience without shelling out big bucks.

Graphic showing Hotspot Shield with BBC iPlayer

Hotspot Shield has fast enough speeds for Ultra HD streaming

Its server network consists of 1,800 servers in 110 countries, which gives you plenty of options to unblock geo-restricted sites. For my streaming tests, I connected to 3 US servers and a UK one and unblocked US Netflix and UK TV. However, one of the US servers couldn’t access Netflix, but the other 2 were fine. Wherever you are, you can watch your favorite shows without any issues for a really fair price.

Hotspot Shield has robust security features to protect your online activity, so your money is well spent. It comes with AES-256 bit encryption and leak protection. I also appreciated its Smart VPN feature — it bypasses certain apps and websites from using the VPN connection. This helped me download torrents safely, and I could still access my local bank account.

A problem with Hotspot Shield is its vague privacy policy. However, I discovered that it only collects basic details like your username and email when I looked into it. The main thing is it does not retain user logs, so it’s safe to use.

To get the best value for your money, I recommend signing up for Hotspot Shield’s long-term plan, which starts from $2.99/month. It provides the same service as the monthly plan but is more economical. You can also try all of Hotspot Shield’s features for free as it comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee. After submitting a refund request by email, they agreed without hesitation. After 4 business days, I was fully refunded.

Try Hotspot Shield Today

Quick Comparison Table: Cheap VPN Features

Cheapest Price Highest Discount Best Value Plan Simultaneous Device Connections Speed Money-back Guarantee Period
🥇CyberGhost $2.29/month 82% 3-year 7 Very Fast 45 days
🥈PIA $2.19/month 82% 2-year 10 Fast 30 days
🥉PrivateVPN $2/month 85% 3-year 10 Fast 30 days
ZenMate $1.51/month 86% 3-year Unlimited Fast 30 days
Hotspot Shield $2.99/month 77% 1-year 5 Fast 45 days

Tips on How to Choose the Best Cheap VPNs

I used the following criteria when deciding the best cheap VPNs. Feel free to use it as a checklist if you’re still unsure.

  • Affordable prices – I only selected VPNs with a plan for under $3 a month. Considering some mediocre VPNs can cost around $6 or more, this is very reasonable.
  • Fast speeds – It’s normal for a VPN to decrease your speeds, but a reliable cheap VPN makes the drop barely noticeable. I tested every VPN on this list for speeds and only chose ones that can stream HD content without lag.
  • Global server network – This means you’ll have plenty of other options if the server you’re connected to stops working. Plus, having a nearby server location ensures a speedy connection, so you can game, stream, and torrent without slowdowns. All the cheap VPNs on this list have plenty of servers worldwide.
  • Streaming support – Look for a cheap VPN that can reliably unblock popular streaming platforms, like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu. I only shortlisted VPNs that have good unblocking capabilities.
  • Robust security features – It’s very common for cheap VPNs to have poor security features, so I prioritized VPNs with world-class security features to protect your data. These include military-grade encryption, a kill switch, DNS/IP leak protection, and advanced protocols.
  • Trustworthy privacy practices – Every cheap VPN in this article can hide your online activity with its strict no-logs policy. Plus, they will hide your real IP address, which further conceals your identity and location.
  • Vast device compatibility – All of the cheap VPNs I recommended have native apps for the major operating systems that can be easily installed. Plus, you can install them on home routers to protect devices that don’t support VPNs.
  • Reliable customer support – If you ever need help, then support should be easily accessible at any time. I selected VPNs with plenty of support options, such as live chat, email, phone, and a detailed FAQ page. Live chat is preferred, but not all VPNs on this list offer it.
Pro Tip: Be sure to always read the fine print! Some VPNs (like NordVPN) charge a low price for the first subscription term, but then up the price significantly upon renewal. CyberGhost’s cheapest price stays the same upon renewal, and I checked to make sure none of the VPNs listed here will automatically charge you more, either.

FAQs on the Best Cheap VPNs

What’s better, a free or cheap VPN?

A cheap VPN is a better option because it doesn’t restrict you the way free VPNs do. You get fast speeds, strong security, unlimited data, and a global server network with a good cheap VPN.

On the other hand, free VPNs are severely restricted. They usually have slow speeds and limited data, so you can’t use them for high-bandwidth activities, like streaming and torrenting. Plus, they often fail to unblock streaming platforms due to their very limited server networks (usually you only have access to around 5 server locations).

Even worse, free VPNs often have weak security and can leak identifying information. Some even sell your data to third parties to make money. You’re better off with an affordable VPN that has the funds and resources to protect you properly.

Why are VPNs expensive, and how can I make one cheaper?

While VPNs may seem expensive, most of them are fairly priced considering the benefits you get. There are plenty of great VPNs available for under $3 per month — they can unblock geo-restricted sites and protect your personal data just as well as many expensive VPNs in a lot of cases.

If you still think VPNs are expensive, then here are a few tips to get the most value out of your VPN subscription:

  • Use a coupon or a discount. Many VPNs have regular discounts and cheap deals for anyone to use. Check out our deals and coupons page for the most recent offers.
  • Take advantage of a free trial. A few top-tier VPNs have free trials, like CyberGhost, which lets you use the service for free for 24 hours. Payment details aren’t required to use the free trial either. But since it’s only for a very short time, you won’t get much of a chance to test its full capabilities.
  • Subscribe to a long-term plan. As with most subscription-based services, the long-term plans are cheaper overall than the short-term plans. For ex., CyberGhost lets you save around 82% by choosing a 3-year plan instead of a monthly one.

Can I use a cheap VPN for Netflix?

Some work great with Netflix, but not all of them. For example, all the cheap VPNs on this list work with Netflix, thanks to their extensive and regularly maintained server networks. Some even have streaming-optimized servers for popular platforms, including Netflix. So, you should have no problem unblocking the site.

However, many cheap VPNs have limited server networks, and they’re unable to bypass Netflix’s tough geoblocks. Therefore, it’s important to choose a cheap VPN that provides streaming support. I also recommend a cheap VPN that comes with a trusted money-back guarantee so that if you find it doesn’t work, you can get a full refund.

What’s the best cheap VPN for torrenting?

The best cheap VPN for torrenting is CyberGhost. It has over 50 servers that are optimized for P2P sharing, so you can safely download torrents on a fast and reliable connection.

Additionally, it hides your actual IP address and uses military-grade encryption, which prevents your ISP from throttling your connection and seeing your torrenting activity. Using CyberGhost’s dedicated torrenting servers, I downloaded a 4 GB file in less than 11 minutes. Plus, I didn’t detect any DNS or IP leaks.

Are there cheap VPNs that bill monthly?

Yes, there are. However, signing up month-to-month is always going to cost more than choosing a longer term. I recommend signing up for yearly VPN plans if you want to save the most money.

Of the VPNs listed here, the cheapest month-to-month plan is PrivateVPN, at $8.99/month. While monthly plans allow you to spend less upfront, you’ll end up spending more than double in the long run. That’s because VPN providers often don’t offer discounts with short-term options like they do when you commit to a yearly plan.

What is the best cheap VPN for gaming?

During my tests, I found CyberGhost to be the best cheap VPN for gaming. It has dedicated gaming servers that are optimized for fast speeds and low ping. This ensures a lag-free gaming experience. When I used its gaming-optimized server in London to play Dota 2, I had a ping rate of less than 50 ms the entire time.

Plus, CyberGhost hides your real IP address and protects your traffic with 256-bit military-grade encryption, so you’ll never have to worry about hackers initiating DDoS attacks against you.

Will a cheap VPN come with port forwarding and a dedicated IP address?

This depends on the cheap VPN you choose. For example, CyberGhost lets you buy a dedicated IP address as an optional extra and enables port forwarding. But before you get a cheap VPN with a dedicated IP address and port forwarding, it’s best to understand the pros and cons of each.

A dedicated IP address provides more security as only you can use it, although it can compromise your privacy in the process. Port forwarding can increase your speeds, but it can open your connection to malicious parties like hackers while torrenting or gaming. This is why several VPNs don’t have it.

Are cheap VPNs safe and reliable?

Yes and no — it depends on the cheap VPN service you choose. All the VPNs on this list have been tried-and-tested for strong security, fast speeds, and have strict no-logs policies, so they’re safe and reliable. However, some cheap VPNs can have weak security features, and they can leak identifying information. Some even keeps logs of your sensitive data, which can put your privacy at risk. So, it’s important to choose a cheap VPN provider that’s been proven.

Try CyberGhost Now

Get a Cheap VPN Subscription Today

Some cheap VPNs provide a quality service, which means you don’t always have to pay a premium price. But the number of cheap VPNs that are dangerous is greater, which is why you need to be careful when choosing. There are several VPNs that provide reliable and secure connections for less than $3 a month.

From the 30+ VPNs I tested, CyberGhost provides the highest quality at the best value, with prices starting at $2.29/month. Its global server network, fast speeds, and military-grade encryption are highly useful and keep you safe. Plus, it’s blacked by a 45-day money-back guarantee, which lets you try all of CyberGhost’s features for free. You can get a full refund if you don’t like it.

To summarize, the best cheap VPNs in 2022 are…

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

About the Author

Ren is a technology researcher and writer. He is a strong advocate for online privacy and digital freedom.

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