If you’re a US resident, the government is collecting information about you – whether you like it or not. Do you enjoy living under such invasive laws, and the constant threat of copyright infringement every time you stream a video? If not, we have good news for you. There are many ways to protect your privacy and prevent Big Brother from snooping through your data. One of the best is a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Quick Links to our best 5 VPNs for the United States
There are plenty of blurry lines and ambiguities in the laws that govern electronic privacy and telecommunications. For instance, the Patriot Act is packed with vaguely worded legalese. It essentially gives the government the power to make judgment calls at its own discretion. Now there’s a scary thought.
Even the bombshell revelations and sacrifices made by Edward Snowden failed to stop governmental surveillance. Thankfully, they did at least open the eyes of the average citizen. The documents Snowden shared meant that Americans finally had evidence of ‘ridiculous’ claims of surveillance. Those claims had previously sounded like something out of a political novel. The hard evidence turned mass surveillance conspiracy theories into real invasions of privacy.
A large portion of the domestic wiretapping activities hinged on the US Federal Government’s ability to coerce domestic companies and telecommunications services to forfeit customer data, or to provide spying methods and tools. That’s why those using US-based VPNs should be aware that the providers could keep usage logs or other data regarding their internet activity. We highlight these specific issues later on in this article.
Want to reclaim your privacy with a quality VPN for the United States? Go straight to our number one pick, Buffered, or check out our top recommendations to ensure privacy in the land of Uncle Sam. Alternatively, if you’re not looking for a paid VPN subscription, feel free to check out the list of free VPNs.
- Based in Hungary
- P2P and Bittorrent allowed
- Five simultaneous connections
- Some anonymous connection logs
Buffered VPN is the first of the five best VPNs for the USA. It doesn't have a network of servers as large as some competitors, such as HMA VPN which has servers in over 190 countries. Instead, Buffered VPN operates servers in 37 countries, but strategically located them in order to provide access to the most popular areas. Also, note that Buffered VPN operates servers in Canada and Mexico so USA residents can find geographically close connections that still terminate outside the US, which is great for streaming due to connections that impose less latency.
Though it's not the cheapest VPN service on the market, it's not the most expensive either. Instead, it's somewhere between the middle and high end of the market. With annual subscription discounts, you can get this service for only $7.25 per month. Furthermore, note that users are allowed up to five simultaneous connections per month, allowing users to secure all of their devices. Bittorrent users will also enjoy the fact that Buffered VPN is P2P friendly (some providers block P2P traffic for legal reasons).
And you should also know that the company is based in Hungary, far outside the USA and the reaches of domestic eavesdropping scandals of the NSA. It is also a risk free provider since it provides a generous 30 day money back guarantee. The only thing I don't like about this service is that it does keep some anonymous connection logs. However, it does not log any user activities.
The best USA VPN serviceVisit Buffered »30-day money back guarantee
- Six simultaneous connections
- Exceptional pricing model
- Based outside the US and doesn't log user data
- Servers in over 50 countries
- Doesn't have the fastest server speeds
Because most residents in the United States prefer VPN services that operate headquarters in different countries (to negate the risk of NSA and Federal coercion in wiretapping scandals like PRISM), NordVPN is the next best alternative. It is based out of Panama, which prevents the Federal government from claiming jurisdiction and forcing the company to forfeit sensitive customer records. Additionally, NordVPN doesn't keep any logs of your data, so you can rest assured that your anonymity is being adequately protected.
You should also be aware that NordVPN is cheaper than many other providers. You can get this service for as little as $5.75, depending on which subscription plan you choose. That cost is consistent with mid-market pricing, but it gets even better. There's actually a promotion for a two year subscription that drastically drops the price to only $3.29 per month.
And it allows more simultaneous connections than any other paid plan I've seen. You can connect up to six devices at the same time with NordVPN, and it has a decent number of servers to choose from. Currently NordVPN hosts servers in over 50 countries, too. And like most other providers, NordVPN seems to add more servers to new locations as customer demand increase. US residents looking for servers outside the US will be happy to know that NordVPN does have servers hosted in Mexico and Canada. These aren't my favorite two countries to connect to, but they do offer geographically close connections (which minimizes latency) for smoother streaming. Lastly, note that the only thing I don't care for regarding NordVPN is that it doesn't have the fastest server speeds in the industry.
- 42 servers in the US; hosts servers in 69 countries
- Cheap annual pricing
- Six simultaneous connections
- P2P and Bittorrent traffic permitted
- No 24/7 customer service
The third best option for residents and travelers in the US is VPNArea. Despite its tremendous value to US VPN users, the service is actually based out of Bulgaria, far outside the domestic reach of wiretapping data vultures like the NSA. Within the US, VPNArea has more capacity than most other providers since it hosts 42 servers across the country. Plus, VPNArea hosts servers in 68 other countries around the world too, so you'll have plenty of connection options.
I was also impressed with the fact that VPNArea is a tad cheaper than the average provider, which is uncommon for such a quality service. If you opt for the annual subscription plan, you can save approximately 50% of the monthly plan, which brings the cost down from $9.90 per month to only $4.92. You'll also be able to connect all of your devices, since each account is permitted up to six simultaneous connections. In fact, you may have extra connections left over.
Furthermore, there are tons of great security features. For instance, the software help prevent DNS, Web-RTC and IPv6 leaks, so you won't suffer a loss of privacy. And like other VPN tunnels, it will help block ad tracking, and VPNArea runs its own DNS servers. Last but not least, be aware that VPNArea is a great fit for Bittorrent users, since it allows P2P traffic through its network.
- Servers in 30 countries
- Native IKEv2 encryption
- No activity logs
- Help blocks malware and ads
- Monthly plan costs $10.99
CyberGhost VPN is the third best option for people wishing to secure their data in the USA. You'll be pleased to know that this provider is based far from US soil in Romania, so you won't have to fear about the government meddling with the company's data. I do wish that CyberGhost had a larger network of servers, but it seems to be on par with the standard number of connection options in the industry.
Right now it operates servers in 30 countries including Canada and the US. It does not, however operate servers in Mexico at this time. Plus, the encryption is rock solid since it offers IKEv2 encryption and access to the OpenVPN protocol. The website boldly claims, “Our servers keep no logs.” Actually, some logs are kept to monitor server status and aggregate anonymous bandwidth data, but the servers won't keep logs of your data or online activities.
Naturally, I'm also thrilled that the service allows up to five simultaneous connections as well, so you can protect all your devices or share the account with family and friends. And last but not least, note that this provider is fairly priced when you opt for the annual plan, which only costs $4.99 per month.
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- Servers in 94+ countries
- Router VPN app
- 30 day money back guarantee
- Based in the British Virgin Islands
- Pricier than most other competitors
Next up is ExpressVPN, which is the fourth best alternative for users based in the US. This service has a lot going for it, though most people like it because of fast and reliable servers. Plus, it does locate servers throughout the United States and neighboring North American countries like Canada and Mexico. And it isn't fettered by US jurisdiction since it is based in the British Virgin Islands. You'll have plenty of international connection options to choose from in over 94 countries too.
ExpressVPN allows three simultaneous connections per account as well, which is still better than some other plans that only allow one or two connections. There are a couple things I dislike about the service though. I wish it had a free version of its service or at least had a free trial. Instead, it has a 30 day money back guarantee, which is still loads of time to test out the service.
It does accept anonymous crypto-currencies like Bitcoin too. I also like that ExpressVPN allows P2P and Bittorrent traffic through its servers, and that it has an app that simplifies the process of configuring a VPN on your router. There is really one big thing I don't like about this service: the price. I wouldn't recommend the monthly plan. Rather, I would recommend the annual plan, which is much more reasonable at $8.32 per month.
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VPNs for the US: Considerations
If I live in the US do I even need a VPN?
Anyone who grew up in the US knows how much Americans pride themselves on freedom. Liberty and rule by the people are two pillars upon which the country was founded. That’s why the preamble to the US Constitution begins with three powerful words: We the people. The idea of a government controlling, subjugating, and monitoring its citizens is utterly at odds with this. However, things have changed drastically in the Federal Government, especially concerning the NSA.
Americans were horrified when they discovered that the government had implemented domestic surveillance programs, such as PRISM. Edward Snowden played a huge role in awakening the American people by loudly blowing the whistle. Thanks to his efforts, Americans are now aware that the government has intruded into their personal lives through questionable practices.
If privacy is a main concern for you, we recommend checking out our top 5 VPNs that claim to keep zero logs.
Ironically, programs like PRISM were set in motion in the name of combating terrorism. The idea (allegedly) was to collect bulk data from popular digital companies in the US, such as Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple, and others. Then, the government would search the data for keywords and red flags related to terrorist terminology, threats, and other key markers.
The net effect, however, was that the government invaded US citizens’ privacy. PRISM didn’t bear any fruits in combating global terrorist activities.
Does governmental surveillance and invasion of privacy send chills down your spine and make your blood boil? It should! Thankfully, a VPN will give you increased anonymity on the internet, encrypting all communication between your device and the outside world. If you want to know more about how a VPN works, check our excellent Beginner’s Guide to VPNs.
VPNs and iPhones: Dangers in the US
Freedom of speech and privacy are a big concern around the world. In fact, the very first amendment to the US Constitution protects free speech. Unfortunately, the fourth amendment, which protects individuals from unlawful searches and seizures, only protects persons, houses, papers, and effects – not complex data and telecommunications information.
The US was founded on the premise of freedom and liberty. However, recent years have shown the government’s agenda to be quite the contrary. The FBI’s involvement with Apple is a prime example. Apple’s iPhone only has a relatively small portion of the mobile market as compared to Android. Despite that, there are millions of iPhones in use in the US.
Whenever each new version of the iPhone is released, there are security flaws that need to be patched. Hackers and governmental agencies can easily take advantage of flaws in new code. Apple has had a long and tense relationship with the NSA and the FBI. The FBI tried to coerce Apple into intentionally designing backdoors into its mobile devices. This was to provide law enforcement with access to encrypted data in the event of criminal or terrorist activity.
Paying the Price
While some people might consider this a small price to pay for the quality of life in the US, residents should be alarmed at the government’s conduct. The government used the Patriot Act and other legislation to deceive the American public.
Whether the FBI can tap into your iPhone is currently unknown. The operating system only protects your data when it is sitting on your phone. Once you access a website or cloud server, you data is vulnerable as it is transmitted through the public internet… unless you’ve encrypted it, that is. That’s why you need a VPN tunnel on iOS devices.
A VPN for iPhone encrypts all data that the device sends and receives. This is not entirely secure when living in the US, as domestic services like Google may still forfeit your data. However, using a VPN on an iPhone is easy and quick to set up. You will be free from unwanted spying and from tracking methods such as a Stingray or Typhoon devices.
Copyright Infringement: A Big Deal
Copyright infringement has become a big issue in the US. The emergence of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing sites has resulted in copyright holders pursuing strict punishments for offenders. In the past, services like Kazaa and Limewire met fierce opposition from the government. Many individuals who used these services became the object of lawsuits. As such, VPNs for torrenting have become commonplace.
BestVPN.com & the VPN services that we feature are not intended to be used as a means of copyright circumvention. Please ensure you read the terms of service and any terms and conditions of any service you sign up to for more details.
The launch of the Copyright Alert System in 2013 aimed to curb copyright infringement. This system employs a six step warning process. This eventually results in an Internet Service Provider (ISP) handing over an individual’s browsing history to copyright holders and legal agencies.
ISPs and copyright holders are increasingly prepared to go through the legal hurdles of protecting copyrighted material. This mainly results in DMCA notices being served to try and scare the average torrent user. However, courtroom cases are becoming more common. Prosecution for copyright infringement can result in a fine of between $200 and $150,000, or even jail time.
As such, it’s advisable to make sure you adequately research whether the file you want to download is copyrighted. Furthermore, you’ll need to research the copyright laws in your state, since state laws do vary.
VPNs for Streaming Content
The US boasts a wealth of media content that can be streamed online. Shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead mesmerize millions around the world. Popular streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu are all based in the US (along with much copyright-restricted material).
Access to these services is mostly unblocked in the US, but some networks (like a school campus or hotel) may block these sites to conserve bandwidth. A VPN tunnel will easily unblock them. You might run into some lag if you try and stream high-quality videos while using a VPN, however. We don’t recommend using a US VPN for streaming services, but if you prefer total privacy over speed, try using a fast VPN like ExpressVPN or Buffered.
If you choose a VPN service with servers in other countries (such as the UK), you have the option of connecting to a server there and accessing foreign streaming services, such as BBC iPlayer.
Best US VPNs: Conclusion
Whether you’re a temporary resident, citizen or tourist in the US, you’ll have access to an internet infrastructure that’s freer than those of most other countries. The US ranks 43rd on Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index. However, in recent times, the US has become a dangerous place to browse the internet (with respect to your privacy). Make sure you’re properly protected against any unwanted snooping with one of the VPNs we’ve mentioned above.
If you have any questions or comments regarding a US VPN, let us know below!