Liberty Reserve is a Costa Rican company that allows its customers to transfer and receive payments worldwide. It is also the name of its own digital currency (known as ’LR’), which is backed up by the US dollar and the Euro. Liberty Reserve’s main competitors include AlertPay, WebMoney and RBK Money, but most importantly, PayPal.
Unlike PayPal (and most bank, debit and credit card) transactions, Liberty Reserve payments are non-refundable, so a buyer receives no protection if a transaction goes wrong. On the other hand, Liberty Reserve does offer a number of distinct advantages over PayPal:
The transaction fees are much lower –Liberty Reserve charge a flat 1% fee (rounded up to the nearest penny), with a maximum fee of $2.99 (so fees are only applicable to the first $300 of a transfer)
It is generally considered more secure – this is because it requires two passwords to access funds – one to access the account and another to make a payment*
It is more anonymous – Liberty Reserve does not handle transactions directly, but through third party merchants. This means that the payee does not see any personal account details of the individual paying, although this should not be seen a guarantee of anonymity. It also means that additional merchant fees may apply.
Irrevocable transactions – the flip side of no buyer protection is that sellers benefit from no charge backs, default payments and bad cheques.
*It is possible to set up a Liberty Reserve digital wallet with funds transferred from your main account. This makes making payments quicker and easier, but is less secure. It is therefore advisable to only transfer limited funds to the wallet from the more secure actual account.
The main disadvantage of Liberty Reserve, when compared to PayPal, is that is not accepted by anywhere near as many sellers. However, although not nearly as popular as PayPal (which is accepted by pretty much all providers), Liberty Reserve’s increased anonymity makes it relatively common for VPN providers to accept it.
Positives: Easy-to-use software, excellent speeds, good customer service
Negatives: Bit pricey, but worth it for the features
With apps across all platforms and software that blows the competition away, ExpressVPN secures our vote as the Best VPN. The download speeds are impressive and the software is straightforward to use. We really love some of the features like automatic protocol selection and server location recommendations.
ExpressVPN boasts round-the-clock customer support and an ultra reliable VPN network spanning 78 countries and hundreds of servers. They are also adding new locations all the time. These guys have done a pretty awesome job in building what we believe to be the best VPN service out there.
The pricing is not the cheapest, but you do get what you pay for. ExpressVPN also offers unlimited bandwidth and supports your mobile device (Android/iOS) for no extra charge.
Positives: 620 IP addresses with 58 servers in 15 countries, very cheap, p2P: yes
Negatives: Very slow especially when used to download torrents, no logs policy is no good enough
ibVPN’s main selling points are that it’s cheap, and it keeps ‘no logs’. While we can’t, at a very pocket friendly $4.95 per month for one of its basic services, argue with the cheap part, we are unhappy with the ‘no logs’ claim as substantial amounts of information are in fact kept for 7 days. In addition to this, despite surprisingly good speedtest.net results during our review period, longer term use proved the service to be painfully slow on a regular basis, with web pages often timing out, and torrent download ETAs jumping from hours to literally years. Sorry ibVPN, but that is just not good enough.
Positives: 2048-bit encryption, very fast, good free service, good choice of servers, $2 for 2 days trial
Negatives: despite claiming to keep no logs this does not seem to be the case, very anti-piracy (P2P: no)
VPN.S is a provider that really has its act together when it comes to providing a great service on a technical level, but which is sorely let down on its policies front. Despite insane and processor intensive levels of encryption (2048-bit as standard), VPN.S produced great speedtest.net results, and they also offer a rather good free service which, although monitored and limited to 600Mb per month, is otherwise similar to its paid-for offering. Unfortunately VPN.S is very anti-file sharing, but even worse is it’s ‘no logs’ claim, which an examination of its ToC reveals is not only confusing ,but arguably actively misleading, as extensive and traceable logs do in fact appear to be kept.
Positives: 1024-bit – 2048-bit OpenVPN encryption, support for 2048-bit SSTP, ok speeds
Negatives: access to servers in only one country on most packages, ‘full’ package pricey, ‘no logs’ policy is at best unclear and at worse misleading
SwitchVPN follows VPN.S’s route of providing some great technology (in this case reasonably fast 1024-bit to 2048-bit OpenVPN encryption and 2048-bit SSTP support), backed up by some lousy policies. While the ‘no logs’ claim is not as actively contradicted in the ToS as it is in VPN.S’s, it is still confusing and highly suspect. Add to this the fact that, unlike every other VPN service we have reviewed, unless you buy the most expensive package (and at $14.95 per month it is expensive), you must pay separately to access servers in more than one country (a fact not made clear before purchase). This last point, we have to say, really ticked us off.
Positives: lots of servers, great VPN client, lots of cool freebies
Negatives: keeps logs, could be faster, P2P: no
Hide My Ass is a big name in the VPN industry, sporting a whopping 340 servers in 53 countries. We like the fact that it has a fancy VPN client, and that its website provides a number of free tools to help users access the web anonymously (such a free web proxy service, real-time list of free proxy servers, and anonymous email and file upload services). Unfortunately Hide My Ass is a UK company (and thus subject to the EU Data Retention Directive and the very aggressively ant-copyright infringement British legal system) who have a track record of handing over user’s details to the authorities. This means that we can never recommend its services.
It is a shame, but most providers we have yet reviewed who accept payment via Liberty Reserve fall well short of the mark when it comes to the things that matter to us in a VPN (privacy, privacy and privacy). Fortunately for you lucky Liberty Reserve users out there, Private Internet Access accepts Liberty Reserve payments, and not only has excellent practices and policies designed to ensure its customers privacy, but it also provides an otherwise super-fast and feature packed service.