With the continual erosion of online privacy, more Americans than ever are looking to get the best VPN for USA to stay safe online. Whether you are located in the United States and need a VPN, or you are outside the US and need a US IP address, this guide will give you everything you need to know.
Since March 2017, American internet service providers (ISPs) have been legally allowed to record every website you visit. This information can then be sold to third parties, such as advertisers. Because your browsing history can reveal intimate and personal details, this is not only a huge privacy violation, it also puts you at risk.
VPNs have also become a popular tool for streaming content and unblocking websites. The top-rated USA VPNs in this guide work well for unblocking content, from Netflix to Hulu and sports.
Another reason to use a good VPN for USA is that public WiFi is a popular target for hackers. Using a VPN will encrypt and secure your connection, while also keeping your data safe. And with ISPs collecting your data, it’s now even necessary to use a VPN on your home network at all times – unless you want your internet provider collecting your browsing habits.
VPN services continue to grow in popularity among Americans, US ex-pats, and others throughout the world. This has only increased as more people go online to stream content and use VPNs to get around geo-blocking.
All of our recommended USA VPNs in this guide meet the following criteria:
- Passed all tests with no leaks found whatsoever (no IP address leaks or DNS leaks)
- Good performance throughout the server network (speed and reliability)
- High-quality VPN apps with all features working correctly
- Supports secure VPN protocols with strong encryption standards
- Offers a money-back guarantee (between 7 and 30 days)
- Trustworthy and well-established VPN provider with a good track record
- Located in a good privacy jurisdiction (outside of 5 Eyes countries) to keep user data safe
When applying these criteria, very few VPNs make the cut to be recommended.
Here are the best VPN services for USA:
1. NordVPN – Best all-around VPN for USA
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
NordVPN currently holds the top spot as the best VPN for USA. It performed well in testing for the NordVPN review with great speeds, secure apps, and numerous privacy features. NordVPN is strategically based in Panama, which is a great offshore jurisdiction for privacy. The team behind NordVPN is Nord Security, and they also offer NordPass, a secure password manager, and NordLocker, a secure cloud storage service.
NordVPN really stands out from other VPN providers in the performance category. It was one of the first VPN services to fully support the WireGuard VPN protocol, which provides excellent speeds and upgraded security. We tested out NordVPN with WireGuard and were able to get 445 Mbps download speeds on US servers. This makes NordVPN the fastest VPN we’ve tested:
NordVPN also stands out in the areas of privacy and security with these features:
- Double-VPN servers that encrypt traffic over two hops
- Tor-over-VPN servers that add an extra layer of encryption with the Tor network
- Obfuscated servers that get around VPN blocks and conceal VPN traffic as regular HTTPS encryption (a great option if you need a VPN for China)
- CyberSec feature to block ads, trackers, malware, and phishing domains
- Built-in leak protection (kill switch) with all apps to prevent any IP leaks or DNS leaks
In the past year, NordVPN has made massive security upgrades and improvements, including security audits and converting all VPN servers to run in RAM-disk mode. Right now they are rolling out colocated (self-owned) servers in all locations with 10 Gbps bandwidth channels for even faster speeds.
If you need a great VPN for streaming, NordVPN is a strong contender. It works with American Netflix and many other Netflix regions around the world. Additionally, NordVPN will unblock Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, and more. Due to the fast speeds and large server network, it is currently the best VPN for torrenting.
For the price, NordVPN is tough to beat. With their current two-year deal, you pay only $3.30 per month and get six simultaneous connections. NordVPN’s customer service is also top-notch with 24/7 live chat support and numerous setup videos on their website. All plans come with a 30 day money-back guarantee. Overall, NordVPN remains one of the best values available among low-cost VPN services.
NordVPN US server locations
NordVPN currently has 15 US server locations with a good geographic distribution. You can see the exact US VPN server locations on the NordVPN website.
- User-friendly and reliable apps for all operating systems and devices
- Double-VPN and Tor-over-VPN servers
- No logs (audited twice)
- Strongest encryption standards with full support for WireGuard
- Works with Netflix and many other streaming services
- CyberSec feature to block ads, trackers, and malware domains
- 24/7 live chat support
- Split tunneling on desktop and mobile apps
- Dedicated RAM-servers with 10 Gbps bandwidth channels
- Big discounts only available with long-term subscriptions
See our NordVPN review for more test results and analysis.
2. Surfshark – Fast and secure VPN for USA with a low price
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
If you are on a budget, but still want a fully-featured VPN for USA with good performance, Surfshark is a good fit. Like our other top recommendations, Surfshark is a no-logs VPN service located in a good privacy jurisdiction (the British Virgin Islands). Unlike most others, however, Surfshark is only $2.49 per month (with the 81% discount) and it also gives you an unlimited number of connections. This makes it the cheapest VPN in this guide.
In my testing for this guide, I liked the Surfshark apps because they are user-friendly, secure, and minimal. The VPN apps include built-in leak protection settings and utilize strong encryption with an AES-256 cipher. Like NordVPN, Surfshark also supports the WireGuard VPN protocol with excellent speeds. It even beat out ExpressVPN with performance in our ExpressVPN vs Surfshark comparison. Below was one of our Surfshark speed tests where we hit 397 Mbps with servers in the United States:
Surfshark also offers great privacy features. You can choose from 13 double-VPN servers that route traffic over two hops. They also offer a CleanWeb feature to block ads, tracking, and malware domains. Lastly, Surfshark also has a split tunneling feature that can route certain apps or websites outside of the VPN. We also see this feature with NordVPN and ProtonVPN.
In terms of streaming media, Surfshark also does quite well. They officially support all major Netflix regions, Hulu, and the VPN also works with unblocking BBC iPlayer. It is a solid VPN for torrenting with fast speeds and secure leak protection settings. Surfshark even has a dedicated app in the Amazon store, making it a good VPN for Firestick and Fire TV.
Surfshark US server locations
Surfshark currently has 24 server locations in the United States. So no matter where you are located, you’ll be able to find a nearby USA VPN server for the best speeds.
- Unlimited connections
- User-friendly apps for all devices and operating systems
- CleanWeb feature to block ads, trackers, and malware domains
- Works great with Netflix and many other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Strong encryption and leak protection features
- Limited support for VPN routers
- No WireGuard support for Linux (coming later in 2021)
Our Surfshark review has more info and test results.
3. ExpressVPN – Reliable and secure VPN for US
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
ExpressVPN rounds out the third spot as the best VPN for the United States. Like our other recommendations, ExpressVPN checks all the right boxes. It offers great speeds, secure and reliable apps, and works well for streaming and torrenting. Like Surfshark, ExpressVPN is also based in the British Virgin Islands and is a no-logs VPN service.
In terms of security, ExpressVPN does very well. The ExpressVPN apps utilize 256-bit AES encryption with the OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Lightway protocols. Lightway is very similar to WireGuard and offers faster speeds than OpenVPN, although it’s not quite as fast NordVPN and Surfshark. Here is the ExpressVPN app we tested for the review:
The ExpressVPN apps have a “Network Lock” kill switch feature that blocks all traffic at the network level if the VPN connection drops. This ensures no IP address leaks or DNS leaks occur under any circumstances, as I personally tested and verified. ExpressVPN is also a verified no logs VPN service that has passed an independent audit.
Aside from security and privacy features, ExpressVPN is also one of the top choices for streaming. It provides 24/7 access to Netflix (and is one of the best VPNs for Netflix) as well as Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and more. And if you need a reliable VPN for Hulu, ExpressVPN works for that as well.
ExpressVPN US server locations
ExpressVPN currently has 20 different server locations in major cities throughout the United States. In some locations, such as Los Angeles and New York, they have multiple servers available. If you are in the US, connecting to one of these nearby servers will give you the best performance.
You can see all server locations on the ExpressVPN website.
- User-friendly and secure apps
- Fast speeds throughout the server network
- Split tunneling feature (for Mac OS, Windows, and routers)
- Works with Netflix and most streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Passed independent third-party audits for security and no-logs
- Very large server network
- Above-average prices
- Fewer features than some leading VPNs
Check out the ExpressVPN review for detailed test results.
Why use a VPN for USA?
Perhaps you are wondering why it would be a good idea to use a VPN for USA?
Here are a few reasons we’ll cover in detail below:
- Data collection and privacy concerns
- Corporate surveillance and data sharing
- ISP spying
- Torrenting, file sharing, and streaming
Data collection and privacy concerns in the United States
A Pew Research Study found that Americans are becoming more concerned about their loss of digital privacy and the security of their private data:
Some 81% of the public say that the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits, and 66% say the same about government data collection.
Concerns about privacy have only accelerated in the United States in the past few decades. This trend really picked up in 2013 after the Snowden revelations and does not seem to be getting any better with time.
These concerns are understandable when you consider that data from Americans is getting harvested by everyone, including internet service providers. And we see the same invasive trends in the UK and Europe.
When your ISP is collecting all the websites you visit and selling this data to advertisers, then it’s time to get a good VPN.
Why is this important?
Your browsing activity can reveal very sensitive and personal data about you, which can be damaging if misused. Advertisers, of course, want to collect as much data as possible to hit you with targeted ads and sell you more stuff. This data can also be used to fingerprint your identity and discern health status, private beliefs, social circles, and other intimate details.
With a good VPN for the US, however, your internet provider will not be able to see anything you’re doing. All data will be encrypted and unreadable between your computer/device and the VPN server.
Mass surveillance in the United States
The Pew Research study reference above also notes that many Americans are concerned with government data collection. We explore the topic of global mass surveillance in our article on the 5/9/14 Eyes surveillance alliances.
Given all of the available information, it’s clear that online privacy is a growing concern for Americans.
While it’s difficult to determine the full reach of private sector tracking and government surveillance, using a good VPN with strong encryption, along with other privacy tools, will go a long way to giving you more privacy and security online. For higher levels of online anonymity, you can also use multi-hop VPN services or even “chain” different VPNs together for more encryption using Linux virtual machines.
Note: These same mass surveillance trends are also being rolled out abroad. This is especially true for the United Kingdom, as we discussed with VPNs for the UK.
Corporate surveillance and data sharing in the United States
Another reason that more Americans than ever are using VPN services is to protect themselves from corporate surveillance, or spying/surveillance carried out by private companies. This is another huge issue in the US, where giant tech companies and telecoms have a long history of monitoring, tracking, and recording the digital activities of their customers.
In 2002 a technician at AT&T, named Mark Klein, accidentally uncovered a massive data collection point where the NSA was copying all internet traffic going through the company’s network. This became known as the Room 641A scandal:
The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic and, as analyzed by J. Scott Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former adviser to the FCC, has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building, and therefore “the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic.”
As Mark Klein described in this Frontline documentary, “it was a huge dragnet operation” to collect everything. He went public with the information a few years later in 2005.
The cooperation of public and private entities to collect data on Americans has a name. It’s called the PRISM program.
In some countries, such as Australia, internet providers and telephone companies must also collect user data. As we covered in the VPN for Australia guide, mandatory data retention laws have drastically eroded the privacy of people in Australia. And this is also unfolding in the US…
ISP blocks and throttling
Unlike parts of Europe, China, and the Middle East, internet censorship is not a huge problem (yet) in the United States. While there have been a few cases of censorship reported, the bigger concern is ISP throttling, which is when your internet provider throttles (restricts) your internet speed. This may occur depending on your activities, such as streaming and torrenting, or simply your bandwidth usage.
Now that net neutrality has basically been abolished in the US, internet providers are free to restrict the freedom of information exchange and charge based on what users are doing online. One simple solution for this is to use a VPN with obfuscation features. This will encrypt all your traffic (making it unreadable) and conceal your VPN traffic as HTTPs (obfuscation). Should the United States go in this direction, a good VPN with obfuscation will be useful, just like when using a VPN in China.
Torrenting, file sharing, and streaming in the US
Another reason that many people in the US are using VPN services is for torrenting, file sharing, and streaming.
The United States is home to some absurd copyright infringement laws. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) legislation created federal laws that allow:
- Fines up to $500,000 and up to five years in jail, or both a fine and jail for a first offense.
- Fines up to $1,000,000 and as long as ten years in prison for repeat offenders.
And if you think this is just a silly law on the books that is not getting enforced, think again.
Internet service providers, such as Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, can hand over your data and connection logs to those who accuse you of copyright infringement. This is a huge business with copyright troll attorneys demanding large payments for alleged “damages” on behalf of the copyright holder. We see this also unfolding throughout Europe as well.
Another consequence of torrenting or file sharing without a VPN is that you could have your internet suspended for repeated DMCA offenses. In the US, internet providers will often send out DMCA notices if your IP address is found to be involved in copyright infringement. Three strikes and you might be booted from your ISP. One new law aims to make copyright infringement punishable with 10 years in jail.
Note: Canada also rolled out overzealous copyright laws. Torrenting and file sharing in Canada also carries hefty fines and potential jail sentences, with Canadian internet providers monitoring their users. I discuss these problems and solutions in my guide on VPNs for Canada.
The easy solution is to always use a VPN for torrenting, streaming, and anything else that may be a “grey area” in terms of copyright issues.
Are US-based VPN services safe?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to exercise caution with VPNs that are located in bad privacy jurisdictions, such as the United States and other Five Eyes countries.
Aside from all of the privacy issues we covered above, the US government also utilizes National Security Letters and gag orders to force companies to hand over customer data, while prohibiting them from disclosure. These enforcement actions could be used against any company based in the United Sates, including VPN providers.
There are various cases of VPNs cooperating with government agencies demanding data. One such case in the US took place with IPVanish, a VPN service based in Texas. As explained in the IPVanish logs case, the FBI compelled IPVanish to provide logs (connection data) for one of their users who was suspected of committing crimes. Despite the initial resistance, court records reveal that IPVanish eventually complied with this data request.
This is one risk when using a US-based VPN service, as we pointed out in the NordVPN vs IPVanish comparison. Nonetheless, jurisdiction is just one consideration and everything depends on your threat model and unique needs. Choosing a VPN provider located in a favorable privacy jurisdiction may provide more data security (and peace of mind). Our top-recommended VPNs, including NordVPN and ExpressVPN, are based in privacy-friendly jurisdictions.
Are VPNs legal in the US?
Perhaps you are ready to get a VPN for the US, but you have one lingering question: Are VPNs legal in the US?
The answer to that is yes. VPNs are perfectly legal in the US and are used by thousands of businesses and private individuals every single day. Businesses routinely use VPN services for network security and with remote workers who need to securely access company servers. VPN technology – and encryption for that matter – could never be banned, simply because it is necessary for data security.
Some people may still be hesitant about VPNs and the perceived “stigma” associated with encryption and privacy tools. While there is a degree of stigma with Tor, VPNs are rapidly becoming mainstream for all different types of users – from people wanting to stream Netflix overseas to regular people who seek more privacy and security online.
VPNs will remain perfectly legal and are continuing to grow in popularity. That being said, be careful when choosing the best VPN for your needs. There are many VPN scams and also free VPNs that collect data for profit. This regularly comes up in the news, such as this story about free VPNs exposing user data.
USA VPN Comparison Table
As a brief recap, the table below highlights the best VPN services for the United States, the land of the free and home of the brave.
Despite being great VPNs for the US, none of these VPNs are actually located in the US, but rather in better overseas jurisdictions.
And here are the best VPN services for the US:
This guide was last updated and revised on June 16, 2021.