What Is The Best VPN for USA in 2019?
NordVPN is the top choice for a VPN to keep your United States-based online activities undercover.
With fast, kill switch-protected connections, comprehensive privacy protections, top-notch customer support and good global server coverage, this provider makes for a great way to stay private in the land of prying eyes.
NordVPN also does a great job of keeping your business and personal information safe when you’re sitting at your local Starbucks, chugging java and consuming free Wi-Fi.
Internet Freedom in the United States
As of 2016, the USA had nearly 287 million of its citizens connected to the internet, which amounts to 88.5% of its over 325 million citizens.
As of 2018, 95% of American citizens own a cellphone of some type. 77% of Americans own a smartphone. Nearly 75% of Americans own a computer, and around half own a tablet device.
While the country’s citizens have open access to the web, changes in Net Neutrality and hacking and disinformation incidents during the 2016 presidential campaign had a chilling effect on internet users.
The following online-freedom-related incidents took place in recent years:
Freedom House gives the United States a 2017 Internet Freedom Score of 21/100 (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free). This is the 6th best ranking among all countries rated.
Top 5 Best VPNs for Use in the USA
Why Do You Need a VPN in the USA?
While the right to freedom of speech and expression that American citizens traditionally enjoy extends to the internet, there have been a large number of troubling events taking place in recent years.
Many citizens fear increased surveillance by the U.S. government, as well as limited access to certain types of content due to the reversal of Net Neutrality in the country.
The U.S. government has not widely censored websites in the past and continues to practice restraint.
However, the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000 (CIPA) requires the use of filtering software in schools and libraries to prevent access to visuals that are obscene and/or potentially harmful to underage internet users.
The country continues to struggle with the limits of free speech and its connection to websites connected to cybersecurity, gambling, child endangerment and more.
Voice Over IP
Voice over IP (VoIP) is widely available in the United States, via such apps as Microsoft’s Skype and Apple’s FaceTime Audio, as well as through providers serving businesses and individuals.
However, users should be aware that VoIP is subject to the same security issues that any other internet-based service is, and governments or other third parties could monitor your conversations with users in other countries.
All of the major social networks are available to users in the U.S.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat and other services are free from any government restrictions.
However, some observers fear that Internet Service Providers, emboldened by the rollback of Net Neutrality, may in the future throttle access to the services, unless either the social networks or the Internet Service Provider (ISP) subscribers themselves pay a premium.
Sharing non-copyrighted files via Peer-to-Peer (BitTorrenting) is legal, as well as a convenient, efficient way for users to share files.
However, an ISP can block a user’s account for sharing copyrighted materials - not to mention that record company or film studio lawyers might even send the user a lawsuit.
The main worry in the U.S. is not internet censorship, but instead the increasing possibility that the government, hackers or even a user’s own ISP may be conducting internet surveillance.
The United States is a member of the Five Eyes, which is an alliance of the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
The alliance members have all agreed to share information about their citizens, which each country’s intelligence agencies gather. The information they share can include records containing info about a citizen’s online activities.
While the U.S. government does not require ISPs to save logs of their customers’ online activities, they do allow them to sell activity logs (including your browsing history) to advertisers.
Unsurprisingly, many ISPs take advantage of that by saving user logs, which makes those logs available for subpoena by the U.S. government and law enforcement.
Netflix is (of course) available in the United States.
However, the U.S. Netflix content library is not available from outside of U.S. borders. As of April 2018, the service offered an impressive 1,326 television shows and 4,339 movies in the United States.
This is also true for the Hulu streaming service, which is only available in the United States.
Streaming providers such as BBC iPlayer are not usually available to residents of the U.S., as the service only allows access to viewers in the U.K.
Legality of VPNs
It is completely legal to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) inside U.S. borders.
However, using a VPN to conduct criminal activities - such as hacking other users’ accounts, spamming others via email or committing other illegal activities - is certainly illegal.
The United States does not specifically outlaw gambling on the federal level. Instead, individual states enact their own regulations pertaining to online gambling.
How a VPN Protects Your Internet Usage in the United States
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) applies a layer of encryption to a user’s internet connection, preventing the government, hackers, ISPs and other interested parties from monitoring your online activities.
This helps to secure the privacy of your personal and business activities (and their related information).
The United States government doesn’t actively block access to most websites or other online services located outside of the country.
However, content providers can block content in order to honor licensing agreements, restricting access to the content to a single country or group of countries.
A VPN enables you to bypass these blockades through use of its IP address “spoofing” ability, which makes a user’s internet connection appear to be coming from another location, helping users access blocked content.
Choosing the Best VPN for Use in the USA
When deciding on the right VPN to use while you’re within the friendly confines of the USA, you’ll want to keep several important considerations in mind.
Privacy is always an important consideration, no matter where you’re located. Connection speed can greatly affect the quality of your online experience, as can global server coverage.
In this section, I’ll introduce each feature you should consider, explain why it’s an important factor and then offer a ranking of my top 10 providers, listed according to their performance in each category. I will then go into detail about the top 5 providers that are your best bet for protecting your internet connection while in the United States.
No matter what you’re using your VPN connection for, and no matter where you are located, privacy is an important category to consider when researching a VPN service.
When I say “privacy,” I am not referring to how well a provider protects your connection with encryption (although that’s certainly important). Instead, I mean how well they protect the logs of your online activities, as well as your payment information.
When researching a provider, check to see which country a provider is based in, that country’s laws related to data retention, what types of usage logs (if any) that the provider retains and whether or not they accept any types of privacy-enhancing payment options, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift cards.
The VPN providers listed below are sorted in the order of best privacy protections to worst.
Connection speed is an important consideration when deciding on a VPN provider, as the speed of your internet connection can directly affect your satisfaction relating to your online activities. A fast connection means your favorite high-definition video content won’t take forever to begin playing, and your online gaming sessions will be lag-free.
The rankings in the table at the end of this section were calculated by first measuring my ISP-provided connection speed, connecting to each VPN and again measuring my connection speed. (The Speedtest website was used for the speed measurements.) I then calculated the speed percentage for each VPN provider by comparing both speed test results.
The VPN providers below are sorted in order of best speed percentage to the worst.
Global Server Coverage
When you select a VPN provider that offers wide-ranging global server coverage, you open up an entire world of content.
Look for a provider with servers located in as many countries as possible around the globe. This will offer a better chance of opening up access to audio and video content, as well as gaming servers, that might not normally be available from your location.
Comprehensive global server coverage looks a lot like what’s shown in the screenshot below.
The rankings below display the top 10 VPN providers, sorted according to their global server coverage, best to worst.
Other Factors to Consider
While I hope your VPN experience is always trouble free, there is a good chance that you will, at some point, need to contact your VPN provider’s customer support department with a connection or billing issue. When that time comes, you’ll want to feel secure in the knowledge that support agents will answer promptly and with the needed information.
Ideally, a VPN service will provide 3 levels of customer support: live support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support library.
The providers listed below are ranked from the absolute best level of support to the worst according to the types of support offered, as well as the the speed and accuracy of their replies.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, the price of a VPN subscription is likely an important consideration when deciding on a provider. (And even if you are wealthy, why pay more than you have to? You can’t live off the interest of your fortune forever, ya know!)
That said, when you’re researching the price of a VPN provider, don’t automatically opt for the provider that offers the lowest price. Low-rent providers may be cutting corners in some of their service offerings in order to offer that rock-bottom rate.
Something else to keep in mind is that many VPN providers will offer special deals from time to time. The deals can knock quite a bit off the price of a VPN subscription, saving you a nice piece of change. Keep in mind, however, that you may have to commit to a longer subscription term in order to reap those savings. Visit each provider’s website to check for a sale.
If you’re on a really tight budget, you can opt for a month-to-month subscription, which is a good option if you’re unable to pay for an extended period of service up front. Keep in mind that paying monthly will usually cost you more in the long run.
*The prices in the table reflect the monthly cost when paying for an annual subscription. (Annual Subscription Price / 12 Months.)
The Best VPNs to Use in The USA
#1 - NordVPN
Panama-based NordVPN is blessed with a location in a privacy-friendly country. Panama is pretty hands-off when it comes to requiring VPN providers to keep logs of their customers’ online travels. Therefore, the provider doesn’t record any information related to their customers’ activities.
This provider also protects their customers’ privacy when it comes to paying for their services, happily accepting Bitcoin.
It’s true that this provider offers only the 4th-fastest connection speeds in this roundup. However, with their encrypted speeds coming in at 90% as fast as my usual, unprotected connection, NordVPN should be able to keep up with your online antics.
Global Server Coverage
NordVPN has 3,500+ servers spread out in 61 countries around the globe. While this provider isn’t tops in global server coverage, they do offer a nice selection of options when you’re looking to unblock content from your location in the USA.
NordVPN has all of the customer support bases covered, offering live support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support library.
I always received prompt and helpful answers to my support questions. Plus, the provider’s support library is a great way to find a quick answer when you’re in a do-it-yourself mood.
While NordVPN will never be included on a “low-priced VPNs” list, the provider’s $5.75-per-month (payable at $69.00 per year) price of entry is a reasonable fee for the level of service you receive in return.
NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN took 1st place in this playoff by offering top-notch privacy protections, scoring high in customer support, and providing fast connection speeds and competent global server coverage.
Sure, NordVPN’s services could be priced better, but you’ll get a good return on investment if you opt for this provider.
#2 - VyprVPN
While VyprVPN is an all-star when it comes to most of the categories in this article, privacy is not one of its strong suits.
Although the company is located in Switzerland, which doesn’t require VPN providers to keep logs, VyprVPN insists on retaining logs related to their customers’ login activity.
While the log files do not contain any information on users’ actual online antics, they contain information that identifies their logins. The logs, which are kept for up to 30 days, record the user’s actual IP address, their provider-assigned IP address, the start and stop times of the session, and the amount of data used during said session.
Privacy-protecting payment options, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift cards, are also missing.
VyprVPN’s protected connection speeds rank in the middle of the pack, showing at 3rd place behind Hide My Ass! and Private Internet Access.
While the middle of the pack may not sound fast at first glance, looks can be deceiving. This provider’s connection speeds come within 5% of my unprotected, ISP-only speeds.
Global Server Coverage
700+ servers spread out in 65 countries around the world adds up to some fairly decent global server coverage. VyprVPN should do a good job of opening up blocked content almost anywhere in the free world.
VyprVPN hits a home run when it comes to customer support. The provider offers the triple play of support with a trouble ticket tracking system, live support chat and a searchable knowledge base.
I always received prompt and informed replies to my questions, and when I was in solo search mode, the knowledge base made for a great support resource.
VyprVPN boasts middle-of-the-pack pricing, with a going rate of $5.00 per month (payable at a yearly rate of $60.00). Five bucks is about the same you’d pay for a good cup of coffee from your favorite barista, so, all in all, it’s a good price for services rendered.
VyprVPN offers buyers a 3-day money-back guarantee.
Fast connections, a reasonable price and great customer support won VyprVPN a spot on this top 5 list, but the provider’s less-than-optimal privacy protections kept it out of the top spot.