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.
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.
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.
Happily, if you’re in the United States, you have easy access to a tool that protects your online activities from prying eyes, helps keep your personal information personal and opens access to content from other regions that might normally be blocked from the U.S.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects your online activities from being tracked by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the U.S. government, advertisers and the shifty fellow sitting at the table next to yours at your favorite coffee shop.
A VPN can also “spoof” your location, making it appear as if you are connecting to the internet from another location, be it on the other side of your country or the other side of the world. This opens access to blocked content, such as international Netflix content, gaming servers and other types of services.
Below, I assess the 5 best VPNs for use inside the United States, and I list the features that are most important to look for in a VPN provider.
How to Use Your VPN in the U.S.
To protect your online activities with a VPN while inside U.S. borders, do the following:
- Subscribe to your VPN provider of choice.
- Install the provider’s app on all of your devices to protect all of your online activities.
- Log into the VPN.
- Select a VPN server and connect to it.
- Enjoy your online anonymity.
Best VPNs for the U.S.
I ran my top VPN providers through rounds of rigorous testing and came up with a list of the 5 best VPNs for use in the United States. The TL;DR Top 5 is as follows:
- ExpressVPN: This provider’s fast connections, extensive global server coverage and excellent security and privacy protections make this provider the #1 choice for use in the USA.
- NordVPN: Excellent customer support, top-notch privacy protection and speedy connections all add up to a reasonably-priced VPN that makes a great option for VPN users looking to save a few bucks.
- CyberGhost: A bargain-priced provider that also offers some of the best connection speeds around via an easy-to-use app, CyberGhost makes for an excellent option for first-time VPN users who don’t want to pay a lot for a VPN.
- PrivateVPN: Connections that deliver streaming-capable speeds, plus excellent security features – including military-grade encryption, DNS leak protection and a kill switch – all make this Sweden-based provider an excellent option for the U.S.
- SaferVPN: Above-average connection speeds, streaming-optimized servers, well-encrypted connections and a no-logs policy all add up to a good option to protect your U.S.-based online activities.
I evaluated and ranked the top U.S. VPNs using the following criteria:
- Security and privacy protections
- Fast connections, with unlimited bandwidth and no data caps
- Global network server numbers
- Uses shared IP addresses
- Customer support
- Native app support
- Bonus points for allowing torrenting
Here’s my top 5 picks for the best VPNs to use from inside the United States.
ExpressVPN is your best bet for providing comprehensive VPN protection for your internet connection when inside U.S. borders.
This British Virgin Islands-based VPN service keeps no logs of any type. You can keep your payment information completely incognito thanks to a Bitcoin payment option.
Military-grade encryption protects the company’s connections. Plus, kill switch protection and IPv6 leak protection keep your online communications free from observation.
ExpressVPN offers fast connection speeds, which are more than up to whatever you throw at them. No data caps or bandwidth limitations mean you’ll never have to worry about losing your protection before the end of the month.
ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers located in 94 countries. Those servers use shared IP addresses, increasing your security by increasing anonymity. P2P activity is allowed on all servers.
Customer support is a definite plus at ExpressVPN, as it offers 24/7 live support chat, a trouble ticket system, email support, and a troubleshooting and support knowledge base.
No matter which device(s) you use, ExpressVPN likely has you covered. Apps are available for Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, BlackBerry, Amazon Fire and Chromebook devices.
If you need VPN coverage for other devices, or if the provider’s admittedly limited 3 simultaneous connections allowance isn’t enough, you can take advantage of ExpressVPN’s excellent router compatibility.
- Offers excellent app support and browser extensions
- Allows P2P file sharing on every server
- Top-notch security and privacy protections
- Outstanding customer support
- Exceptional global server coverage
- Only allows 3 concurrent connections
BEST VPN FOR THE U.S.:ExpressVPN is the best option for protecting you while in the United States. The provider has excellent global server coverage (with all servers allowing P2P activity), well-encrypted connections and top-notch privacy protections. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN offers an excellent way to protect your stateside internet connection thanks to its well-protected connections, optimal privacy protection and comprehensive customer support.
This provider makes its home in Panama and takes full advantage of the country’s lack of data retention laws. It keeps no logs of your online travels and makes a Bitcoin payment option available.
Connection security is as strong as the privacy protections are, thanks to NordVPN’s military-grade encryption and kill switch protection. The provider also offers the option to use obfuscated servers, which help hide the fact that you’re using a VPN. NordVPN can also block ads and malware.
NordVPN’s fast connections are not hindered by data caps or bandwidth limitations.
5,200+ servers located in 60 countries means you’ll have access to content from around the globe. Shared IP addresses add to the protection. While NordVPN allows P2P activity, it limits it to select servers.
NordVPN offers round-the-clock live support chat, email support and an easy-to-use knowledge base.
Apps for Android, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Linux and Amazon Fire devices likely have your needs covered. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions protect your browsing sessions.
If you need to protect another device, or if you need more than 6 concurrent connections, use the provider’s excellent router features to protect all of your devices via a single access point.
- 5,200+ servers, located in 60 countries
- Comprehensive multi-platform support
- Allows P2P activity on some of their servers
- App could be more user-friendly
BUDGET-FRIENDLY U.S. VPN:NordVPN offers excellent VPN protection at a price that won’t break the bank. While not the lowest-priced provider on this list, it offers an excellent return on investment. Excellent privacy protections and great customer support. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost is the best choice on this list for users who enjoy bingeing on streaming content from other lands.
This Romanian VPN service follows a strict no-logs policy and happily protects their users’ payment anonymity by accepting Bitcoin for their subscriptions.
This provider protects connections using government-level encryption. Sadly, kill switch protection is limited to only some of the provider’s apps. However, options to turn on ad-blocking and to force websites to serve up more secure HTTPS versions of pages are available to help make up for that.
CyberGhost is a 4K streaming fan’s dream, as it offers the fastest connection speeds in the top 5. Plus, the provider never ruins the streaming fun with data caps or bandwidth limitations.
CyberGhost’s 3,700+ servers, stationed in 60 countries, will come in handy when you’re in the mood for a bit of foreign Netflix variety. P2P file sharing is allowed on select servers. CyberGhost’s servers use shared IP addresses for added incognito protection.
Customer support is a plus from this provider, with live support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support library.
App support from CyberGhost offers protection for most devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV and Amazon Fire devices. Chrome and Firefox users can protect their browsing sessions using the company’s browser extensions.
If you need to protect devices not on the support list, or need more than 7 simultaneous connections, use the VPN’s router compatibility to cover everyone.
- Provides excellent native app support
- Excellent privacy and security protection
- Speedy connections
- Allows P2P on some servers
- Lacks advanced options available from other providers
BEST FOR STREAMING AND GAMING:CyberGhost delivers the fastest connections on this list, making it the best choice for streaming and online gaming. That speed will also come in handy for P2P file sharing. A 45-day money-back guarantee allows you plenty of time to try CyberGhost.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
PrivateVPN offers reliable, well-protected connections that are more than up to anything you may throw at them, and their optimal privacy protections are a plus.
A location in Sweden ensures PrivateVPN can follow a no-logs-ever policy that never saves any info about your online antics. Bitcoin is happily accepted here.
PrivateVPN’s speedy connections are well protected with military-grade encryption, IPv6 leak protections and auto-reconnect if you lose contact with the VPN’s servers. No data caps or bandwidth limitations are ever imposed.
150+ servers is by no means a high server count, but the provider does spread them out well, if thinly, in 60+ countries around the world. P2P file sharing is available on all PrivateVPN servers. Shared IP addresses add another layer of security.
Customer support from this provider is a mixed bag, as their live support chat is not available 24/7. However, an FAQ section and a “Contact Us” form are available.
The provider does offer a unique form of customer support not seen in other VPNs. Remote help is available, where the provider assists in setup and troubleshooting of the VPN software.
App support for PrivateVPN is limited to the big 4 platforms: macOS, Windows, iOS and Android. However, the provider does offer router support to protect all of your connected devices. Up to 6 devices can be simultaneously connected to the provider on one login.
- Impressive protected connection speeds
- Up to 6 concurrent connections allowed
- P2P file sharing on all servers
- Server count is way low
- App support could be better
P2P USERS WELCOME:PrivateVPN provides fast connections perfect for P2P file sharing and streaming. Their server count is a bit lacking, but the provider does a good job of strategically locating them. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of PrivateVPN.
SaferVPN offers the second-best connection speeds on this list, delivering plenty of streaming power. Excellent privacy and security protections are just icing on the cake.
This Israeli VPN provider is a strict no-logs provider and does not collect or store any information about your real IP address, browsing activity or other information. You can combine their cryptocurrency payment option with a disposable email address to remain completely incognito.
SaferVPN’s fast connections are well-protected with military-grade encryption and a kill switch. The provider never places data caps or bandwidth limitations on their customers’ usage.
SaferVPN has over 700 servers in 34 different countries, and some of those servers are streaming-optimized. The provider allows P2P on servers in their Netherlands, Canada and Spain locations. Shared IPs help anonymize your VPN traffic. The provider’s Onion Over VPN server provides a new IP address every five minutes.
Customer support is well-represented at this provider, with 24/7 live chat support, a ticket tracking system and a searchable support library.
Simple-to-use apps are available for the Windows, Mac, Android and iOS device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
Users with devices not on the supported list, or that need more than the 5 simultaneous connections the provider allows, can use the provider’s excellent router support.
- Top-notch security and privacy protections
- Allows 5 simultaneous connections
- Allows P2P file sharing on select servers
- Server network is smaller than average
- App support could be better
STREAMING-OPTIMIZED SERVERS:SaferVPN provides speedy, well-protected connections, and also offers streaming-optimized servers that unblock Netflix. Top-notch privacy and security are a hallmark of this provider. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of SaferVPN.
Why Use a VPN in the United States?
Although the United States is thought of as a bastion of freedom (yes, it was hard to keep a straight face while typing that), efforts to allow increased monitoring of U.S. citizens continue to gain strength.
The U.S. government continues to encourage Internet Service Providers and VPNs to keep logs of their customers’ online activities. While the move is usually framed as anti-terrorism-related, the campaign could have a chilling effect on the internet freedoms that American citizens currently enjoy.
A VPN provides encrypted connections that prevent the U.S. government, your ISP or anyone else attempting to monitor your online activities from tracking your travels. At best, all they can tell is that you’re connected to a VPN.
Many ISPs also block peer-to-peer file sharing on their networks. This is due to pressure from movie studios and music companies, who fear their content is being illegally shared via P2P activities.
Sadly, ISP blocking of P2P also blocks legitimate usage of the technology, as many businesses use it to share documents among their employees. (Many game publishers also use the tech to distribute updates.)
A VPN enables torrenting activity despite ISP blocking by encrypting your connection, thereby hiding your online activities. The ISP can’t detect your P2P activity, and so it won’t block it.
A VPN also opens access to streaming, gaming and other types of content that might normally be unavailable in the U.S. Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services are legally bound to restrict access to their content to specific regions of the world.
A VPN makes it appear you are located in those regions, allowing you to access that formerly blocked content.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option for Use Inside the U.S.?
I refuse to recommend a free VPN to my readers, as gratis providers simply present too much of a privacy risk, and they actually have hidden costs.
Many “free” VPN providers violate their users’ privacy by monitoring and recording their online activities and then selling that information to advertisers and others who might have an interest in your online antics. There’s no reason to think they wouldn’t turn those logs over to the Feds if they were pressured enough.
Freebie VPN providers have also been caught injecting unwanted tracking cookies and advertisements into their users’ browsing sessions. UGH!
So-called “free” VPNs can also take a toll when it comes to your precious time. Some VPNs of this ilk will herd their users into queues, where they are forced to wait until the provider gives them the OK to connect. That’s when users find their server selection is severely limited, or they may not get a choice at all.
Last but not least, freebie VPNs have a tendency to throttle their users’ connections, and impose monthly data caps and bandwidth limitations on their usage. That’s the exact opposite of what a VPN should do.
A month of service from a reliable VPN service costs less than an Animal-Style Burger, fries and a shake from In-N-Out. Sure, there’s no secret menu available from a VPN (well, as far as YOU know), but paying up front for your VPN service is a much better deal than “free.”
A Note About Using VPN Browser Extensions
While these extensions are a convenient way to keep your browser sessions protected, keep one important caveat in mind.
When you use a VPN provider’s native app for your device, all of your online activities are protected. This includes streaming, P2P file sharing, messaging, web browsing – basically, any activity that uses your internet connection is protected.
However, when you use a provider’s browser extension, only your browser session is protected from prying eyes, while all of your other internet-connected activities are left open to monitoring.
If you just need a quick bit of protection for your browsing activities, by all means, use the browser extension. Otherwise, always use the native app to protect all of your online activities from detection.
Internet users who are located in or will be spending time in the United States are strongly advised to use a Virtual Private Network when accessing the internet.
A VPN – such as my #1 choice, ExpressVPN – not only keeps your web browsing undercover, but also keeps your P2P file-sharing activities, streaming binges and more away from prying eyes, while opening up your entertainment possibilities to content anywhere around the globe.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.