Almost every one of the best VPN providers offer huge discounts on multi-year plans to lock users in for a considerable period. While signing up to these is a great way to save your cash – over 80% in many cases – many prefer to take the hit and grab a cheap monthly VPN for flexibility.
That's often quite justified – the VPN industry is fast-moving, and by paying monthly you won't be lumbered with a service that appears dated by the end of your contract. So, here we'll rounding up the best providers that offer flexible plans at fair prices.
NB: The VPN deals we're looking at here are paid on a monthly basis. You'll definitely save money overall with longer plans (check out our cheap VPN guide for that), but here we're prioritising the freedom that comes with monthly payment.
1. ProtonVPN – Tons of options from just $5 a month
While ProtonVPN is well known for its free option, its paid plans are powerful and excellent value, offering top-notch security along with good streaming access. And, starting off at just $5 a month with no price increases or contract, there's a real bargain to be had here.
2. Bitdefender VPN – AV superstar's VPN is a bargain
Bitdefender is best-known for its antivirus software, but it also offers a decent VPN you can purchase separately. It's bare-bones with few features to speak of, but it's fast, secure, and at just $6.99 a month on a rolling plan, it's excellent value.
3. ExpressVPN – The best VPN available on a 1-month plan
It's not the cheapest, but if you want the best of the best, we wholeheartedly recommend ExpressVPN. At $12.95 a month with no commitment it's not bad value – and if you do want to commit, you can get three months free on a 12-month plan.
The best cheap monthly VPN plans today
ProtonVPN is well known for its excellent free VPN service, and it tops our list of most recommended no-fee providers. However, it also offers a bunch of different paid plans (explore them all in our ProtonVPN review), which can be configured at different prices and lengths of time, making for a dizzying choice.
If you want to go as cheap as possible, it's worth considering the Basic plan. At just $5 paid monthly ($4/mo paid annually, $3.29/mo paid biennially), you'll get decent speeds, two simultaneous connections, torrent support and zero logging as standard. However, the biggest thing you're sacrificing is streaming support.
If you want to watch overseas Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+ or just about anything else, you'll have to pay $10 a month for the Plus plan – which drops to $8/mo paid annually, and just $6.63/mo paid biennially. You'll also get access to Tor over VPN, 10 simultaneous connections, and ProtonVPN's rock-solid Secure Core servers.
While $10 seems like a bit of a jump, it's still considerably cheaper than the vast majority of other paid-monthly services, and to get access to ProtonVPN's excellent streaming VPN performance, we think it's worth it for TV and movie buffs.
If you really want to push the boat out, you can spend $30 a month on a Visionary account, which gets you a premium ProtonMail plan – but the Plus plan is probably the most useful option. For those who don't mind missing out on streaming, though, there's a real bargain to be had in the $5 Basic plan.
Bag Swiss security from just $5 a month
ProtonVPN is one of our favorite providers overall, and thanks to its wide range of pricing options, it's possible to bag a plan for just $5 a month. While you'll have to upgrade to the Plus plan to get all the streaming features, the Basic plan is great for day-to-day privacy on a budget.
Built around Hotspot Shield's Catapult Hydra protocol, Bitdefender VPN offers decent speeds, similar to what Hotspot Shield can make. However, that reliance on Hotspot Shield does mean Bitdefender suffers some of Hotspot Shield's limitations – although it does operate separately and follows its own logging policy.
It's on this list, though, thanks to the fact that it's super cheap no matter what length contract you go for. 1 month comes in at just $6.99, but commit for a year and that drops to just $2.49.
No, it's not the most fully featured service, but if you're not looking for a VPN to streaming extra Netflix content and just want the extra online privacy they can provide, Bitdefender's a decent choice.
Speak of the devil, Hotspot Shield is also a fairly cheap monthly VPN, coming in at a reasonable $9.99 a month. While that's getting a little more expensive, it's still well below the average.
Hotspot Shield is a capable service, which delivers great speeds from its Catapult Hydra protocol. With the advent of WireGuard and other new-fangled protocols Hotspot's lost its edge in the speed wars, but it's still a fast VPN that offers enough for just about anyone.
You'll get full P2P support, decent streaming performance (although in our testing it failed with Netflix), and decent device support for mobiles, desktop PCs, and even streaming devices like Amazon's Fire Stick.
Privacy-minded users may take umbrage with the fact that Hotspot Shield does undertake a little more session logging than, say, ProtonVPN, but in practice there's nothing recorded that can tie you back to your activity.
For the price it's definitely worth checking out, and you can even test the limited free version before you part with your cash.
US-based IPVanish has been around since 2012, and in that time it's amassed a strong following and forged a reputation for privacy. However, if you're on the lookout for a cheap monthly VPN, it's also a great option.
In our last IPVanish review we noticed that its monthly VPN plans had dropped to single figures, but recently they've risen. However, at just $10.99 a month, it's still good value for a top-tier VPN provider.
It's worth noting that the cheapest deal available from IPVanish is the 1-year plan – just $3.99 a month – and that's a decent combination of a not-too-long plan and a very good price. And, if that sounds like a better deal, it's also covered by a 30-day money back guarantee so you can make sure you like the service before you commit.
But, while IPVanish is cheap, we wouldn't be recommending it if it wasn't any good to use. You'll get tons of servers worldwide, excellent AES-256 encryption and powerful apps for just about any device – plus, with unlimited connections, you really can get cover on every device in your household.
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If we're honest, it's unusual for ExpressVPN not to top one of our guides, and when you read our ExpressVPN review you'll know why. However, when it comes to cheap monthly VPN plans it's simply not a class-leader. However, we had to fit it in somewhere, because firstly it's still competitively priced, and secondly it's hands-down the best VPN service on the market today.
At $12.95 it's just slightly cheaper than other premium rivals such as CyberGhost and Surfshark (the latter incidentally going from very expensive to very cheap as you commit for longer). However, absolutely on merit, ExpressVPN is still worth considering even if you only want to pay month-by-month.
You'll get over 3,000 servers worldwide, almost all of which deliver searing speeds, and you'll also get unrivalled streaming power, P2P support on every server and proven, audited security features. You really do get what you pay for.
Express is also super simple to use, but provides a ton of configuration for even the most seasoned VPN user. So, if you can afford the price (or are willing to commit after testing) and want the very best, we recommend it over all others.
Cheap monthly VPN FAQ
What makes a great cheap monthly VPN?
Well, it’s got to be cheap when paid monthly – obviously. But, apart from that, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice streaming power or online privacy, and the best cheap monthly VPN services can certainly deliver.
Currently, the best cheap monthly VPN is VyprVPN. Its current offer is seriously attractive on one-month plans, plus it’s one of the top VPNs around. We’ve also included our #1-rated VPN ExpressVPN here – while it’s not the cheapest month-to-month, it’s not the most expensive either, and it’s quite simply the best service on the market.
Why are monthly VPNs so expensive?
Like almost any other industry, VPN providers want to keep hold of their customers for as long as possible, out of reach from their competitors.
Therefore, long-term plans are made incredibly appealing, and short-term plans are expensive. It could also be argued that having an expensive short plan makes a cheaper long-term plan look more appealing – but that's a different story...
The long and short of it is that cheap monthly VPN plans are hard to find, but a few providers like Hide.me and ProtonVPN deliver genuinely good-value plans that you don't have to commit to for years to get.
Should I test with a free version first?
If your chosen VPN provides a free option, of course, download it and install the software to get a feel for it.
However, be aware that you'll be getting a restricted version, possibly with bandwidth or data limits, or you might be blocked from streaming sites.
If you want to test those elements of a VPN, you'll want to sign up for a month to get used to the service. If you don't like it, most providers offer at least a 30-day money-back guarantee, and if you do like it, you can then sign up for longer and save a whole load of money.