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The best US VPN for use in or outside the USA in 2022

Best US VPN running on a number of devices
(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

As US VPN is an essential if you want to stay anonymous online, and as governmental and third-party surveillance becomes more and more prevalent in the States, the desire for the best VPN is reaching fever pitch.

However, a US VPN isn't just good for privacy. For example, in some countries, your favorite TV shows might not be available on Netflix, but by using a VPN you'll be able to change your location and access more content with your one subscription.

Wherever you are and whatever you plan on using it for, a US VPN is an indispensable piece of software – the trickiest part is choosing the right one for you. Thankfully, we've tested dozens of options and rounded them up to the top five best US VPNs below

What makes the best US VPN?

First off, a US VPN should provide excellent speeds as well as watertight privacy – with so many great options out there, you don't really need to sacrifice anything.

If you're on holiday and want to make sure you'll have access to all the content and websites you're used to back home, pick a US VPN with plenty of worldwide servers. Services that dominate in the US are typically the best overall, so you'll be getting a great product.

Accessing geo-blocked US content from Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services, as well as major sporting events is a big draw for people outside the US using VPNs, but those in the States will also be able to access content from all over by virtually relocating.

After our thorough testing, our ExpressVPN review concluded that the provider is not only the best US VPN on the market, but top dog overall. That's because of its huge server network, great speeds, rock-solid privacy and top streaming power. But there's stiff competition, so read on to see the top five US VPNs you can get today.

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1. ExpressVPN – the best US VPN on the market

1. ExpressVPN – the best US VPN on the market
As one of the biggest markets for VPNs in the world, US VPN consumers should settle for nothing short of the best – and that's exactly what ExpressVPN is. With incredible speeds, class-leading content unblocking and a 30-day money-back guarantee, it's yet to be beaten.

NordVPN – the biggest name is a great US VPN

2. NordVPN – the biggest name is a great US VPN
The most famous VPN is still one of the best, and while it's slipped behind ExpressVPN in recent years, many still like staying anonymous behind the NordVPN name. Plus, it's good value, and you can stream in HD or even 4K with its incredible connection speeds.

3. Surfshark – great value plus with real power

3. Surfshark – great value plus with real power
Surfshark offers a bargain option if the above two services are just a little pricey, but don't think that it's underpowered. With excellent privacy credentials, unlimited simultaneous connections and a price of just $2.49 a month, it's well worth considering.

The best US VPNs today

ExpressVPN best us vpn

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

The best US VPN on the market

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux
Average US speeds on 1Gbps line: 490-630Mbps
Simultaneous connections: 5
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
Number of servers: 3,000+
Server locations: 160
Reasons to buy
+Swift US connections+Reliable the world over+Excellent apps for all devices+Stellar support
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly more expensive – but worth it

Simply put, ExpressVPN is the best US VPN because it provides the whole package. Its slick desktop and mobile apps make it as easy as possible to relocate yourself to the States for a Netflix binge, and if anything goes wrong there’s great support on hand 24/7 to help you out.

For those in the US, connection speeds on home ground will be a priority, and on our 1Gbps US connection ExpressVPN delivered scorching speeds of 490-630Mbps. While your internet might not be quite as fast, Express’s performance here demonstrates its servers’ ability to provide truly searing connections – and with 25 US VPN server locations alone, there’s a good chance you’ll have one nearby.

Outside the US, its 3,000+ servers in 160 locations will ensure your day-to-day use is as quick as can be, and we’ve had excellent results connecting from the UK to US servers – you won’t have to worry about dropped or sluggish connections here.

ExpressVPN is also excellent for streaming content, and can get you access to Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Peacock and more. Whatever you’re into, wherever you are, Express can get you through the door.

While it might be marginally more expensive than some others, in this case you actually do get what you pay for. Otherwise, there’s very little else we can find fault with – and that’s why it’s easy for us to crown ExpressVPN as the very best US VPN available today.  

Get 49% off plus 3 free months of the best US VPN

Get 49% off plus 3 free months of the best US VPN
Tom’s Guide readers can get three free months of ExpressVPN by signing up to its 12 month plan – and you’ll be streaming overseas content in minutes. However, if it’s not for you, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with all its plans, so there's no risk in case you change your mind.

NordVPN - best US VPN

2. NordVPN

Big name is great in the States

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux
Average US speeds on 1Gbps line: 480-820Mbps
Simultaneous connections: 6
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
Number of servers: 5,300
Server locations: 80+
Reasons to buy
+Excellent streaming capabilities+Excellent US speeds+Security-focused experience
Reasons to avoid
-App layout can be awkward

As one of the best-known services around, NordVPN is a great shout if you’re looking for a US VPN. With tons of servers and server locations, we found in our NordVPN review that it delivered incredible speeds not only in the US, but the world over.

Nord will let you stream pretty much anything you want – including iPlayer – which for many will be its greatest selling point. However, that’s not its only strength. Nord incorporates some excellent security-focused features like AES-256 encryption and class-leading DNS protection, plus a kill switch, Double VPN and Onion over VPN.

Good performance is a top priority for a US VPN, and Nord delivers very well. On our 1Gbps US test line we experienced average speeds of 480-820Mbps using the NordLynx protocol, and while that peaks higher than others above on this list, there’s a little more variation. Consistency is more important than slightly higher speeds – but we didn’t experience any dropped connections or really sluggish servers.

Overall, Nord provides a great package – and comes at a great price too. However, while the mobile apps are perfectly usable, the UI can be awkward at times and spoils the experience a little. If you can get over that, though, NordVPN is still a real contender.

Sign up now on the NordVPN website

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Surfshark best US VPN

3. Surfshark

Cheap, simple and perfect for streaming

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux
Average US speeds on 1Gbps line: 200Mbps
Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
Number of servers: 3,200+
Server locations: 100+
Reasons to buy
+Incredible value+Clean, simple apps and clients+Unblocks everything you could want
Reasons to avoid
-Not the absolute fastest US speeds

Although relatively new on the scene, Surfshark has become a firm favourite with VPN users thanks to really solid performance and unbeatable value. Although the price might not inspire confidence, in our Surfshark review the provider delivered the goods and is a fine option for those looking for a US VPN.

Its apps are well thought out, making it easy to access any server – and its great unblocking power means it’s a top-quality VPN for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iPlayer, Peacock and YouTube wherever you are.

The reason Surfshark isn’t further up on this US VPN list is the fact that while its connections are very reliable, they’re not the very swiftest in the US – on our American 1Gbps test line speeds topped out around 200Mbps, falling to just 15Mbps on one attempt, whereas in the UK we got excellent speeds of up to 700Mbps. But again, if you're living with slower internet, that won't make a great deal of difference and Surfshark will perform as well as the rest.

If you’re looking for a top quality cheap VPN, you could do a lot worse than Surfshark.

Sign up now on the Surfshark website

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ProtonVPN - best US VPN

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

4. ProtonVPN

US VPN that's great for privacy

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux
Average US speeds on 1Gbps line: 740Mbps
Simultaneous connections: 10
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
Number of servers: 1,400
Server locations: 61+
Reasons to buy
+Super private and secure+Great for streaming worldwide+Very fast+In-depth apps
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly higher price-No 24/7 chat support

In our last ProtonVPN review, we saw the Swiss provider improve in just about every area, in the process becoming one of our top-rated providers on the market.

As a US VPN, it's perfectly suited if you prefer a slightly more techy experience, and is definitely recommended if you value privacy above all else. However, that doesn't mean you have to make any sacrifices to get that safety online.

On the one hand, you get features like Secure Core, which routes your traffic through an ultra-secure server before bouncing it to another, which adds an extra layer between you and your activity. On the other, you'll be able to access more Netflix libraries than any other VPN, barring our top choice ExpressVPN.

ProtonVPN's not perfect – while its support team are very helpful, you still don't get 24/7 live chat, and its apps do lack the polish of bigger providers. However, if that doesn't bother you, it's a very appealing option.

Sign up now on the ProtonVPN website

Private Internet Access

(Image credit: Future)

5. Private Internet Access

More US servers than any other provider

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux
Average US speeds on 1Gbps line: 300Mbps
Simultaneous connections: 10
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
Number of servers: 10,000+
Server locations: 78+
Reasons to buy
+Huge amount of servers+Great torrenting features+Super private
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly lackluster speeds-No independent audit

In our most recent Private Internet Access review we found that PIA has really improved, both in terms of streaming performance and usability.

PIA has an absolutely vast array of servers – with some sources reporting 10,000 and other upwards of 35,000 – and the majority of these are located in the US itself. So, wherever you're located, from Little Rock to Los Angeles, you'll likely have a server just next door.

It's also great for streaming, with access to Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and Netflix, although in our testing it was only able to unblock Netflix's US library. No globetrotting here, then.

PIA's also super private US VPN, with a zero-logging policy, port-forwarding (great for torrenting), and a command line tool called PIACTL which will appeal to the coders out there.

However, PIA's not the fastest VPN in the world, and although speeds of up to 300Mbps in the US aren't to be sniffed at, providers like NordVPN more than double this. Otherwise, though, PIA's well worth a look – especially for the price.

Sign up now on the Private Internet Access website

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Why do I need a US VPN?

We all know that the US is a huge producer of quality entertainment for the English-speaking world. However, if you don’t live in the USA, you won’t be able to watch much – especially exclusive movies and shows on Hulu and other such streaming services. Using a good US VPN can get you access to all of this and more.

An often-overlooked feature of VPNs is the fact they can help you avoid location-based pricing. This usually affects things like plane tickets and software, and while it's a little more trial and error than exact science, using a VPN to flit across the globe can allow you to find the best price in seconds.

Seeing as the US is home to a massive amount of software developers – known for offering favourable prices to those in the same country – having a good US VPN could save you a bit of cash, and perhaps even pay for itself.

Can I get a US VPN free?

While it's possible to find a free US VPN, they universally come with their drawbacks.

Firstly, free services come with monthly or daily data caps, meaning you'll have to be careful how much you them. While these range from a minuscule 500MB to more generous offers in the tens of GB, none are well suited to streaming media – and, let's be honest, all most people want to do is use their US VPN for Netflix.

Secondly, if you're not paying for the service, the company will have to get its revenue from somewhere else. Your app might be cluttered with ads or worse – the data you're trying to protect could be sold on for profit.

Although they have their uses, most free services aren't great for more than checking your emails while connected to public Wi-Fi. And, seeing as the cheapest paid-for VPNs start under $2.50 a month, a very small investment can get you a whole load of functionality.

How do I get a US VPN?

Getting a US VPN couldn't be simpler. Once you've signed up to a service, every US VPN provider will have a direct download for their VPN client on their website – and you'll probably be directed to this page as soon as you've paid.

If you're using a Mac, most VPNs are also available in the Mac App Store. Anyone can download them for free, although to use them you'll usually have to purchase a subscription unless the VPN offers a free trial.

After you've downloaded the software, install it like any other program. You might be faced with a dialog box requesting your permission to allow the VPN to access or change settings, but this is perfectly normal – and to use the VPN you'll have to allow this, anyway.

From there on, you'll just have to log in with the details you created when purchasing the plan, and click the connect button on the app. From then on, you'll be protected until you switch it off.

How do US VPNs unblock Netflix?

Netflix has specific libraries for many countries and regions around the world, and these are only accessible to those who are using an IP address within that country or region. This can prove a problem for those on holiday, and many others just want to watch shows they’re not ‘allowed’ to.

A VPN for Netflix can be used to virtually relocate you to a server in whatever country you want, and the best will do this in a way that’s undetectable by the streaming service. Once you’ve done that, you’re free to watch whatever you want.

Should I get a mobile US VPN?

If you’re often out and about or travelling, it’s likely that you’re connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. While these are convenient and can save you a wedge of data, many are unprotected and are especially vulnerable to hackers. There’s a real risk that your sensitive information is on show to someone you might not want it to be.

The solution to this is to get a great iOS or Android VPN to protect your data. With a tap on an app you can shield your identity from anyone who’s looking, and the best mobile VPNs are entirely unnoticeable in practice.

Seeing as all VPN subscriptions cover more than one device, you’ll be able to keep your phone, tablet and desktop covered with whichever US VPN you’ve chosen from this list, too.

US VPN disclaimer

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Mo is eCommerce Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and security content, and his product guides help his readers find the best software and products for their needs. When he's not testing VPNs, you'll find him working on his classic car or plugged into a guitar amp.