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Free Android VPNs: can they be trusted, and which ones are worth using?

Free Android VPN
(Image credit: Edaccor/Shutterstock)

Its no secret that a free VPN will never beat the very best VPN when it comes to features, security, and ease of use. However, there are some no-fee options that offer great value. The difficulty lies in sifting through the dodgy adware and glitchy knock-offs to find the truly useful Android VPN apps.

Below, we'll explain a little more about what you want – and what you don't – from your free Android VPN, and help you decide whether a free service will be able to do the jobs you need it to. Then, we'll send you in the right direction with some free options, and a few ways to get VPN free trials from the very best premium services on the market.

If you want to skip all that and just go to our recommended free Android VPNs, simply click the 'Jump To' tab above. Otherwise, just keep on scrolling to find out what to look for in a free VPN for Android, and how to pick the best.

Try #1-rated ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days (opens in new tab) 
ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) makes no compromises and is simply the top VPN on the market if you're an Android user (and just about any other device, too). It's secure, can unblock tons of streaming sites, and also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to trial the service – plus, Tom's Guide readers get three months FREE.

Why would you want a free Android VPN?

In short, a VPN reroutes your Internet traffic away from your Internet Service Provider's servers through its own, making your activity anonymous to your ISP. It also encrypts everything you do so that no one can intercept and read it. By offering a host of worldwide servers, you can also virtually change your location.

One of our favorite VPN uses is to give extra protection when connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots – and this is something you'll want to keep in mind when using your Android device. You can also keep you data safe from snoops, and avoid work or school network content blocks.

With a trusted free Android VPN, simple security features like those should be available, but for other uses, you'll find yourself limited – in more way than one.

The downsides of a free Android VPN

If you want to get a VPN for Android free, you're going to have to live with the fact that there are sacrifices to be made. Almost all providers limit how much total data you can use, and if you're looking for constant, all-day protection, that's going to run out in a matter of hours – if not minutes - if you're watching videos.

Speeds are universally limited and so are server locations, but access to streaming content is one of the biggest drawbacks. Many people enjoy using a Netflix VPN to access more content, and while we've found limited success with some free Netflix VPN services, none have the content-unblocking performance of a paid service.

Most important to note, though, is whether or not your free Android VPN is safe. There have been numerous (opens in new tab) reports (opens in new tab) on the dangers (opens in new tab) of using free services (opens in new tab), with many seemingly well-known providers actually putting users at risk. We're confident that our recommendations are safe, but true peace of mind lays with a provider that's supported directly by your payments, rather than selling your data.

Free Android VPN

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Is a free Android VPN worth it?

This depends on your usage. If you plan on quickly connecting once in a while to stay safe on public Wi-Fi or to change your location to access a different version of a website, a free Android VPN may well be a good choice. But, if you plan on streaming, leaving it on all day, or truly securing your privacy, a paid VPN is by far the best choice.

To test the waters, it's worth checking out which what free trials are available on a VPN service are currently available, and every paid-for service we recommend offers some form of money-back guarantee, so you'll have plenty of time to claim a refund if you don't think your money is well-spent.


1. ExpressVPN – try the best VPN risk free for 30 days (opens in new tab)
If you want the best way to get a free Android VPN, we’d suggest trying out ExpressVPN – its 30-day money-back guarantee is generous and, if you choose to, you’ll be refunded no questions asked. However, it’s also our highest-rated VPN, and you can claim three free months on 12-month plans.

2. Surfshark – the best-value Android VPN on the market (opens in new tab)
If Express is a little pricey but you're still considering a fully featured VPN, Surfshark (opens in new tab) is an excellent choice. For just $2.49 a month you'll get unlimited connections, intuitive iOS apps, really swift servers and world-class streaming support – plus a no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. NordVPN – the biggest name is a safe bet (opens in new tab)
NordVPN (opens in new tab) is probably on your radar, and it's definitely a paid service that's worth considering. With over 5,000 servers, great streaming power, polished apps and incredible encryption, $3.71 a month doesn't sound too bad – and again, make a claim within 30 days and you'll get every penny back.

The best free Android VPNs

ProtonVPN free android VPN

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)
(opens in new tab)

1. ProtonVPN

The only free Android VPN to offer unlimited data

Reasons to buy

Free unlimited 7-day trial with no CC
Unlimited data for free users
Excellent security

Reasons to avoid

Throttled speeds
Limited servers

For those not wanting to spend a penny, ProtonVPN is the best free Android VPN available today.

Unlike every other free provider, ProtonVPN Free offers unlimited data, and while you'll certainly see slow-down at peak times, it's actually quite useable too. That means you can watch YouTube, send large attachments in emails and just get on with your everyday life when the app is running.

It's also well-known as a secure provider, too, meaning you can trust in it not to sell your data or use your device as an exit node for other customers.

The best bit, though, is the fact that anyone signing up to a free plan gets a seven-day free trial of the full paid-for service – and no, you don't have to hand over your credit card details to get hold of this.

In all, while it's still no match for the best premium plans, ProtonVPN is beyond compare when it comes to free Android VPNs.

Sign up now on ProtonVPN's website (opens in new tab)

2. Hotspot Shield

A good free alternative

Reasons to buy

500MB of data a day
Decent speeds

Reasons to avoid

Ad-supported on some platforms
Some data logging

Hotspot Shield is known as a fast VPN (in fact, the fastest), and while the free versions data speeds are capped, you'll have no issues loading pages and generally browsing.

In terms of usability it's intuitive and attractive, and while the company is open about the free version being ad-supported, it's by no means intrusive.

However, the 500MB daily data cap is what lets it down compared to ProtonVPN. While the cap is, in truth, very generous when it comes to free services, it's simply not unlimited – and although it refreshes every day, 500MB can run out awfully quickly.

Otherwise, though, Hotspot Shield is an excellent, reliable free Android VPN that's worth checking out.

Sign up now on the Hotspot Shield website (opens in new tab)

The best free Android VPN trials

Surfshark free Android VPN

(Image credit: Surfshark)
(opens in new tab)

1. Surfshark

7-day trial from bargain provider

Reasons to buy

Great for streaming
Proper free trial
Excellent apps for all devices

Reasons to avoid

Not hugely configurable

If you've decided that a free Android VPN isn't going to cut it, a cheap VPN like Surfshark is the next best thing. With unlimited data and great access to tons of streaming services (a big boost compared to free options), it's incredible value.

Plus, on Android you can even get a seven-day free trial if you sign up from the app store. 

Instead, though, we'd recommend taking advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee that's on offer. Yes, you'll have to pay upfront, but you can claim it back with ease if you don't find the service up to scratch.

No matter what you choose, though, Surfshark is a premium provider with a bargain-basement price tag, and it's well worth a look.

Sign up now on Surfshark's website (opens in new tab)

2. NordVPN

The biggest name also has a free trial

Reasons to buy

Super secure
Excellent streaming performance
Quick connections

Reasons to avoid

Android interface is awkward

Practically a household name now (well, as close as a VPN could come to that), NordVPN is a hugely popular provider that's secure, effective, fast, and works great on Android.

It unblocks Netflix and other streaming sites with ease, and is fully audited to prove that it keeps your data absolutely safe. Plus, if you sign up through the app store, you can claim a seven-day trial – but we'd again recommend buying a plan and claiming back if it doesn't suit you as you'll have much longer to test it out.

If we're honest, our only issue is the fact that the Android app is a little hampered by the map-based interface – even users of best tablets (opens in new tab) may find that the screen is simply too small for it to work.

It's not as cheap as Surfshark, but you do get a lot for your money – and we highly recommend NordVPN to just about any Android user.

Sign up now on NordVPN's website (opens in new tab)

The best free Android VPN money-back guarantees

ExpressVPN free Android VPN

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)
(opens in new tab)

1. ExpressVPN

Get the absolute best for Android

Reasons to buy

Near-perfect iOS apps
Flawless streaming
Super support

Reasons to avoid

Pay before you try (but you can get it back)

As our top-rated VPN for a wide range of uses, ExpressVPN is just about unbeatable when it comes to Android.

Unfortunately it doesn't offer any sort of free trial, but it has a rock-solid 30-day money-back guarantee that you can use to test out the service for a whole month before committing to the provider.

If it was down to sheer quality, ExpressVPN would be sitting at the top of this guide, but its slightly higher price and lack of a free version means it's sitting down here. If you want the best, though, this is it.

Sign up now on ExpressVPN's website and claim three months free (opens in new tab)

2. Cyberghost

Works well, and it's cheap, too

Reasons to buy

Good for streaming and P2P
Lengthy 45-day guarantee
Great server selection

Reasons to avoid

Apps aren't quite up to scratch

CyberGhost is a seriously cheap contender that delivers to goods. With over 6,000 servers it's got huge geographic range, and its 45-day money-back guarantee is class-leading. It's also very useful for streaming and torrenting.

However, while they've certainly improved with the upgrade to the CyberGhost 8 software, the apps still can't quite match the combined power and simplicity of the market leaders. At this price, though, it's difficult to find b=much else to complain about. 

Sign up now on the CyberGhost website (opens in new tab)

Free Android VPN FAQ

Can I stream with a free Android VPN?

Free Android VPNs might be useful for many things, but for streaming we'd strongly advice users to opt for a premium service like ExpressVPN (opens in new tab).

With no data limits and excellent regional unblocking on sites like Netflix and iPlayer, the best paid-for services don't have anything to worry about from the free contenders.

Why do I need a free Android VPN?

A free Android VPN will come in handy if you're often connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots, or if you just want peace of mind with a sensitive search once in a while.

For those looking to torrent, stream, or simply after a VPN you can have on all day with no hassle, then a paid provider is your best bet.

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.