Best Budget VPN

Surfshark VPN

Well-known option

NordVPN

If you're not looking to shell out much cash on a VPN provider but don't want it to compromise on features, you should definitely choose Surfshark. It offers a great all-round experience for a bargain price of just over $2 per month.

From $2.49/mo. at Surfshark

Pros

  • Great apps
  • Best value VPN provider
  • Excellent for streaming

Cons

  • Some people may find it missing features

NordVPN is another highly capable provider, offering access to handy security features like Double VPN and a large network of 5300 servers. It's more expensive than Surfshark, but a great option for streaming and added security.

From $3.49/mo. at NordVPN

Pros

  • Large server network
  • Double VPN

Cons

  • Split-tunneling through browser extensions only
  • Less apps than ExpressVPN

If you're looking for a VPN, you've probably realised that there are a lot of providers on the market. As a result, you might be finding it difficult to choose the provider that best suits your needs.

Out of the large variety of the best VPN services that we've reviewed over the past few years, Surfshark and NordVPN are two of our favorite providers. They offer an incredible range of features, and either one of these would be an excellent pick.

But realistically, you only need to sign up for one VPN service. So which one is better and worthy of your attention? We find out by comparing them on areas like cost, security, privacy, performance and user experience.

What is a VPN?

Virtual private networks, or VPNs, are applications that create a secure connection for browsing the web anonymously and bypassing geo restrictions. They enable you to boost your privacy when using the internet, prevent cyber attacks, access online content that is restricted in your area, find the best offers, tackle bandwidth throttling and speed up gaming.

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN: Which one costs less?

In terms of pricing, Surfshark is one of the most affordable VPN providers on the market today. There are three subscription plans to choose from: $12.95 per month, $59.76 for two years and $38.94 for six months.

The most flexible plan is the monthly one, but it's noticeably more expensive than the other options. If you opt for the two-year plan, you'll actually be saving more money as it works out as $2.49 per month. But you will need to pay $59.76 outright. Meanwhile, the third option works out as $6.49 per month.

Similarly, NordVPN also offers three plans: $89 for two years, $54 for six months or $11.95 per month. Again, the two year plan provides the best value and works out as $3.71 per month. While that's not a bad price, Surfshark is slightly cheaper at $2.49 per month.

Surfshark Ram Only ServersSource: Surfshark

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN: How's the security?

When it comes to security and privacy, Surfshark has some nifty features that aim to keep its users safe online. For starters, there is a functionality called CleanWeb, which stops malware, phishing, adverts and web trackers.

As well as this, Surfshark offers a robust no-logs policy, a kill switch, private DNS and leak protection, AES-256 encryption, a choice of different security protocols, and a camouflage mode to stop internet service providers from detecting VPN usage.

But how does NordVPN compare? Like Surfshark, it comes with security features such as a strict no-logs policy, a kill switch, a malware and advert blocker, a DNS leak test, IP masking and strong encryption. However, one of its unique security features is Double VPN, which uses two VPN servers for internet traffic routing. This essentially adds an additional layer of protection to the app and will protect you from different online threats.

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN: What about the speeds?

Although Surfshark is a more affordable VPN service, there are no compromises when it comes to speed. In fact, in our review of the service, it performed very well across the board. In our US-based speed test, we experienced average speeds of 150Mbps on a 600Mbps connection, and the slowest speed that we observed was just 119Mbps.

As NordVPN uses multiple layers of security, you'd assume it's going to be on the slower side in comparison to Surfshark. But that's not the case at all. When we tested its performance in our review, we saw impressive speeds in the US, UK and internationally.

Whether you're connecting to a server in the same region as you or one based on the other side of the world, it only takes a few seconds for the VPN to connect and kick into action. Overall, you'd be getting an excellent performance whichever service you chose.

Nordvpn App HeroSource: Shutterstock

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN: Which one has better apps?

When picking a VPN, it's important to ensure your chosen provider offers excellent apps. Ideally, you want to be able to connect to a server quickly and access a range of different features from within the app.

In our opinion, Surfshark offers the most easy-to-use apps out there. When you open up the app, you'll see a large button that allows you to connect to or disconnect from a VPN server within seconds. There are apps for a range of different operating systems, including Android, iOS, Mac, Windows and Linux.

NordVPN also offers simple and feature-packed apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and Linux. You can connect to the fastest server by using a quick connect button, and if you experience connectivity issues, there's a built-in kill switch. Another great feature of the NordVPN apps is the ability to auto-connect as soon as you've logged into WiFi.

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN: Which is better for streaming?

A lot of people use VPNs to improve their online streaming experience. Because VPNs are able to circumvent geo restrictions, users can enjoy the latest movies and TV shows (even if they're not available in their location).

Surfshark is a great choice for streaming as it provides access to a wide variety of streaming platforms, including the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Disney Plus. And thanks to a network of over 1700 servers, you can access the international libraries of these services.

In comparison, NordVPN can also be used for accessing streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and Disney Plus. But what gives Surfshark a run for its money is the fact that there are over 5300 servers available with NordVPN, which will be handy for accessing streaming platforms from all over the world. What's slightly disappointing is that you can only connect 6 devices, while Surfshark has an unlimited device limit.

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN: Which has better customer support?

Nowadays, the vast majority of premium VPN companies offer a great deal of support to their customers. And neither Surfshark or NordVPN disappoint here. Both companies offer 24/7 live chats, support emails, frequently asked questions and tutorials for whenever you're stuck with something and need help.

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN: Do they keep logs?

The best VPNs take a number of steps to protect their users online, and one of these is enforcing strict no-logging policies. This means that the provider won't track or store any of their user's internet traffic.

Surfshark positions itself as a "no log VPN for ultimate digital privacy" that won't record information such as IP addresses, browsing history, bandwidth usage, session information, network traffic or connection timestamps. What's more, it only uses RAM servers so that data isn't stored on a hard drive and conducts independent security audits. Meanwhile, NordVPN says it won't track connection timestamps, session information, used bandwidth, traffic data and IP addresses. Just like Surfshark, it also performs third-party audits to improve privacy and security.

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN: The bottom line

Both Surfshark and NordVPN are excellent VPNs, but which one should you choose? Well, it depends, really. If you're looking for the most affordable option, then you should opt for Surfshark as it's the cheapest provider available. However, if you're happy to spend a bit more cash, NordVPN will give you more layers of security and access to more than 5300 servers. Either way, you won't be disappointed with Surfshark or NordVPN.

Super affordable

Surfshark

Lots of servers and security tools

If you don't want to spend a lot of money, but also don't want to sacrifice anything by using a free VPN, Surfshark is the way to go. Right now you can get two years of access for just $59.76 (an 81% savings), which breaks down to just $2.49 per month. This is the cheapest plan from a reputable provider, and a very smart option to pick today!

More servers

NordVPN

Lots of servers and security tools

Most of NordVPN's 5,500+ servers are in Europe, followed by the Americas. NordVPN provides apps for several OS platforms and web browsers, and feature extras such as double VPN, and access to the Onion network and servers configured for P2P file sharing.


We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

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