The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

The best cheap VPN services for 2024: Prices and features ranked

Contributions by Rachel Sadler Home Tech Expert
Reviewed by Dr. Phil Legg Professor of Cyber Security at UWE

Many cheap Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) make the user pay in other ways, whether it’s due to lax security, inferior encryption, missing features, or slower speeds. However, the best cheap VPNs are capable of matching up to premium counterparts, offering a cut-price alternative for anyone on a budget. 

With various Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), you don’t have to sacrifice security and privacy if you’re in need of a more affordable provider. The best cheap VPNs still offer competitive services, balancing a budget-friendly price with robust encryption, watertight security measures, and reliable performance.

Cheap VPNs can rival their pricier counterparts in terms of security and privacy features, including independently verified no-logs policies, split tunnelling, and strong kill switches. They should ensure that your online activities and personal information remain private as effectively as more expensive VPN providers. While even the best free VPNs can lack crucial features, some cheap VPNs offer reliable security without breaking the bank. 

We’ve assessed the best cheap VPNs, looking at security and privacy features, speed, performance, and value for money. While NordVPN offers the best overall service of all the providers we’ve tested, Surfshark is firmly at the top for cheap VPNs, delivering an impressive feature-filled performance for a wallet-friendly price.

Our top three VPN providers in 2024

If you happen to be unimpressed by the options listed below, here’s a roundup with our picks for the best VPNs in 2024. While a couple aren’t especially cheap VPNs, we’ve chosen our top three based on different use cases: best value, best all-around package, and our Editor’s Choice, which is our recommendation as the best overall option.

The best cheap VPNs compared

There were several factors we considered when trying to find the best cheap VPN. 

  • Subscription price: a cheap VPN should have a monthly price of less than £2. Typically, to subscribe for the lowest price, you’ll need to sign up for a lengthy plan, which is usually payable in one lump sum upfront. This upfront cost should also be affordable, and ideally no more than £50
  • Privacy: cheap VPNs should never skimp on privacy, and we’ve only chosen providers that use AES-256 – it’s the highest level of encryption and is used by governments and banks to secure sensitive information 
  • Speeds and performance: given we’re looking at cheap VPNs, speed tends to be an issue with some budget providers. We’ve selected affordable VPNs that still offer speeds in excess of 200 Mbps
  • Features: As well as privacy features, does the VPN have any special servers for streaming, or does it allow for easy access to the Tor browser? Does it come with an ad-blocker, and are these features useful? We’ve considered the above when compiling this list of the best cheap VPNs 
  • Security: is one of the most important parts of a VPN service, which is why we’ve only chosen cheap VPNs with a kill switch, split tunnelling and a range of VPN protocols
  • Verified no-logs policy: VPNs should have a no-logs policy, and the best services ensure that this policy is independently audited, but we found not all of the best cheap providers have taken this step
Best for Value Gaming Browsing Beginners Torrenting
Price From £1.79/m From £1.78/m From £1.57/m From £2.50/m From £1.34/m
Free version No No No Yes Yes
Max number of connected devices Unlimited 7 Unlimited 10 Unlimited
Number of servers 3,200+ 11,000+ 1,000+ 330+ 1,000+
AES-256 encryption Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Audited no-log policy Yes Yes Yes No No
Where to buy Get Now Get Now Get Now Get Now Get Now

The best cheap VPNs right now

Our list of the best cheap VPN UK providers only include services with a high level of privacy, top-notch security features, and good performance. These are the best cheap VPNs with seriously low prices available right now.

Surfshark: Best value VPN

surfshark logo white on blue

Lowest price: £1.79 per month | Free version: No | Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: WireGuard, IKEv2 and OpenVPN | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes, by Deloitte | Headquarters: Netherlands

Pros

Unlimited number of connected devices RAM-only servers in 100+ countries worldwide Audited no-logs policy

Cons

Based in the Netherlands (Nine Eyes) Surfshark One features are hidden behind an additional paywall

Surfshark has built up a solid reputation as one of the best cheap VPNs on the market, although you wouldn’t know that it’s one of the more affordable options without looking at the price tag. 

For example, it’s one of the fastest providers on the market right now, recording speeds in excess of 420 Mbps while I was connected to servers found in the UK. Performance tends to be one of the ways in which low-cost VPNs are found wanting, but you won’t need to worry about the prospect of lag or slowdown while connected to Surfshark. 

It’s one of the most affordable VPNs on the market, and also one of our best VPN providers – simply because its price is low without cutting corners when it comes to features. Surfshark’s security and privacy features include everything you’d expect to find from a good VPN provider – an audited no-logs policy, AES-256 and a decent selection of VPN protocols.

Additional features include access to streaming services, Camouflage mode, and a sturdy kill switch. You’ll be able to connect to the VPN with an unlimited number of devices, making it easier to share an account with friends and family.

You’ll find servers to pick from in over 100 countries, so it’s easy to get an IP address from almost anywhere on the planet. Plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ll be able to test it out for yourself risk-free. 

Being based in the Netherlands isn’t ideal from a jurisdictional perspective, while features like antivirus, a private search engine, and data breach alerts are hidden behind an additional paywall (Surfshark One). It’s still one of the best cheap VPNs on the market, ticking almost every box you could think of. 

Score: ★★★★

Read our full Surfshark review.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £12.23 ($15.45) / month
12 months £2.29 ($2.90) / month (£32.06/$40.66 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.79 ($2.27) / month (£46.54/$59.03 up front for 26 months)

Performance

Best cheap VPNs testing Surfshark on laptop
Our researcher conducted several speed tests while connected to various Surfshark servers around the world (Independent Advisor/Ookla)

In our latest speed tests, Surfshark delivered a strong performance, making it an optimal, affordable choice for users. When connecting locally to UK VPN servers, it surpassed the baseline download and upload speeds. There was also a minimal increase in latency, so users could engage in activities like gaming without any issues, such as lag or ping spikes. 

When connecting from the UK to the US, the VPN maintained a strong 89 per cent of the download speed, though upload speed significantly dropped to 23 per cent of the baseline, still sufficient to support most online activities. The Australian connection showed a more substantial drop in performance, with download speed at 61 per cent of our baseline and upload speed decreasing to 13 per cent of the reference level. Overall, Surfshark demonstrated robust performance, particularly in local connections, with a notable yet manageable degradation in upload speeds and increased latency for farther server locations.

Best cheap VPN Surfshark base Feb 2024
Speed test result without activating Surfshark. This is the baseline against which we measure the impact of the VPN on speed and latency. Below the readings of the download and the upload speeds are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test (in megabytes)

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN411.8241.953
UK to UK420.29245.5912102%102%
UK to US365.4954.912589%23%
UK to Aus252.2831.8524061%13%

Date tested: 30/01/24

Today’s best Surfshark deals
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
Surfshark 12 month £2.29 /Month
£2.29 /Month
Surfshark 1 month £10.29 /Month
£10.29 /Month

CyberGhost: Best for streaming and gaming

cyberghost logo

Lowest price: £1.78/m | Free version: No | Maximum number of connected devices: Seven | Number of servers: 11,000+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes, by Deloitte | Headquarters: Bucharest, Romania

Pros

User-friendly apps with labelled streaming servers 11,000+ RAM-only servers in 100+ countries Extended 45-day money-back guarantee for subscriptions longer than six months

Cons

One-month plan only has a 14-day money-back guarantee Limited to seven simultaneous devices

If you’re planning to use a cheap VPN for intensive tasks like streaming, torrenting, or gaming, look no further than CyberGhost. It has similar streaming capabilities when compared to the best in the business, but goes one step further, thanks to labelled servers that make it easy to access popular platforms with a couple of clicks. This includes the likes of BBC iPlayer and Netflix, with hundreds of streaming services to pick from. 

Meanwhile, connection speeds of roughly 442Mbps ensure that you won’t have to worry about any buffering whilst streaming, and it also helps to lower latency during online gaming sessions. 

CyberGhost is an especially user-friendly provider, with features including split tunnelling, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection. Over 11,000 servers are found in 100+ countries worldwide, which is one of the more expansive networks you’ll find on the market. Given the sheer scale of the operation, they’re never likely to be overloaded due to too many users connecting at the same time. 

It is missing out on a few advanced features seen elsewhere, including a lack of double VPN, obfuscated, and Tor servers. One-month plans only have a 14-day money-back guarantee, which is lower than the industry standard of 30. However, longer plans come with a 45-day guarantee, along with significant savings. 

CyberGhost is still one of the best cheap VPNs on the market, and its dedicated torrenting servers are one of the features that sets it apart from competitors. The provider packs a lot into the service, all for a reasonable price.

Score: ★★★★

Read our full CyberGhost review.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.89 ($13.81) / month
6 months £6.19 ($7.85) / month (£37.14/$47.11 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.78 ($2.26) / month (£49.92/$63.32 up front for 28 months)

Performance

Best cheap VPNs testing Cyberghost on laptop
CyberGhost returned mixed results in our speed tests (Independent Advisor/Ookla)

CyberGhost delivered exceptional performance in our most recent speed tests, proving to be an affordable and yet effective VPN service. The results were particularly robust in local UK connections, where it not only met but exceeded our baseline download and upload speeds. These speeds can facilitate various online activities, including high-bandwidth gaming and streaming.  

In our US connection, the download speed slightly decreased to 89 per cent, while the upload speed notably dropped to 27 per cent. The connection to Australia saw a steeper decline, falling to 78 and just 7 per cent of the download and upload baseline speed.  

With CyberGhost’s slower international upload speeds, certain activities, such as uploading large files and video conferencing, can be challenging. But, the VPN’s fast download speeds can be beneficial for users who regularly stream or download online content.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN442.83242.953
UK to UK471.14247.8112106%102%
UK to US394.9565.2212189%27%
UK to Aus344.416.8727378%7%

Date of testing: 30/01/2024

Today’s best CyberGhost deals
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
CyberGhost 1 year £6.19 /Month
£6.19 /Month
CyberGhost 1 month £10.89 /Month
£10.89 /Month

PrivadoVPN: Best for beginners

Lowest price: £2.50 / month | Free version: Yes | Maximum number of connected devices: 10 | Number of servers: 330+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 | No-log policy: Yes  |Audited: No | Headquarters: Switzerland

Pros

Robust free tier with streaming support Intuitive apps for mobile and desktop devices Solely uses physical servers for advanced security

Cons

Lacks an audited no-logs policy Collects some basic logging information (device identifiers, email address, payment data)

PrivadoVPN has quickly established itself as a solid option for anyone in need of a low-cost provider. It comes with streaming support as standard, while features include an ad-blocker, split tunnelling, and access to a SOCKS5 Proxy. In terms of performance, UK server speeds of 255 Mbps are quick enough for the majority of online tasks.

The service only has servers in 47 countries, which means you’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re in need of an IP address from a more obscure location. Even so, Privado is one of the few VPNs to solely use physical servers, rather than virtual options that are actually located elsewhere. 

A number of budget providers also offer a free tier, and Privado is no exception. Typically, free tiers are used to give a taster, capping speeds and bandwidth, or withholding features in an effort to convince users to opt for a paid version of the app. In this instance, the free version of Privado gives the user 10 GB of data every 30 days.

PrivadoVPN might not offer as many simultaneous device connections (10) as some of its competitors, but longer subscription plans are very reasonably priced. It also offers a good level of security with a no-logs policy and is headquartered in Switzerland. PrivadoVPN is a good choice for both general online privacy concerns and bypassing geo-restrictions.

Score: ★★★½

Read our full PrivadoVPN review.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.99 ($13.94) / month
12 months £2.50 ($3.17) / month (£30/$38.05 up front)
24 months £1.99 ($2.52) / month (£47.76/$60.57 up front)

Performance

Best cheap VPNs testing PrivadoVPN on laptop
PrivadoVPN performed with average speeds compared with other VPNs we’ve tested (Independent Advisor/Ookla)

In our most recent tests, PrivadoVPN showed its suitability for cost-effective and secure online activities both locally and globally. In the UK, latency stayed low while download and upload speeds were robust, retaining almost intact download and upload baseline speeds. This performance allows users to enjoy lag-free gaming and stream in high quality without issue. 

PrivadoVPN demonstrated relatively strong speed retention throughout our international connections as well, with the expected distance-related speed deterioration. When switching to a VPN server in the US, we recorded a negligible reduction in the download speed, while the uploads experienced a more pronounced degradation, maintaining just above a third of the reference speed. These bandwidths could still support most online activities, except for particularly demanding data uploads. Our Australian connection saw a further decrease in speeds, maintaining a strong 74 per cent of the download baseline, and 9 per cent of the upload baseline. These slower upload speeds can cause some issues for users, but overall, PrivadoVPN performs well, particularly for download-focused activities such as streaming.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN402.05255.175
UK to UK393.61256.421298%100%
UK to US387.9990.6412797%36%
UK to JP299.2123.0328874%9%

Date of testing: 3/12/2023

Today’s best PrivadoVPN deals
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
PrivadoVPN 12 month £2.50 /Month
£2.50 /Month
PrivadoVPN 1 month £10.99 /Month
£10.99 /Month

Atlas VPN: Best for torrenting

Atlas VPN review featured thumbnail

Lowest price: £1.34 month | Free version: Yes | Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited | Number of servers: 1,000+ | VPN protocol(s): IKEv2/IPSec, WireGuard | No-log policy: Does not log user activity – not independently verified | Headquarters: Delaware, US

Pros

Capable free tier with some limitations Unlimited simultaneous connections Features include ad blocking, tracker blocking, and malware filtering (SafeBrowse), and rotating IPs (SafeSwap)

Cons

Fewer servers and locations to pick from Lacks an audited logging policy

Atlas VPN is a provider with a selection of notable VPN deals if you’re willing to sign up for a longer subscription. With average UK server speeds of roughly 200Mbps, it’s clearly on the slower end of the scale, but it’ll still be able to handle the majority of intensive tasks without breaking a sweat.

A number of budget VPNs allow for unlimited connections, and Atlas is no exception. It helps to establish that the user won’t have to worry about purchasing a more expensive plan to protect more devices, and account details can be shared with others to lower the total asking price. 

The provider includes support for a variety of helpful features, including split tunnelling, MultiHop+, a malware blocker, and rotating IPs (SafeSwap). It only has 1,000 servers spread across 45 locations, so you’ll need to look elsewhere for a larger network. 

Overall, Atlas VPN offers a good level of security. Although the provider’s no-logs policy has not been audited, there have been no reported data breaches. The provider has affordable plans and offers comparable services to more expensive VPNs, as well as fast connection speeds.

Score: ★★★½

Read our full Atlas VPN review.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £9.83 ($12.47) / month
12 months £2.69 ($3.41) / month (£32.32/$40.99 up front)
24 months (+6 months free) £1.34 ($1.70) / month (£40.34/$51.17 up front for 30 months)

Performance

Best cheap VPNs testing Atlas on laptop
Atlas VPN gave us some of the fastest speeds when connected to its servers around the world (Independent Advisor/Ookla)

Our most recent speed tests demonstrated the ability of Atlas VPN to maintain fair download speeds. Although it struggled with upload speeds, particularly over long distances, the service is a viable option balancing affordability, performance, and privacy features. Connecting locally to a UK server, Atlas VPN delivered half of the baseline download speed and about a quarter of the upload speed, catering to the bandwidth requirements of light and moderate users. 

Connections to the US showed a slight decrease in downloads combined with a dramatic drop in uploads to 6 per cent of the baseline, potentially impacting tasks that rely heavily on uploads. When switching to Australian servers, we registered further performance degradation, with downloads retaining a third of the no-VPN speed and uploads at as low as 2 per cent of the reference. This considerable performance deterioration, coupled with increased latency, suggests difficulties for activities requiring steady high-bandwidth connections like streaming, online gaming, or data-intensive traffic. 

Overall, Atlas VPN is a perfect choice for general browsing, but its users may encounter challenges with activities demanding high bandwidths.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN402.94215.756
UK to UK198.7448.871249%23%
UK to US189.3413.4413647%6%
UK to Aus138.02436734%2%

Date of testing: 4/12/2023

Today’s best AtlasVPN deals
AtlasVPN 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
AtlasVPN 1 year £2.69 /Month
£2.69 /Month
AtlasVPN 1 month £9.83 /Month
£9.83 /Month

Private Internet Access: Best for browsing

Private Internet Access review featured thumbnail

Cheapest price: £1.57 per month  | Free version: No | Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited | Number of servers: 1,000+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2 | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes | Headquarters: United States

Pros

Unlimited simultaneous device connections Independently audited no-logs policy Advanced features include port forwarding, MultiHop, and obfuscation

Cons

Headquartered in the US (Five Eyes) US-focused service

Private Internet Access (PIA) is indisputably one of the cheapest VPNs you’re likely to find, especially if you’re willing to sign up for a significantly longer period of time. Coming in at £1.57 per month at the current time of writing, it’ll be tough to find a reputable provider that can match their current pricing strategies.

UK server speeds of 134Mbps leave a little to be desired, especially when compared to the likes of Surfshark and CyberGhost. However, it’s worth noting that the median average internet speed in the UK was 73.21Mbps in 2023. 

In other words, PIA is still capable of providing speeds that are twice as fast as the UK average. As always, you’ll be capped by the speeds offered by your ISP, but it’s worth considering before disregarding PIA on this basis alone.

It hasn’t scrimped in terms of privacy and security. You’ll find servers in 91 countries, while advanced features include port forwarding, MultiHop, and obfuscation. 

Private Internet Access is a longstanding VPN and offers an excellent range of security features, including a dedicated IP (for an extra cost). Its connection speeds are somewhat slower than other providers we’ve reviewed, but subscription prices are more than reasonable.

Score: ★★★★

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.99 ($13.94) / month
12 months £5.39 ($6.84) / month (£32.34/$41.02 up front)
24 months (+4 months free) £1.57 ($1.99) / month (£43.94/$55.74 up front for 28 months)

Performance

Best cheap VPNs PIA testing on laptop
Our researcher found Private Internet Access to be average in speed tests (Independent Advisor/Ookla)

In our speed tests, Private Internet Access struggled to sustain fast connection speeds, even when connected to a UK server, likely resulting in instability during activities such as gaming or video calls. Through our local connection, it reached only 52 and 39 per cent of our baseline download and upload speed, respectively.

As expected, performance worsened across longer distances. In the US, the download speed fell to 26 per cent of our reference, whilst the Australian connection download speed further declined to 20 per cent. Similarly, the upload speed for both long-distance connections dropped to 23 and 13 per cent of the baseline for the US and Australia. Such speeds are acceptable for light internet uses but are lower than the bandwidths delivered by other VPNs we tested.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN347.6239.556
UK to UK134.94124.933839%52%
UK to US89.4855.4612226%23%
UK to Aus70.8631.8823620%13%

Date of testing: 30/01/2024

Today’s best Private Internet Access deals
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
PIA 6 month £5.39 /Month
£5.39 /Month
PIA 1 month £10.99 /Month
£10.99 /Month

IPVanish: Best for speeds

IPVanish logo on black background

Lowest price: £3.58 per month | Free version: No | Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited | Number of servers: 2,200+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: WireGuard, IKEv2, IPSec and OpenVPN | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: Yes, by Leviathan | Headquarters: United States

Pros

Unlimited device connections Download speeds are some of the fastest we’ve tested Audited no-log policy

Cons

Missing out on some advanced features – port forwarding, Multihop, Smart DNS, etc Based in the US (Five Eyes)

IPVanish is another solid recommendation if you’re looking for a cheap VPN that offers exceptional performance. We recorded speeds of 470+ Mbps during the latest round of testing while connected to UK servers, which is the fastest VPN result you’ll find on this list. 

In fact, it was the quickest provider overall during the latest round of speed testing, even when compared to the likes of NordVPN and ExpressVPN

Of course, speeds are only one aspect to consider when picking a VPN, whether its features, privacy, or value for money. In this instance, a number of advanced features are where you’ll find IPVanish to be lacking, as it’s missing out on Multihop servers, as well as Smart DNS and port forwarding. 

Then there’s the fact that it’s based in the United States, which isn’t ideal given the proximity to agencies such as the NSA, as well as the country being a key Five Eyes member

As well as strong performance, IPVanish allows for unlimited connections, and has 2,400+ servers in 90 locations. However, with the majority of servers (1,440+) found in North America, there’s a clear focus on users within the US.

If you’re able to look past a couple of notable flaws, IPVanish is still worth considering if you need the fastest cheap VPN available on the market right now. 

Score: ★★★½

Read our full IPVanish review.

Cost

Subscription TermPrice
Monthly£10.49 ($13.31) / month
12 months£3.58 ($4.54) / month (£42.99/$54.53 up front)
24 months£3.58 ($4.54) / month (£61.49/$77.98 up front)

Performance

Best VPN IPVanish on laptop
IPVanish performed well in our speed tests (Independent Advisor)

When connecting to VPN servers within the UK in our most recent speed tests, IPVanish achieved 96 per cent of our base download speed and 75 per cent of the upload speed, providing a superfast connection for any online activity.

However, we saw an expected drop when connecting from the UK to the US, with download speeds remaining relatively fast at 66 per cent of the base, but uploads drastically slowed down to 4 per cent of the upload baseline. The Australian connection performed slightly better in download speed at 67 per cent of our reference, but remained low in upload efficiency at 9 per cent. Although speeds throughout our international tests remained consistent, there was a noticeable increase in latency, which could cause issues for users who want to stream, game, or engage in other bandwidth-intensive online activities.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN490.19353.896
UK to UK472.12266.371296%75%
UK to US322.2315.5512166%4%
UK to Aus330.7431.3623367%9%

Date of testing: 30/01/2024

Today’s best IPVanish deals
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month
IPVanish 12 month £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month
IPVanish 1 month £10.49 /Month
£10.49 /Month

Windscribe: Best for a cheap custom plan

Windscribe VPN review featured thumbnail

Lowest price: £4.53 per month | Free version: Yes | Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited | Number of servers: 480+ | Encryption: AES-256 | VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard | No-log policy: Yes | Audited: No | Headquarters: Canada

Pros

Offers a solid free tier Includes the opportunity to build a custom plan Labelled streaming servers

Cons

Fewer servers to pick from Lacks an audited logging policy

Windscribe is one of the few independently owned VPNs on the market, and it’s a viable solution for anyone who wants an affordable provider with the ability to customise your experience. As we’ve mentioned, the cheapest Windscribe deals relate to custom plans, allowing the user to select a specific server rather than opting for blanket coverage. 

You’ll be able to pick from roughly 500 RAM-only servers found in 69 countries, found in every continent. It might have fewer servers to pick from, but it was still able to achieve speeds of 409Mbps while connected to servers found in the UK. 

Features include static IPs, port forwarding, split tunnelling, and a free version of the app, offering 10 GB of data per month. It allows for unlimited device connections, while R.O.B.E.R.T. is a customisable server-side domain and IP blocking tool.

As Windscribe hasn’t been independently audited as of yet, there are arguably better options available if you’re more interested in online security.

Score: ★★★½ 

Read our full Windscribe review.

Cost

Subscription TermPrice
Monthly$9 (£7.10) / month
12 months$5.75 (£4.53) / month ($69/£54.40 up front)
Build a planFrom $3 (£2.37) / month

Performance

Best VPN Windscribe on laptop
Relative newcomer Windscribe held its own in our performance tests (Independent Advisor)

Our latest tests show Windscribe performs quite well, especially within the UK, where the results were practically the same as the download speeds we saw before connecting to a server. Such bandwidths suggest seamless browsing and streaming experiences.

However, the US connection showed a slight drop in download speed, still maintaining most of the baseline. Switching to an Australian server, we recorded further performance degradation, with download speeds dropping to 64 per cent of the base, coupled with a drastic fall in upload speed to 8 per cent of the baseline and a noticeable latency spike.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN409.94234.1310
UK to UK409.52240.8512100%103%
UK to US403.0451.5212398%22%
UK to Aus260.5218.6329564%8%

Date of testing: 30/01/2024

Today’s best Windscribe deals
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
Windscribe 1 month £7.10 /Month
£7.10 /Month

Which cheap VPN is the fastest?

Of the VPNs we’ve tested, IPVanish is the speediest provider while connecting to servers in the UK (472Mbps). CyberGhost is a close second (471Mbps), while Surfshark claims the third spot (420Mbps). Each is proof that performance doesn’t necessarily correlate with the asking price for some providers.

VPNNo VPN Download speed (Mbps)No VPN Upload speed (Mbps)UK to UK Download speed (Mbps)UK to UK Upload speed (Mbps)UK to US Download speed (Mbps)UK to US Upload speed (Mbps)UK to Aus Download speed (Mbps)UK to Aus Upload speed (Mbps)
IPVanish490.19353.89472.12266.37322.2315.55330.7431.36
CyberGhost442.83242.95471.14247.81394.9565.22344.416.87
Surfshark411.8241.95420.29245.59365.4954.9252.2831.85
Windscribe409.94234.13409.52240.85403.0451.52260.5218.63
PrivadoVPN402.05255.17393.61256.42387.9990.64299.2123.03
Atlas VPN402.94215.75198.7448.87189.3413.44138.024
Private Internet Access347.6239.55134.94124.9389.4855.4670.8631.88

Would you worry about using a cheap VPN over a more expensive one?

Dr Phil LeggDr Phil Legg, Professor of Cyber Security at UWE

Not necessarily – some reputable providers will offer a free service for personal use only that can be of high quality and service, as their core business model is set up around their enterprise customers, but they understand that security is important to all online. The same rules apply – do they offer a strong level of encryption and do they make clear what they will do with your traffic data? Do they impose some limitations on personal usage? You should read the terms of their service carefully, especially if the service is free so as to understand the provider’s business model, and to ensure that it is clear how your data is being used by the VPN provider.

Our top cheap VPN rankings in the UK

We’ve reviewed a wide range of VPN providers’ services, focusing on security features, performance, and – more importantly – affordability. We’ve reviewed and tested all of the VPNs in the below table and chosen which ones are the top cheap VPNs based on an ideal balance between price and security.

VPN ProviderSummaryCheap VPN
Atlas VPNOffers free and paid subscription plans – the latter allows for an unlimited number of device connections, multi-hop connections and IP-swapping servers.
CyberGhostA cheap VPN that’s also our best VPN for gaming, with over 9,000 servers and an excellent list of security features.
ExpressVPNOur best all-rounder has a large server base, an easy-to-use app and is good at bypassing geo-restrictions.X
NordVPNOur best overall VPN. Its services come with a double VPN and an audited no-logs policy. X
IPVanishProvides the option to connect an unlimited number of devices, has an audited no-logs policy and comes with a good level of security features.X
Private Internet AccessA cheap VPN that allows users to connect an unlimited number of devices. It has user-friendly apps and is a multi-hop VPN.
PrivadoVPNA cheap VPN that supports up to 10 device connections. It’s headquartered in a data-secure country and has a no-logs policy.
ProtonVPNOur best VPN for torrenting thanks to its VPN Accelerator and reliable kill switch. The service also includes a wide range of privacy features and fast connection speeds.X
StrongVPNService includes a no-logs policy and the option to connect up to 12 devices simultaneously. X
SurfsharkOne of the best cheap VPNs. Surfshark has a wide range of security and privacy features.
TunnelBearHas an audited no-logs policy and allows users to connect an unlimited number of devices on its paid plan. X
VPNSecureA reasonably priced VPN with ad block servers and a no-logs policy. It doesn’t have a large server base and server locations are limited. X
WindscribeA cheap VPN with an ad block and malware feature, as well as a high level of encryption.

How the best cheapest VPNs work

Put simply, a VPN works by encrypting all of the traffic that is sent to and from your device while connected. This traffic is sent to a VPN server which is located elsewhere. 

Most VPN servers are physical, so they’re found in the same location as the connection is based. Virtual locations are slightly different, in that they’re physically located in a different region. In any case, it’s important to opt for a VPN that takes user privacy seriously. 

Only the VPN will have access to your personal data. Even your ISP won’t be able to see the sites and services you visit, which is why it makes sense to stick with a provider that offers an audited no-logs policy.

Compare our top recommended providers
Best Overall
Get up to 67% off
Best Value
Get 79% off + 2 months free
Best All-rounder
3 months free on the 12 month plan
Best for Gaming
Get 82% off + 2 months extra

How to set up a cheap VPN

We’ve put together a quick step-by-step guide to take you through the process of setting up one of the best cheap VPNs: 

  1. To begin, select one of the providers we’ve mentioned above. Our top cheap VPN recommendation is Surfshark. Otherwise, find an alternative trustworthy affordable provider, and sign up with the service
  2. Download the VPN app/s to your preferred device/s
  3. Open the VPN app, and enter your login credentials 
  4. From here, you’ll be free to select a preferred server location. Wait to be connected
  5. You’ll now be protected by the VPN

What to look for when buying a cheap VPN

If you’re interested in learning more about what to look for when buying a cheap VPN, here are our recommendations: 

  • Speedy servers in a selection of locations: given the manner of the encryption process, VPNs can suffer from slowdown whilst connected. This isn’t as prevalent with pricier options, but it’s often seen at the lower end of the market
  • A strict logging policy: if you’re aiming for improved privacy, it makes sense to stick with a provider that has a no-logs policy. Independently audited services are preferred, as you won’t have to take any claims at face value
  • Price and subscription plans: look for a provider with a good price for what it offers. Also, make sure its lump sum is still affordable, and don’t be fooled by the low monthly price of a long plan – most providers will highlight their best and cheapest monthly VPN option and only include the up-front price in smaller print or during checkout
  • Compatibility: make sure the provider has apps suitable for your chosen devices
  • Security: check your chosen VPN service has a good level of encryption – ideally AES-256 – and a variety of protocols such as WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2

Dr Phil LeggDr Phil Legg, Professor of Cyber Security at UWE

The main thing to consider when looking at VPN providers is whether they offer strong encryption (such as AES-256), and how they will use your data, such as your traffic activity logs when accessing online resources. You want to believe you can trust your VPN provider, since you are allowing your network traffic to go through their server. Also, think about why you want or need a VPN, and what device it is you need to use it on. Some VPNs may be more geared towards offering multiple geo-locations, that may optimise gaming and video streaming usage, whilst others may be specifically for keeping sensitive information within a particular geography. Therefore, a VPN for a laptop or mobile phone may have a different usage to that set up on a gaming or video streaming device.

Things to consider before getting a free VPN

The main reason why downloading a free VPN isn’t a good idea is the simple fact that security is typically not as good as a paid subscription. Free VPNs have a tendency to not include privacy features such as a kill switch, split tunnelling and a range of VPN protocols. They also often restrict monthly data allowances and are usually only available to use on one device at any given time. There is also a danger that a free VPN service may sell your data to third-party companies. Cheap VPNs allow you to get the best out of a paid plan without breaking the bank.

How we research and rate cheap VPNs

100+
hours performance testing
500+
customer reviews read
150+
hours comparing products
25
providers compared
4
VPN experts consulted

We are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a VPN. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews and the opinions of industry experts.

Our review scores are determined using the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30%)
  • Features and functionality (30%)
  • Reputation and credibility (20% of the overall score)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10%)
  • Customer experience (10%)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload, download, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees, and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are fact-checked and verified by our in-house team, so you can be assured that our content is as accurate and up to date as possible. To find out more, read our article on how we review VPNs.

FAQs about the best cheap VPNs

A VPN is a useful digital tool, the best ones employ robust security features and use AES-256 encryption which is also used by governments and banks. When you pay for a VPN subscription, this cost goes towards maintaining servers, refreshing IP addresses and paying staff. However, there are plenty of cheap VPNs available that offer the same level of security. Free VPNs, do not offer a high level of security and come with limited data allowance – making cheap VPNs an ideal go-between.

Yes, cheap VPNs are safe providing they have a good level of security. A cheap VPN can still keep you safe online if it has a high level of encryption and conceals your IP address. Most cheap VPNs also follow a no-logs policy, but you should try and look for ones that have been independently audited.

Certain products or services are subject to price discrimination, and using a VPN to mask your location, personal information, and browsing history can save you money. 

For example, airlines and travel booking sites often use dynamic pricing, meaning the advertised prices can change based on factors like your location, browsing habits, and overall demand. By using a VPN to change your IP address, you can make it appear as if you’re browsing from a different country or device, potentially accessing lower prices based on that location.

Avoid any VPN that isn’t transparent. For example, can you tell who owns the provider? Stay away from any random free or cheap services, especially as you’ll be trusting them to take care of your personal information. Take the time to look through the VPN’s privacy policy to see if it collects any important data. If you’re in desperate need of a VPN, we’d advise to stick with a trustworthy free tier rather than opting for an unknown service. Many of the providers listed above offer free coverage, albeit with various caps and limitations.

With the increasing need for cybersecurity due to online crimes, a VPN can be a way to help prevent such threats. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, masks your IP address and allows you to bypass geo-restrictions. Using a public wifi network can put you at risk from third parties, but if you’re connected to a VPN, your online safety increases.

VPNs are actually reasonably inexpensive compared to the average piece of software. Monthly subscriptions tend to be more expensive, but there are significant savings to be found if you opt for a longer plan. The VPNs we’ve listed cost less than a cup of coffee each month, and are definitely on the lower end of the scale.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review free VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Overall Score: 4.5/5
Overall Score: 4.5/5

While NordVPN isn’t the cheapest provider on the market, it’s certainly one of the most comprehensive VPNs you can get. With a double VPN, private DNS protection and great speeds, it’s worth paying slightly more for it – though less than £3 per month still won’t break the bank.

Surfshark: Best value
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Surfshark: Best value
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Surfshark is our top-rated cheap VPN at less than £2 a month , and it’s also one of our best overall providers thanks to its great value for money and impressive level of security. Its audited no-logs policy, automatic kill switch, and fast VPN connection makes it one of the best of the best services on the market.

ExpressVPN: Best all-rounder
Overall Score: 4.5/5
ExpressVPN: Best all-rounder
Overall Score: 4.5/5

ExpressVPN may be one of the most expensive providers we’ve reviewed, but it has all the features you could want: top security, a fast connection, and fantastic geo-unblocking abilities. The only real downside is that better value can be found elsewhere.

James Milin-Ashmore circle

James Milin-Ashmore

VPN Tech Editor

James Milin-Ashmore has covered cybersecurity and VPNs since the mid-2010s, writing for industry publications and services such as VPN Mentor, Liquid VPN, Comparitech, Bleeping Computer, ProPrivacy, AlwaysVPN, and more.

With a focus on ethics and digital privacy, his work has been featured in a range of publications, including the Activist Handbook and Reader’s Digest. In his spare time, he’s likely to be watching sports, or taking his dog for a walk around Hertfordshire.

rachel

Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.

Dr Phil Legg

Dr. Phil Legg

Professor of Cyber Security at UWE

Dr. Phil Legg (MCIIS, FHEA, PhD, BSc) is a Professor of Cyber Security at the University of the West of England (UWE). He is the Co-Director of UWEcyber, a Gold Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education (ACE-CSE) as recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre, and he is the Programme Leader of the NCSC-certified MSc Cyber Security course at UWE.

He holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning for Higher Education (Distinction), and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). He has CompTIA PenTest+, Security+ and Microsoft Azure professional certifications. He is recognised as a Full Member of the Chartered Institution of Information Security (MCIIS).

Professor Legg is passionate about outreach and works closely with schools and colleges across the region to upskill in cyber security education, and he is a founding member of CISSEUK – a collaboration network across academia, industry and government to support all levels of cyber security education.

Prior to joining UWE in 2015, he worked at the University of Oxford in collaboration with the Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure as part of the Corporate Insider Threat Detection research programme.