The best US VPN in 2021 to browse and stream like you're in the US

Travelling abroad and want to browse as if you were back home? The best US VPN gets you access to the latest TV shows and movies Stateside

best US VPN
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There’s plenty of reasons why the best VPN can come in handy, but if you’re after the best US VPN, it’s likely you’re seeking this excellent piece of software for a fairly specific purpose. In short, that purpose is to appear and access the Internet as if you were right at home within the borders of the United States. Why? Because VPNs give you the tools to easily bypass any geo-restrictions implemented on certain services, apps, and websites.

Broken down, a virtual private network is that extra bit of software between your device and your internet connection which offers better stability and security, especially when dealing with personal, sometimes sensitive information. Unfortunately, the Internet is full of individuals and intentionally designed software that’s out there to spy on you and steal your details. Especially when using public networks while out and about, a VPN can offer those barriers against any malicious activity online.

It does this, first and foremost, by encrypting your data, making it unreadable if anyone were to get past any of your other security measures. VPNs also come with different protocols, which - in simple terms - is the way in which data is transmitted from A to B, with each protocol offering a boost to speed, security, or both. 

Of course, the all important function here is that a VPN changes your IP address as a part of better concealing your identity online. This can work in your favor when you come against geo-restrictions. For those hailing from the US currently residing outside of the country, a VPN is an excellent tool so that you can access the likes of HBO Max, Hulu, and CBS All Access, which are locked to those within the States. 

Even if you don’t plan to use your US VPN when you’re abroad, the boost to speed and security is an essential, and some VPN providers will offer a better service in that regard to those based in the US than anywhere else in the world.

For the best US VPN, we’ve got you covered with all five of these excellent choices.


1. ExpressVPN – the best US VPN on the market
ExpressVPN offers all you need in the best US VPN: great security, fast connections, easy-to-use apps and tons of great features. You'll get access to Hulu, Peacock, ESPN and loads more if you're outside the US, and you'll also be able to watch overseas Netflix shows and services like BBC iPlayer from within the country. Plus, T3 readers can now claim three months free on a 12-month plan.View Deal

2. NordVPN – big name is great in the US
If you’re looking for a well-known service that you can rely on, NordVPN is the best choice for you. It’s fast, easy-to-use and offers lots of functionality – with similar streaming power to ExpressVPN. While it's not quite as well-rounded, it's definitely worth considering, at a great price point, too.View Deal

3. IPVanish – well-rounded US VPN with plenty of features
US-based IPVanish is a great choice for those looking to access US streaming content and stay private online. You'll get access to over 1,800 servers worldwide, with 826 in the US alone, and the ability to connected to an unlimited number of devices simultaneously.View Deal

The best US VPN in 2021:

ExpressVPN Best US VPN

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

The best US VPN on the market

Specifications
Number of servers: 3,000+
Server countries: 160
US specific servers: 23 cities
Maximum devices supported: 5
Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock
Reasons to buy
+Excellent speeds worldwide+Top security features+Great for streaming+Apps for almost all devices
Reasons to avoid
-Five-device limit

ExpressVPN is the best US VPN for anyone who lives or travels to the US thanks to its fast speeds, great range of features and easy-to-use apps. 

One of ExpressVPN’s key features is its network which boasts over 3,000 individual servers, and spans all corners of the world. Throughout the US, it has servers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and more.

In terms of performance, ExpressVPN does an excellent job. When tested on a US 600MB line, it provided speeds of 200-250MB, so it’s more than capable of delivering impressive browsing, streaming and gaming experience.

If you want a VPN primarily for streaming, ExpressVPN is also the best around as it provides access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, BBC iPlayer and more. This makes it perfect for both holidaymakers travelling the US and citizens who are out of the country.

The multi-platform apps are also a breeze to use, and thanks to features like strong encryption, a no-logging policy and a kill switch, your data will always be secure. However, ExpressVPN only lets you use its service on five devices – but if you intend to use it for just yourself and don’t have loads of devices, you’ll be fine, and you can log in and our of more than five if you want to.

Whatever the case, you can always get your money back within the 30-day refund period if you’re not satisfied.


NordVPN best US VPN

(Image credit: NordVPN)

2. NordVPN

The VPN with the most American servers

Specifications
Number of servers: 5,500+
Server locations: 59+
US specific servers: 1,970+
Maximum devices supported: 6
Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock
Reasons to buy
+Large US server network +Great security+Good streaming power
Reasons to avoid
-Mobile apps are awkward

With NordVPN being one of the best-known VPN services, it’s an excellent choice for anyone looking for a great US VPN.

Firstly, let’s talk about NordVPN’s gigantic server network. The company maintains more than 5,500 servers across the world, along with 1.970+ in the US alone. So, you’ll never be short of international and US connections. 

Performance is one of NordVPN’s strong points. Our tests confirmed decent speeds of 125-300MB on a 600MB US connection. When connecting to servers, we didn’t experience any issues and they were never slow. However, at T3 we do prioritise reliability over marginal top speeds, so we'd sacrifice a small fraction of top speed for results more similar to Express's in this case.

Nord is one of the most secure and privacy-conscious VPN providers out there, though, offering strong encryption, a no logs policy, a malware blocker, DNS leak protection, double VPN and more. 

You can also access virtually all major streaming platforms, and Nord offers apps for all devices. While they work great, the interface can be a little clumsy, but that's not a huge issue as you'll usually turn the VPN on and leave it. 

Finally, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, so if it turns out it's not for you, you can claim back within that time and get a full refund.


(Image credit: IPVanish)

3. IPVanish

An effective VPN for all Americans

Specifications
Number of servers: 1,500+
Server locations: 75+
US specific servers: 826
Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Peacock
Reasons to buy
+Loads of US servers+Unlimited connections +Powerful apps
Reasons to avoid
-No iPlayer access

Given that IPVanish is based in America, it’s fair to assume that it’s going to be one of the best US VPN providers – and that is indeed correct.

Like ExpressVPN, IPVanish is more than capable of delivering good speeds in the US. In fact, it reached 250MB on a 600MB US connection, which will be perfect for web browsing, using streaming services and playing games.

When compared to ExpressVPN’s 3,000 servers, IPVanish is more modest at 1,500. But they’re very reliable, and the vast majority are located in the US (868). As a result, you’ll never struggle to find an American connection.

IPVanish is good for streaming and works with Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Peacock, although iPlayer can’t be accessed. So Brits traveling to the US might want to look for a different service. However, IPVanish certainly makes up for this with unlimited connections, unlimited bandwidth, strong encryption, a no-logs policy, great apps, 24/7 support and lots more. 


surfshark best us vpn

(Image credit: Surfshark)

4. Surfshark

The most affordable US VPN

Specifications
Number of servers: 1,700+
Server locations: 63
US specific servers: 500+
Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Peacock
Reasons to buy
+Affordable +Large US server network +Excellent for streaming +Unlimited connections
Reasons to avoid
-On the basic side 

Surfshark might not have the star power of household names like NordVPN, but it’s built up a solid reputation for delivering impressive performance for the bargain price of $2.49 per month.

For those looking to connect in the US, Surfshark has over 500 servers across more than 20 US cities. While this is a great selection of servers, they weren’t quite as fast as the competition; we experienced average speeds of 150 to 160 MB on a 600MB US line. However, that's faster than many people's base connection anyway, so it won't be a problem many.

Although Surfshark isn’t the fastest VPN on the market, its connections are reliable and consistent. With access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Peacock, you’ll be able to enjoy a great streaming experience. What’s more, Surfshark’s apps are well designed and feel nice to use, and thankfully, there isn’t a device limit. So you can secure every single device in your home. 


Hotspot Shield best US VPN

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

5. Hotspot Shield

The fastest US VPN

Specifications
Number of servers: 1,800
Server locations: 80+
US specific servers: 20+ cities
Maximum devices supported: 5
Streaming services unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube, Peacock
Reasons to buy
+Very, very fast+Loads of US server locations+Access to most streaming sites
Reasons to avoid
-Limited apps

Every VPN provider struggles to match Hotspot Shield when it comes to speed. In our review on a 600 MB US connection, it provided blistering speeds that ranged between 474MB and 547MB.

In comparison to other providers, those speeds are twice as fast as its closest competitor. And a big part of that comes down to the fact that Hotspot Shield has designed its very own protocol, named Catapult Hydra. 

But there are a few caveats here. First of all, Hotspot Shield is only available on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and Linux, so you’ll need to choose a different service if you want to protect a smart TV or games console.

And while Hotspot Shield will let you unblock all major streaming sites, accessing Amazon Prime Video is nearly impossible – plus, there's more significant logging than rivals such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

However, if you want the fastest VPN around, this provider is the obvious choice. And there's a free version available, so you can test it out before buying. 


Best US VPN

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Are VPNs illegal in the US?

The use of a VPN may differ from country to country, but is a VPN legal? In the US the actual use of a VPN is not illegal. You are completely within your right - and within the law - to utilise VPN for its primary purpose of offering better privacy while surfing online. That being said - and perhaps it’s rather obvious - using a VPN doesn’t make you exempt from the repercussions of any illegal activity you may wish to do when connected to a VPN. 

It’s also worth noting that some of its uses - such as bypassing geo-restrictions on Netflix - do go against terms and conditions. When using one to access geo-locked content, then, it’s worth taking a moment to read any terms and conditions and weigh up the pros and cons. While no one has ever reportedly had their account terminated by the likes of Netflix for using a VPN to access foreign libraries, etc, it could happen, so do so at your own risk.

Allowing you to slip under the radar of the government or private organizations, many in the US will be in want of a VPN as Internet providers do not have to ask a customer’s permission before selling their data. A VPN is imperative, keeping your personal information safely under lock and key.


Which VPN has the most US servers?

Of our top five best US VPNs, NordVPN comes out on top when it comes to the VPN service hosting the most servers within the US. With nearly 2,000 servers situated within the US, you can hop on servers based in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, and a number of other cities across the States. 


What makes a good US VPN? 

Bearing in mind that the US has some pretty stringent online snooping powers, the best services will offer a range of security and privacy features so that users can protect themselves.

You’ll also want access to a good choice of US servers, and importantly, US connections should be fast and reliable. Unreliable servers will make streaming, gaming and other data-intense activities difficult, so make sure you find the best gaming VPN available.

More broadly, the best US VPNs have lots of useful features, offer intuitive apps for a range of different devices, have servers all around the world and the best streaming VPNs will enable users to unblock top streaming platforms. 


Why do I need a US VPN?

It’s a pretty established fact that the US is the market leader in the entertainment world. A US VPN will allow you to watch the latest American TV shows, movies and sports right around the world.

While US streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are available worldwide, many others can only be accessed by Americans. If you want to unblock services like Peacock or Hulu, a VPN will pretty much be your best friend. The best Netflix VPN will open up worldwide libraries for you, too.

Again, the US is well known for its online snooping laws. So if you live in the US and want to protect yourself from these, a VPN is crucial. 


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