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How Much Does a VPN Cost in 2023? – A Cybersecurity Expert‘s Guide

Virtual private networks (VPNs) have become essential tools for protecting your privacy and data in the digital age. With high-profile hacks and national surveillance programs threatening online security, VPNs provide a much-needed layer of encryption to keep you safe.

But with dozens of VPN services out there, how do you pick the best one without breaking the bank? As an IT security professional, I get this question a lot from people looking to secure their devices. The costs can really vary, so it‘s important to understand what factors affect VPN pricing.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll break down exactly how much you can expect to pay for a VPN in 2023 and beyond. I‘ll also share pro tips for getting the best deal while still choosing a VPN you can trust. Let‘s dive in!

Why VPNs Are a Must in the Age of Hacking and Surveillance

Before getting into costs, it helps to understand why VPNs have become such an essential privacy tool. Simply put, your online data and activities can be extremely vulnerable without one:

  • Over 37 billion records were exposed in data breaches in 2022, per Tenable. Hacks are rampant at even large companies.
  • Your internet service provider can legally monitor and sell records of all the websites you visit and files you download.
  • Public WiFi networks at cafes and airports often have no encryption, allowing hackers to siphon up your traffic using man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Surveillance agencies like the NSA indiscriminately collect internet traffic and online communications in bulk through programs like PRISM.
  • Advertisers and tech giants track your activity across devices using cookies, fingerprints, and other sneaky techniques to serve targeted ads.

A VPN is like an encrypted tunnel for your internet connection, hiding your IP address, location, and traffic from all these snooping eyes. Top providers use bank-level 256-bit AES encryption so no one can decipher your activity.

With identity theft damages averaging around $1,300 per victim (Javelin Research), a quality VPN is a worthwhile investment to secure your data from growing cyber threats.

Breaking Down the Typical Cost Ranges

So how much should you expect to pay for a VPN? Pricing can range quite a bit based on the provider‘s features, number of servers, and subscription length.

This table gives you an idea of the monthly and yearly costs for budget, moderately priced, and premium VPN services:

VPN Pricing TiersMonthly CostAnnual Cost
Budget$2 – $5$24 – $60
Moderate$6 – $9$72 – $108
Premium$10 – $15$120 – $180

As you can see, getting a 1-3 year subscription can massively cut costs compared to paying month-to-month. For example, Surfshark‘s monthly plan costs $12.95 but drops to only $2.49/month on their two-year deal.

The most important factors that influence a VPN‘s pricing include:

  • Server count and locations
  • Connection speed
  • Number of device connections
  • Premium features like dedicated IPs or port forwarding
  • Brand reputation and reliability

Later I’ll give some tips for finding deals, but first let’s look at why free VPNs come with too many catches to recommend.

Why I Don‘t Recommend Free VPN Services

The saying “you get what you pay for” really applies to free VPNs. They seem appealing, but the downsides heavily outweigh any monetary savings:

Limited features – Important protections like kill switches, strong encryption, and zero logging are often missing.

Few server locations – Having only a handful of countries to connect through limits performance.

Session time limits – Many free VPNs throttle speeds or cut off access after just a few hours of use per day or month.

No support – Don‘t expect any customer service if issues arise.

They sell your data – By analyzing your usage, browsing patterns, and personal info, free VPNs turn you into the product by selling your data to third parties or serving injected ads.

Security risks – Reputable audits of free VPNs often uncover unsafe practices and vulnerabilities that expose users.

The top paid services only cost a few bucks per month. The unlimited speeds, robust encryption, expansive server networks, and reliable connections are well worth the investment.

Finding the Best Bang for Your Buck

So what should you look for to find a high-quality VPN that won‘t break the bank? Here are my tips for getting the best deal:

  • Look for limited time promotions to snag discounts as high as 75% off the first year.
  • Check cash back sites like Rakuten for bonuses on top of any VPN coupons.
  • Consider bundling plans that include cloud storage or password managers for extra value.
  • Weigh lifetime subscription deals carefully, as quality can degrade over time if the VPN stops investing in the service.
  • Split costs with family by purchasing plans supporting multiple simultaneous connections.
  • Use social media and forums to find coupon codes – the VPN companies often give out deals to influencers.
  • Don’t forget to compare plans longer than one year for the biggest savings.

Top Budget-Friendly VPNs Worth Checking Out

Based on expert reviews and my own testing, these are some of the top affordable VPNs that provide excellent security without breaking the bank:

Surfshark – Starting at only $2.49/month for their two-year plan, Surfshark offers a nice balance of speed, server count, and useful extras like multi-hop connections.

Private Internet Access – Their year-long plan at $2.19/month gets you ten simultaneous connections and professional-grade OpenVPN encryption.

Atlas VPN – With unlimited device connections, a free browser extension, and advanced security protections, their 1-year price of $1.39/month is a steal.

TunnelBear – For only $3.33/month when paying annually, TunnelBear makes VPN usage easy for beginners while still offering robust encryption across 20 countries.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully this overview gives you a better understanding of what fair pricing looks like for trustworthy VPN services. While free options may be tempting, the security risks and lack of features just aren‘t worth it. With identity theft at record levels, investing just a few dollars per month is wise to comprehensively protect your online activity.

If you still have any other questions, feel free to reach out! I‘m always happy to help someone make the best choice for their privacy and security needs. Stay safe online!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.