ExpressVPN Review: Is it worth the price?

We tested ExpressVPN to see how well it streams and find out if it's fast enough for everyday use.
Best for streaming
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
  • pro
    Quality streaming experience
  • pro
    Educational privacy tutorials
  • con
    Only 5 devices
Plan
Monthly price
Annual price
1 Month (billed monthly)$155.40/yr.
6 Months (billed twice a year)$119.90/yr.
12 Months (billed yearly)$99.95/yr.
John Carlsen
Senior Staff Writer, Security & Smart Home
October 13, 2022

While NordVPN ultimately claimed our top spot for best virtual private network (VPN), we think ExpressVPN offers a better experience for folks wanting to stream the latest TV, sports, and movies from other countries. ExpressVPN offers tons of tutorials and guides, making it an excellent option for beginners trying out a VPN for the first time.

Still, ExpressVPN isn't perfect. It's one of the pricier VPN service provider subscriptions and offers fewer server options than the competition, despite an expansive list of locations in 94 countries.

pro
Pros
pro Quality streaming experience
pro Easy setup
pro Educational privacy tutorials
pro 30-day money-back guarantee
con
Cons
con Relatively expensive
con Small number of servers
con Only 5 devices

How ExpressVPN compares to the best VPNs

Service
Best for
Monthly price
Annual price
Number of connections
Countries
Learn more
Read review
Best for streaming$99.95/yr.594
Best overall$99.48/yr.660+
Best value$59.76/yr.Unlimited65+
Best annual plan$56.94/yr.1078
Best for antivirus$89.99/yr.Unlimited75+

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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What's in the ExpressVPN plan

Light Bulb
One plan, different billing options

The only real difference between ExpressVPN plans is how often your bill comes. A month-to-month plan is great for short-term needs like international travel but starts cumulatively costs more than the six-month plan after five months and more than the annual plan after seven.

ExpressVPN app connected

Screenshot: John Carlsen, SafeWise

Regardless of the billing period you choose, you'll find the following features in every ExpressVPN subscription:

  • VPN server locations in 94 countries
  • Support for five simultaneous connections with unlimited bandwidth
  • ExpressVPN app for Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and routers
  • Advanced features like a kill switch, Threat Manager, Lightway protocol, and password manager

ExpressVPN pricing

We like that ExpressVPN offers the same features on every plan, but it's one of the more expensive paid VPNs we've used. You can score a competitive price by opting for the annual plan, which costs roughly $8.32 a month. This is about 35% cheaper than the $12.95 monthly plan.

Unlike the competition, ExpressVPN doesn't offer promotional pricing for your plan's first year or two. It's nice that the pricing is predictable and won't change, but a $40 discount could win over quite a few potential customers as it does on other brands.

ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN for streaming

ExpressVPN app locations list

It's easy to select your preferred location from the ExpressVPN app.
Screenshot: John Carlsen, SafeWise

ExpressVPN offers an extensive list of servers in 94 countries—more than other top VPNs we evaluated. The next closest competitor is Private Internet Access, with 78 locations. While ExpressVPN doesn't show a ton of servers like NordVPN, there's some customization if you choose different VPN protocols in the settings menu.

The VPN service maintained consistent speeds and video quality during our streaming service tests on Disney+ and Netflix. It also granted access to region-locked content not available in the US. Amazon Prime Video recognized that we were using a VPN provider and prevented streaming access to each server location we tried, but this was the exception rather than the rule.

ExpressVPN's educational tutorials

ExpressVPN account apps page

ExpressVPN provides extensive tutorials for setting up the app on your device.
Screenshot: John Carlsen, SafeWise

Although we think ExpressVPN's best attribute is its streaming prowess, it offers some of the most user-friendly tutorials among paid VPNs. For example, we love how the ExpressVPN blog digs into news, safety tips, and educational articles—it's a great way to learn about terminology and current threats to watch out for.

On the support side, the ExpressVPN website is chock full of helpful tutorials explaining how to set up and use your VPN app. Most ExpressVPN setup tutorials include a helpful video showing the process from start to finish, while the rest guide you with plenty of screenshots. If you're still lost after checking out the tutorials, ExpressVPN's 24/7 live chat is an excellent resource. (The ExpressVPN app's super easy to install so you might not need the help.)

ExpressVPN performance

ExpressVPN app built-in speed test

While we didn't use it for performance testing, the ExpressVPN app has a handy speed test feature that shows current performance of every server location. It takes a few minutes to run the test.
Screenshot: John Carlsen, SafeWise

ExpressVPN performed well during our speed tests, boasting a median download speed of 121 Mbps compared to 289 Mbps without the VPN service. While this is a significant drop—about 58% slower—from our base connection speed, it's more than fast enough for streaming with practically no buffering.

The drop was less severe for upload speeds, with a median rate around 5 Mbps versus 8.5 Mbps with no VPN connection—only about 43% slower than our base speed. Fortunately, the ExpressVPN server's latency (12 milliseconds) was a big improvement over our home internet (18 milliseconds). With server response times like these, you won't have any problems with gaming and might even see a performance improvement.

While ExpressVPN isn't as fast as NordVPN in our experience, it's still more than capable of keeping up with bandwidth-heavy activities like streaming and gaming. You likely won't notice an impact on everyday tasks like email, browsing, and social media.

Thumbs Down
Only five connections

One of ExpressVPN's biggest drawbacks is that you can connect only five devices simultaneously. This is half as many as the 10 simultaneous connections on Private Internet Access and way fewer than the unlimited connections on Surfshark and IPVanish.

Other notable ExpressVPN features

ExpressVPN app Threat Manager setting

The Threat Manager helps prevent other apps from exposing your activity online.
Screenshot: John Carlsen, SafeWise

ExpressVPN boasts a few features that can help improve your security and VPN performance, but it's not too different from what you'll find with other VPNs.

  • Network Lock: This is ExpressVPN's version of a kill switch to shut down your internet connection when the virtual server fails. We didn't see it in action during our testing, but it's a nice security feature to have when working with sensitive data online.
  • Lightway VPN protocol: Lightway is a proprietary VPN protocol from ExpressVPN that the company says is faster and more reliable than existing options like OpenVPN. It seemed faster during testing, though it lacked the fast speed of the IKEv2 protocol. (Your experience may vary since VPN performance often depends on your location.)
  • Threat Manager: This DNS traffic blocker prevents known trackers and malicious sites from accessing the information on your device. It seems capable of protecting sensitive info but only works with the Lightway protocol, so you lose some security with OpenVPN and IKEv2.
  • ExpressVPN Keys password manager: The ExpressVPN iOS and Android apps include a built-in password manager to help you generate and store secure passwords. There's even a browser extension for Google Chrome so you can use it on desktop computers. It's not as flexible as Dashlane or LastPass, but it'll cut down on extra apps if that's your goal.

Final word

We think ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN provider for web browsing, streaming, and gaming. While it's not as fast as other brands we've tested, it's above average. At $12.95 a month, it's one of the pricier options available, but you can save a chunk of change with an annual plan.

Check out our list of the best VPN services to see how ExpressVPN fares against competitors like NordVPN and Surfshark.

ExpressVPN FAQ

Can I trust ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN is secure and reputable—and has been a major brand in the virtual private network space for over a decade. Like every brand, it has its quirks, but our experience has been overwhelmingly positive. We recommend it to anyone looking for a great VPN server.

Notepad
Has ExpressVPN been hacked?

We couldn't find any reports of ExpressVPN getting hacked. In fact, the company's bug bounty program offers a sizable $100,000 reward to the first person to find a valid vulnerability.

While there's a lot to like about ExpressVPN, we think NordVPN is the better option for most people. NordVPN is our top pick for the best VPN service because it's affordable and offers excellent features like ad blocking, double VPNs, data breach scanning, and encrypted cloud storage. Plus, you can use it on six devices instead of ExpressVPN's five.

Leaving ExpressVPN on ultimately depends on whether you want extra security at the cost of some internet bandwidth. We recommend leaving your VPN on for most folks since it significantly boosts your online privacy and security by hiding your IP address.

Still, you might consider disabling the VPN if you experience slow speeds that prevent you from using the internet effectively during high-bandwidth activities like gaming and video conferencing. This is a rare exception as internet speeds get faster—so you'll likely have the VPN service running continuously.

ExpressVPN offers a free seven-day trial on mobile devices but requires a valid payment method. You need to cancel the trial before the last day to avoid a bill.

On other devices, ExpressVPN's "free trial" consists of a 30-day money-back period after your first payment. You can cancel anytime during these 30 days to receive a full refund. This is pretty typical for a paid VPN app.

If you want a VPN service provider you can use for free—we recommend checking out our free VPN review.

How we reviewed ExpressVPN

Example of Safari browser internet speeds from our ExpressVPN testing

This speed test result is one of nine in our ExpressVPN testing.
Screenshot: John Carlsen, SafeWise

We downloaded the ExpressVPN app for a few days to run some speed tests, try international streaming, and familiarize ourselves with its features. Our speed tests consisted of three rounds using the Google Search internet speed tool. Each round looked at speeds with and without ExpressVPN running across Chrome and Safari browsers. (This is the same testing protocol we used with free VPNs earlier this year.)

Beyond our hands-on testing, we also looked at customer support resources and VPN user reviews for a complete look at ExpressVPN's offerings. You can learn more about our approach to testing and reviewing in our full methodology.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over nine years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.

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