ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and NordVPN are among the top VPNs in the United States for 2020. Runners-up are IPVanish and CyberGhost. Mobile WiFi hotspots that are among the top for US users are Verizon’s Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L and AT&T’s Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot. The VPNs and mobile wifi hotspots noted here as among the top in the country were determined through a synthesis of the companies/sites/equipment that multiple industry experts believe to be among the top. These expert-rankings were determined by a variety of factors, including number of users, cost vs features, security, and usability.
US TOP VPNS
1. Express VPN
- ExpressVPN hosts 30,000 IP addresses on more than 3000 servers spread out across 160 locations. They offer up to five simultaneous connections and the service is available in more than 94 countries. According to CNet, this service “consistently proves itself one of the fastest VPNs on the market, and actively promotes its commitment to privacy.”
- The VPN is called the “best all-round VPN service for speed, privacy, and unblocking” by TechRadar. The VPN uses AES-256 encryption from which users can choose from several protocols, and has its own bespoke protocol, Lightway, that “seeks to increase speed and reliability even further.”
- ExpressVPN offers 24/7 technical and customer support, and can run on almost any platform (including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux). Five devices can be run on the same plan. The service also offers unblocking for “a host of media devices, smart TVs, and games consoles,” and also provides additional features like “bitcoin payments, P2P support, kill switch, DNS leak protection, solid and reliable performance, and a clear no-logging policy that’s been verified by independent auditors.”
- ExpressVPN offers three months of free service when users sign up for a one-year plan. The 12-month plan is $6.67/month, while the 6-month plan is $9.99/month, and one month costs $12.95 each. They also offer a 30-day trial period. The site also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark hosts 1000 servers across 60 locations, making them smaller than several others that are among the top. One of their biggest draws is offering unlimited device support (whereas most competitors limit the number of devices). The site offers “antimalware, ad-blocking, and tracker-blocking.”
- The site support Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireTV, and various routers, as well as being configurable for additional devices like game consoles. One item of note for businesses is that the service “allows you to whitelist certain apps and websites to automatically bypass the VPN,” which can be critically important to some businesses. Surfshark offers three ways to surf silently “for those who want to get around restrictions and more carefully hide their online footsteps.”
- TechRadar notes that the Android version of Surfshark is known to be “unstable at times.” The user interface is “completely stripped back and free from complication,” though this can make it more difficult for some users to navigate. The site offers “OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IKEv2 security protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a kill switch.”
- Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and three pricing plans: 24-months for $1.99/month, 12-months for $5.99/month, and a one-month plan for $11.95.
- Notably, unlike other VPNs, Surfshark does not conduct external audits of its system, and according to PCMag, “must complete broader audits of its service.”
- NordVPN hosts 5000 IP addresses across more than 5200 servers in 62 locations within 62 countries.  They offer up to six simultaneous device connections at once, which is more than most other VPNs on the market (though not as many as Surfshark). They also offer “a dedicated IP option, for those looking for a different level of VPN connection.” The site has a kill switch and “the ability to VPN into Tor.”
- The site works on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux, and unblocks a variety of streaming sites, like Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, and Hulu. They offer 24/7 customer support, and are noted to “beat the competition is just about every area,” according to TechRadar. Tom’s Guide reports that the site’s mobile apps can be a tad awkward at times.
- Notably, PC Mag reports that NordVPN has been “working hard to rebuild its reputation after a breach,” and that the site has reportedly had some issues with server security. CNET also notes they removed this site from their tops lists after reports in October 2019 that “one of its rented servers was accessed without authorization in 2018.” Since that breach, the site has conducted multiple security audits, and invested in better server security and a bug bounty program.
- NordVPN has three payment options: a 2-year plan for $3.71/month, a 6-month plan for $9/month, and a one-month option for $11.95. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 30-day trial period, as well.
Other Notable VPNs
US TOP MOBILE WIFI HOTSPOTS
1. Verizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L
- For Verizon network users, the Jetpack 8800L is considered the “best mobile hotspot” by Tom’s Guide. The hotspot is noted as being “good for international use” and has strong and positive reviews from users. NYTimes Wirecutter notes that this device is the “best hotspot for most people because of its exceptional coverage, fast performance, and good battery life.”
- The hotspot has a 2.4-inch touchscreen, uses LTE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac connectivity, and has a 24-hour battery life. The device uses “a new Qualcomm modem that is capable of aggregating signals from up to five carriers,” giving much better chance at a strong connection no matter where the user is located. It offers connectivity for a maximum of 15 WiFi-enabled devices.
- The device has average download speeds of 65.35 Mbps and average upload speeds of 20.65 Mbps. Notably, this is a 4G hotspot and does not support 5G (Verizon’s 5G is limited at this time).
- The hotspot costs $199.99 with a two-year annual contract of $99/year.
2. Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot
- For AT&T network users, the Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot is considered the “best mobile hotspot” by Tom’s Guide. The hotspot is noted for having excellent battery life, but is dinged for not having a touchscreen and being relatively expensive compared to other LTE hotspots.
- The hotspot uses LTE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac connectivity, and has a 24-hour battery life, similar to the Verizon model noted above. PCMag notes that it is the “fastest hotspot hardware available,” and has “excellent access controls.” The device also has “an unusual selection of ports: a USB-C port for charging and laptop tethering, a USB-A port for storage and for charging other devices, and an Ethernet port.”
- The device has average download speeds of 30.14 Mbps and average upload speeds of 15.29 Mbps, making it slower by about half than its primary competitors.
- The Nighthawk costs $169.99 through AT&T or $249.99 at Best Buy.
3. MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot
- For Sprint network (now T-Mobile) users, the MiFi 8000 Mobile Hotspot is considered the “best mobile hotspot” by Tom’s Guide. The hotspot is noted for being able to charge other devices (like phones and tablets), and the ability to “connect to 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands simultaneously for better connection quality and speed.”
- The device has average download speeds of 64.49 Mbps and average upload speeds of 3.74 Mbps. This device also does not offer 5G, and with the merger with T-Mobile, no Band 71.
- The MiFi 8000 costs $250, which is more than the other two making this top list.