We’ve mentioned several times before that Netflix dictates what content you can access from their libraries based on your geographical location.
In two blog posts from December 2019, we also explained How to Get Around the Netflix VPN Proxy Block and How to Watch Netflix with a VPN, both of which explain how to beat the system. However, if you don’t have the budget for a premium service, you’re probably wondering what the best free VPN for Netflix is.
That’s the question we’re hoping to help you answer today! But be warned – there are a few catches….
What to Look For in a Netflix VPN
Before we begin unpacking all the caveats that come with using a free VPN (for Netlfix or any other reason), let’s start with what you should be looking for when comparing VPNs:
- The provider is not based in a 5/9/14 Eyes country
- Strict no-logs policy
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Automatic kill switch
- IP and DNS leak protection
- Lots of servers in different locations around the world
- High-speed connection
- Able to bypass the Netflix VPN/Proxy block
- Unlimited bandwidth
- OpenVPN protocol
- Device compatibility
- 24/7 customer support (live chat is best)
Unfortunately, expecting any free VPN to tick all of these boxes is highly unrealistic – after all, providing these features costs money!
The Best Free VPNs for Netflix
It’s precisely because no free VPN can realistically match all the above requirements that we’ve also put together a guideline on how best to find a free VPN that’s reliable.
You shouldn’t use it to replace the above checklist entirely, but rather as supplementary advice on how best to evaluate a free VPN service:
- Be wary of fake or compromised VPN review sites – but don’t let their existence stop you from doing your research
- Use a freemium service, which is where the provider uses premium subscriptions to offset their expenses and offer a limited free version
With these criteria in mind, we were able to identify 3 reliable free VPNs for Netflix:
- Windscribe has proven itself time and time again to be one of the best freemium VPN services out there. One of the many reasons for this is the free version is very nearly identical to the premium subscription. Unlike most other freemium VPNs, you won’t miss out on any of the features. However, you will be stuck with a 10GB/month bandwidth limit – good enough for about 10 hours’ worth of SD streaming – and limited server locations.
- ProtonVPN is another great go-to freemium provider, not just for their VPN service but also their encrypted email (ProtonMail). What sets them far ahead of the competition is the fact they give you unlimited data! However, as always, that comes with a few caveats… First, you only have access to servers in 3 countries, namely the US, the Netherlands, and Japan. This means you can expect some network overload, especially during peak hours. Second, unlimited data does not equal unlimited bandwidth. In addition to network overload, expect your speeds to be throttled, as ProtonVPN understandably gives priority to their premium subscribers. Nevertheless, you can comfortably stream hours of SD-quality content with minimal buffering!
- TunnelBear has a couple of major weaknesses that almost got it cut from our list… First, the provider is Canadian, which means the bear-themed VPN is based in a 5 Eyes jurisdiction. Second, you only get a measly 500MB/month, which is barely enough to get through the first half of a movie. However, if you Tweet about the company they’ll give you an extra 1GB. So if you only anticipate watching 1 movie a month, TunnelBear is an okay choice. The provider’s major strength is in giving free users full access to their servers in all 23 locations without throttling your bandwidth.
Why You Shouldn’t Rely on a Free VPN for Netflix
We know what you’re thinking: 3 VPNs, that’s it?
We aren’t including Opera VPN because it’s an online privacy nightmare that currently ranks #41 of the 41 VPN services we’ve reviewed so far. That caveat plus it not being a real VPN – it’s actually just a browser proxy that only works if you’re using Opera to begin with – means we couldn’t recommend it in good conscience.
And as we mentioned in that earlier post, Ultrasurf also isn’t a true VPN: it’s more of a VPN-Proxy hybrid that we included as a back-up option.
Both cases highlight one of the major reasons you should ideally not use a free VPN for Netflix, or even in general.
The free VPN market is dominated almost entirely by fake and even malicious apps. And even if you do find a real VPN, chances are high the provider is going to spam you with ads, sell your data to the highest bidder, install malware onto all of your devices, and/or have non-existent security.
Be safe rather than sorry. Stick to the 3 freemium VPN services we recommended above until you can afford to upgrade!
The Better Option…
To close, let’s bring the focus back to premium VPN services and how they offer a much better option – albeit also as a short-term solution.
The most reliable VPN providers will always offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means you can basically use their services “for free” for a month, usually without any data caps (though you should always read the refund policy to be sure).
With this in mind, our recommendations for the best Netflix VPNs with reasonable refund policies are:
- CyberGhost VPN – 14-day money-back guarantee (45-day guarantee on longer subscription terms)
- ExpressVPN – 30-day money-back guarantee
- Mullvad VPN – 30-day money-back guarantee
- NordVPN – 30-day money-back guarantee
- Surfshark VPN – 30-day money-back guarantee
Ultimately, the choice is yours – we can only provide objective, BS-free recommendations to steer you in the right direction.
However, we trust you now have a better understanding of why we don’t really recommend using a free VPN and which ones offer a reasonable short-term exception to the rule!