Welcome to Private Internet Access vs ExpressVPN, a comparison article that matches up these two popular VPN providers against each other. In this comparison, we look over the best features of each provider to see who wins.
PIA offers one of the most competitive pricing models at only $6.95 a month, $35.95 for six months, and $39.95 for a year. For some reason PIA wants you to stay with them for a year, so a year subscription is only four more dollars than a 6-month subscription. PIA is the most affordable VPN we’ve seen yet for a one-month commitment, and yearly commitment–although it should be noted that it’s not the cheapest VPN for a 6-month commitment as Torguard manages to pull ahead in their $29.99 6 month subscription.
PIA offers great payment options with Bitcoin AND gift cards as well, so you can remain ultra-anonymous when purchasing your VPN subscription.
PIA’s refund policy can be annoying. They make you go through another merchant just to receive your refund.
ExpressVPN takes a different approach to pricing than PIA. Their one-month subscription cost is nearly double PIA’s at $12.95 a month, $59.95 for six months, and $99.95 for a year commitment.
ExpressVPN has default payments options along with Bitcoin available.
ExpressVPN’s refund policy is excellent and hassle-free.
Winner: Private Internet Access
PIA is one of the most affordable VPN solutions you can find. Their yearly subscription cost is absurdly small, and their monthly subscription cost has a very low-cost entry point for new VPN users. While their refund policy can’t beat ExpressVPN’s–it does work–kind of.
PIA’s client feels extremely simple and bare bones. The main interface of the application mainly exists just for you to login and tamper with settings while the application primarily operates solely through the taskbar. In the configuration, you have a bunch of valuable and necessary options that other VPNs often leave out– like a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection, and IPv6 protection. PIA has a unique approach to their app that feels a bit too subtle at first, but I think users will appreciate how the application works and performs once they find their way around it.
On the performance side, PIA works very solidly with no hiccups, interruptions, or bugs that prevented us from using their software. However, if you plan on reinstalling the software after uninstalling it, you might encounter a TAP driver issue–easily remedied by running the installation package again as an administrator.
ExpressVPN has a very noob friendly VPN application that is very easy to get working with continuous good performance. The application is designed to look pretty, with helpful connection bars to illustrate pending connections and a simple design that is to understand. ExpressVPN comes powered with a new updated kill switch, and has the option to lock onto ExpressVPN servers for DNS leak protection.
PIA wins here with a slight advantage since it has IPv6 protection. However, both applications are very easy to use and secure. While initially the app might prove confusing for some users, it only takes a short amount of time to use PIA’s app more effectively than ExpressVPN’s given more relevant security options available in the settings.
PIA’s mobile software is extremely straightforward. All you do is log in and connect to a VPN and it operates in the shadows. You can change servers, and renew your subscription, but that’s about it. It even looks identical to it’s Windows counterpart. We experienced no issues and found the app very stable.
ExpressVPN’s mobile application carries the some idea of its Windows counterpart–except, this time; there’s a nice visual map that shows where you are connecting from and what you are connecting to. It’s a great visual representation to understand how your IP address changes through a VPN.
Both applications from ExpressVPN and PIA perform very well. They don’t require any obnoxious toggling in your settings, and they are easy to set up and use.
PIA doesn’t offer much in the terms of VPN extras like proxy support, encrypted email, VPN routers, or support for VPNs in other countries. However, they do offer five simultaneous connections for their service that is quite good.
ExpressVPN is another barebones VPN without extra VPN services, but they only offer two simultaneous connections (one mobile + computer). They do support some stealth servers, however.
While both VPN providers don’t go the extra mile as a VPN provider, PIA wins over ExpressVPN since it offers more (5) simultaneous connections. However, ExpressVPN has more of an angle towards China with some support stealth servers. At the end of the day, both services don’t really support extra services that well. If you need a VPN that does, check out TorGuard VPN.
PIA has a standard VPN website with tons of links to persuade people to use VPN or for people to find their site through search engines. The support pages aren’t organized as much as they could be, and the whole site feels hard to navigate through. While we don’t necessarily judge PIA’s score on their marketing push towards bikers with families–we can’t help but wonder, why?
ExpressVPN has an excellent website with information that is pleasantly laid out and easy to find. The organization on the website is well done, but the star of the show is ExpressVPN’s great checkout process. It works by transferring you from the internet site into the application with a simple link that doesn’t require you to have even your login credentials on hand.
Easy navigation, better support articles, and a clearly defined feature set on the front page make ExpressVPN’s website better than PIAs. However, Private Internet Access has an active forum community, and their live chat is fairly similar.
PIA claims to offer 3023+ servers in 21 different countries.
ExpressVPN offers 100+ VPN locations where you can choose from 100 cities in 78 countries.
Both of these VPNs provide plenty of servers, and it’s hard to go really by who has more servers in their website descriptions. If you talk to ExpressVPN support, they do claim to have automatic Stealth VPN enabled so users can expect to have their VPN work through Hong Kong servers in China. However, we’ve also received high speeds from local servers in critical locations that give us great confidence in PIA’s servers.
While PIA’s client offering is fairly straightforward, they do offer strong encryption. PIA comes with 256-bit AES encryption with a handshake bit rate that can be increased up to 4096 bits. PIA offers all standard protocols and contains a no logging policy.
ExpressVPN has a great no logging policy and good protocol options, but their 256-bit encryption is only Blowfish, not AES. Coupled with some security features missing in their client, ExpressVPN still has some room to grow in the privacy and security area.
PIA’s strong 256-bit AES encryption and advanced security features in their clients make them one of the best VPNs for privacy. However, ExpressVPN has also recently stepped up their game with a matching 256-bit AES encryption. Both VPN providers also has a default of RSA-2048.
PIA provides some of the fastest tested speeds we’ve found. Our tested speeds were blazing fast at 175.37 Mbps with a 12.20 Mbps upload speed. Our download rate for a torrent was around 20 Mbps.
ExpressVPN has seen some slowdowns this year, with an average speed of somewhere around 50 Mbps which is more than half of Private Internet Access.
UPDATE Winner 2017
Upon further speed tests, PIA has started to pull ahead and is now significantly faster than ExpressVPN.
PIA should have excellent support–after all, they have all of the real makings of a genuine support team. They claim that they have a 24/7 support team on live chat, as well as a good refund policy. The only unfortunate thing is that this all falls apart upon inspection and testing.
Their live chat wasn’t 24/7, and the support I got for my refund request was unintuitive, and my support agent brief and unhelpful in emails (I had to go through their external vendor through their support ticket to get a Bitcoin refund).
ExpressVPN impressed me with their great refund policy that didn’t cause me any extra hassle. However, their 24/7 live support was also not 24/7–as I experienced significant downtime as well.
ExpressVPN and PIA need some more work on their live chat. However, ExpressVPN’s refund policy is just much easier than PIA’s.
Verdict : Private Internet Access
ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access are two excellent VPN options for you to choose. They use to be more equal, but now Private Internet Access has pullen ahead of ExpressVPN since it’s not only cheaper and offers the same amount of application support, but its also much faster.
Thanks for reading our Private Internet Access vs. ExpressVPN comparison. Do you think PIA wins or ExpressVPN? Let us know why in the comments below!