Private Internet Access vs ExpressVPN

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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.

Pricing

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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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

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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.

Software

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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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

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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.

Winner: PIA

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.

Mobile Software

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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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

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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.

Winner: TIE

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.

Extra Services

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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

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.

Winner: Tie

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.

Website

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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Bicycles are totally related to 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

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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.

Winner: Tie

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.

Servers

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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PIA claims to offer 3023+ servers in 21 different countries.

ExpressVPN

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ExpressVPN offers 100+ VPN locations where you can choose from 100 cities in 78 countries.

Winner: TIE

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.

Privacy

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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

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.

Winner: Tie

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.

Speeds

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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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

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.

Support

Private Internet Access (PIA)

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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

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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.

Winner: ExpressVPN

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

[Full Private Internet Access Review]

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.

Visit PIA          Visit ExpressVPN

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!

Profile photo of Tom Spark
Spark has a simple mission to help you chose the best VPN without any bias. Which VPN do I use? See it here!

9 Comments

  1. I am currently PIA customer and there is one thing pissing me off. Torrents… When I am using uTorrent, sometimes it’s stable, but sometimes shuts off whole internet connection every minute and PIA utility connects/reconnects like crazy. This happens on both of my computers and I have read about such problems on their forum. It’s been 6 months since I started experiencing the problem and not much fixed yet.
    I am thinking to switch to Express VPN because of that.

    Reply
    • Profile photo of Tom Spark

      I can understand that, let me know if ExpressVPN works for you better. PIA has been known to have some speed issues lately and I’ve even heard they sap mobile battery use like crazy.

      Reply
    • I had the same issue with torrenting in PIA. However, there is a solution I’ve found. Enter settings and changing the connection type to udp.

      Reply
  2. Iv been going through hell trying to secure the privacy of my browser for 12 months, wasted trying 4 different kinds to than waste more time asking them to refund me with in 30 days, my browsers searches began to change; extremely offensive or personal attacks unrelated to my browser. They would use personal
    names of people I know, some could have been coincidental like with Express VPN using the name of a child in our family and than of my dead friends nickname in their Live chat, I stopped using them when their log in app began to stall spinning and wouldn’t open for hours on end, it wouldn’t allow me to open financial
    accounts online with a private lock so any banking online was with out the VPN ON missing the point! they also thought it would be funny to post images on woman that looked like me older, ridiculing me personally and about my age. I don’t know any one who would trust to download a VPN that would act so unprofessionally, I don’t know who the morons are that started this online but I have had enough of it. My computer has been remotely hacked for months the guys have been driving me nuts and need to get a VPN to get on with things, If online sites source all your data and when you install a VPN they use your data, WHAT DO YOU USE OR DO??? I HAVE URGENTLY THINGS TO SORT OUT AND THEY’VE BEEN MESSING ME AROUND ONLINE FOR 12 MONTHS

    EDWARD SNOWDEN/NSA/THE CREEP NEAR OUR HOME NEED TO GET THE HELL OFF MY SYSTEM

    Reply
  3. Why is ExpressVPN considered better than PIA here when PIA is better overall? This comparison shows PIA better the only thing ExpressVPN has over PIA is the refund and better website layout and yet they pick them over PIA. I am sorry but the web layout and refund is not a deal breaker to me as long as the app and features work. PIA doesn’t have a bad layout it’s pretty straight forward. They are one of the best VPN providers for the buck. The design of the desktop app is much better and straight forward in PIA that a novice can use it. I don’t trust ExpressVPN for some reason. PIA gives me a better sense of security and they have one of the best features out there. All VPN’s have slow downs it all depends how close to you the servers your using. If your on the western United States surfing on western servers will be faster than say the Netherlands or Switzerland it’s like that in any VPN. This website is a lie, with PIA you can select which server you want to go through it’s in the app + they throw in a socks 5 proxy for better security. You can install PIA up to 5 devices. If you install it on your router and setup your browser and uTorrent with the socks 5 proxy and still use the desktop app you have layered protection with DNS + IPV6 leak protection and Kill Switch. No other VPN offered that diversity for the buck. Both are great VPNs but if your short on the cash and want a VPN that throws in socks 5 proxy instead of purchasing them separately then PIA is your choice, but both are good VPNs it comes down to esthetics and personal preference and in my opinion it’s PIA.

    Reply
    • Profile photo of Tom Spark

      I agree PIA is a good choice, depending on what you need. It has good price, speeds, and a decent App. The bad things about PIA is that it’s a victim of its own popularity–meaning a lot of IPs are blocked on certain websites, it doesn’t work with most streaming sites, doesn’t support Russian servers, (has questionable management as well), and the customer support can be a hit or miss.

      Reply
      • You gave Express the win because of aesthetics and customer service at over twice the price?

        PIA > Express

        This is a shit review.

        Reply
        • Profile photo of Tom Spark

          I think PIA wins over ExpressVPN, I just have to update this article. Refer to our rankings on the front page for the most up to date ratings…

          Reply
  4. I have been using PIA access for the last years and have always been happy.
    Being in China right now, however, the is no way to connect, even using the special “china settings”. ExpressVPN worked “right out of the box” and I have full internet access in China. Great job!!

    Reply

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