Private Internet Access (PIA) is a surprisingly solid VPN product given its very low prices. Starting at about $2 per month, you might expect a bare-bones VPN service that’s slow and barely gets the job done.
But that isn’t the case at all. Our Private Internet Access review shows a high-quality service with fast speeds, loads of server locations, and a strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court. We don’t love that PIA is based out of the U.S. (a known Five Eyes Alliance country), but this doesn’t seem to have caused privacy issues so far.
Check out our PIA VPN review to dig into details about speed tests, Netflix compatibility, customer support, and more.
Private Internet Access overview
|Max # of connected devices||10|
|# of server locations||84 countries|
|VPN protocol||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec|
|No-logs policy||No logs|
But the PIA headquarters in the U.S. is a tad concerning since the U.S. is a well-known member of a global surveillance group.” However, PIA has upheld its no-logs policy so far and remains a great choice in terms of affordable VPNs.
Who is PIA best for?
Private Internet Access features
PIA VPN test results
PIA customer support
PIA VPN prices and subscriptions
PIA VPN FAQs
Bottom line: Is Private Internet Access good?
Who is PIA best for?
- Recommended for people who want a fast and affordable VPN that can unblock streaming services, provides plenty of server locations, and has a tested no-logs policy.
Private Internet Access is a virtual private network (VPN) service based out of Denver, Colorado, that offers one of the cheapest VPNs on the market. But “cheap VPN” doesn’t necessarily mean lacking in quality.
Our tests show that PIA can offer fast speeds, high levels of privacy and security, and the opportunity to unblock regional streaming content. It’s especially helpful to know that the PIA no-logs policy has been tested multiple times in court without any user information being leaked — primarily because PIA doesn’t keep logs of user activity.
PIA VPN pros and cons
- More affordable than most other VPNs, including ExpressVPN and NordVPN
- Fast internet speeds and strict no-logs policy
- Independent audit of no-logs policy completed in June 2022
- Unblocks Netflix and other streaming services
- Highly rated apps for Android and iOS devices
- Antivirus and dedicated IP address cost extra
- Based in the U.S., which is part of the Five Eyes Alliance
- Customer service is 24/7, but reps might not have the most technical knowledge
Private Internet Access features
We primarily tested PIA using its Windows app, so our experience is generally based on the features available to the Private Internet Access VPN app on Windows. You might find that your PIA experience is slightly different depending on which app you use.
But we found that PIA has loads of servers to choose from, a strict no-logs policy, and an app interface that’s fairly easy to use and navigate. The interface itself might fit better in the hands of a more experienced VPN user because of its customization options, such as moving widgets around in the display and setting up your home screen.
However, beginner users should still be able to navigate through the interface easily enough. It wasn’t difficult for us to find the server list or to connect to different servers. And the settings were straightforward and understandable.
Server count and countries
- 84 countries
PIA doesn’t release a list of how many servers it actually has, but it does let you know that you can connect to servers in 84 countries. That’s a sizable number of server locations and likely more than enough for your average VPN user.
Here’s how PIA compares to other popular VPN providers with its number of countries with servers:
- Surfshark: 100 countries
- ExpressVPN: 94 countries
- CyberGhost: 90 countries
- Private Internet Access: 84 countries
- Hotspot Shield: 80 countries
- Proton VPN: 64 countries
- NordVPN: 59 countries
Compared with these VPNs, PIA sits squarely in the middle, which suggests it offers an average number of countries with servers.
But again, 84 countries is actually a decent number and the trend seems to be for VPNs to continue providing more and more server locations. This is important because more server locations means more ways to use VPNs. For example, it could mean additional opportunities for you to unblock streaming services in different regions.
If you look at the PIA server list, you’ll see servers ordered by latency numbers. In general, latency is one way to measure your internet speed. So servers with lower latencies (depicted by a green color) are typically your fastest connection options based on your location.
Servers with higher latencies (depicted by an orange color) are typically your slowest connection options based on your location.
You might also notice some servers have a small globe symbol next to them. This means the server is in a “geo-located region,” which means it isn’t physically located in that country. But for all intents and purposes, connecting to one of these virtual servers still makes it seem like your connection is coming from the applicable country.
No-logs policy and headquarters
- PIA logs policy: No logs
- PIA headquarters: Colorado, U.S.
PIA VPN has a strict no-logs policy and is headquartered in Colorado, United States. PIA doesn’t collect or store your data, including your internet protocol (IP) address, browsing history, DNS queries, bandwidth consumption, VPN session timestamps, or connection logs.
In general, PIA doesn’t store any data about your VPN usage or what you do while using its VPN. PIA’s no-logs policy has been tested multiple times in court without PIA releasing any relevant information. This is because PIA doesn’t track or store user information and has nothing to give, as outlined in its transparency reports.
PIA also had an independent audit done of its no-logs policy in June 2022 by Deloitte. The report confirmed PIA’s no-logs policy because Deloitte couldn’t find any trace of user activity on PIA’s servers.
PIA uses RAM-only servers, which means data is frequently deleted and difficult to steal. And so far, the U.S. government hasn’t been able to force PIA to violate its no-logs policy. This is because of U.S. consumer protection laws, according to PIA.
But even though it hasn’t happened yet, that doesn’t mean PIA can’t eventually be forced to breach its own policies. The main fact pointing to this possibility is that Private Internet Access is U.S.-based. And the U.S. is part of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances, which are global networks involved in mass surveillance, including within their own countries.
PIA has done an excellent job so far with its privacy initiatives, and we hope it continues to do an excellent job. But being located in a country that’s part of a global surveillance network might not be the best thing for maintaining user privacy.
Note that Private Internet Access was acquired by Kape Technologies in 2019. Kape Technologies owns other VPNs, including ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and ZenMate VPN. All VPNs under the Kape brand are believed to run independently of each other. Learn more in our ExpressVPN review.
PIA VPN provides a kill switch feature located in the Privacy section of the app settings. A VPN kill switch is designed to prevent data leaks from happening if your secure connection is interrupted.
You can choose between two different kill switch options:
- VPN Kill Switch: Your basic kill switch that prevents leaks by blocking your internet traffic from moving outside the VPN, including during an interrupted connection.
- Advanced Kill Switch: Blocks all internet traffic unless you’re connected to the VPN.
If you want to test the kill switch to see if it’s working, the easiest way is probably turning on the Advanced Kill Switch. This feature makes it so you can’t access the internet at all if you aren’t connected to the VPN. We tested this by turning on the feature, disconnecting the VPN, and trying to connect to a website using Chrome.
We weren’t able to connect to anything online even though our internet connection was still there. It’s safe to say, the kill switch works.
Split tunneling is a feature that allows you to bypass the secure VPN connection with specific apps and IP addresses. PIA offers this feature in the app settings on the Split Tunnel tab.
You might use split tunneling if you don’t want an app to be slowed down by a VPN and you aren’t worried about security or privacy within that app. For example, you might allow an online video game to bypass the VPN connection so you can maintain fast speeds while gaming. In the meantime, your other online activities remain private and secure.
PIA lets you choose between AES-128 or AES-256 encryption. These are some of the strongest encryption algorithms available and are widely used by organizations worldwide. You can find the encryption options in the Protocols tab of the app settings within the OpenVPN protocol section.
PIA offers multiple VPN protocols to help ensure your security while maintaining high levels of transparency. This includes the open-source WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols, as well as IKEv2/IPsec. You can find the available protocols in your app settings in the Protocols tab.
Note that Private Internet Access with OpenVPN and WireGuard were the only available options we saw on the Windows desktop app. But we did see all three protocols, including IKEv2/IPsec, were available in the iOS app.
PIA Identity Guard is a feature that can help you see whether an email address has been part of a data breach. We found this feature in our online account using a Chrome browser.
Selecting the Identity Guard tab brings you to a breach monitoring page on the PIA website. Here, you can enter an email address and PIA will check to see whether it’s been exposed.
We entered one of our junk emails (an email we use to sign up for all kinds of services and subscriptions) to see what would pop up. We first had to confirm an email from PIA to start the monitoring process.
After confirming the email, we found our junk email had been part of two recent data breaches. This wasn’t surprising, but still helpful information. You can add multiple email addresses and receive notifications from PIA about breach alerts.
Smart DNS is a way to use a VPN on devices that might not typically have access to a VPN app. For example, your PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV, or smart TV might not have an app store with the PIA VPN app. But you can still use the Smart DNS feature to set up different devices with PIA functionality.
You can find Smart DNS options in your online account in the Smart DNS tab.
Note that Smart DNS won’t give your device a secure VPN connection, but it can change your device’s virtual location. For example, you can choose locations in the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K., and the Netherlands. This can be helpful for accessing regional streaming content.
Multi-Hop is a feature within the PIA app settings in the Multi-Hop tab. This security feature routes your VPN connection through an additional server. This is often called “double VPN” on other VPNs.
Multi-Hop is designed to offer more security with your connection by offering another layer of encryption. You can also hide that you’re using a VPN, which is called obfuscating your connection.
The PIA Multi-Hop feature offers the Shadowsocks and SOCKS5 proxies. SOCKS5 proxy servers, which include Shadowsocks, are designed to mask your true IP address by routing you through a server with a different IP address. They aren’t as secure or private as VPNs, but they can offer an additional layer of anonymity.
PIA MACE is a feature you can find in the app that blocks ads, trackers, and malware. It’s located in the app settings in the Privacy tab.
We wanted to test MACE out with its ad blocker feature, so we opened up a page on Forbes.com, a site that typically has tons of annoying ads. We first opened the page without turning on the MACE feature or connecting to the VPN and we immediately found a giant ad.
We then turned on the MACE feature and connected to the VPN. The same ad had disappeared and we didn’t find any other ads on the page.
PIA VPN test results
We conducted a speed test, DNS leak test, and WebRTC leak test to see how PIA VPN performed with maintaining reasonable internet speeds and overall privacy. We also tested whether PIA could unblock different Netflix content libraries.
These tests were run using the PIA VPN Windows app on a desktop PC running Windows 10 from a physical location in the U.S.
PIA VPN passed all of the tests we performed. Here are the details for each set of tests.
- PIA speed test results: PIA VPN passed its speed tests.
We ran PIA VPN speed tests to see whether connecting to different PIA servers slows down your internet connection. Using a VPN takes some bandwidth, so it’s common for your internet speed to take a small hit. But we only consider whether a VPN significantly slows down your internet.
We first tested our internet speeds while disconnected from the VPN and then ran speed tests while connected to VPN servers in the U.S., Europe (U.K), and Australia. This was our baseline speed:
PIA VPN speed test results
|Test type||No VPN||U.S. to U.S.||U.S. to E.U.||U.S. to AU|
|Download speed||117 Mbps||110 Mbps||110.4 Mbps||92.6 Mbps|
|Upload speed||11.9 Mbps||11.4 Mbps||11.4 Mbps||11.3 Mbps|
|Latency (ping)||12 ms||43 ms||130 ms||191 ms|
|Download speed % difference||N/A||-6%||-6%||-23%|
|Upload speed % difference||N/A||-4%||-4%||-5%|
|Latency % difference||N/A||-113%||-166%||-176%|
There was barely any difference in our download speeds while the VPN was disconnected compared with connecting to VPN servers in the U.S. and Europe. But we did see a small drop in our speeds while connected to a server in Australia. This is likely due to the fact that Australia is so far away from the U.S., which plays a large role in VPN connection speeds.
However, there was no huge cause for alarm with slow internet speeds while using PIA VPN. Download and upload speeds were still high across the board and any spikes in latency are expected when connecting to distant VPN servers. It also took PIA VPN less than a few seconds to connect to all the servers we tested.
PIA VPN Netflix tests
- PIA Netflix test results: PIA VPN passed its Netflix tests.
It’s always worth running some of your own Netflix tests to see if a VPN works how you hope it will. But from our tests, we were able to successfully watch Netflix with PIA VPN.
We ran these tests by connecting to VPN servers in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia. After connecting to a server, we would open Netflix and see if the content aligned with the applicable location. And then we would sample a show or movie to see if it would open and run without any errors or lag.
We had no issues connecting to these PIA VPN servers and unblocking Netflix content:
- US West Streaming Optimized
- CA Vancouver
- UK Manchester
- AU Sydney
Private Internet Access Netflix test results
|US to US||US to UK||US to Canada||US to AU|
|Did it work with Netflix?|
We weren’t able to find a section for “Top 10 TV Shows in the U.K. Today” while connected to a U.K. server. But we were able to verify it was the Netflix library for the U.K. because it only had two seasons of “Derry Girls.” At the time of writing, the third season of “Derry Girls” had recently been released on the U.S. Netflix library.
We noticed that a few servers in the PIA server list are labeled as “Streaming Optimized.” This typically means that these servers provide a better streaming experience. But we found Netflix worked on non-optimized servers as well.
Note that PIA VPN advertises it works with BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, YouTube TV, ITV, and other streaming services.
|United States||Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, Eurosport, HBO Max, YouTube TV, Disney+|
|United Kingdom||ITV, Netflix, BBC iPlayer|
|Japan||Netflix, Amazon Prime Video|
|Italy||Netflix, Disney+, RaiPlay|
|Denmark||Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Nordics, DRTV|
|Finland||YLE, Ruutu, C More, MTV Finland, HBO Nordics|
|Sweden||Netflix, C More, tv4play, YouTube SE, HBO Nordics|
DNS leak tests
- Private Internet Access DNS leak test results: PIA VPN passed its DNS leak tests.
The domain name system (DNS) leak test is used to show whether your internet connection is leaking any private information. We used the DNS Leak Test service from BrowserLeaks to test for DNS leaks before and after connecting to PIA VPN.
We were able to see private information — including our IP address, internet service provider (ISP), and general location — after running the DNS leak test while disconnected from the VPN.
After connecting, we were only able to see information about the VPN server, including its IP address, ISP, and general location. This means the VPN successfully masked our private information because we couldn’t see it anywhere.
WebRTC leak tests
- PIA WebRTC leak test results: PIA VPN passed its WebRTC leak tests.
A WebRTC leak is a vulnerability in your internet connection that could expose your true IP address. We used the BrowserLeaks website to test for IP address leaks before and after connecting to PIA VPN.
We were able to easily identify our device’s IP address while disconnected from PIA, but our IP address was successfully masked after connecting to the VPN.
You can set up the PIA VPN app on a number of devices, operating systems, mobile apps, and browser extensions, including:
- Windows (8.1 or 10)
- macOS (10.13+)
- Linux (Ubuntu 18.04+, Mint 19+, Arch, Debian)
- Android (Android 5.0+)
- iOS (iOS 12.1+)
- Chrome (v48+)
- Firefox (v57+)
- Opera (v52+)
You can find Private Internet Access download options in your PIA account on a web browser. We were able to find download links for the Private Internet Access Chrome extension and other apps in the Downloads tab.
We noticed that PIA VPN had loads of excellent reviews and high ratings for both its iOS and Android apps. The PIA VPN app on Google Play has 4.5 out of 5 stars with more than 62,000 reviews.
The PIA VPN app on the App Store has 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 92,000 reviews.
PIA customer support
Private Internet Access offers customer support through its support website, email, live chat, and social media channels. You can also submit error reports through the PIA app (we were able to see this option on the Windows app) and fill out a contact form through the support portal.
The PIA social media channels include Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. PIA also has a YouTube channel, but the last upload was more than a year ago. You can send an email to the PIA support team at [email protected].
Private Internet Access offers 24/7 live chat available to anyone on its website. We decided to see what the chat experience was like by asking a PIA representative a few questions. You can find the chat button in the bottom right corner of just about any page on the main PIA website.
After starting the live chat, we were quickly (within a few seconds) transferred to a live agent to begin our conversation.
Our first question had to do with how many servers PIA has. This was a legitimate question because the answer wasn’t readily available anywhere we could see on the PIA website.
Unfortunately, we didn’t receive an exact number for the quantity of PIA servers. The agent let us know how many server locations PIA has, but that didn’t quite answer the question. However, ExpressVPN does something similar by advertising its number of server locations rather than the total number of servers.
As we continued chatting with the agent, we got onto the subject of PIA’s ad and malware blocker. We asked how it worked and how to turn it on. We were then directed to a PIA support page about the ad and malware blocker (MACE).
The article didn’t actually tell us how to turn on that feature and the agent didn’t seem to have that knowledge. It wasn’t a big deal because we had already seen the option in the app settings, but this type of interaction likely wouldn’t be helpful for someone new to VPNs who could actually use some help.
Overall, the customer support agent was polite, friendly, and mostly understandable. They didn’t seem to have much technical knowledge of PIA VPN, but that’s not uncommon for customer service representatives in general.
The PIA support portal provides loads of resources for PIA users or anyone who’s interested in learning more about this VPN. This includes guides, announcements, and a knowledge base area with FAQs.
The news section of the support website is especially helpful because it provides updates about relevant events for PIA users. For example, an announcement about maintenance on a specific server gives you a heads-up that you won’t be able to use that server for a certain period of time.
The section with different guides can also be helpful if you need a few tips on how to use PIA in different ways or how to set it up on certain devices. This could include installing PIA VPN on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS devices.
PIA VPN prices and subscriptions
PIA VPN offers subscription plans for one month, one year, and three years. All plans come with the same features, so the only differences are the price and subscription length. Your overall monthly price goes with the longer subscription options.
The cheapest option for PIA VPN: Two-year plan for $2.03 per month
The most expensive option for PIA VPN: Monthly plan for $11.95 per month
You might only need a VPN for a short period of time, including if you’re traveling abroad for a vacation and want a VPN for streaming purposes. But it’s typically the most expensive option to pay for a VPN one month at a time.
If you want to save money on a VPN, it’s often much cheaper overall to choose a longer subscription length. And with PIA VPN, you can get some dirt cheap prices.
Here’s how PIA VPN compares to other popular VPNs and their lowest monthly rates at the time of writing:
- ExpressVPN: $8.32/month
- Hotspot Shield: $7.99/month
- Proton VPN: $4.99/month
- NordVPN: $3.09/month
- Surfshark: $2.49/month
- CyberGhost: $2.03/month
- Private Internet Access: $2.03/month
Private Internet Access costs the same or less than all the VPNs listed. And compared with ExpressVPN, PIA is four times cheaper. But remember that price isn’t everything and there are a few competitors that don’t cost much more than PIA.
For example, would it be worth it to pay about an extra $12 per year for NordVPN and its high-quality service and fast speeds? Or about $5 more per year for Surfshark and its access to unlimited simultaneous connections?
It depends on your situation, but it’s important to realize that VPNs are generally inexpensive and you have plenty of options to choose from to meet your needs.
Private Internet Access cost
|1 month||1 year||
Best Value3 years
|Price per month||$11.95/mo||$3.33/mo||$2.03/mo|
|Price per year||$143.40||$39.96||$24.36|
PIA VPN payment methods include:
- Credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover)
- Amazon Pay
- Cryptocurrencies through BitPay (bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin)
- Gift cards via PayGarden
PIA makes a point of accepting crypto and gift cards as forms of payment because they’re more anonymous options. It’s important to note that not all VPNs have these options, especially not an opportunity to use a random gift card to pay for a VPN.
Overall, PIA accepts gift cards from around 100 different brands. This includes Best Buy, Walmart, Target, The Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and more.
PIA VPN FAQs
Is PIA VPN fast?
Yes, PIA VPN offers fast internet speeds while connected to its servers. We ran internet speed tests before connecting to PIA VPN and while connected to servers in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. There wasn’t any significant decrease in our internet speeds, though the distance to Australia caused a spike in our latency.
Which is better PIA or NordVPN?
NordVPN is likely the better option for overall features, quality, and reliability. It provides opportunities to unblock streaming services while maintaining fast internet speeds, all at an affordable price. PIA VPN costs less than NordVPN, but the user experience is slightly lacking with its app interface.
Does PIA work for Netflix?
Yes, PIA VPN works for unblocking regional Netflix content libraries. We tested PIA with servers in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia to see whether we could access Netflix without any issues. We had no problem connecting to servers in these regions and accessing Netflix libraries. We also had no problems with buffering, lag, or video quality.
Can PIA VPN be tracked?
PIA VPN can’t be tracked. It has a strict no-logs policy, which means it doesn’t collect or store any of your data, including your IP address, browsing history, bandwidth consumption, VPN session timestamps, and connection logs. The PIA VPN no-logs policy has been tested multiple times in court and was successfully reviewed by an independent third party in June 2022.
What is the cost of PIA VPN?
PIA VPN is one of the cheapest VPNs available. Here’s how much PIA costs per month on each of its three subscription plans:
- One-month plan: $11.95 per month
- One-year plan: $3.33 per month
- Three-year plan: $2.03 per month
You can choose to pay by credit card, PayPal, Amazon Pay, crypto, or gift card.
Bottom line: Is Private Internet Access good?
Yes, Private Internet Access is a good VPN that does just about everything right. It’s fast, affordable, private, and secure. And you get plenty of server locations with opportunities to unblock regional streaming content. Even better, the PIA no-logs policy has been tested in court and successfully audited by an independent third party.
But the PIA headquarters in the U.S. is a tad concerning. Nothing has happened yet for PIA to breach its no-logs policy, but the U.S. is a well-known member of a global surveillance group of countries.
PIA has a lot going for it, including 24/7 customer service. But for only slightly more money per month, you can get NordVPN, one of the best VPN services available. Nord is often included among the fastest VPNs and it’s known for its reliability. And the NordVPN headquarters are in Panama, a country that isn’t part of a global surveillance alliance. Learn more in our NordVPN review.