Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN 2024: Which Is Best for Privacy?

Learn why Proton VPN and PIA are twin powerhouses in the VPN realm — one of them provides double the security while the other doubles the features at a low price.
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Best for Affordability

5.0
Editorial Rating
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On Private Internet Access's website

Private Internet Access
  • VPN offering fast internet speeds and strict no-logs policy
  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming services
  • Antivirus and dedicated IP address cost extra

Best for Ultimate Privacy

4.9
Editorial Rating
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On Proton VPN's website

Proton VPN
  • Easy to use
  • A strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost

Private Internet Access and Proton VPN are both notable for their strong security features and commitment to privacy. Both VPN services offer competitive pricing, but only Proton VPN offers a free plan.

Even so, PIA may offer more value with unlimited simultaneous connections compared to Proton’s 10, and PIA also offers 24/7 live chat support where Proton VPN does not.

In our review, we’ll cover the details of each VPN's offerings in terms of privacy and security such as AES-256 encryption and VPN protocols. We’ll also discuss their compatibility with a wide range of platforms, their no-logs policies, pricing plans, and much more to help you decide between Proton VPN and PIA. Let’s dive in, shall we?

In this article
Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN at a glance
PIA vs. Proton VPN: prices
PIA vs. Proton VPN: features
PIA vs. Proton VPN: internet speeds
PIA vs. Proton VPN: compatibility and customer support
PIA vs. Proton VPN FAQs
PIA vs. Proton VPN: which is better?

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN at a glance

If you're cost-conscious, Private Internet Access wins with its unbeatable low rates (Proton VPN does throw in a free, but basic, plan). PIA also trumps with unlimited connections, while Proton VPN caps you at 10 simultaneous connections. PIA also excels in customer service, which is available around the clock.

The main disparity between these two VPN providers? PIA calls the U.S. home (the U.S. is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance), while Proton VPN hails from privacy-friendly Switzerland.

How does Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN compare?


Private Internet Access

Proton VPN
Price $2.03–$11.99/mo $4.99–$9.99/mo
Max # of connected devices Unlimited 10
No-logs policy No logs No logs
Headquarters United States Switzerland
# of servers Servers in 91 countries + 50 U.S. states 4,400+ in 91 countries
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IPsec WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, Stealth
Streaming support Yes — Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and more Yes — Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and more
24/7 customer support
Compatibility Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more
Learn more Get Private Internet Access
Read Private Internet Access Review
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review

When you compare the cost, PIA edges out Proton VPN, coming in at a slightly more affordable $2.19/mo versus Proton's $4.99/mo charge. As far as server locations go, PIA hasn't disclosed the exact number, but its coverage is spread across 91 nations and 50 U.S. states. Proton, on the other hand, is open about its server tally, with over 4,400 servers spread across 91 countries.

Both PIA and Proton VPN pride themselves on their no-logs policy, which have been independently audited.

You can easily spot which PIA VPN servers have high or low latency since the server ping is listed in green next to the server location.

However, Proton VPN does seem to outshine PIA a bit in terms of its security features. It boasts its Secure Core service, which provides multi-hop connections and acts akin to a double VPN. It routes network traffic through servers in privacy-friendly nations such as Switzerland and Iceland, obscuring your location and adding an extra layer of privacy.

Proton VPN has thousands of servers located worldwide, including many in Europe.

Proton VPN’s paid plan also gets you access to its Plus servers, which are optimized for streaming, torrenting, and routing through the Tor network.

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN: prices

Our Pick
Price range $2.03–$11.99/mo $4.99–$9.99/mo
Best value plan 2-year plan for $2.19/mo 2-year plan for $4.99/mo
Money-back guarantee Yes — 30 days Yes — 30 days
Learn more Get Private Internet Access
Read Private Internet Access Review
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review

Cost is often a significant factor when deciding which VPN to choose. As a result, most people opt to save money on a VPN by signing up for a longer subscription. PIA offers the most affordable pricing plans of the two, but Proton VPN’s one-year and two-year plans knock its monthly cost down significantly.

PIA offers a broad price range, with monthly plans falling between $2.03–$11.99/mo. This flexibility is augmented by the cost-effective two-year plan, priced at a modest $2.19/mo — a deal that's hard to beat.

On the other hand, Proton VPN offers plans from $4.99–$9.99/mo. Of particular interest is the two-year plan, a savvy choice at just $4.99/mo. Additionally, Proton VPN offers a free version — but it comes with limited server locations and features.

If you’re seeing Proton VPN’s prices listed in euros, don’t fret. Scroll below the Free plan information and change the dropdown from “EUR” to “USD” to see prices listed in U.S. dollars.

Rest assured, both VPN services cater to the cautious spender with a 30-day money-back guarantee, offering an added layer of financial security as you explore what these VPN apps have to offer.

Winner: PIA takes the trophy with its irresistible offer of a two-year subscription plan, often sweetened with some extra months for free, for only a couple of bucks a month.

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN: features

Feature
Our Pick
Number of servers Servers in 91 countries + 50 U.S. states 4,400+ servers in 91 countries
No-logs policy No logs No logs
VPN headquarters United States Switzerland
Encryption AES 128-bit or AES 256-bit AES 256-bit or ChaCha20
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IPsec WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, Stealth
Kill switch
Split tunneling
Netflix support
Torrenting support
Learn more Get Private Internet Access

Read Private Internet Access Review

Get Proton VPN

Read Proton VPN Review

At a glance, PIA and Proton VPN have a lot in common when it comes to features. Both of them have various server locations worldwide, though PIA offers more countries. Both utilize bank-grade encryption, with PIA allowing for AES 128-bit or AES 256-bit and Proton allowing for AES 256-bit or ChaCha 20. And both implement secure VPN protocols, namely WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec. Proton also offers the Stealth protocol, which evades detection and fights censorship. 

Additionally, both VPN services' no-logs policies have undergone audits by outside vendors Deloitte and Securitum, and both passed. Both VPNs also provide P2P support, which allows for torrenting. 

Aside from essential VPN features like a kill switch and split tunneling, they both offer multi-hop capabilities that route traffic through multiple servers to obscure your identity and online activities. PIA lets you connect to multi-hop servers to do this, and Proton VPN’s Secure Core feature delivers multi-hop functions.

Secure Core is Proton VPN's version of a double VPN, which passes your online traffic through two or more VPN servers for extra security.

The main difference between the two is where they’re headquartered. Proton VPN is based in Switzerland, where privacy laws are taken seriously. PIA, on the other hand, is based in the U.S., which is a member of the intelligence-sharing alliance Five Eyes and could raise privacy concerns for some.

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN: streaming support

Platform
Netflix
Amazon Prime Video
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Disney+
HBO Max
Learn more Get Private Internet Access

Read Private Internet Access Review

Get Proton VPN

Read Proton VPN Review

When it comes to the best streaming VPNs, you can't go wrong with either PIA or Proton VPN. Both excel at unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and others, providing you with a wealth of content beyond your regional limits.

Private Internet Access successfully unblocking Netflix U.K.

Private Internet Access successfully unblocked multiple Netflix libraries during our testing.

We did find that PIA had trouble unblocking Hulu in our tests, but this could change. Streaming platforms and VPNs are in a constant battle to outdo each other, and a streaming service that works one day may detect your VPN and deny access the next. If this happens, we recommend trying a different VPN server to see if that helps.

Proton VPN successfully unblocked Netflix Australia for us as well as Netflix UK, Japan, and Canada.

Proton VPN also unblocked multiple Netflix libraries, including Australia.

Winner: Proton VPN leads in feature richness and streaming support. Its exceptional mix of advanced encryption, Secure Core, Tor over VPN, and independently audited no-logs policy sets the bar high.

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN: internet speeds

We completed speed tests with Private Internet Access and Proton VPN to gauge how each VPN affected connection speeds. Speed tests were conducted on a Macbook Air from a physical location in the U.S. We connected to server locations in the United States, U.K., and Australia. 

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN download speeds

Server location
Our Pick
US 32% slower 17% slower
UK 42% slower 22% slower
AU 75% slower 33% slower
Learn more Get Private Internet Access
Read Private Internet Access Review
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review

When it comes to download speeds, Proton VPN demonstrated speedier performance across all the tested server locations. PIA slowed down our connection about twice as much as Proton. It's important to note that our speed slowed more the further the server location was from our physical location, which is to be expected with any VPN.

Proton VPN does have a VPN Accelerator feature, which claims it can increase your VPN connection speeds by up to 400%. This probably helped with maintaining consistent speeds across servers. 

 Winner: Proton VPN nudged ahead when it came to download speeds, so we'll give it the win here.

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN: compatibility and ease of use

Our Pick
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Router
Smart devices
Browser extensions Yes — Chrome, Firefox Yes — Chrome, Firefox
24/7 support
Phone Live chat, email, online guides Live chat, email, online guides

Regarding device compatibility, Private Internet Access and Proton VPN match stride for stride. They support an extensive array of devices and operating systems, proving both choices to be equally viable for users with multiple devices.

When it comes to the user interface, PIA presents a design that's both intuitive and easy to navigate, ideal for those dipping their toes into the VPN realm. Proton VPN also delivers a simple and user-friendly interface that's easy to navigate in a non-intimidating manner for those not so technologically inclined. Consequently, whether your choice falls on PIA or Proton VPN, each ensures an enjoyable user experience with comprehensive compatibility.

As far as customer support, Private Internet Access shines by offering a 24/7 live chat. This on-demand service can be a lifesaver during unexpected technical issues, ensuring that you aren't left in the dark when you need help the most.

On the other hand, while Proton VPN's live chat doesn't operate around the clock, it still offers reliable customer service, particularly with its prompt email responses. Moreover, both Proton VPN and PIA offer a wealth of online guides, giving you a valuable toolkit for troubleshooting common issues on your own.

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN: payment options

PIA and Proton VPN accept various payment options. However, PIA offers an extra cloak of anonymity by accepting bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin through Bitpay when you sign-up for an account. On the other hand, Proton VPN only lets you use Bitcoin to purchase account credits after you’ve signed up for an account with another payment option.

Although Proton VPN doesn’t accept cryptocurrency at first, we applaud its use of 3D Secure for major credit cards to protect your payments. 3D Secure provides 2FA for every purchase you’ve made, adding another layer of protection.

Private Internet Access payment options

  • Major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover)
  • PayPal
  • Amazon Pay
  • Cryptocurrencies (Bitpay, bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin)

Proton VPN payment options

  • Credit cards
  • PayPal

Winner: Taking the crown for superior support and versatile payments, Private Internet Access shines. Its 24/7 live chat and privacy payment options, like cryptocurrencies, make it a top-notch VPN choice.

PIA vs. Proton VPN FAQs


+

Is there a better VPN than PIA?

While PIA is a highly-rated choice with impressive security features and affordable pricing, you may find other VPNs like ExpressVPN more suitable, especially for speed considerations and accessing a wider network of server countries worldwide.


+

Can I trust PIA VPN?

Indeed, PIA VPN has earned a reputation for its robust security measures and adherence to a verified no-logs policy. However, it’s based in the U.S., which may cause some privacy concerns.


+

What are the disadvantages of Proton VPN?

Despite its strong encryption and Swiss-based operations, Proton VPN's limitations lie in its restricted features in its free version and its limited support of simultaneous connections. Proton VPN caps at 10 devices, while PIA supports unlimited connections. Learn more in our Proton VPN review.


+

Does Netflix block Proton VPN?

Some Proton VPN servers can bypass Netflix's geo-restrictions. However, since VPN IP addresses are routinely blocked by Netflix, it can be hit-or-miss.

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN: which is better?

Private Internet Access and Proton VPN offer solid features for security and privacy. These include bank-grade encryption, secure VPN protocols, a kill switch, and split tunneling, not to mention the sophisticated multi-hop capabilities designed to mask your whereabouts and amplify your anonymity. They both also have no-logs policies that were thoroughly vetted by independent third-party audits. Plus, they both offer torrenting support and allow access to popular streaming platforms.

The fine lines that separate the VPNs are these: PIA provides 24/7 live chat support, whereas Proton VPN provides live chat support during business hours. But while PIA’s plans are cheap, Proton VPN goes a step further by introducing a free, limited version for those who cannot afford to dig deeply in their pockets. Also, PIA supports unlimited connections, while Proton VPN only supports 10. Finally, PIA is based in the U.S.A. (a member of the Five Eyes), while Proton VPN is in privacy-friendly Switzerland.

It’s a real pickle to choose one over the other. But given the choice, we'd gravitate toward PIA for its cost-effective, feature-rich plans and toward Proton VPN for its unwavering dedication to security and privacy.

Private Internet Access vs. Proton VPN alternatives

Below is a quick overview of the best VPNs available as alternatives.

  • ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN delivers fast speeds, high-grade security, and wide streaming access, employing 256-bit encryption, innovative advanced security features, and a global server network for accessing streaming content.

    Get ExpressVPN | Read Our ExpressVPN Review
  • NordVPN: NordVPN has a penchant for rapid speeds, offers a large server network, provides military-grade encryption, and has a secure proprietary VPN protocol (NordLynx built on WireGuard). Plus, with its ability to unblock most geo-restricted content, it is a force to be reckoned with.

    Get NordVPN | Read Our NordVPN Review
  • Surfshark: Surfshark ensures strong security with affordable pricing plans that help you save money on a VPN, complemented by a strict no-logs policy and support for simultaneous connections on an unlimited number of devices. It is an all-in-one solution for those on a budget or anyone who likes to save extra dough in their pockets.

    Get Surfshark | Read Our Surfshark Review

Save 82% on a 2-year subscription + 2 months free
5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Private Internet Access's website
Private Internet Access
  • VPN offering fast internet speeds and strict no-logs policy
  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming services
  • Antivirus and dedicated IP address cost extra
Author Details
Mars is a cybersecurity professional and writer based in California. Currently pursuing a B.S. in Cybersecurity, he serves as an Advisory Board Member for WEBGAP, specializing in browser isolation. With an interest in OSINT, ethical hacking, and threat intelligence, Mars enjoys writing security content and has experience as a Security Researcher, Cybersecurity Analyst (WEBGAP), and Editor-in-chief (Secjuice).