Did you know your internet service provider knows you’re reading this website? Do you know they know where you were before you were here? And before that? And this morning? And last week?
And did you know they aren’t the only ones potentially watching what you do online? Anyone that’s so inclined can track you using your IP address, and fraudsters can use this information for any number of nefarious purposes from hacking to identity theft.
Did You Know: Consumers lost about $3.3 billion to identity fraud in 2020 alone as cases nearly doubled from the previous year.1 Now, this isn’t to scare you. It’s to prepare you.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had access to a private internet? Well — until one of those is constructed, you can have access to the next best thing: Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN. Using a VPN like PIA will keep you as private as you can be online by masking your true IP address and placing your browsing behaviors safely behind walls of encryption.
But what does PIA offer? How much will this security cost? And do they have a subscription plan that’s right for you?
Private Internet Access is one of those services that can be as easy or as complex as you want to make it. In my full review of Private Internet Access, I found that for the layperson, immediate protection is as simple as pushing a big green button. More advanced users, however, will be able to select their protocols, connection type, data authentication, and encryption.
PIA gives you immediate and easy access to its control panel, so if there’s an adjustment that can be made, you’ll be able to make it. It’s definitely a service with room to grow into.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of their highlights.
It’s not our top-rated VPN (that accolade goes to ExpressVPN), but as mentioned, Private Internet Access is infinitely customizable. It’s also fast, secure, and easy to use. This is the trifecta of what you want to hear about in a VPN service. Beyond that, though, PIA offers plenty of security features for everyone.
Overall, PIA is a well-rounded service. But that begs the critical question — what prices and plans are on offer?
Luckily, Private Internet Access is one of the most affordable services I’ve come across — similar to VyprVPN’s costs or SurfSharks’ pricing. Like most services, they offer their full suite of protections regardless of the plan you select, but if you choose to go with longer durations, you’ll enjoy more savings. Here’s how their pricing breaks down:
|Subscription Duration||Monthly||Yearly||Two Years|
|Cost||$9.95||$3.33 Per Month||$2.69 Per Month|
As you can see, if you sign on for two years, you’ll be paying less than a third per month than you would if you’re going month-to-month — that’s some pretty significant savings right there. Also worth noting is the month-to-month cost, which is still plenty affordable; so when you’re only paying a third of that, you can likely find the majority of it in your car’s cup holders.
I know what you’re thinking though — two years is a pretty long-term commitment. What if you don’t like the services?
Well, you can just get your money back. Private Internet Access offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee on all of their subscription packages, which makes agreeing to two years right off the bat a lot more palatable.
Also worth noting: With the two-year subscription package, you’re going to get a year’s worth of Boxcryptor2 included, but we’ll talk more about that in the bonus features section.
Once you decide which service package is right for you, you’re going to have quite a few options for payment. PIA accepts regular credit and debit card payments along with PayPal and Amazon Pay — no real surprises there. What is interesting, though, is their acceptance of an array of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitpay, Etherum, and Litecoin.
Not only is this a pretty cool little technical perk, it also serves a function. Some privacy hawks aren’t too keen on handing over their credit card information to a service that’s supposed to keep them anonymous online. While paying with crypto isn’t a silver bullet for anonymity, it’s certainly a lot more obfuscated than a credit card.
FYI: You’ve likely heard of Bitcoin, and maybe Ethereum if you’re only tangentially aware of cryptocurrencies, but these are only scratching the surface. As of early 2021, there are over 4,000 cryptocurrencies available.3
Now is paying for your VPN with crypto completely necessary to remain anonymous? No, but there are plenty of folks out there who feel a lot more comfortable using this payment method and offering it is definitely a tick in the “pros” column for me.
So there are two “bonus” features to mention here. The first is Boxcryptor. As mentioned, if you purchase a two-year subscription to PIA, you’re going to get a free year of Boxcryptor. This usually runs about $50, so it’s a pretty great deal.
Boxcryptor provides end-to-end encryption for an unlimited number of cloud accounts across an unlimited number of devices. They’re what’s known as a “zero-knowledge” provider, meaning that although they’re encrypting your data, they have no access to it, and cannot provide any third party with access either. This is great news for folks who want to store sensitive materials online, but don’t want to worry about data breaches allowing those materials to fall into the wrong hands.4
Did You Know: Dropbox and iCloud — two popular cloud storage options — have both fallen victim to data breaches resulting in the exposure of hundreds of thousands of users.5
The second “bonus” feature is a dedicated IP address that you can tack on to any subscription plan for an extra $5 per month. Unlike the shared IP addresses most VPNs use, a dedicated IP address is static, and only you will have access to it.
Dedicated IP addresses are great for folks who want to avoid the hassles commonly associated with VPN usage like CAPTCHA and other interruptions while banking and shopping online. They’re also great for making telecommunications platforms like Zoom and Microsoft teams a little more stable. Well worth the extra $5, in my opinion.
That said — it’s worth pointing out there are other services that throw the dedicated IP address in for free, though. Check out my review of NordVPN if this is something you’re looking for but don’t want to pay extra to get.
With this in mind, though, there is one way to save a little more if you’re selecting PIA as your VPN of choice.
Right now, Private Internet Access is running a special where if you sign up for two years of service, you’ll get two months free. That’s 26 months of protection in total. When you couple that with access to Boxcrypter and the deep discount the two-year subscription package offers — it’s a tough deal to beat.
Also, the vast majority of these services offer Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. I don’t suggest waiting for six months to save a couple of bucks, but if you’re doing your shopping around November, it might be worth holding off a few days to see what kind of deal you can get.
Usually when people ask me this, I counter with another question — what are you looking for? But in PIA’s case, I think the choice is pretty clear. Due to the fact the savings are so significant, the 30-day, money-back guarantee is in place, and they’re giving you access to Boxcrypter for a year for free, the two-year subscription plan is the best overall. On paper, it’s hard to make the argument for selecting anything else.
If it’s a little tough to plunk down two years’ worth of monthly fees at once — $69.95 total — you can rest assured that if you end up not liking the service for whatever reason, you’ll get all that money back. You have almost a full month to decide whether or not it’s right for you, which should be plenty of time to get familiar with all of its offerings and settings.
In terms of a features-to-cost ratio, Private Internet Access is one of the top contenders in my book. They’re simple enough to be accessible to the layperson, customizable enough to impress the expert, and powerful enough to protect both of them. And PIA offers this at a really reasonable price, no matter if you’re going month to month, or you sign up for two full years. At the end of the day, this is a great service that you probably won’t regret spending your hard-earned cash — or Bitcoins — on.
Don’t think Private Internet Access is right for you? If that’s you, head over to our top 10 list of the best VPN services on the market today to get a fresh start in your quest to find the perfect protection for your budget and security needs.
PIA is $9.95 for month-to-month access. For a year, it costs $3.33 per month, and for two years, it costs $2.69 per month.
The two-year subscription package comes with the best savings, as well as a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
Right now PIA is offering this special: If you purchase a two-year subscription, you’ll get two months free.
Yes, with a two-year subscription, you’ll also get a year’s free access to Boxcrypter, an end-to-end encryption service for your cloud storage.
Yes, PIA has been audited by third parties to guarantee they are a zero-log service, and I couldn’t find security flaws in my testing.
Skiba, Katherine. (2021, Feb 5). Pandemic Proves to Be Fertile Ground for Identity Thieves. AARP.
Boxcryptor. (2021). Boxcryptor | Security for your Cloud.
de Best, Raynor. (2021, Feb 15). Number of cryptocurrencies worldwide from 2013 to 2021. Statista.
Boxcryptor. (2021). Boxcryptor for Individuals.
Bradford, Contel. (2020, July 25). 7 Most Infamous Cloud Security Breaches. StorageCraft.