Hotspot Shield

  • More than 3,200 in 70 countries and counting
  • Won’t log any online activities
  • Torrenting and Netflix access
Page Contents

Hotspot Shield certainly isn’t the most well-known VPN in the world, but it has some pretty cool features that we haven’t seen bundled with any other VPN on the market. Since its acquisition by Pango, we could get its premium service coupled with identity theft protection, a password manager and call blockers. They also have a free version that you can use forever on one device, plus 45 days to cancel their Premium service for a full refund. But what’s the price on these paid packages? We’ll cover all that and more, breaking down all of the costs associated with Hotspot Shield (and how you can save money).

Hotspot Shield

Free Trial

Hotspot Shield doesn’t just have a free trial period. Rather, you can use their Basic plan for free for as much time as you want. However, there are some limitations, as there typically are with the best free VPNs; we could only use the VPN on one device, had limited streaming access, connection speeds, data usage limits, customer support options, device options, and server options. We also didn’t get the extras that come with the paid plans, which we’ll get to in a second. But if you need a VPN for a short time on one device, Hotspot Shield is a solid option you won’t have to pay a penny for.

Limited Speed on the free Hotspot Shield App
Limited Speed on the free Hotspot Shield App

Refund/ Cancellation Policy

Say we bit the bullet and paid for Hotspot Shield, but later wanted to cancel. We’ve all had buyer’s remorse before, and Hotspot Shield understands that implicitly. That’s why they gave us 45 days from our purchase date to get a full refund on Hotspot Shield. As if the free version wasn’t enough of a test run!

Subscription Options

Since the company Pango recently acquired Hotspot Shield, their subscription options are a bit all over the place and more than a little confusing, in our humble opinion. But don’t worry, we broke it all down for you below.

Personal Use Subscriptions

We invested in the Premium individual plan, which covered five devices under one account. However, if we wanted more coverage, we could’ve opted for the family plan, which covered 25 devices across five accounts.

Basic PlanPremium Individual PlanPremium Family PlanPango
Maximum number of accounts1151
Maximum number of devices1525 (5 per account)5
Streaming accessLimitedNetflix, Youtube, Hulu, Disney+, etcNetflix, Youtube, Hulu, Disney+, etcNetflix, Youtube, Hulu, Disney+, etc
Maximum connection speed2 Mbps1 Gpbs1 Gpbs1 Gpbs
Maximum data per day in MB500UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Number of virtual locations1 (U.S)115+115+115+
Customer support optionsSupport centerSupport center, 24/7 live chatSupport center, 24/7 live chatSupport center, 24/7 live chat
Coverage for smart TVs, Linux, routersX
Protection for malware and phishingX
Smart VPNX
1Password password managerXXX
Identity Guard identity theft protectionXXX
Robo Shield robocall blocker (only available in U.S and Canada)XXX
Hiya call blocker (only available in U.S and Canada)XXX
Monthly Price$0.00$12.99$19.99$12.99
Monthly Price with Annual Plan$0.00$7.99$11.99$7.99
Total Amount Billed with Annual Plan$0.00$95.88$143.88$95.88
Savings with Annual Plann/a38%40%38%

Notice anything strange? We did. We’ll get into more of Hotspot Shield’s company background below, but in a nutshell, a company called Pango bought the VPN this year, in 2020. Pango also owns a few other digital security brands like Identity Guard (which you can learn more about in our Identity Guard review), 1Password, a password manager that we’ve reviewed on Youtube,1 plus call blockers Robo Shield and Hiya. So when we went on Pango’s website, we found that we could get a Premium subscription, plus these additional apps, for the exact same price, either $12.99 if we signed up for a month or $7.99 a month if we signed up for a year. The thing is, to access this bundle, you need to leave Hotspot Shield’s website and head straight to Pango. Sure, it’s kind of annoying, but you’ll get four more apps added, completely free!

Tip: Instead of buying the individual, Premium service from Hotspot Shield, buy the bundle from Pango, which includes not only this service but also a password manager, identity theft protection and call blocking.

Business Use Subscription

It’s business time, but here’s the thing: technically, Hotspot Shield has an option for businesses, but it’s from another Pango product called Twingate, again available on an outside website. Now, we didn’t actually test out Twingate,4 (only Hotspot Shield itself, which you can read about in our Hotspot Shield review), but we’ve outlined the pricing for you below.

FeaturesStarterTeamsBusinessEnterprise
Maximum number of users250150Unlimited
Maximum number of devices per user255Unlimited
Number of remote networks1510Custom
Extrasn/an/aResource-level access controlNetwork analytics, device posture, admin API, priority support
Cost per user per month$0.00$5$10Custom

FYI: If you have anywhere from 51 to 150 users, Twingate gets a bit expensive at $10 per user per month; we’d only recommend it for teams of two to 50 people, or teams above 150 for lower and customized pricing.

Considering the fact that 95 percent of Americans are concerned about how companies use their personal information,2 encrypting sensitive customer information is customer service at its finest. However, Twingate is only available on iOS, Android, Mac and Windows devices, so if you wanted a Chrome browser extension or a VPN that works on your router, Linux or smart TV devices, then you should look elsewhere for your business VPN.

Favorite Features

Let’s get back to the topic at hand, Hotspot Shield, and whether or not it’s worth its pricing. We think it is for the following reasons:

Selecting a Server in the Hotspot Shield App
Selecting a Server in the Hotspot Shield App
  • Worldwide availability: With servers in more than 70 countries around the world, we connected to Hotspot Shield at home as well as while traveling.
  • Won’t log web activity: Although we took issues with some of the data collected in Hotspot Shield’s privacy policy, ultimately, we were most grateful that they didn’t keep track of the websites we visited.
  • Torrenting: Downloading non-copyrighted material was easy with Hotspot Shield encrypting our activity.
  • Netflix: We got bored with everything on Netflix, so we connected to Hotspot Shield and switched over to servers in other countries, seeing the different content they had in store.
  • Dynamic IP addresses: Every time we connected to Hotspot Shield, we got a new IP address, which made tracing our identity online about as difficult as finding a needle in a very large haystack.
  • Free option: Sure, it only worked on one device, but we loved that Hotspot Shield’s free plan didn’t have a time limit.
  • Bonus features: A password manager, identity theft protection and call blockers, all for the same price as the Premium plan? Count us in.
  • Money-back guarantee: Even if we put down a card, Hotspot Shield gave us 45 days, ample time to cancel our subscription and receive a full refund.
  • User-friendly apps: When we were waiting in line at CVS and simply couldn’t take the boredom, we protected ourselves online with Hotspot Shield’s easy to use iOS and Android apps, currently ranked at 4.5 and 4.3 on the Apple and Google Play stores, respectively.

Background Information

Hotspot Shield is part of the ever-expanding portfolio of a company called Pango, which as we said before, now also includes digital security products like Identity Guard, 1Password, Hiya and Robo Shield, hence the bundled subscription. But it doesn’t end there; Aura, another technology company, acquired Pango in July 2020.3 Now, prior to June 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, Pango used their own corporate VPN, but it was insufficient for their remote work needs so they created Twingate, their business VPN. With impressive parent companies, we expect bigger and better things from Hotspot Shield as they get bundled with more and more digital security products and services.

Hotspot Shield Customer Support
Hotspot Shield Customer Support

One thing we don’t love about Hotspot Shield’s parent companies? They’re both based in the United States, as is Hotspot Shield itself in sunny California. While we love California for its beaches and cities, this location means that the U.S government could force Hotspot Shield to hand over customer data due to the surveillance alliance Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes, of which the U.S is a member. That’s not ideal under any circumstances, but it’s especially not ideal with Hotspot Shield, as their privacy policy is more than barebones. Essentially, as we said before, Hotspot Shield didn’t log our web activity, but they did log information such as our:

  • Email addresses
  • IP addresses
  • Usernames
  • Mobile IDs
  • Device information.

Most VPNs keep our IP addresses hidden even from themselves, so the fact that Hotspot Shield takes notes is an issue for those concerned with privacy. Hopefully, Pango will rethink this privacy policy, as it’s less than ideal for anyone handling sensitive information, like activists, journalists, and medical professionals. So while we’re happy that Hotspot Shield is bundled with a bunch of other great digital security services, their privacy policy makes them a poor choice for the privacy-weary.

Hotspot Shield Privacy Policy
Hotspot Shield Privacy Policy

Compatible Operating Systems, Devices and Browsers

We tested out Hotspot Shield on Windows and Mac laptops primarily, but here’s a full list of the devices and browsers it works on:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Chrome
  • Routers (with Premium plans only)
  • Linux (with Premium plans only)
  • Smart TVs (with Premium plans only)

Payment Methods

If you choose to go with a Premium subscription, there are a good amount of different payment options for Hotspot Shield, including the following:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • JCB
  • Discover
  • PayPal
  • Diner’s Club International

Recap

Hotspot Shield is a company in flux, and we consider that a good thing. They’re generous with a free option, a 45-day money-back guarantee and extra services, on the house. If you’re happy with their service, there’s no reason not to buy the bundle from Pango and save yourself some money, while upping your digital security along the way.

Hotspot Shield FAQs

  • Can Hotspot Shield be trusted?

    For someone not super concerned about privacy, Hotspot Shield can be trusted; they won’t log any web activity and encrypt customer data using AES-128 and TLS. However, they log users’ originating IP addresses and because of their headquarters in the U.S, could be forced to share this information with the federal government along with users’ email addresses, device information, usernames and mobile IDs. As a result of that, if you are extremely concerned with keeping your identity a secret, Hotspot Shield can’t be trusted.

  • Is the Hotspot Shield VPN free?

    Hotspot Shield does have a free option that you can use on an ongoing basis. However, it comes with some limitations: you can only use one device, your streaming options are limited, your maximum connection speed is only two Mbps, your maximum data transferred per day is capped at 500 MB, and you’ll only be able to connect to servers located in the U.S. Also, the free version doesn’t work on smart TVs, Linux devices and routers, so it’s only available on Mac, iOS, Android and Windows devices. That being said, if you need a VPN for a short period of time, Hotspot Shield’s free version is a great option.

  • Is Hotspot Shield a virus?

    Hotspot Shield isn’t a virus. Rather, it’s a VPN, a virtual private network that encrypts users’ web traffic and replaces their IP address.

  • How do I get Hotspot Shield?

    To get Hotspot Shield, go on their website and select the plan you’d like. Enter payment information, create a username and password, and download the app onto whichever devices you’d like. Then, sign in on the app and click “connect”.

Citations
  1. Youtube. (2020). 1Password Password Manager Review from Secuirty.org.
    youtube.com/watch?v=roLhSEoIeu8&t=203s

  2. Keep Solid. (2020). VPN Market Report: Trends, Usage, Major Players, and How to Get Into It.
    keepsolid.com/blog/vpn-market-report-trends-usage-major-players/#1

  3. Cision. (2020). Aura Acquires Digital Privacy and Security Company Pango.
    prnewswire.com/news-releases/aura-acquires-digital-privacy-and-security-company-pango-301088715.html

  4. Pango. (2020). Pango Case Study: Why we left our corporate VPN for Twingate.
    pango.co/news/pango-twingate-case-study/