Private Internet Access VPN

  • Doesn’t keep websites accessed or IP addresses
  • Kill switch protects web traffic even if VPN fails
  • Torrenting allowed
Page Contents

It’s no secret that Private Internet Access, otherwise known as PIA, is one of our favorite VPNs. With more than 3,194 servers in 33 countries and counting, we used PIA to protect our web activity and IP address all over the world, but is the cost right where it should be? Here, we’ll go over all you’ll pay for PIA, and whether or not it’s worth the dough. Let’s get started!

Private Internet Access VPN Header

Subscription Pricing

Private Internet Access recently changed its pricing, adding a two year option, raising the one year option’s price and taking away the six month option. The result? We could pay for PIA with one month, one year or two year subscriptions.

1 Month1 Year2 Years
Monthly Rate$9.95$3.33$2.69
Total Amount Billed$9.95$39.95$69.95

Given the quality of their service, we think these prices are really fair, especially if you pay for two years at once. The longer the term length, the more you’ll save, so it pays to commit. To learn more about what each subscription will actually get you, read our Private Internet Access review.

Who Owns Private Internet Access?

Private Internet Access was released in 2010 under London Trust Media, Inc. In 2019, Kape Technologies bought Private Internet Access along with CyberGhost and Zenmate (one of which we’ve also tested out; read our CyberGhost review to learn more). PIA’s price tag was a cool $95.51 million.1 Not too shabby!

However, not everyone was thrilled about this acquisition; in fact, many people were concerned about Kape’s past history with the advertising industry, which was their focus before switching to digital security. That being said, PIA says that nothing about their service has changed since the acquisition, and their privacy policy promises not to log when we used their service, for how long, our IP address or what websites we went to. Furthermore, their privacy policy says that they don’t share any personal information, like the user’s name or email that they used to sign up with, with third parties for direct marketing purposes, which was certainly a load off our backs.

If you want to learn more, email privacy@privateinternetaccess.com with your questions, but our professional opinion? PIA is solid when it comes to their privacy policy, despite their parent company Kape Technologies’s history with advertising.

Accepted Payment Methods

PIA is pretty unique when it comes to the payment methods they’ll accept, which range from major credit cards to Bitcoin to gift cards from companies like Starbucks. Yes, you read that right.

  • PayPal
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • Amazon Payments
  • Bitcoin
  • Pay Guardian (see below for details)

Pay Anonymously With Gift Cards

If you want to pay without giving Private Internet Access any of your payment information like your credit card number, name, email or billing address, then you can pay anonymously with a gift card from over 100 brands, including:

  • Target
  • Starbucks ($25 is 95 days of Private Internet Access)
  • Best Buy ($32 will get you 128 days of PIA access)
  • The Home Depot
  • Lowe’s
  • Walmart (A $50 card will get you 366 days of service).

We don’t have all the exact translation rates, but for a total list of all the gift cards accepted, head over to PayGarden.2

Tip: For total anonymity, buy a gift card with cash and then use it to purchase PIA.

Favorite Features

We think PIA is worth its prices, and our reasoning is as follows, after testing it extensively:

  • More than 3,000 servers: PIA is one of the larger VPN companies that we’ve reviewed, meaning it has servers in many countries around the world.
  • No logging of web traffic or IP addresses: We were impressed with PIA’s privacy policy, which kept our web activity private.
  • Kill switch: Nothing works 100 percent of the time, which is why we were glad that when PIA disconnected accidentally, our web browsers were shut down as well, hiding our traffic from our Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  • Solid encryption: AES-256 and OpenVPN? Don’t mind if we do! We loved that PIA is top-notch in terms of encrypting our data, using the current standards across the digital security industry.
  • Torrenting: Netflix and Hulu don’t always cut it, so we torrented while connected to PIA in order to keep our entertainment for our eyes only.
  • Dynamic IP addresses: Every time we connected to PIA, we got a new IP address, which the service assigned randomly, making us that much harder to track online.
  • Fast on Macs: When we tested out PIA on our Macbook Air, we saw no change in latency versus when the VPN was turned off; its speed on Windows wasn’t bad, either, with only a five percent slowdown on upload speeds.
Private Internet Access App
Private Internet Access App
  • Highly-rated apps: Whether we connected to PIA on our iPhones or Androids while on the go, the apps were clean, easy to use and free of annoying bugs.
  • Affordability: PIA is on the lower end when it comes to price, with subscriptions starting at $2.69 per month with the two-year plan.

Note: We prefer dynamic IP addresses to static IP addresses as they are easier to track online.

Free Trial

As of now, PIA doesn’t offer a free trial, so you will have to put down a credit card (or another form of payment) to use their service. However, you have a 30-day window to cancel for a full refund, so mark down 30 days after the day you purchase PIA to be eligible.

Any Discounts Available?

If you’re a student, you probably spend a ton of time on public networks, whether it’s for taking notes in class or cramming for that big math test in the library. If that’s the case, you can save 71 percent on PIA through Student Beans. Just log onto your Student Beans account and search for Private Internet Access to get a discount code that you’ll use at checkout. We’re too old to be students of anything besides the School of Hard Knocks, so we’ll live through you youngins vicariously.

Got Friends?

Want a month of PIA, completely free? If you refer a friend and they sign up, you’ll both get 30 days of free access. Simply log into your PIA account and head over to the User Control Panel to send invitations directly to your friends and family’s email inboxes. As an alternative, you can share your referral link on social media. And that’s all it takes to get a month of PIA, completely free.

Cancelling PIA

If you want to cancel PIA for whatever reason, you can do so within the first 30 days of purchase; however, this only applies to subscriptions purchased directly from their website with certain payment methods, so it won’t work if you paid from iTunes, PayGarden, or through a PIA gift card. Beyond that 30-day window, you can cancel, but you won’t receive a pro-rated refund. To request a refund, either submit a support ticket on the PIA website or email helpdesk@privateinternetaccess.com.

What Devices Can I Connect To PIA?

While PIA’s pricing and return policies are certainly fair, none of that matters if their service doesn’t work with your device. But if you have one of the following, you’ll be fine to connect to PIA:

Connecting to Private Internet Access
Connecting to Private Internet Access
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Chrome (browser extension)
  • Firefox (browser extension)
  • Opera (browser extension)

Mobile Applications

In 2018, mobile search accounted for 58 percent of all website visits and 42 percent of total time spent online,3 so it’s important that PIA worked well on our iPhones and Androids. On both the Apple and Google Play stores, the VPN by Private Internet Access apps have ratings of 4.7, which is pretty darn close to perfect. From 25,619 reviews from Android users and over 57,400 reviews from iPhone users, it’s safe to say that PIA knows what it’s doing when it comes to apps.

Customer Support

Despite PIA’s easy to use apps, we still wanted to make sure that if we needed help with their service, it would be a relatively painless process with the support staff easily accessible. On their website, PIA has a support portal that includes tutorials, guides and user forums, but if those aren’t helping, you can contact them either through live chat or through an online form. However, we recommend starting with their online help center, as that’ll get your answers the fastest.

Transparency Report

We wish the government was as transparent as PIA! Their 2020 transparency report confirms that they haven’t received any court orders, subpoenas or warrants to hand over customer data; remember, that’s important as the United States could force PIA to hand over customer data legally. Fortunately, even if they were contacted by the government, they wouldn’t have much information to hand over, as they don’t log users’ originating IP addresses, websites visited, or any web traffic. Overall, we’re glad PIA has a squeaky clean history when it comes to government requests for customer information and their privacy policy. To learn more, either read our full review or check out PIA’s privacy policy, which is actually pretty easy to understand, believe it or not.

Why is that the case? Let’s take a history lesson. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stipulates that websites that serve citizens of the E.U must have clear and easy to understand privacy policies posted publicly. Although PIA is based in the U.S, because they have customers in the E.U, they adhere to the GDPR with their privacy policy, which benefits Americans and Europeans alike, although we aren’t subject to the same data privacy rights as our friends across the pond.

Recap

Our conclusion? PIA is well worth its already low prices, and we love that they have discounts for students as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee. Given its fast speeds, kill switch, torrenting access and 256-bit encryption, PIA is more than meeting industry standards when it comes to features, with its major shortcoming lying in its privacy jurisdiction. However, if you’re not in a high privacy-risk profession like journalism or activism, this may not matter to you. For the casual VPN-user, PIA gives great value on the dollar.

The Questions We Get Most Common

  • Is Private Internet Access a good VPN?

    Private Internet Access is a good VPN, with fast speeds, strong encryption methods, and dynamic IP addresses. However, since the company is based in the U.S, they are subject to surveillance alliances that could force them to hand customer data to the government, so while PIA is a good VPN in general, it’s not the best if privacy is a huge concern of yours.

  • What is the Private Internet Access VPN?

    The Private Internet Access VPN is a virtual private network that encrypts users’ web activity and hides their IP address with a new one every time they connect. Private Internet Access has apps for iOS and Android, browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome and Opera, plus compatibility with Windows, MacOS, and other brands of devices.

  • Is Private Internet Access safe?

    While Private Internet Access is safe in general, it’s not the best for those that want the highest level of anonymity online due to the location of its headquarters in the U.S. The U.S is a member of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes, an international surveillance alliance that makes it legal to force companies to give the government user data. Although PIA doesn’t log web traffic or IP addresses, they could hand some information over to the government like the user’s name or payment information, so it’s not the safest for those that want total anonymity online.

  • Who owns Private Internet Access?

    Kape Technologies owns Private Internet Access as of 2019.

Citations
  1. London Stock Exchange. (2019). Completion of Private Internet Access Acquisition.
    londonstockexchange.com/news-article/KAPE/completion-of-private-internet-access-acquisition/14348750?lang=en

  2. Pay Garden. (2020). Accepted Gift Card Brands.
    paygarden.com/brands?pid=privateinternet&prodid=privateinternet

  3. Perficient. (2019). Mobile vs. Desktop Usage in 2019.
    perficient.com/insights/research-hub/mobile-vs-desktop-usage-study