Best VPNs for American TV

Netflix US has the largest library of streaming content. This is great news for American viewers at home, but they will lose access to their favorite titles while traveling internationally. If you’re an American citizen planning on streaming while you travel, you can retain access to your favorite titles by simply connecting to a VPN. In this article, I outline the very best VPNs for US expats or international travelers.

A VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, is a privacy tool that encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server located in another part of the world. It will disguise your true IP address with the IP address of your selected server so that every website you visit will believe you are actually located in the server’s area. If you travel to the United Kingdom, for example, you can still access home streaming services like Netflix and other American content by using a VPN to connect to a server located in the US.

Aside from their streaming capabilities, VPNs are useful for fortifying your privacy while using the internet. The encryption will keep your online activities private from the prying eyes of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and unsecured public wifi networks.

I’ll go into greater detail on each provider, but for now, here’s a summary of the best VPNs for streaming US content:

  1. NordVPN: My first choice VPN for watching American TV abroad. NordVPN sets the standard for security and speed in the VPN market. It offers access to thousands of servers around the world, including The USA. It also stores no logs of your online activities. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark: A great budget option. Surfshark combines excellent security standards and stable connection speeds for HD streaming while abroad. It offers unlimited simultaneous connections so you can protect every device in your household.
  3. ExpressVPN: A great choice for streaming, gaming, and downloading. Streams at super-fast speeds for seamless HD viewing, and doesn’t compromise on security, either.
  4. CyberGhost: A low-cost and user-friendly VPN that works with most streaming services. Operates the largest server network on this list.
  5. IPVanish: A strong privacy-focused VPN. Doesn’t consistently work with Netflix or Hulu, but offers powerful security features. A favorite among Kodi and torrent users.
  6. PrivateVPN: A relatively new VPN that delivers impressive speeds. Compatible with most American streaming sites from abroad.
  7. Hotspot Shield: A budget-friendly VPN that you can depend on for tight security and great connection speeds.

Best VPNs for US expats to watch American TV abroad

Not all VPNs have the same capabilities, and not all work with US streaming services. I made my selections of the best VPNs for US expats based on the following criteria:

  • Fast connection speeds for HD streaming
  • Works with Netflix US and American TV channels
  • Multiple US server locations
  • Strong security protection
  • Keeps no logs

I’ll go into further detail about how I test VPNs further in this article. For now, here is my list of the best VPNs for watching American TV abroad:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN

NordVPN is my first choice for accessing American TV and streaming services from another country. It operates a vast server network consisting of over 5,200 servers spread across 60+ countries around the world, with more than 1,970 servers in the United States that work with Netflix US. Only the Windows and Android apps let you select an individual server, while you can only select by city on the other apps—but choosing the right US city should be enough for accessing TV channels for local sporting events.

This service sets the standard for VPN security. Once connected to the app, your traffic will be protected with a layer of 256-bit AES encryption so nothing you do online will be visible to your ISP or any other snooping third party. Other security features include protection against IPv6 and WebRTC leaks and a kill switch that will halt the flow of information if it detects a sudden loss of connection to the VPN. The kill switch keeps you from browsing the web without protection.

In addition to NordVPN’s standard servers, it comes with a selection of specialty servers optimized for functions such as double VPN, Tor over VPN, DDoS protection, and servers dedicated for streaming, downloading, and gaming. Windows and Android users get the added benefit of a split tunneling feature for choosing which websites and apps are protected by the VPN and which aren’t. This feature is useful for browsing the internet securely while retaining access to your area’s content with an unencrypted connection.

NordVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy, which means the company won’t record any of your online activities. There is simply no data to be exposed in the event of a data breach. Furthermore, the company is located in Panama where it is not subject to data retention laws.

NordVPN makes apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Linux, and some routers.  Linux systems and routers require manual configuration. Up to six devices can be connected to NordVPN simultaneously with one subscription.

Pros:

  • Over 1,970 servers in the United States
  • Strong encryption and security features
  • Works with Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming sites
  • Fast speeds for HD streaming
  • Works in China

Cons:

  • Location-only server selection in all but Windows and Android Apps

BEST VPN FOR AMERICAN TV:NordVPN is my number one choice for streaming American TV from abroad. Unblocks most streaming sites and handles HD video while protecting your privacy. Works in China, too. Try it risk-free for 30 days.

2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Surfshark is a high-quality and budget VPN. Its network of 3,200+ servers from over 65 countries worldwide provides a wide geographic range for accessing international content, including Netflix US and American TV channels like NBC and CBS. Surfshark’s servers deliver lightning-fast connection speeds capable of streaming HD video from abroad with little to no buffering. Surfshark is great for sharing with friends and family because one subscription includes unlimited simultaneous connections.

Surfshark’s streaming capabilities are matched by its security standards. It protects your internet traffic with 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and features protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. Surfshark follows a no-logs policy so nothing you do online will be recorded or tracked back to you in any way, and you can keep yourself extra-private by paying anonymously in Bitcoin.

Apps are available for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Linux, and a selection of routers.

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Works with American TV and Netflix
  • Seamless HD streaming
  • Strong security and no logs

Cons:

  • A handful of its servers can be slow

TOP BUDGET VPN:You can enjoy strong security and fast server speeds without breaking the bank. Comes with a variety of security features and unlimited simultaneous connections for protecting your whole family. Includes 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a popular VPN for streaming. Its 3,000+ servers in over 94 countries are capable of accessing just about anything, including Netflix US and all major US TV stations. Its servers consistently deliver fast speeds that make it ideal for streaming, downloading, and gaming, and it even works well in China. Some servers are better than others at overcoming geographical restrictions so you may need to connect to a few different servers before you find something that works. 24/7 customer support is available to help match you with the right server if you continue to have problems.

ExpressVPN secures your traffic with 256-bit AES encryption and adds further protection with perfect forward secrecy, a kill switch, and protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. Forward secrecy rotates the encryption key periodically so only a small portion of your data would be accessible in the unlikely event of a hacking attempt. ExpressVPN only logs some non-identifying data for diagnostic purposes, such as the date of connection to a VPN server and the total bandwidth consumed.

ExpressVPN apps are provided for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Linux, and certain wifi routers.

Pros:

  • Works with most streaming sites, including Netflix US
  • Fast and reliable connection speeds
  • Top-level security features
  • Strong encryption protocol

Cons:

  • Not the cheapest option
  • Streaming servers aren’t clearly labeled

SMOOTH STREAMING:ExpressVPN can stream anything from anywhere. Works with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and most other platforms. Doesn’t slack on security. Includes a 30-day money-back period.

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

CyberGhost makes beginner-friendly apps without any sacrifices on security or speed. Its network of over 7,300+ servers in more than 91 countries makes it the largest on this list and includes more than 1,200 servers spread across 11 US cities. CyberGhost works with most US-based streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in addition to American TV stations.

CyberGhost is easy to use because it will automatically match you with a server based on your personal needs—so if you want to stream Netflix US, for example, CyberGhost will provide you with a selection of Netflix-dedicated servers. Its NoSpy servers are optimized for extra security due to their no-logs policy and location in Romania, a country with no data retention laws. It also uses 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection to keep your online communications safe.  The company accepts payments in Bitcoin for anonymous payment, and the 45-day money-back guarantee is longer than most other providers.

Apps are provided for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Linux, and some routers. Seven simultaneous connections are permitted with a single subscription.

Pros:

  • Over 1,200 US servers
  • Impressive connection speeds
  • Strong encryption and security features
  • Works with most streaming sites

Cons:

  • Not all servers work well for torrenting or file sharing
  • No local networking or support for routers

BEGINNER’S CHOICE:CyberGhost is a low-cost and easy-to-use VPN for beginners. Offers the largest server network on this list that meets a high standard of speed and security. Includes an extended 45-day money-back guarantee.

5. IPVanish

IPVanish

IPVanish is a US-based VPN provider that is popular among Kodi and torrents users. Its remote-friendly interface makes it easy to use with Kodi devices and it allows torrenting and unlimited bandwidth for heavy downloading. Its 1,900+ servers include over 1,100 servers across 20 US cities that can stream plenty of US TV channels at high speeds from abroad. Some of its servers struggle with Netflix US, so you may have to try out a few different servers before you find one that works.

IPVanish uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol alongside a kill switch, DNS leak protection, traffic obfuscation, and a dynamic IP address system that will give you a new IP address every time you connect to a server. Once you disconnect from the server, that IP address will become available for someone else to use.

IPVanish is one of the few VPN providers that owns and operates every server on its network rather than rents from a third party, so your data will be extra secure. It is also one of the rare VPNs that comes with an unlimited allowance of simultaneous connections.

IPVanish apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, and Linux.

Pros:

  • 1,100+ US servers
  • Easy to use for remote control users
  • Fast streaming speeds
  • Unlimited connections

Cons:

  • Inconsistently unblocks Netflix
  • Doesn’t work in China
  • Doesn’t support split tunneling

PROTECT EVERY DEVICE:IPVanish is a privacy-first VPN. Comes with a wealth of security features and allows torrenting. IPVanish will protect every device you and your family owns. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

6. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is a Sweden-based service that has around 200 servers, but consistently delivers impressive streaming speeds suitable for HD viewing. PrivateVPN offers servers in 11 US cities that work with Netflix US effortlessly. Its easy-to-use interface includes servers labeled with the names of various streaming platforms so you can easily find a server optimized for your preferred content source.

PrivateVPN is an affordable security-focused VPN that keeps you safe with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy. PrivateVPN’s customer support is available during Swedish business hours and can remotely take control of your device to configure your VPN for you, with your permission.

PrivateVPN makes apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and select routers. There is no PrivateVPN app for Linux systems, but its website does offer some helpful guides to help you configure your Linux device. PrivateVPN provides an allowance of six simultaneous connections.

Pros:

  • Servers in 11 US cities
  • Fast, durable connections
  • Streaming-dedicated servers
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • A small number of servers
  • Live chat is not 24/7
  • Kill switch is only available on the Windows app

FAST AND SECURE:PrivateVPN is a low-cost provider offering a high level of security. Smaller than average server network, but faster than average speeds. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.

7. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is another worthwhile budget option with a wide selection of servers and security features. Its server network consists of over 1,800 servers in 80+ countries around the world including locations in 27 US cities, perfect for accessing Netflix US and local TV stations. Its servers are fast enough to smoothly stream HD video from other streaming platforms as well, including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and much more.

It meets a high standard of security by securing your traffic with 256-bit AES encryption, perfect forward secrecy, a kill switch, and protection against DNS and WebRTC leaks. These tools all help to protect your privacy and keep your browsing anonymous. Hotspot Shield uses its proprietary Hydra protocol to secure your connection. It also follows a strict no-logs policy.

Hotspot Shield makes apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. 5 simultaneous connections are permitted under a single account.

Pros:

  • Servers in 27 US cities
  • Fast VPN protocol
  • Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more
  • Powerful security features

Cons:

  • Some past privacy concerns
  • Relatively small server network
  • Kill switch only works on selected apps

SECURE LOW-COST VPN:Hotspot Shield is a useful all-purpose VPN for those on a budget. Stream American Netflix and TV from abroad while keeping your internet connection private. Try it for 45 days risk-free.

My Methodology: How I find the best VPNs for American TV

Each VPN is tried and tested before being recommended to my readers. Here’s what I look for in a VPN for American TV:

  • US server locations – I make sure that there is a selection of US-based servers to choose from, including specialty servers for streaming. I also check the server coverage and like to see locations throughout the country.
  • Fast speeds – Streaming is impossible without fast speeds and a reliable connection. I conduct speed tests to check that each VPN can handle HD streaming without any buffering or interruptions.
  • Security and privacy – Some streaming services prohibit the use of VPNs, and could close your account for it. This is why I check that your VPN connection is undetectable with tools such as a network kill switch and AES encryption.
  • Devices – Apps should be compatible with the most popular devices and operating systems like Android, IOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. I check compatibility and also the number of simultaneous connections supported.

My full VPN testing methodology goes into more detail about how I test and review VPNs.

How to watch American TV with a VPN

Watching US TV and Netflix is made easy with a VPN, even if you’ve never used a VPN before. Here’s how to regain access to US content while you travel.

  1. Select a VPN that meets your preferences and sign up. My top recommendation goes to NordVPN.
  2. Download the app onto your streaming device.
  3. Launch the app and connect to a server located in the United States. You should immediately obtain an American IP address. You will need to connect to a server in the right city if you want to access local TV, but any server in the US should work for Netflix’s American library.
  4. Test the connection by playing a video. Since Netflix regularly filters out VPN servers and proxies, you may need to try out a few different servers before you find one that works for you. If problems persist, clear your cache and cookies to remove lingering location identifiers from your device. Contact your provider’s customer service team if you still encounter difficulties.

VPN for US TV FAQ

Can I use a free VPN to watch American TV from overseas?

Free VPNs almost never have the resources necessary to lift geographic restrictions on TV and streaming services, so you probably won’t have much luck with them. Even if you managed to find a free VPN that worked, most free VPNs come with data caps and bandwidth limits that will cut your favorite movie short.

Keep the security risks in mind, too. Because free VPNs don’t make their money from upfront costs, they usually resort to less scrupulous means of making a profit. That includes logging each user’s activities and selling records of user data to third-party advertisers without your knowledge or consent. If any online service is free, you will most likely end up as the product instead of the client. Some are even known to spread malware and inject intrusive ads into their users’ web browsers.

Can I watch US TV on mobile devices?

Yes. Every VPN provider on this list offers apps for Android and iOS devices, although mobile users are vulnerable to additional proxy detection than desktop users. Streaming platforms will not only discover each device’s location by checking its IP address, but they can also cross-reference the IP address with the device’s GPS position. Be sure to disable your phone's GPS services before accessing your preferred streaming site.

Is it legal to watch US TV from other countries?

VPNs are legitimate privacy tools that are legal in most countries around the world. Because of this, using a VPN to watch US TV while abroad shouldn't be a problem. However, it's important to remember that illegal activity is still illegal even while using a VPN. We do not provide legal advice and strongly recommend that you do your own research and refer to local laws if you are unsure.