ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN

Bottom Line: The bottom line is that it comes down to personal preferences and specific individual needs. ExpressVPN offers some great automated connection options and plenty of server coverage. It also has a 6-month subscription option, which might be preferred by people who don't know if they want to make a long-term commitment to a technology service.


PIA, on the other hand, has some of the lowest pricing on the market in 2020 and still allows up to 10 simultaneous connections. This may make this VPN a better option for families with a lot of connectivity needs or those who want to get the most value out of their service and don't mind committing to a long-term contract.

Choosing your next — or first — VPN service provider can be a big task. Even if you know a bit about these services, there are so many options to consider that it can quickly become overwhelming. This review provides a summary of the common features most people look for in a VPN service so you’re better equipped to compare options. It also highlights two top-tier options: Express VPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN. We include a high-level overview of these two companies so you can be confident choosing between them.

How We Evaluated ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access VPN

We took the most common features that are important for VPN users and looked at how these two providers held up. You can find all that information below. Remember, though, that whether or not a VPN is the right option for you depends on how you plan to use it. Keep your personal browsing and privacy needs in mind as you compare services.

Common Features We Looked For

1. Security & Privacy

Security and privacy are critical features for a VPN service to support because staying anonymous online or keeping people from tracking your browsing history are top reasons for people to turn to VPNs. We looked for services that committed to providing ample security via features such as no-log policies. These mean that the VPN promises it won’t keep a record of your activity online — which is what your ISP and other providers do. We also looked for services that support a high level of encryption. The highest level of encryption in 2020 is 256-bit AES.

2. Server Coverage

Another feature we evaluated VPN services on is server coverage. This refers to how many servers a VPN company operates and where those servers are located. When you look at this feature, you want to see a VPN that has hundreds of servers located in numerous countries across the globe. The more servers a company has, the more customers it can support without meeting bandwidth issues — that just means that you’re more likely to have speedy service. And servers in various locations keep factors such as natural disasters from impacting your ability to access a server somewhere that works. It also ensures you can find servers relatively near your own location.

3. Performance

Once you ensure a VPN service offers strong security and can back up services with many servers, it’s time to look at overall performance. You want to choose a VPN that is fast enough that you can handle all your normal activity online, including streaming television shows and movies if that’s important to you. You also want to ensure that the VPN supports enough devices at the same time, especially if your family tends to log in with multiple devices such as smartphones, laptops and television streaming sticks. It’s also a good idea to look at what types of streaming services and browsers are supported to ensure a VPN aligns with your personal needs.

4. Price

Finally, compare the prices for VPN plans. It might be tempting to opt for a free plan, but look at the limitations on those. If they’re too limiting, don’t worry. You can get a VPN service for $3 to $10 a month, making it a very affordable way to protect yourself online.

ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access VPN Comparison

With more than 10 hours of research under our belts on these two VPN companies, we’re ready to tell you how they stack up when it comes to the features you care about. Check out the comparison of ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access VPN below.

Security & Privacy

Private Internet Access, or PIA, is one of the leaders in the security and privacy space when it comes to VPN services. It’s a favorite of many users for this reason, and the fact that it has an aggressive no-log policy and uses 256-bit AES encryption. PIA also supports what is called IP cloaking. Your IP address is what identifies you when you travel around the web. PIA gives you a different IP address when you visit a site, and that IP address continues to change as you use the internet. That means you aren’t hitting sites with the same address, which can make it easier to track you online. Other security features include a kill switch and firewalls.

ExpressVPN is a close match to PIA when it comes to security and privacy. It also supports IP cloaking and has a no-log policy, so you know your online interactions aren’t being tracked by the VPN. ExpressVPN also supports AES 256-bit encryption. Like PIA, ExpressVPN has a kill switch. This sounds ominous, but it actually just means that the VPN will shut down your internet connection if something goes wrong with the VPN protection. That way, you aren’t continuing to browse or stream online without being protected, and you can take action to log in again or connect to another VPN server.

Server Coverage

PIA boasts more than 3,000 servers, which are located in around 32 countries on all continents except Antarctica. The locations include Brazil, France, Norway, Canada, Romania, India and Finland. There are also plenty of servers located in America in cities including Seattle and New York and throughout the states of Florida and California.

ExpressVPN and PIA are also fairly well matched when it comes to server coverage. ExpressVPN also has more than 3,000 servers, though they are, perhaps, located more diversely than PIA’s since they’re spread out over 94 countries. Sites for ExpressVPN servers include, but aren’t limited to, locations in the United States, Japan and Asia, South America and Europe.

Overall, these two VPNs provide very high levels of server coverage, so this is not a deciding factor for most people between the two. The one exception is if you want to access a server in a specific country for any reason; you can check the websites to find a complete server location list for both companies.


PIA offers high performance and speeds, particularly if you can get a server “near” you. Near in this case means on the same continent, generally. In some cases, you might find server speeds decrease slightly if you use a server across the world, but this is something that could happen with any service. PIA supports a wide range of browsers, including common ones such as Firefox and Chrome, as well as most popular streaming services. It also supports WireGuard protocol, a general-use option that supports high speeds while keeping your data protected. With PIA, you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously.

ExpressVPN only lets you connect up to five devices at a time, which is the one area where it doesn’t quite stack up to PIA. However, if you don’t need to use multiple simultaneous connections, you may appreciate ExpressVPN’s auto-balancing, which assigns you to the highest-performing server for your location each time you log in. That means you get the best service possible without manually managing any configurations. ExpressVPN also supports a number of VPN protocols, although they aren’t the same on every server.


Both of these plans are fairly affordable, though PIA offers the best price, especially if you can commit to the 2-year plan, which comes in at an industry-leading price of less than $3. However, ExpressVPN offers a pretty good deal on a 6-month plan if you want to commit but don’t want to do so for years.

Comparison Table
PlanExpressVPNPrivate Internet Access VPN
1 month, paid monthly$12.95$9.95
6 months$9.99/month or $59.95/6 monthsN/A
1 year, paid once annually$8.23/month, or $99.95/12 months$3.33/month or $39.95/year
2 years, paid once every two yearsN/A$2.69/month, or $69.95/two years

Overview: ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access VPN

Both of these options are affordable, credible options for VPN services. They have good reviews and robust consumer fanbases that feel the services protect privacy and offer solid functionality. But the right service for you depends on your personal needs. You can find some more details about each of these providers in the table below to help you make a decision between them.

ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access VPN Comparison Table

Comparison Table
ExpressVPNPrivate Internet Access VPN
Free TrialNone*30 days money back guarantee only
Customer Support24/7 live chatEmail
Platform/Browser CompatibilityChrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and VivaldiChrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari
Server Coverage160 VPN server locations in 94 countries3,341 VPN and Proxy servers in 52 locations across 32 countries
Number of Devices510
No-Log PolicyYesYes
Streaming ServicesNetflix, Hulu, the BBC, YouTube, Prime Video, Kodi, HBO, Disney, ShowtimeNetflix, Hulu, the BBC, YouTube, Prime Video, Kodi, HBO, Disney, Showtime
Security Encryption256-bit AES256-bit AES
Kill SwitchYesYes
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