We’ve tested dozens of VPNs over the years, so it’s reasonably simple for our team to compare competing providers. We put together a beginner-friendly, jargon-free guide to everything Betternet and ExpressVPN have to offer. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for, which aspects are unique to each service, and ultimately, which VPN is right for you.
Struggling to decide which provider to use? In that case, we’d suggest giving Surfshark a try first. This service is extremely quick, security-conscious, and versatile, plus we have a coupon that can help you score a long-term subscription at a steep discount.
Note: Betternet is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company. This hasn’t changed our coverage in any way, and all of our observations about either VPN (positive or negative) are backed up by hard evidence.
We’ve performed an exhaustive comparison of both services, having personally used their apps, researched their privacy policies, and verified as many of their claims as possible. Here’s what we found when we compared Betternet and Surfshark:
Summary: Betternet vs Surfshark
Betternet vs Surfshark pricing
Betternet and Surfshark are both on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, at least if you pay for one month at a time. Over longer periods, however, each provider manages to reduce its cost significantly. For instance, Betternet users can save nearly 40 percent with the annual plan, while Surfshark offers a staggering 82 percent off, plus two months free with the two-year term.
Now, Betternet does have something that Surfshark doesn’t: a free plan. This is ad-supported, and naturally, there are a few restrictions to encourage you to upgrade to the premium plan. Specifically, you’re limited to 500 MB of data per day, can only use American servers, and won’t be able to secure multiple devices.
Both services offer a money-back guarantee. This allows you to sign up, try them out, and cancel to receive a full refund, without even having to provide a reason. Surfshark’s guarantee lasts for 30 days, which is the industry standard, whereas Betternet offers a generous 45-day guarantee, even on one-month plans.
Betternet vs Surfshark features
|Website||betternet.co/||Surfshark.com||Simultaneous Connections||10||Unlimited||Devices Supported||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV||Manual install devices||Select routers||Free extras||Chrome extension||Automatic wifi protection, ad-blocking and malware-scanning. Extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Stealth mode.|
|Best deal (per month)||$7.99
Get 39% off a 12 month plan
Get 2 Months FREE with a 2-year plan
Most VPNs only let you protect five or so devices at a time. The good news is that Betternet doubles this, and Surfshark has no connection limits whatsoever, leaving you free to secure every device you own simultaneously. Surfshark offers a command line-based Linux app, and can be manually installed on routers. As such, it effectively works with any internet-connected device on your network. Unfortunately, Betternet doesn’t offer Linux or router support, though its website notes that this may change in the future.
Betternet does offer a Chrome extension, though. This lets you encrypt traffic from your browser (but not your other apps) without needing to have the full VPN app installed. Surfshark has extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, as well as automatic ad-blocking capabilities, and a togglable stealth mode that can help you beat even the strictest online censorship.
Streaming and Netflix comparison
It’s easy to forget that many of our favorite apps aren’t available worldwide. For instance, if you try watching your favorite shows while on vacation, you’ll likely encounter an error due to regional restrictions. To make matters worse, most streaming services block VPN traffic, making it even more difficult to stay caught up.
Surfshark users have no such problems. This VPN worked with every service we tested and even allowed us to watch Netflix, something that’s becoming increasingly difficult. Betternet performed well with US-based services like NBC but faltered when it came to British platforms like BBC iPlayer. It still has some way to go but this is a decent starting point.
Chinese internet restrictions are among the strictest in the world, with major sites like Google and Facebook completely inaccessible. You’ll also find that most VPN websites are blocked, and even if you find one that’s accessible, there’s a good chance the app itself will fail to work since the Great Firewall can identify VPN traffic that’s not adequately obfuscated.
The good news is that Surfshark works perfectly well in China. You will have to enable the NoBorders mode in the settings, but this only takes a second and is a small price to pay for secure internet access. Betternet, on the other hand, does not work in China at all.
Setup and interface
Betternet’s apps are simple, clean, and newcomer-friendly, and the experience is consistent across mobile and desktop. You’ll find a quick-connect button and server selection list right there on the main page, as well as a handful of options in the settings menu. We’d prefer if you could search the server list rather than having to scroll all the way through it, but that’s a fairly small complaint in the grand scheme of things.
Surfshark’s interface has a little more going on. The right-hand side has a connection button and your three most-recently used locations. On the left, you’ll find a list of all available servers, with multi-hop and static IP servers grouped separately. There are quite a few settings to choose from, but these are well-organized and each offers a short description of what it does. That said, of the five tabs on the far-left of the app, three are exclusively for features that you can’t use without a Surfshark One subscription, which costs extra.
Servers and performance
Surfshark has expanded its network recently and now boasts over 3,000 servers worldwide. Betternet doesn’t reveal how many servers it runs, but this isn’t a straightforward comparison anyway since good optimization can help a smaller network outperform a larger, thrown-together rival. What we do know is that both providers offer a significantly higher number of locations than the industry average (which is 60).
Betternet and Surfshark both use virtual servers. These aren’t actually located in their respective countries and are instead run from a computer elsewhere in the world. It’s often cheaper to operate these, though it can make it difficult to tell which country’s data protection laws actually apply to your traffic. Surfshark clearly lists which of its servers are virtual in the app, whereas Betternet relies exclusively on virtual locations.
Here are all the locations available with Betternet and Surfshark:
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||✔||✔|
|Isle of Man||✔||✔|
|United Arab Emirates||✔||✔|
Surfshark might offer more locations, but Betternet isn’t going down without a fight. It has several that its better-known rival doesn’t, including Russia, Iceland, and the Philippines, and can even help you get an IP address from China. Surfshark, meanwhile, has better coverage across Africa and Europe. You may find that the location you’d like to use is exclusive to one of these providers, which makes choosing between them much simpler.
So how well do these VPNs perform in an everyday setting? Well, despite having fallen recently, Surfshark’s average speeds remain well above most of its rivals’. In our tests, it delivered around 190 Mbps, compared to Betternet’s average speed of 52 Mbps. In other words, you could use either service for streaming, gaming, or video calling, though Surfshark has a lower impact on your speeds, making it better for those who like to download files while doing other things.
Surfshark gives users two ways to connect: the OpenVPN protocol or WireGuard. The latter is quickly taking over as the industry standard. Betternet only supports WireGuard on Android for the time being, but users on other platforms can choose between IKEv2 or the service’s own proprietary protocol, Catapult Hydra. This claims to be much faster than OpenVPN, and while it’s not open-source, it reportedly has been audited by industry professionals.
As far as security goes, we have no complaints. Both providers use 256-bit AES encryption and 2048-bit RSA keys, which would take centuries to crack with current technology. In other words, from the moment you connect, you’ll be protected from Man-in-the-Middle attacks and ISP snooping.
Betternet and Surfshark both have a kill switch that stops sending data if your connection drops suddenly. The former only offers a kill switch on Android. It’s available in every one of Surfshark’s apps. You can automatically connect when using an unsecured network on either service. Surfshark even offers a Rotating IP feature that’ll change your IP address periodically, making you even harder to track across the web.
Surfshark has a couple of other advantages here. First, it has undergone independent audits to prove that it doesn’t keep identifiable logs and to show that its server infrastructure is properly secured. Additionally, Surfshark accepts several cryptocurrencies, meaning you can sign up without linking your own credit card or bank details to your account.
VPNs can stop working for all kinds of reasons, which is a huge problem given that your privacy is on the line. In these situations, a stellar customer support team is what separates the best services from their competitors. Surfshark provides 24/7 assistance over live chat and email, and there’s a thorough help section on its website with answers to commonly-asked questions.
Betternet has a dedicated support email address as well as a chat bot, but unfortunately, you can’t talk to a human in real time. Live chat is a feature most paid VPNs offer, so it’s rare to find one at this price point without it. The knowledge base is quite sparse, but we did receive a prompt response from the support team. So in theory, you’re never more than a few hours from getting help with any issues.
To be clear, Betternet and Surfshark are both impressive services. While they may target different types of users, they each have a lot to offer. Still, for the average person looking to secure their traffic, Surfshark is the better option.
First off, it’s significantly faster. Not only that, but it worked with every streaming service we tested. Surfshark boasts an impressive set of security tools but takes care to remain accessible to new users. In contrast, Betternet is newcomer-friendly but may be outgrown rather quickly thanks to its limited functionality.
You don’t have to take our word for it: both of these services have a money-back guarantee. Simply sign up and cancel within the appropriate window (30 days for Surfshark, 45 days for Betternet) to try either VPN with absolutely no risk.
Get 2 Months FREE with a 2-year plan
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Methodology: How we compared Betternet and Surfshark
Comparing two VPNs isn’t as simple as just testing them both out and seeing which one is easier to use (though this is one part of our strategy). Instead, we have to carefully consider which factors are most important to the average user. Here’s a quick rundown of the main areas we focused on when comparing Betternet and Surfshark:
- Server availability: Network size isn’t everything but the more locations, the greater the range of content you can theoretically access. We’re also interested in whether the VPN runs RAM-only servers, relies on virtual servers, or owns its hardware outright.
- Versatility: We run a series of tests to check how well each VPN performs in everyday situations. For instance, we’ll try torrenting, playing online games, accessing services like Netflix, and making video calls to try and identify any weak points.
- Privacy and security tools: There’s no point in using a VPN with lackluster security. We look into each provider’s logging policy, audit history, and privacy credentials to make sure their actions match their words. Additionally, we check for industry-recognized encryption standards, open-source protocols, and extra tools such as tracker-blocking.
- Performance: We regularly test and retest VPNs to chart how their speeds have changed recently. Additionally, we look out for common VPN problems like sudden disconnection, highly-variable server speed, IPv6 leaks, or app crashes.
- Ease of use: The more welcoming a VPN is to new users, the better. We like to see 24/7 customer support, task-specific servers, and apps for a wide range of platforms, but some providers have even removed connection limits entirely and integrated ad-blockers or other quality of life features, so the sky really is the limit.
- Affordability: Price is an important factor for a lot of people. To ensure you pay as little as possible, we check to see if providers offer promo codes, coupons, or long-term discounts. Our team also looks into anonymous payment methods and if there’s a money-back guarantee, we’ll often claim these to make sure they’re as advertised.
Our VPN testing post explains our methodology in even greater detail.
Betternet vs Surfshark FAQs
Can I try Betternet for free?
Yes – Betternet actually offers a seven-day free trial, though it’s a little tricky to take advantage of. Don’t worry, though, we’ll explain exactly how you can try Betternet free of charge:
- First, you’ll have to create an account on the Betternet website
- Next, click the Account tab at the top of the screen
- Hit the Download Now button and install the app
- Click the Start free 7-day trial button
- You’ll be redirected to Betternet’s subscription page. Ignore this and return to the app
- You should now be able to use American servers free-of-charge. Note that you’re limited to one connection and 500 MB of bandwidth per day unless you subscribe, though
Remember: Betternet offers a 45-day money-back guarantee. In other words, you can just buy a monthly subscription, try it without any of the above limitations, and cancel to receive a full refund if you decide not to keep it.
Which is faster: Betternet or Surfshark?
In our latest round of testing, Surfshark delivered significantly higher average speeds than Betternet (180 Mbps versus 50 Mbps). Note that both services are fast enough for day-to-day tasks like streaming, though you’re obviously less likely to experience performance hiccups with the quicker service. Also, your speeds are limited by how fast your base connection is, so you may get lower results than we did.
It can be tricky to accurately compare the speed of competing VPNs since everything from the chosen protocol to how good your router is can negatively impact performance. However, our team has devised a method of testing that accounts for this. We use a high-speed connection to run multiple speed tests for each provider, using different servers at different times of day, before averaging the results.
Does Betternet work in China or the UAE?
Unfortunately, most VPNs simply don’t work in China or the United Arab Emirates. There’s anecdotal evidence of Betternet functioning there in the past and Betternet advises users to contact customer support if they can’t connect to Betternet in China, the UAE, Pakistan, Iran, Oman, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia. That said, our research indicates that Betternet no longer functions in these countries, and that NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN are the most reliable alternatives.