Private Internet Access vs ExpressVPN – Undoubtedly, both VPNs are hugely popular, with tens of thousands of users worldwide. So, which one has the upper hand, either it’s ExpressVPN or PIA VPN?
To find which one offers more features and better value for money, I’ve put ExpressVPN and PIA head to head in our detailed VPN comparison for 2021. To help you figure out which VPN is right for you, I’ve compiled many useful tables with relevant information.
ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access: Head to Head Comparison
ExpressVPN is the winner!
As I mentioned earlier, out of the two, ExpressVPN won in my side-by-side VPN comparison. Here are the following factors that helped me made a definitive decision:
- Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands (Data retention free jurisdiction)
- Speed: 27.17 Mbps
- Servers: 3000+ in 94 countries
- Price: $6.67/mo
- Streaming: Supports Netflix
- Support: Live Chat 24/7
A Quick Comparison of ExpressVPN and PIA
If you’re not interested in reading the detailed comparison, then you can check out the quick comparison between ExpressVPN and PIA in the table below. Also, you can read details about other providers in our comprehensive VPN comparison chart.
|Jurisdiction||British Virgins Islands||USA|
|Logging Policy||No logs||No logs|
|Speed||27.17 Mbps||21.4 Mbps|
|Server Network||3,000+ servers|
|Customer Support||Live chat/Email||Email/form based|
Right of the bat, both VPNs are quite well established. While ExpressVPN initially debuted in 2009, PIA VPN, on the other hand, made its way to the mainstream VPN market in 2010. So, they’re both top players in the VPN industry. However, ExpressVPN is ever so slightly better than PIA VPN in almost all aspects.
For instance, it is significantly faster than the PIA VPN in terms of speed. It also works way better when it comes to streaming Netflix. ExpressVPN is also headquartered in a safe jurisdiction and offers 24/7 live chat support.
PIA is also a decent VPN service, and it is quite cheaper compared to ExpressVPN. But it lacks crucial features like a safe jurisdiction and even live-chat support. Now, on with the detailed comparison.
1. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Company background and jurisdiction
Private Internet Access – PIA was one of the leading VPN services in the world. It all started to change after 2017 when many users started to cancel their subscriptions and venting concerns in various forums.
In 2019, it was announced that PIA was selling out to Kape Technologies. This raised more concerns when you look into the background of Kape.
- Kape has a history of producing malware and infecting computers via software bundles
- Kape was previously known as Crossrider. Apparently, this change of name occurs to distance itself from controversies of the past
- CyberGhost, ZenMate VPN, and PIA are all owned by Kape
PIA operates from the United States, a part of the Five Eyes alliance, which is really bad for online privacy. Numerous US tech companies are being forced to spy on users and hand over their data to different agencies. If you value your online privacy and want to secure your online data, then it would better to stay away from this provider.
Taking about ExpressVPN, I found that it has a clean background. It has been in the business for many years now and continues to grow and gain users worldwide. ExpressVPN has not had any scandals or concerns affecting user privacy. Instead, it has undergone numerous audits to reinforce trust further.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands is a great foreign jurisdiction that is not a part of any surveillance alliances while also being politically and legally independent from external influence. Therefore, BVI is one of the best jurisdictions for a VPN to be headquartered in, as we also discussed in our VyprVPN vs ExpressVPN comparison.
Jurisdiction is a very crucial aspect when selecting a VPN provider. If the jurisdiction is located in a country such as the US, where any law enforcement authority can ask for user logs and data then it completely defeats the VPN purpose. We understand that not everyone can afford a costly VPN such as ExpressVPN, therefore, you can also think about PureVPN. Not only its jurisdiction lies in Hong Kong – No data retention laws- but also it is very cheap compare to ExpressVPN. We recently compared these two provides and you can learn more about PureVPN from ExpressVPN vs PUREVPN comparison.
2. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Speed Results
One of the most important aspects of a VPN is the speed you’ll receive after the connection. For Expressvpn vs PIA speed comparison, we tested ExpressVPN and PIA speed on a 100 Mbps connection using the official application. We made sure to use the fastest VPN protocol that each provider offers.
For PIA, it was WireGuard, and for ExpressVPN, it was the Lightway protocol. We used US and UK servers for our testing. Let’s see the outcome of the tests.
Servers in the United States
Test# 1: Seattle
First up, we tested ExpressVPN with its Seattle server. Let’s see the results.
An excellent start for ExpressVPN with 95.78 Mbps speed. Hopefully, PIA will be able to keep up with that results. Let’s find out.
A disappointing result of just 71.45 Mbps from PIA in the first test. Hopefully, with the change of server, the result will get better.
Test# 1: Los Angeles
ExpressVPN showed again why it is the best in the business with a speed of 94.84 Mbps.
It seems like it will be hard for PIA to keep up with these results. Let’s see if PIA can at least win this second round.
Unfortunately, this time around, the results were even lower than before. It seems clear that PIA might not be a good option for you if you are looking for good speeds.
Test# 3: New York
ExpressVPN probably wipes the floor out with this result as well.
A 93.45 Mbps speed will be difficult to match for PIA.
This result is by far the best outcome we have seen from PIA, but it is nowhere near to match what ExpressVPN can do for you. At this point, it is safe to say that this round completely belongs to ExpressVPN as our Winner.
Perhaps, the UK server may tell us a different story. Let’s find out.
Test# 1: London
We tested ExpressVPN with a server in London to see the speed results.
This was the first time we saw ExpressVPN results below the 90 Mbps mark. Maybe this time, PIA actually has a chance to catch up to it.
Well, we thought wrong. This was the lowest speed we could ever get from PIA. At this point, it is pretty much clear that PIA, in comparison to ExpressVPN, is slow and could be your 2nd or 3rd option after ExpressVPN. This was also the case in PureVPN vs NordVPN and Surfshark vs NordVPN where both offered WireGuard VPN protocol but NordVPN was faster than PureVPN.
3. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Pricing plans
Result: PIA VPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN.
|1-year + 3-month||$6.67/mo||$3.33/mo|
Private Internet Access Prices
It is relatively cheaper than ExpressVPN. For instance, its monthly pricing plan is available at the cost of only $9.95/mo, six months plan for $5.99/mo, and a yearly pricing plan for as low as $3.33/mo. PIA VPN supports 10 multi-logins, which is twice as much as ExpressVPN.
It is one of the most expensive VPNs in the market. Its 1-year subscription costs $6.67/mo in contrast to the lower price of PIA VPN. Similarly, its 6-months and monthly plan are available at $9.99 and $12.95 a month, both of which are more expensive than PIA VPN. In comparison, ExpressVPN also only offers 5 simultaneous connections.
Between low prices and more simultaneous connections, it is very much clear who the winner of this round is. Though a low price isn’t always bad, but you should remember that low-cost VPN providers don’t need to provide the same amount of quality as a top-tier costly VPN provider.
4. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Payment Methods and Refund Policy
Both VPNs come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, one thing ExpressVPN offers better than PIA VPN is payment options. ExpressVPN not only accepts credit cards and PayPal, but it also accepts crypto and tons of other payment options.
PIA VPN, on the other hand, only accepts a few payment options. For instance, PIA VPN doesn’t accept bitcoin payments. You can only purchase it through either credit card, PayPal, or Amazon pay.
5. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Customer Support
Result: ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat support, which PIA VPN doesn’t.
ExpressVPN provides excellent customer support through 24/7 live chat, setup guides/tutorials, and email. On the other hand, PIA also offers pretty decent support. However, it lacks the live chat feature.
That isn’t very reassuring considering how renowned Private Internet Access is and that live chat has pretty much become a norm in the VPN industry. They offer helpful instructional material and support through emails, but that’s no match for a live chat’s convenience and utility. Overall, ExpressVPN wins this round.
The 24/7 live chat feature enables the user to get immediate assistance without waiting for a couple of hours. ExpressVPN wins this round with its reliable and complete customer support service.
6. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Compatibility
Result: ExpressVPN is compatible with slightly more devices than PIA VPN.
|ExpressVPN||Private Internet Access|
|Samsung Smart TV||Yes||No|
|Android Smart TV||Yes||Yes|
|LG Smart TV||Yes||No|
Both VPNs are compatible with common devices, but ExpressVPN goes the extra mile to support additional devices. While PIA VPN only supports run-of-the-mill devices like Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, Router, and few browsers, ExpressVPN, on the other hand, even supports smart TV devices such as Samsung Smart TV and LG Smart TV. Overall, ExpressVPN is a lot more versatile than the PIA VPN in terms of compatibility.
7. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Torrenting
Result: Since ExpressVPN is headquartered in the BVI and offers a better logging policy, ExpressVPN is a better choice for torrenting than PIA VPN.
ExpressVPN – It is better than PIA in terms of torrenting support, courtesy of its jurisdictional advantage. Both services offer support for torrent clients and websites. However, Private Internet Access discourages users from downloading pirated torrent files because it has to comply with DMCA laws. A major disadvantage of being headquartered in the USA. This was the same case in TunnelBear vs PIA where TunnelBear (based in Canada) recommended users to only torrent on limited server locations.
ExpressVPN, on the other hand, is much more anonymous than PIA VPN. The fact that ExpressVPN keeps no logs at all and is located in the BVI means you can download any kind of torrents you can imagine without ever worrying about anything.
8. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Unblocking Strength
Result: Both VPNs can unblock a bunch of streaming services. However, ExpressVPN is much better in performance.
|Netflix||US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Japan||No|
|Hulu||US, Japan||US, Japan|
|Amazon Prime Video||Yes||No|
ExpressVPN performs exceptionally well when it comes to unblocking streaming services. In fact, ExpressVPN managed to unblock BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, among others, in my testing.
However, this was not the case with PIA, as it is one such VPN that doesn’t work consistently with Netflix anymore. This was also the case in Private Internet Access vs IPVanish where PIA only managed to unblock Netflix US after trying multiple servers. Also, PIA doesn’t work at all with Disney Plus. But on the bright side, PIA does work with Hulu, Sky Go, and CBS. Overall, ExpressVPN is better when it comes to streaming services.
9. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Netflix and Streaming
One of the major reasons for using a VPN is to unblock different geo-restricted streaming services. These services usually include Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.
In my testing of Private Internet Access with Netflix US, although I found it working, it was a hit-and-miss scenario. Most of the time, I was presented with the Netflix proxy error message. I asked PIA support about this, and they told me they have been getting blocked by Netflix in most locations. Not only that, other popular streaming services seem to be facing a similar issue with PIA. This was the same for Private Internet Access and PureVPN, where PIA only managed to unblock Netflix US, and that too after extensive testing.
Next up is ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN was able to unblock Netflix for me without any issues regularly. The streaming quality was perfect, and it remains one of the best VPNs for Netflix. I never received any proxy error message from Netflix. Still, I was also able to unblock different Netflix libraries such as the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, and Germany. Additionally, Additionally, ExpressVPN also works extremely well with Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+.
If you are a heavy streamer and wish to stream multiple different geo-restricted contents, then you’d want to get your hands on ExpressVPN for reliable, constant, smooth, and uninterrupted access to streaming contents.
10. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Security and Encryption
Security is a big concern when choosing a good VPN service. A VPN’s point is to secure your online data and privacy, so it is natural that you’d want a VPN provider that offers state-of-the-art security and encryption features.
We will start with ExpressVPN and then move on to Private Internet Access.
Encryption and Internet Kill Switch – ExpressVPN utilizes robust encryption standards: an AES-256-GCM with a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication. The 256 refers to the fixed size of each encrypted block, 256 bits. GCM (Galois/Counter Mode) allows your computer to encrypt multiple packages at once, ensuring that your connection never hangs even for a short moment. It’s the same encryption standard adopted by the U.S. government and used by security experts worldwide to protect classified information. They support the OpenVPN, IKEv2, SSTP, and Lightway protocols, with Lightway being a self-developed protocol similar to WireGuard.
Internet Kill Switch or “Network Lock” ensures that your real identity and IP address is remaining hidden even if the VPN is disconnected due to some reason. This feature will kill your device completely internet connection if the ExpressVPN connection drops, preventing your real IP address from leaked over the internet.
Server security – ExpressVPN takes their server security very seriously. We know this because they run their servers on RAM-only mode. This mode wipes off every data with each reboot. Servers never store anything on the hard drive, which minimizes the risk of data leaks and hacking. The entire operating systems stack is reinstalled on every server at startup. ExpressVPN calls this the TrustedServer feature. This offers a higher level of security over most other VPN servers that use hard drives.
Security audits – To increase its user’s trust, ExpressVPN has undergone two separate audits. First, it passed a security audit conducted by Cure53. Second-time, ExpressVPN passed an audit conducted by PWC to verify its no-logs policy.
Now, let’s examine the security of Private Internet Access.
PIA also provides strong encryption standards and allows the user to modify data encryption, authentication, and handshake. They support the OpenVPN and WireGuard VPN protocols. Compared to ExpressVPN, they only offer AES-256 bit encryption with an RSA-4096 key and SHA 256 HMAC authentication. It also allows the user to modify data encryption, authentication, and handshake.
While PIA may be a decent VPN with all those custom encryption options, its speeds are still far off the mark doesn’t help its cause.
Server security – Unlike ExpressVPN, it doesn’t run its servers in RAM-only mode. This can potentially expose the PIA users’ data if a server were ever to be seized. Since it is operating from the US, the chances of that happening are not very low.
Security audits – No official audits were conducted, and no reports were issued about it—one more reason to not trust PIA with your online privacy.
11. ExpressVPN vs PIA: User-Friendliness
Both ExoressVPN and PIA take the route of having a compact and straightforward user interface. Two things common between the two VPN providers are the Quick Connect button at the main screen, which will connect you to the optimized servers according to your real location, and a small field below the said button to inform you about the server you will be connected to.
Private Internet Access displays quite a bit more information than ExpressVPN if you click on the arrow at the bottom of the window. This expanded view shows your connection time, how much bandwidth you’re using, and a few settings options.
If we talk about the settings menu, things are very much similar between the two. There is no explanation as to what each option does with both of the VPN providers.
A minor detail, ExpressVPN’s website has a much cleaner look to it, and it is easier to navigate. Subscribing to an account is just also easier with the payment windows appearing, and the experience is just a bit more streamlined.
Given how many similarities these two providers have with each other, selecting the winner isn’t easy. Private Internet Access offers a more informative layout, so it’s only fair to give this round to PIA.
12. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Simultaneous Connections
To prevent people from sharing their VPN account with friends and family and to limit the unnecessary load on the network in the form of the increased number of connections, almost all of the VPN providers impose a limit on the number of devices you can connect with an account at a single time.
ExpressVPN offers 5 simultaneous connections, whereas PIA offers 10 simultaneous connections. With more simultaneous connections, PIA is clearly the winner.
13. ExpressVPN vs PIA: Worldwide Server Coverage
As a general rule of thumb, the higher the number of servers a VPN has, the faster the connection speed. However, it is equally important that the servers should be evenly distributed in all the locations to improve the speeds. Also, a server-rick VPN unblocks geo-restricted content more efficiently – although there are few exceptions.
With over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, ExpressVPN offers excellent global server coverage, giving you plenty of options to access geographically blocked content. Moreover, with such a high number of servers, the connection speeds are undoubtedly impressive.
On the other hand, PIA beats ExpressVPN since it has over 29,000+ servers, most of which are in the US. Worse off, the servers are spread across only 77 countries.
For most international clients, PIA may not meet their content-unblocking needs. At least not with ExpressVPN in the vicinity. Even US users might be challenged using PIA to unblock content restricted to specific states.
Final Verdict: ExpressVPN is the Winner
ExpressVPN is the winner in our comparison courtesy of better speed, server distribution, logging policy, and customer support. To read more about it ExpressVPN, check out our detailed ExpressVPN review. To clarify, PIA is itself a very competent VPN service with more than 1 million paid subscribers.
In fact, if you’re tight on budget, it might even be a better idea to go with PIA rather than the expensive ExpressVPN because of the massive price difference. Just know that we’re talking about two well-recognized brands, and you can’t go wrong with either one of them.