PIA vs Expressvpn

Choosing a VPN isn’t a job, especially today, when we have so many available options on the market. If you consider ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA), you’ll face even more challenges. After all, these two VPNs have the same owner, Kape Technologies.


We compare the features, pricing, ease of use, support and speeds of PIA and ExpressVPN.
Article by
Stephen Mash

Stephen is a UK-based freelance technology writer with a background in cybersecurity and risk management.

About writer

Contents

Compare ratings

Rating
PIA logo
 ExpressVPN logo
Features
9.3
9.6
Pricing
9.2
8.2
Ease of Use
8.6
9.4
Support
8.8
9.5

Reviews by experts

Reviews
Review by our expert
PIA logo
9.5

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a premium VPN service based in the US that focuses on being simple and easy to use for a targe...

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Article by
Stephen Mash
Last modified:
2021-07-26 12:23
 ExpressVPN logo
9.0

ExpressVPN is a premium VPN service based in the British Virgin Islands that markets itself as having one of the best performan...

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Article by
Stephen Mash
Last modified:
2021-08-26 14:26

Side-by-Side Comparison

Private Internet Access
Pricing
Monthly
$9.95
Yearly
$39.95 (equivalent to $3.33 per month)
Three yearly
$79 (equivalent to $2.19 per month)
Payment Methods
card_amazon_pay Created with Sketch.
Parallel Connections
10
Server Locations
75+ Countries
Jurisdiction
United States of America
Protocols
OpenVPN
WireGuard
IPsec (IKEv2) on iOS
Encryption
AES 128 CBC/GCM
AES 256 CBC/GCM
Handskaing SHA96/SHA160/SHA256
Speeds
Private Internet Access VPN Server Locations Download Upload
United Kingdon 173.79 Mbit 87.37 Mbit
Australia 240.41 Mbit 20.21 Mbit
China 340.28 Mbit 1.4 Mbit
South Africa 16.38 Mbit 35.44 Mbit
California, USA 316.32 Mbit 14.23 Mbit
New York, USA 147.4 Mbit 25.34 Mbit
Germany 79.82 Mbit 149.91 Mbit
Taiwan 167.48 Mbit 0.94 Mbit
Spain 82.95 Mbit 122.37 Mbit
Brazil 130.67 Mbit 30.3 Mbit
ExpressVPN
Pricing
Monthly
$12.95
Half yearly
$59.70 (equivalent to $9.95 per month)
Yearly
$99.95 including discount and three free months (equivalent to $6.67 per month)
Payment Methods
Parallel Connections
5
Server Locations
94 Countries
Jurisdiction
British Virgin Islands
Protocols
IPsec (IKEv2)
OpenVPN (UDP or TCP)
Lightway (Built on WolfSSL)
Encryption
AES 256
Speeds
ExpressVPN VPN Server Locations Download Upload
United Kingdon 468.98 Mbit 212.99 Mbit
Australia 316.19 Mbit 18.08 Mbit
Taiwan 345.33 Mbit 25.09 Mbit
South Africa 331.56 Mbit 9.37 Mbit
California, USA 354.08 Mbit 42.8 Mbit
New York, USA 400.08 Mbit 65.08 Mbit
Germany 540.43 Mbit 118.08 Mbit
Brazil 411.00 Mbit 15.49 Mbit
Private Internet Access
ExpressVPN
Pricing
Monthly
$12.95
Half yearly
$59.70 (equivalent to $9.95 per month)
Yearly
$99.95 including discount and three free months (equivalent to $6.67 per month)
Monthly
$12.95
Half yearly
$59.70 (equivalent to $9.95 per month)
Yearly
$99.95 including discount and three free months (equivalent to $6.67 per month)
Payment Methods
card_amazon_pay Created with Sketch.
Parallel Connections
10
5
Server Locations
75+ Countries
94 Countries
Jurisdiction
United States of America
British Virgin Islands
Protocols
OpenVPN
WireGuard
IPsec (IKEv2) on iOS
IPsec (IKEv2)
OpenVPN (UDP or TCP)
Lightway (Built on WolfSSL)
Encryption
AES 128 CBC/GCM
AES 256 CBC/GCM
Handskaing SHA96/SHA160/SHA256
AES 256
Speeds
Private Internet Access VPN Server Locations Download Upload
United Kingdon 173.79 Mbit 87.37 Mbit
Australia 240.41 Mbit 20.21 Mbit
China 340.28 Mbit 1.4 Mbit
South Africa 16.38 Mbit 35.44 Mbit
California, USA 316.32 Mbit 14.23 Mbit
New York, USA 147.4 Mbit 25.34 Mbit
Germany 79.82 Mbit 149.91 Mbit
Taiwan 167.48 Mbit 0.94 Mbit
Spain 82.95 Mbit 122.37 Mbit
Brazil 130.67 Mbit 30.3 Mbit
ExpressVPN VPN Server Locations Download Upload
United Kingdon 468.98 Mbit 212.99 Mbit
Australia 316.19 Mbit 18.08 Mbit
Taiwan 345.33 Mbit 25.09 Mbit
South Africa 331.56 Mbit 9.37 Mbit
California, USA 354.08 Mbit 42.8 Mbit
New York, USA 400.08 Mbit 65.08 Mbit
Germany 540.43 Mbit 118.08 Mbit
Brazil 411.00 Mbit 15.49 Mbit

Comparison Review

Are there substantial differences between the two? Well, there sure are. While ExpressVPN, as the name implies, is the fast one, PIA is the more affordable option. But that’s not all there is. Let’s get into more details.

Privacy – Where’s the Jurisdiction?

ExpressVPN was fast to take the lead. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands, which is an excellent offshore jurisdiction. The VPN is politically and legally independent from external influences. To ensure the highest possible security levels, ExpressVPN also undergoes regular audits. Better yet, it hasn’t been part of any issues and privacy-related scandals in the past.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for Private Internet Access. Even though the VPN promises to prioritize its users’ privacy, it’s headquartered in the US. And if you have at least a bit of experience with Virtual Private Networks, you are sure aware; US companies have been forced to hand over customer data a bunch of times in the past.

However, more importantly, both ExpressVPN and PIA claim to keep no activity logs and no connection logs.

Security - It’s A Tie

ExpressVPN offers the best-in-class 256-bit encryption by default. However, you can also use ChaCha20/Poly1305 encryption with the Lightway protocol. The provider also comes with Network Lock, the ExpressVPN kill switch, VPN split tunneling, TrustedServer security, and private, encrypted DNS.

Private Internet Access provides AES-128 (CBC) as the default option. However, you can also get AES-128 (GCM), AES-256 (CBC), AES-256 (GCM), or no encryption at all (avoid this option at all cost). Furthermore, the VPN comes with PIA MACE, malware filters, and the classic Kill Switch feature.

In short, both providers are remarkable in terms of security features. So, it’s safe to say it’s a tie.

Speed – Who’s #1 In Performance?

ExpressVPN has 160 servers in 94 countries. The best part about this provider is its well-dispersed network with many locations in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa.

Going on, ExpressVPN supports several tunneling protocols, Lightway, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), IKEv2/IPsec, and L2TP/IPsec. In turn, PIA VPN provides WireGuard, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), and IKEv2/IPsec as options.

ExpressVPN locations

Source: https://www.expressvpn.com/

In theory, Private Internet Access comes close to ExpressVPN with its 29,300 servers in 78 countries, all of which are physical P2P.

PIA locations

Source: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/vpn-server

However, in practice, there’s a whole another truth. See, ExpressVPN is one of the fastest providers on the market. So, it’s rare for a VPN even to come close to its quality. And it’s far less likely to exceed it in this regard. Most of all, it’s due to Lightway, ExpressVPN’s in-house tunneling protocol.

Apps and Compatibility – Simultaneous Connections

Both VPNs are easy to set up and navigate. However, ExpressVPN is incredibly convenient. It works on computers, phones, tablets, routers, browsers, and more. It covers popular solutions, such as Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Routers, along with Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Better yet, it works with Kindle Fire, smart TV systems, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and game consoles.

Private Internet Access is a bit more limited in this regard. It works exclusively with major apps and browsers.

Now, with ExpressVPN, you can simultaneously use a single subscription for up to five devices. PIA VPN takes this to another level, providing better support for up to ten devices.

Streaming Options – Major Differences Between the Two

When it comes to ExpressVPN, you can easily stream and download any content you want. The best part is, it comes with unlimited bandwidth and remarkable speeds. The VPN is compatible with popular streaming apps, such as Netflix, HBO, or Disney+. However, it also works with social media platforms, messaging and tools, games, music, education, and so on.

ExpressVPN streaming

Source: https://www.expressvpn.com/vpn-service

Unfortunately, PIA is on the whole other side of the spectrum. It falls way behind ExpressVPN since it doesn’t provide any of the mentioned features.

Customer Support – Another Draw

Private Internet Access VPN provides for an extensive Knowledgebase, ticketing system, and live chat option. However, according to customer reviews, the live chat agents might not be as helpful and responsive as they should be.

Luckily, with ExpressVPN, you can get all the support you’ll ever need. The provider has a Knowledgebase, Troubleshooting tool, 24/7 live chat, and email support.

Pricing – PIA Is Much More Affordable

PIA VPN is the clear winner when it comes to pricing. In general, its cost makes PIA different and gives the company an advantage over its competitors.

PIA pricing

Source: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/buy-vpn-online

ExpressVPN is far more expensive, probably among the most costly VPNs on the market.

ExpressVPN pricing

Source: https://www.expressvpn.com/order

Still, both PIA and ExpressVPN come with 30-day money-back guarantees. So, you can get either of these VPNs, no strings attached.

Conclusion

The race wasn’t even close, and we have a clear winner – ExpressVPN. It provides remarkable privacy, security, and speed. The provider also comes with a nice and comprehensive set of add-ons. It’s excellent for unblocking content, streaming, torrenting, and gaming.

Private Internet Access (PIA), in turn, is too limited in comparison. The only advantage over ExpressVPN is its price. Still, it’s a quality VPN on its own, providing for reliable connections and ease of use.