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Surfshark VPN vs. ExpressVPN—Which One To Pick?

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Jun 13, 2024
 • 
10
 Min Read

As cyber threats become more sophisticated, the need for robust data protection measures has never been greater. Virtual private networks (VPNs) have emerged as a popular online safety tool, with over 24% of internet users turning to them for enhanced security in the last quarter of 2023. Among numerous services, Surfshark VPN and ExpressVPN are notable for their comprehensive features and dependable performance. But which one is the better choice for you?

This comparison of Surfshark VPN vs. ExpressVPN will provide an in-depth analysis of their key features and performance to help you make an informed decision. You’ll also learn about a product that helps safeguard some of your most sensitive data online, offering protection beyond what VPNs might offer. 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is accurate as of April 2024. Surfshark VPN and ExpressVPN may vary their offerings with time, so consult their websites for the latest information.

A photo of a person’s hands holding a tablet with a VPN’s interface open, showing a map of the world
Source: Dan Nelson

Surfshark VPN vs. ExpressVPN—Quick Comparison of Key Features

Surfshark VPN and ExpressVPN offer several distinct features to protect users’ privacy and security online. These features can be analyzed based on five criteria:

  1. Privacy and security measures
  2. Speed and performance
  3. Global server network
  4. Device compatibility and support
  5. User experience

Privacy and Security Measures

Surfshark VPN and ExpressVPN provide similar security features, including the following:

  • Encryption standard—Both VPNs use the military-grade AES-256 encryption standard[1][2] to encrypt your data in transit. This type of encryption is considered one of the strongest in the industry, ensuring your data remains illegible even if intercepted by an unauthorized third party.
  • Secure protocols—Both VPNs support various secure protocols, including OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec[1][3]. These protocols create a secure tunnel of communication between a VPN client and a VPN server, relying on encryption and authentication to protect the data traveling through the tunnel from being intercepted and tampered with. 
  • No-logs policy—Neither platform records nor stores users’ connection details or information about their internet activity.[2][4]
  • Kill switch—If the user’s VPN connection suddenly drops, this feature disconnects the device from the internet, preventing the exposure of users’ data[1][2].
  • DNS leak protection—This feature safeguards a user’s DNS requests, which contain information about the websites they visit[5][6].

While both VPNs offer similar security measures, ExpressVPN stands out with its proprietary Lightway protocol. Lightway is designed to work especially well on mobile devices—It drains less battery and stays on even when switching networks[2].

Surfshark VPN offers a MultiHop feature that routes a user’s connection through multiple servers, making it harder to track or correlate your traffic information even if one of the VPN’s servers is compromised[1]

Speed and Performance

Both Surfshark VPN and ExpressVPN are known for their fast and reliable connections. Surfshark VPN offers an average download speed of 260.79 Mbps[8], but there may be a 17% reduction in the baseline speed[9] when connected to the network. ExpressVPN might be a slightly slower platform, reducing the user’s base internet speed by 18% when activated[9]

Keep in mind that the connection speed while using a VPN may vary depending on these factors:

  • Server location
  • Time of day
  • The user’s internet connection speed

If you’re looking for a VPN renowned for its speed, consider reading about NordVPN, one of the fastest VPNs around.

Global Server Network

Surfshark VPN has over 3,200 servers in 100+ countries, providing a wide range of options for users to connect[7]. ExpressVPN doesn’t disclose the number of servers on its network, but they’re distributed across 105 countries[2]

Both networks’ extensive reach increases optimal performance and helps users bypass geo-restrictions, making it easier to access global content.

Device Compatibility and User Experience

A photo of a person’s hand holding a smartphone with an open VPN app showing connected status
Source: StefanCoders

Surfshark VPN and ExpressVPN support a wide range of devices, including:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Various browsers and streaming media consoles 

Surfshark VPN is one of the few VPNs that support an unlimited number of devices, while ExpressVPN allows up to 8 simultaneous connections on a single subscription[1][2].

Both VPNs prioritize user experience. They offer comprehensive setup guides, decent interfaces, and 24/7 customer support.

Can VPNs Make You Absolutely Safe Online?

VPNs can enhance users’ online safety and privacy, but they may not eliminate all risks. If a user provides their sensitive information, such as a card or bank account number, to a website that doesn’t follow proper security measures, this information may become compromised. Some of the risks to consider are:

  • Phishing attacks—Cybercriminals often create fake websites or emails that mimic legitimate services to trick users into entering their login credentials or other sensitive data. The fraudster then captures the provided information and uses it for fraudulent activities.
  • Zero-day vulnerabilities—These are software vulnerabilities the vendor doesn’t know about. Potential thieves can exploit them before the vendor becomes aware and issues a security patch, leading to unauthorized access to users’ data.
  • Data breaches—Most merchants require users to provide personal information when shopping online. If a hacker infiltrates the databases where merchants store that info, they can gain unauthorized access to users’ personal information and use it to perform identity theft or fraudulent transactions.

Luckily, you can protect your financial details during online transactions with virtual cards. These cards protect your real payment data by masking it with random card numbers at checkout. If a hacker gets access to the merchant’s servers, they will only be able to access your virtual card number, not your actual financial information.

While many banks offer virtual card service to their customers, you should consider signing up for an independent provider like Privacy. The company offers robust protection and additional features to help you streamline your payments and control your spending more efficiently. 

A photo of a person’s hands, one typing on a laptop keyboard and the other holding a credit card
Source: Kredite

Use Privacy Cards To Protect Your Financial Details 

Privacy is a BBB-accredited service that allows you to connect your debit card or bank account and generate virtual cards for various uses. Every Privacy Card includes a unique, random 16-digit card number with its own CVV and expiration date that you can use for safe online transactions.

Privacy employs various security measures to safeguard your financial details, including TLS encryption for data in transit, AES-256 encryption for data at rest, and two-factor authentication (2FA) for your account. The company also updates its servers with the latest security patches and undergoes regular compliance audits conducted by a qualified third party.

Privacy Card Types and Features

Privacy offers two types of virtual cards—Merchant-Locked and Single-Use.

Here’s a breakdown of how each type of card works:

Type of Virtual Card How It Works Recommended For
Merchant-Locked Cards These cards become exclusive to the first merchant they’re used at. If your virtual card details get stolen, any attempts to use the card at a different merchant will be automatically declined.
  • Recurring payments such as bills and subscriptions

  • Merchants you shop from often

Single-Use Cards These cards become invalid shortly after the transaction is completed, rendering them useless to potential hackers.
  • One-off purchases

  • Merchants you don’t completely trust

Privacy lets you pause or close your Privacy Card at any time. You can also set spending limits on your cards, and any charges that exceed the preset amount will be declined. These features are especially useful if you’re worried a merchant or subscription service might try to sneak in a fee or an unapproved charge.

Privacy also integrates with 1Password, a password manager that allows you to store and manage your financial details from a centralized platform.

Additional Features

Beyond security, Privacy has features that make virtual card management easier: 

  • Mobile app—The Privacy app, available on both Android and iOS platforms, allows you to manage your virtual cards from anywhere, anytime.
  • Browser extension—Available on Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Safari for iOS, the Privacy Browser Extension can generate and autofill virtual card details directly in your browser, streamlining your online shopping experience.
  • Card sharing—You can securely share your Privacy Cards with trusted family members and employees.
A photo of a hand extending from a laptop screen and holding a credit card against a black background
Source: Tumisu

How To Get a Privacy Virtual Card

To start using Privacy, follow these simple steps:

  1. Register
  2. Complete the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) details to verify your identity
  3. Link a funding source—debit card or bank account
  4. Request your first virtual card

Privacy has three monthly plans—Personal, Pro, and Premium. Here’s a breakdown of what you get with each:

Plan Cost Features
Personal Free (for domestic purchases)
  • Up to 12 virtual cards per month

  • Merchant-Locked and Single-Use Cards

  • Spending limits, card pausing and closing

  • Mobile app and browser extension

Pro $10/month
  • Everything in Personal

  • Up to 36 virtual cards per month

  • No fees on foreign transactions

  • 1% cashback on eligible purchases totaling up to $4,500 per month

  • Ability to mask transaction info on bank statements

  • Priority customer support

Premium $25/month
  • Everything in Pro

  • Up to 60 virtual cards per month

Privacy Virtual Cards are available to U.S. citizens and legal residents who are 18 years of age or older and can be used at most merchants that accept Visa® or Mastercard®.

References

[1] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features, sourced April 15, 2024
[2] ExpressVPN. https://www.expressvpn.com/features, sourced April 15, 2024
[3] ExpressVPN. https://www.expressvpn.com/what-is-vpn/protocols/ikev2, sourced April 15, 2024
[4] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features/no-logs, sourced April 15, 2024
[5] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/dns-leak-test, sourced April 15, 2024
[6] ExpressVPN. https://www.expressvpn.com/dns-leak-test, sourced April 15, 2024
[7] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/servers, sourced April 15, 2024
[8] Surfshark https://surfshark.com/features/fast-vpn, sourced April 15, 2024
[9] CNET https://www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/fastest-vpn/, sourced April 15, 2024

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