5 Best VPNs for WiFi Hotspots in 2020

These days, public WiFi is widespread, providing internet access all over the place. For all its convenience, that extra connectivity does come with some risks. A lot of public WiFi networks lack basic security measures, and so they are a target for hackers who are looking to steal your personal data. Besides this, sometimes public WiFi owners block websites on their network to preserve bandwidth, stopping users from accessing services like streaming sites.

Fortunately, using a VPN on public WiFi networks can protect your data and enable you to unblock any restricted content. In this guide, we show you the benefits of using a VPN and give you some top tips on how to stay secure on public WiFi networks.

 

VPNs provide encryption and allow anybody to join a hotel, coffee shop, or any other public network without the risk of being hacked. With a VPN service's encryption, subscribers can safely use online banking, email, or other services without concerns overexploits like KRACK. They can even do shopping online because their data is safely encrypted, and it is impossible for cybercriminals to steal their data if they accidentally stumble on a HTTP website.

There are hundreds of VPNs on the market and knowing which one to choose can be daunting. It is for that reason that we have put together a list of the best VPNs for public WiFi hotspots in 2020.

Remember

If you use up-to-date apps and HTTPS-protected websites your data will be secure in transit, which means that you can use public WiFi without concerns. However, you never know when you may fall victim to unprotected websites that could allow eavesdroppers to steal your data. Thus, while in 2020 the dangers are sometimes exaggerated - and cases are of WiFi hacking are much rarer - there is still a potential for hacking to occur over public WiFi.

The best VPN for public WiFi

All the VPN services listed below will keep your data secure and private. If you want to find out more about each service, take a look at the provider's websites or scroll down to see a summary of what makes each service great.

  1. ExpressVPN - Fast connections on all 94 locations| Apps for all platforms |24/7 live chat support
  2. Surfshark - Easy to use - 24/7 live chat support - Ublocks everything
  3. Ivacy - Easy to use | Cheap VPN | Servers in 60 countries
  4. PrivateVPN - Serviers in 50+ countries - Apps for all platforms - Works with Netflix
  5. VyprVPN - Fully audited service | Zero logs | Servers in over 64countries

Unblock content on WiFi hotspots

Some WiFi hotspots restrict the websites that you are able to visit. For example, streaming services use up a lot of bandwidth and so these websites are restricted in order to keep costs down. With a VPN you can unblock websites on WiFi hotspots, so you can access your favorite sites from work, school, a café, airports, etc.

The Best VPNs for WiFi hotspots - Summaries

ExpressVPN provides strong privacy both at home and on public WiFi

  • Pricing

    From  $6.67 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for public WiFi for a number of reasons. Firstly, it provides OpenVPN encryption implemented to a very high standard. That means it will stop anybody from hacking you while you’re connected to public WiFi. In addition, it has DNS leak protection and a kill switch (which guarantees that the VPN doesn’t leave you exposed to cybercriminals on the public network if it drops out for a moment).

ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries and those servers are all lightning-fast. That means you will be able to stream in HD if you want. It also means you will be able to unblock content from around the world, or access geo-restricted accounts when you are overseas traveling. It can be downloaded for all popular platforms and can be used on three simultaneous devices. In addition, ExpressVPN keeps no usage logs, which means that even at home the VPN will keep your data safe from the prying eyes of ISPs and the government.

Finally, customer care is 24/7, incredibly helpful and will support you quickly and easily with any problems you might have. The provider also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for you to make sure the VPN works well for you.

A robust VPN that will provide privacy and security at home and on hotspots

  • Pricing

    From  $1.94 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Surfshark is a VPN based in the British Virgin Islands that is extremely well liked by subscribers. The VPN allows an unlimited number of subscribers to use the VPN with a single subscription, which means you can install it on all your devices and use it on the go. This makes it the perfect VPN for families who need to use the VPN both at home and while out of the house.


With Surfshark you get access to servers in over 60 countries around the world, and those servers are fast for streaming or downloading via BitTorrent. And, unlike many VPNs, this service will unblock sought after services such as Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime. To ensure that your data is secure, this VPN provides industry-standard OpenVPN encryption, and it has all the best VPN security features such as a killswitch and obfuscated servers. That means you can unblock content while also concealing the fact that a VPN is in use. Finally, you can test this VPN thanks to its 30-day money back guarantee.

Ivacy VPN is a service that is perfect for unblocking content in privacy both at home and on the move

  • Pricing

    From  $1.50 - $7.50
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Ivacy VPN is an excellent service that is well suited to protecting your data on public WiFi. The VPN is based in Singapore, a location that is out of reach of invasive jurisdictions such as the US and the UK. In addition, Ivacy provides watertight privacy policies and security features for protecting your data. 

Thanks to strong OpenVPN encryption, this VPN will protect your data from hackers while on public WiFi and it will stop ISPs and local network administrators from tracking what you do online. Ivacy permits its subscribers to install the VPN on up to 5 devices - meaning that you can protect all your individual tablets, phones, and laptops on public WiFi. And, because it is great value for money, you can test this VPN without breaking the bank. Test it now using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

A fast VPN that provides data privacy and freedom of access

  • Pricing

    From  $1.89 - $10.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

PrivateVPN is a service based in Sweden that is a favorite among consumers worldwide. The VPN is incredibly good value for money considering the level of service it provides. In terms of privacy it has a zero logs policy, which ensures that they never have any information about what you do online. The apps are available for all platforms and they implement military grade penVPN encryption to ensure that your ISP and the government can never snoop on your web history.


PrivateVPN is low cost, but it does not scrimp on features. The VPN has a killswitch, DNS leak protection, and stealth for concealing VPN use and bypassing firewalls. Plus this VPN can unblock more Netflix catalogs than another service (as well as iPlayer, and any other streaming service you might want. With PrivateVPN you never have to worry about hackers on public WiFi, and your privacy is assured from the WiFi hotspot provider too. Test this amazing VPN thanks to its 30-day money back guarantee.

VyprVPN is a fast and secure VPN with excellent for all platforms

  • Pricing

    From  $2.50 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

VyprVPN is a great option for staying secure on public WiFi networks. It provides strong OpenVPN encryption (our recommended protocol). In addition, it has a kill switch and auto-connect feature that will reconnect you to the VPN if your connection drops out. The result is that, no matter what happens, you won’t be at risk from hackers over public WiFi.


VyprVPN also has servers in over 64 countries, making it perfect for all your IP address spoofing needs. VyprVPN can provide incredible speeds because it is part of the huge Golden Frog internet conglomerate and owns all of the servers in its network. That means it is perfect for unblocking HD streaming video content. Customer care is fantastic; it has live chat that is available 24/7. Finally, VyprVPN offers a thirty-day money-back guarantee to test the service.

Why do I need a VPN for WiFi?

When you use public WiFi, the WiFi provider can track all the websites that you visit. Those WiFi hotpots often create profiles of their customers, meaning that if you have rented a room in a hotel and use the public WiFi, they will know every single website you visit. If you want to ensure that you have privacy while accessing the internet, you need to use a VPN. A VPN encrypts all your data so that the WiFi hotspot cannot track your habits and sell your data to its partners and affiliates. 

Best VPN for Public WiFi Networks

Using a VPN to stay secure on public WiFi hotspots is the best way to stop hackers and WiFi network providers from snooping on you and potentially stealing your data. However, there are also some general precautions you can take for staying secure on WiFi networks:

Set Network Sharing Options to Off

The very first thing you can do is revoke your PC's network sharing privileges. To do this in Windows, go to your Control Panel and navigate to Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Now turn off file and printer sharing and turn off network discovery and public folder sharing. On a Mac go to: System Preferences > Sharing and un-tick all the boxes. In addition, turn off network discovery. This will stop your PC from too easily being penetrated on a public network (if you have those settings on you are literally inviting other users to go through your laptop).

Turn on Your Firewall

The next thing to do if you are regularly using public WiFi networks is to turn on your firewall (if it isn't already on). It will stop people from poking around on your computer on any local network. This is important for usage at home as well as on public WiFi if you live in shared accommodation (for example). On a Windows system go to: Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall. On a Mac go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall. You can also custom set particular programs to be allowed through the firewall in Advanced. Remember: a firewall won't protect you from everything, but it is a helpful start.

Use HTTPS Websites and SSL Whenever Possible

If you are using websites on public WiFi (in a coffee shop, for example) then you must use HTTPS to be safe. Most websites these days do automatically load as HTTPS. You are advised, however, to keep your eyes on your navigation bar to ensure you are visiting HTTPS sites. Also, look for the little padlock on the left-hand side. If for any reason the padlock isn't closed, leave the website at once and leave what you were doing until you are on a more secure network. If you use a software email client (like Apple Mail or Outlook), you should also set it to SSL - do this in Advanced Settings.

VPN for Public WiFi: Considerations

Now that you have done the basics to keep yourself safe, let's look at why it is important to use a VPN. Sadly, even if you have taken the steps above, using public WiFi can still leave you open to attacks. Hackers know all the tricks and if you are on a public WiFi network a number of things can put you at risk.

  • Some sites and programs simply don't have SSL encryption, and you may want to use HTTP sites that don't have an HTTPS option (do check, because sometimes they have an HTTPS option - even though the HTTP loads up by default). In those cases you will want to use a VPN to encrypt your traffic.

Hacking Methods

  • Cloning WiFi networks. Some hackers go to coffee shops, hotels or airports and set up a clone network that appears to be the real WiFi. If you connect to their fake network, the hacker will potentially be able to steal your data. Often, the real WiFi may need a password or require you to give some details (like an email address or phone number to receive an SMS). A clone will usually let you on without verification. With a quality VPN's strong encryption you are even safe to log on to a hacker's cloned network - because your data is encrypted, the hacker can't 'sniff' your traffic; if you accidentally visit an HTTP site.

  • POP3 snooping allows hackers to access users' email details when they sync to POP3 servers. 

  • Some hackers may attempt to make people pay for their publicly available WiFi network - stealing their card details in the process.

  • Physical exploits can allow hackers to attack outdated routers using the KRACK vulnerability. Again this could potentially allow the hacker to intercept and steal your data. 

Encryption Protocols

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to get a VPN for WiFi hotspots. Sadly, however, not every VPN will do. There are nearing a thousand different VPN providers nowadays, and the vast majority provide outdated or poorly implemented encryption protocols. 

The PPTP protocol, for example, must be avoided as it is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. That is why all the VPNs we have recommended provide strong OpenVPN encryption at high implementation levels, to keep you fully secured on both public and private WiFi. 

If possible, we advise 256-bit or higher encryption but in fairness that is very, very strong encryption and even 128-bit OpenVPN will protect you from eavesdroppers.

Use a VPN to access more content

A VPN will allow you to unblock geo-restricted content from around the world. Have you ever experienced a 'not available in the country where you reside' notification? With a VPN, you can simply 'spoof' your location to one overseas and unblock that content. 

In addition, a VPN will protect you against governments' overreaching data retention laws. VPNs encrypt all user-created web traffic, which means that ISPs cannot retain web browsing histories on behalf of the government. This is a hugely important factor, and with the Edward Snowden revelations proving that governments secretly snoop on citizens' internet traffic, using a VPN in 2020 is advisable all the time - not just on public WiFi networks. 

Best VPN for WiFi Hotspots: Conclusion

With WiFi hotspot administrators snooping on your traffic, creating databases using your information and potentially selling it on, it's easy to see why public WiFi can be a huge privacy concern. Thankfully, VPNs protect you from all prying eyes.

The VPNs we have recommended come out on top because they provide excellent OpenVPN encryption, have fast servers located all over the world, and are dedicated to anonymity. 

These VPNs are ideal for doing everything you would normally do without prying eyes. We are confident there is a VPN for public WiFi networks in this article for everyone, no matter what your circumstances might be.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

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