If you need a VPN to secure your browser connection or circumvent geoblocks on streaming websites, you can install a VPN’s Chrome extension instead of the full VPN app. A VPN Chrome extension can help protect your data when you’re using the browser. However, if you don’t want to pay for a VPN subscription, you can use a free VPN for Chrome.
Key Takeaways: Free Chrome VPN
- Some VPNs with a free account also offer a VPN extension option, while some premium VPNs offer generous refund periods you can use as a free trial.
- Windscribe is the best free VPN for Google Chrome. You may also consider the free versions of TunnelBear and hide.me.
- ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two of the best paid VPNs; they offer 30-day money-back guarantees that you can use as a free trial of the VPN extension.
Downloading just any virtual private network service from the Chrome web store isn’t a great strategy. You might end up with a terrible VPN provider, as most free VPNs are unreliable, slow or insecure.
A few premium VPN services offer a free plan as a preview to the paid service and have a Chrome extension. These free VPN options are a great way to use the VPN for free without the security risks associated with many free VPNs. Below, we detail a few of the best free VPNs for Chrome.
03/21/2023 Facts checked
TunnelBear changed its free data amount to 2GB per month, up from 500MB per month.
08/08/2023 Facts checked
Removed reference to TunnelBear’s discontinued Twitter/X promotion.
Yes, there are several free VPNs for Chrome. However, most aren’t trustworthy. Windscribe is the best free VPN for Google Chrome, but you may choose any other service we recommend in this guide based on your preferences.
Windscribe is the best free Chrome VPN. However, other options like TunnelBear, hide.me, ExpressVPN or NordVPN might make more sense depending on your needs.
Top Free VPNs for Chrome
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency2 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
$3.33 / month(save 66%)(All Plans)
- : Credit card
- : 5
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
- : 10
Average speedDownload Speed92 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency5 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
What Makes the Best Free VPN for Chrome?
We looked at multiple factors when selecting the best free VPN extensions for Chrome. Based on our research and testing, we found the following options to be the best.
- Windscribe — Great security; free version offers up to 15GB of data per month
- TunnelBear — Over 40 free servers; limited to 500GB per month
- hide.me — Free plan includes access to most features on the paid plan
- ExpressVPN — The best VPN overall with 30-day refund period but not free
- NordVPN — The fastest VPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee
Below are some of the elements we looked for in selecting the best Chrome extension for VPN services.
All VPNs on this list must have a VPN extension version for Chrome. However, before you download a VPN extension for Chrome, check the “offered by” line under the extension’s name.
Many VPN extensions use a premium service’s name, but are actually created by third-party developers. These extensions are likely unsafe and might steal your data or infect your computer.
Security & Privacy
Security and privacy are critical for all VPN users. However, almost every VPN’s Chrome extension works like a proxy. When you connect to a server using an extension, it only encrypts Chrome’s internet traffic, unless you’re using a Chromebook. All the other apps on your computer still use the unprotected connection.
Streaming & Speed
If you plan to use the VPN for streaming, you need to consider the speed and the VPN’s ability to bypass geoblocks. VPNs that slow down internet speeds can be painful to use. Free VPNs are generally slow, but almost all VPN browser extensions we recommend below offer decent speeds. They can also unblock major streaming sites.
Free VPNs vs Paid VPNs vs Proxies
Most VPN Chrome extensions act as proxies, but are far more reliable and faster than proxies. Let’s talk about how VPNs and proxies are different and why you should pick a VPN instead.
VPNs and proxies are used to access geo-restricted websites. While both can help access regionally blocked websites, they function very differently. Proxies don’t encrypt your connection, but VPNs encrypt your connection, which ensures data security.
If you’re concerned about encryption — and you should be — you can either select a free or paid VPN. Paid VPNs are your best bet if you’re looking for a reliable service that’s secure, fast and can effectively bypass geoblocks. However, you’ll be limited to the refund period if you want to use the VPN extension for free.
Most free VPNs you find online are insecure, and some might even infect your computer with malware. A few exceptions exist to this general rule — read on to learn about your best VPN options to use with the Google Chrome browser.
The 5 Best Free VPNs for Chrome
We selected the five best free VPNs for Chrome based on factors like security, privacy, speed and the ability to unblock streaming websites. Here are our top recommendations.
More details about Windscribe:
- Pricing: Free, $5.75 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: windscribe.com
- Powerful browser extension
- Fast servers
- Generous free plan
- 3-day money-back guarantee
- Only 3 free server locations
Windscribe is one of the best VPNs and a great free VPN for Windows, and it has a powerful Chrome browser extension. The VPN extension also helps you expand on the capabilities of the desktop app.
For example, you can connect to one server using the desktop app and another server using the browser extension for what Windscribe considers “double-hop” encryption, which improves security by routing traffic via two VPN servers.
Windscribe’s Chrome extension offers more options than a typical browser extension. However, connecting to a server is a simple, one-click task. Overall, the interface is a great balance between settings and ease of use.
The extension also comes with unique features like “split personality,” a feature that randomly rotates “user agents” to prevent advertisers from collecting device data. The extension also works with R.O.B.E.R.T., Windscribe’s powerful ad-blocker, which is available with limited functionality on the free account.
In addition to a great extension, Windscribe offers excellent security, speed and streaming performance. It unblocks all major streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and BBC iPlayer. Learn more about Windscribe in our comprehensive Windscribe review.
Generous Free Plan
Windscribe’s free plan is among the most generous on the market. Free users get up to 15GB of free data per month, provided they tweet about Windscribe and confirm their email. The free plan includes access to servers in 11 countries and limited access to R.O.B.E.R.T., the ad blocker.
Windscribe offers a flexible pricing option called the build-a-plan option. With this option, you can add individual server locations to your account for $1 per month. You can also add unlimited data plus full access to R.O.B.E.R.T. to your account for $1 per month. The only catch is that you need to spend a minimum of $3 per month.
Alternatively, you can select one of Windscribe’s ready-to-use plans. The monthly plan costs $9 per month, while the best value plan costs $5.75 per month annually. However, that’s considerably more expensive than premium services like NordVPN’s two-year plan or Surfshark’s three-year plan.
- Up to 15 GB free with email confirmation and Tweet
- Unlimited GB
More details about TunnelBear:
- Pricing: Free, $3.33 per month (three-year plan)
- Provider website: tunnelbear.com
- Access to over 40 free servers
- Easy to use
- Obfuscation tool
- Poor streaming performance
- 2GB free monthly limit
TunnelBear is an excellent VPN service for someone who wants a simple solution or access to plenty of free server locations. TunnelBear’s Chrome extension is just as easy to use as its desktop app. Once you install the extension from the Chrome store, you sign in, connect to a TunnelBear server, and you’re ready to surf the web securely.
The browser extension can assign you another country’s IP addresses, but TunnelBear isn’t that great at unblocking streaming services. However, TunnelBear is an excellent VPN when it comes to security and privacy. It uses AES-256 with OpenVPN and has a strict no-logs policy.
TunnelBear’s free account offers 2GB of free data per month, so the data allowance isn’t enough for much more than web browsing or watching a few videos on social media. Learn more about TunnelBear’s strengths and weaknesses in our TunnelBear review.
Over 40 Free Servers
TunnelBear offers over 40 servers to free users — more than any other option on our list. You get servers in many underrepresented locations too, such as Kenya and Latvia. If you like the option of being able to acquire IP addresses from more countries, TunnelBear is your best bet.
You can remove TunnelBear’s data cap by upgrading to one of its paid plans. The monthly plan is expensive, at $9.99 per month. The best value plan (the three-year plan) is much more pocket-friendly, costing $3.33 per month.
- Unlimited GB, five devices, priority customer service
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB, five devices per user, centralized billing, account manager, price per user per month
- Unlimited GB
More details about hide.me:
- Pricing: Free, $5.83 per month (six-months plan)
- Provider website: hide.me
- Access to almost all features
- Unlimited data
- Secure protocols
- Doesn’t unblock Netflix
Like most VPN extensions, hide.me’s Chrome extension works like a proxy. You’ll be able to unblock websites and hide your real IP address, but you won’t be able to use many of hide.me’s features, like a kill switch or split tunneling.
The hide.me free plan offers unlimited data, which means the proxy might still be a great choice for streaming content from reliable websites, provided the proxy can unblock them.
Our tests of the desktop app revealed that hide.me struggles to unblock some streaming services. For instance, it unblocks Amazon Prime Video, but not Netflix, so it might take some trial and error to access geoblocked content.
However, hide.me’s Chrome extension functions more like a traditional proxy. You can only connect to servers in Canada, Germany or the Netherlands on the free plan.
The proxy extension also has limited settings, which include the option to disable WebRTC, enable SOCKS and auto-enable the proxy. We also couldn’t find the option to log in to our account within the extension.
Access to Almost All Paid Features on the App
As a free user, you have access to almost all hide.me features. For this, though, you need to use the desktop app. The desktop app is packed with unique features like fallback protocol, which is a backup protocol that automatically activates when your primary protocol fails for some reason. Learn more hide.me’s features in our hide.me review.
hide.me’s paid plans aren’t expensive, but they are also not a great deal, either. The best value plan (the annual plan) costs $5.83 per month. If you’re not open to committing long term, you can start with the six-month plan costing per month or the monthly plan costing $9.99 per month. You can always try the service risk-free using its 30-day money-back guarantee.
- 5 servers
- The 2-year plan comes with 3 extra months free.
- Unlimited GB
More details about Provider:
- Pricing: $6.66 per month (15-months plan)
- Provider website: expressvpn.com
- 30-day money-back return
- Easy to use
- Great for streaming
- No free plan
ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a free plan, but you can use it free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. You get unlimited data, top-notch security and great streaming performance during these 30 days. This is a great option if you need to use a VPN service temporarily, such as when traveling abroad.
The excellent combination of speed, security and usability makes ExpressVPN the best VPN on the market. ExpressVPN also has a great Chrome extension. The interface is similar to the desktop app, except that the server locations appear in the same window instead of a different window.
While the VPN offers fewer features than the desktop app, you can use the extension to spoof your location and unblock websites. Moreover, the extension also lets you control the desktop app.
Great for Streaming
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for streaming. It unblocks all major streaming platforms, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Max and Amazon Prime Video. It’s also fast, so you can stream 4K content without any buffering issues.
ExpressVPN is expensive because it’s a premium service with unmatched capabilities. All its plans come with unlimited data and unlimited bandwidth.
If you’re looking to use a VPN service long term and don’t mind the slightly higher price tag, you can get ExpressVPN’s best value plan for $6.66 per month. Alternatively, you can get the six-month plan for $9.99 per month or the monthly plan for $12.95 per month. Check out our review for all the details.
More details about Provider:
- Pricing: $3.19 per month (two-year plan + three months)
- Provider website: nordvpn.com
- 30-day money-back return
- Fastest VPN
- Secure servers
- No phone support
- No free VPN option
NordVPN’s Chrome extension helps encrypt your connection and acquire another location’s IP address. The extension also packs in features like split tunneling and Threat Protection Lite (an ad-blocking feature). If you need any more VPN features, like the ability to download torrents anonymously and securely, you’ll need to download the desktop app.
NordVPN doesn’t offer a free plan explicitly. However, you can use the service’s 30-day money-back guarantee to try NordVPN at no cost. If you’re looking to use a VPN for a short period of time, the money-back guarantee is a great way to use a premium service for free.
NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs around. The desktop app gives you access to NordVPN’s various specialty servers, including double-hop, obfuscated, Onion over VPN and P2P servers. These servers are an excellent way to add another layer of security to your connection. For a full breakdown of everything NordVPN can do, check out our review.
Large Server Network
NordVPN has one of the largest server networks, with over 5,000 servers spread across 59 countries. However, the Chrome extension only allows you to connect to servers in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Canada. The service is also good at unblocking websites, which means you can access almost any website you want to as long as NordVPN has a server in that country.
NordVPN is a pocket-friendly service with unlimited data and unlimited bandwidth. The best value plan (the two-year plan) costs $3.19 per month. However, you can also start with the annual ($4.99 per month) or monthly plan ($12.99 per month). The 30-day money-back guarantee is available on the monthly plan as well.
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
Why Should I Use a Chrome VPN?
There are various reasons to use a Chrome VPN. The browser extension offers much of the same protection that a normal VPN app does — such as masking IP addresses, getting around blocked websites and adding a layer of encryption to your connection. It’s great especially if you think that turning off sync on Google is not enough to secure you from your internet service provider knowing your browsing history.
Using the Chrome extension over a normal VPN app could also be beneficial if you habitually forget to turn your VPN on. However, Chrome extensions are often more limited than the full VPN version.
What Are the Risks of Using a Free VPN for Chrome?
The risks of using a free VPN for Chrome are the same as using any free VPN service. Free VPNs generally make money by selling user data, or infecting your computer with malware or ransomware. Free VPNs can often be slow, which means you’ll have a hard time streaming content in high quality.
A few exceptions to this rule are premium VPN services that offer a generous free plan. Using such VPNs ensures you’re using a trustworthy service. While it may mean you won’t get access to the entire feature set, you’ll have the peace of mind that your data is protected.
If you have a wiggle room for your budget, you can check out our piece on the best VPN for Chrome.
Final Thoughts: Free VPN Extension for Chrome
Using a VPN for Chrome helps you secure your connection and access geoblocked websites. Windscribe is the best free Chrome VPN, but you may choose another service based on your needs.
Have you used a VPN for Chrome for your online privacy? Which is the best Chrome extension VPN option for your online activity? Which one and what was your experience like? Was the extension a proxy or did it offer other features too? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.