ExpressVPN has long been our top pick for the best VPN service, thanks to its excellent speeds and watertight security. Now the VPN is set to take another leap forward with the launch of ExpressVPN Keys, a new password manager that’s folded into the ExpressVPN app for free. In this ExpressVPN Keys review, we’ll take the password manager for a spin to test its capabilities.
- ExpressVPN Keys is a new password management app from the makers of the best VPN.
- It comes at no additional cost, bundled with a regular ExpressVPN subscription.
- We found Keys to be a bit bare-bones in terms of features, but existing ExpressVPN users will welcome the addition, which would allow them to save on an additional password manager.
Before we get into the thick of it, we need to give you a bit of a disclaimer. ExpressVPN Keys is still in beta, and that really shows. We’ll discuss its performance during our testing to the best of our abilities, but you should take everything here with a heaping tablespoon of salt until the app is released in full.
As it stands, the app is still a ways away from making our best password manager list. That said, some of its features are currently unavailable or do not function as they are supposed to. Our scores will reflect how we expect these features to work in the full release.
Of course, when the app comes out of beta, we’ll circle back and update this review with the latest information and adjust those scores if need be. With that out of the way, let’s jump right in.
ExpressVPN Keys is a password management solution that comes as part of a regular ExpressVPN subscription.
As all other password managers, ExpressVPN Keys keeps your login information safe from prying eyes, but its biggest benefit is that it comes for free with ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN Keys is currently in public beta testing, which means you can apply for and use it right away. However, its full release is expected to be before the year’s end.
ExpressVPN Keys Alternatives
ExpressVPN Keys Review: Strengths & Weaknesses
- Autofill works perfectly
- Asks to save new logins
- Comes free with ExpressVPN
- Unlimited password storage
- Desktop & mobile apps
- Secure password generation
- Not many features available
- No organization tools for password vault
- Can’t save payment card data
- Simplistic login fields
ExpressVPN Keys is a bit light on the features front. This isn’t always a bad thing. After all, having to manage a bunch of features can lead to a cluttered interface and make the app difficult to use. However, even with that in mind, we can’t help but feel that ExpressVPN Keys is a bit too bare.
First, let’s go over what’s there and working as intended. Keys is very adept at picking up on login fields and always offers to autofill them. This is the most important aspect of a password manager, so we’re glad to see it perform admirably in that regard. It also offers to save your login details whenever you enter an unknown password manually into a new website.
There’s also a password generator, though it’s a bit tucked away. You need to click on the plus icon in the browser extension, which is the option to add a new login. Within that window, under the password field, you’ll see the line “need a new password?” in small, gray lettering. That’s the password generator button. It would be much better if this was a stand-alone feature.
Features That Don’t Work in the Beta
Because ExpressVPN Keys is still in beta, not all things work as they’re supposed to. For example, there’s an option to import the logins saved on your browser or another password manager into Keys. ExpressVPN provides a very clear guide on how to use the import function, but the last step failed for us, as we couldn’t upload the CSV file containing our passwords.
Another notable miss is the mobile app. Although we successfully installed the ExpressVPN beta mobile app, activated Keys and gave the app all the permissions it needed to work, it didn’t offer to fill anything in or show up in the autofill options.
What’s Missing From ExpressVPN Keys
As we mentioned, Keys’ feature set is extremely basic, and there are a few important features missing from the password manager. The most notable of these is the lack of payment card information storage. There’s no way to store your payment information, which means you’ll have to whip out your credit card whenever you go shopping online.
There’s also no way to create any kind of entry other than logins. What’s worse, the entry options are very slim, with only four fields for the entry name, username or email, password and website url. You can’t add notes or alternative passwords. There are also no advanced features, like automatic logins or a required master password prompt for certain logins.
Whether you find ExpressVPN Keys affordable or expensive really depends on your viewpoint. Because it comes for free with ExpressVPN, you won’t end up paying a dime for it if you’re an existing user of the VPN. In fact, you might save a few dollars if you choose to replace your current paid password manager with Keys.
However, if you don’t have any use for the VPN part of ExpressVPN, the price might seem downright extortionate compared to other password managers.
For scoring purposes, we’ll regard the whole package as a VPN with a password manager add-on, so the comparison will mostly be against other VPNs instead of password managers. The table below shows the price of ExpressVPN for one month, for six months and for one year.
As you can see, ExpressVPN is pretty expensive on a per-month basis, costing $12.95 each month. The subscriptions get cheaper the longer you subscribe for, and the annual plan yields the biggest discount at $6.67 a month (billed yearly).
This is a fairly steep price, even for a premium VPN, though we believe this VPN is worth every penny. If you’re interested in a more affordable VPN, you might want to peruse our list of the best cheap VPNs. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a password manager, you can get a stand-alone solution like 1Password for a fraction of the price of ExpressVPN.
Ease of Use
Our experience with ExpressVPN Keys was marred by the nonfunctional mobile app, so our judgment in this category is based solely on the browser extension.
ExpressVPN Keys works beautifully on Chrome and Edge, which we used to test the browser extension. We found very few things lacking in terms of usability, though there was one major omission.
The browser extension is laid out intuitively and adding a new entry takes just the click of a button. Searching for existing entries is a bit more involved, though, as there’s no way to organize your logins into groups or folders.
The search bar at the top makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, but we’d still like to see some organizational features included.
The “settings” menu holds a few options, such as changing your password and importing logins from other apps (which doesn’t work for everyone in the beta). Clicking on either of these options will take you to a webpage for the dedicated function, instead of letting you do what you want within the extension’s interface.
ExpressVPN Keys Mobile App
There really isn’t much to say about the mobile app, as we couldn’t get it to work properly on our Android testing device. Besides, what we could see from our brief time with the app wasn’t very flattering. Keep in mind that ExpressVPN Keys is a part of the ExpressVPN mobile app and not a stand-alone app.
Just opening ExpressVPN Keys requires that you enter your master password, every single time. There’s no downtime allowed between closing Keys, and there’s no option to allow for a window where it doesn’t ask for the password.
This wouldn’t have been so much of an issue if the fingerprint login worked. Instead, even after you enter your fingerprint, it still asks for the master password.
As the mobile app’s autofill didn’t work, we’re left guessing how it actually works. However, from a text blurb within the app, we can assume that the login info should appear as a suggestion on top of your keyboard, similarly to how Keeper works.
Security is one area where we can find no faults with ExpressVPN Keys. The service is based on zero-knowledge access, and your logins are stored on secure AWS servers using 256-bit AES encryption.
In case you don’t understand the lingo, AWS is short for Amazon Web Services, and it’s a server network that hosts a third of the internet’s websites. AES is the international standard for encryption, and it’s practically uncrackable.
The “zero-knowledge” part refers to how your encryption keys are handled. Normally, the service provider has access to your encryption key and can thus decrypt your data.
However, with zero-knowledge encryption, only you hold the encryption key, which is generated from your master password via a complex hashing process. This means that not even ExpressVPN can see your logins.
ExpressVPN has a robust selection of support options. These include an impressive knowledgebase with setup guides for all kinds of things (including very detailed instructions on how to apply for the ExpressVPN Keys beta). Beyond self-help, you can contact support via email or live chat, though you’ll obviously get a much faster response through the chat option.
Chat responses are near instantaneous, and ExpressVPN’s experts know their stuff (and if they don’t, they always contact someone who does). We quizzed support on a few issues we had with the Keys beta and we’re glad to see that they’re knowledgeable about it, despite the service being so new.
There’s no phone support option, which is the only thing we’ll dock a few points for, though this shouldn’t be a big deal for most people.
Although ExpressVPN Keys is still in beta, it proves to be a decent, if basic, password manager. Even after it gets a full launch, we don’t expect it to stack up to other VPN-password manager combos, like Dashlane’s Hotspot Shield integration and NordVPN’s NordPass. Still, it’s an excellent freebie for ExpressVPN users, who might be tempted to drop the password manager they’re paying for.
Have you tried the ExpressVPN Keys beta? If you’re an ExpressVPN user, would you cancel your password manager subscription and use Keys instead? Let us know your opinions in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.