Disclaimer: affiliate links keep us 100% reader-supported.
In 2021 NordVPN and ExpressVPN are the two most popular, well-known and reputable VPN services on the global market.
However, choosing one for another doesn’t always seem easy. At first glance, they tend to look very similar. After running some tests on the speed, torrenting/P2P, availability of Netflix, usability, vulnerabilities, and customer support. We found out that there are some unique differences.
The big differences are the cost of their subscription plans, which shows some indication towards NordVPN as the more affordable choice. On the other hand, ExpressVPN offers a reliable connection for privacy and security.
Let’s take a deeper look at all the features of these two services.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN Compared
|Trial Period||30 days||30 days|
|Plans||1 month, 1 year, 2 years||1 month, 6 months, 1 year|
|Encryption||256-bit AES/OpenVPN, IPSec & IKEv2||256-bit AES/SSTP, PPTP, OpenVPN, IPSec & L2TP|
|Average Speed Loss||5.5%||13.0%|
|Server Locations||59||160 in 94 countries|
|5, 9 and 14 Eyes Member||No||No|
|Coupon||2 year-plan at 68% off + 3 months free||49% off for 12 months plan + 3 months free|
|Review||NordVPN Review||ExpressVPN Review|
Four different subscription plans are offered by NordVPN (including a 7-day free trial) and three different plans offered by ExpressVPN (without a free trial).
All of these plans are identical, which means you get the same features, while the only change is the subscription period – from one month to three years. If you opt-in for a longer period, you will be able to get it for a lower price, which is pretty much it.
Let’s break down their pricing plans below:
|NordVPN Pricing||ExpressVPN Pricing|
|1-month: $11.95/mo||Monthly: $12.95/month|
|12-month: $4.92/mo||6-month: $9.99/month|
|24-month: $3.71/mo||15-month: $6.67/month|
|Free Trial: No||Free Trial: No|
|Free Plan: No||Free Plan: No|
|30 days Money-Back Guarantee||30 days Money-Back Guarantee|
|Payment Methods: Credit cards, Bitcoin||Payment Methods: Credit cards, PayPal, Alipay, Bitcoin|
In conclusion, if you select NordVPN for three years upfront, the monthly cost will be 55% cheaper than ExpressVPN longest plan (15 months). If you have a tight budget and you want to spend money on a VPN, getting a NordVPN is more considerable, because it is cheaper, currently priced at $3.49/month.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN allow you to make payments for their service with bitcoin, popular credit cards, and even alternative payment methods, such as Web Money, AliPay, and UnionPay. Currently, ExpressVPN accepts PayPal, but NordVPN does not. Although, both offer 30 days money-back guarantee. However, we have received some user reviews which claim that NordVPN refunds can take a while to process, so be mindful of this.
When selecting a VPN, speed is perhaps one of the most important factors. Since NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, it also has more users and customers. More users and customers mean more people are penetrating their servers, which could lead to slower speed test results. Despite ExpressVpN having 3000+ compared to NordVPN’s 5200 having more servers, but the NordVPN is still slower.
Do not get me wrong. Nor NordVPN or ExpressVPN is slow – many of our tested VPNs are far slower.
Remember, our benchmark without VPN was ~85Mbps upload, ~95Mbps download and 19ms of ping.
To figure out which VPN performs better, we carried out multiple tests using different servers in different regions, here are our test results:
Connected to US server
|Ping||19 ms||32 ms||44 ms|
|Download||95.56 Mbps||90.33 Mbps||83.15 Mbps|
|Upload||85.7 Mbps||81.43 Mbps||59.77 Mbps|
Connected to UK server
|Ping||67 ms||76 ms||75 ms|
|Download||91.62 Mbps||82.28 Mbps||71.78 Mbps|
|Upload||76.6 Mbps||51.77 Mbps||42.33 Mbps|
Connected to AU server
|Ping||204 ms||301 ms||215 ms|
|Download||87.12 Mbps||48.19 Mbps||43.52 Mbps|
|Upload||57.92 Mbps||15.71 Mbps||17.7 Mbps|
Since a handful of servers were tested, please take speed tests with absolute skepticism as they vary on a lot of different things, for example, your physical location, your PC specs, your router, your Internet connection, etc.
3. Netflix & Streaming
We moved on to comparing ExpressVPNs and NordVPNs’ abilities to unblock geographically restricted websites, such as Netflix and its US catalogs. Both worked very well in bypassing all sorts of geo-blocks.
In summary, we ran a test on 12 separate servers to access Netflix using NordVPN and ExpressVPN and, here are the outcomes:
|US Server 1: Unblocked||US Server 1: Unblocked|
|US Server 2: Unblocked||US Server 2: Unblocked|
|UK Server 1: Unblocked||UK Server: Unblocked|
|UK Server 1: Unblocked||NL Server: Unblocked|
|NL Server: Unblocked||Canada Server: Unblocked|
|Canada Server: Unblocked||Sweden Server: Blocked|
This illustration shows a good result from both sites, as many VPNs failed to unblock Netflix at all.
What is good? Extensive help is offered through live chat to help you bypass Netflix restrictions, which you can see in our next test.
Overall, both providers are good for unblocking streaming services:
Most people use VPNs only for torrenting just to be safe, avoid any DMCA letters from their ISP, and so on. For instance, if you reside in the US and you are caught torrenting files through P2P software like uTorrent, you will likely get a letter in the mail from your ISP, in support of the copyright holder, which signals the violation under DMCA.
While we do not encourage you to torrent or download pirated content, with the use of VPNs, using VPN will keep you 100% secure and anonymous. Nevertheless, a lot of VPNs block or limit torrenting altogether, just to mention a few – DOTVPN, Kaspersky VPN, and many more.
What is the case with ExpressVPN and NordVPN?
Let’s examine it:
According to NordVPN’s website, NordVPN claims to be the best VPN for torrenting.
All of these servers allow torrenting/P2P, and there are no restrictions in any way in NordVPN torrenting policy. NordVPN even has a lot of servers optimized for P2P
But what is the case with ExpressVPN? Do they also allow torrenting on all of their servers? It seems so. That is good. But let us examine their regular speed when downloading files from torrent. During our test, we tried to download the Mac installer using the fastest server location of NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
Here is NordVPN speed downloading “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Complete Speeches and Sermons” torrent from ThePirateBay.org: NordVPN speed while torrenting.
Here, is ExpressVPN speed while downloading “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Complete Speeches and Sermons” torrent from ThePirateBay.org:
So, we went on to download the identical torrent from a similar site with both equivalent VPNs. Note; that this torrent does not have a lot of people seeding it; that is why its download speed is not that high (the higher the P2P seeders, the faster your download speed will be). The speed without the use of a VPN was around the same as when connected to one. Therefore there is no major loss in speed while using a VPN.
In the outcome, where both of the VPNs permits 100% torrenting, NordVPN appears to be slightly ahead, close to something around 80kb/s. The amounts of torrents you download are going to be faster since they have got higher numbers of people seeding them. Always try out a few servers to figure out the best one for your needs. We used the servers recommended for this test because they are both located in Estonia, the country we are currently residing in.
To test their support responsiveness and response time, we asked them one simple question: “Which servers are best for streaming Netflix?”.
Even when both of the VPN services offer live chat, we decided to ask our question through that. Below is NordVPN’s customer support answer via live chat:
NordVPN support results:
Although the response looked like an auto-reply, it was precisely what we need. The time taken to respond to our inquiry was 32 seconds. Which is not bad.
I asked the same question to ExpressVPN. Here is the response we got from their support:
The response from ExpressVPN was personal, with the same question, but their overall response time was way slower than NordVPNs: it took over 2 minutes.
If you are someone into quicker response time, NordVPN defeats ExpressVPN in customer support. However, if you are into more tailored replies, ExpressVPN is better. The questions were asked when we logged on to their admin dashboard. We did not conduct a test on their sales support.
The bottom line is: you should not feel worried about their customer care support – both were far better than the average.
Their providers also offer similar features to their VPN apps. Here are the most vital features offered by both NordVPN and ExpressVPN:
- Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, TOR, and Router compatibility
- Built-in kill-switch
- DNS leak protection (no leaks found)
- Strict no-logging policy
- Torrenting & P2P allowed
- OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPSec and PPTP protocols
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Browser extension available
- Obfuscated servers (To connect to a VPN from restricted locations, countries and environments)
Here, we have the so-called “basics” that every VPN app should always have. However, there are couples of “add-ons” where one has, and the other does not.
For instance, NordVPN tends to offers the following that ExpressVPN does not have:
- Double VPN Encryption – They are being used to chain the connection through a couple of VPN servers, which makes it virtually impossible to track and recognize the user CyberSec Features – for blocking ads and malware
- Up to 6 concurrent connections (compared to 5 max connections on ExpressVPN)
- 5200+ servers in 61 countries
ExpressVPN offers the following that NordVPN does not have:
- Split-tunneling (read more)
- You can pay using PayPal (NordVPN does not accept PayPal method of payment)
- Servers in 94 countries (NordVPN servers are just in 61 countries)
As you can see, there is not so much difference in terms of what they have to offer. Either way, you will get a whole lot of bang for a buck.
Both of the VPN apps are very simple and easy to operate. A single click to connect and forget it. They also give ready-made apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Both apps are very minimalistic, with their best ability to browse through a lot of different servers in different locations as well as adjust the settings, such as kill-switch (on/off), DNS settings, protocols, and much more.
8. Privacy & Jurisdiction
Firstly, ExpressVPN and NordVPN both have respect for your privacy at the highest level. They are both secretive and not transparent to their parent company or whoever owns them. After some digging and thorough research, it is reasonable to say that Tefincom S.A, which is a Panama company, owns NordVPN. ExpressVPN proclaims to be Express VPN International Ltd, a company which is currently located in the British Virgin Islands.
However, there have been rumors on Reddit, which shows most of the NordVPN staff work in Lithuania, while ExpressVPN staff is based in Hong Kong. Whichever the case might be, let’s take a closer look at their privacy policies and logging policies:
|Based in 5 Eyes or 14 Eyes?||✕||✕|
|IP address logs||✕||✕|
*only connection attempts and not tied to users
Based on their warrant canaries:
- ExpressVPN’s – not available
- NordVPN’s – last updated June 2017
Firstly, let’s take a look at the kind of information that is being stored by ExpressVPN:
- Your Name
- Payment Information
- Email Address
- Bandwidth used per day
- Dates when connected to the VPN services
- Choice of VPN server location
- Apps and app versions that are activated
While they store some information about you, it remains fully private since they don’t record your activity, which means they cannot trace any of your browsings to your account. That is solely for keeping their VPN services high quality and smoothly process your payments.
Second, let’s examine what kind of data is being recorded by NordVPN:
- Server load information
- Your email Address
- payment information
- Your username
- Your connection time (being cleared within 15 minutes after connecting)
Even with both of them being “no logs” VPNs, they also do not allow any criminal, unlawful, fraudulent, or illicit activities.
In terms of their VPN jurisdictions, ExpressVPN is officially based in the British Virgin Islands, which also does not have a compulsory data retention law, while NordVPN seems to have chosen a much better location – Panama, which does not necessitate any data storage. However, the UK has strong ties to BVI and UK is known for its strict regulatory. Virtual Private Network companies located in the UK may be subject to the same data retention laws applicable to internet service providers. The UK has also allegedly blocked some VPNs.
9. Leak Test
Many poor qualities VPNs, especially the free ones, are known to leak your IP. However, this does not happen with ExpressVPN or NordVPN. According to our test result, none of them leaked any of your IPs or DNS. Besides, they both have in-built Killswitch, which disconnects you automatically to avoid any leaks.
Furthermore, there are also Google Chrome extensions that are majorly known to leak your IP. For example, a test we ran in 2018 indicated that more than 10 VPNs (such as Hoxx VPN, Hola, DotVPN, and Betternet) usually leak your data through WebRTC.
To test leaks, we connected to NordVPN and ExpressVPN servers using Mac app and chrome extensions and run some quick tests using the following sites:
As a result, we still could not find any leaks.
So, for the gamers out there who are looking for a more secluded but still fast gaming experience. The comparison was also made between NordVPN and ExpressVPN, with addition to a game called League of Legends.
We traced the speeds with Haste, which, if used along with a VPN, can lower your ping from the original one. Anyways, let’s see how they fare. Let’s start with NordVPN:
NordVPN gaming test
For a 20minute gameplay, the average ping we recorded was 31.8ms while the jitter recorded was only 1.2ms. That means the maximum ping we recorded was 33ms all through the game. The Packet loss means that 0.2% of the frames were not delivered, but that is really not a significant thing to consider since you will not detect it.
We utilized the “smart location”(fastest location) for the test run, which you should always use if you are not trying to play in another location or region of the world, which you can achieve with a VPN, but your ping will surely be higher than this.
We tried both VPNs with their smart locations, and they both performed well, although NordVPN was somewhat better, maybe because of the smart server location. However, they won this test. Both VPNs have very good usability, and their apps look sleek and comfortable, so they will deliver irrespective of which you choose to use for your gaming needs.
Conclusion: Which One is Better – ExpressVPN or NordVPN?
NordVPN came out on top through all of our tests, but we do not consider ExpressVPN a loser in any way. In a nutshell, ExpressVPN is way faster and works better in unblocking geo-blocked content such as Netflix and the Great China Firewall.
NordVPN, on the other hand, is a VPN service that does what it needs to be done and does it at a much cheaper price range for those with low budgets. At the end of the day, both have their praises, and both have their disadvantages. We truly hope that we have made the right selection for you easier with our test run of both services.