ExpressVPN vs NordVPN Review 2020: New Tests Show Best for YOU!

Dawn Teh Last Updated by Dawn Teh on October 21, 2020

Other sites push either ExpressVPN or NordVPN as the definitive best VPN — but the truth is that both VPNs perform so well that you should decide based on your personal needs. To save you time trying them yourself, I tested each service in 13 categories.

In my testing, ExpressVPN was the overall winner (by a slight margin) because it’s faster for streaming, gaming, and torrenting. It’s also one of the few VPNs that works in China. If you’re unsure about committing to a subscription, you can try ExpressVPN free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. After I tried it, I got my refund in 5 days.

NordVPN may be a better choice if you want extra security features or a more affordable service. NordVPN’s longest plan is about 50% less expensive than ExpressVPN’s. It also has unique safety features like an ad and malware blocker. To see if it suits your needs, test NordVPN with its 30-day money-back guarantee — I received my refund in 3 days.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days

No time? Here’s a 1-Minute Summary of Category Winners

ExpressVPN is the winner because of its fast speeds for streaming, torrenting, and gaming. On the other hand, NordVPN has additional security and is more affordable (its 3-year plan costs about the price of a cup of coffee!).

expressvpn logo
NordVPN logo
Pricing As low as $6.67/month with a 12-month plan (includes 3 months free) As low as $3.71/month with a 2-year plan
Unblocking Netflix and streaming Unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and more with very fast speeds Unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and more with moderate speeds
Servers and bypassing geo-restrictions 3,000+ servers in 94 countries 5,500+ servers in 59 countries
Speed Local speed test: 18% decrease from baseline speed

Long-distance US server speed test: 32% decrease from baseline speed

Local speed test: 31% decrease from baseline speed

Long-distance US server speed test: 43% decrease from baseline speed

Security
  • AES-256-GCM encryption
  • OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec protocols
  • DNS and IP leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • TrustedServer technology
  • AES-256-GCM encryption
  • OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec protocols
  • DNS and IP leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Ad and malware blocker
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
Torrenting safety and speed 4 minutes to download 91MB video 6 minutes to download 91MB video
Does it work in China? Works consistently with good speeds for streaming Works inconsistently
Gaming 24% increase in latency compared to baseline 38% increase in latency compared to baseline
Device compatibility and app differences Available on Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, and more. Does not have ad and malware blocker or P2P servers. Available on Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, and more. Has ad and malware blocker and P2P servers on all apps.
Privacy and anonymity Headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, which is outside the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes alliances Headquartered in Panama, which is outside the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes alliances
Logging policies and user data storage No-logs policy. Independently audited. No-logs policy. Independently audited.
Payment and refunds Accepts payments through most major credit cards, Paypal, Mint, and Bitcoin Accepts payments through most major credit cards and several cryptocurrencies (but not Paypal or Mint)
Customer service Fast and helpful 24/7 live chat and email support Fast and helpful 24/7 live chat and email support

Try ExpressVPN free for 30 days

13 Categories of Comparison for ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

Here’s a summary of the full list of criteria that I used to compare ExpressVPN and NordVPN. For an in-depth description of my test results, click on the categories to jump to the findings of each section:

  1. Pricing — Compared the subscription plans and refund policies offered by both providers.
  2. Unblocking Netflix and streaming — Tested whether both providers can unblock Netflix and other streaming sites without buffering or loss of resolution.
  3. Servers and bypassing geo-restrictions — Compared number and location of servers as well as ability to bypass geoblocks.
  4. Speed — Conducted local and long-distance speed tests with multiple servers in Australia and the US.
  5. Security — Analyzed encryption and other security features.
  6. Torrenting safety and speed — Looked at whether the providers are torrenting-friendly, tested speed, and researched how many P2P servers each has.
  7. Does it work in China? — Conducted tests in China to see whether each VPN was able to work consistently there.
  8. Gaming — Evaluated each VPN’s ability to maintain good gaming speeds, bypass gaming geo-blocks, and provide security.
  9. Device compatibility and app differences — Examined which devices were compatible with each VPN and compared the differences between apps on various operating systems.
  10. Privacy and anonymity — Investigated the location of company headquarters and whether these countries are part of international intelligence-sharing alliances.
  11. Logging policy and user data storage — Closely examined each VPN’s logging policies and the type of user data they store.
  12. Payment and refunds — Reviewed payment methods available for both providers and how easy it was to get a refund.
  13. Customer service — Tested the response speeds of both customer service teams as well as the types of support available.

Try ExpressVPN free for 30 days

1. Pricing — NordVPN Offers Greater Value for Your Money

NordVPN is more affordable than ExpressVPN, especially for long-term subscriptions. Here’s a comparison of the providers’ plans:

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Monthly — $12.95 per month Monthly — $11.95 per month
6 months — $9.99 per month 1 year — $6.99 per month
First 12 months + 3 months free — $6.67 per month (every subsequent 12 months — $8.32 per month) 2 years — $4.99 per month
3 years — None 3 years — $3.71 per month
Money-back guarantee — 30 days Money-back guarantee — 30 days
Free trial — None Free trial — 7-day free trial available on limited devices

Note that each provider’s respective plans offer the same features regardless of the subscription length (in other words, longer plans don’t offer better protection or extra features).

ExpressVPN offers 3 different pricing tiers based on the length of your subscription, while NordVPN offers 4. In terms of providing the lowest monthly price, NordVPN clearly wins with its offer of $3.71 per month on its 2-year plan. That means that NordVPN’s price for its longest-term subscription is 47% lower than ExpressVPN’s lowest price. However, it’s important to consider that this 2-year plan is much longer than ExpressVPN’s 12-month (+3 months free) plan.

NordVPN also offers a 7-day free trial through the Google Play Store and Apple iTunes Store — but I wouldn’t recommend testing it this way. If you do, you’ll lose out on exclusive discounts and may have to deal with third-party handling of your refund (which can result in weeks of delays). If you sign up through this link, you can try NordVPN with its hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee (much longer than the 7-day trial on app stores) and you’ll also get better deals.

I also recommend you test ExpressVPN risk-free using its refund policy. If you take advantage of both offers, you can compare the VPNs to see which meets your needs better and if price should be a deciding factor in your final decision. Afterward, you’ll be able to get your money back from 1 or both services.

For more savings, you can also check this price list for ExpressVPN and NordVPN — I regularly update it so you can save money without wasting time doing the research yourself.

Price Winner: NordVPN

Try NordVPN free for 30 days

2. Unblocking Netflix and Streaming — ExpressVPN Has Faster Speeds for Smooth Streaming in More Countries

If you want a service that can bypass Netflix’s location-based restrictions, NordVPN and ExpressVPN are both great choices. I was able to unblock over 10 different Netflix libraries with each provider — including libraries from the US, UK, Canada, and Japan. However, ExpressVPN won because it unblocked a few more Netflix libraries than NordVPN.

Both VPNs also allowed me to access other streaming sites like HBO Now, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu (US and Japan), Vudu, SkyTV, HBO Go, Sky (UK), SHOWTIME (US), DAZN (Sports), ESPN (Sports), and more. They also gave me reliable connections — I never had issues accessing any streaming platforms during my 4 days of testing.

Screenshot showing ExpressVPN able to bypass Netflix geoblock in many regions
I easily accessed US, German, Japanese, and Canadian Netflix with ExpressVPN

Overall, I found ExpressVPN was better for streaming because of its faster speeds. I was able to watch a marathon of Criminal Minds on US Netflix in UltraHD with no buffering. On the other hand, streaming speeds were inconsistent with NordVPN. While I generally experienced minimal buffering, sometimes I had to switch to SD to avoid lag (especially during peak periods like weekends). This might be a problem for you if you have slower baseline speeds.

I was impressed that both VPNs were able to consistently unblock the largest content libraries of the top platforms and allowed me to stream smoothly. However, I recommend you try streaming with ExpressVPN because it’s faster and unblocks more Netflix libraries.

Netflix and Streaming Winner: ExpressVPN

Stream with ExpressVPN today

3. Servers and Bypassing Geo-Restrictions — Both Have an Extensive Global Server Network to Bypass Blocks

This category is a tie because both VPNs have a large number of servers in many countries to help you bypass restrictions. While NordVPN has a greater total number of servers, ExpressVPN has servers in more countries.

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Total number of servers 3,000+ 5,500+
Server countries 94 59

If you want to access popular content from countries like the US, UK, or Canada, both VPNs perform about equally well because they have plenty of servers in these countries.

But if you need to access sites from a specific country, the number of servers there is more important than overall network size. If a VPN doesn’t have servers in a certain region, you may not be able to get the IP address needed to bypass restrictions. For example, if you want to unblock online banking from Cambodia, ExpressVPN would be better because it has 1 server there while NordVPN doesn’t have any. On the other hand, if you want high-quality streaming of Lightbox programs such as High Road, NordVPN is the better service for New Zealand — it has 28 servers there while ExpressVPN only has 1.

However, there are exceptions to this general rule. If you need a service while in a censorship-heavy country, proven performance is more important than the number of servers to bypass restrictions. For example, ExpressVPN has proven it works consistently in China. Its servers in Hong Kong and Japan give you fast and reliable service. I thought NordVPN would work better since it has more nearby Japanese servers — but it barely worked for me in China.

Before you commit to a subscription, I recommend you check with customer service since both providers constantly add new servers to improve coverage.

Servers and bypassing geoblocks winner: Tie

Unblock content with ExpressVPN

4. Speed — ExpressVPN Is Faster Than NordVPN

Don’t get me wrong: out of the hundreds of VPNs I’ve tested, these two providers are much faster than others. But, ExpressVPN was consistently faster in local and long-distance speed tests.

To determine which is faster, I conducted 2 speed tests: a local test with Australian servers and a long-distance test with US servers. It’s important to keep in mind no speed test is perfect — factors like internet connection, router, location, type of device, and other variables affect results. To keep the tests as accurate as possible, I made sure to use the same computer and operating system (macOS 10.13.6). I also selected the same OpenVPN protocol and let each provider automatically connect me to the fastest available server.

Local Speed Test Results:

In my local server test, ExpressVPN was 19% faster than NordVPN. With ExpressVPN, I only experienced a 17% decline in speed compared to my baseline measurement. For NordVPN, I saw a 31% drop.

Screenshot of speed test showing ExpressVPN is faster than NordVPN for local server connection
ExpressVPN was faster than NordVPN when connected to local servers

Long-Distance Speed Test Results:

I had similar findings in my second test. ExpressVPN was also 19% faster than NordVPN in my long-distance server test with US servers.

Screenshot showing ExpressVPN is faster than NordVPN in long-distance US server test
ExpressVPN was 19% faster than NordVPN in my long-distance speed test using US servers

If you have activities that require a lot of data, I recommend you try ExpressVPN for its faster speeds. I found that it was far better for HD streaming, torrenting large files, and gaming without lag. ExpressVPN let me watch US Netflix in Ultra HD with no lag from the other side of the world. With NordVPN, I sometimes had to downgrade to standard definition in order to avoid buffering. This wasn’t a huge problem, but it did affect my viewing experience.

Speed winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN risk-free

5. Security — NordVPN Has Additional Safety Features

Both services have strong core security features. However, NordVPN wins this category because it offers specialty servers and a built-in malware blocker that ExpressVPN doesn’t.

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Encryption AES-256-GCM with 4096-bit DH key, SHA-512 HMAC authentication AES-256-GCM with 4096-bit DH key, SHA2-384 HMAC authentication
VPN Protocols OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, IPSec/L2TP, and WireGuard
No-logs policy Yes (externally audited) Yes (externally audited)
Kill switch Available on Windows, macOS, Android (versions 7.4 and above), Linux, and routers. Not available on iOS. Available on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. Not available on routers.
DNS and IP address leak protection DNS and IP address leak protection DNS and IP address leak protection
Malware/ad blocker No Yes
Server chaining No Yes, offers the Double VPN feature
Onion over VPN servers No Yes
Dedicated IPs No Yes
Writes data to hard drive TrustedServer technology means servers run on RAM, and no data is written to hard drives Traditional server technology which writes encrypted data to hard drive

Encryption Standard

The level of encryption a VPN uses determines how easy it would be for hackers to decode your information. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN use top-tier AES 256-bit encryption to secure your data, which is the same standard used by government cybersecurity experts. Even the US’s top spy agency would need years, millions of dollars, and a supercomputer to try to break a single encryption key with this level of security.

Encryption Protocol

An encryption protocol is the set of instructions that determines how your information is coded as it’s transmitted over the internet. ExpressVPN and NordVPN use the safest protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2 to offer the best balance of security and speed. I use OpenVPN for daily activities like streaming, web surfing, or online banking. However, I prefer IKEv2 for gaming and torrenting because it’s faster.

One important difference is that NordVPN offers NordLynx, which is based on the WireGuard protocol. It has the latest encryption technology and is faster than OpenVPN (the current leading protocol). With less than 4,000 lines of code (compared to OpenVPN’s 400,000 lines), fixing bugs is easier on WireGuard. It’s only available on the Linux app for now.

Ad and Malware Blocker

I find having a VPN with a malware blocker is essential to my online safety. Viruses can appear on seemingly risk-free websites and even on those with “https” at the front of the URL. That’s why I liked that NordVPN provides an ad/malware blocker to keep you safe. It helped stop me from entering suspicious websites that have been flagged for hosting malware or phishing scams. I was disappointed this feature isn’t available for ExpressVPN. However, this wasn’t a big deal because ExpressVPN is compatible with many ad and malware blockers.

Screenshot showing CyberSec ad and malware blocker feature of NordVPN engaged
NordVPN’s built-in ad and malware-blocker keep you safe from harmful content

Leak Protection

Considering that I travel to censorship-heavy countries like the UAE and India, I’m cautious of government agencies and my ISP trying to see my online activities. Since you can be imprisoned in these countries for accessing some video games or platforms like Skype, I wanted to test these VPNs’ leak protections to ensure I’d stay private.

I ran tests for both providers and didn’t find any DNS, IPv4, WebRTC, or IPv6 leaks. When I connected to a US server and ran an IP leak test, both VPNs successfully masked my true location (I’m based in Australia) and prevented leaks.

Screenshot showing no IPv6 leak detected for both NordVPN and ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN and NordVPN effectively masked my IP address and prevented data leaks

Both providers also include an automatic kill switch to prevent your data from being exposed in the event of technological errors. That means that if your VPN or internet connection fail, your real IP address, identity, and browsing history will still stay hidden. Since I don’t always have access to a stable internet connection when traveling, this feature gave me peace of mind.

Specialty Servers

I also found that NordVPN offers additional security options that ExpressVPN doesn’t (like the Double VPN feature and the Onion over VPN servers). I find the Double VPN feature to be useful when I’m doing my online banking or making payments. This configuration passes your data through 2 servers instead of 1, which results in double encryption that’s almost impossible to break. This setting reassured me that my sensitive financial information would be 100% safe.

Server Security

ExpressVPN uses TrustedServer technology to prevent any data from being written to server hard drives. Your data is only temporarily written to RAM and it gets erased during server reboots. That means that hackers would have a harder time finding anything as it’s not stored on the servers for long. Plus, every reboot also removes any intruders. This system is so secure that it’s quickly becoming an industry standard.

On the other hand, NordVPN mostly runs on traditional server technology in which data is written to server hard drives. This system could put you at greater risk since hard drives store this data until it is overwritten or manually erased during maintenance. If hackers managed to enter the server, they might be able to steal an encryption key to view some of this limited data.

Security Infrastructure Audits

Independent security audits are rare in the VPN industry (I’ve only found evidence that 5 top services have undergone such testing). This is because it can be risky for a provider to subject its technology to this level of scrutiny. However, ExpressVPN and NordVPN are so committed to providing the best user safety that they have undergone multiple cybersecurity audits.

  • NordVPN: After NordVPN successfully fought off a minor security breach in 2018, it underwent additional audits of its security infrastructure by VerSprite (a cybersecurity consulting firm). Afterward, it published the positive results of this investigation.
  • ExpressVPN: In 2019, it was audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to verify its TrustedServer technology truly keeps users safe. It shared the results on its website.

This level of transparency and commitment to security is difficult to find in the VPN industry. These audits reassured me that both services prioritize my safety above all else — including their reputations.

Overall, ExpressVPN and NordVPN are among the safest services on the market. However, I recommend you try NordVPN for its unique security features.

Security winner: NordVPN

Test NordVPN’s security for 30 days

6. Torrenting Safety and Speed — ExpressVPN Is Faster

Both VPNs offer top-tier security and are compatible with any torrenting software (BitTorrent, uTorrent, and others). Plus, they don’t restrict downloads according to file size or type.

However, ExpressVPN is the torrenting winner because of its faster download speeds. Even though NordVPN has more specialty torrenting servers, it didn’t beat out ExpressVPN’s blazing-fast service.

Torrenting Safety

It’s very important to me that my ISP doesn’t find out that I’m torrenting. If I exceed my data limit, they throttle my internet speed. Worse yet, if I unknowingly torrent a file containing pirated content my ISP could get me in legal trouble. I don’t support copyright infringement, but it’s important to protect yourself even if you accidentally download a file with questionable content.

Choosing a safe VPN for torrenting isn’t easy because some don’t support it — they may have anti-torrenting policies or poor privacy features. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are torrenting-friendly and provide you with the best security. ExpressVPN allows torrenting on all of its servers, and NordVPN offers P2P servers that are optimized for torrenting safety.

Screenshot of NordVPN and ExpressVPN websites showing that they support torrenting
I felt safe while using ExpressVPN and NordVPN to torrent because of their top-grade security features

I was impressed that ExpressVPN and NordVPN use the best available features to keep your torrenting private including:

  • Strict no-logs policies to ensure none of your history is recorded
  • Military-grade encryption to hide your data
  • Leak protection with an automatic kill switch to keep you anonymous

In addition to these features, ExpressVPN and NordVPN are also headquartered in countries that aren’t subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) or other international copyright agreements. You can jump to the security section to learn more about how each VPN keeps your data safe, whether you’re torrenting or doing something else online.

Torrenting Speed

ExpressVPN and NordVPN never limit your speed, bandwidth, or data. That means you can download as much as you’d like and never worry about speed throttling or other limitations.

Since NordVPN has over 4,000 specialized P2P servers optimized for torrenting, I thought it would have faster download speeds — but I was wrong. While ExpressVPN doesn’t have any P2P servers, all of its 3,000+ servers support torrenting.

To test torrenting speed, I downloaded the same movie (1.37GB) using both VPNs. ExpressVPN was considerably faster: it only took about 2 minutes to download the video. On the other hand, NordVPN’s P2P servers took 9 minutes.

Screenshot of video download time on qBittorent showing ExpressVPN is faster than NordVPN
I downloaded the same video, and ExpressVPN was considerably faster than NordVPN

It was a close match between the 2 VPNs for this category. Both offer top torrenting security, but my speed tests show that ExpressVPN’s normal servers downloaded the same file faster than NordVPN’s P2P servers. Because of this, I recommend you try ExpressVPN for blazing-fast torrenting.

Torrenting Winner: ExpressVPN

Torrent quickly with ExpressVPN

7. Does It Work in China? — ExpressVPN Works in China Consistently

With constant crackdowns on VPNs, ExpressVPN is one of the few services able to bypass online censorship in China. My team and I have tested over 10 VPNs in China and ExpressVPN is one of the few services that consistently lets you access restricted content like Facebook, US Netflix, and YouTube.

I also found that ExpressVPN worked reliably in China regardless of device type or operating system.

screenshot of youtube video streaming with expressvpn in china
I experienced minimal lag while streaming YouTube videos in China using ExpressVPN

Unfortunately, NordVPN did not work consistently in China. I tried using it to unblock Instagram and Wikipedia but was met with an error message. On the few occasions that NordVPN could connect, I first had to contact customer support to get instructions to manually reconfigure it — but this was time-consuming and hard to do (especially on my iOS devices).

Screenshot of chat with NordVPN asking for advice on how to get app to work in China
I found it time-consuming to change settings on my app and phone to use NordVPN in China

ExpressVPN also had fast speeds for smooth streaming in China. This was important to me because it doesn’t seem fair that I can’t stream from my favorite platforms simply because I travel to China. ExpressVPN’s fast Japanese servers let me watch YouTube videos with just 3-4 seconds of buffer time. When I connected to ExpressVPN’s US server, I was also able to stream Kim’s Convenience on Netflix in HD with minimal lag.

Don’t make the same mistake that I did — install ExpressVPN before traveling to China. Because of censorship, you won’t be able to access the website and download the app there. If you have other issues while in China, ExpressVPN also offers a helpful troubleshooting page.

If you find yourself in China without a working VPN, you might be able to use this trick to download ExpressVPN. After installing the Tor browser, try downloading ExpressVPN from its .onion site (http://expressobutiolem.onion). A team member had success with this method.

China Winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN in China today

8. Gaming — ExpressVPN Has Lower Latency for Gaming

Since most VPN reviews don’t conduct detailed testing of services’ gaming performance, I was wary about how ExpressVPN and NordVPN would perform. After all, a basic speed test isn’t enough to determine how a VPN will impact your gaming experience!

I found that both VPNs easily unblock games and provide top security for uninterrupted gaming. However, ExpressVPN is the winner because it was slightly faster than NordVPN.

Gaming Speed

As an avid gamer, I didn’t want to make the mistake of buying a long-term subscription to a VPN that would cause slow speeds and unresponsiveness.

I tested NordVPN and ExpressVPN with Counter-Strike to see their impact on gaming latency. This is the measure of the time it takes your gaming device to send data to servers and back (remember: the lower the latency the better). Both VPNs increased my latency from baseline — but ExpressVPN had a lower latency score than NordVPN, which meant more responsive gaming with less lag.

Screenshot showing latency lower for ExpressVPN than NordVPN when playing Counter-Strike
ExpressVPN had lower latency when I played Counter-Strike

The latency test results were consistent with my own personal experience. I didn’t notice any difference in smoothness when connected to ExpressVPN as compared to having no VPN connected. I could keep up with the fast pace of Counter-Strike and didn’t miss any battles.

For the most part, NordVPN’s gaming speed was also decent. The lag I experienced was minimal and it didn’t affect my gameplay much. However, NordVPN’s higher latency could negatively affect your gaming depending on your baseline speed.

Unblocking Geo-Restricted Games and DLC

Given that I’m based in Australia, I’m sometimes unable to access new games and DLC from the US because my country isn’t part of the initial launch. If you’ve experienced this, you can change your IP address with a VPN to trick game sites into letting you access blocked content.

When I tested ExpressVPN and NordVPN, each provider was effective in unblocking restricted games. For example, I managed to access PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Lite for PC by connecting to a Thai server on both VPNs.

Screenshot of NordVPN and ExpressVPN unblocking PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Lite on PC
I managed to unblock PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Lite on my PC using ExpressVPN and NordVPN

Gaming Security

In a DDoS attack, hackers track down your IP address and try to shut your server down by overloading it. It could lead to severe lag or crash your game. I thought these attacks were only targeted at competitive gamers, but they’re becoming common in casual gameplay. You’re especially at risk if you participate in P2P gaming which requires direct connections between players. Your opponents can easily look up your IP address and attack you.

The best way to prevent DDoS attacks is to use a VPN because it hides your real IP address. If opponents ever tried to attack you, all they would see is encrypted information and your VPN server’s location.

Both VPNs can protect you equally well from DDoS attacks and allow you to enjoy fair gaming. To learn more about the encryption and leak protection that ExpressVPN and NordVPN use to mask your real IP address, jump to the security section.

Gaming Winner: ExpressVPN

Game with ExpressVPN now

9. Device Compatibility and App Differences — NordVPN Has More Features on Its Apps

To check each VPN’s compatibility for myself, I tested them and found that both performed well regardless of device type or operating system — but NordVPN has more features.

Device Compatibility

ExpressVPN and NordVPN work on: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android Smart TV, Kodi, Blackberry, Raspberry Pi, Windows Phone, Chrome extension, Firefox extension, Opera Extension, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam, routers, and more.

Both providers are compatible with numerous devices, operating systems, and extensions. For devices that don’t have native apps available (like gaming consoles and Kodi), they can be configured to routers to protect anything that connects to your WiFi.

I also found it convenient that ExpressVPN and NordVPN allow multiple simultaneous connections with each account. I found this feature convenient as I didn’t have to log out of my account to let family members connect. NordVPN has the extra benefit of allowing 6 simultaneous device connections (ExpressVPN only allows 5).

App Differences Between Operating Systems

ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer different features according to the operating system.

To ensure you get the services you want, I recommend investigating the specific app offered by each provider before subscribing. You’ll find both VPNs offer different optimized servers, encryption protocols, split-tunneling configurations, and security features (like ad/malware blockers) for certain devices. For example, ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a kill switch for iOS (NordVPN does), but it does offer split-tunneling on Windows (NordVPN doesn’t).

Overall, NordVPN offers protections like specialized servers and an ad/malware blocker that ExpressVPN doesn’t. It’s also the top VPN for Windows and other devices. For these reasons, I recommend you try NordVPN for its unique safety features and broad device compatibility.

Device Compatibility and App Features Winner: NordVPN

Try NordVPN free for 30 days

10. Privacy and Anonymity — Both Are Located in Privacy-Friendly Countries

It’s a tie for this category because both VPNs are located in countries with privacy-friendly laws and they have undergone independent audits.

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Country in which the parent company is headquartered The British Virgin Islands Panama
Headquartered in a 5, 9, or 14 Eyes country No No
User information required to sign up Email address Email address
Anonymous Payment Methods Bitcoin, Mint Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Zcash, Ripple, Gridcoin, Dash, and Monero
Privacy policy independently audited Underwent audit by PwC in 2019 to verify that its no-logging policies and TrustedServer technology work as advertised. Underwent audit by PwC in 2018 to show that its no-logging practices are consistent with its policies.
Warrant Canary Not available Posts daily updates confirming that it has not received any requests from government agencies to reveal user data

Where a VPN is officially headquartered is important because that affects how it handles your private information. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are able to uphold their no-logging standards because they are located in countries where they are not restricted by data retention laws. This means they’re not legally required to keep records of your data (like the websites you visit or what you download).

It’s also important that both providers are also based outside the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes alliances (international intelligence groups of countries that share information gathered from mass surveillance of citizens). This means that they’re not required by law to give any user information to national or international security agencies.

Privacy and anonymity winner: Tie

Stay anonymous with ExpressVPN

11. Logging Policies and User Data Storage — ExpressVPN and NordVPN Don’t Keep Data That Could Reveal Your Identity

ExpressVPN and NordVPN have strict no-logging policies and do not store identifiable user data. That means none of your online activities can be traced back to you.

Logging Policies

Almost all VPNs claim to have a strict no-logging policy — but I was confused about what that really means. When I dug deeper into other services’ privacy policies, I found that some record users’ IP addresses, browsing history, and more. I don’t like the idea of VPNs keeping such extensive private data. To me, it sounds like they want to sell my information to advertisers (which is totally against why I want to use a VPN in the first place).

I investigated both VPNs’ policies and discovered they mean it when they say they don’t keep logs. Neither provider records your IP address, DNS queries, browsing history, traffic destination, or file downloads/uploads. The only slight difference is that ExpressVPN logs your account ID, connection date (not time), amount of data transferred, and location connected to and from. Since this can’t be linked back to you, I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Additionally, both VPNs are so serious about their no-logs policies that they have undergone independent audits by cybersecurity experts — and published the results. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) verified that their logging practices are consistent with their policies.

In 2017, ExpressVPN’s no-logging policy was again proven to be true when Turkish authorities seized its servers as part of a criminal investigation. They couldn’t find any user data because ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology doesn’t create logs that could identify you. To me, this real-life example is further evidence that you can trust ExpressVPN’s no-logging policy.

User Data Storage

Both VPNs store some basic information about you (like your email address, name, and payment method). I’m comfortable with these practices because they allow me to auto-renew my subscription to prevent service interruptions and none of this data can be linked back to what you do online. However, if you want to stay 100% anonymous, you can use a fake email address and pay for either service with a prepaid card or cryptocurrencies.

Ultimately, this section is a tie because both providers have proven that they don’t log data that could reveal your online activities.

Logging Policies and User Data Storage Winner: Tie

Stay safe with ExpressVPN

12. Payments and Refunds — ExpressVPN Accepts a Few More Important Payment Methods

Although both services accept numerous payment methods and have generous refund policies, ExpressVPN wins this category because it accepts a greater variety of payment methods.

Payment Methods

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Major Credit Cards (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and more) Yes Yes
Paypal Yes No
Mint Yes No
Bitcoin Yes Yes
Other Cryptocurrencies No Ethereum and Ripple
Other Popular Payment Systems Discover, Diners Club, JCB, Alipay, Union Pay, and many more Discover, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Alipay, Union Pay, and more

Both providers accept payment through major credit cards and several cryptocurrencies, but I found some important differences (especially if you want to stay 100% anonymous). For example, ExpressVPN accepts payment through PayPal and Mint, while NordVPN doesn’t. Since Mint doesn’t require you to provide any personal information, this is a big bonus for privacy-conscious users.

On the other hand, NordVPN accepts payment by numerous cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple) while ExpressVPN only accepts Bitcoin.

Money-Back Guarantees

Both VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. I found that taking advantage of this offer was a risk-free way for me to test their features before committing to a long-term subscription.

Getting a refund from ExpressVPN and NordVPN was easy through their customer service live chats. Both providers processed my refund in under 3 minutes and my money was returned within a week.

The only difference was that NordVPN’s customer service representative tried to get me to stay. This was a little annoying, but once I explained that I was in a hurry the representative processed my request quickly. On the other hand, ExpressVPN’s policy is truly no-questions-asked and processed my refund immediately without any troubleshooting.

During my research, I also discovered that the refund process is more difficult if you purchase your VPN through a virtual store like the Apple App Store. In these cases, the third-party vendors handle refunds (which may mean weeks of delays). Given the differences in the refund policies, I recommend you download your VPN directly through the vendor website.

Payments and Refunds Winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN free for 30 days

13. Customer Service — Both Have Fast and Helpful Customer Service

ExpressVPN and NordVPN have knowledgeable customer service representatives who respond fast (usually in less than a minute via live chat or in a few minutes via email).

There’s nothing worse than purchasing a VPN subscription and then being unable to get any help when you have a problem. You won’t face that problem with either of these VPNs — both providers offer many resources to solve problems fast. For example, they have educational blogs with FAQ and how-to pages in addition to helpful customer service resources.

Customer Service Speed

Both providers offer almost instant responses via the 24/7 live chat. I’ve contacted both services at different times of the day and never had to wait more than a minute for a representative to respond. They also always responded via email in under 30 minutes.

ExpressVPN NordVPN
Live Chat Yes Yes
Average wait time for response via chat 10 seconds 12 seconds
Email support Yes Yes
Average wait time for response via email 10 minutes 18 minutes
Ticket support Yes Yes
Phone support Yes Yes
Searchable help articles Yes Yes
Video Guides Yes Yes

Customer Service Knowledgeability

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s customer support services were also knowledgeable.

Questions Initial Response Time By Email Query Resolved Number of Emails
ExpressVPN Does ExpressVPN have split tunneling on iOS? 15 minutes Yes 1
What is TrustedServer technology? 6 minutes Yes 1
NordVPN Can I torrent on non-P2P servers? 12 minutes Yes 1
Is CyberSec available on Android? 24 minutes Yes 2

This was important to me because nothing is more frustrating than a customer service representative who doesn’t know how to help. I contacted both VPNs about issues like fixing streaming issues, requesting a refund, or clarifying how features work. The representatives from both companies always answered my questions accurately and fast.

Customer Service Winner: Tie

Try ExpressVPN free for 30 days

And the Winner Is… ExpressVPN (By a Small Margin)

Based on my testing, the final score was 6 wins for ExpressVPN, 3 victories for NordVPN, and 4 ties. ExpressVPN is the winner across most categories, but NordVPN was a close second.

Ultimately, both are top services and you should make your choice depending on your specific needs for a VPN.

If you want seamless streaming, gaming, or torrenting, try ExpressVPN and its excellent speeds. It also beats NordVPN for bypassing more geo-blocks in heavily-censored countries like China.

However, I recommend you test NordVPN if you’re on a budget or want a VPN with specific security features (like its ad and malware blocker or Double VPN).

If you’re still undecided, I recommend you try both VPNs for free using their 30-day money-back guarantees. When you’re done testing them during that period, all you have to do is ask for a refund from their customer service representatives. This is the best risk-free way to make sure you’ve picked the right VPN.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN free for 30 days

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Dawn Teh
Written By Dawn Teh
Dawn is a cybersecurity content writer. She enjoys updating readers about the latest trends in tech and online security.