Surprising ways to save money online using a VPN

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With the continued growth of eCommerce, it comes as no surprise that there are now 2.14 billion digital buyers worldwide. From booking vacations to purchasing the latest streaming services or software, almost everything is now done online.

However, with the current cost of living crisis, many people are looking to cut back on non-essential spending. But what if there was a way to shop for the things you like while paying less, by simply using a VPN?

To assist you in saving money, VPN experts at Forbes Advisor revealed five of the best products and services you can use your VPN on to access discounts, and Rob Watts, Business Editor, has provided tips on how to choose the best VPN for your specific needs.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is software that provides online privacy and anonymity by converting a public internet connection into a private network. VPNs conceal your internet protocol (IP) address, making your online activities nearly impossible to track. 

By using a VPN, you can connect to an external server and adopt its IP address, making it appear that you are in the same country as the server you are using. So, for example, if you are in America and connected to a server in the UK, the website will believe you are in the UK and displays all of their prices relative to that country.

5 things you can save money on using a VPN 

Subscriptions

Accessing streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+ is one of the most common reasons people use a VPN. This is primarily due to the fact that countries’ catalogs differ, with many users claiming that some countries have better content than others. 

However, many people don’t realise the price of subscriptions varies per country as well. For example, you can pay much less for a Netflix subscription if you join a VPN server that is based in Turkey, Argentina or Brazil. If you get a Netflix account in another country, you can still watch Netflix in your home country, but at a lower cost.

The following table illustrates the difference in prices across a range of services:

Streaming serviceCheapest subscription priceMost expensive subscription price
Apple MusicIndia, $1.32 per monthDenmark, $15.50 per month
NetflixTurkey, $3,27 per monthSwitzerland and Liechtenstein, $12.74 per month
Amazon PrimeIndia, $1.76 per monthUnited States, $12.99 per month
SpotifyIndia, $2.17 per monthDenmark, $15.40 per month
YouTube PremiumArgentina, $1.57 per monthDenmark, $18.59 per month

(Source: CashNetUSACompareitTechHowToSpotifyThesimarchitect)

Flights

By changing your IP address to another location and keeping your browsing activity anonymous, you can browse flights from around the world – without booking sites tracking your personal data and increasing prices.

Lower-income countries typically have better flight deals because airlines charge less for their flight tickets. So, by downloading a VPN, you can compare the prices of flights from all over the world in the hope of finding a better deal.

Another option is to clear your cookies and information from previous browsing sessions. As this data is used to determine your location and online behaviour, deleting it allows you to essentially refresh your data and potentially gain access to cheaper flights. This is useful because websites usually raise their prices for people who show a higher level of interest in the flights, as the more time you spend on a website, the more they charge you.

Hotels

Hotels operate similarly to airlines, so companies can vary their prices depending on the target audience. It is known that hotel deals and prices can fluctuate depending on many different factors such as browsing habits, location and even currency.  So, in some cases, searching from a lower-income country will help you get the best deals. 

Furthermore, because some hotels attempt to charge tourists a higher rate, you may find that prices are higher if you search from a country other than the country where the hotel is located.

Car renting

The same can be said for when you are trying to rent a car in a foreign country, as rental companies are known to charge higher prices for foreign travellers booking online. 

Many companies will vary their prices based on your geographical location, so as a result prices will generally be higher if you are trying to book a car in the US, so it is better to check a few other countries’ prices to see if you can get a better deal.

Video games

You can also save money on video games for your PC by using a VPN as different countries have different prices on their games on the Steam store. After you’ve installed your VPN, all you have to do now is compare the prices of each game from one country to the next. If there is a specific game you have your eye on, connect to a VPN server in a country where you can get it for a cheaper price.

How to access discounts using a VPN

So here are the steps you should take if you’re looking to get cheaper deals with a VPN:

  1. Check the prices in your own country on the website of the service you’re interested in

This should be your starting point. You can do this by simply searching for the service you are interested in on Google, and it should come up immediately. Then, go to the website of said service and make a note of the price. For example for flight tickets, put in the details for the trip you are looking to go on and then jot down the price of the flight that best suits your needs. 

  1. Connect to a VPN from another country

Close the browser you were just looking on and then connect to a VPN server in another country. You should now check to see the prices of the service to see which country offers the cheapest price. For example, Apple Music only costs $1.32 a month in India, in contrast, a monthly subscription in the US will cost $9.99.

  1. Compare the prices

All that remains is to see if you have been able to obtain a discount on the service you are interested in. Using the flight tickets as an example, return to the same flight website you were using and enter the exact same details of the flight that you were interested in to see if you can get a discount on the flight price.

Rob Watts, a Business Editor at Forbes Advisor shared his tips for ensuring you download the best VPN for your specific needs:

“VPNs are popular because of their ability to keep user activity private from malicious third parties. However, VPNs’ remote access features lend themselves well to other applications, like accessing discounts that may be geo-restricted to other regions. In many cases, VPNs can be used to access discounts on streaming services, flights and hotel bookings that wouldn’t be possible with a standard connection.

ExpressVPN offers the most countries to choose from, so if you use this service, you will have the best chance of obtaining a discount on your online purchases. We recommend using this service if you want to save money on airline tickets or hotel reservations.”

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