These days, VPNs are no longer services catering to a select few. More and more companies are jumping into the VPN bandwagon, hoping to make a quick buck on the surge of interest from the public. But how many businesses are providing fast, reliable, and genuinely secure VPN services?
Having looked into a ton of VPNs, we’ve also noticed how generic most of them are — offering the same features at the same rates. So few companies actually make an effort to set themselves apart from the competition. Luckily for us, we’ve stumbled upon something refreshing and innovative: CitizenVPN.
To be fair, the Denmark-registered Skytte Media ApS ticks all the core features of a VPN. CitizenVPN performs like any other VPN service with how users connect to a server. But here’s what’s interesting: Its VPN service is registered in the Bahamas, and you can use the premium VPN without paying anything.
A company is offering its fully-featured VPN services at no cost to the regular consumer — and the idea behind it is pure genius. So, is CitizenVPN worth a shot? Check out our full review below.
CitizenVPN has three payment options available: Subscribe, Unlimited, and Pay As You Go.
This is the monthly subscription, which is the standard option for VPN services. It costs €6.25 a month, which is already inclusive of the EU Vat (the actual price is just €5). Users can cancel anytime, and it has no bandwidth cap — you can stream all you want.
CitizenVPN also has a free one-month subscription. You don’t have to answer any surveys or anything. Just go to checkout and you won’t pay anything for the first month.
You do have to create an account and write down your account and billing details, but you can cancel anytime within your free trial to avoid paying for your second month.
With this option, you pay in advance for many months. You can choose to pay for just one month (€11.25), six months (€60), or a full year (€105.00). Paying for a month isn’t practical, so we suggest the latter two.
You also won’t get surprised with a renewal charge — the account expires once all the prepaid months are over.
Pay as You Go
This is a great option for people who want to pay exactly what they’re getting. It’s a flexible option that allows you to manage your spending and data consumption. Instead of choosing how long, you choose the amount of data: 10 GB (€11.25), 60 GB (€60), or 120 GB (€77.50).
Subscribe and Unlimited may seem better. But if you’re using less than 120 GB of data a year, you can save a lot by choosing Pay as You Go rather than paying €105.00 for a year of unlimited bandwidth. However, your byte allocation isn’t forever — you have to spend it within a year.
CitizenVPN accepts credit cards such as:
– American Express
– Diners Club International
Also, you may pay through PayPal, CoinPayments, and Bitcoin.
The biggest and most popular VPN services have thousands of servers around the world, located in more than 50 countries and several regions. CitizenVPN can’t compete with in terms of the sheer number of servers and countries, but it doesn’t have to.
If you know how to properly allocate your servers, you can still cover several regions and satisfy users looking to bypass geo-restricted content. CitizenVPN only has 12 countries as of writing, but it already covers three large regions: Asia, United States, and, most prominently, Europe.
Here are the server locations:
– United Kingdom
– United States
Apart from choosing locations where tons of geo-restricted content is located, CitizenVPN also selected some countries that are at the forefront of data privacy. Spain has the Spanish Data Protection Agency while Norway has the Norwegian Data Protection Authority.
One key element as to why we know that CitizenVPN has a serious goal in being part of the VPN industry is its decision to register in the Bahamas. If it just wanted to jump into the VPN bandwagon like the rest of the new service providers popping out of nowhere these days, they could’ve registered anywhere.
But the thing is that the Bahamas is a key destination for the company’s cybersecurity goal. Even if the CitizenVPN app was developed in Denmark, its registration in the Bahamas means that it doesn’t have to abide by data logging requirements set by either the United States or the European Union.
No Logs Policy
Aside from this, CitizenVPN employs a no-logs policy, which means that the company itself doesn’t keep a copy of your private data. It will neither store nor share your IP address, bandwidth usage, or browsing habits to any ISPs, government bodies, or marketing companies.
Free Premium for Watching Ads: You read that right. The CitizenVPN Android app has a feature that no other VPN provider has done before: Users can get free access to the premium VPN if they watch short ads. There are no restrictions whatsoever — you’ll get all the features any other user gets.
This industry-first feature is sure to get the attention of every other competitor. If CitizenVPN can give the premium services just for viewing a quick video, why should consumers stick to VPN providers that only allow typical payment options for such access?
Each ad grants users 30 minutes of premium VPN access. And you’re not limited to that: You can watch four in a row to get two hours. Simply put, CitizenVPN is making ad-watching a currency for premium access. And, truth be told, this is a smart strategy that will benefit both the company and the user.
Since people can choose to watch ads, CitizenVPN doesn’t have to include pop-up ads that interrupt their browsing experience — unlike what other companies do. Plus, the ads don’t mean your personal data is collected and sent to third parties. We’re excited when this feature rolls out to all regions.
NAT Firewall: CitizenVat has its own NAT (Network Address Translation) firewall to safeguard user privacy. With it, your devices will show a single public IP address rather than their actual unique private address. Combined with the VPN, no unauthorized entities can track the real IP addresses of your devices.
Quick Launch Selection: A handy feature we found on the app is that each location offers its own set of networks or apps for you to browse. It’s a great way to find new content with each location.
For example, if you connect to a server in Denmark, you’ll find icons for TV2, HBO Nordic, DR Radio, ViaFree, and DR Ultra. If you choose a US server, the Quick Launch will show links to Nickelodeon, Discovery Channel, NBC, ABC, Fox Now, History, and Amazon Prime, among others.
Multi-Device Use: CitizenVPN works on 10 simultaneous devices. That’s a drastic improvement from the usual allowance of between four to six devices by other providers.
OpenVPN and PPTP: PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) was an early method for connecting VPNs, but we can all agree that it is obsolete and vulnerable to multiple security issues. Thus, while it works on many platforms, we don’t suggest using this protocol.
With this in mind, we’re glad that CitizenVPN also has OpenVPN. It’s an open-source protocol that’s just as easy to configure as the old PPTP. Combined with the 256-bit AES encryption, you’re guaranteed with top cybersecurity. As of writing, there have been no serious security issues with OpenVPN, so do try it.
P2P and Torrenting: Not all VPN companies allow users (even paying ones) to use their service for P2P or torrenting. Thankfully, CitizenVPN doesn’t have such restrictions. They just give a gentle reminder that users must exercise great responsibility when participating in such activities.
Encryption is a core aspect of any VPN service. CitizenVPN utilizes AES-256 encryption, which is pretty much impossible to decipher. This type of encryption, as the name implies, has 256 bits. Even the most formidable computer can’t just break inside by sheer force.
Even if someone does manage to crack the key, their success would already be useful — you’d already have a new key for them to break by that time. Similarly, you’ll have a new security certificate by then.
Also, AES or the Advanced Encryption Standard has the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) stamp of approval. In other words, the NSA can vouch for its capability in safeguarding confidential information.
CitizenVPN is available on multiple operating systems and platforms, but the installation procedure may vary. Thankfully, the service has already prepared a set of installation guides.
The only catch is that you must have a VPN account to access these articles. We understand why, but it’s unusual since other VPN providers freely provide guides for users and non-users alike — they’re all out for public viewing.
Other than that, you won’t find any trouble following the guides. They’re precise and well-outlined. You may notice that some installation guides for a few operating systems aren’t there, but it’s confirmed that they’re all on their way soon.
The FAQ page is relatively short but it does acknowledge enough questions. Questions are grouped into four categories:
The technical category has the most questions so far, but we expect all sections to develop in the long run. Each answer is literally just a sentence or two sentences long, but a simple and concise response is ideal in this case. If anything, we would appreciate a few screenshots or videos when appropriate.
The VPN provider suggests users read the FAQ section first before attempting to contact customer support. If they can’t find the answer there, that’s when they should try contacting by email. This option is your best bet for getting comprehensive information.
For this method, you can either send an online form or just directly send an email to their support team. If you choose form submission, you must remember to include your account username and to correctly answer a math problem, which is a common measure against bots.
If you prefer to talk to customer support, you can call them, but only from Mondays to Fridays. Likewise, availability is from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The good thing, however, is that phone support is available in two languages: English and Danish.
We commend VPN services that recognize the importance of social media channels. As much as some businesses want to stick to email and call support, more people are starting to prefer social media — Twitter being the most notable platform with arguably the highest number of user queries.
So how does CitizenVPN fare? For one, it has official pages on four popular platforms:
Targeting these platforms is a solid idea. But as of writing, the engagement and actual reach of these pages are far from ideal. Barely any people are subscribed or are following the Instagram and Reddit pages.
Likewise, the Twitter page hasn’t been active since December 2019. The Facebook page has over 2,000 followers, but the engagement isn’t high. Still, the foundation is already there — there’s nowhere to go but up when it comes to social media reach. It’s still good for CitizenVPN to have set these pages up.
Multiple Language Options
At least for the Android app, CitizenVPN is available in multiple languages. Just go to Settings and select from the following:
If there’s one thing other VPN providers should copy from CitizenVPN, it’s their outstanding money-back guarantee. Usually, companies only allow users 30 days (i.e. a month) to ask for a refund. Some generous VPN services move it up a notch, up to 60 days.
Yet CitizenVPN goes beyond two months: It offers a money-back guarantee of three months — and it’s been this way since 2010. The company won’t even burden users with providing a “legitimate” reason. You can say you just don’t like the VPN service, and you’ll get your full refund.
Speed and Performance
We found nothing to complain about the app when it came to convenience and reliability. Whether we access the service on our laptop or phone, we can expect a quick launch — and the same goes for VPN connections. It literally takes less than five seconds to connect to and disconnect from a server.
We also know essential details like the new IP address, the server location, and the duration of our latest VPN connection. Moreover, the auto-connect feature makes the app connect to the last chosen server location as soon as you open it.
CitizenVPN excels in this aspect. Usually, VPN providers only pay attention to the four biggest computer and mobile platforms: OSX, Windows, iOS, and Android. You can use this whether you have a phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop.
But this VPN didn’t settle for those operating systems alone: It went further and ensured compatibility with Linux. The VPN works not only with the open-source Linux distribution Ubuntu but also with the Linux-based firmware DD_WRT.
Windows OS Versions
You don’t need Windows 10 to get CitizenVPN running. Similarly, you’ll also do fine even if you have something older than Windows 8 or 8.1.
The app runs fine on Windows 7, Windows Vista, and even Windows XP, the last of which was released 19 years ago. This is fantastic news for many individuals and businesses that still prefer something like Windows 7. As recently as March 2020, a quarter of Windows PCs still had Windows 7 installed.
CitizenVPN is a step in the right direction for the entire VPN industry. Yes, the app doesn’t entirely keep itself distinct from its competitors, but that’s the beauty of it. This is a VPN service that knows when to stick to the same old but reliable aspects and when to brainstorm and introduce a new idea.
Is CitizenVPN the biggest service provider? No. Its server locations, while carefully chosen, are limited. We’d also love for it to improve its customer support. But on the bright side, the app is responsive. And we commend the flexibility of its payment options, a clear sign that the company knows its market.
CitizenVPN is at the forefront of making VPNs widely accessible. No other VPN company has attempted to change how both companies and users alike view ads. Now, CitizenVPN has found a way to motivate users to watch them. Combine that with its solid performance, and you’ve got a worthy VPN.