HBO is famous for making great TV shows. Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Silicon Vally, Entourage. Honestly, if not for Breaking Bad, as far as people in Europe are concerned, HBO is pretty much the only US channel worth watching. Let’s look at how to—somewhat—legally access it, no matter where you are.
For US citizens who already have an HBO account, or have a US address and credit card, things are pretty straightforward. If you try to access HBO in Europe, you’ll get a warning that looks something like this.
All you need to get around it is a VPN. Then you’ll be able to either log in with your existing credentials or sign up with your American details. We Europeans who don’t have US credit cards are the ones who are stuck, so that’s what we’re going to talk about here.
Step One: Get a VPN
As I mentioned above, you can’t even access HBO’s site from Europe. To even get to the front door, you need a VPN. While there are free VPNs, they tend to have limited data or are slow, unreliable, or incredibly sketchy. This means you need to pay. We’ve got a full guide to picking a VPN but, to save you reading the whole thing, our favorite is ExpressVPN. There’s a 30-day guarantee so you can try it out and see if everything works.
Download ExpressVPN or your VPN of choice and connect to a US location.
Step Two: Get an HBO Gift Card
The biggest problem to overcome is the US credit card check. It’s easy to make up an address or use a VPN to connect through a US IP, but you can’t just fake a credit card without committing half a dozen international crimes. Instead, we’re going to use a gift card to pay. You don’t need a US credit card to buy one.
HBO doesn’t offer an easy option to buy gift cards online, so you need to purchase through MyGiftCardSupply. There’s a slight markup (my $25 card came to $26.97) but they deliver you the scanned back of a physical card by email.
Step Three: Sign Up for HBO Now
Head to HBO’s gift card redemption page (click here) and enter the gift card details. Pick a random ZIP code, select the right State, and then click “Continue.”
Fill in the account creation details and click “Create Account.”
And just like that, you’re in.
Since HBO costs $14.99 a month and I’ve paid with a $25 gift card, my account is paid for just under seven weeks. One downside to this method is you won’t have an automated or regular billing period.
Step Four: Get Watching
This is kind of a hacked together solution which means, unfortunately, that the only way to watch HBO stuff is through a web browser on your computer. The HBO Now app is region blocked on my iPhone, Apple TV, Android phone, and Roku boxes. You might be able to buy a US Roku and connect it through a VPN running on your home router, but that’s a lot of effort, and I can’t confirm it will work.
The simpler option if you want to watch HBO content on your TV is to use your computer and either connect with an HDMI cable or share your screen to an Apple TV or Chromecast. If you’ve got a dedicated HTPC, it will work too.
Step Five: Renew Your Subscription
Since you can’t add a credit card for automatic renewals, you need to keep your account topped up with gift cards. When your subscription is up, buy a new one and head back to HBO’s gift card redemption page. This time, instead of creating a new account, log in instead.
It’s not perfect, but with a VPN and a gift card, you can check out all HBO’s epic shows from Europe. If it works for your needs, that’s great. If you need to watch the shows on your TV, you might be better off waiting for them to get broadcast wherever you are.