Digital illustration of a wallet with coins floating around it and arrows forming a circle to illustrate a refund.
In most cases, you can get your money back from VPNs, though you need to make sure you're in the term limit. Some VPNs make the process a lot harder than others, though, and there are a few tricks to getting your request through.

VPN marketing often puts money-back guarantees front and center: if you don’t like the service, you can cancel within a set term—usually 30 days—and get your money back. But these can sound too good to be true. So how likely will your VPN provider make good on its commitment?

The short answer is that yes, you will get your money back from most providers. However, in our experience you may need to press the customer support representative a bit. It’s a little annoying and goes against the “no questions asked” part most VPNs advertise their refund policies with, but in most cases you can rest assured your VPN’s money-back guarantee will be honored.

That said, in my many years of reviewing VPNs, a few times I didn’t get my money back. However, it’s so extremely rare that it’s barely worth mentioning: when it happens, it’s usually some fly-by-night provider that has set out to rip off as many people as possible before being shut down.

If you stick with established VPNs, like those on our best VPN roundup, you should be fine and get your money back every time. In an industry that’s rife with false advertising, the promise of a refund is surprisingly safe. But as we said, sometimes VPN providers will make you work for your refund. To minimize any aggravation, there are a few things you can do.

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Refund Prerequisites

First off, make sure you’re still eligible for a refund. Almost all VPN providers maintain a 30-day limit on their money-back guarantees, including ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

However, make sure to double-check what time your VPN provider has set. For example, CyberGhost maintains just 14 days for month-long plans and 45 days for longer ones. PureVPN is another outlier, offering a 31-day money-back guarantee.

The reason to keep an eye on the guarantee is simple: If you’ve been using the service for longer than the stated term, the chances of getting a refund are pretty slim. There are cases where you could still get your money back—say if the server you just have to have is no longer available—but once the honeymoon period is over it’s up to the VPN service’s discretion whether or not to refund you. Make the decision before time runs out, and don’t rely on the provider to send remind you.

Another possible issue is that not all payment methods are eligible for a refund. Not all VPN providers refund payments made in crypto, for example, and if you paid with cash there’s no chance of getting the money back. If you’re really not sure about a service, pay with a credit card or PayPal, refunds are always possible using these two.

How to Get Your Money Back from a VPN

Assuming you tick these boxes, it’s time to ask for your money back. To cancel and get the refund, you’ll need to contact support. Depending on the service you’re using, you can either submit a ticket, send an email, or start a chat. Chat seems to be a little quicker, in my experience.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be using a VPN like IVPN or Mullvad which will sort out your request with a minimum of fuss. You send an email, they’ll send one back asking for your account reference number—both let you sign up anonymously without using email—and once you send that off you’ll get confirmation. The money should be back in your account in a day or two, maybe longer.

Getting Through the Gauntlet

That quick turnaround is how refunds should work, but sadly enough it’s the exception to the rule. Usually, you’ll find that the rep has been given the mission to retain customers at all costs, including, it feels like, your sanity.

We understand that they don’t want a made sale to just walk away, but at times it gets a little crazy. A good example is Surfshark, which I wanted to cancel after comparing Surfshark and ExpressVPN. It took four emails for the refund to get through, with each time the rep throwing up more objections: “but have you tried this?,” “won’t you talk to our technical support reps,” on and on.

Sadly enough, this is the most common experience. It’s annoying, but you need to persevere and just insist on getting your money back. A tried and true approach is to simply politely and firmly repeat your request and not engage with any arguments thrown up. Saying something along the lines of “I would just like a refund, please” or “I just want my money back” seems to work.

If you want to save yourself some aggravation, though, we recommend IVPN and Mullvad. Both are great providers and offer the most no-nonsense attitude toward refunds I’ve seen. If you’re not too sure about either service, you can always check out our guide on how to choose the best VPN for your needs.

Profile Photo for Fergus O'Sullivan Fergus O'Sullivan
Fergus is a freelance writer for How-To Geek. He has seven years of tech reporting and reviewing under his belt for a number of publications, including GameCrate and Cloudwards. He's written more articles and reviews about cybersecurity and cloud-based software than he can keep track of---and knows his way around Linux and hardware, too.
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