Do you really need to use a VPN with your Amazon Fire TV Stick? If you care about your privacy, want to get past streaming service geoblocking and don’t want advertisers to treat you like data-producing livestock, then yes, you should seriously consider using a Fire TV Stick VPN.
Long gone are the days of viewer anonymity that we enjoyed with the now-extinct bunny-eared TV antennas. Thanks to smart TVs, we’re now in the age of smart surveillance. And as with any other internet-connected device in the home, your media habits are subject to monitoring by your ISP, malicious snoops and Uncle Sam. But luckily, drawing the encryption curtains on would-be peepers isn’t too hard with the help of these top VPN picks for Fire TV Stick users.
You can use a VPN with your Amazon Fire TV Stick to protect your privacy and get past streaming geoblocking.
Two important callouts for this list: First, each of these are available as an app on current versions of the Fire Stick — just search the store for the VPN app as you would for any other streaming app, such as Hulu and Showtime.
Second, you’ll notice all my recommendations are drawn from the top three performers in CNET’s directory of the best overall VPNs to use in 2021. That’s mainly due to the obstacle course CNET puts VPN services through during testing and evaluation. A key factor in securing a top spot on the list is a VPN’s platform compatibility, so it’s little surprise that my top three picks are VPN services that work on a wide range of devices and systems.
However, when we evaluate VPNs for Fire TV Stick use, the priorities are straightforward. We’re looking for the fastest, most streaming-friendly services with strong-enough security to keep your service provider blind to your whereabouts and your ISP blind to your content choices.
As I would do for other types of devices, I recommend avoiding a free VPN for your Fire TV Stick and instead — if you’re on a disciplined budget — sticking to a tried-and-true paid VPN that offers the cheapest deals.
Editors’ note: Following the Sept. 13 sale of ExpressVPN to Kape Technologies, a company that has raised significant privacy concerns for us in the past, we’re carefully re-evaluating ExpressVPN to determine the implications that its new ownership may have on users’ privacy. We’ll update our recommendations and reviews if and when warranted.
Surfshark’s network of servers may be smaller than some of its competitors, but this service is tall on speed and features. Its most obvious win, particularly if you have a penchant for connected smart home devices, is its support for unlimited devices. That means you can install Surfshark on your Fire TV Stick without sacrificing one of a limited number of connection choices, as you would with either of the two providers below.
With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, I lost less than 17% of average internet speeds during my most recent Surfshark speed tests. That’s faster than the 27% speed loss I saw in previous tests, and pushes the VPN service ahead of ExpressVPN to be the current front-runner in CNET’s speed comparisons.
If you’re a Brit abroad, for instance, and want to use your usual broadcast news app, then you’re going to need a VPN fast enough to deliver high-quality live streaming content at maximum resolution without lagging, even after you’ve encrypted and obfuscated your data, bounced your connection through servers in other countries, and funnelled back to your location. Whew. Long trip, no? Surfshark — the fastest-performing VPN I’ve tested so far — can handle it without breaking a sweat.
In terms of security, Surfshark received generally high marks when its Chrome and Firefox extensions were audited for privacy by German security firm Cure 53 (PDF link of full report), and its encryption options are on par with its peers. While its Fire TV Stick app offers multiple protocol options, its general encryption default is IKEv2 — not the strongest, but the one you’d expect to see used by most VPNs to ensure platform compatibility on your smart TV. You can also enable its kill switch on your Fire TV device, which prevents network data from leaking outside of its secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails.
Surfshark’s ability to hop over geoblocking on a streaming platform like Netflix is likewise renowned. Its normal desktop Multihop option, which jumps your connection through multiple countries to hide your trail, is also available on its Amazon Fire TV app.
The best part about the Surfshark VPN? Not only is it the fastest VPN I’ve reviewed so far, and not only does it have an excellent suite of privacy features, but it remains the least expensive VPN subscription you can buy.
Unlike many of the other VPN providers, Surfshark doesn’t offer a one-year plan. Its best offer is $2.49 a month, for its two-year plan (you pay about $60 up front). A six-month plan is $6.49 a month (about $39 up front), and month-by-month plans are $13 a month. Definitely take advantage of its generous 30-day trial to decide if you like this service (and if you choose the two-year plan, maybe set a reminder in 23 months to see if you can talk it into a continued discount rate).
Read our Surfshark review.
NordVPN is like the final boss you have to fight if you’re a VPN industry newcomer. Why? Because it’s got an answer to every advantage you might bring to the table. Your VPN is faster this year? Watch how fast Nord can get when it expands its fleet again. You’ve beefed up your VPN’s security? That’s great, but Nord’s gone 100% RAM-disk and offers co-located and bare metal servers after its 2019 scare. Even if you’re an established contender like ExpressVPN, you’ve still got to constantly deal with NordVPN’s advertising war chest and willingness to slash prices at the drop of a hat to dominate the market.
In CNET’s list of overall best VPNs, ExpressVPN currently outranks NordVPN. The key here that puts NordVPN ahead of ExpressVPN for Fire TV Stick is Nord’s consistency. I found NordVPN’s speeds were reliable. There were never any sudden dips or service interruptions, and where I expected the VPN to underperform, it proved itself up to the task. That reliability is what you’re going to need most when it comes to streaming data-heavy media content from providers like HBO Max.
NordVPN offers a generous simultaneous connection count, with six simultaneous connections through its network, where nearly all other providers offer five or fewer. It also offers a dedicated IP option, for those looking for a different level of VPN connection. NordVPN offers a kill switch feature and the ability to VPN into Tor. I detected no privacy leaks during my tests.
In my most recent speed tests, NordVPN’s performance was on par with many of its competitors, reducing my speeds by 53% on average (which is slower than the 32% loss measured in previous speed tests). Like ExpressVPN however, NordVPN has been prepping for its next round of races and aiming for the trophy.
The company’s two-year VPN subscription plan costs $3.67 a month ($99 billed at once). That price is lower than most contenders, but creeps up for the one-year plan ($4.92 a month or $59 total) and the monthly plan ($12 a month). But it does have a full 30-day refund policy.
Read our NordVPN review.
Although it was the fastest VPN I measured in 2019, ExpressVPN saw a tough year during its 2020 speed tests. Despite consistently going toe-to-toe with the industry’s heaviest hitters, my tests saw the VPN provider create a 52% overall loss of my normal internet speeds, representing a significant slowdown compared to its 2019 score (an unbelievably fast 2% speed loss). Since then, however, ExpressVPN has bolstered its VPN server fleet and moved to a new Wireguard-based protocol that may help it take back the title belt in a tight competition.
In the privacy world, ExpressVPN has a strong track record, having experienced a VPN server seizure by authorities that proved its zero-log policy true at the time. Since then, ExpressVPN has moved to all RAM-disk servers for even stronger privacy protection. I also like the quality of the VPN’s setup guides and the detailed information in its FAQ.
Like the rest of the top five VPN services CNET’s reviewed, ExpressVPN offers a useful kill switch feature. Unlike the others, though, ExpressVPN gained points for its support of bitcoin as a payment method — something not all of the best VPN services offer, but which adds an additional layer of privacy during checkout.
Yes, ExpressVPN is definitely going to cost you more than Surfshark. And more than most other VPNs for that matter. But that’s the price you pay for a VPN that’s paid its reputational dues, even when it meant getting its servers seized during the investigation of an international assassination. The VPN service has been in business since 2009, and ExpressVPN has a substantial network of fast VPN servers spread across 94 countries. Its best plan is priced at less than $7 a month for an annual package, which includes three months free.
Read our ExpressVPN review.
Other VPNs available on Fire TV Stick
The three services above are my favorites, whether you’re using an Amazon Fire TV device or some other device. But note that these other services are also available as downloadable apps on the Fire TV platform:
More VPN recommendations