I have to admit to a light-bulb moment when I began researching for this article. I know all about the technical, security, and privacy reasons behind the use of a VPN, but I never thought of it as a money-saving device.
In order to save you from the facepalm moment I just had, I’ll share what I’ve learned so you can go forth and save yourself some money too.
First, a little bit of a primer for anyone who has stumbled across this article who doesn’t know all the above-mentioned technical, security, and privacy reasons.
Using a VPN will initially provide you with anonymity during any online activities. This is due to the fact that you don’t travel the web using your own IP address. Instead, you log in using an address provided by the Virtual Private Network. Depending on the VPN you are using, you can use any number of IP addresses from around the world. This means nobody can track you. Secondly, using a VPN will encrypt your data, keeping it safe from abuse and theft.
Now let’s move on to how you can save money using a VPN.
Clear Browser Cookies
This trick is an oldie but still a goodie, and when used in conjunction with a VPN, the results are even better.
If you’ve ever researched flight or hotel prices online, you may have found that each time you go back to the site, the price is higher than it was previously. This is a known tactic, and a good way to get around it is to clear cookies. However, when you clear cookies and change your IP address using a VPN, you up your chances of looking like a new user, meaning you should see lower prices again.
If you would prefer to just start saving money now, instead of reading further about how you can do it, why not check out some reviews and pick the best VPN service for your needs?
Change Your Location
If you happen to live in one of the higher income countries, your IP address will give that information away. Since pricing on websites — especially sites that provide any sort of travel quotes — often price according to your location, there’s a good chance the quotes you receive are higher since you must be a rich person living in that rich country. Anyone who lives in a rich country knows how crazy that is.
When researching hotel or flight prices, use a VPN to give the appearance of being in another country. You would choose an IP address for a country that is traditionally a lower income country, in the hopes of getting a lower quote.
For example, say you live in the United States. Perhaps you live on the East Coast and you’re going to be traveling to the West Coast and you’re looking for flights and accommodations. There’s a good chance that any prices you see while researching are going to be higher than what they would be if you are using an IP address that indicated you live in India. Sometimes, significantly higher. Certainly enough to cover the annual cost of a VPN.
Note this isn’t foolproof, and you may have to try several times before you actually get a better price. But it’s definitely worth the effort because in some tests done, savings of more than $1000 were found.
International Versions of Websites
Another tried and tested way of finding better travel prices online is to use the international version of the website. To be able to do this, you need to appear to be in a country that website services.
So with a VPN, you would change your IP address to indicate that. These would be websites that end in co.uk, for example, instead of .com. Trying to access a co.uk website, when you’re located in the US will typically just redirect you back to the new .com site. This is why the VPN is necessary.
More and more organizations are going with the subscription model for pricing. And most of us hate it because ultimately it means more money out of our pocket.
One way to get around that is again to use a VPN to try to find better regional pricing. Let’s use Office 365 Home as an example. Testing pricing in different regional locations showed a difference of more than $60 annually between the lowest and highest costs available. So again, clear proof that using a VPN to shop online can save you money.
Save on Streaming Costs
A lot of people already use a VPN to allow them to access content that may be blocked in their region. If they’re not, and they’re accessing their content locally from some other streaming service, there’s a good chance they are paying a substantial amount more.
So using a VPN and, for example, accessing Netflix in the US, not only provides you with the ability to choose from a larger library, it will also mean you pay less for what you want to see.