VPNs have risen in popularity from relative obscurity to a must-have purchase for privacy savvy individuals and businesses. Originally used largely to conceal illicit activities and protect secretive info, the legitimate use cases of VPNs have exploded in recent years. This has led to the proliferation of premium, user-friendly software options and wallet-friendly benefits. So just what is a VPN and how can purchasing one save money?
What is a VPN?
VPNs (Virtual Proxy Networks) can be downloaded as software to any internet-capable device. VPNs work with proxy servers and overlay networks while creating a private network connection across a public network connection. VPNs mask users’ IP addresses, create encrypted tunnels for data, facilitate safe usage of public WiFi, and allow users to access regionally blocked content.
This may sound complex, but today’s VPNs feature incredibly simple and accessible user interfaces (UI) – ensuring that even the tech-illiterate among us can reap the benefits of online anonymity and privacy. More than ever before, these benefits extend beyond online confidentiality and provide users with an array of money-saving opportunities.
Avoid Artificially Inflated Prices
We all know the frustrating feeling of spending hours finding the best bargain for a product we’d like to buy, only to find at the last minute that the price has increased. When this happens, it is often not merely unfortunate coincidence but the intentional strategy of the retailer. Using cookies, IP addresses, and other tracking tools, many online retailers increase the prices they offer customers based on those customers’ browsing histories.
By blocking the availability of this data, VPNs prevent retailers from artificially raising their prices thereby helping to ensure that customers are not penalized for bargain hunting.
Stop Paying Location-based Premiums
A can of Coca-Cola in affluent countries costs about $1.50; in lesser-developed nations, the price can be less than $0.10. With this in mind, it should not be a surprise to anyone that international retailers change their prices based on who their customers are and where they are based.
The user-interfaces of most premium VPNs, such as Surfshark, appear as maps of the world. Users simply need to click the country they wish to appear in, and the VPN does the rest. After connecting to that area, the prices customers find online will automatically change to those offered for that locale – thereby allowing users to find prices that would otherwise be unavailable. This enables significant, proven discounts for products such as flights, hotels, car rental, and subscription services.
Get More for Your Money
One of the most popular uses of VPNs is the ability to gain access to media that would otherwise be locally unavailable. While many streaming services tend to have standardized international subscription prices, that does not ensure that users are getting equivalent value for money. Netflix’s British offering, for example, may contain a far greater selection of programs than their American equivalent.
By switching between countries, customers can use VPNs to access shows in different regions. So not only does it allow Joe USA to watch his favourite British period drama, but it increases the value of his subscription to his streaming platform of choice. With far more shows to choose between, it also decreases the chances of needing to pay additional costs to watch shows not featured on that streaming service.
Furthermore, VPNs grant users access to other online money-saving tools that their local government or internet providers prohibit.
Prevent Scams and Fraud
Long before the pandemic, the way that we work has been pivoting away from the office. At one point in all of our lives, we will find ourselves working from cafes, shared workspaces, and other locations where we will be accessing personal and/or confidential information from public WiFi. Connecting to unsecured public WiFi can carry huge privacy risks and makes users vulnerable to financial fraud, identity theft, and various other costly dangers.
Just as VPNs protect users from government and corporate snooping, they act as a stalwart line of defence against scammers clamouring for our personal information. VPNs minimize online footprints while encrypting data on a secure connection so that users can surf the web anywhere without having to worry about their online safety.
N.B. Money Morning Paper does not condone any illegal uses of VPNs. Individuals are responsible for their own actions and should comply with all relevant laws.