TunnelBear is a public virtual private network (VPN) company based in Canada. The company offers a free plan in addition to its Unlimited option, which you can subscribe to monthly, annually or for three years.
This review highlights the pros and cons of TunnelBear’s VPN service, as well as its pricing options and plan details, to help you decide whether it’s right for you. If you already know that you need a VPN, read on to learn more.
Best VPN for beginners
TunnelBear is an excellent choice if you’re a VPN beginner or interested in a simple, streamlined tool for browsing the web privately. It has a worldwide network of more than 5,000 VPN servers and allows you to do so on an unlimited number devices at once.
TunnelBear VPN pros and cons
- Free plan option
- Helpful features for beginners
- No activity logging
- Unlimited number of connections
- No phone or live chat support
- Plans cost nearly twice as much if you pay monthly
- 2GB of data cap on the free plan
TunnelBear VPN stands out due to its free plan option and easy-to-use features that are ideal if you’re new to using a VPN. The company also has strong privacy practices and allows access on an unlimited number of devices.
Free plan option
The free version of the TunnelBear VPN allows for up to 2GB of secure browsing. To put that into perspective, watching an hour of standard definition Netflix with high video quality uses about 1GB of data. So, while the free plan won’t be a sustainable long-term option, it lets you try out the service to see if you like it before paying for a plan.
Helpful features for beginners
TunnelBear comes with several built-in features that make it easier to use if you’re a beginner. This includes VigilantBear, which automatically blocks all unsecured traffic when the VPN disconnects. Users can also set up TunnelBear so it automatically connects to a server when you boot up your computer.
No activity logging
While other VPN companies may collect and store your data, TunnelBear will never do so. This is noteworthy because activity logging can defeat the purpose of using a VPN. Providers that log user activity could sell your data to the highest bidder, but that’s not an issue with TunnelBear.
Plans allow access on unlimited devices
One of TunnelBear’s standout features is the ability to access your VPN account on an unlimited number of devices. Compare that to NordVPN, which allows six connected devices at once, and ExpressVPN, which allows eight simultaneous connections — and only five connections on its monthly plan. For this reason alone, TunnelBear could be a great fit if you have a large family or regularly access the internet on multiple devices.
TunnelBear doesn’t provide an easy way to access tech support when you need it, and its plans require a significant upfront commitment if you want the best rates. These are the main disadvantages of TunnelBear VPN.
No customer service phone number or live chat support
TunnelBear’s customer service offerings may be its biggest drawback. The company doesn’t have a public customer service phone number or live chat support. This can make it difficult to get timely assistance with issues you encounter while using the VPN.
Plans cost nearly twice as much if you pay monthly
TunnelBear’s monthly plans cost significantly more than the same plan if you pay on an annual basis. This won’t bother you if you’re ready to commit to TunnelBear for a year. However, it may not be ideal if you’re just starting to experiment with VPNs and are not ready to make a larger upfront investment.
Free plan is capped at 2GB of data
TunnelBear’s free plan only offers 2GB of data per month to try the service. That may not be enough to truly evaluate whether you’re ready to commit to this VPN provider long-term.
TunnelBear VPN plans
TunnelBear offers three VPN plans:
TunnelBear’s free plan lets you try the full TunnelBear VPN experience at no cost. However, it caps out at 2GB of data. That’s only enough to watch about one full movie on Netflix. It may be better to think about the company’s free plan as more of a free trial, given this restrictive data cap.
TunnelBear’s unlimited plan is the company’s main offering. Designed for individual users and families, it comes with:
- Unlimited secure browsing across all of your devices
- City-level VPN server selection
- Priority customer support
Customers get access to all of TunnelBear’s standard features. These include VigilantBear, which automatically blocks unsecured traffic, and SplitBear, a split tunneling tool that can control what network traffic gets filtered through your VPN and what goes through your normal internet connection.
The Teams plan is designed for businesses that want to connect two or more users to a VPN. It comes with the same features as the Unlimited plan but gives you multiple logins for unique users. You also get centralized team billing and business-focused administrative and account management tools.
TunnelBear Teams lets you add and remove users from your plans from a simple dashboard. There are also custom pricing plans available if your organization has more than 200 members.
TunnelBear VPN pricing
The cost of TunnelBear VPN depends on the plan you choose and how you pay for it — with the exception of the Free plan, which is limited to a 2GB data cap.
If you pay for the Unlimited plan on a month-to-month basis, you’ll pay $9.99, while the annual plan costs $59.88 every 12 months (the equivalent of $4.99 monthly). There’s also the three-year plan, which costs a one-time fee of $120.
The pricing for TunnelBear’s Team plan works differently. The company charges $5.75 per user, per month and doesn’t advertise any ways to save by paying in advance.
TunnelBear is slightly more affordable than some of its main competitors. For example, NordVPN charges between $12.99 and $16.49 for a month-to-month plan, and ExpressVPN charges $12.95 for the same type of plan. TunnelBear beats both with its $9.99 month-to-month fee.
TunnelBear VPN financial stability
A VPN provider’s financial stability may be a factor to consider if you plan on purchasing a long-term plan. You don’t want to pay for three years of service only to find the company bankrupt and unable to continue acting as your VPN halfway through your contract.
This aforementioned scenario shouldn’t be an issue for TunnelBear customers. The company was acquired by McAfee in 2018, which was purchased by Advent International in 2021. Advent International is an international private equity firm that’s raised over $67 billion across 10 funds.
Even if Advent International decided to shut down TunnelBear, it would likely take measures to honor the VPN contracts of those who still have active subscription time. Not doing so could tank the brand’s reputation, which wouldn’t be worth the risk for such a large firm.
TunnelBear VPN accessibility
This section looks at how easy it is to use TunnelBear VPN by considering its service availability and user experience.
TunnelBear is available across all major operating systems. This includes Mac, Windows, iOS and Android. The company has VPN servers in 47 locations across the globe, so you should usually be able to find a VPN connection in a country that works for you.
The only way to contact TunnelBear is by sending the company an email message, which it says it will try to respond to within 48 hours. Notably, there’s no way to contact TunnelBear over the phone or via live chat. If you have a problem with the service, it could take longer than you expect to resolve.
Users can customize the TunnelBear experience to better match their needs. For example, you can choose between different VPN protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN and WireGuard. You can also control how much of your internet traffic TunnelBear will reroute through its servers and how much of it will go through your normal connection thanks to the SplitBear feature.
That being said, if you’re a beginner, you don’t have to bother with any advanced features if you don’t want to. You can set up your TunnelBear app to automatically connect to a VPN server whenever you boot up your device. After that, you shouldn’t need to engage with the app unless other activities (like streaming specific content) require it or you need to download an update.
TunnelBear VPN customer satisfaction
Customer ratings for TunnelBear are solid. The company’s app has a 4.7 out of 5-star rating on the App Store and a 4.3 out of 5-star rating on Google Play. Each score is based on tens of thousands of reviews.
Individual user reviews are a mixed bag. Some users compliment TunnelBear’s reliable connections and its auto-connect feature, while others complain about ineffective customer service representatives and poor download speeds.
TunnelBear VPN FAQ
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How we evaluated TunnelBear VPN
We evaluated TunnelBear VPN by considering each of the following factors:
- Pricing: We compared the price of TunnelBear to that of the competition to evaluate the relative value it delivers.
- Security: We looked at TunnelBear’s data logging practices and considered how they compared to other major VPN providers on that front.
- Features: We analyzed TunnelBear’s features for beginner and advanced users to assess how easy they make it to create your own ideal VPN experience.
- Customer reviews: We considered customer reviews on major platforms to evaluate the general sentiment around the TunnelBear VPN product.
- Availability: We looked at platform and VPN server availability to evaluate TunnelBear’s accessibility.
These factors may not be the only ones that matter in your search for a VPN. You may want to conduct further research if we haven’t covered all of the factors relevant to your product search.
Summary of Money’s TunnelBear VPN review
TunnelBear is a solid VPN that offers enough customizability to be a fit for beginners and advanced users. It’s also a relatively affordable option with good reviews overall and accessibility across all major platforms. The biggest downside to the service is its lack of real-time customer support.
If you don’t think TunnelBear is quite right for your goals, take a look at our guide covering the best VPN services for more options.