TunnelBear vs PIA in 2023

Nadin Bhatt
Nadin Bhatt | VPN specialist and writer
Last updated: August 11, 2023
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If you want to find an amazing yet affordable VPN provider, you can definitely consider Private Internet Access and TunnelBear. These two VPNs work hard to meet all of your needs, but are their efforts enough?

Private Internet Access comes with thousands of servers worldwide, while TunnelBear has drastically fewer servers. However, TunnelBear has an entirely free version, allowing you to use its services without paying anything.

As you can see, both providers come with their own advantages, but we need to find the better one. That’s why we’ve established our thorough Private Internet Access vs. TunnelBear comparison. So, let’s determine the winner!

TunnelBear vs. PIA: specifications

Private Internet Access comes with the largest server network on the market. More precisely, it has 29300+ servers in 84+ countries. Besides this, it utilizes the industry-leading VPN protocol, WireGuard, and offers amazing streaming and torrenting capabilities.

Compared to it, TunnelBear has 1800+ servers in 48+ countries. While this is not a small server range, it is still significantly smaller than PIA’s. Furthermore, TunnelBear allows you to customize the features according to your needs.

However, the overall winner of our PIA vs. TunnelBear comparison is Private Internet Access. Stay with us so you can find out in which aspects PIA surpasses TunnelBear!

TunnelBear logo
⭐Our rating8.1⭐7.2⭐
💸Current offerGet PIA 83% OFF!Get TunnelBear 50% OFF!
💰Price starts from$2.03/month$3.33/month
💳Money-back guarantee30 days
📖No-logs policyIndependently audited, court-provenIndependently-audited
🎮Simultaneous connectionsUnlimitedUnlimited
🌐Servers29300+ servers in 84+ countries1800+ servers in 48+ countries
🔒VPN protocolsWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTPWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2

Netflix US, Hulu, YouTube TV

HBO Max, YouTube TV

🖥️PlatformsWindows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, MacOS, Android, and iOS
Private Internet Access

PIA vs TunnelBear: pricing

Plans and paymentsPrivate Internet AccessTunnelBear
Free versionNoYes
Free trial
7-day (requires Android and iOS)No
One month
One year
Two years
Three years$2.03/month$3.33/month
Money-back guarantee30 daysNo
Payment options
Credit/debit cards, PayPal, online transfers, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrenciesCredit/debit cards, PayPal, American Express, and Bitcoin

While pricing is one of the most crucial aspects, we had a close outcome. PIA is more affordable, but TunnelBear offers an entirely free plan. However, this first round of our TunnelBear vs. Private Internet access comparison goes in PIA’s favor.

Private Internet Access

PIA pricing

PIA’s service comes with four pricing options:

The subscription provider offers flexible options for duration, ranging from one month as the shortest to three years as the longest. You can also benefit from a 7-day free trial on Android and iOS devices and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you choose PIA, you can use your credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal to make any purchases. More so, you will benefit from anonymous payments because the VPN accepts Bitcoin. 

TunnelBear pricing

TinnelBear offer three pricing plans: 

The best part about this provider is the free version. However, it’s quite limited – you can get up to 2GB of data. The free version is the only option to test the service, as the provider doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee or a free trial.

In terms of payment options, you can use your credit or debit cards, PayPal, American Express, and Bitcoin. Thanks to accepting cryptocurrencies, you can make anonymous payments.

Speed comparison

When choosing a VPN, speed should be your next top criterion. In other words, the VPN’s speed determines the whole performance of the provider. Luckily, we have the right VPN for you – PIA!

PIA has a huge server fleet, which is recognized as the largest on the market. More precisely, it provides thousands of servers located in 84+ countries. It also implements different VPN protocols, such as WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP, which results in amazing speeds.

On the contrary, TunnelBear has 1800+ servers in 48+ countries and works only with WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocols. Therefore, it’s slower than PIA, and it may be inconsistent over long distances.

Private Internet Access

PIA vs TunnelBear: which is more secure?

LoggingNo-logs policyCourt-proven and independently-audited policy
Kill switchYesYes
Leak protectionDNS, IPv6, WebRTCDNS, IPv6, WebRTC
RAM serversNoAll

In the next round of our Private Internet Access vs. TunnelBear comparison, PIA gets another point. Before we get into more detail, let’s first explore the necessary features that both providers offer:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • Kill switch
  • DNS/IP leak protection
  • Split tunneling

While both providers have efficient security measures, PIA has the edge over TunnerlBear. All of Pia’s infrastructure is RAM based, meaning that it is unable to store users’ data. Furthermore, its trustworthiness has been proven in court.

Private Internet Access


If you want a VPN provider that’s outside of any Alliance, PIA and TunnelBear might not be for you. They are both part of the 5-Eyes Alliance, as TunnelBear is located in Canada and PIA in the USA. In theory, this means that both of these providers may monitor and collect information about your online activities and share them with their governments.


In terms of logging, PIA has a slight advantage over TunnelBear. While they are part of the 5-Eyes Alliance, they still have audited no-logs policies. 

However, PIA has an independently-audited and court-proven policy, while TunnelBear has only a simple no-logs policy. This means, that your data is safer with PIA. 

Servers locations

Server specificationTunnelBearPIA
All physical serversYesNo
Owns all serversNoNo

The next round of our PIA vs. TunnelBear comparison is the server locations. Once again, PIA is the clear winner. 

PIA has 29300+ servers in 84+ countries, which allows you to choose hundreds of servers in one location. Also, this enables amazing connections even over longer distances.

On the other hand, TunnelBear has 1800+ servers in 48+ countries. Therefore, you may be a bit more limited when choosing a region, and with some servers you may experience more lagging issues as more people need to connect to one server.

Private Internet Access


Smart DNS❌No✅Smart DNS
Ad & malware blocker✅Yes✅PIA MACE
Split tunneling
✅Yes✅Bypass VPN
Specialized servers❌No❌No

Regarding features that enhance your VPN experience even more, PIA has a slight advantage over TunnelBear. So, let’s see from which features you will benefit.

Private Internet Access

Smart DNS

VPNs don’t work on all devices. Therefore, a Smart DNS feature will help you avoid this issue by allowing you to connect your VPN to any device you want.

Luckily, PIA comes with a SmartDNS feature. It can even encrypt your online traffic so that no one can access it while transferring, while TunnelBear doesn’t have this feature at all.

Split tunneling

Split tunneling is another essential feature that allows you to route your traffic through a VPN connection, which gives you better flexibility in choosing which apps or services can use the VPN.  

TunnelBear offers a unique BearSplit for all Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows devices. 

PIA also offers split tunneling, allowing you to customize your VPN connections for specific apps, such as browsers, games, and clients.

Ad & malware blocker

The ad & malware blocker is crucial for preventing suspicious and malware sites from interfering with your confidential data. As soon as this feature detects something unusual, it blocks the link, leaving you protected.

You can find PIA’s ad & malware blocker as PIA MACE, which will help you avoid all malware attacks.

On the other hand, TunnelBear has a TunnelBear Blocker, which prevents pop-ups and tracking attempts. However, only Chrome offers the ad blocker as an extension.

Obfuscated servers

Obfuscation is crucial for hiding that you’re using a VPN, which helps you bypass all geo-restrictions. 

Luckily, both PIA and TunnelBear offer this feature. However, TunnelBear has its obfuscated servers under the name GhostBear servers.

Netflix and other streaming platforms

Streaming platformsTunnelBearPIA
Netflix US
Other Netflix libraries
Amazon Prime Video❌No❌No
HBO Max✅Yes❌No
BBC iPlayer❌No❌No
YouTube TV✅Yes✅Yes

VPNs are often used for streaming geo-restricted content. While both providers fall short of best-ranked streaming VPNs, PIA has a slight edge over TunnelBear. Therefore, if you have to choose one, we recommend using PIA, as it unblocks more platforms.

TunnelBear is very unreliable for streaming. It doesn’t work with most popular streaming platforms, as it has a particularly bad relationship with Netflix. You may get some luck with HBO MAX and YouTube TV but don’t expect much from it. 

On the contrary, streaming is less of an issue for PIA. More precisely, PIA unblocks Netflix US, Hulu, and YouTube TV. 

Private Internet Access

Device compatibility

Device supportTunnelBearPIA
Major dedicated appsWindows, MacOS, Android, and iOSWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Other dedicated apps
Browser extensionsChrome, Edge, Firefox, OperaChrome (and other Chromium-based browsers), Firefox
Manual setupRouters, consoles, smart TVs
Simultaneous devicesUnlimitedUnlimited

The next section of our TunnelBear vs. PIA comparison is the device compatibility. Once again, PIA is the winner.

Private Internet Access

Desktop applications

PIA Windows client has an elegant and simple UI. In the Settings menu, you can manage the list of countries and regions to auto-connect to. You also enable and disable desktop notifications and auto-connections. its macOS version is nearly identical.

In the Advanced Settings menu, you can select the protocol to use with OpenVPN, for example, UDP or TCP. A user can use the PIA Mac client to enable and disable anti-tracker, ad-blocker, and anti-malware features.

TunnelBear’s desktop apps feature a map for quick country selection. There’s also an on/off toggle to quickly manage the connection. The overall design is neat and simplistic.

TunnelBear for Windows server map

The differences between Mac and Windows apps are minimal. The major one we noticed was that macOS lack IKEv2 protocol.

While the apps are not as convenient as they could be, the funny bear-themed illustrations do set it apart from competitors.

Mobile applications

PIA has made its apps look similar to the desktop versions. As a result, both iOS and Android apps feature large connection buttons, with less focus on other settings.

PIA mobile application

When it comes to TunnelBear, its Android version is much better than the iOS.

The Android users get a kill switch, Stealth VPN, and all other important features.

Meanwhile, the iOS app allows you to add Trusted Networks and toggle Bear Sounds. That’s pretty much it.

Design-wise, both apps are quite similar. They are simple to navigate and don’t pose many usability issues.


P2P specificationTunnelBearPIA
Allowed on✅All servers✅All servers
Free SOCKS5 proxy❌No✅Yes
Split tunneling✅Yes✅Yes (Windows, macOS)
Port forwarding❌No✅Yes

Torrenting is another reason why people need a VPN. After a lot of tests, the winner of this round is PIA.

PIA has specialized P2P servers and comes with a SOCKS5 proxy, split tunneling, and port forwarding. Also, it has fast download and upload speeds.

On the other hand, TunnelBear supports torrenting but lacks SOCKS5 proxy. Regarding speed, it’s quite slower than PIA.

Private Internet Access


Works in China✅Yes✅Yes
Stealth VPN✅Obfuscated servers✅Shadowsocks
Tor over VPN❌No❌No

As we’re heading toward the end of our comparison, we have a tie. More precisely, both VPNs effectively bypass the robust online censorship of the Great Firewall of China.

Both VPN providers come with obfuscated servers that help you overcome this issue. The obfuscation will hide your VPN usage and prevent the ISP and DPI from detecting your VPN traffic.

Customer support

Support optionsNordVPNPIA
24/7 live chat❌No✅Yes
Phone Line❌No❌No
Email ✅Yes✅Yes

Last but not least, our PIA vs. TunnelBear comparison ends with a PIA win. 

PIA comes with 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, knowledgebase, and other written guides that will help you solve any potential issue. 

Unfortunately, TunnelBear comes only with email and knowledgebase support. It lacks 24/7 customer support via live chat.

Private Internet Access

TunnelBear vs. PIA – which is better?

Device compatibilityLoses❌Wins✔️
Customer support
Total wins
0 out of 109 out of 10

To come up with the winner of our Private Internet Access vs. TunnelBear comparison, we’ve conducted thorough tests. We looked at providers’ security and privacy measures, speed, features, unblocking capabilities, and other criteria. Therefore, we found out that the winner is PIA. This VPN has the most advanced security features, comes with strong streaming and torrenting capabilities, a huge server range, and incredible speeds. Overall, you’ll get an impressive VPN experience.

Private Internet Access

Get the best deal today


Is TunnelBear better than PIA?

No,TunnelBear is not better than Private Internet Access. PIA comes with a better streaming performance, more advanced features, and 24/7 customer support via live chat. It also has better torrenting capabilities due to its fast and consistent connections.

Which is faster – TunnelBear or PIA?

Private Internet Access is faster than TunnelBear. More precisely, PIA has thousands servers compared to TunnelBear’s 1800, and better infrastructure, which results in much faster speeds. 

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  1. Ernest Hayes

    Just when you think you’ve seen every VPN out there, a new one pops up. I’ve heard of Private Internet Access but not TunnelBear. Never thought PIA was any good and it looks like TunnelBear is more of the same, a run of the mill VPN that I can’t see privacy experts using. I could be wrong but I’ll use one of the more reliable VPN’s for my personal requirements.

  2. Sinister_Slime

    I’ve been using PIA on and off for the past 3 years without any single issue, they are cheap and lets me torrent things before I buy them. Never tried TB before so I can’t say much but LinusTechTips YouTube channel switched from TB to PIA and that made me like PIA even more.

    1. Random Gaze

      I’ve been using PIA as well for quite a few years now. I’m not much into Netflix, so PIA works great for torrenting. Even though it is a bit expensive, you get what you’re paying for so I am happy 🙂

  3. Tormund Grayson

    TunnelBear sounds better than PIA, it’s a bit more expensive but it definitely has better security and privacy. But in the end if you really want to pay for a VPN you’d better pay for the best (which is around the same price as TunnelBear).

  4. Jiji James

    I’ve tried both and I can safely day that TunnelBear is better. More security, privacy and a lot faster. Their customer service was also better, altough PIA’s wasn’t bad either.

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