TunnelBear VPN Review

A fun and playful VPN client that actually works? Sign us up.

Tunnel Bear
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • Check
    Playful interface makes it fun to use
  • Check
    GhostBear looks like a normal connection
  • Check
    Free ad blocker doesn’t even require an account
John Brandon
Editorial Lead, TV, Streaming, & VPN
Read More
Reviewed By Chyelle Dvorak
Published on September 09, 2020
3 min read

Who said a VPN app has to be dull and serious? TunnelBear VPN uses one of the best, most professional-looking interfaces for any VPN we’ve tested. While that might not impact your connection or improve the security of this VPN service, it does improve the overall experience.

Animated bears pop up in unexpected places and the VPN uses playful wording and graphics. That tongue-in-cheek attitude is fun and upbeat, but the VPN is anything but light.

In our TunnelBear review, we'll cover all of the most important features and the ones that stuck out the most. During testing, we used the Android app, the Windows client, tested on iOS devices, and tested the connection speed when the VPN uses a remote server for encryption. We tested secure browsing by visiting a few random websites. Per usual, we tested streaming on Netflix, the BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and other apps to make sure movies and shows didn't pause or buffer. We tested upload and download speed before and after enabling the VPN app. In short, we stress-tested every feature we could find.

TunnelBear Settings

There are powerful features for making your VPN appear to be a normal connection, which helps you connect easier in places where a VPN is normally blocked. An ad blocker can run in Google Chrome and is free for anyone to use. Overall, TunnelBear is one of the best-designed, most powerful VPN clients we’ve found.

Pro Tip:
Info Box

The free plan includes 500MB of bandwidth per month.

Pros
  • Playful interface makes it fun to use
  • GhostBear looks like a normal connection
  • Free ad blocker doesn’t even require an account
Cons
  • Access to only 20 different countries

TunnelBear prices and plans

TunnelBear offers a free plan that is useful and powerful

Not every VPN offers a free version that has most features enabled. TunnelBear provides 500MB of bandwidth to use each month for one connection. If you tweet out a link to VPN, you gain an additional 500MB, a neat trick that reminds us of CyberGhost (another VPN app that offers a free version that is actually useful).

TunnelBear pricing and contracts
Plan
Price
Features
Detail

Teams

$5.75/mo.

5 connected devices per user

Unlimited (three years)

$3.33/mo.

5 connected devices total

Unlimited (one month)

$9.99/mo.

5 connected devices total

Free

Free

500MB of secure browsing

Data effective 5/8/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

If you upgrade to the paid version, you can connect using five different devices with the same account—a fairly standard practice. Both CyberGhost and Private Internet Access offer more connections per account (seven and 10, respectively). However, TunnelBear (at $9.99) is more affordable than CyberGhost (at $12.99 per month). If you choose the three-year package, TunnelBear works out to $3.33 per month.

Compare TunnelBear prices to other VPN providers
Provider
Price
Standout feature
Detail

TunnelBear

$9.99/mo.

Unusual pricing plan lets you add servers one by one

CyberGhost VPN

$12.99/mo.

Access on up to seven devices

TorGuard

$9.99/mo.

Up to eight devices per application

Private Internet Access

$9.95/mo.

Includes access on up to 10 devices

Data effective 5/8/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

TunnelBear: Playful interface makes it fun to use

The interface is one of the best we have ever found

The design and branding for a VPN app might not seem that important, but it is a sign of the attention to detail and even the investment the company behind the VPN is willing to make. We haven’t found the professional branding or design aesthetic that matches the care and detail of TunnelBear—it’s a joy to use. That also translates to usability—you can easily find the features you need and the website spells everything out clearly.

TunnelBear Map

TunnelBear: GhostBear looks like a normal connection

TunnelBear can mimic what an unprotected connection looks like

One unique feature with TunnelBear is called GhostBear. It means your connection looks and acts like it is not using a VPN at all. If you connect in an area where the VPN doesn’t connect correctly or want to use a server that normally blocks a VPN, then the GhostBear option might do the trick. (TunnelBear doesn’t recommend activating this feature for most connections as it can cause some slowdowns.)

TunnelBear: Free ad blocker doesn’t even require an account

A “truly free” ad blocker included with the free plan

Some VPN clients offer an ad blocker as part of the paid version. Once you register, you can enable the feature as part of the VPN service. An ad blocker can spot malicious code on a website, block ads, and prevent a malware infection. With TunnelBear, the ad blocker is  available for anyone to install for Google Chrome. It doesn’t even require that you sign up for an account and works on every website you visit.

Our pick: The best TunnelBear plan

Best: Free for 500MB of bandwidth

Who it’s best for: Anyone new to a VPN who wants to test it out. Why we recommend it: A good place to start before upgrading to a paid plan.

TunnelBear pricing and contracts
Plan
Price
Standout feature
Detail

Free

Free

Free ad blocker doesn’t even require an account

Data effective 5/8/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Recap: Is TunnelBear good?

TunnelBear is one of the most well-designed VPN clients we’ve tested. The slick branding, cool animated icons, and playful wording all help you warm up to the VPN and trust it was developed with care and attention to detail. It’s powerful and offers unique features like a free ad blocker that go beyond the norm.

TunnelBear VPN prices and plans: 

  • Free - Free
  • Unlimited (one month) - $9.99/mo.
  • Unlimited (three years) - $3.33/mo.
  • Teams - $5.75/mo.

TunnelBear VPN standout features:

    • Playful interface makes it fun to use
  • Free ad blocker doesn’t even require an account

FAQs

Can you mimic a real connection?

The GhostBear feature can mimic what an unprotected connection looks like, which helps you connect to a server that normally blocks a VPN. TunnelBear doesn’t explain how this works or what they do to achieve it, but the idea is to trick servers into seeing the connection is unencrypted and unprotected.

John Brandon
Written by
John Brandon
John Brandon is an Editorial Lead at Reviews.org covering TV apps, services, and devices. He also covers the VPN market currently. He has a long history as a journalist and author. His articles have appeared in many magazines including Wired, Popular Mechanics, FoxNews.com, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Relevant Magazine. His hobbies include disc golf, reading books, and watching obscure Netflix documentaries. Contact him at john.brandon@reviews.org

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