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Take a look at what to expect with TunnelBear
The number of VPNs that internet users like us can choose from has increased substantially in recent years. At this point, VPNs come in all shapes, sizes, and pricing structures. Some come from more recognizable brand names, while others are offered by upstart companies that focus entirely on VPNs. If you feel like all of these options can be overwhelming, you’re not alone!
Take TunnelBear, for example. At first impression, the main thing that stands out is their mascot: a bear in a tunnel. Once you get past all the bear imagery (and what the presence of a bear in a tunnel means for Mario and other tunnel-traveling plumbers), you’ll probably be left wondering what more there is to TunnelBear’s service. I’m here to tell you a bit more about that. Having been acquired by McAfee in 2018, TunnelBear now has the backing of one of the most well-known names in computer security. It takes more than a big name and a cute mascot though, so let’s look at everything that TunnelBear has to offer.
First, let’s talk about why you need a VPN in the first place. VPNs offer a layer of privacy and security that exists between you and whatever websites you are visiting. This is especially useful if you frequent public networks or want to avoid being tracked online. Another advantage of VPNs is that they change the apparent location of your computer, potentially letting you access online content that would typically not be available in your country or region. Many streaming services have, however, gotten smart about blocking known VPNs in recent years, so don’t expect this to work universally.
TunnelBear works on up to five devices at once with a single account and offers unlimited bandwidth on all plans except for the free account (we’ll talk more about pricing in a moment). TunnerBear also offers a browser extension (compatible with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera) as a lightweight alternative to the full app. You should keep in mind that this extension will only protect your internet access through the browser, and not through other apps on your device.
One of the first things you’ll notice about TunnelBear – aside from the bear mascot – is its simplicity. TunnelBear is built for novice VPN users, and its design favors ease of use over customizability across all of the TunnelBear applications. After downloading the app and logging in, you can be online in a single click with your country of connection, which defaults to the fastest option available.
The main customization option you’ll see is the ability, either by a dropdown and a map, to choose a different country to connect through. Additional options you’ll find include the ability to define trusted networks, the option to have TunnelBear automatically activate on untrusted networks, and a kill switch (VigilantBear) to prevent network traffic if the VPN is interrupted.
TunnelBear works on any of the following devices. As mentioned in the last section, there are also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, which serve as lightweight alternatives to the standalone TunnelBear apps. Notably missing from this list are any streaming devices or smart TVs.
The service works virtually the same on all of those devices with the exception of iOS. On iOS devices (iPhones and iPads), you will be asked to follow a couple of extra prompts to install a VPN profile. Also, the VigilantBear and GhostBear options do not work on iOS devices. TunnelBear’s mobile apps also offer a 3D touch (iOS) or widget (Android) option to let you turn on the service and check its status from your home screen.
TunnelBear’s monthly plan costs $9.99 per month for unlimited use on up to 5 devices. If you choose an annual plan, you will pay $59.88 per year ($4.99 per month). You can also purchase 3 years in advance for $120 ($3.33 per month). The 3-year package additionally includes 3 years of RememBear Password Manager. Lastly, there is an option to purchase team subscriptions for TunnelBear, starting at $5.75 per user per month.
TunnelBear’s fall offer lowers the price for an annual plan to $49.99 ($4.17 per month) and introduces the ability to purchase 2 years in advance for $84.99 ($3.54 per month). These are the only discounts or deals that TunnelBear has active at this time, but be sure to check back often — we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest TunnelBear discount offers!
TunnelBear has a free tier that allows you to use their service for up to 500 MB of data per month. They also have a handy page article to explain how much data 500 MB is. Basically, it’s enough to browse several webpages and listen to a few hours of music, but you shouldn’t expect to get through more than a few minutes of video streaming with it.
TunnelBear’s free trial is available right on their website. Instead of clicking the “Get TunnelBear” button, click the “Plans” menu option. This will take you to the TunnelBear pricing page where you can select the free trial. From there, you’ll be directed to a download file specific to your operating system or device. The trial will require you to create an account and log in, but it will not ask for a credit card.
If 500 MB isn’t enough to try out TunnelBear, there is good news. TunnelBear offers a Twitter deal that lets you get an additional 1 GB of data just by tweeting at @theTunnelBear and asking for it.
There is no requirement for a contract with TunnelBear. However, the annual or multi-year plans do require you to pay for the entire period in advance to get a discount. If you decide to cancel early, you most likely won’t get that advance payment back.
A lack of contract is pretty much standard in the VPN world, as is paying up-front. You may be able to fall back on a 30-day guarantee (as is the case with PIA subscriptions) or take advantage of a free trial (of the sort that you can start with when you sign up for a VPN Unlimited subscription — though you may want to read our VPN Unlimited review first), but after that you'll have to pay up-front — unless, of course, there's a free subscription option like the one that TunnelBear has!
Cancelling TunnelBear is easy to do if you log into your account on the service’s website. If you subscribed through TunnelBear’s website, you can cancel by going to your account overview page, where you will see a “Cancel” button. If you subscribed through a mobile app store, you will need to cancel through that same store.
If you are still looking for more information about TunnelBear, be sure to check out our full TunnelBear review. Spoiler alert: you will find many more bear puns over there. Our review highlights TunnelBear's user-friendly simplicity, which is a real plus for the service. Of course, TunnelBear isn't the only simple and user-friendly option on the market. There are plenty of other lean and easy-to-use VPNs to consider, so check out our review of Surfshark and our ExpressVPN review to learn more. TunnelBear also isn't the only VPN with a cute animal mascot: Just check out the donkey mascot that represents the Hide My Ass (HMA) VPN. Naturally, we give him plenty of consideration in our HMA review.
If you are looking for other VPN options, you should look at our list of 2021’s best VPNs. You can also search “VPN” in our search bar at the top of the page for all the latest and greatest VPN information that CordCutting.com has to offer.