Mullvad VPN drops option to create new recurring payments
Swedish VPN service Mullvad announced that it will no longer accept new recurring payments using PayPal or credit card payments. Nothing changes for existing customers for at least 6 months. The company continues to accept one-time payments using various payment options, including PayPal, cash and credit card.
Mullvad VPN, which provides the backbone for Mozilla's Firefox VPN service, explains, that it decided to remove the ability to create new recurring payments in order to store less data on company servers.
The company has to store payment information for a limited time, as refunds and the ability to restore account access are linked to payment records. One-time payments do not need to be kept indefinitely, but that is not the case for recurring payments. Records of these payments need to be kept for the entirety of the subscription period, and that is a privacy issue.
While convenient, recurring payments link a user's identity to the VPN account. The removal of recurring payment subscriptions at Mullvad VPN remove the link, as payment records are not kept for longer than "the first few weeks" according to Mullvad.
The company is aware that the removal of the option makes using the service less convenient for some of the users. Non-recurring payments, also called one-time payments, are not affected by the decision. Existing subscriptions "will be processed for at least 6 months" according to Mullvad. The company has not announced a specific date or period, after which subscriptions will no longer be processed.
Mullvad VPN has a flat pricing model, unlike most VPN services. The majority of VPN services give customers discounts the longer they subscribe. Mullvad is available for €5 per month, regardless of subscription period. While that is higher than the price of many other VPN products, Mullvad is regarded highly in communities that value privacy.
The decision to drop recurring payments for new and (eventually) existing customers will certainly impact revenue. It is a bold decision, one that reduces the amount of data that Mullvad stores on its servers.
Mullvad customers did have the option to make one-time payments to the service already. Nothing changes for those users. Users who subscribed to Mullvad will have to make one-time payments to continue using the service. While they may use it for at least 6 months without changing anything, Mullvad will drop the option eventually.
Now You: what is your take on this? Do you use Mullvad, or another VPN service (or none at all)?
Slight user inconvenience and added purchase friction for the sake of privacy – it’s like they take this stuff seriously. Good on them.
Isn’t €5/month a recurring payment?
Not necessarily. You pay 60€ for a year once, and can use the service for 12 months.
I decided to become a VPN user recently. For months I have been reading/studying on the different VPN providers, such as the “review series” here at ghacks some time ago, recommendations and experience reports at respected sites focusing on privacy, user reports, etc.
And finally I came to the conclusion that only Mullvad, IVPN, ProtonVPN, or Cryptostorm are the options. From these four considerations, Mullvad was the one that I picked. I’m not interested in bypassing geo restrictions for Netflix streams (other VPN providers are better in that than Mullvad), but I wanted a VPN provider with focus on privacy. I paid in cash for one month by sending the envelope with the money to one of their official resellers (check the Mullvad homepage!) and evaluated their VPN service for these 30 days. Being very satisfied with Mullvad, I have paid for one full year now, again by sending the money to one of their partners in an anonymous envelope.
These are my +++ for Mullvad:
+++ Anonymous payment by cash directly to them or to one of their resellers (no name, address, or e-mail required for account)
+++ No log policy
+++ Supporting wireguard as state-of-the-art protocol
+++ Survived several audits
+++ Mullvad client is open source
+++ In business since 2009 with no “negative” reports
+++ Pretty good speed (at least in the two months since I am using them)
Well, the on the minus side for Mullvad:
— Geo-unblocking for streaming is not their priority (but mine neither)
I hope, this does not sound like a secretly paid advertisement for Mullvad, but Martin asked for opinions, and so I wanted to share my personal experience. Is Mullvad trustworthy? Well, I have no idea if they will not turn out to be a perfectly covert CIA honeypot organization in 5 years, but until now I trust them most from all available VPN companies. And of course there is still Tor …
Don’t touch this VPN.
Sweden is part of Fourteen Eyes and all VPN data is shared with 13 other countries.
What is your recommendation then?
By the way, the Mullvad people blogged about your concerns several years ago:
Any suggestions for VPN services not part of Fourteen Eyes?
The “eyes” argument is more like marketing waffle in my opinion. The following web page has some convincing thoughts on that:
In the end it’s all about trusting the VPN provider and how this trust was gained over years.
Since your account at Mullvad is completely anonymous there’s no way of tracking individual users so it hardly matters anyway.
This is now my 6th year of using Mullvad and I’m more than happy with their performance.
I also use the independent Wireguard app instead of Mullvad’s own app which cuts down the number of servers available to 435, but also places additional distance between myself and the VPN.
Mullvad is just the best when it comes to torrenting. There is none that is near to the level of service that it provides to the users. For other security needs, I use Ivacy VPN.
would you like to explain what Ivacy VPN is doing to manage your security needs that Mullvad or any other VPN service isn’t able to fulfill?
Mullvad means mole in Swedish.
Well, it’s even their mascot in the logo. So far so good – so what? :-)
What a coincidence, they just announced that they successfully passed again another external audit:
*conspiracy theory intensifies*