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VPN workarounds for cheaper YouTube Premium subscriptions failing (Update: Google confirms)

Google appears to be clamping down on VPN workarounds for cheaper Premium, as per user reports.
By

Published onJune 20, 2024

YouTube premium app on smartphone stock photo (4)
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Several YouTube Premium subscribers have had their Premium membership randomly canceled.
  • However, the common thread between these cancelations is that the users used a VPN workaround to subscribe to Premium at a cheaper rate than the one applicable to their region.
  • Google has commented that it is cracking down on this practice while avoiding discussing the forced cancelations.

Update, June 21, 2024 (01:50 AM ET): Yesterday, we told you of reports that people’s YouTube Premium subscriptions were being terminated if that user had used a VPN workaround to get the service at a cheaper rate. Now, we have a statement from Google confirming that it is clamping down on this practice:

To provide the most accurate plans and offers available, we have systems in place to determine the country of our users. In instances where the signup country does not match where the user is accessing YouTube, we’re asking members to update their billing information to their current country of residence.

Interestingly, YouTube did not confirm or deny that it has canceled YouTube Premium subscriptions for this practice.

A customer service rep did tell PCMag, though, that the company “initiated the cancellation of premium memberships for accounts identified as having falsified signup country information.” While this isn’t an official statement from Google, it does heavily suggest that that’s what the company is doing.

The original, unedited article continues after the break.


Original article, June 19, 2024 (08:58 AM ET): A YouTube Premium subscription can be one of the best subscriptions you can purchase, especially if you are an avid user of the video streaming platform. The platform has made it clear that it doesn’t like ad blockers, and the amount of ads on it has also made it rather annoying to use. The only real solutions are to stop using YouTube or plop some money down for a Premium subscription. Some users have used VPNs to buy YouTube Premium at cheaper rates, but it appears that Google is cracking down on such subscriptions and canceling them.

Reddit user Alopez1024 pointed out that YouTube seemingly canceled their YouTube Premium membership out of nowhere.

Other Redditors chimed in, claiming that their subscriptions were canceled too. However, the common thread appears to be that the users used a VPN to subscribe to YouTube Premium at a cheaper rate than what is available for their home market.

YouTube presents different Premium rates to specific markets, possibly to better accommodate the purchasing power of the local currency and align with local consumer expectations. Many people have used a VPN connection to mask their country of origin and take undue advantage of YouTube Premium’s regional pricing.

For instance, one of the common countries for such workaround subscriptions is Ukraine, where the subscription costs 99 UAH per month (~$2.44) compared to $13.99 per month in the US, and an international credit card would work. Premium would work normally after subscription, even without a VPN, making it a lucrative workaround. But not anymore, though.

If you have subscribed to YouTube Premium through a VPN, there is a good chance that your membership has been canceled. If you were scratching your head on the reason, this is probably it.

Redditors who have contacted customer service mention that the cancelation is because the user “moved” to a different location than the one they signed up from. They have been advised to sign up with a local card and address, which would inevitably bring them the normalized regional prices.

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So far, we have not yet come across reports of people who have moved countries being caught in this clampdown on VPNs. But there is a possibility that even they could be affected.

We’ve reached out to Google for a statement and will update this article if and when we hear back.

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