HBO Max is one of the slightly lesser known streaming services, but still quite popular with a decent content library. But can ProtonVPN help you access the USA version of HBO Max?
For clarity, we’re also only dealing with the US version of HBO Max – to our knowledge, ProtonVPN doesn’t yet allow access to other versions of the service in other countries.
ProtonVPN’s most expensive servers on their Plus Plan do work in accessing HBO Max in the USA. Their free servers or those on the Basic plan however, do not work; only the Plus servers allow access to HBO Max, and only the US version.
In other words, yes, ProtonVPN does work with HBO Max in the USA, but you do have to pay for it. But the good news is that even though their Plus server plan is quite expensive in the VPN market, access is pretty reliable, as with their main competitor for streaming, ExpressVPN. It’s the usual adage of getting what you pay for.
What Is HBO Max?
HBO do have a couple of different services, so let’s distinguish between them for clarity,
HBO Max is an on demand streaming service that allows access to the Time Warner/WarnerMedia content library. It’s a bit like Disney Plus, but for HBO/Time Warner content instead (Warner Bros, TNT, TBS etc).
This is different and distinct from standard HBO (see hbonow.com), which is it’s own streaming service that replaces HBO Now and HBO Go.
In this article we’re dealing only with HBO Max, and only within the United States. It is available in some other countries, and in other countries the content is released through a distribution/franchise partner in that country. It’s quite a complex picture from country to country, so in this post, we’ll stick with accessing ONLY the American HBO Max.
ProtonVPN Plus Plan Servers Work With HBO Max US Version
The bottom line answer if very simple on this:
ProtonVPN’s Plus Plan premium servers do work in allowing access to HBO Max in the USA. As long as the user is using a ProtonVPN Plus Plan server in the USA on a desktop device or Android TV, and they also have a USA account of HBO Max, then the service should work.
Here’s a screenshot taken from ProtonVPN’s own Support page on the issue, confirming their service does work with HBO Max in America:
So there is pretty much a guarantee from ProtonVPN themselves – their Plus servers will work in accessing HBO, but you’re best off accessing on a desktop device (Windows PC/laptop/Mac), or an Android TV which has an installable version of the ProtonVPN app as well.
Does ProtonVPN Work With The HBO Max App On Mobile Devices? (Android/iOS)
Accessing HBO Max USA with ProtonVPN is much easier on desktop devices – on mobile devices, it’s more difficult.
ProtonVPN explain why on their site:
Basically, what they’re saying is that you already need to have set up a USA based account with HBO Max from within the USA, and attached a US issued credit card to the account, in order to access the account.
In other words, it’s basically only possible for existing US residents, not from people based outside the USA wanting access the HBO Max US catalog.
Here are the steps:
- Set up a HBO Max account within the USA
- Attach a US credit card to your HBO account.
- Make sure the HBO Max app is already downloaded to your mobile device within the USA.
- When abroad, open up your ProtonVPN mobile app and select a USA Plus server location.
- Then log in to your HBO Max account.
- You may be able to gain access (not guaranteed on mobile devices).
- If you’re not a US resident, these steps aren’t really possible.
Therefore accessing on mobile devices isn’t so straightforward and it’s better to use the desktop app.
How Do I Watch HBO Max USA Abroad?
Because there are some caveats with streaming HBO Max with ProtonVPN, let’s run down a simple process for accessing the streaming service when outside the USA, when you’ve already set up a US-based HBO Max account:
- Make sure you’ve got a Plus Plan subscription of ProtonVPN.
- Select any Plus server (with a “P” next to it on the interface) within the USA.
- Open up the HBO Max website on a laptop/PC/Mac/Android TV
- Log into your HBO Max account.
- As long as using a USA based ProtonVPN Plus server, access should be granted and you can access the streaming library as normal.
Therefore, ProtonVPN can be great for US residents accessing the service when traveling abroad, as long as you’ve already got your account set up, plus US-based credit cards attached, and just want to change your apparent location to the United States to gain access.
ProtonVPN USA Plus Server Locations
Now we know that ProtonVPN does work in accessing HBO Max USA on their Plus Plan, let’s give a quick overview of the Premium server locations in America, so users know what’s available:
USA – 400+ severs spread out across New York, Secaucus, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Denver, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Ashburn, San Jose, Phoenix, Washington DC, Seattle
Here are some quick points:
- Make sure you’re using the Plus plan servers, with a “P” next to them in the interface;
- If you have to pick a USA server location a long way from where you usually access the HBO Max service, you may get “login verification” checks from the service – have your email or phone ready to enter confirmation codes to verify account logins.
See here for a full free and Premium server list for ProtonVPN, and to get started with the service.
Which ProtonVPN Plan/Servers Does I Need To Access HBO Max?
This is an important caveat that’s missing from a lot of content on ProtonVPN. They do have different tiers of pricing and server quality, so just saying “get ProtonVPN for streaming” isn’t really detailed enough. You need to know which ProtonVPN plan to get.
- Free servers – Unlimited use but only servers in USA, Netherlands, Japan. Won’t work.
- Basic Plan – $4/month – Decent VPN servers but also won’t work for streaming. Actually not visible on their site anymore when checking just now, but some current users will be presumably signed up to this plan.
- Plus Plan – $8/month (sometimes lower with Flash deals) – Top notch servers; these are the ones you need to access HBO Max, and even then only in the USA.
Therefore you are having to buy their most expensive plan to access streaming services, but the other major VPN that’s known to be reliable for streaming (ExpressVPN) is also similarly priced.
Do The ProtonVPN Free Servers Work With HBO Max?
ProtonVPN do have an excellent free version of their service, with unlimited servers in USA, Japan and Netherlands. How about trying one of their free US servers with HBO Max, to see if it allows access?
ProtonVPN’s free servers will almost certainly not work in accessing HBO Max in any country. You need the most expensive, but also better obfuscated and advanced servers that their Plus Plan provides in order to access streaming services like HBO Max.
This is especially true for HBO Max, which do seem to be very aggressive in detecting user locations and also VPN usage. You can also try using the free servers, since there’s no cost or risk, but it’s almost certain they won’t work, and even the cheaper Basic servers on the older plans also won’t work either. You need the most expensive Plus servers to have any chance of accessing HBO Max in America.
Click here to see a full ProtonVPN server list and get started with the service (you will find Flash Deals sometimes which means the price is lower)
What If ProtonVPN Doesn’t Work With HBO Max?
HBO Max is one of the trickier streaming services to access with a VPN, perhaps even harder than Netflix or Disney Plus. The fact they use an app even for desktop devices, rather than simply accessing a website through a URL, often means that detecting a VPN is easier. I’ve found the same thing trying other VPN’s to access app based streaming services in the UK.
However, ProtonVPN do specifically state on their site that their Plus servers work with HBO Max, and all indications are that most times, it does.
If however, you are finding access blocked even using a USA Plus server, here are some steps to take:
- Make sure you’re using Plus Servers (not Basic or Free servers).
- Try disconnecting and reconnecting to a different server in the same country (ProtonVPN has plenty of servers within the USA to choose from)
- Log out and back into your HBO Max
- Try clearing your browser/device cache
- If a USA resident, set up a new HBO Max account when back home, and attach a US credit card. You maybe able to gain access when abroad in the future.
If even after trying all the things you can to fix the problem, you still aren’t able to access HBO Max where you’re based, then if the worst comes to the worst, ProtonVPN have a 30 day refund guarantee to get your money back.
So if after troubleshooting, plus contacting Customer support, you still can’t get it working, you can always get a refund on your plan within the first month, and try a different VPN instead (ExpressVPN is also recommended for streaming access, and Private Internet Access (PIA) has loads of USA servers, the most of any VPN by far).