Want to watch the latest episodes of Rick and Morty or catch The Sopranos on HBO Max, but you keep getting a ‘Not in service area’ message?
HBO Max, the HBO streaming service from WarnerMedia, is finally here. It’s perhaps one of the most anticipated streaming services to be released because of its popular catalog of hit shows and movies. Also not to mention all of the HBO offerings (see what we did there 😉)
One of the issues some users have had ever since it’s release on May 27th, 2020, is that they keep seeing the ‘Not in service area’ message. This happens whenever they try to access hbomax.com or downloading and signing in to any of the HBO Max apps on their devices.
Now there is a valid reason why.
Usually, whenever a streaming service is born (I think it’s a good word to use), it’s not made widely available globally as part of its efforts to test the waters. This has been and is the case for Disney+, Apple TV+, Hulu, and even Amazon Prime Video when it was first started off [source]. Unlike Netflix, which took years and had a headstart to perfect this strategy, HBO Max will need much time to adjust to both the technical challenges and managing the content licensing efforts based on each country. Content licensing is the reason why you’re not allowed to stream Office US anywhere else other than the US, at the time of this writing).
So currently, HBO Max is only available to users in the US.
However, the great news is that HBO does explicitly say that you can use a virtual private network (VPN) service or a web proxy to access its platform (as shown below).
Which is not bad, considering that other services like Netflix, which actively is against it [source].
Now HBO may change their mind on this topic in the future, but for now, it’s certainly great news for us consumers now. 😀
That brings us to why we wrote this guide. We found out that there were a lot of eager users who couldn’t find a guide that helped to access HBO Max from outside the available geo-locations such as the US.
Do take note that the primary solution which we will be discussing is the usage of VPN services even though you can still opt to use a web proxy service. It works exceptionally well with minimal buffering issues when streaming with HBO Max. We have put in a lot of hours to review and test the below VPNs to identify their performances when it comes to streaming HBO Max content so that you can make the best choice.
:shameless plug: The links for the VPN below are affiliate links, and we earn a little tip if you purchase your VPN plan through our link. 🍺 We’ve also not enabled ads on this page because ads are just annoying.
Without wasting any more time, let’s jump right in!
The best all-round VPN service for streaming speed and privacy.
Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+ | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Countries: 94 | Maximum devices supported: 5
Although the price is a little more expensive, it’s positives are that it has VPN server locations (160) in over 94 countries, has enterprise-level encryption, excellent 24/7 live customer support and, most importantly, has fast VPN streaming performance.
We tested using ExpressVPN to stream HBO Max, and it works without any issues at all. Smooth streaming, no buffering, and it was much quicker to connect to a US VPN server (took us 30 seconds) compared to NordVPN, which took us around 1 minute.
Besides its speed, ExpressVPN also provides excellent security, accessibility on multi-platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and even BlackBerry), and stellar customer support.
Their encryption is capable of not only allowing you to mask your IP effectively, but also provide benefits in protecting your Bitcoin payments, P2P support, kill switch, and even providing DNS-leak protection. For the full security features, we will link the respective source here for you to go through.
So what is the catch? The only downside we’ve found is that it’s a little pricier than the other options on the list and that it supported only three simultaneous connections. Since then, they’ve increased that limit to 5 simultaneous connections, which is a much better offering.
There’s also no free trial which we could use to find out how it performed, but they do make up for it by giving you a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t happy with the service.
The most popular VPN service for streaming and gaming, as well as one of the best.
Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+ | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 5,400+ | Server locations: 80+ | Countries: 59 | Maximum devices supported: 6
NordVPN beats all of its competition in just about every aspect.
The price is lower than that of ExpressVPN, comes with a generous 2-year plan, has around 5,400 servers in over 80 server locations in 59 countries, 2048-bit encryption, and even supports 6 simultaneous connections in which ExpressVPN only provides 5.
NordVPN is also one of the most popular options amongst gamers and streamers with fast speeds when it comes to streaming content.
One of the best parts we’ve seen with NordVPN is the frequent updates and improvements that they bring to the platform, which makes the user experience a little better each time.
When it came to streaming HBO Max with NordVPN, we encountered no issues at all. However, NordVPN took a long time for us to connect to a server compared to ExpressVPN. We were able to connect and stream TV shows, movies, documentaries without any buffering (although this may largely be dependent on your internet connection speeds). We also never experienced getting abruptly logged out of our HBO Max accounts.
Drawbacks wise, NordVPN has experienced security breaches previously, and that may bring out some uncertainty whether it may ever happen again. Also, initially, there were some user experience issues with the NordVPN application, which was making it hard to identify which VPN country server you used previously as well as incorrectly sorting the cities in alphabetical order. The user experience has since been improved.
Again like ExpressVPN, NordVPN does not provide a free trial but instead offers you a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The best bang for buck VPN.
Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+ | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 1700+ | Server locations: 100+ | Countries: 63 | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Surfshark is the best choice to get the most out of your money’s worth. It is supported on almost all platforms, offers super-fast VPN connection speeds, and affordable prices.
Perhaps the highlight feature of Surfshark is that for the same price as NordVPN, you can use this on unlimited devices. Meaning, there are no device limits on how many devices can be used simultaneously to use Surfshark VPN for streaming.
This is an excellent option if you intend to share the VPN with your family or friends or if you have more than 5 devices that need to be connected, especially when it comes to streaming HBO Max.
In terms of security, Surfshark offers OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IKEv2 security protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a kill switch to prevent your details from leaking when the VPN connection fails.
For HBO Max, we’ve found that Surfshark was much more seamless to use than NordVPN when it came to streaming content as it was much quicker at connecting to the VPN servers, and the streaming itself was smooth as butter similar to that of ExpressVPN.
Surfshark is also an excellent option for making their user interfaces achieve simplicity. If you do not want many sophisticated features and menus when using a VPN, then Surfshark makes it so easy that even a toddler can turn it on (metaphorically speaking, of course). For some users, this can be turn off, especially if they’re looking for excessive features and customizability.
Drawbacks, the Surfshark Android app does have a few buggy issues and instability at times. We found out that when streaming the HBO Max on an Android device that the VPN app often crashed. This was not the case when we tested on the iOS devices.
Again like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Surfshark does not provide a free trial but instead offers you a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The most reliable VPN.
Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+ | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 1,400 | Server locations: 75 | Countries: 52 | Maximum devices supported: 10
IPVanish is another great, reliable option that is also priced reasonably. It allows you to unblock streaming services, stream at fast download speeds, excellent customer support, and owns over 1,400 servers in 75 server locations in over 52 countries around the world.
Additionally, it also supports up to 10 maximum devices to be used simultaneously with the VPN service. This is a better option compared to that of both ExpressVPN, which only offers 5 and NordVPN, which only provides 6.
Streaming HBO Max with IPVanish was a breeze as the servers were quick to connect to and offered multiple server location options in the US, which meant that if one server location was not working, that we could switch to another one instantly.
The price is also another aspect that is affordable compared to the other options discussed in the guide. We also found out their 24/7 customer support was friendly and quick to address our questions.
IPVanish also provides great configurability to adjust your usage of a VPN.
Drawbacks? Unlike Surfshark, there were no issues with the mobile apps at all. However, the interface can be a little complex for a beginner to get comfortable. Unlike the other four options discussed in this post, IPVanish has the most complex interface we’ve come across, and that can be both a blessing or a curse in disguise for you.
We also couldn’t find a kill switch in the iOS app, which even though we don’t use very much but still a feature that is good to have.
Again like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark, IPVanish does not provide a free trial but instead offers you a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The most feature-packed for VPN customizability.
Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+ | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 45 days | Number of servers: 6,300+ | Server locations: 110+ | Countries: 89 | Maximum devices supported: 7
CyberGhost is another top-rated VPN service that we’ve found to be worth the money.
Supporting all major platforms and devices, unblocking almost all major streaming sites, 24/7 support, as well as having over 6300 servers in around 110 server locations in 89 countries, making it into our list as one of the most robust VPN services you can get.
Besides that, CyberGhost also offers a maximum devices support limit of up to 7 devices, which you can use to simultaneously with the VPN service. This is another excellent option if you have up to 7 devices in your household.
Now we haven’t even gotten to the best part! CyberGhost’s app interface approach is a little different to that of others we’ve talked about in the list. You can just choose the website or streaming service (HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, etc.) that you wish to unblock, and CyberGhost will choose the quickest and most reliable VPN server location that best suits your needs. CyberGhost will then open the target site automatically for you, in your search browser. We found this to be a much simpler and straightforward approach as you don’t have to waste so much time trying to locate the US VPN server in the interface and trying to open the search browser when we could just have the service automate it for us.
Streaming HBO Max with CyberGhost had no issues at first. We only needed to choose the HBO Max option within the CyberGhost, and then it automatically connects to the most reliable VPN server and then opens the HBO Max site for us to stream. However, there were the occasional issues with the speed as we did encounter a few buffering issues with the HBO Max platform after much time. This didn’t mean the server site itself was down, but we assume that the speeds may be limited in some way.
CyberGhost also offers excellent security options with ad blocking, as well as anti-malware security. We will leave you with the rest of the security specifications here. There is so much configurability and features with this VPN service that the price you pay for it is more than worth it.
As for drawbacks, the customer support was poor, and again we wish to highlight that you may experience buffering issues, although this doesn’t happen all too often.
Unlike the other options in this post, CyberGhost offers a lot of features and conveniences compared to the others in this post as well as a generous 45-day money-back guarantee option, which is also longer than all of the other VPN options which we’ve reviewed with streaming HBO Max.
That’s pretty much it! We leave you to decide which VPN is the best. Our main choice would be ExpressVPN, but price-wise you can’t go wrong with either NordVPN or Surfshark. If you’re looking to get the most out of your money with as many features, then both IPVanish and CyberGhost will be the option for you.
Now take note that this was NOT a sponsored post as we never do sponsored posts on this website or are paid by another company to post such information. The thoughts and reviews that are expressed here are entirely our own and based on our results from our testing. As aforementioned, we get a little tip if you buy from any one of the affiliate links above, which helps us to keep this site running. 🙂
We hope that this guide has helped you on how to go about accessing HBO Max despite getting the ‘Not in service area’ message. If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, and we will love to help you out. ❤
P.S. If you have found a better solution to the above, please comment down below, and we will credit you when we update this article.
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