Not happy with Netflix’s selection here in Canada? Looking for a way to use Netflix USA without having to use a VPN? Well, it turns out there is a way that’s pretty simple and just about anyone can set it up. All you need is a bit of familiarity with networking and your router. So how do you go about unlocking 14x as much content for the same low price?
- Step 1: Sign up for Your Trial at Unblock-Us
- Step 2: Sign up for a Virtual Credit Card at EntroPay
- Step 3: Sign up at Netflix.com
- Alternative Methods
The main piece of this puzzle is tricking Netflix into thinking you’re accessing their page from an ISP in the US. To do this you will need to create an account at Unblock-Us.com. Simply punch in your email address and hit Start Trial. After your first month you will be billed $4.99 per month.
This will certainly be the most challenging step for any non technical users. You will need to program the new DNS settings from Unblock-Us.com into either your router or the individual devices you wish to use to connect to Netflix. You can opt to only set up your router and have everything on your network fool sites into you’re coming from the USA, or you can individually set up your Wii, XBox, iPhone, AppleTV or many other Netflix enabled devices to use the new DNS settings. The advantage of individually configuring devices is that should you need to access the Canadian versions of Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, etc.
Rather than copy and paste the information from their site, I’ll now point you to their Knowledge Base for articles on how to set up common routers and devices to use their DNS settings. For those of you who know how to do this already, simply set your DNS as follows:
Outside of North America you’ll have to use different DNS settings. Please video the above Knowledge Base link for those DNS settings.
Now just Test Your Settings to make sure they work. If not, head back to their Knowledge Base for more help.
After your free 1 week trial any time you access Netflix.com or another one of the supported sites you’ll get sent back to their site letting you know the trial is over. First you’ll have to give them you’re email address again, at which point it will give you the option of setting up a subscription. You can use your PayPal account to fund this process or your credit card. After configuring the subscription and paying your first month you will be able to continue using the service and will have not have to complete this step again.
Although you can get away with using your Canadian credit card with the old trusty 90210 zip code I would recommend using EntroPay. The reason I recommend this extra step is Netflix has been slowly cracking down on Canadians using their service and recently killed everyone’s ability to use PayPal for this step. I would imagine it’s only a matter of time before they do this with Canadian credit cards. Using a virtual credit card adds very little to the cost and ensures that you won’t find yourself without service when Netflix decides to bring down the iron hammer on this as well. If you do not want to use EntroPay you can skip it at this time as Netflix is still only asking for a valid Zip code and is not validating that against your Canadian credit card.
Once at the EntroPay website click on Signup Now. Select USD as your Account Currency and your country as the Country. Fill in the rest of the form using a your real billing address for your Canadian credit card to fund the Virtual Visa card. On the next screen fill in the details of the credit card you want to use to fund the virtual Visa card. Continue on to the funding screen and add as little as $8 USD to your account. I’d personally recommend about $25 to give you enough for 4 months service (3 months plus 1 month trial). Just make sure to top up your virtual credit card every few months.
Netflix no longer distinguishes between Canadian and American accounts. In the past you would have needed to cancel your Canadian subscription and reregister for an American account. This means if you already have an account, you’re good to go. Netflix will detect that you are in the US and it will automatically show you the new content. The best way to test this is to search for South Park. If it’s available, you’re looking at the American content (only The Comedy Network has rights to air South Park in Canada, and therefore it is restricted in Netflix Canada).
If you do not have an account, you will want to create it now. You can jump to the registration page by clicking the image below.
Once all of that is out of the way, creating an account at Netflix.com is a simple process that will also start with a free 1 month trial. Make sure to use your Virtual Credit card number and a random American address if prompted for it. After your account has been created you can log in and immediately start browsing and watching Netflix USA.
Since one of the major reasons people switch to Netflix is for the savings it’s important to determine exactly what we’re paying for the American version of Netflix.
² PayPal automatically adds 13% HST for Canadian residents. Funds were in Canadian, USD was calculated for comparison
³ $1 USD = $0.978004 CDN as of 06/15/2011
Canadian to American exchange rates will naturally fluctuate, but for $13-15 a month you can be unlocking THIRTEEN times as much content by accessing the American version of Netflix. In addition to being able to use Netflix USA you are also unlocking many other services through your subscription to Unblock-Us.com. I mostly look forward to finally being able to use Pandora again, but have also been playing around with the free version of Hulu and am fairly happy with that. I am considering adding Hulu Plus for another $7.99 USD to further boost the available content. In addition to these you will be able to access Amazon Video, Pandora, Hulu, ESPN3, MTV, CBS, Fox, ABC, NBC, and even some British sites such as The BBC and ITV.
As the old saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. There are several other options that you can use to access the American content on Netflix.
If you don’t want to go with Unblock-us.com, then Hotspot Shield is probably your next best bet. They also have a free week long trial and then from there you can pay the same price of $5 a month or you can buy a 1 year subscription for $30 which is about half of what the Unblock-Us option would be. So it can certainly be the more financial option if you are going to continue to access Netflix USA for an extended period.
Installation is very easy. Just download the program, run it and follow the prompts. From now on HotSpot Shield will run in your system try, look for the icon by your system clock. You should also have an icon at the top right of your web browser indicating it’s status. You’ll want this icon to be green, or else it will not work.
So why do I not offer this as the first option if it’s cheaper? Well, quite honestly, I haven’t been happy with their service. Since you’re technically going through a VPN your bandwidth goes through them meaning you will not reach your max speeds provided by your ISP and there can be periods where it is extremely slow or just takes down your Internet altogether. On top of that there is another issue which was a major annoyance and that is the fact that I got blocked out of several accounts, including my Gmail and my bank account, due to suspicious activity. I don’t think I was being hacked but rather both services shut down my account because the traffic looked fishy. That’s the price you pay for accessing a secure account from behind HotSpot Shield.
This is one method I wouldn’t recommend to most people, due to the technical knowledge to set it up and the costs. You can get a VPS rather cheap, for example I have one at Prgmr.com which gives me 40gb/month for $8, but if you’re accessing Netflix through the VPS then all of your traffic will be going through. I can very easily rack up 40gb/month just from Netflix so I would rather not risk getting charged for overages. I have heard that ChicagoVPS offers great bandwidth packages every now and then if you’re willing to wait it out for a good promotion to come along.
I wont go into detail about how to set this one up, I will simply mention that you can either set up an SSH tunnel or you can set up a DNS server on it and point your home network to your VPS’s IP address. The only important thing is that this VPS is located in the United States, or else it is no use to you. My old ISP, Acanac, used to offer a free VPS with unlimited bandwidth for getting around BitTorrent Throttling, but it was located in Canada so unfortunately I could not take advantage of it.
A VPN can also be used to get around the country restrictions. What is a VPN? Why, it’s a Virtual Private Network. Almost every office I’ve worked for has had a VPN to access the network shares, or other internal systems. But in this case you’ll need to use a VPN that is based out of the USA, meaning your work’s VPN likely won’t help you if their office is located in Canada. You’ll have to find an American based VPN such as Cheap VPN which is $11/month. Another option is something like Hotspot Shield, which was mentioned above. Hotspot Shield is just an application that makes using a VPN simple and advertises it’s self as a IP wall for added system security. There are several other programs similar to it that can also be used.
Since writing this article I’ve had numerous people suggest Unotelly and they have all said good things about it. I have not tried this service as of yet but from the looks of it the service is bang on with Unblock-Us. They both allow access to numerous American services and do so at the same price. The only advantage I see to Unotelly is that it appears to be more so for unlocking global content rather than specifically American content, so depending on what you all want to access this may be a better option for you.