How to Watch HBO Max Abroad Safely

HBO Max Logo on computerscreen
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Summary: Watch HBO Max Safely Anywhere

HBO Max has an impressive library with popular films and series. If you want to access these videos safely from anywhere in the world, you’ll need a VPN. This is how you do that:

  1. Get a subscription from a good VPN provider, for example ExpressVPN.
  2. Download the VPN software.
  3. Choose a VPN server in the US and activate the connection.
  4. Enjoy HBO Max!

If you don’t have an account yet, you might need an American credit card to be able to make one. If you want to know more about this or anything else having to do with watching HBO Max, you can scroll down to read our full article below.

Update March 2021: HBO Max no longer sells gift cards to their service. The only payment method left on the platform, is payment via credit card. Only US credit cards are accepted in this process, meaning it’s a lot harder to get a subscription when you have a credit card from anywhere else in the world. If you already have an HBO Max subscription, you can, however, still use a VPN to get full access to your account, no matter where you are. 

HBO Max Logo

HBO Max is Warner’s and AT&T’s new service for on-demand streaming. Besides the content you can access on HBO Go, HBO Max features its own originals as well as motion pictures from other providers and studios like CNN, Boomerang, Cartoon Network or Sony Pictures.

It’s a great streaming service to enjoy, but if you’re not from the US, you’ll have a hard time accessing the platform. Just changing your virtual location to make it look like you’re from the US won’t be enough for new users to get access, however. HBO Max only accepts credit cards from the US, so if you want to watch HBO Max and don’t have such a card, you’ll need to jump some hoops.

Why Can’t I Watch HBO Max Abroad?

HBO Max is not available outside of the US for a number of reasons.

First, geographic restrictions exist because of territorial licensing rights. As far as the law is concerned, streaming platforms take part in the distribution of movies and shows, so they have to get distribution rights for their content in every country or region they want to expand to.

This can be tough. Sometimes, the distributors aren’t willing to sell these rights, or they’ve already sold them to a different company. Even if the streaming platform can buy the rights, it might not make financial sense to actually go through with it. If there won’t be enough people watching from a specific place, streaming platforms won’t pay for territorial licensing in that place. But there’s more to it.

Where HBO Max is concerned, their parent company (AT&T) has a lot of entertainment brands under its name, so you might think it should have an easy time getting territorial licensing rights. While that may be true, companies like Warner could actually make more money if they sell those territorial rights than if they just choose to expand their own streaming platform.

That’s why HBO Max isn’t available worldwide, at least right now. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to access the platform from beyond the States.

How to Watch HBO Max Abroad

If you want to stream HBO Max from abroad, the first thing you’ll need is a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is software that changes your IP address. This means sites like HBO Max will think you’re browsing from a different location. The way it works is simple: most VPNs have servers all across the world, and they’ll reroute your online traffic through those servers before sending it to your target site.

This is very useful, but not all VPNs are created equal. Some VPNs may offer blacklisted IPs, so you won’t be able to circumvent geo-blocking features. Some may give you little bandwidth, so you’ll have to struggle with buffering when watching your favorite shows. That’s why we’ll take a deep dive into the best VPNs for streaming later.

Before that, let’s see how people manage to watch HBO Max outside the US:

  1. Choose a VPN and subscribe. Don’t use free VPNs, as you risk having a hard time with buffering and smart geo-block software. Personally, we’ve found that ExpressVPN works without fail.
  2. Install the VPN service of your choice. If you’re not prompted with a download link as soon as you subscribe, just look for a download section on the official website.
  3. Log in to the VPN with the information you used to sign up.
  4. Choose a server from the US and connect to it so you can access HBO Max.
  5. Subscribe to the HBO Max service using a US creditcard. Do you already have an HBO Max subscription? Then you can skip this step and simply log in on your account.
  6. Enjoy HBO Max’s library.

How to Sign Up for HBO Max

As we already said, if you’re not from the US, you can’t just go to their website and sign up, even if you have a VPN. That’s because HBO Max, like HULU, only accepts credit or debit cards from the US, so if you live anywhere else or you don’t have a credit card, you won’t be able to subscribe as easily.

Until recently, the workaround was to buy an HBO gift card and use that to subscribe to HBO Max. Unfortunately, HBO Max has stopped selling these gift cards, meaning the only payment method left is to use credit card. Non-US credit cards won’t work here, as you’ll need to fill in a US postal code and state that fit with the data attached to your card.

If you have a HULU subscription, you might be able to get an HBO Max account this way. Simply add the HBO Max add-on to your HULU account (as can be done here), and you should be able to access both platforms. Make sure you do visit both websites from a US IP-address.

One month of access on the service costs $14,99, but they do plan to release a free, ad-supported version by 2021. This is good news: hopefully, this means you’ll be able to subscribe to the free version without entering credit card information, allowing you to use the service without a US card, too. Speaking of long-term plans: HBO Max also plans to expand to parts of Europe and Latin America by 2021.

Disclaimer: Always Consider the Terms and Conditions

Before you use a VPN to access HBO Max, or any other streaming service, it’s always wise to check the terms and conditions of that service. In some cases, the terms of use you agreed to might forbid you to use any location-altering technology to access their content. VPN services can also count as this kind of technology.

Moreover, make sure you’re allowed to use a VPN in your location, as some countries prohibit the use. If you’re not sure whether using a VPN is allowed in your country, you can consult this article about VPN legality.

Finally, some of the shows available on the service might contain content that isn’t allowed in your location. Local laws and country-wide restrictions could make this kind of content illegal.

In short: always make sure you’re allowed to watch the content you access with a VPN. As a user, you’re subjected to the rules of the service as well as the laws of the country you reside in. Take this into account before going forward.

The Three Best VPNs for HBO Max

If you want to use a VPN to watch HBO Max while staying protected online, you might need a bit of guidance. Not every VPN will work for this purpose. Here, we list three of the best providers that will.

ExpressVPN: Your top choice for streaming

When it comes to streaming, ExpressVPN has it all. On top of the dozens of servers available in the US, its reliable speed, and secure navigation, ExpressVPN also comes with functional geo-unlock features that won’t fail you.

It’s not the cheapest VPN out there, and there may be some VPNs that are better suited for other purposes, like torrenting, but when it comes to streaming, you can’t go wrong with ExpressVPN. Whether you want to safely watch HBO Max, or unlock other geoblocked platforms like BBC iPlayer or Peacock, ExpressVPN can do it for you.

Even so, due to its price, ExpressVPN might not be the best choice for everyone. If ExpressVPN doesn’t suit your needs,or if you’re looking for cheaper options, read on.

Our pick
Our pick
Great discount on annual subscription + 30-day money-back guarantee!
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
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CyberGhost: A beginner’s best friend for streaming

CyberGhost may not be the absolute best option when it comes to streaming, but it’s a strong choice, featuring specialised servers for many different streaming platforms.

We tried it out with HBO Max, and it works very well. Even if it doesn’t have specialised servers for HBO Max, it still has a lot of servers in the US, so you’ll be able to access the service no matter what. It also has a big competitive advantage: its interface is very easy to navigate.

In short: if you’re new to the world of VPNs, CyberGhost might be a pretty good choice.

Try CyberGhost for $2.15 per month!
  • Very user-friendly
  • High quality for a low price
  • Torrents and Netflix possible
Visit CyberGhost

Surfshark: International streaming on a budget

Surfshark may not be as easy to navigate as CyberGhost or as reliable as ExpressVPN, but it’s still a good choice due to its price. It’s fairly cheap and has regular special deals that will allow you to get a subscription for just a couple of dollars a month. That’s a bargain, especially if you need it to watch HBO Max abroad.

Surfshark has over 500 servers in the US, so you’ll always be able to find one that works. On top of that, it has no limit to the amount of devices you can use it on, which means you’ll be able to share the cost with your friends and family, if you want.

Safe and anonymous internet for only $2.49 a month
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark

These are our top picks for VPNs to watch HBO Max abroad, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only options at your disposal. Make sure you read about the best VPNs of this moment before making a choice. You can also use Surfshark to watch TVPlayer from anywhere in the world.

What Can You Watch on HBO Max?

TV with Game of Thrones looking characterHBO Max is a relatively new service. While talks of it surfaced in 2018, it was only officially launched as a fully-fleshed platform under this name on the 27th of May 2020.

That being said, it’s not like HBO is scrapping for content. The library they have so far is very impressive already. It includes:

  • Most HBO or Warner productions, like Westworld
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • True Blood
  • Watchmen
  • Sesame Street Specials
  • The Sopranos
  • The Wire
  • Game of Thrones
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons
  • Wonder Woman and other DC productions
  • Fullmetal Alchemist

HBO Max also regularly releases originals, such as Justice League Dark. In other words, you’ll have plenty to watch if you sign up. It does look like HBO Max wants to unify the content previously spread across HBO Now and HBO Go on one platform and continue in this way, even though HBO Max is only available in the US right now.

Conclusion: Getting Access to HBO Max’s Streaming Service

HBO Max is not currently available abroad due to territorial licensing issues. Officially, you can only enjoy the service from the US. However, you can circumvent that if you follow these steps:

  1. Get a VPN.
  2. Choose a server from the US to route your traffic through.
  3. Log in to your HBO Max account and enjoy the service.

Before you try this, make sure you’re acting in accordance with the terms of service of HBO Max. If you are, we hope you enjoy the impressive library of this new platform! Or, if you are only into horror movies, check out how to access Shudder, AMC’s horror streaming service!

Watching HBO Max Abroad Safely - FAQ

Do you have a question about HBO Max and how to watch it? Have a look at our frequently asked questions below, and you might find your answer.

No, HBO Max currently isn’t yet available in Europe. For now, it’s only officially available in the US. However, you can access HBO Max from Europe by following these steps. Moreover, there are plans to launch HBO Max in parts of Europe and Latin America in 2021.

As of writing this article, HBO Max only has one pricing tier of $14,99 each month. This is a bit more expensive than HBO Go, but one dollar cheaper than Netflix’s premium plan. That being said, there are plans to launch a free, ad supported version by 2021.

HBO Max is currently only available within the United States. Still, some people use a VPN to get access to its content anyway. A VPN changes your IP address and virtual location, although not all VPNs will work with HBO Max. One that does, is ExpressVPN.

Technically, you can. Free VPNs should work, in theory, just as well as a paid one in terms of unlocking geo blocked content. In reality, you might find it hard to stream content from a different country with free VPNs, because they’re usually easy to recognize by the streaming platforms.

Tech writer
Theodor is a content writer passionate about the newest tech developments and content marketing strategies. He likes privacy-friendly software, SEO tools, and when he's not writing, he's trying to convince people they should uninstall TikTok.