The best password managers don’t necessarily have to cost anything at all.
The best password managers
Competition between password managers is tight because they tend to offer similar features and the same standard military-grade encryption. Thankfully, there are some great free password managers to choose from, and while pricing is typically annual (and charged in USD), subscriptions are a lot more reasonably priced compared to virtual private network (VPN) services.
Because the big-name password managers are so closely matched, the differences come in pricing, max number of users with a family subscription, and how easy they are to use. Prep your master password, which is really all you need for a password manager, and read on for our categorised list of the best password managers.
- : Dashlane
- : Bitwarden
- : 1Password
- : Google Password Manager
- : NordPass
- : LastPass
Best password managers compared
Annual families price
|10 (Dashlane Family & Friends)||Easy to use||US$59.88 (US$5.99 monthly)||View plans|
|6 (Bitwarden Families)||Incredibly cheap||US$39.96||View plans|
|5 users (1Password Families)||Travel Mode||US$59.88||View plans|
|6 (NordPass Family)||Two-year plans||AU$71.88||View plans|
Google Password Manager
|1 (Google account)||Chrome integration||N/A||Read more|
|Best password generator|
|6 (LastPass Families)||Dark web monitoring||AU$72||Read more|
Best password manager overall
The biggest praise I can give to Dashlane is that it’s officially replaced my multi-year LastPass subscription. Dashlane is incredibly easy to use, from onboarding and migration through to everyday use. This password manager doesn’t skimp on security features, though you can up the convenience by opting for faster biometric login or mark a device safe for 14 days. New or migrating users can take advantage of a free version, monthly pricing (a rarity with password managers) and a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you end up loving it as much as I did, the value-packed Dashlane Family & Friends subscription supports up to 10 users, including a Hotspot Shield VPN subscription.
For ease-of-use, consider NordPass as a viable alternative or Bitwarden for a cheaper password manager.
Best cheap password manager
When you realise that basically every password manager of note has military-grade encryption, picking the best of the bunch can feasibly come down to cost. And if you’re done with free password managers—Google Password Manager, free trials/tiers or otherwise—your first stop for bargain pricing should be Bitwarden. While it still follows the unfortunate trend of annual USD pricing, Bitwarden is cheap. Dirt cheap. As in, pay US$10 per year for a single user. Even converted to roughly $15 Australian dollars, that’s not a lot to pay for a year of Bitwarden Premium and the subsequent peace of mind. If you want it for more than just yourself, Bitwarden Families supports up to six users for US$40 a year (and there’s a seven-day free trial).
You won’t find a cheaper single-licence password manager out there, but NordPass is competitively priced and Google Password Manager is free.
Best password manager for security
In ever-raging password manager war, LastPass and 1Password are the big names. But LastPass had a far-too-recent data breach to be a serious contender these days, and 1Password hasn’t ever had a data breach. That said, 1Password tips the security/convenience scales so far in favour of security that it’s not really the best place to start your password manager journey. But if you get past the learning curve of its user-unfriendliness, there’s no denying how secure 1Password is. It’s so secure that, when I didn’t save my 1Password Emergency Kit when I first tested 1Password, I was unable to access that initial account. While inconvenient, that’s a big plus for security. 1Password is so secure that it requires more of its users to restore accounts or access password vaults on new devices. It also has a unique Travel Mode feature for those worried about prying customs officers or cops. If you want ultimate peace of mind in a password manager, use 1Password.
For more convenient security, consider Dashlane, NordPass or Bitwarden instead.
Best free password manager: Google Password Manager
Many of the password managers on this page have free trials and/or free subscription tiers, including Dashlane, Bitwarden and NordPass. But Google Password Manager is completely free without any option to pay for more features. Admittedly, you need to be a Chrome user to even access Google Password Manager, but given Chrome is the most popular browser in the world (by a healthy margin), the chances are good you’re one of those people. Google Password Manager works as part of the Chrome browser just by logging in with a Google account. It handles autofill for credentials and personal information in a very straightforward way, and there’s even a password-strength checker if you dig into the settings.
Alternatively, start your password manager journey with the free versions of Dashlane, Bitwarden or NordPass.
Best multi-year password manager
If you want the best VPN, it’s hard to look past NordVPN. Not content with that accolade, Nord Security is also responsible for one of the best password managers around, too. While NordVPN has a reputation for being expensive, NordPass is very competitive with its pricing. Fees are also mercifully charged in Australian dollars, even if there aren’t any monthly pricing options for NordPass. But unlike any of its competitors on this page, NordPass offers two-year pricing. Better still, if you want to try before you buy, NordPass Free includes a 30-day no-credit-card trial, so you can take it for a spin before buying in for two years. When I tested NordPass, I found NordPass to be user-friendly and, outside of some odd quirks, reliable.
None of the other password managers I’ve reviewed offer multi-year pricing, but Bitwarden is the cheapest of the lot for annual pricing (individual and family plans).
Best password manager password generator
I used LastPass for years and, legitimately, the only reason it’s not in a more meaningful category is because of the late-2022 data breach, which involved user data. It’s a shame because LastPass is an incredibly user-friendly password manager that works across major devices. Pricing is competitive and there’s even a viable free version to try before you buy. While that data breach will likely loom large for at least a while, LastPass still does one thing better than most other password managers: password generation. There’s a simple one-click/tap option for secure passwords when creating a new website login, plus customisation is a cinch. Shift a slider to control password length, then modify by ticking or unticking boxes for upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols. There are also radial options to help better remember passwords, with toggles for ‘easy to say’ or ‘easy to remember’.
For a similarly impressive password generator, check out Bitwarden or NordPass.
The unfortunate reality of living in an increasingly connected world is the ever-looming threat of data breaches. Even big-name companies are seemingly unsafe from them, which is exactly what happened to LastPass. I was a happy customer for years before the LastPass 2022 breach announcement. I’ve since moved to Dashlane. While LastPass did publicly acknowledge the breach and has taken steps to plug related vulnerabilities, it’s hard to recommend the password manager when there are very competitive alternatives that haven’t suffered a breach.
What to look for in a password manager
Any password manager you consider using should offer military-grade encryption. Thankfully, that’s the standard among popular providers. From there, consider using a free password manager to see what it’s about: either start with Google Password Manager or a free version of one of the popular options.
Pricing is typically in US dollars and charged annually; note that not every password manager offers a money-back guarantee, either. If you’re a first-time user, consider a password manager that guides you through using its features, like Dashlane or something straightforward like Google Password Manager.
For existing users, shifting between password managers is as straightforward as exporting a CSV file. Just remember to delete that insecure CSV file once you’ve migrated. A good password manager should offer end-to-end encryption, automatic synchronisation across devices, and convenient autofill alongside biometric logins so you don’t have to keep plugging in your master password. Consider a family subscription if you want to cover more than a single user.
Iolo System Mechanic Ultimate Defense is a convenient way to roll a lot of separate tasks into a single spot. Instead of using CCleaner, Spybot, Windows Defender and Google Password Manager, you can just use Ultimate Defense. The bigger catch is Ultimate Defense has the appearance of an outright purchase but is ultimately a subscription service if you want ongoing protection.
How we choose the best password managers
Our password manager considerations start with an in-depth schema that we use to compare competing services and weigh up the most meaningful values. Price is of course important, but we give bonus points to services that offer a free subscription tier or free trial. A password manager can be comparatively more expensive, but it has to have the value to back the price.
Features tend to be quite uniform across major brands, which is why we keep an eye out for unique features that help elevate a password manager. A password manager is only as good as its security, which is why we frown on recent data breaches and praise services that offer more than just the industry standard of military-grade encryption.