LastPass vs. Bitwarden [2021] — Is Open-Source Better?

LastPass vs. Bitwarden [2021] — Is Open-Source Better?

LastPass and Bitwarden are two of the best password managers on the market — they’re both highly secure, feature-rich, and offer excellent free plans as well as low-cost premium plans for individuals and families.

The two products have a lot in common, providing all of the most essential features of a premium password manager in 2021, such as:

  • 256-bit AES encryption.
  • Advanced 2FA options.
  • Password vault auditing.
  • Secure password sharing.

But LastPass and Bitwarden are different in a lot of important ways — for example, LastPass is easier to use and comes with more unique features, like a password auto-changer and account recovery options. And Bitwarden is open-source, provides both cloud and self-host data options, and is around ⅓ the cost of most competitors.

Because a lot of our readers keep asking us which of these products is better, I decided to test LastPass and Bitwarden in a head-to-head matchup and see how they compare in terms of security, features, plans and pricing, ease of use, and customer support.

After weeks of testing, researching, and comparing LastPass and Bitwarden, I finally chose a winner for this comparison — but it was a close race, so I recommend reading each section and choosing the right product based on your needs.

Short on time? Here’s the final verdict:

  • 🥇LastPass — Winner in Basic Features, Extra Features, Ease of Use, and Customer Support. LastPass is secure, very easy to use, and comes with extras like password auditing, an automatic password changer, multiple recovery options, emergency access, and encrypted storage.
  • 🥈Bitwarden — Winner in Security and Pricing. Bitwarden is open-source with cloud and local data hosting options, password auditing, password sharing, and affordable individual and family plans. But it’s only recommended for advanced users.

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Security

Both LastPass and Bitwarden are very secure password managers — they have a lot of similar security features, including:

  • 256-bit AES encryption — unbreakable encryption which governments and banks use to protect data.
  • Zero-knowledge architecture — neither LastPass nor Bitwarden have access to users’ passwords vault.
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA) — uses a second factor of verification to confirm user identity.

LastPass: Security

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: SecurityLastPass is an online password manager, so user data is stored on LastPass’s company servers. All LastPass user data is encrypted and decrypted locally — only encrypted data is sent to LastPass’s servers, and only the user has the encryption keys (email address used to register for a LastPass account and a master password that the user chooses upon registration).

This also means that LastPass doesn’t have access to a user’s password vault — so the company can’t restore your data if you lose your master password. However, LastPass does have several account recovery options, so it’s possible to gain access to your vault even if you forget your master password.

LastPass offers a wide range of 2FA options — including TOTP apps (Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, Toopher, Duo Security), USB tokens (YubiKey), and biometric scanners and card readers. LastPass also has a TOTP generator. LastPass Free includes TOTP app compatibility and the TOTP generator, whereas the premium plans also include support for USB tokens and biometric authentication.

Unfortunately, LastPass has had some security vulnerabilities in the past — not only did the software have a major security flaw a few years ago, but its servers were actually breached. Even though the servers were compromised, its secure encryption has never been broken — LastPass’s server breach only yielded a series of incomprehensible, encrypted digits, and LastPass has never lost a single password.

Try LastPass Now (Free Download)

Bitwarden: Security

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Security

Because it’s an open-source password manager, Bitwarden is considered extremely safe — thousands of security experts across the world have independently reviewed every piece of its source code.

Bitwarden also uses 256-bit AES encryption to encrypt user data before the data reaches Bitwarden’s servers. However, Bitwarden also offers users the option to self-host their own data — you can store your encrypted data on a private server instead of on Bitwarden’s servers. This means that even a security breach on Bitwarden’s servers won’t compromise your data. But keep in mind that self-hosting requires significant technical expertise to set up. It’s only suitable if you have access to your own highly secure private server.

Bitwarden also has a zero-knowledge policy, but unlike LastPass, Bitwarden doesn’t provide account recovery options — if you forget your master password, you can only reset your Bitwarden account, which will result in the loss of all of your data.

As for 2FA, Bitwarden offers similar options to LastPass — TOTP authenticators (Google Authenticator, Authy), USB tokens (Duo, YubiKey), biometric logins, email verification, and a built-in TOTP generator. Bitwarden Free also includes support for TOTP authenticators, biometric logins, and email verification, whereas USB token compatibility and the TOTP generator are available for premium users only. While both LastPass and Bitwarden’s 2FA options are easy to use, I much prefer LastPass’s TOTP generator which auto-fills one-time passwords with a single click (Bitwarden’s TOTP generator requires you to copy/paste the one-time password from your vault to the login field).

Try Bitwarden Now (Free Download)

Winner (Security): Bitwarden

LastPass and Bitwarden both have excellent security. However, Bitwarden has a slight advantage because it’s open-source, offers local data storage, and has never been hacked. That said, LastPass’s past security breach didn’t leave any user data exposed (due to the company’s strict zero-knowledge policy). Plus, LastPass is compatible with more TOTP authenticator apps than Bitwarden, and its built-in authenticator is a lot more convenient than Bitwarden’s.

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LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Basic Features

LastPass’s and Bitwarden’s basic password management features are both pretty good. Both are compatible with the most popular operating systems and a wide range of browsers, and they both come with essential features like:

  • Unlimited password storage.
  • Multi-device synchronization.
  • Auto-save and auto-fill.
  • Password generator.
  • Digital wallet (for storing credit cards and bank accounts).
  • Identity storage (personal information for filling out web forms).
  • Secure notes.

LastPass: Basic Features

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Basic Features

LastPass has a desktop app for Windows and Mac, a mobile app for iOS and Android, a web vault, and a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, and Safari.

LastPass lets users import passwords from a huge range of other password managers and browsers. Importing passwords into the LastPass vault is very simple — there are even on-screen instructions that guide users through the entire process.

LastPass provides unlimited storage for passwords and other sensitive data — it’s one of the rare password managers that lets free users store an unlimited number of passwords (LastPass ranked as the #1 free password manager in 2021). In addition to unlimited password storage, LastPass also provides multi-device synchronization, so both free and paid users can access their password vaults on any device.

During my tests, LastPass’s auto-save and auto-fill functionalities worked great. Every time I created a new account, LastPass immediately asked me whether or not I wanted to save it. And every time I navigated to a login field, LastPass auto-filled my login credentials — but users can also choose to disable auto-fill for specific sites (for additional security).

LastPass’s password generator is really good. The default password length is 12, which isn’t great, but users can create passwords that are up to 99 characters long. Passwords can contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. But users can also choose to generate passwords which are ‘easy to say’ or ‘easy to read’.

Apart from passwords, users can save payment cards, bank accounts, identities, and notes. LastPass’s identities template is decent — you can input your name, addresses, company, email address, phones, and notes. Users can also attach files to identity templates.

Try LastPass Now (Free Download)

Bitwarden: Basic Features

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Basic Features

Bitwarden is available as a web vault, an app for Windows, iOS, and Linux, as a mobile app for iOS and Android, and as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Vivaldi, Edge, Brave, and Tor.

Bitwarden also supports importing passwords from a wide range of password managers and browsers — but I had to read through Bitwarden’s knowledge base to figure out how to actually import passwords into my Bitwarden vault. When I found out how importing works, it was fairly easy to import a .csv file with my passwords into Bitwarden. But I’d like to see Bitwarden make password importing simpler.

Like LastPass, Bitwarden also provides unlimited password storage and syncing across multiple devices on both its free and premium plans.

In my testing, Bitwarden’s auto-save and auto-fill features didn’t work as well as I’d expected. The auto-save feature offered to save my new logins, but then I couldn’t find those newly saved logins in the password vault. And the auto-fill function is needlessly complicated — I had to right-click on the login field, select Bitwarden, and then select auto-fill for the site I wanted to log into. These may be minor nuisances, but I much prefer LastPass’s seamless auto-save and auto-fill functions. That said, Bitwarden’s mobile app made it much easier for me to auto-fill logins — while there are better password managers for iOS and Android, Bitwarden’s mobile app is pretty good for basic password management.

On the other hand, I really like Bitwarden’s password generator, which lets users create passwords that are 5-128 characters long (the default password length is 14). Users can create passwords that include numbers, letters, and symbols, and there’s also an option to generate passphrases.

Bitwarden’s password vault lets users store passwords, credit cards, identities, and notes. Bitwarden’s identities template is very similar to LastPass’s, but Bitwarden also lets users add custom fields.

Try Bitwarden Now (Free Download)

Winner (Basic Features): LastPass

LastPass and Bitwarden offer the same basic password management functionalities. While Bitwarden has an extension for more browsers and can generate slightly longer passwords, LastPass is much better at all of the essentials, including importing, auto-saving, and auto-filling passwords.

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LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Extra Features

To provide additional security, both LastPass and Bitwarden offer several additional features. The ones they have in common include:

  • Password sharing.
  • Password auditing.
  • Encrypted storage.

However, both products also offer unique extras that the other one doesn’t. For instance, Bitwarden has a self-host option (you can read more about it in the Security section of this comparison), whereas LastPass doesn’t. But LastPass has an automatic password changer, multiple account recovery options, and emergency access, and Bitwarden doesn’t have any of that.

LastPass: Extra Features

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Extra Features

LastPass comes with excellent extra features. I particularly love how easy it is to share passwords using LastPass — all you have to do is click on the sharing button next to each entry and type in the email address of the person you want to share the password with. I like that LastPass also has the option to let other users use your password but not actually see what the password is.

One other thing that’s great about LastPass’s sharing function is that it’s available for free users, too! While most competitors limit password sharing to their paid plans, LastPass allows for one-to-one sharing on its free plan!

LastPass’s Security Dashboard is also pretty great. LastPass shows you a “Security Score” (you need to have at least 50 passwords in the vault to get a Security Score) — this is an overall rating of all of your passwords. In the Security Dashboard, you can view which of your passwords are old, weak, or duplicate. And there’s also a dark web scanner which alerts you if any of your emails has been compromised.

LastPass also has an automatic password changer — it lets you change passwords for around 70 supported sites with a single click. The only other password manager that has this feature is Dashlane.

I also like that LastPass has multiple account recovery options and emergency access. The account recovery options include mobile account recovery with Face or Touch ID, a recovery one-time password, SMS recovery, and a master password reminder. There’s also an option to restore a previous master password, but this is only available if the master password was changed within the last 30 days.

As for emergency access, LastPass allows you to designate a contact who can gain emergency access to your account after a pre-set waiting period (up to 30 days). It’s super easy to set up — it took me about 5 minutes to designate my brother as my emergency contact.

LastPass also includes 1 GB encrypted storage.

You can read more about LastPass’s features in our full review >

Try LastPass Now (Free Download)

Bitwarden: Extra Features

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Extra Features

Bitwarden doesn’t have as many extra features as LastPass. Apart from the self-host option, the only extra features Bitwarden offers are secure password sharing, password auditing, and secure storage.

Honestly, I don’t like the way Bitwarden handles password sharing. First, Bitwarden Premium users can only share passwords with 1 other user — whereas LastPass provides one-to-one sharing on its free plan! Users looking for vault syncing between multiple users can upgrade to the Bitwarden Families plan and get unlimited password sharing between up to 6 users, or use the Teams and Enterprise plans to sync unlimited passwords with unlimited users.

Second, Bitwarden makes password sharing unnecessarily complicated. To share a password with another user, you first have to create an “Organization” (it’s like a shared vault), and then invite a user to join your Organization. You can choose whether you want this user to only be allowed to view the logins or to make changes to them — but there’s no option to hide passwords like LastPass offers.

On the other hand, Bitwarden’s password auditing tool is pretty good. Bitwarden shows weak and reused passwords, checks breach databases for leaked logins, and alerts users of unsecured websites and inactive 2FA on supported sites.

Bitwarden also offers 1 GB encrypted storage.

You can read more about Bitwarden’s features in our full review >

Try Bitwarden Now (Free Download)

Winner (Extra Features): LastPass

While both LastPass and Bitwarden have great password auditing tools and include 1 GB encrypted storage, LastPass makes it much easier to share passwords. LastPass also has several extra features that Bitwarden doesn’t provide, including a wide range of account recovery options, emergency access with a waiting period of up to 30 days, and an automatic password changer.

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LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Plans & Pricing

Both LastPass and Bitwarden provide more free features than most other password manager plans on the market. Their paid plans are both pretty affordable, but Bitwarden has a clear edge in terms of pricing.

LastPass: Plans & Pricing

LastPass offers 3 plans for personal use: Free, Premium, and Families.

LastPass Free is one of the best free password managers on the market, offering features like:

  • Unlimited password storage.
  • Syncing across multiple devices.
  • One-to-one password sharing.
  • TOTP 2FA compatibility.
  • TOTP generator.

LastPass Premium and Families both provide a good amount of security features for a decent price — they’re more expensive than Bitwarden’s premium packages, but they’re also a lot easier to use.

LastPass Premium has all of the features included in the free plan, plus:

  • One-to-many sharing (up to 30 users).
  • Password auditing & dark web scanning.
  • Credit report monitoring.
  • 2FA with USB tokens & biometric scanners.
  • Emergency access.
  • 1 GB encrypted storage.

LastPass Families gives you all the coverage of LastPass Premium but with coverage for up to 6 users, unlimited vault sharing between users, and a helpful sharing dashboard to help sort out who has access to which passwords.

LastPass Premium and Families are both pretty affordable — they’re actually slightly cheaper than premium competitors like Dashlane and Keeper. But LastPass is still almost 4 times more expensive than Bitwarden.

You can try out LastPass Premium with a 30-day free trial, and all of LastPass’s paid plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try LastPass Now (Free Download)

Bitwarden: Plans & Pricing

Bitwarden also has 3 plans — Free, Premium, and Families.

Just like LastPass’s free plan, Bitwarden’s free plan for personal use is one of the most popular around. Bitwarden’s free features include:

  • Unlimited password storage.
  • Syncing across multiple devices.
  • One-to-one password sharing.  
  • 2FA compatibility with TOTP authenticators.
  • Biometric logins.
  • Cloud or local data storage.

Bitwarden Free has a lot of good features, but Bitwarden Premium is a great value — it offers some serious improvements for less than a dollar a month. Here’s what you get with Bitwarden Premium:

  • Password vault auditing.
  • Password breach reports.
  • Built-in 2FA authenticator.
  • 2FA compatibility with USB tokens like YubiKey and Duo.
  • 1 GB encrypted storage.

Bitwarden Families is the same as Bitwaden Premium, but it adds password sharing for up to 6 users as well as an extra 1 GB of storage for shared items.

Try Bitwarden Now (Free Download)

Winner: Bitwarden

LastPass’s and Bitwarden’s free plans are two of the best on the market — they both offer unlimited password storage, syncing across multiple devices, and even one-to-one password sharing. However, in terms of prices for premium and family plans, Bitwarden is a clear winner, charging almost one quarter of what LastPass charges for similar protection.

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LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Ease of Use

LastPass makes it very easy to generate, save, fill, and share passwords. Bitwarden isn’t nearly as intuitive as LastPass, and some of Bitwarden’s features are needlessly complicated.

LastPass: Ease of Use

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Ease of UseLastPass’s apps and browser extensions are very easy to use. Once you set up your account, LastPass provides a short vault tutorial that shows you how to use all of its features. But even if you skip the tutorial, all of LastPass’s functionalities are easy to find and understand — the interface is very intuitive, both for non-technical and advanced users. LastPass is also one of the best password managers for families, as even kids and older adults will be able to easily locate and use all of its features.

Users can generate and save passwords for new accounts with one click. And auto-filling saved passwords is just as easy — all you have to do is click on the LastPass logo on the right side of the login fields for any online account. Password sharing is also very user-friendly — users just need to enter the email of the person with whom they want to share the login.

Using all of LastPass’s advanced features is also very simple. I found it extremely easy to set up advanced 2FA and choose an emergency contact.

Overall, LastPass is a great choice for all users, and even users without any previous experience with password managers will find it easy to use LastPass.

Try LastPass Now (Free Download)

Bitwarden: Ease of Use

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Ease of Use

Bitwarden isn’t as easy to use as LastPass. During my tests, I found it hard to locate some features or understand how some functionalities worked. I had to frequently check Bitwarden’s FAQ pages to discover how to import passwords to my Bitwarden vault and how to share passwords with other users.

Bitwarden’s auto-save and auto-fill functions aren’t great either — I’m particularly dissatisfied with the auto-fill functionality which requires users to right-click on several sub-menus just to auto-fill one login.

And unlike LastPass which has useful in-app tutorials, Bitwarden doesn’t provide tutorials for any of its features. I only recommend Bitwarden for users who are tech-savvy and don’t mind putting some extra time into understanding how all of its features work. Beginner and non-technical users should definitely look elsewhere (Windows users can look here and Mac users can look here).

Try Bitwarden Now (Free Download)

Winner (Ease of Use): LastPass

Bitwarden is a good password manager, but it’s not simple to use. On the other hand, LastPass is both good and user-friendly, offering useful in-app tutorials, easy-to-use features, and an overall intuitive interface. The choice is clear — LastPass is definitely a better choice for users looking for a password manager that’s easy to set up and use.

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LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Customer Support

LastPass and Bitwarden provide the same customer support options and have similar email response times. However, LastPass’s knowledge base is much easier to understand than Bitwarden’s knowledge base.

LastPass: Customer Support

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Customer Support

LastPass offers several customer support options — including an extensive help center with very thorough answers to the most popular questions as well as video tutorials on how to use LastPass’s features. LastPass also has a chat bot, but it’s not very useful — it can only provide help with the most common problems, like resetting your master password.

LastPass also has a community forum and email support. The forum is ok for talking and exchanging information with other LastPass users, and the user community is fairly active. The email support is also decent. I contacted LastPass’s email support team, and I received a detailed answer to my question in about 3 hours, which is a pretty quick response time.

Try LastPass Now (Free Download)

Bitwarden: Customer Support

LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Customer SupportSimilar to LastPass, Bitwarden offers support via a detailed knowledge base, a support forum, and email.

Bitwarden’s FAQ pages are very extensive, covering all of Bitwarden’s features. However, the answers aren’t always easy to understand for non-technical users. Bitwarden’s forum also has a very active user community.

As for the company’s email support, I was pleasantly surprised that Bitwarden’s email support team got back to me in less than 2 hours! The answer I received was very helpful and detailed, and the customer support representative was polite and professional.

Try Bitwarden Now (Free Download)

Winner (Customer Support): LastPass

While LastPass and Bitwarden have the same customer support options, I think that LastPass’s customer support is slightly better — Bitwarden’s knowledge base can be hard to understand for non-technical users.

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LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Overall Winner

LastPass is very secure, has all of the features of a premium password manager, and its apps and browser extension are very intuitive and user-friendly. LastPass’s customer support options are also pretty good, with useful in-app tutorials, a detailed knowledge base, and decent email support.

Bitwarden is open-source and has local data hosting, which makes it very secure. But its features are not as easy to use as LastPass’s features. Bitwarden also lacks some features that LastPass offers, including an automatic password changer, multiple recovery options, and emergency access. Bitwarden has good customer support, but its knowledge base may be too difficult to understand for non-tech-savvy users.

Overall, I really like both LastPass and Bitwarden, but I think LastPass is better for most users. While Bitwarden’s paid plans are cheaper than LastPass’s plans, I think that LastPass provides a better value. LastPass’s essential features like password importing, auto-filling, and sharing are all very intuitive and easy to use, unlike Bitwarden’s which are pretty complicated. And LastPass has slightly better customer support, with a knowledge base that is easier to understand and also includes video tutorials.

Overall Winner: LastPass

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Read more about the best password managers in 2021 >

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