Intended For : Social networking, friendship, dating
Regions : Brazil, Russia, Poland, Global
Membership options : Free, premium with credits/coins or subscription
Cost : $5 (12 mths) $6 (6 mths) $8 (1 mth) $10 (1 mth)
In Essence :
One of the most popular social networking and dating apps around the globe. Yet to get firmly established in the U.S., Badoo is most widely used in Brazil, Germany, Poland and France.
Intended For : Casual dating, social connections and dating.
Regions : U.S., UK, global
Membership options : Free, subscription for premium features
Cost : $8.99 (1 wk) $24.99 (1 mth) $16.66 (3 mth) $13.33 (6 mths)
In Essence :
A popular dating app that empowers women. Only female members can make the first move and the site has a strict verification process so the site scores well for online safety.
Intended For : Casual dating, dating.
Regions : Global
Membership options : Free, subscription for Tinder Plus premium add-ons
Cost : $9.99 for under 30’s (1 mth) $19.00 for over 30’s (1 mth)
In Essence :
Tinder is the dating swipe phenomenon that has swept the globe. Match Group hoovered up Tinder and the app has gathered in popularity with millions of users.
Intended For : Friendships, casual dating, dating
Regions : : U.S. , UK, global
Membership options : Free, premium add-ons
Cost : $9.95 (1 mth basic) $24.90 (1 mth premium)
In Essence :
Owned by Match Group, the site isn’t as sleek as its larger sibling, Match. Watch out for scammers but, with your eyes open, there is little to lose from testing out this popular free option.
Intended For : Friendship, casual dating , dating
Regions : Global
Membership options : Free, premium add-ons such as profile position boost
Cost : $18.59 (2 mths) $13.39 (4 mths) $10.68 (8 mths)
In Essence :
Founded in 2003 by Marcus Frind, the site was sold to global giant Match Group in 2015 for $575m. POF remains the most popular free site around the globe.
Intended For : Friendship, dating, serious relationships
Regions : U.S.
Membership options : Free, premium options
Cost : $35 (per mth)
In Essence :
With more emphasis on matching than hook-ups, CoffeeMeetsBagel is one of the few apps with more female users than males. It’s popular in the U.S. larger cities and recently raised funds to expand globally.
Intended For : Social networking, dating.
Regions : Global
Membership options : Free, tokens, premium subscription
Cost : $14.95 (6 mths) $19.95 (3 mths) $29.95 (1 mth)
In Essence :
A cross between a social networking and dating app. Some free features with premium add-ons.
Intended For : Dating, friendship
Regions : UK, U.S.
Membership options : Free, credits / coins for add-on features
Cost : 10 coins $2.99 100 coins $22.99
In Essence :
The dating app for people on the move. Provides matches within a 250 km radius and is a useful app if you are in one of the larger cities, less so for those in rural locations.
In a Nutshell
Online dating sites are trending because they offer innovative and easy access to meeting singles all over the world. If you are searching for your soulmate or a life partner, or probably you want to meet someone to build friendship and eventually land a romantic relationship, the online world is a good place to start, most especially if you’re too busy to hang out or party with friends and strangers. And why not? Many people have found their true love through online dating sites. You probably have encountered several dating sites, like Tinder, Match.com, and eHarmony, and somehow have an idea how they work. Would you settle in a free account just enough to take the initial steps to meet the man or woman of your dreams? Or are you willing to invest a portion of your hard-earned money to meet a serious date? Every dating site or application charges from $10 to $50 a month (depending on how many months you sign up for) for a premium account, but do subscribers get what they pay for?
Many singles believe that digital dating is just a normal part of life because many dating sites started 10 to 15 years ago. They have come a long way and many people access these sites via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. However, there is a growing concern about cases of fraud or scams online, and fake accounts are proliferating on these dating sites. Does this mean that free sites are more likely to have fake accounts? Do you need to be sketchy about free sites? Will a paid subscription lessen your chances of being scammed? In this post, let’s explore the pros and cons of free and paid online dating sites and apps, to help you make an informed decision before even starting your online dating journey. Let’s get started!
Free Online Dating Sites
It is just but right to start testing the waters of online dating by setting up a free account. Many online dating sites offer a free membership to entice singles to try their features in a limited period of time. In the past, free online dating sites were regarded as highly sketchy, which puts the identity and privacy of a person at risk. However, free dating sites and apps, such as Zoosk and AdultFriendFinder, have changed the game. Online dating sites are made safer and more secure than ever. Free dating sites basically offer free member to member messaging unlike paid sites that require a paid account to communicate with other users. Of course, free sites earn profit through their premium or paid features like ”boost” or increase traffic.
• You can test the features and services of the dating site without spending a penny.
• Free sites offer more flexibility when it comes to types of relationships (from casual hookups, heterosexual, and same-sex relationships).
• Free sites work better for separated individuals (not yet divorced).
• Free sites have a larger database of users.
• Recommended for first-time users.
• Expect more fake accounts with paid membership.
• Expect more ‘not serious’ users.
• Free sites are less regulated.
• You need to be extra careful (higher risk of being scammed).
Popular Free Online Dating Sites
Tinder has a reputation of a “casual hookup” online dating site. It is a swipe-based dating app with minimal profiles that focus on photos with texts or short description. Using the Tinder app involves “swipe”, a cultural-wide phenomenon in this digital age. The app has a simple design so there are only a few things you can do such as chatting with matches, swiping right (to like) or left (to pass), and updating your profile. It is easy to use and straightforward. For a free account, you can swipe profiles and message matches. The advanced paid features include the “boost” swipe, like going back to the user you already passed on, reverse swipe, or super-liking a profile. Tinder shows user profiles of singles within your local area, so it’s easy and quick to find someone, get to know, and meet up the same night.
OkCupid has a reputation of being a great platform for first-timers on the online dating world. Singles flock to this site to conduct an initial dating trial run. OkCupid.com has not changed much in years and it continually attracts new members. It is a dating platform which caters singles who are looking for either short-term or long-term serious relationships. You can search for penpals, friends, casual date, short-term date, hook up, or a place to find your bride- or groom-to-be. For every match, you’ll see your percentage match rate with the user. While OkCupid offers free services, you can upgrade to a 1-month ($14.95), 3-month ($29.95), or 6-month ($47.70) subscription.
3. Plenty of Fish (POF.com)
Plenty of Fish is an affordable online dating platform that provides a feature-packed dating experience. There is a large member database from all different walks of life, and most are active on the site. It has 4 million daily log-ins, and more than 65,000 new users every day. With Plenty of Fish, you can freely search your potential match instead of an undisclosed or fed-matching algorithm. You can narrow down your search based on physical characteristics, personality, or the type of relationship you’re looking for. You can search by city, contacts, favorites, who’s online, and by new users. While POF.com is technically a free online dating site, it offers paid membership for 3-month ($35.40), 6-month ($51.00), or 12-month subscription ($81.40). With a paid account, you’ll see who’s viewed your profile, browse ad-free, increase profile traffic, send unlimited gifts, and to view read or deleted messages.
Zoosk started as a Facebook application, which transformed into an independent dating site with 50 million members worldwide. It’s somehow similar to Match.com with a younger demographic. Integrate your social networking accounts to your Zoosk account to create your profile. Non-paying members can browse profiles, send a wink, and respond to emails. To boost your account, you need to purchase coins to be able to initiate emails, increase search ranking, and send virtual gifts. The premium subscriptions include 1-month ($29.95), 3-month ($19.95/month), and 12-month ($9.99/month). With a premium status, you can send emails and chat to other users.
CoffeeMeetsBagel is a free app that tends to be under the radar of the ever-growing list of new online dating platforms, but users tend to get hook once they get to know more about the site. It involves a unique online dating approach, taking some of the best features and concepts of the best online dating sites, combining them under one umbrella. This dating app incorporates matchmaking based on mutual friends.
You’ll be given a report card-like dashboard to show you why users “passed” or “liked” your profile. In short, CoffeeMeetsBagel is good in data collection, showing if you need to upload enough profile pictures and suggest ways to improve the likelihood of your profile getting “liked.” A dashboard is a free tool you can use to gauge the performance of your profile. You can earn coffee beans (the currency of Coffee Meets Bagel) through daily logins and other site activities. With the extra coffee beans, you can show interest to potential matches with common interests as yours and not necessarily your handpicked profiles of the day.
Subscription Online Dating Sites
Many would say that subscription sites offer a better security. Paid sites, like Match.com and eHarmony, set themselves to a higher level when it comes to online safety via SSL encryption and the establishment of dedicated Fraud and Investigation Team. Paid dating sites claim to enforce more stringent safety and security protocols to ensure that their members will not be victimized by scammers.
Based on the Consumer Reports Online Dating Survey conducted in 2016, free online dating sites actually scored higher than paid ones. They associate the results with free sites having a better value. However, free sites are less regulated, unlike paid sites. If you want a serious match and you don’t want to waste your time simply chatting online, a paid account is the best way to go.
• Subscription dating sites offer “boost” and other cool features that are not available to free members.
• Paid sites attract serious date-searchers who want to pursue a meaningful relationship.
• Expect a strict and longer registration process (often requires documentation for verification).
• Paid sites have flexible and better customer services and some sites offer professional consultation with a psychologist and even one-on-one call with the site’s CEO.
• Paid membership hinders scammers to enter the site.
• A paid subscription may also attract highly-syndicated and organized fraudsters to entice members to do communicate outside of the site because they know that these users have money to spend just to find their true love.
• Some sites are overly expensive.
Popular Paid Online Dating Sites
Match.com paved the way to the eventual acceptance and realization of positive online dating. It is one of the industry leaders in online dating, with evolving matching algorithm and extensive search options. It has the right balance of members and features to help singles find their best match. It has a reputation of catering serious daters, but it is actually a dating site for any type of relationships such as hookups, casual dating, same-sex relationship, or marriage.
The latest feature of Match is the geo-location feature, allowing you to see other users who have literally crossed your path. Free accounts can send a “wink” to show interest and browse profiles. Messaging members via email or instant messaging would require you to get a paid account. You may find different rates for Match.com when you research online because the cost to join the site depends on the member’s location. Generally, a 1-month subscription costs $31.99; a 3-month subscription for standard costs $17.99 or $20.99 for Value Plan; and a 6-month subscription costs $15.99 for Standard Plan or $18.99 for Value Plan. Match.com even offer a matchmaking guarantee, wherein you’ll receive another 6 months for free if you do not find someone in 6 months.
In the UK, eHarmony is a very popular dating site, which helps about one million singles to get to know and meet their special someone online. It claims to be responsible for 56,000 babies and 70,000 marriages in the UK alone. There’s no search option in eHarmony. The focus of eHarmony is compatibility matchmaking rather than physical traits. On a daily basis, eHarmony delivers around 10 system-picked matches, emphasizing quality over quantity. This site is perfect for those who are seeking serious and long-term relationships. You should be single, divorced, or widowed and straight man or woman to join the site. Compatible Partners is a sister company of eHarmony, which was launched in 2009 that caters to same-sex relationships. In the US, the paid membership of eHarmony include 1-month ($59.95), 3-month ($39.95/month), 6-month ($29.95/month), and 12-month subscription ($19.95/month).
Free Sites Versus Paid Online Dating Sites
There is a blurred dividing line between free and paid subscription dating sites. It is free to register and browse to most of the paid dating sites and even those that claim to be ‘free’ sites offer paid or premium features. Coincidentally, Match (a paid site) and Tinder (a free site) are owned by the same company. It just goes to show that every company wants to have an edge to attract members and stay on the site to keep generating revenue. Their marketing tactics are so impressive, in addition to the features and services they provide.
While subscription dating sites usually have matching algorithms, most free sites offer basic and advanced search options. Free sites are free-flowing and tend to be more flexible as to the type of relationship allowed, whereas subscription sites usually have a target audience or niche. All dating sites claim that they employ strict security measures to keep their members safe while enjoying their online dating experience. However, paid sites to show that they have stricter verification process as compared to free sites, which is crucial for online safety, avoiding identity theft, and proliferation of fake accounts. Obviously, paid sites try to keep their good reputation by investing in their online security system.
The final verdict actually depends on your needs and wants. Are you a serious dater? Or are you just looking for a casual date? Free sites are good for first-time users, so they can try and test the site if it’s suitable for them. Paid dating sites are highly beneficial for those who have tried the free version and are ready to invest to take their dating journey to the next level in a safer platform. So, what do you prefer? Happy online dating!