Since the release of Tinder in 2013, dating apps have been popularized as the new frontier in romance. Online dating presents a seemingly infinite dating pool, allowing you to connect with people across the globe in hopes of finding your soulmate. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, OkCupid, Match, ChristianMingle- no one is embarrassed about meeting online anymore now that dating apps are plentiful and popular. However, the new challenge is making sure you are using the right dating app. With so many to choose from, it can feel overwhelming to decide which platform will suit your needs the best. As more apps look to scale up their content through premium memberships, you also need to decide how much money you’re willing to invest in your dating life. We’ll walk you through the benefits of free and paid dating apps before giving you a final verdict on which style of dating app is the best for you.
Most dating apps offer an initial free membership with basic perks and amenities. If you’re not sure about which dating site you should invest money in or which app to download, testing them out for free first through their standard memberships is a great idea. Here are several other pros of using free dating apps versus their payment-based counterparts.
- No Financial Investment Needed
This pro may feel kind of obvious, but it’s still a big one. Not having to spend any money upfront is a huge factor for many people looking to get started with a dating app. Most people, especially younger singles, don’t have hundreds of dollars a year to spend on dating software subscriptions, so being able to still use sites without premium memberships is a big deal.
- More Access to Matches
Sites with free memberships boast higher user rates. There’s a reason platforms like Tinder or Hinge are the most popular apps on the market: they’re accessible to everyone. This broadens your dating pool and gives you even more options when it comes to matches and potential friendships or relationships. In fact, one study found that more than ⅓ of all internet users in the US have used a dating app in the last sixth months, meaning there are approximately 85 million potential matches out there using free apps.
- Limited Access to Site Features
Many dating platforms limit access to certain features on their site in order to encourage others to purchase premium subscriptions. The most common limitation is messaging options, meaning that you may find yourself unable to initiate conversations with certain people based on what the bounds of your subscription are. Some sites don’t even allow men to message unless they purchase premium subscriptions, which can be a huge issue.
- Scam Profiles
Free dating apps often come with many scammers looking to make some money off unsuspecting users. Catfish profiles abound, with users taking pictures off the internet and pretending to be other people in order to get personal information and even money in some circumstances. These profiles are far more likely to appear on free sites, as it is easier to make a profile and there are not often review processes to verify the identity of users.
Paid Dating Apps
Payment based dating apps mostly operate on a “freemium” pricing model: an initial free membership with limited features and access that can be upgraded to premium membership with full access and special perks. Dating sites rely on psychology to get you to upgrade; the psychology of gaming suggests that the more you use apps, the more tempting it is to advance to the next level and upgrade to a payment-based option. We put together the pros and cons of payment based dating sites to review in comparison to their free membership counterparts.
- Increased Access to Features
Paid memberships often come with increased access and additional features that revitalize your dating app experience. One common feature is the ability to see who matched with you prior to your decision to match with them. Users love this bonus feature because it allows them to see who’s left in the dating pool, adjust expectations, and make decisions on what tradeoffs they are willing to make in meeting potential partners.
- Expand Your Location
Premium memberships often also let you expand your geographic radius and pull in more matches. This can be a huge benefit in highly populated areas like cities or other metropolitan areas. When you don’t want to be limited by the few blocks around your house, upgrading your membership and your match radius is likely the solution for you.
- Membership Costs Add Up, Fast
There’s really only one con to a paid dating app, but it’s a big one. Premium memberships can become very expensive very fast. A Tinder Gold membership will cost you an average of $20-29 a month depending on how many months you buy at a time, while Bumble runs an average of $25/month. These prices are on the lower end; eHarmony and Match’s premium options can cost upwards of $40 or $50 a month, landing at several hundreds of dollars a year. For someone who’s just getting into the dating game, dropping that much cash at once is a huge commitment, especially when there’s no guarantee it will pay off.
At the end of the day, the benefits of paid dating apps are hard to deny. Increased access, better quality matches, and less scam or catfish profiles are all big wins in the online dating world, and they can make the hassle of trying to find love so much easier. But the initial cost is a daunting investment, and when there are so many dating platforms available it feels foolish to commit to one without testing them all. Your best bet is likely to test out a few different platforms using their free membership option. Once you find one that’s perfect for you, then go ahead and upgrade. Love is worth the wait.