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Are free dating apps worth your time?

A girl relaxing with a coffee in her living room at home and smiling while video calling her partner with her smartphone.
Girl sitting indoors and smiling at her phone with a coffee in hand. Willie B. Thomas / Getty Images

Are you new to dating apps? If you're considering signing up for the first time, you may be wondering if free dating apps are worth your time. Most dating apps that you can download to your phone offer free versions and paid subscriptions, leaving it up to users like you to decide whether it's worth it to pay for enhanced features.

We explore just how worthwhile the free dating app experience is below. We also take a look at what technical perks and advantages tend to come with premium subscriptions for popular dating apps like OKCupid, which offers basic, premium and incognito plans starting at $20 per month.

Are free dating apps worth it?

Free dating apps may offer a limited experience for anyone interested in online dating, but in nearly every case the essentials are there. The free version of apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Her all let users of all ages do things like make a personal profile, browse potential matches, send likes, and chat with matches right in the app itself.

This is already enough to help you meet matches and small-talk your way to a first date. Many of these apps offer inclusivity and diversity at the ground level as well, so to speak. Personal details like gender identities or dating preferences are not locked behind a premium subscription.

What is reserved for a paid subscription are additional features that could potentially enhance your dating app experience. LGBTQ+ users may appreciate expanded search filters or secure, in-app access to local or community events, for example. 

Take our online dating survey to find out which free dating app is right for you.

Are your chances of getting a match any different with a free dating app?

If you look at the numbers, paid users and free users seem to report similar outcomes. 

One 2023 Pew Research study found that, of the 35% of users that have paid to use a dating app, around 58% gave positive feedback. About 50% of users that used only free dating apps spoke positively about their experiences. Premium users won out in terms of positive outcomes, but only marginally.

Does this mean you should never pay for dating apps? No. If you're serious about online dating, there are plenty of premium dating apps that offer new and interesting features that are worth the costs. Premium Match users, for example, gain access to local in-person events (and at a discounted price) -- and that can make a huge difference for users looking for safe and interesting spaces to meet people.

Match offers two paid subscriptions alongside a free tier: standard (starting at $22 per month) and premium (starting at $24 per month).

What are the best paid features on dating apps?

Screenshot showing Hinge+ benefits (Send unlimited likes, Set more dating preferences, Sort all incoming likes, Browse by who's new or nearby) and HingeX features (Enhanced recommendations, Skip the line, Priority likes). A button at the bottom advertises 1 week of Hinge+ for $16.99
Hinge offers a number of exclusive features for its premium plans, Hinge+ and HingeX. Plan prices may differ. Hinge/CBS Essentials/Tom Horton

Hinge, one of the best dating apps for a serious relationship in 2024, has three tier options for subscribers: a free plan plus two premium tiers, Hinge+ and HingeX. 

Hinge lets free users browse and filter potential matches by gender identity, location or race. Free users get a limited number of likes to use per day and can only see the most recent profile for any incoming likes. 

Users that sign up for either premium account can unlock a more robust Hinge experience. This includes unlimited likes and expanded options and filters. HingeX (the app's most expensive tier) takes it a step further with exclusive features such as enhanced recommendations.

Like most premium dating apps, Hinge prices vary depending on the length of your subscription -- basically, you pay less the more months you pay for up front.

Premium Hinge subscriptions cost $33 to $50 per month (with lower monthly prices for three- or six-month bundles). For users that don't want to commit to a long-term premium plan, Hinge now offers weekly plans as well, starting at $17 per week. 

Here's a deeper look at features that are usually behind a paywall:

  • Unlimited likes: If your goal is to get your profile in front of as many matches as possible every day, this is the feature you want.
  • Expanded search filters and preferences for personal and lifestyle details: If you have any deal breakers, this can help you filter out unwanted matches.
  • Various "modes": Travel mode is a common feature that lets you change your location and see people outside of your immediate area. Some apps may also offer an incognito mode that hides your profile from everyone except those you like or match with.
  • Full view of everyone who likes you: When it comes to incoming likes, some apps only let you see one person at a time. Others restrict this completely, making you pay to see any and all likes (cough, cough, Tinder).

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