Well, technically, yes. All of the major dating sites include free apps to download and use from your phone. But though you can download an app for free, many dating apps require a membership to actually use it. Some of them offer free plans with limited usage, but require a paid subscription for features such as advanced matchmaking services, access to a wider user base, and the ability to send or receive messages. Others still might offer free trials that let you use the app for a limited amount of time before paying to subscribe or losing your account.
It’s important to differentiate between free dating apps and those that require a membership. Zoosk and Match.com are 2 dating apps that boast free sign up and offer many opportunities for meeting people without having to shell out for a subscription. But even on these sites, advanced features do require a paid subscription and are likely to increase your chances of meeting someone.
The most famous dating apps that are entirely free include Tinder, OkCupid, and Bumble (though even these apps have optional upgrades that you can only access by paying.)
Naturally, free dating apps will attract more users due to the lack of price. Look no further than Tinder for evidence of that; the free app has racked up millions and millions of users worldwide, in no short part because there’s zero investment needed.
Of course, there’s a counterpoint as well. First off, even subscription apps have no shortage of users. Look at Zoosk and Elite Singles, which boast 35 million and 13 million users, respectively, despite the fact that many of their services cost money.
Secondly, there’s an argument to be made that paid dating apps bring more serious users, since the financial investment may thwart off those without serious intent. Of course there are plenty of serious singles on free dating apps as well, but it might just be harder to sift through everybody to find them.
When deciding on a paid or free dating app, it helps to think about your goals. While there are exceptions to every rule, chances are that people willing to pay for a dating app are more invested in actually meeting someone and may be more interested in a serious relationship. Free dating apps are more likely to attract singles from all over the spectrum, from those looking for something serious to those interested in simply seeing what’s out there or finding a casual partner.
Sometimes but not always. It’s true that the high-profile membership apps such as Zoosk, EliteSingles, and Eharmony are known for taking painstaking measures to keep their clients safe and protect the platform from scammers and bad actors. However, some free dating apps are equally vigilant about security.
Ultimately, the more you pay for an app, the more features and policies you can expect. But there are always exceptions to the rule, and that doesn’t mean you should write off a dating app just because it’s free. OkCupid is one free app with a legitimate platform and respectable security and privacy policies.
Lastly, when it comes to online dating, the general rule should be to exercise caution no matter what app you’re using. While paid apps do offer more vetting and security measures, ultimately it’s still important to be vigilant, follow your instincts, and take extra precautions when going on a first date, such as meeting in a public space and letting a friend know your plans.