Online dating sites have been a favorite meeting spot for single people for almost as long as the internet has existed. It’s easy to see why. As technology has improved, so have the dating websites, where people don’t have to just trade emails but they can text each other and do video chats before actually meeting each other.
“Online is still one of the best ways to meet people who are seriously searching for love,” says Amy Schoen, a professional life, dating and relationship coach in Rockville, Maryland, and the founder of the website Motivated to Marry.
Of course, online dating websites don’t always work, which is why relationship coaches still exist, and they don’t really make the actual act of dating easier — they just make it potentially easier for single people to meet potential dates.
Making things more complicated is that not all dating websites are alike. If you go the online route, deciding what type of online dating website or dating app is right for you is a little like finding the right partner. Every dating site is different, and you might find some that aren’t a good match for you. You might feel, for instance, that one dating website doesn’t offer enough details about a potential suitor, and another website, you may feel, gives you too much information.
Read on for a list of some of the most popular free dating sites. Keep in mind that not all of these are absolutely free — some have free components that are worth your consideration, however.
— Facebook Dating.
— Plenty of Fish.
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Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people in a hurry.
Bumble is pretty simple to use and navigate. Bumble enables users to find a match by swiping right if they like the person or left if they don’t. For heterosexual couples, the woman must send a message first, and with same-sex couples, either person can initiate contact.
Bumble is free. You can search profiles, make matches and send messages. Bumble also offers premium upgrades that allow you to do things like screen matches based on certain qualities or criteria, like level of education. Prices vary by location and membership tier; listed prices can be hard to find, until you actually sign up for the premium upgrades; around $21.99 a week seems to be the average that people will pay. You can also pay around $249.99 for a lifetime subscription of the premium service. The lifetime membership would seem to be aimed at somebody who doesn’t plan on looking for “the one” and believes they might be dating the rest of their life.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people who like Facebook and want more of it.
Facebook entered the dating scene with Facebook.com/dating, and given that so many people are familiar with how Facebook works, it certainly seems worth trying if you’re hoping to meet someone.
With this free service, you can set up a dating profile, which won’t be shared with anyone outside of the Facebook dating app. In other words, your friends and family on Facebook won’t be able to see that you’re a member of Facebook Dating. As a bonus, you can use your Facebook profile to automatically fill in your Facebook Dating profile. It’s only available on the Facebook app on your phone and not on the Facebook website. Note that you need to have a Facebook account in good standing to use this free service.
Also worth noting — Facebook makes a big effort to make sure that your Facebook friends won’t know you’re on Facebook Dating. But it does have a feature called “Secret Crush.” You can list people from your Facebook friends and Instagram followers as a secret crush (up to nine people). If they ever put up a Facebook Dating profile, they will learn that somebody has a “crush” on them — but they won’t know who. If they add you to their crush list, you’ll both be matched.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for anyone who likes to compartmentalize their thinking.
It is free to use, but like many services on this list, you can navigate it more easily if you pay for a premium version. Prices vary for the premium version, but it starts at around $29.99 a month, and then the price per month goes down after that if you get a three- or six-month membership. Hinge, so far, is only available on phones and not on desktops or laptops. It has a pretty good reputation for finding serious relationships, or at least it wants to be a contender. Its advertising tagline is, “designed to be deleted.” In other words, use Hinge, find your significant other and, with any luck, you’ll never use a dating website again.
Hinge has some fun ways to share information and possibly determine if you’re a good match with someone, like having categories labeled as virtues, vitals and vices: Virtues include interesting things about you, like your career, where you went to school and your political leanings. Vitals include things like whether you have kids and where you live. Vices, as you might guess, reveal if you smoke, drink or do drugs or some other type of activity that may be a turn-off or turn-on for potential matches.
[READ: How LGBTQ+ Couples Manage Their Finances.]
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for serious relationships.
Match is one of the best-known and oldest dating sites. While Match.com’s full services aren’t free, it belongs in this list because it’s a well-known website that offers a free 72-hour trial period.
In other words, it’s a perfectly good dating site, but if you’re looking for free dating apps, you should probably look elsewhere. You can set up a profile and then search through profiles for free, indefinitely, but if you want to contact someone, you’ll have to pay for the service unless you’re still in the free three-day trial period.
As with many of these sites, prices vary. Match has premium prices and standard prices. You may, for instance, pay for a three-month standard package (around $35.99 a month, which adds up to $107.97 over three months). But you can get longer plans that last up to 12 months. You’ll fork over more money at once, but you’ll pay less per month. Of course, with Match and other dating sites where users pay for several months or a year at a time, there is a risk that you could pay for a standard plan that lasts a year and actually meet your match in the first month.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people who want to know a lot about their date before meeting them.
This popular dating website and app is free, allowing you to browse profiles and reach out to anyone you want to connect with.
That said, you can pay for premium services, and those premium services can make the site a little easier to navigate. For instance, with the paid version, there are unlimited “likes” and no outside ads. You can also see who likes you before you like them. However, with the free version, you don’t know who has clicked “like” on your profile unless you also “like” them. Prices vary, but if you pay for one month, you’ll pay around $35.
OKCupid offers questions that people can answer after they’ve put together their profile, and they can add personalized comments to their answers. With many members, you may feel that you know just about everything you can possibly know about them — before you actually send a message.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for seniors.
As advertised on its many TV commercials, OurTime is for people 50 years old and up. It isn’t the only dating site for seniors, but it’s one of the most well known. Like Match.com, OurTime is a paid service.
While it isn’t free, you can browse profiles for free. That’s the loophole that gets this dating site on this list.
As for the prices, they vary, but you can expect to pay $35 a month, with the price dropping considerably per week if you sign up for the six-month plan. That said, if you get the six month plan, you’re paying for all of that time in one lump sum, and so there’s really no way to pay for the service and feel like it’s cheap.
[READ: Track and Manage Subscriptions With These Apps.]
Plenty of Fish
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people who want a lot of choices.
Plenty of Fish reports having more than 150 million members in 20 countries. That is, indeed, a lot of fish.
As its name suggests, the app features a wide selection of dating profiles. It is free, but you’ll probably find it far easier to use if you pay for the premium services. It does have a reputation for having more dating bots — as in fake profiles — than some other dating websites. Still, it may be worth checking out.
Prices vary, but you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of approximately $20 a month for three months or $10 a month for 12 months. You’ll pay for those months in one lump sum, at the start of the membership. You can send and receive messages for free; the premium membership is an ad-free version that allows users to search more easily, using filtering options such as education and income.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people who don’t need much information about a date before making a decision.
Similar to Bumble, with this popular dating app (also available on desktop), you can swipe through profiles — albeit with scant information on each potential match. As you look at photos, you can select a heart icon or an X; alternatively, you can swipe to the right if you like a profile or swipe to the left if you don’t. If you like somebody who also likes your photo, you’ll be alerted that you have a match, and you’ll be able to message your potential date.
While the app is free, you can pay for Tinder Plus, Tinder Gold or Tinder Platinum. The website, like many of the dating websites on this list, is not overly transparent about its pricing, however. You’ll probably pay between $4.50 and $26.99 a month, depending on what membership tier you choose. But it’ll be unclear until you set up a profile and whip out your credit card.
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Best Free Dating Sites originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 02/01/23: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.