At first glance, it is not quite obvious what differentiates OkCupid from other dating apps. Match, which is also the parent company of Hinge, Tinder, and POF (Plenty of Fish), owns it but OkCupid does not have its own gimmick the way other apps do. In an age where Tinder makes swiping easy and Bumble puts all the power in the woman’s hands, it is easy to discount OkCupid as a generic also-ran. It is not until you complete the signup process that you realize it gathers enough information about you to make informed match suggestions, which saves you the time you would otherwise spend sorting through hundreds of profiles. You can also use most of its features without paying a dime. OkCupid does not quite unseat our Editors’ Choice, Match, with its equally robust profiles and user-friendly interface, but it is a solid alternative for those seeking long-term love.
Getting Started With OkCupid
OkCupid is available as an iOS app and an Android app, as well as on the desktop. The signup process starts with a lofty promise: You are About To Go On Better Dates. Like most dating apps, OkCupid really wants you to sign up using Facebook, but unlike other more mobile-focused platforms, it asks for an email instead of a phone number as an alternative signup option. That is a small distinction but an important one—it shows that OkCupid is not just a swipe-and-like mobile environment. It’s also interested in making sure you’re not a robot—you go through more CAPTCHA screens getting started than it takes to sign up for a banking service. The trade-off for this increased individual privacy is that it is much easier to fake a profile with an email address compared with using a phone number.
The process takes you through the usual requests, such as your name, age, location, and an appreciated amount of options for nonbinary users. You can select up to five descriptors including cis, Hijra, gender-fluid, and two-spirit. There is an empowering empathy in allowing users to pick a true gender description, not just a this-or-that sex designation. You are also offered the option to be included in searches for both men and women if that is what you are into, independent of how you identify, as well as choose your specific pronouns.
You are allowed to choose if you are looking for hookups, friendships, short-term dating, or long-term dating, and you can note if you are open to non-monogamist relationships. Those who identify as pansexual will love the “I’m open to everyone” option. After a short self-summary, you get into a quiz that OkCupid uses to help calculate your best matches. There is questions about religion, astrology, and politics, plus a few to deduce how messy you are. You can tell OkCupid if a particular question is more important than another is when being used to match you with a fellow user. You can also opt to answer more questions at any time. On other profiles, you can see questions they have answered that you have not and can then answer them yourself. OkCupid’s quiz is a nice balance between eharmony’s exhaustive questionnaire and Tinder, which barely makes you upload a photo before you can start searching.
Finally, having expressed your opinions, wants, and needs, you are ready to drop yourself into the dating pool.
Interface and Profiles
Finding people you are into is straightforward. You start in a section called Double Take, which is a parade of profiles where you can swipe left to pass, or right to show your interest. The feature is very Tinder-like, though OkCupid does not make you pay extra to undo a left-swipe like its competitor does. User profiles offer up a selection of photos that are easy to open and swipe through, but it actually takes a few extra steps to get full-screen images. You are never far from the profile’s personality sections, be it age, education, or an individual’s bio.
More importantly, the users the app returns are quantified in a meaningful way. OkCupid gives you a percentage rating of how you match based on your profile questions. There’s an overall rating at the top, but then also a breakdown further down the profile that gives you an idea of how you match up on lifestyle, religion, and other topics. Plus, you can click into the percentage to get even more details on compatibility.
You can click into the Lifestyle and Dating sections to better discover how you match with a particular person. It is surprisingly effective in helping determine if you really want to reach out to the person, giving you more personality insight into the user than the canned yes or no preferences you get with other apps. Yes, it takes more time to review a potential match than just looking at a picture and swiping, but the idea is to lead to a more qualified match not based on looks alone.
The membership seems more diverse in terms of interests than on other apps. You might open a profile for a “dominant introvert” who calls herself “a very sadistic person.” Cool party, OkCupid.
Digging deeper into the search tool, at some point the app had somehow neglected to save preferred age range, and decided to show women interested in women. Even after additional filtering and adjusting, the search results continued to serve up people that definitely had no interest in aging tech-writer dudes.
That said, it is nice to have the option to limit search results to users that have actually been online within the last day, week, month, or even year—cutting out anyone who signed up and split a long time ago.
You might spend so long in the app without being asked for money that you might actually think maybe the company does not want any. You would be wrong. While it is free to browse and even contact other members, OkCupid will happily take your cash for the upgraded features it is the premium A-List service. However, you will not get the hard obnoxious sell right after swiping past a couple profiles. As with other apps, you can sign up for a few different kinds of programs that unlock varying levels of access and customization.
Along with an ad-free experience, A-Listers get more refined searching functionality and the option to receive read-receipts from their messages. Aside from one introductory message, free users can only message people they have liked who also liked them back. It cuts down on random spam. However, with unlimited likes and the ability to see which folks like them already, A-List users can effectively send messages to anyone who might be interested. Regular A-List status is reasonably priced, starting at $9.95 per month (the per-month price drops further the longer you commit for).
Premium A-List status is quite a jump—starting at $25 per month—but it gets you everything at the regular A-List level plus it buys your profile free Boosts, giving you more of a chance of being found by other members. You also get the ability to see other people’s answers to certain profile questions before you answer, essentially letting you game the system to force a commonality. You can also buy Boosts without upgrading for $1.99 each, or less if, you buy them in bulk.
Even with these extra charges, there is no arguing that OkCupid is one of the more-affordable dating apps. Most of its competitors, with the exception of POF, charge to let you contact your matches. Even OkCupid’s Premium-A-List plan is less expensive than the standard memberships from Match and eharmony. That said, not having to pay does open the door to less-serious users who are only looking to browse, and it doesn’t offer the safety and privacy features built into Bumble.
Social Distancing With OkCupid
OkCupid’s affordability is an even bigger bonus during the COVID-19 quarantine. After all, why spend more money on dating apps when you cannot even meet your potential match in real life? That said, OkCupid has not pivoted toward virtual dating as much as it could have. The only way it really acknowledges the crisis, outside of a blog post on user behavior, is with a new question that asks, “Does coronavirus affect your dating life?” How could it not?
Competing apps offer much more aggressive virtual dating features. Bumble and eharmony have video chat. So do Match and POF, which are owned by the same company that owns OkCupid. Hinge helps you and your partner set up a virtual date on a different app. Facebook not only has Facebook Dating but its new experimental app Tuned for helping quarantined couples stay connected.
OkCupid is not for the hookup set. Its data-driven approach to matches is more in line with people looking for meaningful, long-term relationships. Its meaty profiles give you a lot to chew on before reaching out to a potential match, and it does not stick its hand out too soon to ask for cash. The extensive profile-building process also means more data-driven matches than you will find on comparable apps. In short, OkCupid is a more affordable eharmony. Our Editors’ Choice dating app, Match, also has robust profiles, along with a fun, easy-to-use interface, but OkCupid is a worthy competitor. For those looking for a date for tonight rather than something more long-term, check out our other Editors’ Choice, Tinder.
Most of the app can be used for free
Inclusive identification options for gender and sexual identities
Search function sometimes returns errant results
Free interface serves ads and may invite casual browsers
No video chat