Dating apps offer many ways to find love, but choosing between the many services is somewhat of an illusion. Many are owned by the same handful of companies and tend to blur together. EliteSingles—a service from Sparks Network, the company behind AttractiveWorld, Christian Mingle, eDarling, JDate, and Zoosk—falls into this category. It is a dating app that asks smart questions and provides deep (if familiar) profiles. Unfortunately, EliteSingles carries a high price, and its major selling point, a focus on so-called “elite” users, is another illusion. Compared to Match and Tinder, the Editors’ Choice winners for dating apps, EliteSingles does not do enough to stand out from the pack.
EliteSingles is available on the web, as well as on Android and iOS devices. We primarily tested on the web and an iPhone 11.
The app leads with what might be its best feature. When you sign up, you take a quiz to determine a score that EliteSingles’ algorithm uses to pair you with potential picks. The quiz only takes a few minutes, unlike eHarmony’s lengthy questionnaire or OkCupid’s seemingly endless questions. However, we was surprised how deep the experience got within such a limited series of questions.
The questions are vague, yet targeted enough that answering enough of them painted an accurate picture of my personality. “I always proceed according to plan.” “I’m loyal.” “I’m interested in the arts.” You move a slider to express how much a certain trait applies to you, along with how much you value that trait in a partner. After all, just because I only drink once per month does not mean my partner cannot party. EliteSingles also asks you about the traits that you seek in a potential partner, such as age, location, and gender.
At first, we was wary that EliteSingles positioned itself as a place for “wealthy” or “educated” singles. It sounded gross and elitist, like high-end dating apps that put users on a waitlist. Fortunately, there is no actual gatekeeping here. You enter your education level, job, and salary. You do that on other dating apps, too. EliteSingles will not give you the boot if you make below six figures. EliteSingles wants to attract quality users more with marketing than anything concrete. The support staff also says it weeds out inactive and unvetted profiles, so you can trust the matches are real and viable.
Interface and Profiles
EliteSingles is a flagship service from Spark Networks, and it is an app the company is so proud of that it uses the same template across other apps. The interface weaves various bits of biographical data, from your favorite activities to your interest in having children, into slick and straightforward profiles. Spark Networks also owns Zoosk, but EliteSingles is a much smoother experience on a technical level. Like Hinge, EliteSingles lets you favorite individual profile parts alongside the profile as a whole. You can browse through approved pictures in the separate gallery tab.
You have several ways to search for profiles, depending on how much you value the matching score. EliteSingles can serve up five new matches every day. The Have You Met feature puts profiles, with all their information, into a swipe-friendly, Tinder-style interface. These Wildcard profiles may not fit your criteria—they do not even display a matching score number—but the feature hopes you will consider people you may not have thought of otherwise. If you are truly adventurous, you can search for any and all users under the What If tab, and filter from there.
There is nothing explicitly stopping anyone from signing up for an EliteSingles account, but the paywall may weed out some people. Free users can receive matches, like profiles, and send matches prefab icebreaker messages. That said, you must subscribe to see likes and visitors, like more than 20 Wildcard matches per day, and send real messages. All photos are also blurred for free users, a particularly stingy restriction among dating apps.
It does not help that EliteSingles’ prices sit toward the higher end among premium dating services. The premium subscription costs $100 for three months, $110 for six months, and $210 for a year. Match and eHarmony are pricier, but both services offer more features and wider audiences. Match also has a far more robust free tier. It does not help that SilverSingles, Spark Networks’ dating app for users more than 50 years old, offers virtually the same experience at a lower price.
What do the different membership options offer?
Social Distancing With EliteSingles
Eventually, we will be able to freely date again without having to worry about COVID-19. Until then, we must remember to socially distance while looking for love. The EliteSingles relationship blog talks about quarantine dating strategies, which is a quite a popular topic. Unfortunately, when it comes to video dating, the blog recommends using video conferencing software, such as Skype and Zoom, because you cannot video call from within the EliteSingles app.
Other dating apps offer built-in video calling, including Bumble, eHarmony, Match, and Plenty of Fish. Tinder is testing the feature as an experiment. Facebook even released an entirely separate app, Tuned, to help quarantined couples stay connected.
EliteSingles works well, and does its best to quickly connect people who might honestly like each other. Still, the app lacks standout features, which makes the limited free functionality and high price an especially tough sell. Match and Tinder, our Editors’ Choice winners for dating apps, stir true passion.
Short, thought-provoking questionnaire
Expensive, with few free features
No video chat
Questionable “Elite” branding
Want to chat and message with fellow singles, ASAP? Plenty of Fish—or as it’s commonly known, POF—bills itself as the dating app where the most conversations take place. The company is serious about getting you talking to people and claims a billion messages are sent on its platform every month. What is the secret to all of that message activity? POF is one of the few dating apps that allow you to contact any fellow users without matching or subscribing. That makes it one of the most immediately usable dating apps. While it is not as feature-rich or easy-to-use as our Editors’ Choice, Match, it is a viable alternative for singles on a budget who are looking for love.
Getting Started With Plenty of Fish
Founded in 2003, POF is one of the more mature dating services and predates the smartphone app era. It has successfully transitioned into the modern age, with both an iOS app and Android app, but it still has a desktop version if you prefer to go old-school.
As mentioned, POF is here to get you talking to folks. When you sign in, a Who’s Chatting Now counter shows you the tens of thousands of conversations happening at that moment, although what qualifies as chatting is not defined. Rather than ease you in one question at a time, POF hits you up with a parade of questions on a single screen, which makes the signup process a bit less user-friendly than those of competing apps like Match and eHarmony, which have a more streamlined, if exhaustive, process. Our other Editors’ Choice, Tinder, is geared more toward the hookup scene, so it prioritizes photos during sign-up.
An extensive CAPTCHA sequence similar to, but not as extensive as, the one you go through signing up for OkCupid follows. (Since the two apps share the same parent company, the use of the same tools is not surprising.) You then face a barrage of dating preference questions similar to the ones other apps ask you, but a few interesting ones stood out in our testing. For example, POF asks if you drive a car and how ambitious you are. In the marital status section, it also offers a Not Single/Not Looking option. That status does not, however, preclude you from having to answer a question about whom you want to date.
Other questions include your income and information about your parents and siblings. After adding a brief description of yourself and a few interests, along with a photo, you can start looking for matches. One appreciated safety feature is POF’s warning to not give away too much personal information, such as your name, phone number, or address on your profile page. There is no option to link your Spotify and Instagram accounts, nor a way to provide any other evidence of your existence outside of POF.
Interface and Profiles
POF’s interface used to be a bit simplistic and fairly dated. Fortunately, recent redesigns have done away with that My First Dating Site vibe, especially on mobile. Unlike other apps though, POF puts messaging front and center, prioritizing your inbox and a list of users who POF deems more likely to respond to messages. Including the Will Respond profiles is a nice way to highlight members who are most likely to give you the time of day. However, you are free to ignore these guidelines and message anyone you want from anywhere at any time.
OkCupid also offers users the opportunity to message for free but doesn’t make it quite as easy as POF does, and messages are limited to introductions to folks you’ve already liked. The only limits for POF accounts in good standing (not blocked or flagged as inappropriate) are that you can only message 55 new people per 24 hours and your age gap must be less than 14 years, or 9 years if you’re under 22. This is pretty generous. As with any free dating app, though, you run the chance of encountering casual users who want to dabble without committing to a paying plan. If you find yourself receiving too much spam, you can disable messaging on your profile.
The search function operates with your standard filter options—age, intent, ethnicity, and body type—plus the ability to search by the length of your potential match’s longest relationship. (“You haven’t spent more than eight years with someone? Then you are not for me!”) You can also sort by income if you are looking for a sugar daddy or mommy. There is a Nearby function for when you just need to chat with someone within 0.5 miles and a More Prospects field at the bottom of most screens to keep you “fishing” longer. Unfortunately, even if you are not being terribly picky, your search might still net a No Results Found response or your search will be broadened for you.
If your search nets someone you would like to reach out to, the process is quick and painless. Profiles show the person’s photo, age, and screen name at the top—and whether they are currently online. To help you start the conversation, the screen also shows a list of things the user enjoys. POF prompts you to mention something specific about their profile, likely in an effort to keep the “lol u up jk” messages to a minimum. You also have the option to send the message as Priority, which floats you to the top of the receiver’s inbox. Of course, that will cost you extra (more on that in a minute).
Individual profiles feel more or less like spreadsheets—tons of data, with nothing particularly highlighted or featured. The Meet Me function works like Tinder, with the option to swipe left or right to quickly scan through profiles (an option most apps have now).
Plenty of Fish trumpets its number of conversations for one main reason—messaging anyone is free on the app. That does not mean POF is not going to ask for your money, though. If someone likes you, the app prompts you to upgrade your account to see who it is. Upgraded accounts also get access to a list of the newest users (who respond more to messages, or so POF says) and you can unlock the extended profile of all users, which gives answers to a few extra questions and preferences. Plans start at $19.99 for a single month, or as low as $9.99 per month for an eight-month commitment. These fees are on the low side compared with apps like Match and eHarmony, which charge upwards of $40 for a monthly subscription.
With the upgraded plan, you can also see if you have messaged someone before—which is helpful if you spend extensive time on the app, take advantage of its generous messaging limits, or do not want to accidentally and awkwardly re-engage with someone you forgot you previously wrote off. You also get receipts when your messages have been read, and, with some super-sneaky tracking, you can even see when someone views your profile and when a particular person was last online.
Like other dating sites, POF lets you boost your profile using Tokens, which cost $1.69 to $1.99, depending on how many you buy, along with Super Yes-es which are basically a way to say you really think you like someone. You can also use Tokens to make your message a priority, which, as mentioned, pushes it to the top of the receiver’s inbox. It is the dating app version of jumping the line at the club.
Social Distancing With Plenty of Fish
The COVID-19 pandemic has most of us either locked down or doing our best to stay away from other people to stop the spread of the disease. To compensate, dating apps have offered their own virtual dating options to replace physical interactions. POF’s solution is unique: Mobile users can live-stream themselves and interact with live streams from other members. Beyond using video to build intimate interpersonal relationships, multiple people watching these streams builds a neat little POF community. You can even play streaming games or watch dating advice lectures on, say, dating during a quarantine.
Other dating apps with built-in video chat include Bumble and eHarmony. The company that owns POF also owns Hinge, Match, OkCupid, and Tinder. However, out of those only Match offers video chatting. Tinder lets you match with people beyond just who is nearby. Hinge lets you set up a video chat on a different app. Meanwhile, Facebook Dating takes advantage of fellow Facebook services such as Messenger and the experimental Tuned app for quarantined couples.
Get the Message
Considering that most dating apps put some kind of limitation on how you message other users, POF offers a huge value by removing basically all barriers for this feature. It is not as full-featured as our Editors’ Choice dating app, Match, but it is a good way to get your feet wet in the dating pool without spending a ton of money. In addition, even if you do choose to subscribe, the fees are lower than those of its competitors. Its prompts to start meaningful conversations with other members makes Plenty of Fish feel like less of a meat market than apps like Tinder, which are based more on photos and less on conversations.
Very few messaging limits
Many prompts to send quality messages
Free messaging could mean more spam users
Can’t link outside accounts like Instagram or Spotify
Give any social network enough time and eventually it will become a dating app. When people have a platform to communicate with others, they cannot help but eventually start saying how they really feel. There are plenty of apps designed specifically for dating, but who among us hasn’t been thirsty enough to slide into a DM on LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, or, yes, Facebook. Facebook Dating tries to split the difference. It is explicitly a dating app, but one that takes full advantage of the social features its social media parent company has to offer. In addition, it is very free. However, if you want to find love without the threat of Zuckerberg looking over your shoulder, we recommend paying for one of our Editors’ Choice picks, Match or Tinder.
Getting Started With Facebook Dating
Many dating apps give you the option of setting up an account through Facebook. Facebook Dating is already Facebook. You do not download it as a standalone app. Instead, it’s a part of the existing Facebook Android and iOS mobile app that you have to opt into to start using. We tested on an iPhone 11. Currently, there is no desktop version.
Turning your Facebook profile into your dating profile immediately sets off privacy alarm bells. The European Union forced Facebook to delay the launch of the service so regulators could look at security measures. Who can blame them considering Facebook’s history of privacy failures, from the Cambridge Analytica scandal to settling lawsuits with civil rights groups about microtargeted ads.
However, Facebook claims that your Facebook Dating data is kept separate from the rest of Facebook. We braced myself for the embarrassment of stumbling across a close friend looking for love, of accidentally revealing our (test) relationship status to family. Thankfully, every profile we encountered was a total stranger. Awkwardness avoided.
Besides, Facebook Dating does not need your data; it just needs your body. To survive, Dating apps require a large thriving community of singles and love seekers. Facebook already has an unfathomable number of users—a huge strength Facebook Dating wants to leverage. If even a fraction of the Facebook audience converts, then Facebook Dating will not ever need to worry about running out of potential matches.
Because Facebook Dating is already Facebook, building your profile with your existing Facebook information and Instagram photos is a breeze. The app might already know basic details such as where you live, where you went to school, and where you work. You can change these answers after the fact. Do not worry about it altering your regular Facebook information. Still, it is nice to be able to skip a few steps. The downside is, unlike in other dating apps, here it is impossible to be anonymous. Your name is taken from your Facebook profile and cannot be changed just for dating. That might be inconvenient for some and downright unsafe for others.
Facebook Dating might also already know what genders you are interested in whether it is men, women, or everyone. However, when setting up your profile, you enter more detailed preferences such as age range, children or no children, distance, education level, height, language spoken, and religion. The only other dating-specific data to plug are answers to personality questions such as “The best thing I can cook is…” or “The song that always gets me on the dance floor is…”
Interface and Profiles
Facebook Dating’s interface looks like Facebook. Again, it is just one part of the same Facebook mobile app. You get to the Facebook Dating section by tapping the heart-shaped button on the overflow menu at the bottom-right corner of the screen, which also takes you to other parts of Facebook inside the app. Everything blurs together a little too much, and it’s too easy to accidentally wind up on your newsfeed when you thought you were swiping on promising dates.
Larger Facebook interface issues aside, actually using Facebook Dating feels like using any other high-quality modern dating app. Profile photos dominate the screen, and you can say yes or no, Tinder-style, by tapping the big X or the big heart. With Second Look, you can go back to profiles you have passed on.
Tap on a profile to see a more in-depth portrait of your object of affection. The level of detail may remind you of Match. Scroll down to see more pictures, a summary of their profile, their answers to personality questions, and even a selection from their Instagram feed. Then you can make a more informed choice of whether to swipe left or right. There actually is no swiping, just tapping buttons, but the idiom is what it is.
For a different browsing experience, you can scroll through an integrated feed of Facebook Stories on the home screen. Tap them to look at curated collections of photos and videos from potential matches.
Once you have made a match, you can start sending messages to each other. Facebook Dating’s messaging functionality is purposefully more limited than regular Messenger. You cannot send links, money, photos, or videos. This is for security and helps Facebook Dating feel like it really is safely kept away from the nastier internet at large. Besides, text and GIFs are all you need for cute communication. The one, justified exception is that you can use Messenger to send details about your upcoming date to a protective friend.
Some dating apps, like eHarmony, are expensive and not really worth it for free users. Others, like OkCupid, are totally fine if you do not spend money, even if they do give you the option. However, unless you count your personal data as currency, Facebook Dating is completely free.
Fortunately, Facebook Dating does not use its lack of a price tag to justify a lack of features. Beyond the robust profiles, the app gives you more ways to search that only Facebook can. See folks who are in the same Facebook groups as you or who went to the same Facebook events as you. Granted, this introduces the biggest risk of encountering people you already know. We did not see friends but we did see dangerously close friends of friends. Still, this is a great way to directly connect with someone you already have something in common with.
Besides, maybe you do want to date your friends. Maybe you have just been looking for the right excuse. Facebook Dating’s Secret Crush feature is that excuse. Here you can mark nine Facebook friends or Instagram followers as folks you are romantically interested in. No one will know you have done this. If your unrequited love joins Facebook Dating and adds you as their Secret Crush, you will both be notified and you can start chatting about how great it is to finally share your true feelings out in the open. If you are feeling especially bold, you can use the app to let your friends know about Facebook Dating and hope they take the bait.
Social Distancing With Facebook Dating
As the world continues to shelter in place to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, virtual dating features have been quite important to dating apps. Facebook Dating does not have any virtual dating features, per se. There is no way to video chat directly in the app and your matches are limited to those around you, even though you can expand that limit to an extremely generous 240-mile radius. Other dating apps are connecting people far apart as quarantine pen-pals.
Anyone you meet on Facebook Dating is, by definition, also on Facebook proper, however. If things are going well enough, you and your match can easily expand your communication options by manually moving over to Messenger, which does offer video chat, if you both want to. Facebook even launched a new experimental app called Tuned specifically for couples in quarantine.
Other dating apps offer their virtual dating features within the app itself. Bumble, eHarmony, Match, and Plenty of Fish all have some form of video chat. Hinge users must use a separate service for video calls, but at least they can mutually express interest in seeing each other face-to-face.
A dating app’s value arguably comes more from subjective social factors than from anything technical. As a piece of software, Facebook Dating leaves us with few complaints. By taking advantage of other Facebook features, it offers rich profiles and premium browsing free.
On the other hand, Facebook culture has developed a reputation for everything from objectifying college students to sharing racist conspiracy memes. Therefore, even if your own feed is perfectly curated, if your reaction to dating through a platform like that is decidedly negative, we cannot blame you. Privacy concerns aside, sometimes it is just better for peace of mind to not have the different parts of your online life all orbit the same thing. Even if you do believe Facebook Dating when it says your data is not shared (and that is a big if) the whole experience still feels somewhat incestuous.
If you want to digitally hang out with friends and family on the most popular social network, keep using Facebook; it is an effective service. If you are looking for something a little more intimate, though, we still recommend hopping over to Match or Tinder, our Editors’ Choice dating apps.
Rich profiles are easy to build
Connects with Instagram and other Facebook services
Information not shared on public Facebook
No desktop version
No built-in video chat
Requires Facebook account
Most people have heard of dating app eHarmony, though not necessarily for the right reasons. On one hand, it is one of the oldest names in the dating app business. On the other, the company faced a lawsuit in 2005 for not making its service available to same-sex pairings. It then started a separate but equal service for that market called Compatible Partners. Finally, in late 2019, eHarmony folded LGBT dating options into the main service. With all these identities under one roof, eHarmony sets its members up for success, basing its matches on an extensive personality quiz and detailed profiles. You need to be a paid subscriber to contact other members, but it does not push gimmicky in-app purchases on you like other services do.
While our Editors’ Choice for finding longer-term relationships, Match, is not as thorough in sussing out your personality, it, too, has measures in place to weed out casual browsers. In addition, it offers a more user-friendly interface and an excellent filtering tool. Tinder, our other Editors’ Choice, remains the best option for young mobile users looking for love right now. Still, eHarmony is a worthy alternative if you are seeking a meaningful, long-term connection.
You can set up your eHarmony profile either on the web or through the iOS apps and Android apps. We tested eHarmony on all platforms and found the sign-up and user experience to be similar across the board.
After the usual name, email, and location questions—plus an inquiry into where you heard about the company—you begin the profile setup. The usual barrage of questions then appears. First, eHarmony asks you how many children you have, followed by your age, and religious affiliation. The site does not let you choose agnostic or atheist, instead forcing you to select Neither Religious nor Spiritual.
eHarmony now allows for same-sex-dating. You choose your preference on the very first sign-up screen. If you select that you are a man, you can now search for other men. Women can search for women. More modern apps like Hinge and OkCupid offer a greater range of identities, but, considering eHarmony’s past, this is at least a step in the right direction. If you previously had an account on Compatible Partners, you can also bring that data with you into eHarmony.
EHarmony now allows for same-sex-dating. You choose your preference on the very first sign-up screen. If you select that you are a man, you can now search for other men. Women can search for women. More modern apps like Hinge and OkCupid offer a greater range of identities, but, considering eHarmony’s past, this is at least a step in the right direction. If you previously had an account on Compatible Partners, you can also bring that data with you into eHarmony.
After the essays, you select your preferences for people to match with, mostly just based on age and location (you can choose to search any country in the world) before diving into the Compatibility Quiz. This is the climb up the mountain; there are more than 100 questions, all with a spectrum of answers almost like a focus group questionnaire. There are multiple questions about the value of monogamy and religious faith, along with a parade of others reminiscent of the Myers-Briggs test. Get ready to give your immediate response on which shapes look more appealing, and so on.
Once you complete the quiz, you add a photo, and you are on your way. The whole process is far more in-depth than other apps. For example, Tinder (our other Editors’ Choice, which is geared more toward the hookup scene) only asks for some very basic information before it lets you start browsing. Match, which reviews your profile before you can even publish it, probably comes closest to the thoroughness of eHarmony. Users may appreciate the extra effort you have to put into profile building, as it makes everyone more invested in the process, and thus increases the chance of matching with someone compatible.
Interface and Profiles
After you complete the survey, you can move on to finding your matches, but not before eHarmony asks you to sign up for a monthly plan. You can easily opt out and browse for free, but you do not get much if you do not pay. The free version is really more of a demo than something usable in its own right is.
Free users can only view members who the app deems them most compatible with. For access to a wider range of matches, you have to subscribe. The free version also limits you to “favorite”-ing profiles, sending “Icebreaker” multiple choice questions, and seeing if you have any “mutual favorites” (people you’ve expressed interest in who have also signaled they are into you). To actually communicate with anyone, you have to pay up, which the app prompts you to do whenever you hit a wall.
The Matches section serves up a few compatible users every day. The company says it keeps this to a limited number of profiles so you can focus more on each one. However, unless you are a subscriber, you cannot even see the faces of the people you are matched with. This is one of the most restrictive free dating app experiences by far, and a great security feature for those who are concerned about other members knowing too much, too soon. If security is a concern, Bumble is also another great dating app that will not even let a man contact a woman unless she has already expressed interest in him.
Profiles clearly show users’ basic information (name, age, height, and ethnicity), along with tabs for viewing their photos and reading their Q&A. Below that, your compatibility in different areas is shown as percentages, including Romance, Emotional Intimacy, and Social Values. The app really sets you up to not have political arguments with your mate.
In case you have not figured it out yet, to really take advantage of eHarmony, you have to subscribe. There are three membership tiers: Premium Lite, Premium Plus, and Premium Extra. Each locks you into a progressively longer plan, but the monthly price also goes down. Premium Lite costs $59.90 per month for six months. Premium Plus costs $35.90 per month for a year. Premium Extra costs $25.90 per month for two years. The only difference is the length of subscription, and subsequent discount.
Premium members receive the basic features you would expect from a dating app, including unlimited viewing of photos, unlimited messaging, and the ability to access more matches and see who has viewed your profile.
Limited messaging options free users is not uncommon among dating apps. However, many of eHarmony’s other premium options come standard with a basic subscription to other services, they are features you take for granted. For example, your search results are not as gated elsewhere and apps like OKCupid let you message for free without subscribing. In addition, no other apps are as ungenerous with un-blurred photos. Unfortunately, no matter how much you pay or what plan you subscribe to, you cannot opt out of being served ads.
Although it is more expensive overall than most other dating apps, eHarmony doesn’t ask you to pay for any other microtransactions such as Boosts, Super Likes, Tokens, Coins, or anything else, which most other services have available in various forms.
Social Distancing With eHarmony
During a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, people want a warm body to turn to. However, social distancing demands we stay indoors to stop the spread of the disease. In the meantime, dating apps have begun offering more virtual dating options to keep us sane and social, and that includes eHarmony. With Video Date, Premium users can initiate a video call either in messages or directly on a match’s profile.
Other dating apps have virtual dating features, too. Bumble, Match, and Plenty of Fish all let you video chat. During the quarantine, Tinder lets you match with users too far away to meet in person. Hinge lets matches mutually set up a video date, just on a different app. Facebook’s new Tuned app for quarantined couples pairs well with Facebook dating.
Working for Love
You have to jump through many hoops to join eHarmony, including filling out an extensive and time-consuming survey and paying for the privilege of doing just about anything. However, once you are in, the app serves you connections based on values and other quantitative pieces of data. It is the exact opposite of photo-heavy Tinder. We appreciate the good-hearted, well-intentioned desire to help people find their mate. It is not as user-friendly and inclusive as our Editors’ Choice, Match, but it is a worthy alternative for looking for “the one.”
Robust privacy and security features
Thorough profile-building process
No in-app transactions
Basic features locked behind paywall
Sign-up survey can be daunting
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
Video games are more popular than ever, but having a deep affinity for the medium remains somewhat of a social stigma. At their worst, gamers bring this scorn on themselves, but plenty of people who love video games could also love romantic partners. Kippo is a mobile dating app that lets you put your fandom at the forefront and connect with other people who feel the same way. That idea could easily become niche, pandering, or embarrassing. Fortunately, Kippo is a slick and capable service that gives you lots of room for uniquely nerdy expression.
Kippo is a mobile-only dating app. We tested it on an iPhone 11, but there is an Android version, too. There is no web version, and you need a phone number to sign up. If you go to the Kippo website, you can read cute comic strips about dating as a gamer, but that is it. While mobile may be the most convenient way to use a modern dating app, most other services at least offer a desktop alternative, including Tinder, an Editors’ Choice for dating apps.
Immediately, Kippo impresses with its visual style. Gamer-focused software runs the risk of looking gaudy, but Kippo sports a tastefully futuristic aesthetic with black backgrounds and splashes of pink, glowing electricity. Typing messages and profile information resembles writing code in a text editor, albeit one with lots of bouncy animations. In addition, the flavor text has personality without tipping over into the cringeworthy.
As you create your profile, you enter the typical information that you would input into any other dating service, such as the age range, location range, and gender range. You must upload four real photos of yourself. Kippo also lets you identify as nonbinary or open your dating pool to “everyone.” You can display whether or not you are just looking for friends, and lock down your inbox so you do not get random unwanted messages.
Many dating apps make you answer numerous personal questions, from Match’s prompts to eharmony’s lengthy quiz to OkCupid’s ever-growing list of questions. This makes profiles more substantial, powers various compatibility algorithms, and lets you get a better sense of the person that you may potentially date.
Kippo, however, lets you express your personality via nerdy interests. We filled out a list of our favorite games, titles drawn from Kippo’s deep database. Alongside your pictures, your profile consists of cards, attractive and customizable infographics where you proudly and specifically display your dorkiness. Cards include your allegiance in the console wars, what your Animal Crossing character looks like, and your League of Legends profile.
Not every card focuses on how much you may or may love certain corporate brands. You can write a more traditional dating profile that offers a quick rundown of what you are looking for in a partner. Still, this is the app for folks who judge romantic compatibility based on how much they like Pokemon, not whether or not they are thinking about children. Unsurprisingly, the average ages we saw skewed younger even when we expanded our search range.
We appreciate how earnestly Kippo seeks to serve its famously shy demographic. It certainly does a better job catering towards gamers than, say, SilverSingles caters towards older users. The one catch is that cards are optional. We swiped through profiles with no cards at all, no way for us to judge a potential match beyond looks. Still, the profiles that are fleshed out rival Hinge in terms of depth and visual appeal.
Kippo is free to use with a few limitations. You can only swipe 30 profiles per day, and send one message to someone you have not matched with yet. With a free account, you can only add three cards to your profile.
Paying for the premium Kippo Infinity subscription removes those browsing and messaging limitations. You can also add seven cards to your profile. Kippo Infinity costs $10 for one month, $37 for six months, and $56 for a year. That is on the low end, as far as dating app prices go. Competing subscriptions easily cost twice that much.
Social Distancing With Kippo
Staying at home and being antisocial is a gamer stereotype. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone needs to stay at home, even while dating. One Kippo card even lets others know that you are sheltering in place to stop the spread. However, Kippo has no video chat functionality, an essential virtual dating tool. A spokesperson told us “93 percent of Kippo users go on a virtual date and play video games together before ever meeting in-person.” Building that feature into the app would have been great.
Other dating apps have rolled out video chat features in response to the pandemic, including Bumble, Match, eharmony, and Plenty of Fish. Meanwhile, for gamer communication, there is always Discord.
Gamers (and Lovers), Rise Up
A gamer-focused dating app is the most questionable and cynical pitch we have seen since learning about a gamer web browser and gamer IKEA furniture. Fortunately, Kippo is a lovingly crafted app where nice nerds looking for romance or friendship can connect with each other through the prism of their own cherished hobbies. Match and Tinder remain our Editors’ Choice-winning dating apps, because they serve wider audiences. Still, if your tastes are more specific—specific enough to read a tech website like Greatofreview—Kippo may be the dating app for you.
Stylish futuristic aesthetic
Profiles let you express geeky interests
Affordable premium version
No video chat
No web version
Hinge calls itself the dating app “designed to be deleted.” This is really just marketing, but it does confront an amusing paradox about dating apps. If they are good at their job of helping, you find the love of your life, you will not have to use them for very long, and you can stop paying for them. The service backs up its bold claim with robust profiles, appealing interplay between text and visuals, and plenty of fun, flirty ways for users to interact. However, it moves at a slow pace, not helped by the restrictions on free users. This and other small annoyances just barely prevent Hinge from dethroning our Editors’ Choices, Match and Tinder. Note that the same company, Match Group, which also owns OKCupid, owns all three of these services.
Getting Started With Hinge
Previously, Hinge’s gimmick was that it used your Facebook account to find connections. The app required a Facebook login, like a modern, superior version of what Zoosk also tried to be. That is no longer the case. The only current dating app that makes you use Facebook is Facebook Dating. You now have the option to create a Hinge account with a phone number. Hinge is only available on mobile, and we tested it with an iPhone 11. There is a desktop website, but it is only for buying celebratory “Delete Day” merchandise and was down at the time of my testing.
To create your account, you answer a standard questionnaire. Are you interested in men, women, or everyone? What is your preferred age, distance, ethnicity, or religion? You can set these categories as dealbreakers to avoid seeing people you have zero interest in.
Your own personal information is divided into three categories: Virtues, Vitals, and Vices. Virtues include where you work, where you went to school, and your politics. Vitals include height, whether you have children, and where you live now. Vices are drinking, smoking, and whatever other drugs you do.
Things get more fun when you begin answering questions. The questions are the entertaining but typical icebreakers you would expect from a dating app. What is your greatest strength? What is the weirdest gift you have ever received? What is the one thing you want to know about a match?
Uploading photos is, surprisingly, the most novel part. You can pair each of your images with a prompt, a snippet of text to add extra context or irony. Prompts may also inspire you to add photos you may not have considered. For the prompt “Feeling cute might delete later,” I added a selfie of me in vampire teeth. Other prompts include “Caught in the act,” “Don’t judge me,” and “If Grandma hijacked my Hinge, she’d add this.” It may seem simple, but clever ways of combining visuals and text is part of what makes Hinge such a joy to experience, especially once you start looking for matches.
Interface and Profiles
Hinge takes the best part of its fellow Match Group apps (Match, OkCupid, and Tinder) and blends them together into a greater whole. When looking for matches, at first, you will just see a big picture to say yes or no to, the slick standard mobile dating format Tinder pioneered. However, keep scrolling down for a profile that combines Match’s depth with OkCupid’s sense of fun.
Hinge profiles have a variety and stellar sense of presentation that make them appealing to browse. The classy, mostly monochrome design is dense with information yet stays readable and not too cluttered. As you go seamlessly from personal summaries to photos paired with prompts to videos to answers for personality questions, you can feel the people on the other end taking advantage of these tools to truly express themselves. Feeling like you are getting to know the real person online before meeting them is one of the best tricks a dating app can hope to pull off.
Hinge profiles also turn browsing into a more active experience. You do not just like a profile. You like a specific thing about a profile. Maybe it is a picture. Maybe it is an answer to a question. You’re then encouraged to write a little comment to send alongside that like, hopefully something more personal than just a boring “hey” you’d see elsewhere. If your pick likes you back, you then start messaging. Paid users can already see who likes them and can craft that first response accordingly. By giving your potential date a more detailed clue about why you like them, you are more likely to have a better conversation out of the gate, improving your odds for a stronger, more lasting connection. High-quality profiles lead to high-quality matches and chats, which lead to high-quality relationships. You love to see it.
Arguably, the one downside to this more thoughtful method is that using Hinge in general feels slower than other mobile rivals do. You can instantly say no, but when saying yes, you are forced to at least consider sending a comment as well before moving on. There is no fast, mindless, shallow swiping. It is up to you to decide whether that is good or bad. We will not judge.
Maybe Hinge’s more methodical pace is there to keep free users from noticing just how throttled they are. The free experience is not as ungenerous as that of, say, eharmony, which blurs photos until you pay up. However, with maybe only a dozen free likes a day, with Hinge you will run up against a wall much faster compared with Tinder, which may give you over 100 likes per day, depending on your situation.
If you want to use Hinge seriously, you need to be a paid Preferred Member. Subscriptions start at $19.99 for one month, $39.99 for three months, and $59.99 for six months. Along with unlimited likes, with a paid subscription you can see everyone who likes you. Free users only see likes if they are mutual. You also get more advanced preference options to filter matches based on education, family plans, politics, and vices.
Social Distancing With Hinge
People are mostly staying at home because of the COVID-19 epidemic, and dating apps have been forced to respond. The responses have been different depending on the app, even for apps owned by the same company. When chatting in Hinge, you can use the “Dating From Home” menu to secretly tell the app you are up for a video chat with your match. If both users consent, the app lets both of you know and you will avoid the awkwardness of being shut down. However, you cannot video chat inside the app itself. You will both have to use another video conferencing service when you are ready to make that leap.
If you want video chat inside a dating app, check out Hinge’s sibling’s Match and Plenty of Fish, as well as Bumble and eharmony. Tinder at least lets you match with college classmates or folks in other countries free. Facebook Dating does not have built-in video chat, but Facebook users can use Messenger or Tuned, an experimental app made for quarantined couples.
Hinge is a dating app that is easy to recommend. The “designed to be deleted” marketing speaks to a larger, savvy, youthful influencer vibe that is also present in its beautiful, excellent, in-depth profiles. Seeing and reading about all that your matches have to offer really could help you find The one on your phone.
Hinge’s limitations on free accounts and its slower pace overall combine to keep Match and Tinder our Editors’ Choices for dating apps. Still, Hinge is a lovely alternative if you have burned out on those services and are looking for something vibrant and new.
Multiple ways to like profiles
Great interplay between photos and text
Very limited likes for free users
No video chat
No desktop version
It is safe to say that Tinder has fully ensconced itself in the zeitgeist of the modern dating world. The movie Swipe Right hit theaters in 2016, while Tinder-related songs include “Swipe” by Miracles of Modern Science, “Swipe Right” by Forest Blakk, and “Digital Love” by Hailee Steinfeld. However, does it justify its place in the dating app pantheon? It sure does. Tinder fully delivers on its promise of putting you in front of thousands of eligible singles who want to meet you right now. Its basic version is free to use, and it gives you an addictive, irreverent, entertaining, and well-built platform to endlessly swipe. It is our Editors’ Choice dating app for finding Mr. or Ms. Right Now.
Getting Started With Tinder
Tinder is app-focused (available on both iOS and Android), but you can also sign up via the web on desktop, though that is not the preferred platform. The first step is to log in via Facebook or, if you do not want Facebook to have even more data on you, through a text to your phone. After you receive and enter a verification code, Tinder lets you get started.
First, you need to fill out some simple initial info: name, age, gender, email, and a captcha to verify you are a human. Like many websites, Tinder prompts you to allow it to send you browser notifications for any new matches. If you absolutely need to know if someone expressed an interest in you while you’re slaving away over a Google Sheets spreadsheet or writing an email, maybe that’s for you, but others might want to keep Tinder confined to its own app.
In addition, that is it. There are no further requirements for profile write-ups, and no field of menu options asking if you like tall people, smokers, drinkers, religious types, or what kind of coffee you prefer. Tinder just dumps you straight into the dating pool and asks you to start swiping—though in this case on the desktop, members can use the arrow or Enter keys and the space bar to move through the cattle call of humanity.
Interface and Profiles
Before diving into the swiping, you can add more to your profile, even though Tinder does not actively ask for it. The Settings function is first designed to get you to spend money, with prompts to sign up for Tinder Gold, Tinder Plus, Boosts and Super Likes (options discussed in a later section). After that, you can set your Swipe Location to your current location, or where you plan to be soon if, for example, you are going on vacation and want to set up a few dates in advance.
You then have the option to change what you are looking for (men or women), how far away they should be (1 to 100 miles), and age range (18 to whatever upper limit you choose). Interestingly, you can also choose to hide your profile in the queue (they call it the Card Stack) so you cannot be seen or swiped on. This setting still lets you message your matches, however, presumably so you can stay on Tinder, chat with your picks, and not be bothered by any new suitors. In the Edit Info field, you can add pictures; write the requisite About You section; include your job title, company, and school; and connect your Instagram. You can even choose to hide your age and location.
After getting into the actual hunt—and make no mistake, Tinder feels like a hunt—it is easy to see exactly why the app is so addictive. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know how this part works: Swipe right if you are into someone, and left if you are not. Your thumb is judge, jury, and executioner, acting on instinct and immediate assessment of the human being on the other side of the screen. It works because it is brutal in its immediacy, which is why other dating apps, including Bumble and OkCupid, have copied it.
Swiping left gives a photo a Nope overlay, while swiping right gives a photo a Like stamp. Photos stick to your thumb as you moving them around, which gives you a tactile feel of control. Tap a photo’s right side to look at the next one, tap the left side to go back. Tap the bottom to look at the profile (as if anyone cares about what people say or think on Tinder), and swipe up to Super Like. You can send someone’s profile to a friend to see what he or she think. Swipe a dozen or so times and Tinder serves you an ad or a prompt to read something like a Guide to Dating.
You can also use the X, Star, Heart and other icons at the bottom of the screen, but why bother? It is more fun to just keep swiping. Once two people have both swiped right on each other, a match is made. For free users, you will not know if someone has picked you until you have already picked them. Free users also have a finite amount of likes they can give in a day.
The search function is clearly for finding casual matches—at first, it felt a bit odd to be served up potential matches from Missouri, Austin, New York, or even Iceland—but remember that this isn’t really meant to find folks for eternity. That is not the appeal.
Tinder is very much aware of its alpha status among mobile dating apps. Tinder is so active and popular that if you are of a certain generation, it is almost weirder to not at least have some Tinder experience. Therefore, the app is not afraid to experiment with new features or ditch them when they do not work. Remember the Snapchat-esque Tinder Moments? However, because meeting strangers (men) from the internet can unfortunately lead to tragic results, Tinder also has robust safety features including real-time photo verification and the ability to share your date’s details, like time and location, with emergency services via Noonlight.
Finally, perhaps one of the best little Easter egg parts of Tinder is that the desktop version has a Work Mode function that switches the interface to look like a Google Doc so you don’t get busted clicking around while on the clock. It’s so effective you might actually almost closed out of the browser tab having done some work on the side and came back to it thinking it was an actual spreadsheet. Well played, Tinder.
Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold are a little confusing, especially since some of the things you can pay for here are free if you have some patience. Tinder Plus gives you unlimited likes, unlimited rewinds (or the ability to change your mind about a swipe), a free Boost each month, and the ability to swipe around the world. You can also turns off ads and choose who sees you. Tinder Gold goes further, letting you instantly see who you’ve already matched with before swiping and giving you full access to Top Picks (which non-Gold folks can only see a few of at a time).
Boost and Super Likes are more straightforward—Boost ups your visibility and Super Likes are basically to signify above and beyond “yep, you’re hot.” Tinder will give you a Few Super Likes per day free, but you will have to pay for all those Boosts.
Tinder Gold and Tinder Plus start at $29.99 and $19.99 per month, respectively, but drop in price the longer you commit. Boosts cost $3.99 each and Super Likes will run you $0.99 each for a pack of five, but both get progressively cheaper the more you buy.
Social Distancing With Tinder
As the COVID-19 pandemic forces us to limit our in-person exposure, dating apps face the tricky dilemma of how to responsibly service singles who now must settle for virtual connections instead of physical ones. After some initial tests, Tinder has rolled out its Face to Face video chat functionality across the globe. If you and your match both consent to video chat within in the app, you can turn on the camera for more intimate conversations. Face to Face is available to everyone who uses Tinder.
Tinder has other pandemic-era solutions that are designed to expand the number of people you can match, since all you will be doing is chatting anyway. Tinder Passport, which lets you match outside of your city, and Tinder U, which lets you match with students from your college, are both currently free.
Bumble, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish have also launched full on, video dating features, as has our other Editors’ Choice pick Match. Plenty of Fish has livestreaming. Hinge at least helps you set up a video date with your match outside the app itself. Facebook Dating’s main advantage is its connection to the larger Facebook ecosystem, and that includes Instagram, Messenger, and the experimental Tuned communication app for couples under quarantine.
Ready for a Good Time?
If you are up for a good time rather than a lasting commitment, Tinder is the app for you. While it is not unheard of to find a life partner using Tinder, you will want to check out Match, other Editors’ Choice for dating apps, for serious dates. That said, Tinder does exactly what it says it is going to do—help you find a quick date. It is fun, a little irreverent and, judging by its popularity, gets results.
For more on digital dating, see our picks for the best hookup apps and the best breakup apps. In addition, you should explore these self-care apps and services to help mend a broken heart.
Simple, modern interface
Swiping feature is addictive
Free to use the basic app
Geared more toward hookups than relationships
Many incremental ways to spend money
Match is one of the longest-running digital dating services. Founded in 1993, it is old enough to legally drink and rent a car, and it predates most AOL email addresses. Match has had many years to bake, and there is a lot to like about it. The interface is finely tuned, signup is easy, and you are not allowed to create a half-baked profile. It is not the cheapest dating app, especially if you want to take advantage of its full feature set, but if you are looking for a life partner, Match is the best and an Editors’ Choice winner.
Cost of a Match
You must pay if you really want to play. Your free, basic membership lets you see who’s out there, receive daily matches, message a handful of personalized picks, and send likes (clicking a heart on a profile), but going beyond that is for subscribers only. Once you pony up cash, you get access to see who has viewed your profile and who has liked you. Maybe most importantly, you can also see and respond to emails. You are going to have to pay for any feature that involves actually connecting with a person.
Monthly subscriptions start at $44.99, but they get progressively less expensive the longer you commit to the service. You can also boost your profile to the top of search results for 60 minutes—try it once for $5.99 or buy a 10-pack for $3 each. Match’s monthly fees are more expensive than most other dating apps. OkCupid’s most expensive monthly plan is $19.99, and Plenty of Fish lets you communicate with other members for free.
Getting Started With Match
People who remember Match from its early stages may be familiar with its desktop version, but the service has successfully jumped into the modern era with both an iPhone and an Android app.
Match asks two big questions up front: What are you looking for and where do you want to find it? After inputting the preferred gender of your partner and your ZIP code, you have the option to log in via email or Facebook. Then, you add some other top-level information, including age and first name, and you are ready to build your profile.
Interspersed with the personal info inquiries are questions about what you are there for—are you just browsing the meat market or are you looking for something lifelong? The app also asks for your height and current relationship status. Do not worry, you can choose “I’d rather not say,” if you so desire. No judgment.
Then things get more personal—Match wants to know the number of kids you have; whether you want kids; what your education level is; whether you smoke and drink; and details on your ethnicity, religion, salary, and interests. Then comes the dreaded bio section. Try to get away with writing a bare-bones self-description and the app will prompt you to try harder. Once you complete this section, you do not get to simply publish your profile. You get a note saying that it is under review by Match staff. This is an added layer of protection that most other apps do not offer. Of course, you must also add a photo, and it has to be of a real human, too. A photo of, say, last night’s dinner will get rejected.
Once you are done talking about yourself, it is time to tell Match what you are looking for in a companion. You can choose preferred age (from 18 to 70-plus) and height (4 feet, 4 inches to 6 feet, 10 inches), as well as specify body type, ethnic background, faith, and marital status. Finally, you can choose whether you are OK matching with someone who has kids or someone who smokes.
One annoying feature of this process is that if you want to go back and make a change, you have to completely finish the survey first. That said, once you finish, it does feel like you have answered enough questions to better pair up with a like-minded user and are not just casting a huge net into the dating pool. Compare that to Zoosk’s anemic profiles.
The entire process is quick and simple, and it progresses naturally from what are probably the most important items on your list (your desired mate’s age and whether they have or want kids) down to the more picky stuff (smoking, drinking, and ethnicity preferences). In addition, you do not have to answer every question to finish the process. In theory, though, the more questions you answer, the better chance you have of finding the perfect match. Email onboarding is smartly paced as well—one welcome email, one note to let you know if your profile info is approved, and then a few check-ins over the following days.
Interface and Profiles
You are now almost to the part where you get to see who’s waiting for you. Naturally, Match asks for your money once you have invested some time in the setup. At this point, if you try to go back rather than subscribe, you lose all your hard work. You may think that there is no easy way to avoid spending money at this point—after going through the full signup process, you are pushed to a screen where the only option is “join.”
It turns out, though, that this presentation is more of a trick to get you to pay up. Once you get to that Subscribe screen on the app, you are actually a member—you can log in and begin browsing via desktop without paying for a subscription. In addition, when you close and reopen the app, your profile will be saved, and you can start browsing.
If you want to tell Match even more about yourself, there is a Topic section, which helps you add personality traits and anecdotes. This is a helpful tool to let people know more about you without writing an extensive essay. Topics include your bucket list, your current obsessions, and your craziest travel stories. You can display up to three topics on your profile. The prompts offer examples, but you can write whatever you want in the box.
You can also add more photos, see who’s viewed you, and check out events available to members (for a fee, of course) like escape rooms, speed dating, or even cruises and ski trips. Events everyone will be happy to return to once it is safe to get together again.
Once your profile is complete, it is time to see who is out there. Match’s search function is simple and satisfying. The Discover function has many filters that let you quickly change the basics—if you signed up as a man seeking a woman, but wanted to mix things up on a Friday and search for men, it is quick and easy. The filters also save each time you search, so it does not keep throwing you back to square one. In addition, if you return to the search page after clicking into a profile, it doesn’t return you to the top of the results—you go right back to where you left off.
Viewing profiles is intuitive and easy. You will probably first want to check out your potential match’s photos. The app makes it easy to scroll through them either within the profile or in full-screen mode if you want to get a closer look. It is nice that profiles serve up more than just the basics. In addition to the stats already mentioned, you get subsections like Favorite Things and Favorite Places to Hang Out.
At the bottom of the screen, Match serves up similar profiles to the one you are viewing. However, these do not seem to be filtered well: You might get served profiles in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, despite looking for people within a few miles of Chicago.
The one thing some may find slightly creepy is the Missed Connections feature—using location info on your phone, the app will serve up people who have been in your general vicinity recently. This might be appealing in some circumstances (if you spend time at the gym or the library, for example, it might show you folks with similar interests) but it may also have you looking around when getting off the train to see if anyone looked familiar.
Social Distancing With Match
Dating apps are in a tough spot as the COVID-19 pandemic forces everyone inside, happy couples and lonely singles alike. Encouraging physical dates between strangers is pretty irresponsible these days, so Match has beefed up its virtual dating features. With Vibe Check, people already in a conversation can initiate a live video chat session if both partners agree. You can easily block creeps after the fact. You can also ask Match’s panel of experts for advice on dating while distancing.
Match’s new Dates feature, while useful for dating even in a world without a plague, should also come in handy at any time. While chatting, you can privately let the app know if you feel serious about a potential partner. If both parties are ready to go to the next level, they can move their conversation to the separate Dates section. With true intentions out in the open, Dates helps you plan next steps, such as discussing first date preferences. It also helps you easily ignore other distracting conversations to focus on this one promising shot at true love. If you do not feel comfortable meeting in person yet, Dates offers unlimited video chat.
Match is the flagship product of Match Group, which also owns Hinge, OkCupid, and Tinder. Now that Match has these video dating features, they should come to those apps, too. Bumble, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish (also owned by Match) offer video chat. Hinge helps you coordinate a video date, too; you just have to talk on a separate app. Alongside Facebook Dating, and Facebook also has the new Tuned app to connect quarantined couples.
Making the Connection
Match has been around for more than two decades, and we have staffers who met via the service and been married for more than 10 years. More than most other dating apps, Match requires a lot of information from you. That is what sets you up for success, though. The more you tell the app about who you are and what you are looking for, the more likely you are to find that special someone. Match is one of the oldest players on the field, and it is still the strongest, making it our Editors’ Choice dating app for people looking for love. Check out our other Editors’ Choice, Tinder, if you are in the game for a quick hookup.
Robust, vetted profiles
Excellent filtering tool
Profile approval is not instant