America best dating site

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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.

Over the past couple of years, COVID-19 made online dating sites indispensable for the single set. With socializing much more difficult, these sites made getting to know someone easier, through emails, texts and video chat. Virtual dating became a big thing.

Now that the pandemic has eased up somewhat, is it time for singles to break up with online dating sites?

Not at all, says Amy Schoen, a professional life, dating and relationship coach in Rockville, Maryland, and the founder of the website Motivated to Marry. “Post-pandemic, online is still one of the best ways to meet people who are seriously searching for love,” Schoen says.

America best dating site

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.

Women looking at phone using Internet dating app

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.

  • Bumble.
  • Facebook Dating.
  • Hinge.
  • Match.
  • OKCupid.
  • OurTime.
  • Plenty of Fish.
  • Tinder.

READ: How LGBTQ+ Couples Manage Their Finances. ]

Bumble

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 from $16.99 and $39.99 a month, depending on the perks, or you can pay $229.99 for a lifetime subscription of the premium service.

Facebook Dating

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.

Hinge

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.

So why the reference to compartmentalizing? 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 activity that may be a turn-off or turn-on for potential matches.

SEE: 7 Signs Your Romantic Partner Is Financially Unstable. ]

Match

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 search through profiles for free, 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 ($24.99 a month, which adds up to $74.97). 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.

OKCupid

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 thousands of 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.

OurTime

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. As for the prices, they vary, but you can expect to pay $29.96 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.

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 3 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.

Prices vary, but you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $12.90 a month for three months or $6.78 a month for 12 months. You’ll pay for those months in one lump sum. 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.

READ: How to Save for a Wedding. ]

Tinder

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.

Best dating sites

BumbleBest for confident women
TinderBest for quick and easy hookups
OKCupidBest free dating site
HingeBest for serious relationship seekers
Coffee Meets BagelBest for breaking the silence
HappnBest for missed connections
The LeagueBest for people with high standards
HerBest for lesbian, bisexual and queer women
CloverBest for confirming a date
Plenty of FishBest for conversations
MatchBest for someone with money to spend
eHarmonyBest for marriage seekers

eHarmony/Apple

eHarmony

eHarmony was one of the pioneers among online dating site options, and — while I haven’t personally used this one — we all remember the pitch for online daters, thanks to years of TV commercials: The service matches couples based on “29 dimensions” of compatibility and interests (as determined by a thorough relationship questionnaire and personality test). While you can review the profiles of your prospective matches for free, you’ll need to pay to unlock the full features of the service. There’s a three-month plan and a six-month plan, and they come with a guarantee: If, after three months of paid membership and communicating with at least five members, you’re not satisfied, eHarmony will refund your money. Despite a rocky road that eventually involved a high-profile lawsuit, the site finally added same-sex dating in 2013. I have mixed feelings about using the site myself, but it’s at least technically more inclusive now.

See at eHarmony

Bumble

Bumble is basically Tinder for women… and on a timer. Bumble is a free dating app that requires women to message first. If the guy doesn’t message back within 24 hours, he loses the potential dates. Because that’s the one thing my love life was really missing: arbitrary time limits.

The timer is designed to encourage contact and some people really do appreciate that feature. But if you’re someone who procrastinates, Bumble may not be for you. Because women must message first, Bumble tends to weed out the more insecure males from the dating pool. However, the rate of overly confident men tends to be higher than I’ve seen on other apps. Bumble also has a BFF feature to help you meet new people, but that’s really not our focus, so I’ll save it for another time.

See at Bumble

Hinge

Hinge

Hinge finally won me over, becoming my favorite dating app. Originally the app focused on common connections and mutual friends that you and a potential partner shared on Facebook, which was a gimmick I was never sold on. But it has since pivoted away from this model. Hinge has designed the app to make user profiles more engaging (and helpful) than on apps like Tinder. You have the option of displaying a lot of useful information that could be deal breakers: Your political leanings, your religion, your alcohol consumption frequency or even your interest level in having children someday. The prompts provided by Hinge make it easy to create more engaging profiles. Hinge’s current slogan is “designed to be deleted,” so if a potential match for a serious relationship is what you’re looking for, this is the dating app I would recommend.

See at Hinge

OkCupid

OkCupid, how you confuse me. I have friends who’ve met their ideal match and even spouses through OkCupid. My last serious relationship came from the OkCupid dating service. In fact, I’ve been on OkCupid on and off, for roughly the last 11 years. Profiles are a lot more in-depth than most online dating sites and if you answer a seemingly endless series of questions (much like a personality test), they will spit out a reasonable Match/Enemy percentage ratio on profiles to help you gauge compatibility based on interests.

Changes in the last few years have made OkCupid a bit more like Tinder (they’re owned by the same company), focusing more on swiping and eliminating the ability to message a user without matching with them first. Online daters can still send a message — it just won’t show up in the recipient’s inbox unless you match. Because who doesn’t enjoy sending a thoughtful message to someone who might never see it? However, OkCupid has pointed out that these changes did help lower the number of offensive messages and fake profiles people received, which might be a worthwhile trade-off. Unfortunately in my experience OkCupid has become a bit of a dating ghost town.

See at OkCupid

Happn

Happn matches you with people who are located nearby. It’s a cool concept and helpful for people who want to meet someone in a more organic manner. That said, I’ve never met a single person who actually uses the app.

After signing up, Happn showed me 68 people it said I’d crossed paths with in the preceding 3 hours, though I hadn’t left my apartment all day. This might be helpful if you’re looking to date your immediate neighbors (or Uber drivers), but I don’t see the attraction when competitors like Tinder already show the distance between you and other users. Frankly, if I saw an attractive guy in a coffee shop, I’d just approach him rather than check to see if he’s on Happn. The app seems designed for people who don’t want to use online dating sites but also don’t want to approach people in real life. Pick a lane.

See at Happn

Her

Most dating apps are fairly LGBTQ inclusive. Still, it’s nice to have an app to call your own. Her is tailored to lesbian, bisexual and queer women. It’s a worthy notion — but the app has some bugs and glitches that made it frustrating to use. Most of my queer female friends have told me they found the app “just OK” and not perfect and that they usually end up back on Tinder or Bumble. Still I checked it regularly for some time and had a few pleasant conversations with actual human beings. Isn’t that all we’re really looking for in a dating app?

See at Her

Clover

Clover tried to be the on-demand version of online dating sites, letting you order a date much like you would a pizza. It also provides numeric match predictions based on compatibility and interests, though it isn’t entirely clear how those numbers are calculated.

I was on Clover for quite some time, but had since forgotten it existed until I started to compile this list. It strikes me as a less-successful hybrid of OkCupid and Tinder with a relatively small user base, even though I live in an urban area with plenty of people who use a wide variety of dating apps. Clover says it has nearly 6 million users, 85% of whom are between the ages of 18 and 30.

See at Clover

Coffee Meets Bagel

Coffee Meets Bagel hopes to offer people better-quality matches by sending curated daily matches, or “bagels,” each day at noon. They suggest ice-breakers for first messages and the profiles are more in-depth than Tinder. For people who like a little extra hand-holding, CMB isn’t the worst option. However, I found the app confusing to use, with too many features and a lot of gimmicks. I shouldn’t have to look up online tutorials to figure out how to use a dating app. Plus why call matches Bagels?

I was also disappointed in the notifications, which I found too pushy. CMB was constantly “gently” reminding me to message people I’d matched with. I eventually disabled the app after receiving the following notification: “Show [match name] who’s boss and break the ice today!” Should a potential future relationship be rooted in a hierarchical power dynamic? At the end of the day, I have friends who’ve had the perfect match on CMB, but it isn’t one of my favorite online dating apps. 

See at Coffee Meets Bagel

The League

The League is an “elite dating app” that requires you to apply — and supply your job title, college and LinkedIn profile. Big cities tend to have long waiting lists, so you might find yourself twiddling your thumbs as your application to be one of the elite singles on the app is reviewed. (Of course, you can pay to expedite the process.) The exclusivity can be a draw for some and a turnoff for others, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I’ve seen most of the profiles I come across on The League on other dating apps, too. So at the end of the day, you’ll probably see the same faces for potential dates on Tinder, if you aren’t deemed elite enough for The League.

See at The League

Tinder

Whether you’re looking for a casual hookup, potential date, friendship or an LTR (long term relationship), Tinder has you covered. It’s basically the first stop for those entering the dating world. If you want to play the odds when it comes to online dating, you need to be swiping where everyone’s swiping.

On the upside, the profiles are brief, which helps you to make decisions quickly. The downside is that a short dating profile makes it harder to figure out what a lot of people are looking for. Knowing very little about a person can also make initial messaging a lot more challenging. You’ll need to wade through a sea of profiles, which makes it easy to pass over people you might have given a chance under different circumstances. 

See at Tinder

Plenty of Fish

Plenty of Fish launched in 2003 — and it shows. The problem I come across over and over again is that POF is filled with bots and scams, even though it may have the most users of any dating app. POF’s issues don’t mean you won’t be able to find love on it, but the odds might be stacked against you. Unless you’re into dating bots. 

See at Plenty of Fish

Match

Match.com has a free version, but the general consensus is that you’ll need a paid subscription to have any luck. That’s a hangover from the early days of online dating sites, when a paid basic membership to a site meant you were serious about settling down. But my friends and I have long since come to the conclusion that you might be a little too eager to find a significant other or the perfect partner if you pay to get dates, particularly given the abundance of free dating apps. There are definitely paid features on some dating apps that are worth the price, but I’ve yet to be able to justify shelling out cash for love. 

See at Match

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