Over the last decade, the online dating scene has grown exponentially and is now the driving force for modern love seekers.
In a quest to update that relationship status, hundreds of millions of people around the world download dating apps and sign up for a variety of online dating websites, contributing to the 3 billion dollar industry.
What many people want to know is, can you find real success using free dating sites? There are plenty of dating apps that people can access completely free of charge, but what ones are worth your time?
Here is our list of the eight best free online dating sites and apps, who they are suited for, and some general advice about how to use them.
Things to Ask Yourself
Why Use a Dating App?
First things first: are dating sites worth it at all? The dating scene in 2022 relies heavily on online sites and apps, especially after the recent pandemic. Meeting someone and finding dates has evolved since the days of waiting for your soul mate to walk into the very same bar as you.
Let’s face it: you can run out of places to look in your hometown and immediate circle pretty quickly- especially if you are looking for the one. A dating site opens up the pool of potential matches and significantly broadens your horizons.
The thing that put some people off is the cost, but what have you got to lose if you use a free version. Many sites are tailored to specific groups of people, meaning you can narrow it down to find like-minded people. Others are a bit of a free for all, but that could be exactly what you are looking for!
At the end of the day, the main benefit of using an online dating website or app is the variety of opportunities it can open up for you.
If you want to expand your dating circle and look beyond your usual selection of people, then give an online dating site a try.
Can You Really Find Love Using Dating Sites for Free
If you are feeling skeptical, you are not alone. Some people feel a certain stigma around free dating sites, thinking that they are not as legitimate as those with a paid subscription. A few of the primary concerns people worry about include:
- Fake profiles
- People taking advantage of others
- Inactive users
- Lack of serious contenders
The truth is, a lot of free sites offer pretty much the same type of service as you can find on an average paid dating site. Sure, you may find some people trying to catfish, mislead, or waste someone’s time, but these profiles are the minority.
Truth be told, you can still find them on dating apps with a paid membership.
Using a free dating service can definitely help you find and link up with people, be it new friends, a casual dating partner, or more serious relationships. As long as you have patience and put effort into building a great profile, the world is your oyster.
Is It Worth Paying for a Dating App?
Some of the most famous dating sites, such as Eharmony, Match, and Tinder Gold, come with a cost. Choosing to pay for premium features and a membership can be beneficial for some, but it is not always necessary.
Many of the best free dating sites offer members the chance to upgrade to a paid version. It depends on the app, but usually, this opens up more features and information- sometimes even different forms of communication.
If you are new to the online dating site world, then it is worth starting with a free dating app and seeing how well it works for you. Afterward, if you think you need something more, you can always upgrade from the free version.
The Top Free Online Dating Sites and Apps
Picking the right free dating site is tricky. It is important to remember that online dating apps are not one size fits all.
The best free dating app for people looking for casual dates is not the best choice for those who are interested in long-term relationships.
Anyone considering signing up for a free app should think about their relationship goals and what they hope to get out of their profile. Entering the dating world can feel daunting and a little overwhelming at first, but it helps to have the best dating apps at your disposal.
Here are our top picks for the best free dating apps and online dating sites in 2022.
The OKCupid app is considered one of the best dating sites for millennials looking for meaningful connections. Signing up involves an extensive questionnaire that aims to get a clear picture of what the user is looking for and what kind of person they are.
You can match with people based on shared interests and beliefs, with OKCupid including a few deal-breaking questions in the questionnaire.
OKCupid users are mainly in the 25-40 age range with a liberal, socially conscious attitude. It works equally well for same-sex and heterosexual couples and accepts 12 different gender identities.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent app design with an enjoyable user-friendly interface
- Focuses on people’s political and social interests to form connections
- Popular for same-sex dating
- The free version comes with pop up adds
- It doesn’t have as large a user base as some other apps of this kind
Overall, OKCupid is a great free dating site for anyone looking for a relationship with someone who shares their values. It may not be quite as advanced as some paid premium dating websites but it does share a lot of the same features.
As far as free dating sites go, it is tough to beat for serious singles.
Moving from one end of the dating scale to the other we have Tinder. Tinder is arguably the most famous free site right now, especially amongst the younger population. It is known for its casual hookup potential and massive user base- more than 7.8 million users in the USA alone!
Tinder is the best dating app for quick, easy connections with people in your area. The well-known key features include the swipe right/swipe left method to accept or reject somebody based on their profile pictures.
Casual daters looking for a bit of fun are in the right place on Tinder, but perhaps singles with long-term relationship goals should venture elsewhere.
That said, there are many success stories of users finding love via Tinder. The trick is to use your bio to spark conversations and let people know what you are looking for so that they can decide what way to swipe.
Pros and Cons
- Simple and efficient interface
- Huge user base
- Search in your area for active users
- Perfect for casual hookups
- Issues with fake profiles and catfishing
- Limited likes- unlimited likes available with a paid service
- Less likely to lead to a serious relationship than most dating apps
To sum up, the classic Tinder user is a young, attractive, single person. The main age profile is 18 to 30, and the goal is ultimately fuss-free fun.
Plenty of Fish
Interested in casual dating? What about marriage material? Just looking for someone to chat to from time to time? Plenty of Fish has plenty of options. It is not quite as hookup-centric as Tinder, but it treads the line between dating for fun and dating for the future.
A typical Plenty of Fish user is aged between 35 and 60 and is interested in having a conversation and seeing where it goes.
This dating app takes a relaxed approach and is a favorite dating app amongst busy people with limited time for meeting up in real life. It uses an algorithm to suggest matches based on the answers given to certain questions during the setup process.
You can use the service completely free of charge, but there is a premium version available. Paying to upgrade lets you search more efficiently and gets rid of pesky ads. Everyone can find their person through Plenty of Fish- it is definitely worth a try.
Pros and Cons
- Long track record of success
- Discreet and flexible search options
- Massive fan base
- Slightly dated interface
- An increasing number of sugar babies and fake profiles
POF is considered by many as the original free dating site and remains one of the largest in the world to this day. As the name suggests, there are a lot of potential dates on this platform, no matter what type of connection you are looking for right now.
Bumble is very similar to Tinder- the most popular dating app for millennials. Both Tinder and Bumble follow a fairly shallow form of online dating based predominantly on an instant reaction to the profile picture. What makes Bumble different is that the girls are in charge.
Confident women looking for dating on any level are sure to enjoy taking the lead through this swipe-based matching system. Every user is allowed six profile photos and a short bio. The algorithm works based on location and profile details including age and attractiveness.
It is a dating app designed primarily with casual dating in mind but is less aggressive than Tinder. The Bumble approach is better for first-timers or men who are a little shy.
The program is available as an online dating site and as a mobile app. Both systems work identically, making for a pretty convenient setup. Again, it is a freemium model, meaning not every feature is available on the free platform. That said, it has an excellent feature profile compared to most free dating sites.
Pros and Cons
- Requires photo verification to avoid fake user accounts
- Only women can send the first message, limiting unsolicited and unwanted DMs
- Smooth interface
- Allows you the option to link to your social media profiles
- Matches expire after 24 hours if you fail to respond
- Premium features are expensive if you choose to upgrade
In short, Bumble is Tinder if women were in charge. It still has that casual hookup potential but from a new, less in-your-face angle. There is lots of potential for real love connections and genuine friendships, but you have to be quick- the 24-hour rule can lead to missed opportunities!
Pros and Cons
- Provided conversation starters based on profile information
- A happy medium between casual date culture and commitment seekers
- Creative questions rather than stagnant profile questionnaires
- Promotes long-term dating and real-life meetings
- No option to send photos (some may say as a pro, not a con)
- A mixture of dating profiles and expectations that is not always picked up by the algorithm
- Limited to eight likes per day
If Tinder is too direct for you, but you are not quite ready to search for a soul mate on a serious online dating website, Hinge could be your perfect match. It has just the right balance between promoting genuine connections that last more than a month and keeping it light and breezy.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Let’s just meet for coffee? Coffee Meets Bagel is the online embodiment of a coffee date. Getting to know somebody new can be difficult for introverts and people who have been out of the dating scene for a while.
The whole casual coffee meet-up is an easy first step for a lot of people- more so if it starts with an online match.
Coffee Meets Bagel sends its female users seven matches every day- all based on their dating profile information. They then have a week to start up a conversation and initiate the online coffee date.
It follows the idea that less is more. Fewer match options show that you are singled out as a good match for that person, and if they decide to pursue it, there is a great chance of more success stories.
Pros and Cons
- An easy approach for rusty daters
- A step away from the fast-paced, swipe right on everyone kind of vibe
- Everyone tends to be looking for the same type of thing: a way to get to know somebody without too much pressure
- Limited daily matches
- Some known scams
- Pushy messages from the app can be off-putting for some
A Coffee Meets Bagel user is maybe not quite ready to dive head-first into the online dating website world. They are, however, looking for someone and need a helping hand. Using CMB is a great way to get yourself out there without fully stepping out of your box. You can expand your comfort zone until you feel ready for the next step.
XOXO is the best dating site for the LGBTQ+ community. Many of the best free dating sites are inclusive, but it is great to have a tailored service that pushes the boat out. XOXO does that perfectly, taking the serious relationship-seeking setup of sites such as OKCupid and Eharmony and refocusing them specifically for same-sex couples.
It is a new dating site that only launched in 2021, offering a safe space that supports gender inclusivity and neutrality. Already, it boasts around 35 thousand users every month.
The algorithm is based on a personality placement quiz that does not involve any gender-specific questions.
Pros and Cons
- No traditional reject button to limit negativity
- Interactive interface that can help stimulate connections
- Focuses on personality and interests rather than age and gender
- Limited (but growing) user base
- Poor performance on PCs
If you are looking for a relaxed, positive atmosphere that promotes human connections, then XOXO is the place for you. Having a safe space where gender fluidity is not only understood but also appreciated is going to make a huge difference in your online dating life.
Social media is a modern-day powerhouse for instant connections, so it was only a matter of time before it crossed the bridge into online dating. Enter Facebook dating- the newest channel of the Facebook website.
Anyone with a profile can sign up for the dating app- automatically filling in details using your user info but keeping it private from your friends and family.
There is not much to say about Facebook dating, other than to compare it to regular old Facebook.
Pros and Cons
- Hidden from your primary Facebook profile
- Links to instant messaging
- Easy and fast setup
- 100% free of charge
- Only works on a mobile app
- Lots of adds
- Pay attention to the free features and paid features to fully understand what is included in your subscription.
- Research each online dating app before you sign up so that you know what to expect.
- Decide if you want a site that focuses on your dating profile or your photograph.
- Avoid wasting time on an app designed for people who are looking for something different from what you want.
- There are hundreds of millions of online daters- have patience and pick the right site to help you find the one!
In short, free dating sites and apps are great. Whether you want fun or a future family, there is a platform out there for you. Don’t worry if your first date doesn’t end in marriage- part of the journey is meeting interesting people along the way!
Any one of these free dating sites has lots to offer- you just need to find your place and then (hopefully) your person.