“We met on Tinder!” goes the cry, but admitting to meeting on a free online dating site used to be a big No No. However, as technology has made online dating cooler and more accessible, we’re all doing it. And the result is that it’s become completely normal for marriages to have begun with a swipe right. As always with online dating, big businesses have sought to cash in on our need to be loved by charging for their services. However, with so many websites and apps around do you really need to hand over your credit card? These are some of the best options for free online dating – that also happen to be some of the most successful.
It’s a free app that you can download to a smart phone that allows you to ‘swipe’ for dates. The app is linked to your Facebook profile and so displays your ‘likes’ and your Facebook photos. However, the fact that you’re ‘Tindering’ won’t be revealed to your Facebook friends. To get started you simply look at the face in front of you on the screen and swipe left for no and right for yes. There’s a small space for a ‘profile’ but with Tinder, it’s mostly about the photos. As it has become more successful Tinder has introduced paid for features. For example, you can pay to have an account that doesn’t display your age and one that also allows you to return to the previous profile if you swiped past it too fast.
Does it work? Tinder used to be a hook up app for people looking for local casual sex. However, it’s now one of the easiest ways to find fun dates – just be clear about what you’re looking for from the start.
Another smart phone app, Bumble was designed to put women in control. It’s a similar creation to Tinder in that the profile is fairly minimal and you say yes or no to your options. The big difference is that if you match with someone, only the woman can make the first move. After 24 hours if there has been no attempt at contact then the match disappears.
Does it work? In an odd reflection of ‘real life’ it seems that even digitally men prefer to make the first move. Many women who have used Bumble reported that their initial attempts at conversation fell on deaf ears. Doesn’t have quite the success rate of Tinder but an interesting concept.
Another app, but this one will put forward as your options the people you’ve crossed paths with recently. It shows you where you crossed paths, how many times and how far away that person is right now. The idea is that you make those instant connections ‘happn.’ So, rather than gazing at the same person every day on the bus and never knowing their name you connect with them on Happn and say hi. There are all sorts of ways of showing interest via Happn – if two people both press the ‘heart’ button on each other’s profiles, for example, then a conversation can start.
Does it work? Some people find the feature that tells you how far away the other person is quite creepy. If you don’t like someone and they’re crossing paths with you 20 times a day it can feel a little odd.
One of the more old school free online dating options, eHarmony is for those who are serious about finding a partner. The site uses the eHarmony Compatibility Matching System to help put two people together. This necessarily involves a lot of input on your part in terms of the information your provide on your wants, likes and needs.
Does it work? You don’t have to do the work here as the eHarmony Compatibility Matching System will work out your matches for you and send them to you. However, whether these matches are really worth pursuing depends on how honest everyone is being. Be aware that eHarmony doesn’t charge you to communicate but does for just about everything else e.g. viewing photos.
Another more traditional site (and now app), Match has a huge subscriber base and works on the classic ‘build a profile’ basis. Be prepared to post plenty of photos about yourself and put some time and effort into writing an interesting profile.
Does it work? Match is a great option for first time daters and gives you plenty of opportunities to access potential dates based on your likes and dislikes. However, its paid for options are much more comprehensive than the free account offers. With the free account you can create a profile, upload photos, receive emails, and send and receive Winks. But you can’t really communicate.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley