Free vs. Paid Online Dating: What to Expect

According to Match.com, today, Monday, June 27 is the BUSIEST day for online dating. As the mercury rises so do the swipes to the right in search of Summer love. By now even the most inexperienced internet users know that online dating is a mixed bag. There are thousands upon thousands of dating sites and apps, and choosing the right one can mean the difference between finding love and getting Catfished. For many, deciding whether or not it’s worth it to pay for an online dating membership is half the battle.

Whether you’re new to online dating, in the process of trying out different sites, or just testing the waters when it comes to online relationships, here what you need to know about free vs. paid online dating platforms.

“Free” Doesn’t Always Mean Free

When you immerse yourself in the world of online dating you learn pretty quickly that very little actually comes “free.” There are trade-offs online, and it’s up to you to decide what’s worth it. Most dating sites follow the same strategy: give you a “free” membership with limited features and communication, then ask you to pay a monthly membership fee to access all the site’s features.

Totally Free Dating Sites Can Come With Drawbacks

There are, of course, dozens of completely free dating sites out there! That’s the good news. The bad news is, these sites have to pay to keep the lights on somehow which means you’re likely to deal with more pop up ads, less oversight from staff, and in general, an atmosphere that might feel a bit “spammier” than paid dating sites. The exception to the rule is apps. Dating apps are, for now, often totally free to use.

Most Sites Charge on a Monthly Basis

Most dating sites – from juggernauts like Match.com to niche sites like Farmers Only – set up a monthly pricing structure. The longer you sign up for, the cheaper each month becomes. What do you get with a monthly membership fee? Typically it’s access to all the sites features like blogs, chat rooms, and digital “gifts,” but more importantly, it’s unlimited communication with other members. Some sites offer more a la carte options that charge for things like higher profile placement and personal matchmaking services, too.

Dating Networks Offer Cross-Site Memberships

There are over a dozen large-scale dating site networks that own a plethora of niche dating sites under one parent company. These sites usually allow you to pay for one monthly membership that gets you access to all the hundreds of niche sites; think: ThaiCupid.com, VietnameseCupid.com, and LatinoCupid.com, all under the same umbrella. These can be a good option if you’re cost conscious but want choices.

Beware of Online Dating Scams

Like anything online, it’s important to be careful when it comes to getting scammed. By and large, paid dating sites operate on the up-and-up but some have been known to charge your card long after you cancel your membership or even sell your information to the highest bidder. In general, the larger and more well-known the dating site the safer your personal data will be. Another bonus: larger paid sites usually have more employees to offer customer support if needed, too.

You Get What You Pay For

Free sites are a great way to save money but you shouldn’t expect all the bells and whistles you’ll get on a paid dating platform. Fake profiles, a “Wild Wild West” environment, and fewer features are all part of the deal when you choose not to pay. In these cases it’s important to do your own due diligence when meeting strangers online and especially before you decide to meet up in person.

What’s your preference? Tell us about your experience with free vs. paid dating sites!