POF is definitely among the best dating apps on the list. It allows you to join for free, message people for free, and engage with the app for free. However, the idea that it bills itself as a free dating app is hogwash because you definitely have to pay money for more advanced features. Anyway, this one seems to work pretty well. The interface is clean and everything is simple to use. There are some issues here and there, but nothing too drastic. It works pretty well, at least for a dating app.
That being said, services you pay for usually provide some extra user value to justify the price tag. There’s usually more advanced matching algorithms along with other bells and whistles, and because you must pay to use them, they tend to attract people who take online dating a little more seriously. Of course, many free sites have matching systems that work just as well as (if not better, in some cases) their paid competitors, and each dating website or app tends to have its own unique aspect that makes it stand out.
U.S. government regulation of dating services began with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) which took effect in March 2007 after a federal judge in Georgia upheld a challenge from the dating site European Connections. The law requires dating services meeting specific criteria—including having as their primary business to connect U.S. citizens/residents with foreign nationals—to conduct, among other procedures, sex offender checks on U.S. customers before contact details can be provided to the non-U.S. citizen. In 2008, the state of New Jersey passed a law which requires the sites to disclose whether they perform background checks.
The OkCupid app is much more like a traditional dating site than most apps, because that's what it used to be, and still is, with the added convenience that you can now use it on your phone. You set up a profile which includes questions about things like your interests, lifestyle and what you're looking for in a relationship. You then get to browse profiles which will display a match percentage based on how much you have in common. People who use OkCupid find this a helpful way to filter through potential dates and find someone with whom they're going to have lots in common.
After you fill out your profile, Zoosk uses a matchmaking algorithm to match you with others. There is no 30-minute questionnaire for Zoosk; rather, Zoosk figures out who you are based on your actions, not your answers. It uses a Dating Insights Feature that distinguishes it from other sites. This is where the science begins to come in, and science was my one bad subject in school, so I apologize I can’t go into the charts and graphs of all this. But basically it uses who you search for, who you interact with, what you are filtering in your searches, what kind of users are looking at your profile and showing interest in you and who you like in the carousel, and then Zoosk puts that information together and recommends matches for you to engage with.
Tinder has been nothing less than a cultural phenomenon, adding "swiping" to our dating lexicon. The casual dating app is incredibly straightforward and easy to use. In fact, it's so simple that, at least for the standard free version, there are really only a few things you can do on it, including updating your profile, swiping left (to pass) or right (to like), and chatting with matches.
Once you’re ready to communicate with your matches, InterracialCupid makes it simple. Free account users have full messaging capabilities—but only to premium users. This means that two users with free accounts can’t communicate. That’s a downside, but it’s one that’s pretty common across dating apps. Once you start messaging, however, it’s easy and user-friendly. There is also a live chat room that helps increase your chances of chatting with the right one.
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 percent of whom are between the ages of 18 and 30.
The sign-up process doesn’t get much simpler than the one you’ll find at BBWCupid. The process takes less than five minutes, but it does involve a personality test that is more in-depth than some other sites. Any picture you upload will have to be verified first. This can be a little bit of a hassle, but in the end is a much-appreciated feature to keep you and others safe.
If you’re nervous about trying online dating, start out with Match.com. To avoid the awkwardness of a one-on-one with a stranger, Match.com hosts group hangouts so you can get to know a lot of singles without any pressure. The Bucket List Event Series even pairs you up based on things you’d like to do before you die so you can make new and exciting memories to further foster a relationship. The website and app are both easy to use and because your matches appear with a compatibility number, you’re more likely to have something in common. Adding something unique to your profile like your favorite MLB team is also a fun add-on a lot of other dating websites lack.
Mutual is a free dating app for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You set up a profile, and then the app works similarly to Tinder. If two people express an interest in each other while swiping through user profiles, they're matched and able to start chatting. There's even a "double take" feature where you can get a second chance to swipe right on a profile if you accidentally skip it while scrolling. Facebook is required in order for you to use the app. This is to help eliminate the presence of fake profiles or bots.
Clover is a nice, clean, easy-to-use app with plenty of Australian users and a couple of interesting features. Like Tinder you get to look at a list of possible matches that you say yes or no to. But unlike Tinder you can filter your matches based on things like their relationship intention, interests, occupation and religion. Once you find someone you're interested in you can like them, message them or play twenty questions to find out how similar or different you are. Clover also offers on-demand dating which basically allows people to shortcut the small talk and go straight to setting up a meeting. The app is free but setting up a search filter on user profiles requires the premium version which starts from $29.99 per month.
On LatinAmericanCupid, once you’ve found a match, you can start communicating. Messaging is free between Standard and Premium users, but two standard users can’t initiate or make contact with each other. This is part of how Cupid runs all of its sites–so be ready to bring some money to the picture if you want full communication privileges. One you’re a premium member, you can communicate freely with all users.
It’s important to be upfront about what you’re looking for online. If you’re interested in something casual, free sites that require less information to sign up could work perfectly. It’s probably not worth paying for a membership if you’re not looking for anything long term and are willing to risk going on a couple of potentially bad dates. If marriage is what you’re after, then you might have better luck on paid sites that pair you with people who have the same priorities.
MocoSpace has been around since before app stores existed. Since 2005, it has been a leading site for meeting new people. They also have Android and iOS apps that are absolutely free. If you’re afraid they’ll try to sell you to a $30/month membership fee, don’t worry. It doesn’t exist. They also have more features than many other dating apps — with chat, instant messaging, and even some games in addition to highly customizable profile pages. The app experience is different from the competition, and users who return for several sessions are rewarded with a community that keeps them coming back for years.