Online dating is more popular than ever before, and your complete guide to the best dating apps starts right now. We’ve rounded up the top choices for 2021, including a look at what some classic sites have to offer today, plus some new sites you might not be familiar with. Get ready to make this year your best one ever for dating!
Tinder continues to reign as the undisputed king of dating apps. The name is practically synonymous with online dating, and it’s easy to see why. They offer an intuitive user interface and the ability to meet new people near you for either quick hook-ups or long-term relationships. Plus, you can use the basic service without spending a dime.
Over six million people use Tinder, and its popularity is only increasing. In the second quarter of 2020, Tinder users swiped over three billion times in a single day!
Using the Platform
Setting up a profile takes only a few minutes. You need to provide your name, email, age, and gender. You don’t need to write up a lengthy profile or even upload pics.
Browsing is intentionally a free-for-all. You don’t need to select by age, religion, height, or anything. Instead, you simply swipe from picture to picture, swiping right if you’re interested and left if you’re not.
If you swiped right on someone who also swiped right on you, a match is made, and you’re then allowed to message each other.
Sure, you can go in-depth by looking at additional pictures and reading the person’s profile, but the app’s main focus is just swiping one way or the other on the initial photo. While certainly shallow and probably not the best way to develop a long-term relationship, it’s definitely addicting – and Tinder knows it.
Tinder earned $513 million in 2020. From a consumer standpoint, what’s interesting is how relatively laid-back Tinder is about pushing their paid services.
You can use the basic service for free. You can swipe and potentially match with any user on the site. Additionally, you can change some search settings such as age range and geographic locations. Every 12 swipes or so, you’ll watch an ad. Also, the number of likes you can give out per day is limited.
Aside from the free option, they offer three subscription tiers:
- Tinder Gold
- Tinder Platinum
All of the tiers offer unlimited likes plus a variety of Super Likes and at least one Boost, features that help you stand out from the crowd. The Platinum mode offers a few unique features, such as the ability to message before matching with someone.
Tinder+ costs $19.99 per month, with each tier increasing in price by $10. You can also buy Boosts individually for $3.99 or Super Likes for $.99.
Tinder doesn’t currently have video options, which does put them at a disadvantage for socially-distanced dating. Instead of adding video, they made Tinder Passport and Tinder U free. Tinder Passport lets you match with people in different cities, while Tinder U is their college-based app. The idea is to give you more people to chat with since chatting will replace in-person dating for the most part.
There’s also reason to believe video chatting will arrive at Tinder sooner rather than later. They’re owned by the Match Group, which owns a number of other major dating sites that do have in-app video capabilities.
- Popular, easy-to-use platform
- Creating a profile takes only minutes
- It shows you nearby matches
- Matchmaking process is mainly superficial
- No video chatting option
You can read a more detailed Tinder review here.
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Do you know anyone who met their special someone on Match? As one of the most popular and mainstream online dating sites, they’ve been connecting couples since way back in 1993. Their expertise in the industry shines through clearly, with an intuitive design, personalized matches, and commitment to quality.
Match hasn’t been content to sit back and coast. They’ve put extensive effort into their Android and iPhone apps, which deliver the same solid matchmaking in a sleeker design meant for smart devices.
Creating your Match profile is straightforward if a bit extensive. First, you answer a variety of basic questions, such as your height, weight, relationship status, ethnicity, religion, and more. You’ll also answer questions about what you’re looking for in a mate.
Your profile doesn’t automatically appear online. Instead, Match staff has to approve it first. While that does slow the process down somewhat, it also ensures the site is filled with complete profiles that contain real photos of users.
Match is primarily a paid service. While creating a profile is free, most basic functions require a subscription. A Standard Subscription allows you to send and respond to messages, receive notifications when someone views your profile, and more. It’s $19.99 per month, or $17.99 per month if you pay for six months, or $16.99 a month if you purchase an annual subscription.
The Premium Plan gives you a Monthly Boost, which helps more people find your profile. It also gives your message read alerts. The Premium plan costs $23.99 a month, $19.99 for a six-month subscription, and $17.99 for a year.
Scrolling through profiles is intuitive. You have a variety of filters, plus the ability to view each profile in-depth. Here’s where the extensive profiles really shine. You’ll find detailed subsections to read through, such as Favorite Things and Favorite Places to Hang Out. You can get a strong sense of the person before reaching out with a message.
- Large, well-established dating site
- App has an intuitive design
- Detailed profiles help you find a long-term match
- Relatively expensive
- Requires fairly lengthy profile setup
You can find a more detailed Match dating site review here.
Let’s face it: Photos drive most dating apps. The better you look in the pics you provide, the more matches you’ll likely receive. eHarmony offers an alternative with its famous data-driven approach to matchmaking.
Creating a Profile
As expected, creating a dating profile for eHarmony is extensive. This is no Tinder-style app where you upload a photo or two and immediately start searching for matches. Instead, you’ll need to answer an in-depth questionnaire.
First, you’ll need to provide basic info such as your age, religion, and gender you want to date. Next, you’ll answer essay questions, such as “What are you passionate about?” and “What are three things you’re thankful for?”. Each answer requires only a short one or two-word phrase.
Finally, you’ll reach the Compatibility Quiz. It’s a 100-word questionnaire that covers areas such as religious faith, your feelings on monogamy, and other deeply-held principles. Additionally, many of the questions act as a type of personality assessment in general.
Completing the profile is a major component of eHarmony. You’re not allowed to skip questions, so prepare to dedicate some time when creating an account.
eHarmony launched in the early 2000s, back when paying for access to an online dating site supposedly indicated a person’s level of commitment to taking the process seriously. While that attitude has changed, eHarmony remains a site that’s primarily for paying subscribers.
The free options limit you to viewing only the profiles eHarmony has determined are a good match. Additionally, you can only send icebreaker questions; you can’t directly communicate with anyone.
As a subscriber, the site opens up substantially. You can send messages, view all profiles, and view photos. Each profile you view displays a percentage match between you and the other person regarding various traits such as Emotional Intimacy, Intellect, Athleticism, and Relationship Values.
They offer three levels of Premium membership: Lite, Plus, and Extra. Each provides the same benefits. You simply get a lower price if you commit to a longer subscription plan. A six-month subscription is $49.90 per month, Plus costs $35.90 per month for a year, and Extra is $25.90 for two years.
eHarmony makes video chatting easy. After you’ve exchanged a few messages with someone, and when you’re both online, a Video Date button will appear. The other person has the option to accept or reject the call. Your video date has no time limit and requires no sharing of personal information, such as your phone number.
- Designed for serious, long-term relationships
- Data-driven approach to matchmaking
- Easy-to-use Video Date feature
- Lengthy setup process
- Relatively high cost
You can find a more detailed eHarmony review here.
Ladies lead on Bumble. It’s similar in the overall structure to Tinder, but with an emphasis on a woman-friendly vibe.
Men interested in women aren’t allowed to initiate communication. Instead, women must send the first message. Once the message is sent, the guy has 24 hours to reply. Otherwise, he loses the ability to talk to her.
Men can play a more active role than simply waiting around to be contacted. They can express interest by either clicking an icon on the woman’s profile or tapping a heart emoji (to show a more serious level of interest). Note that’s all the guy can do; only women can send the first message.
Same-sex couples, as well as anyone using the site’s designated friend matchmaking service, can message each other instantly.
Setting Up a Profile
Setting up a profile is quick and simple. Like most major dating apps, Bumble strongly urges you to connect your Facebook account, although you can also make a profile using only your phone number.
Instead of selecting your gender, Bumble asks what you identify as, allowing you to choose genderfluid or whatever else you prefer. Allowing you to select a gender identity is relatively rare, especially among dating sites of this size, making Bumble a good choice for those with fluid gender identities.
Next, you’ll set up your profile. They offer a variety of fun and engaging writing prompts such as “Two Truths and a Lie” and “My Most Recent Act of Kindness Was…” It helps keep the profiles informative while maintaining a light tone.
The app strongly encourages you to read a person’s profile before deciding whether you’d like to connect with them. That said, profile pictures are featured prominently, and an attractive image will help you stand out. After all, this is the same site famously used by Sharon Stone in 2019.
Among the biggest and best dating apps, Bumble stands out with a solid offering of free features. You can create a profile, browse other users, and talk to members. Considering those basic interactions can cost $30 to $40 on many other apps, Bumble is a great way to enter the world of dating apps without making a financial commitment.
They also offer a few premium features to enhance the experience. For $24.99 a month, you can subscribe to Bumble Boost. It lets you view everyone who has right-swiped your profile. Plus, you can extend the response time by 24 hours and rematch with expired connections.
You can also subscribe to Bumble Premium, which gives you extensive search filters, long response times, unlimited swipes, the ability to backtrack, the option to change your location so you can search for matches in different cities, states, or countries, and more.
Although they originally launched video chat features in 2019, they’ve rapidly expanded recently, making the site a solid choice for virtual dating. Add a Virtual Dating badge to your profile to signal your willingness to video chat with potential partners. They also offer helpful blog posts about how to date while maintaining social distance.
- Creates a safe, private environment, especially for women
- Basic use is free while paid options are reasonable
- Excellent virtual dating features
- Fun, casual vibe
- Friend matchmaking features are sparse
Hinge has an interesting history. Originally, it was a dating app that connected with your Facebook friend network to find potential matches that had some connection to your social circle, such as a mutual friend.
However, in recent years, they’ve moved away from that aspect to become a traditional dating app. You’re not required to connect it to your Facebook.
Hinge isn’t a dating website. Instead, it’s entirely a mobile app. Although a desktop site exists, it mainly sells merchandise for “Delete Day,” which is what the company calls the day you delete the app, implying you’ve found your perfect match and don’t want to date anymore.
Creating a Profile
Creating a profile is free and fast. They guide you through the process by dividing the profile into three categories:
Virtues cover basics such as your place of employment and education. Vitals refer to your physical characteristics such as height and weight, plus your location and whether or not you have children. Finally, Vices include your preferences regarding drinking, smoking, or drugs.
Hinge adds a fun twist to photos with text snippets. You can select from a list of irreverent sayings such as “As seen on my mom’s fridge” and “Comment if you’ve been here.” They help break up the monotony of scrolling through a bunch of photos by showcasing the user’s personality.
Photos, videos, and captions all work together to create engaging profiles that help you get a real sense of the person. Plus, when you reach out to someone, you have an excellent icebreaker because you can comment on something specific, such as a profile.
Hinge places fairly comprehensive restrictions on free users. While you can sign up and create an account without subscribing, your ability to interact with others is limited. At most, non-subscribers get a dozen free Likes to distribute daily.
With a paid subscription, you get unlimited Likes. Additionally, you can see everyone who likes your profile. You also have access to advanced search options such as education, political leanings, vices, and more.
Dating from Home
Hinge’s dating has benefits and drawbacks.
They offer a Dating from Home menu where you can tell the app you’re up for a video chat with someone on the site. If they’ve made the same selection, you’ll both be notified. It takes the sting out of any rejection because they never know you wanted to chat unless they felt the same way.
However, Hinge doesn’t have a built-in video app. You’ll need to use other software, like Zoom. While that’s not a dealbreaker necessarily, it does require that you interact with the person outside of the app.
- Fun vibe with intuitive layout
- Designed specifically for mobile devices
- Uses photos and text to create natural icebreakers
- No built-in video chatting
- Most features require a subscription
Launched in 2018, Facebook Dating is a relative newcomer to the world of dating apps, but they’re already a major player thanks to their massive built-in user base.
Creating an Account
Facebook Dating is an extension of the Facebook app. If you use Facebook on a mobile device, setting up your Facebook Dating profile is easy. The app already knows your basic demographic information, so all you need to do is answer some questions about your dating preferences and personality.
Using the App
Perhaps not surprisingly, the app looks and functions like Facebook. If anything, it’s a bit too close to Facebook, and it’s surprisingly easy at times to wind up back on your timeline. However, using the app is fairly straightforward.
The main aspect of each profile is a photo, but you can also scroll down to see written info, including the answers to the standard questionnaire. Instead of swiping in a direction, you tap either a heart or an X.
Facebook Dating is entirely free. Everyone can view profiles, send messages, and even use various Facebook-specific search filters such as looking for anyone in similar Groups or Events.
Of course, as with anything related to Facebook, you’re “paying” for the service by sharing your personal data with the company, which does make some people nervous.
Overall, Facebook Dating is a surprisingly feature-filled and easy-to-use app with a large user base. Although they’re relatively new, they’ve hit the ground running.
Facebook Dating promises to keep your friends and your potential matches separate, so nobody has to know you’re using the app, but there is an interesting exception. You can select up to nine of your Facebook or Instagram friends as Secret Crushes. If any of them join Facebook Dating, you’ll receive a notification.
You can also send notifications to specific friends inviting them to Facebook Dating. While certainly a bold move, it does allow for an interesting integration between these two aspects of Facebook.
- Quick and easy setup
- Large existing user base
- Intuitive matchmaking process
- Requires you to share personal info with Facebook
If you’re looking to have a high-powered career and a dating life, Elite Singles is geared towards you. The majority of members are career-focused, driven, and highly educated. More than 85% of their members have a college degree.
One of the site’s most interesting features is presented right away. During the profile creation process, you’ll answer a short series of insightful personality questions. For instance, “I’m interested in the arts” and “I always proceed according to plan.” Using a slider, you select how much those statements apply to you and how important they are in a potential partner.
How Elite is the App?
The app positions itself as a place for busy, successful professionals. But don’t worry. They don’t kick you off if you make less than six figures or don’t own your own company.
It’s entirely a marketing gimmick, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, even if you’re not quite as successful as you’d like to be at the moment, you can find like-minded partners.
If the layout looks familiar, that’s likely because Elite Singles is part of the Spark Network. They operate a variety of sites, such as Christian Singles and Zoosk. All sites have the same basic layout, although Elite Singles tends to run a bit faster than many other sites in the network.
You can find a more detailed Elite Singles review here.
Are you sick of the dating game? Try some online games instead! XO offers a unique take on online dating. It features a variety of fun games, quizzes, and party activities to help you break the ice and meet new people. Popular options included games similar to Scrabble, Memory, Hangman, and more.
The games involve drawing, answering questions, and light competition. New options are introduced often. Winning isn’t the goal. Instead, the games are made to elicit laughs and conversation. Online video games, including these simple party games, increase social interaction. Playing with someone else is an effective way to learn more about their personality.
XO offers a traditional dating experience where you can create a profile and then search through the profiles of others. While that aspect of the app works well, it’s not really the focus of the site. Instead, the app is mainly designed for random pairings.
Blind Date mode pairs you with a random person (of the gender you want to date). The two of you play a game together and exchange messages. In an interesting twist, you can’t see one another’s profiles until after the game. It encourages you to develop your impression in the moment, rather than judging someone on their profile.
Another option is simply called Random. Here, you’re paired up with someone from anywhere in the world. The idea behind Random is less on creating serious relationships and more on having fun meeting new people.
Overall, XO isn’t the best choice for finding a long-term romantic partner, but the games offer a fun way to meet new people, either locally or from across the globe.
- Uses fun games to break the ice
- Multiple random matchmaking options
- Allows you to meet people around the world
- Designed more for casual instead of short-term relationships
When meeting new people in real life, it helps to have a wingman (or wingwoman) by your side. Now you can get the same benefits when dating online with the Wingman dating app. It offers a unique feature that lets you bring your friends into the mix to help you choose the perfect partner.
The site operates in a similar fashion to Tinder, with the ability to swipe on potential matches. However, instead of selecting the matches yourself, your friends do it. As the account holder, you can designate up to five people for your Wingman Team. They scroll through the feed and swipe on the profiles they think are the best match for you.
You only match with people who liked you back, meaning their friends thought they were a good match for you. Once a match between Wingman Teams is made, the two people are allowed to message each other.
As you might expect, matches are often rather hit-or-miss. Quite a few people can end up involved in the selection process. Don’t necessarily expect to find any serious, long-term relationships here. However, it’s a fun and unique take on online dating that you and your friends can enjoy.
- Fun with friends
- Simple, picture-based selection system
- Only connect with people you want to message
- Quality of matchmaking is inconsistent
Your friends have to participate, or you won’t match with anyone.
More people are dating online than ever before. Whether you’re looking for love and commitment or simply a casual date, the best way to meet your perfect match is with a dating app. Finding different options is no problem, but you don’t want to waste your time on a site that isn’t a good fit for you.
As shown above, not all dating apps have the same purpose. Remember that first, you want to define your goals. If you’re looking for a hook-up or casual fling, Tinder, XO, and similar apps are the best option. However, if you’re looking for long-term love and marriage, you’re more likely to find success on eHarmony, Match, or Bumble.
Additionally, consider how much you’re willing to pay. You can definitely meet people using free dating apps, but you’ll have to subscribe to utilize many features, such as advanced search filters.
No matter what type of relationship you would like, an app exists that can help you find your perfect match. The love of your life awaits – log on today!