When economists say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” what they mean is everything comes with a cost — it just might not be in dollars, euros, or yen.

Savvy online daters may already be familiar with the hidden costs of a 100% free dating site. They may run into pop-up ads, or they may not have access to paid features, including messaging and viewing photos. Some free sites may cost $0 to join, but they can be taxing in other ways, and singles need all the information if they want to game the system and get results without wasting a lot of effort or racking up a big price tag.

We’ve evaluated some of the most popular free dating sites and apps out there to give singles an idea of what they can expect online and what their subscription options are, so they can decide what they’re willing to spend on an awesome dating experience. Take a look!

Overall Best 100% Free Dating Sites

We’re going to save you a lot of time and money by putting the most cost-effective dating sites right up top for your enjoyment. The following free dating platforms provide valuable matching features, search tools, and networking potential — without an enormous price tag.

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★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Match is the world's longest running dating site
  • The Discover section has search filters by interests, looks, lifestyle, and more
  • Match is available in 50 countries and 15 languages

Match is a free-to-join but pay-to-chat online dating site where singles can mix and mingle on their own terms.

Since 1995, Match has set high standards in the dating industry and inspired deep relationships based on mutual compatibility. Match used to offer a free trial period to singles who were curious about how it works, but now the dating site has a lifetime free membership option to kick things off. Free members can set up their dating profiles, add photos, browse matches, save their preferred search criteria, and exchange likes online with the perfect match.

Messaging is a premium feature on Match, but free members aren’t locked completely out of the conversation. Match allows singles to read and respond to messages from their Top Picks list, thus making the online dating experience more enjoyable and rewarding for everyone involved.

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★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Over 2 million monthly users
  • Premium members receive 20 wildcard matches a day
  • Search features include age, height, education, ethnicity, and lifestyle habits

Elite Singles sets high standards in the online dating scene, and its tiered membership appeals to people of all income levels. This dating site was designed to introduce relationship-minded professionals to one another, and we think it’s done a grand job so far.

You can start off with a free membership to see how things work, and then you can work your way up the ladder to a premium membership plan that fits your budget and meets your relationship goals.

Elite Singles creates thousands of love connections every week, and its commitment to quality over quantity has made for a selective dating environment. Over 80% of Elite Singles members have earned a college degree, and over 90% say they want to get in a serious relationship.

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★★★★★ 4.7/5.0
  • Send messages to premium members for free
  • Over 3 million messages sent a day
  • Premium perks include photo verification and sending virtual gifts

Thanks to its forward-thinking features, Zoosk has become one of the leading dating sites and apps in the world. In 2007, the platform draw inspiration from popular social media sites and took online dating to a whole new level.

Today, thousands of Zoosk couples have the site to thank for introducing them to a good match and giving them plenty of options to flirt.

Zoosk offers free match suggestions, free search tools, and a lot of free communication features to get singles on their way to a promising connection. The Carousel is the most efficient place to find viable dates because users can quickly swipe through profiles and create mutual interest on the fly.

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★★★★★ 4.7/5.0
  • Over 2 million people have found love here
  • Users can filter their match recommendations by age or city
  • Compatibility Quiz identifies common interests, lifestyles, and goals

The thing about eharmony is that it’s all about relationships. Not short-term dating. Not hookups. Not friendship. Its founding mission is to create lasting relationships that lead to marriage, family, and a fruitful life together — and that’s something the team takes very seriously. The team even offers a three-month guarantee to back its services.

Since 2000, eharmony has endeavored to identify true compatibility by using a psychology-based questionnaire that has been honed quite a bit over the years. It used to be over 150 questions long and take over an hour to complete. Now it’s much shorter, and singles can get through it in about 20 minutes.

The questionnaire is free and optional, but eharmony highly recommends singles answer each question honestly because that’s the basis for its match suggestions and compatibility ratings. You can browse profiles and see how you stack up with them without paying anything, but only premium members can view photos and send messages on eharmony — unless it’s a free communication weekend, which are rare but totally worth the wait.

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★★★★ 4.3/5.0

ChristianMingle promotes good Christian values in the online dating scene and encourages devout singles to find someone who shares similar beliefs and traditions.

While ChristianMingle isn’t a Christian-only dating network — people of all faiths are welcome to create a free profile — the site focuses on inspiring God-centered relationships, and it has been the salvation of Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, and other faith-driven daters.

Its heartwarming success stories are proof of the dating site’s impact on people’s lives. “God used ChristianMingle to cross our paths,” said Rhonda, who met her husband Woody on the dating site.

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★★★★ 4.2/5.0

When you sign up for BlackPeopleMeet, you can diversify your dating prospects and enjoy a colorful dating experience in just a few clicks. The niche site boasts having the largest network of black and biracial singles in the U.S., and it is a valuable resource for singles seeking dark-skinned dates.

BlackPeopleMeet is free to people of all ethnicities, skin tones, and racial backgrounds, and singles can assess their options thanks to the site’s free features, which include photo likes, flirts, and favorites. Messaging will cost a little extra, but it can make all the difference in your dating life, so it could be worth the $3 to $4 per week for a paid membership.

BlackPeopleMeet uses a token-based system to give singles access to additional paid features, including  virtual gifting, special notifications, and a highlighted dating profile.

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★★★★ 4.1/5.0
  • Free, unlimited communication for everyone
  • Singles can swipe or search for a compatible date
  • Over 91 million connections every year

When OkCupid launched in 2004, the website promised to remain forever free to everyone, and it has pretty much stuck to that. Messaging is 100% free and unlimited on this dating site and app, and you can like and favorite as many profiles as you want without subscribing as an A-List member.

OkCupid has a mutual matching system to help singles filter their inboxes, but it still allows singles to message anyone they like. Anyone can send a quick greeting here; however, the message will only appear in the other person’s inbox if/when they like you back. Until then, it’ll appear to them as a notification on your dating profile. It’s a good way to get someone’s attention and make new friends.

The mantra at OkCupid is “Dating deserves better,” and that’s what this number-crunching website and app aim to deliver. Every week, over 50,000 dates are planned on OkCupid, and you don’t need a paid membership to join in the fun on this flirtatious, inclusive, and quirky community.

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★★★★ 4.1/5.0

Plenty of Fish (aka POF) is another free dating platform where communication doesn’t cost a thing. It offers an open-ended space where anything can happen and dates are up for grabs.

The POF community is full of activity with millions of messages being exchanged every day. The site sees over 4 million views per day, and it makes over 57 million new potential matches each week. “Because of POF, I met the love of my life,” said Courtney in a testimonial.

The abundance of free features on Plenty of Fish has attracted budget-conscious daters of all stripes. Mingling in a dating pool of 150 million profiles can be overwhelming, but the online dating site’s search filters can help you narrow things down quite a bit. Just be on the lookout for suspicious characters and fake profiles because the downside of free, unlimited chatting is that sometimes catfishers or scammers can show up in your inbox.

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★★★★ 4.0/5.0
  • Supports active daters in 190+ countries
  • The swiping system creates over 12 million matches per day
  • Tinder Plus members have unlimited likes and 5 Super Likes

You’ve heard of Tinder, right? It’s only the world’s most popular dating app and the creator of #SwipeLife. In 2012, Tinder took the dating world by storm by introducing a clever mutual matching system that has been duplicated by just about every dating site and app these days.

Tinder lets singles decide who they want in the dating scene, and it can be a powerful tool for picking up dates and building relationships. While Tinder may have the reputation of a hookup app, it has actually led to quite a few long-term romances, and some couples have even gotten into a serious relationship or marriage thanks to the free dating app.

Tinder sees over 2 billion views per day, and it leads to over 1.5 million dates per week, and it’s totally free to download, swipe, match, and chat here. What more could you want from a casual hookup app?

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★★★★ 4.0/5.0
  • A feminist dating app puts singles on equal footing
  • 60% of Bumble matches turn into dates
  • Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF spark non-romantic connections

In 2014, Bumble set itself apart from other swipe-crazy dating apps by putting the needs and interests of women first. The free app has empowered women to make the first move (i.e. send the first message) when matching with men online.

Tech entrepreneur Whitney Wolfe Herd developed this innovative and progressive concept shortly after leaving an executive position at Tinder and striking out on her own. Today, Bumble has become one of the Tinder’s biggest rivals, and it has been widely recognized as “the feminist dating app” for singles seeking relationships, not hookups.

Bumble is a win-win for guys and gals in the dating scene. “Love that I don’t get bombarded with messages,” Cara said in a review. And a male Bumble user named Sidd added that he enjoyed meeting the high-caliber women in his inbox, saying, “Much more accomplished with much less random messages and matches.”

Best 100% Free Senior Dating Sites

The online dating world can be intimating for seniors who are recently divorced or widowed. They’ve been out of the game for a long time, and they may not know how mature dating works these days. Fortunately, senior dating sites and apps can offer a beginner-friendly space to learn, grow, and date again. We trust the following sites to help seniors and make them feel more confident about their romantic futures.

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★★★★★ 4.5/5.0

SilverSingles has streamlined online dating for a senior audience, and it offers matchmaking that works without putting the user through a lot of hassle and stress.

As an exclusive over-50 dating site, SilverSingles can give singles the opportunity to meet someone special who’s in the same age bracket and looking for a second chance at love

SilverSingles recommends compatible dating profiles (up to seven per day), and it also has advanced search tools that allow singles to identify matches based on their own standards. Premium members can see photos, view their profile visitors, and send unlimited messages on SilverSingles, so you can get the full picture if you subscribe.

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★★★★ 4.4/5.0
  • Open to straight, gay, and lesbian singles over 50
  • Free match recommendations and conversation starters
  • Use Tokens to promote your profile and send virtual gifts

The OurTime dating site helps senior singles get to know one another and create solid matches online and offline. It’s free to register an account on OurTime and fill out an in-depth profile about who you are and what you want.

OurTime profiles cover the basics — appearance, age, occupation, education, smoking habits, etc. — but also give singles room to tell their own stories and show a little personality in the In a Nutshell section. Singles can choose to answer fun prompts, including “Go-to karaoke song,” “Do you enjoy cooking?” “The one I am looking for,” and “I’d just like to add.”

It’s free to create your profile, upload photos, search for matches, and send flirts on OurTime. However, you’ll need to sign up for a subscription plan if you plan on messaging anyone here.

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★★★★ 3.7/5.0

SeniorMatch has been around since 2003, making it one of the oldest dating sites in its niche, and all that experience has made it more efficient and effective. The dating site can help seniors meet pen pals, new friends, local dates, and potential partners in a welcoming and mature setting.

Over 1 million singles have joined SeniorMatch, and the site claims to host over 1.6 million monthly conversations. This affordable site ensures genuine singles can become acquainted without jumping through too many hoops.

If you want proof that SeniorMatch works, you can read through its 36,000 success stories and get a sense of how many people have fallen in love on this platform.

Best 100% Free LGBT Dating Sites

Online dating has become one of the most popular ways for same-sex couples to meet one another. According to a Match.com survey, 56% of LGBTQ+ singles have dated someone they met online. In fact, LGBTQ+ singles use dating apps at about twice the rate of straight singles because it’s easier to identify queer dates and come out as a gay dater online.

The following gay-friendly dating sites can allow singles to pursue anyone they want and make the most of the dating scene.

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★★★★ 3.8/5.0
  • One of the largest gay hookup sites in the world
  • Search filters for age, location, physical attributes, and more
  • Available in 12 languages and counting

MenNation is a men-only hookup site where singles and couples can flirt, match, and solicit sex 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The site offers an anonymous and private forum for guys with sex on the brain. Its one-on-one chats can facilitate intimate encounters and lead gay men to the hot guy of their dreams. All it takes is a like or message to stimulate interest and get something going.

Millions of men are in the MenNation database, and that means a world of opportunities for guys bold enough to enter this sexual terrain.

15. HER

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★★★★ 3.5/5.0
  • A quirky and unapologetic womxn-only dating community
  • Queer events get users connecting IRL
  • The constantly updated Feed facilitates social networking

Designed by a lesbian for singles like her, HER supports a womxn-only dating network that’s friendly, active, and worth your attention.

The dating app is free to download, and free members can browse a newsfeed of profiles, comment on photos or stories, and RSVP to local queer events (everything from parades to picnics). HER fosters a dynamic dating scene where womxn can feel safe, comfortable, and confident — and that means everything to the HER couples around the world.

Over 4 million lesbian, bisexual, queer, and trans womxn have joined HER so far, and we expect that number to grow as more LGBTQ+ people discover the incredible value offered by this upstanding community.

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★★★★ 3.5/5.0

LesbianPersonals has basically become the go-to dating space for women with a high sex drive and few inhibitions. The hookup platform is free to join, and you can get a feel for what it has to offer by browsing profiles and sending likes.

The LesbianPersonals membership base includes lesbian singles, lesbian couples, straight couples, and groups, and they’re all looking for a special lady to join them in the bedroom. The fast-paced dating scene has led to hookups, threesomes, and orgies, bringing satisfaction to thousands of horny women out there.

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★★★ 3.4/5.0
  • Social networking for gay, bi, trans, and queer men
  • Location-based matches spark instant chemistry
  • Grindr Equality advocates for LGBTQ+ interests on the global stage

We couldn’t end this list without mentioning Grindr. Since 2009, the gay dating app has become one of the most popular matchmaking tools for men seeking men, and its membership base includes over 27 million profiles in almost every country in the world.

Grindr is free to join, and it has the free matching and chatting features singles need to land a hot date, but some users say upgrading to Grindr XTRA gave them even more options and opportunities on the app. The premium features including additional filters, no banner ads, personalized push notifications, unlimited blocks and favorites, quick-send photos, and viewing up to 600 profiles.

Grindr XTRA Lite is a more cost-efficient one-month subscription. It’ll remove banner ads and allow singles to view up to 300 profiles, and that’s it. Upgrading is optional, and it is possible to make a match with a standard Grindr membership.

Best 100% Free Hookup Sites

Looking for a dating site that’ll give you the most bang for your buck? We’ve got a few good options for your browsing pleasure. These reputable hookup sites have satisfied singles and swingers with a fast-paced interface, sexy membership base, and affordable live messaging tools. Take a look at what they have to offer by reading our reviews.

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★★★★ 4.1/5.0

When it comes to hookup sites, BeNaughty is almost always on top. Put simply, the site has a lot of game, and it fosters instant connections and matches between sex-oriented men and women.

BeNaughty users can either search for hot dates by age, location, appearance, ethnicity, and other characteristics, or they can go to the Like Gallery and see which profiles the site recommends based on their preferences. The Like Gallery is a fun way to decide who’s cute and who’s not, creating romantic opportunities with every swipe.

Really in a hurry to hook up with a local man or woman? Then send a mass flirty message to everyone online who meets your search criteria. BeNaughty encourages flirty conversations morning, noon, and night, and it’s never too late to woo someone on this dating website.

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★★★★ 4.0/5.0

Since its launch in 1997, Adult Friend Finder has surpassed 97 million profiles and brought about a sexual awakening for countless individuals and couples.

The hookup site offers a lot of free forums and chat groups where members can mix things up. The AFF community has sparked more than 14 million group discussions, and it has published over 19 million blog posts full of erotic stories and X-rated content.

Browsing Adult Friend Finder can be an arousing experience, and the excitement doesn’t end online. Many AFF members are actively seeking an sexy playmate for IRL adventures and a casual hookup.

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★★★★ 3.9/5.0

Last of all, FriendFinder-X makes it easy to enjoy a naughty dating experience and woo local hotties without leaving home. The hookup site characterizes itself as a place “where good girls do bad things.”

The anonymous nature of this free casual hookup site probably contributes to the bold and outlandish behavior of FriendFinder-X members. Singles, couples, and groups head to this platform when they want to mix things up and find the object of their desire.

If you’re interested in no-strings-attached sex, you can’t do much better than FriendFinder-X. It’s not completely free, but it is awfully exciting to view an X-rated dating profile and flirt with new people here.

What Is the Number 1 Dating Site

This is obviously debatable, and it depends heavily on who you are and what you’re looking for in the dating scene, but, if you want our opinion, we rank Match.com as the #1 dating site for just about anyone seeking love online.

Why do our dating experts love Match so much? Because we’ve seen it work. The site has serious street cred in the industry and countless love stories to its name.

Category Rating
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • In-depth matching appeals to women with high standards
  • Only premium members can send private messages to one another
  • An established singles network in 50 countries worldwide

Over the last 20 years, Match.com has been responsible for more first dates, relationships, and marriages than any other online dating site, and that makes it the best of the best in our book.

What Is the Best Dating Site for a Serious Relationship?

Beyond a doubt, eharmony has the market cornered when it comes to relationships. The dating site has a time-tested, personality-driven matchmaking system that can seriously save folks a lot of time searching for a soulmate.

The free dating app isn’t 100% free to use — you need a paid membership to access the chat feature on eharmony — but this is a quality dating space for meeting new people who are authentic and loyal, and that makes it great for serious relationship seekers who are willing to invest in their love lives.

Category Rating
★★★★★ 4.7/5.0
  • Designed to satisfy marriage-minded single women
  • In-depth compatibility quiz generates high-quality matches
  • Personalized Match Preferences on gender, age, income, religion, education, and more

Over the last two decades, eharmony has given hope to marriage-minded singles around the world, and it is responsible for bringing over 2 million couples together in the U.S. alone. This is definitely a great place to find your happily-ever-after love story.

What is the Best Dating Site for 50-Year Olds

Silver Singles is our favorite dating site for singles in their 50s. It caters to a mature crowd of singles, and 50-year-olds will actually be the youngsters on this seniors-only network.

The Silver Singles dating site and app offer a completely free membership option so singles can test the waters before diving into the senior dating pool.

Category Rating
★★★★★ 4.5/5.0

Silver Singles has a lot to offer as a free dating site with a premium matchmaking feature to help locate the perfect match. If you’re looking for age-appropriate dates, SilverSingles can introduce you to many singles who share similar backgrounds, experiences, and values.

The Silver Singles dating website and app automatically remove fake profiles from the network, so seniors can set their worries aside when meeting new people through this reputable dating service.

Are There Any Real Dating Sites?

Actually all dating sites are mere figments of your imagination. You’re probably having a fever dream from watching too many rom-coms.

I’m kidding. Yeah, a lot of dating sites are the real deal and can offer real opportunities to meet singles. You can tell a site is legit if it has good reviews (both from customers and third-party reviewers), offers some sort of profile verification system (via email address, social media, etc.), provides contact information for the customer service team (online contact form, email, and/or snail mail), and shares success stories on the site.

We’ve listed many real dating sites on this list already, but we’ll reiterate a few here for you. OkCupid has been around since 2004, and it is responsible for 1 million real-world dates on a weekly basis.

Category Rating
★★★★ 4.3/5.0
  • Men can leave a message to anyone they fancy
  • A sophisticated match algorithm developed by Harvard math majors
  • The site and app facilitate over 50,000 dates every week

Bumble has staked its reputation on authenticity and integrity, and its team doesn’t hesitate to remove unsavory characters from the app. Its serious approach to online dating has helped countless real singles go on real dates and get in real relationships.

Category Rating
★★★★ 4.4/5.0
  • A female-friendly dating environment puts women in control
  • Zero tolerance for bullying, misogyny, and rude behavior
  • Conversations expire in 24 to 48 hours

Even on a trustworthy dating site or app, you should still be on the lookout for the rotten apples that can sometimes slip past the security walls. Trust your instincts as you browse dating profiles online and vet potential matches before you agree to meet in person. Things to look out for include bad grammar, broken English, and pleas for money, gifts, or favors. These are all warning signs that the person you’re talking to isn’t trustworthy and may be trying to con you in a romance scam.

Does Online Dating Really Work?

Yes, online dating really, truly, and honestly can work for singles seeking everything from a casual hookup or a long-term relationship. How can I be so certain? Because I met my boyfriend on a dating app last year, and we couldn’t be happier with how our swiping experience went.

Online dating gives you instant access to a world of romantic possibilities, and it can spark relationships with that perfect match if you play your cards right. If you haven’t had much luck on dating websites and apps so far, maybe try beefing up your dating profile or working on your online conversation skills to up the odds of finding something real.

Over half of never-married adults in the U.S. say they have tried online dating, and 22% of newlyweds in 2019 met their spouse on a dating site or app. Taken as a whole, online dating is one of the most popular ways to meet people nowadays, and singles who embrace that will have more date options to show for their time and effort.

A Free Dating Site Can be Your Ticket to Romance

You can put your wallet away. No need to check your credit limit. The best 100% free dating sites don’t require credit card information upon signup, and they won’t push you to subscribe or upgrade before you’re ready.

The top-rated sites on this list offer a lot of great free features, including matchmaking and messaging, and we firmly believe any of them can get singles off the couch and onto a great date. Just remember, you get what you pay for. You can save your cash on an absolutely free dating site, or you can invest your energy and save time on a premium online dating site — the choice is up to you.

Whether you’re looking for a short-term romance or a long-term love, the online dating world has plenty of affordable options available 24/7 to help you meet new people and make new friends. Spend wisely!

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