Free trials for online dating platforms used to be a common tool to convince new users to sign up. But for a while now, most dating apps and sites operate on a “freemium” model, rather than offering a trial. Basic membership grants basic features, and users have the option to pay to upgrade.

Some former free trial dating apps and sites offer more robust options than others when it comes to basic membership. The dating platforms on this list offer different levels of access with a free membership, so you can choose the right match of features and atmosphere to make your dating life a success!

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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

When launched in 1995, the dating website offered free trial memberships for new users. But as the world of online dating expanded, Match shifted to a different model: everyone and anyone can sign up for free for the online dating site or the popular dating app, and the free membership never expires.That said, basic membership on Match comes with some restrictions, while a paid subscription includes all of the features and tools you could want in a dating platform.

As a basic member on Match, you can take the personality test, browse profiles, and view the matches the dating service suggests, including your Top Picks. You can even send likes to other users to let them know you’re interested. But as a free member, your communication options are tightly limited on Match. Every member can send and receive messages with Top Picks without paying. But if you want the freedom of unlimited private messaging on Match, you’ll need a premium membership. Other premium membership benefits include seeing who has checked out your profile as well as opportunities to boost your visibility on the platform. 

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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

Like many of the old-school dating sites out there, eharmony started offering free trials to encourage people to see what the platform was about before making the commitment to pay for a subscription. But eharmony allows everyone to sign up for free these days, with the option to upgrade to a paid subscription to access the full features and tools available on the platform. 

Basic membership on eharmony allows you to take the in-depth personality test, receive suggested matches, and even allows some interaction with other users. You can take Icebreaker quizzes to see how compatible you and another eharmony user are. Free members can also send likes, and occasionally eharmony offers free communication weekends for highly compatible members. You’ll need the premium membership to gain access to unlimited messaging and other premium features.

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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

Given that Elite Singles caters to high-value men and women, it should come as no surprise that the international dating site requires a paid membership to access many of the most important features. You don’t have to pay to sign up for Elite Singles, but there are some strict limitations that basic members encounter pretty quickly.

As a basic member on Elite Singles, you can take the personality quiz, receive your daily curated matches, and even browse the Have You Met section to explore for potential partners that may not show up in your suggested matches. You can also send likes and add profiles to your favorites, and read messages sent by premium Elite Singles members. But if you want to send messages to any member on the platform, as well as gain access to other key tools like Wildcard Matches and enhanced privacy tools, you’ll need the premium membership.

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★★★★ 4.2/5.0

You’ve probably seen the ads for Ashley Madison. The popular dating app and dating website operate a little differently from many others, with a slightly complex membership program that’s based on gender.

Anyone can sign up for Ashley Madison for free, whether you’re married or a single person who wants to keep your dating life discreet. When you sign up, you get access to core features and tools like photo blurring, password-protected photo vaults, and the panic button.

Women on Ashley Madison get full access to all of the tools and features the platform has to offer, including unlimited messaging. Ashley Madison’s site and app charge men money for access to send and receive messages, as well as other tools. Instead of a premium subscription, however, men on the platform must buy credits.

You can pick and choose the features you want to spend credits on, from private messages to video chat to virtual gifts, and Ashley Madison uses discreet billing codes and accepts a wide variety of payment options to keep your transactions private.

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★★★★ 4.0/5.0

Because Adult Friend Finder frequently advertises on porn websites, it often surprises people to learn that the hookup site offers free registration. In fact, AFF offers a lot of benefits and features for free, including access to “public” areas of the platform like forums and chat rooms. You can also browse adult content like photos and videos, and check out other people’s profiles without ever paying a single fee.

Paid subscriptions come into play when you want to foster private conversations on Adult Friend Finder. Only Gold members can send private messages to individual users, so if you don’t want to plan your next hookup in a semi-public space, it’s the best option. AFF Gold members also get a visibility boost in search results, and get more expanded filters and tools to find their next casual encounter.

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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

OkCupid is a rare beast in the current online dating app world: a completely free dating platform. The site launched in 2004 with the core principle of keeping all of the essential features free for users, and that principle continues to hold strong, even after OkCupid joined the network, and even through several changes to leadership. The only restriction that OkCupid places on basic members is when it comes to starting a conversation with another OkCupid member. You can send a first message, but you have to wait for a reply to send another message to the same user.

Although you can do everything you need to on OkCupid without a paid subscription, there are definitely benefits to joining the A-List, OkCupid’s version of a premium membership. You receive monthly visibility boosts, you can see who’s checking out your profile, and A-Listers get read receipts on their messages as well. OkCupid also allows users to pay for individual perks, if you just want to boost your profile to the top of search results or see who’s checking you out, without paying for every bell and whistle.

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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

Because Bumble comes from the mind of a former Tinder executive, it’s not surprising that the mobile app offers all of the core features for free. Whitney Wolfe-Herd launched the dating app with the goal of building a women-friendly alternative to the popular hookup app, and Bumble is just that.

Bumble members can swipe each potential match and send and receive messages without having to sign up for a premium membership, or paying any individual fees.

But just because Bumble doesn’t require a premium membership to access core features, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer premium perks for members who are willing to pay. Bumble offers two levels of premium subscription: Bumble Boost and Bumble Premium. Boost grants users the ability to Backtrack, which means you can reverse a left swipe on a profile. You can also extend your match deadline, and take advantage of unlimited swiping, five Super Swipes per week, and heightened visibility on the platform. Premium provides all of those benefits plus travel and incognito modes, and access to the Beeline to see who’s checking you out, as well as advanced filters.

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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

Tinder shook up the online dating world at its launch in 2012, using a unique method of connecting single people on their phones. The swipe-based, popular dating app remains faithful to its free aesthetic, and most Tinder users successfully find dates without ever paying for one of the platform’s premium memberships. You can download the app, swipe left and swipe right, and send unlimited messages with potential partners for free.

Tinder does offer some useful perks to premium subscriptions. You can choose from three different premium membership options: Tinder Plus, Tinder Gold, and Tinder Platinum. All three offer an ad-free experience, unlimited likes and rewinds, and the option to swipe outside of your geographic location. Tinder Gold and Platinum include perks like free monthly visibility boosts, the ability to see who’s swiped right on your profile, and expanded access to Super Likes. Platinum grants the most perks of all, letting you message another member before you’ve even formed a mutual match, prioritize your likes, and check your list of likes. 

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★★★★ 4.3/5.0

Christian Mingle is by far the leader in faith-based dating and at one point was responsible for almost a third of Christian marriages that began online. Along with its sister site, JDate, Christian Mingle offers several of the core features of its massive platform for free to all members, while keeping some specific perks for those who are willing to show their commitment with a paid subscription.

A free membership on Christian Mingle grants the ability to edit your profile, browse matches, and enjoy some limited communication options with other members. You also receive curated potential matches based on your preferences. But if you want the ability to send and receive messages to anyone on the site or app, and have access to perks like seeing who’s viewed and liked your profile, you’ll need a paid subscription.

FAQs: What’s Typically Included With a Free Account on a Dating Site?

Most dating sites and apps include some basic services with a free account, to make it easy for potential new users to see what the dating pool is like. In general, online dating platforms will allow you to set up a profile for free and browse other member profiles. In most cases you’ll also have a complimentary method of making contact, such as sending a wink, liking a profile, or favoriting a profile, all of which can garner attention from your online crush.

The eharmony platform is notably one of the most expensive dating services when you look at its premium plans, but it does offer some free communication options, including an Icebreaker Quiz that individuals can send to a potential match.

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★★★★★ 4.7/5.0
  • Over 2.3 million messages sent every week
  • Match formula pinpoints compatibility in lifestyle, temperament, and goals
  • Relatively even gender split of men and women

Most dating platforms save access to their communication tools for users who have premium memberships. Freemium platforms may limit the number of private messages basic users can send, such as five messages per day, or they may only allow them to read or reply to messages from premium subscribers. Some platforms let users choose to pay for specific premium services rather than paying for an entire membership. 

How Do I Spot Fake Profiles on a Free Dating Site?

Fake profiles are the bane of free dating sites and apps, but it’s often easy to spot them, once you know what you’re looking for. Be on the lookout for pictures that don’t match profile descriptions, inconsistent stories, stock photos used as profile pictures, and other red flags, and report any suspected fake profiles you encounter.

Is Online Dating Worth It?

Overall, we believe online dating is worth it! Success rates are best if you’re a single woman, but our dating experts agree that online dating offers a valuable tool for people to get outside of their comfort zone and meet new people. 

Dating sites and apps have expanded to include niche interests and marginalized groups, which has added to their popularity and growth in membership. That also means online dating can be a safer alternative for people who want to find love or even just date casually, without risking harassment or other unpleasant behavior.

You Don’t Need a Premium Membership to Online Date

The practice of offering new users free trial dating apps and sites before cutting them off to tempt them with their premium services ended years ago. The move to the “freemium” model of membership means you can really get a feel for what an online dating platform has to offer before making the commitment to pay. Some dating services even offer all of their core features without charging a single fee, but offer enhanced tools and perks for people who want to pay for them.

Test out a new dating app or site and see what they have to offer for paying subscribers!

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