Paid vs Free Dating Apps: Is It Worth the Money?

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finding love on free or paid dating apps

Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, OkCupid, Badoo- all these apps have free versions and paid subscriptions.

But, how good are these premium features of popular dating apps?

Which paid features make sense?

Plus, are singles noticing a difference between Tinder’s new $60-a-month service, rather than the normal swipe left/swipe right routine?

Here’s what works and what doesn’t.

Top 3 free dating apps

According to the app store, the top three dating apps are:

1. Plenty of Fish (4.2 stars, 1.6M ratings)
2. Bumble (4.3 stars, 1.3M ratings)
3. Hinge (4.5 stars, 667K ratings)

Surprisingly, Tinder came in fourth place at 3.8 stars with around 434K ratings. It is the most widely used dating site in the U.S. but not internationally.

Badoo is king on a global scale, hosting over 300 million active users.

This is a good way to gauge the dating pool. These four apps have the most active users as of 2023.

Top 3 paid dating apps

These apps differ in terms of extra features, subscription plans, and additional premium services.

1. Tinder Gold

tinder gold with features and pricing list
Pricing: $24.99 per month, $74.99 for six months, or $99.99 for 12 months

Same app, but with different features:

  • Unlimited likes
  • One free boost per month
  • Drop your location pin anywhere in the world, anytime
  • Unlimited rewinds
  • No ads

See who likes you and only show your profile with people you liked.

2. Bumble Premium

bumble premium features screenshot

Pricing: $24.99 per week, $49.99 per month, $99.99 for 3 months, or $249.99 for a lifetime membership

Bumble’s lifetime membership is a one-time payment of $249.99 that allows users to access all Bumble Premium features “for life.” Since dating apps are subject to changes, it’s unclear what this commitment entails.

You can expect the following Premium features:

  • Unlimited likes
  • Appear at the front of the line with “Beeline”
  • Incognito mode
  • Travel mode
  • Superswipes
  • Unlimited backtracks, rematches, and extensions

The last bullet point is an interesting feature as it breaks the machine on which Bumble operates. Rather than having to vet matches and make moves at a decent pace, you can drag out the messaging which seems like a con.

We’ll dive into this in the feature breakdown below!

3. Hinge Preferred
hinge preferred paid dating app features

Pricing: $34.99 per month, $64.99 for 3 months, or $99.99 for 6 months

For this price point, you receive much fewer additional features. In fact, most users describe Hinge Preferred to be parallel in value to Tinder Plus or Bumble Boost, except both of those premiums come at a fraction of the cost.

The only stand-alone point between Hinge and Tinder would be the reported match quality. Users find that the matches on Hinge are better than on Tinder.

Here’s what users get with Hinge Preferred:

  • See everyone who likes you in one organized place
  • Set advanced search preferences
  • Unlimited likes
  • View twice as many “Standout” profiles every day

Paid features breakdown: pros and cons

To save you time and cash, we’ve closely dissected what features are worth the investment and why we sort of hate unlimited rematches.

1. Unlimited Rematches

You can’t pick and choose which features you pay for or not as most dating apps bundle their add-ons, but unlimited rematches are counterproductive.

You’ve already unmatched this person or vice versa. The chances of you reviving a dead connection are pretty much slim to none. You’re essentially waking a zombie you’ve already buried, let’s dig up some new chemistry, shall we?

simpsons hes already dead gif

2. Unlimited Likes

As the popular Lizzo song states, “I like him, like him too, he’s my man, he’s my boo,” we transition into unlimited likes.

This is one of the features we find worth the money because you’re able to get in front of more people in less time. But, the only way this feature packs the value for the price is if you’ve already optimized your profile to stand out.

Before you upgrade, toss your current photos up on Photofeeler for unbiased feedback. Once you find what catches people’s attention, these unlimited likes will go 5x as far!

3. Travel Mode

Travel mode is amazing if your lifestyle allows it.

Remember, most of the people you’ll be swiping right on in travel mode are permanent residents.

Use this feature to your advantage to scope out interesting people on your new adventures. Be forward with the details that you’re not sticking around though to avoid disappointment.

4. Advanced Search Preferences

Perhaps the most valuable additional feature on this list– this subscription bonus allows users to sift through the dating pool with set criteria.

We love this because we’re able to connect with daters who match our non-negotiable factors. If we’re not willing to compromise on certain lifestyle choices or goals, it’s better to avoid reaching out anyways.

One cardinal example is the desire to have children in the future. Lots of daters are very polarized on this topic, so having the extra option to view those that align with your decision is ideal.

you get me lethal weapon

5. Incognito Mode

Tinder and Bumble both offer the option to hide your profile and not show in the dating pool.

Incognito mode sounds like it would operate the same way, but it serves a different purpose…

Instead of your profile being shown to every user, you’ll only appear to people you like. This helps control the pace of your matches, and you can let your freak flag fly knowing well that your profile won’t pop up on your coworker’s app (unless you match with them, of course).

6. See Who Likes You

Take this feature as a way to gauge how you’re appearing to your target audience. It’s nice to see who likes you in one centralized place because then you can get to chatting instead of waiting for the match to roll in.

If you’re finding the matches in this pool to be not reflective of your type, perhaps you need to pivot your images and see how they’re coming off to other users. It may not be how you think!

We got you covered with our smart, trustworthy, and attractive metrics!

7. Match Extensions (Bumble-specific)

Extensions are alright because we all lead busy lives, but it’s also a serious time waster.

Bumble Premium has the option to extend your match in case you didn’t get a message in time.

Since women message first on Bumble, this feature is more useful for men. Still, it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll shoot you a message, and could even hurt your chances if you stay in purgatory for too long, extending until they eventually unmatch you.

one eternity later spongebob

8. Backtracks

You’re swiping left, left, left, when you catch the diamond in the rough, you’ve accidentally swiped past them. This sucks!

The free way to get back your princess/prince in left field is to delete your account and start over which is a pain in the butt. Instead, Tinder and Bumble have added the backtrack feature so you don’t miss out on a potential happily ever after. This feature is well worth it.

Save your cash, and optimize your profile.

No matter what dating app you choose, first impressions make or break your chances of a potential match. The good news is that it’s never too late to pop a pic up on Photofeeler to improve your chances of finding love and coming across just as you’re hoping for online.

Once you’ve got the outcomes you’re looking for, take this momentum and pay for the dating app upgrades– only then will it be worth the investment.

Give it a go!