best online dating sites

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These are the only online dating sites worth your time

Here's your comprehensive guide to the top online dating sites.

Aug 28, 2020, 3:02 pm*

IRL

Marisa Losciale 

Marisa Losciale

If you’re new to internet dating, we’ll let you in on a little tip: the best online dating sites are the ones you already know about. Turns out that when we talk about the top dating sites, brand recognition really does play a role in just how successful a service is. But just because you’re familiar with the website’s name doesn’t mean you know everything about it.

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We plan to change all of that by detailing the exclusive features and Premium membership pricing of the best online dating sites according to users. So before you go downloading all of the dating apps, do yourself a favor and read the reviews below. 

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Best online dating sites in the USA

1) eHarmony

Since its launch in 2000, eHarmony has continued to top best online dating site lists. Founded by a former marriage counselor and clinical psychologist, eHarmony practically forefronted compatibility testing. After sifting through years of data on what makes a long-term relationship successful, eHarmony introduced its patented Compatibility Matching System which uses your responses to a specific series of questions (I.E. Do you have kids? Are you religious? Are you good at building romance in a relationship? etc.) to match you with someone who meets your criteria. The test is regularly updated to ensure quality matching, and if you feel like you need a bit of coaching to get back into the game, eHarmony even offers dating advice to all of its members through its eHarmony Advice blog. 

eHarmony reviewers say that its biggest flaw is the fact that the site doesn’t delete or hide inactive accounts. So instead of only suggesting people actively chatting on or using the site, users have found they’ll be “matched” with old/expired accounts that will likely never respond. Additionally, users complain that the site is rather expensive to use (more on that below)–especially since you can’t pause your account. So if you sign up for six months and meet a great partner within the first four you’re still stuck paying for those two months that you (probably) aren’t even using. 

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Joining eHarmony is free but in order to access all the site’s benefits, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription. Standard subscriptions allow you to see who’s viewed your profile, unlimited messages and photos, and access to more matches. The Premium plan includes all of that plus the ability to browse anonymously, see when people read your messages and get featured with Spotlight. 

Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

6 Months Premium$59.90/month
12 Months Premium$35.90/month
24 Months Premium$25.90/month

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2) JDate

JDate differs from other online dating websites in that it caters to the Jewish community. So if finding someone of a similar faith is super important to you, consider JDate your ideal matchmaker. The service uses a profile builder based on your responses to basic questions, selected interests, and description of the type of person you’re looking for to help you meet singles in your area.  

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JDate reviewers appreciate its sleek and simple design, multiple messaging options, mobile app, and its slew of other advanced features. However, users do complain about the limited search filters offered and the fact that the site isn’t exclusive to the Jewish community (since it does allow users of other religious backgrounds to use the service). 

Joining JDate is free and offers unlimited messaging (with paid subscribers), read receipts, the ability to control who sees what on your profile, anonymous browsing, and more. But if you want to unlock all the site’s features, you’ll have to upgrade to a Premium membership. Paid subscribers get all the perks found in the basic membership plus the means to message anyone (regardless of membership status), access to other users’ photo albums, plus the ability to see who viewed you and/or liked you. 

Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

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1 month Premium$59.99
3 months Premium$44.99 per month
6 months Premium$29.99 per month

3) ChristianCafe.com

For the last 20 years, ChristianCafe.com has been the lead online dating services for people looking to date exclusively within the Chrisitan faith. Like its Jewish counterpart, JDate, ChristianCafe.com uses a combination of your responses to general biographical questions and selected descriptors for the type of person you’re looking for to find you a suitable match. ChristianCafe also allows users to search with filters (like age/birthday, location, username, whether or not the profile has photos, etc.), see who has viewed their profile, provide lengthy responses to open-ended questions visible on every profile, participate in discussions on the ChrisitanCafe Forum, and much more. 

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Users who have reviewed the site were pleased with the abundance of active and new users that are online every day. And when compared to other similar sites, ChristianCafe.com is actually cheaper than most–free communication weekends aside! That said, it is worth noting that unless you’re willing to pay for a subscription you won’t be able to do more than build a profile. 

Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

2 weeks Premium$34.97
1 month Premium$44.97
3 months Premium$23.33 per month
6 months Premium$18.33 per month

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4) Zoosk

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top dating site for singles, Zoosk.com offers members access to both free online dating services and paid subscriptions. Registering is easy and only takes a few minutes, and unlike other dating sites, Zoosk actually walks users through how to access all of the site’s features. So if you’re new to or unsure about online dating, Zoosk is the metaphorical equivalent of “just getting your feet wet.” 

Free users can message members, swipe through profiles, access dating advice, see who viewed their profile, flirt, and favorite members. Paid subscribers can boost their visibility, send gifts, go invisible, and access advanced search filters. 

Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

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3 months Premium$19.98 per month
6 months Premium$12.49 per month

5) OkCupid

Also high on the list of Site Jabber’s best rated online dating sites, OkCupid has seen a lot of successful relationships and even marriages! Since 2004, OkCupid has offered users free messaging, profile building, and access to dating advice through the service’s blog. And just five years ago, the dating app was the first of its kind to introduce gender and sexual orientation options that exceeded the binary–so if diversity was ever a concern, just know that OkCupid embraces it. 

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And instead of a more traditional compatibility test, OkCupid has its members fill out a questionnaire that they can use to rank the importance of questions. For example, one question is “How do you feel about gender-neutral passports?” Users can choose to select “I’m in favor of them” or “I’m not in favor of them,” and then either check the box to denote that “this is important to me” or leave it blank if it’s not a dealbreaker. 

OkCupid is free to join, but paid members (or A-Listers) do get to enjoy some perks–like seeing who views your profile, read receipts on messages, access to advanced search filters, and no ads. A-List memberships are available in two packages: A-List Basic which offers everything aforementioned, and A-List Premium which gives you everything available in the A-List Basic package plus daily boosts, increased attractiveness, access to other member’s questionnaire answers, and message priority. 

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Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

1 month A-List Basic$19.95
3 months A-List Basic$14.95 per month
6 months A-List Basic$9.95 per month
1 month A-List Premium$34.90 per month
3 months A-List Premium$29.90 per month
6 months A-List Premium$24.90 per month

6) CoffeeMeetsBagel

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CoffeeMeetsBagel is one of many local dating sites that can be used with a web browser or a mobile app. It requires its users to create a profile complete with your education, work, and biographical information. Instead of taking advantage of search filters, users simply swipe right to “Connect” and left to leave that profile in the dust–so it’s similar to Tinder, to say the very least. But that’s where similarities between the services end, CoffeeMeetsBagel allows members to “Give” (suggest) matches to their friends. So if you’re thinking of playing matchmaker, CoffeeMeetsBagel supports that. And instead of constantly refreshing your Discoverable Matches, this online dating service only refreshes that page once per day. So be careful which way you swipe! 

Reviewers claim that CoffeeMeetsBagel has a lot to offer (A/B testing with photos, rematches for people you swiped the wrong way on, tools to help you find potential matches with mutual friends, etc) but it hasn’t perfected the system yet. It may be super easy to use, but CoffeeMeetsBagel doesn’t offer any matchmaking features or compatibility tests beyond asking users for three fun facts that serve as “icebreakers” on their profile. Additionally, users seem to have more run-ins with fake profiles and potential catfishers than on any other app. 

Joining is free and users automatically receive access to the CoffeeMeetsBagel profile builder, unlimited browsing and messaging (once connected with another user), and a few beans (the in-app currency which can be used to purchase specials like “Woos,” which are the app’s equivalent to Tinder’s Super Like feature). Premium members unlock unlimited Woos, 6,000 beans per month, read receipts, and the ability to see any mutual friends (from your Facebook Friends list) you may have with a potential match. 

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Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

100 Beans$1.99
2,000 Beans$23.99
3,000 Beans$24.99
9,000 Beans$49.99

7) Bumble

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Considered one of the top online dating sites for women, Bumble lets ladies lead the way by only giving them the option to message new matches–and they only have 24 hours to do so! Here’s how it works: Bumble grabs all your relevant info (think birthday, job, current city) from Facebook (or you can build it from scratch) and then asks you to create a bio and upload pics. Once you’re all set, it’s time to swipe. If it’s a match, then let the countdown begin! Ladies have 24 hours to say hello, leaving the guys with 24 hours to come up with an eye-catching response. And if one of you fail to respond within the time limit, wave goodbye to that match. </3 However, if you’re looking to swipe on the same sex these rules change a little bit. Instead of one swiper being the “designated ice breaker,” either match can choose to message first. You only have 24 hours before they disappear forever! 

As someone who’s used Bumble (and I know I can’t speak for everyone when I say this), I’ve found that’s its geared more toward finding dates and budding relationships than most other apps that have users swiping for love. Although I haven’t found that special someone, I don’t blame the app for that–they can’t help the fact that I have trash taste in men. That aside, I’d recommend Bumble to anyone looking to test out online dating. And if you’re looking to just meet friends or grow your professional network, Bumble even offers counterparts to that (Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz)–all within the same app, too! 

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Bumble is free to use, but paid members unlock perks like Boosts, Match Extensions (gives your match extra time to message you in case their 24 hours are almost up), and being able to see who has already swiped right on you. 

Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

1 Week$2.99
1 Month$7.99
3 Months$14.99
6 Months$24.99

8) Tinder

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If you haven’t already heard of the online dating service Tinder, just know that it’s the reason “swiping right” and hookup culture have such a prominent place in our society. Users can choose to import information from their Facebook profile (like age, location, education, work, interests/Facebook likes, and people on your friend’s list) or build a profile from scratch using their phone number or email address. They also have the option to add a bio, link their Instagram account, and even pick an “Anthem” or share their most played artists on Spotify. All of these options make it pretty easy to get a good understanding of the person behind that profile. That said, Tinder doesn’t differentiate between those looking for relationships and those looking for fun hookups–which can make matching a bit of a messy process. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find what you’re looking for! It may just take some time (and a whole lot of patience). 

As a Tinder user myself, I could see how some could be shocked the app made it on our list of the best online dating sites. It definitely has its fair share of problems (which you can read more about here), but it also works regardless of what type of relationship you’re looking for. However, since it doesn’t offer any real matchmaking services, finding something involving commitment can be a little sticky but not impossible (one Daily Dot writer met her fiance on it!). 

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The Tinder app is free to download and use but if you do choose to go premium with Tinder Plus, you’ll be able to swipe anywhere in the world, hide your age and distance, control who sees you, rewind your last swipe, hide ads, unlock unlimited right swipes and extra Super Likes

Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

1 Month Tinder Plus (aged 18-29) $9.99
6 Months Tinder Plus (aged 18-29) $34.99
12 Months Tinder Plus (aged 18-29) $54.99
1 Month Tinder Gold (aged 18-29) $14.99
6 Months Tinder Gold (aged 18-29)$52.99
12 Months Tinder Gold (aged 18-29)$82.99
1 Month Tinder Plus (aged 30+)$19.99
6 Months Tinder Plus (aged 30+)$60
12 Months Tinder Plus (aged 30+)$80
1 Month Tinder Gold (aged 30+)$29.99
6 Months Tinder Gold (aged 30+)$112.99
12 Months Tinder Gold (aged 30+)$149.99

9) Hinge

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Hinge is considered one of the more recently launched top dating sites. The service utilizes your Facebook Friend List to match you with singles in your area that also know some of your friends. But that’s not the only difference. Hinge also requires each of its users to build a profile that includes three of its icebreaker/fun-fact prompts. Which I know doesn’t sound like much, but reading people’s responses to questions like “Two truths and a lie” or “Where you can find me on a Friday night…” really gives you a much better sense of the person behind the profile. 

My experience on Hinge was one of the better experiences I’ve had on a dating app. Its interface is clean and the way Hinge presents users’ profiles benefits those looking for something on the more serious side of the relationship realm (hell, the service’s tagline is “Designed to be Deleted”). It also requires users to completely fill out their profile before they get to the fun stuff. The app alternates between sharing users photos, fun facts, and biography so when you’re scrolling through their page, you’re less likely to overlook something. And once you select a person’s page, Hinge won’t let you swipe on them until you scroll to the bottom or exit the profile. Dare we say it’s the least superficial of all dating apps?! The app also allows users to set “Dealbreakers,” which are strict requirements for what you absolutely don’t want (one night stands, a slobby partner, kids, etc.). 

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Hinge is free to download and use, but free members receive a limited amount of swipes per day. So if you want to be able to swipe all day, see who has already “liked” you, set advanced preferences, or get expert dating advice, you’ll need to upgrade to a Preferred membership. 

Membership payment options (payable by credit or debit card):

1 month Preferred$12.99
3 months Preferred$6.99 per month
6 months Preferred$4.99 per month

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LISTEN UP: Are These International Dating Apps Legit?

2 GIRLS 1 PODCAST
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In episode 99 of 2 GIRLS 1 PODCAST, Alli and Jen want to know what’s up with the sketchy international dating apps made popular by reality shows like 90 Day Fiancé. Fortunately, journalist Paul Schrodt has tested many of them, and while some users do find love, there’s also a lot of questionable power dynamics and behavior going on.

Subscribe to 2 GIRLS 1 PODCAST on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your favorite podcasts!

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*First Published: Mar 25, 2019, 10:29 am