Online dating apps: Paid vs free

Online dating apps: Paid vs free

So, you’ve decided to start dating again and online seems the way to go. But, when it comes to online dating apps, there is so much choice! The free apps are obviously the most attractive, but are they right for you? And what’s the difference?

As someone who’s dipped their toes (and maybe a little more) into the vast ocean of dating apps, I understand how daunting it is to choose between the paid and free options.

The question is: Will swiping right on a paid app give you better results, or can you find love without spending a cent?

To help you on your search for a soul mate or just a fun date, here are my thoughts on both paid and free online dating apps.

Online dating apps: Paid vs free


When you use an online dating app, you are basically marketing yourself to potential partners. It may sound crass but everybody’s doing it, so don’t stress.

Your photos and details are out there for all to see.

How does that make you feel? If you are a private person it may be your worst nightmare. In which case, a paid app would be well-worth the money because they share less information with less people, which also makes it a safer online dating option.

However, a paid app is not for you if you want to get as much exposure with as many people as possible, which is what a free app will do for you.

Paid vs free conclusion: If you don’t want your ex, your boss, or the guy from the local coffee shop to see you are online dating, go for a paid app. On the other hand, if you don’t really care who sees, then free will do just fine.


If you are new to online dating, dating apps can be overwhelming, especially the free ones. It is not unusual to have heaps of matches and people wanting to talk within hours of posting your profile.

It’s great for the ego, but where do you start?

Paid online dating apps such as eharmony are not as busy so it can take longer to gain traction (and interest). This in-turn, gives you time to get used to the app and how it works, as well as putting more time and energy into your matches.

Paid vs free conclusion: If you want lots of action fast go for a free app. If you want to take it slowly and get used to how everything works, consider paid.


Are you looking for love and a long-term relationship? Or are you looking for a one-night stand, a bit of fun or just someone to chat to?

There is no doubt that people who are serious about dating will pay to search. Not only have they invested money in the process because paid apps have more functionalities to share, match and chat.

This is not to say there aren’t people looking for love on the free apps, you just have to sift through to find them. Free online dating apps have a real mix of people looking for love, a hook-up, a chat or just to make the ex-partner jealous.

Paid vs free conclusion: If you’re serious about finding The One, you are more likely to find him/her faster on a paid app. However, if you’re not sure what you’re after and want to test the water, a free app has a wider range of people looking for different things.


It may seem obvious but think carefully about how much you are prepared to invest in your dating experience.

Searching for Mr Right is a pretty important mission and worth spending some money on. Plus, the men you meet on a paid online dating app obviously feel the same and are prepared to pay to do it right. Does that give you something in common already?!

If you really don’t have a budget for dating, a free app is fine, but be prepared to kiss a few frogs along the way. I know several people who have met and married through free apps, and they also have a bank hilarious dating stories to tell.

Paid vs free conclusion: If you are looking for a serious relationship you will streamline the process with a paid app, but don’t despair if you don’t have the money, as there are good guys lurking on the free apps too.

Online dating apps: Paid vs free (cont.)


We all know location is everything. It’s no good meeting the perfect man only to discover he lives in another state.

All apps allow you to set a location and many work on a tracker, meaning wherever you are, they will find matches near you. Since free apps have larger user numbers, you will likely find matches wherever you are, whether they are suitable or not is your call. However, their paid counterparts don’t have as many users so if you live in a rural area your choice may be limited to less matches if there are less paid users in that area.

Paid vs free conclusion: Depending on where you live, there may be less matches on a paid app, for this reason, if you prefer quality over quantity go with paid. If you’re feeling opening-minded and want lots of interesting people to choose from, a free app will be much more fun.


Dating is time-consuming. Online dating even more so.

It’s great to use a free app and get a heap of matches, but it takes time to work through them. And it can be frustrating to put energy into getting to know someone only for them to ghost you as they are not ready or change their mind.

The people who use paid apps want to make their investment work for them so they make their intentions clear from the start. They are also more likely to keep their profiles up-to-date since they have paid and want to make the most of their dating experience.

Compare this to free apps, where unused profiles and scammers can slow down your search.

Paid vs free conclusion: If online dating helps you through long evenings alone, and you have the time and inclination to chat to lots of different people, a free app will be perfect for you. In contrast, if you are time-poor and want to cut the crap and minimise some of the craziness that comes with online dating, a paid app is a better choice.

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Beanstalk Single Mum Team

About the author

Beanstalk is run by a team of single mums who share their expertise about single motherhood to help other women on a similar journey to them. This article was written from experience and with love to help single mothers in Australia and across the world.

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