The cheapest online dating websites and apps

The cheapest online dating websites and apps

Want to give online dating a go? We compare the top dating websites and apps and look at the different features, costs and more so you can find the right one for you.

Hannah Ward-Glenton

Saving and Making Money

Hannah Ward-Glenton
Updated on 23 January 2020

Cheap dating apps and websites

With Valentine's Day around the corner, there are already plenty of shopfronts and TV adverts serving as reminders that time is ticking to find somebody to share it with.

It's estimated that one in three relationships now start online, so matchmaking websites and apps are booming as a result.

But which one should you go for? We have a look at the best free apps and websites, the ones that you have to pay for, and some niche ones that cater for more specialist interests...

Free apps and websites

These sites and apps offer most of their features free of charge, meaning that you don't have to spend a penny to get the most out of them.

All of them also offer some kind of premium paid membership, so we've listed the extra features if you decide that you want the full package.


Bumble's unique selling point is that if you are matched with a potential partner, the woman has to send the first message.

Whilst some might find this off-putting, reviews of the app suggest that most women like being able to control who they receive messages from. 

Rightly or wrongly online dating has become somewhat synonymous with strange men on the internet, and that is something Bumble is designed to combat.

It also means that men don't have to do all of the legwork, which is quite refreshing in the online dating scene.

Getting started

Most people choose to sign up to Bumble by linking it with their Facebook profile, but you can also use a mobile number.

Upload up to six photos, fill out basic information and then you can start swiping through photos of people on the site and match with those who like you back.

Once you've got a match, it's up to the woman to initiate the conversation.

Paid membership features (Bumble Boost):

  • See everybody who has swiped right for you (your 'Beeline');
  • Rematch with connections that have expired;
  • Extend matches by 24 hours.

Bumble Date is the original version of the app, but Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF are alternatives that let you find networking opportunities and friends.


Happn relies on GPS to find people for you to match with, and profiles will only show up if you have crossed paths with the person in real life – or if you've been within 250 metres of each other.

Some may find being tracked by the app a little disconcerting, as it does pinpoint exactly when you were within range of this person, but it doesn't state exactly where you were.

Getting started

It is quick and simple to fill out a Happn profile as there are no quizzes or tests, you just add a description of yourself and a photo or two and then you're good to go.

Paid membership features (Happn Premium):

  • Schedule when your profile will be invisible to other users (although this is based on time rather than specific locations);
  • See everybody who has liked you.

This is a good app if you are looking to find people who frequent the same places as you.

Happn also has an 'I'm up for...' feature, which allows you to find people nearby who have some free time and want to do specific activities, like going for a walk or grabbing a bite to eat.

Happn (Image: Shutterstock)


Hinge markets itself as 'the dating app designed to be deleted', which is fairly revolutionary compared to more typical dating sites that entice you into buying long memberships.

Getting started

Setting up your profile is also quite unique as it asks that you choose three questions or prompts – such as 'we'll get along if...' or 'the award I should be nominated for is...' – and the answers will be dispersed throughout your profile in between photos.

If you want to start chatting to somebody, you have to like or comment on an aspect of their profile, which can be a good icebreaker if you're never quite sure how to strike up a conversation.

Paid membership features (Preferred Hinge):

  • Unlimited likes to use;
  • See everybody who likes you at once;
  • Additional filters for your profile, such as height, preferences to do with children, and drug use.

If you're not confident starting conversations, Hinge could be a good choice as the quirky questions act as a good springboard into a topic.

They also mean you'll get a better insight into a person from their profile compared to other apps where members are only asked to provide a description of themselves.


Lumen's claim to fame is that it was the first dating app specifically designed for over 50s, and it is very strict on keeping younger people out. 

Whilst some apps encourage relationships between people of very different ages, this app was created for those interested in dating other 'mature single people'.

That said, Lumen has shaken off the fuddy-duddy image that some might associate with a dating app aimed at over 50s ‒ the interface is simple and easy to use, but it has a very clean design and specialises in eye-catching advertising.

Lumen billboard (Image: Lumen)

Getting started

Lumen encourages members to write detailed profiles, with three photos, a full 'about me' description, and a detailed 'I'm looking for...' section being the minimum requirements.

Lumen also verifies every person who joins the app, which is great in terms of minimising the number of fake accounts on the system.

This is done by having every member take a photo of themselves as they sign up and that photo is then verified by somebody working at Lumen, which ensures that everybody is who they claim to be.

You can then swipe through profiles and start conversations with people who you match with.

Paid membership features (Lumen Premium):

  • Start 12 conversations a day (the free version only allows for six per day);
  • See everybody who has liked your profile.

Lumen has made the effort to ensure that connections on Lumen are meaningful, so there is a 50 character minimum on first messages.

This prevents bland introductions that give you nothing to work with, such as messages that just say 'Hi' and 'Hello'.

If your message hasn't been responded to within seven days, the conversation will be deleted to prevent dead conversations from clogging up your inbox.


OkCupid has been around for a long time and it's pretty well-established in the world of online dating.

That said, it has very much kept up with the times and is considered to be one of the most liberal sites out there for singletons.

Getting started 

OkCupid has a personality test that you need to fill out to complete your profile.

The questions delve into your beliefs and values, covering everything from 'should immigrants be required to learn the official language of the country they are living in?' to 'are carbohydrates something you think about?'.

Once you've set up your profile you are able to search for people with similar interests, hobbies, and quirks, and the 'Double Take' feature sends you the profiles of people who fit your 'Looking For' credentials.

Paid membership features (A-List or A-List Premium):

  • See all of the people who have liked you;
  • Get rid of ads on the app.

OkCupid has earned a reputation for being a very progressive online dating option, and with 13 orientation choices and 22 gender options, it's an inclusive app that aims to find somebody for everyone.

OkCupid (Image: OkCupid)Plenty of Fish (POF)

This app claims to have 65,000 new members worldwide every day, so that old consolation phrase of 'there are plenty more fish in the sea' seems to ring true here.

You also don't need to have a paid membership to message unlimited numbers of people on POF, unlike a lot of other dating apps.

Getting started

POF profiles are relatively simple to complete and there is the option to fill out the POF Relationship Chemistry Predictor.

This test measures the five factors that POF thinks best measure compatibility: self-confidence, family-orientation, self-control, social dependency/ openness, and easygoingness.

You can then browse your options yourself, or look through the 'Ultra Match' feature, which lists the members that Plenty of Fish thinks you are most compatible with.

Paid membership features (Upgraded Membership):

  • Unlock extended profiles;
  • See if your emails were read or deleted;
  • Show up first on the app's 'Meet Me!' feature.

Unlike most dating sites and apps, Plenty of Fish does not connect to social media platforms for a quick and easy sign up.

There are pros and cons to this, but if you want to keep your social media presence very separate from your online dating, POF might be a good way to go.


Tinder (Image: Shutterstock)Probably the most famous online dating platform, Tinder has been hailed as everything from brilliantly efficient and the source of long-term relationships to a superficial app where people aren't really looking for long-term love.

Getting started

Kicking off your Tinder career is very simple in that you choose some photos and have the option to complete a 'Bio', but this isn't compulsory.

This does mean that a lot of profiles consist of a single photo and perhaps the odd emoji if you're lucky, but it is a quick sign up process.

Tinder was the original app when it came to swiping, and it's become so popular that 'Swipe left' and 'Swipe right' are in the long list of phrases copyrighted by the company.

If you like a profile you swipe right, and if you don't you swipe left. If the other person has also liked your profile you're notified that you've matched, and the conversation can start from there.

Paid membership features (Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold):

  • Unlimited likes;
  • 'Passport' feature that enables you to chat to anybody in the world;
  • 'Rewind' feature that lets you get somebody back who you've already swiped past.

The concept of Tinder is a lot more basic than most dating platforms and it's safe to say that it's predominantly based on members' aesthetics and the photos that they choose to upload. 

That's not to say that the app hasn't been the meeting place of lots of long-term relationships, but couples coming up with an alternative story as to how they met is not unheard of.

Paid subscriptions

If you're happy to spend a bit of money on finding the right person, these websites are worth taking a look at.

Whilst all of these sites offer free membership, in order to really get full use of them you'll need to pay a membership fee.

We've created a rundown of some of the most popular sites and compared their paid features.


It takes a little longer than average to set up a profile on eHarmony.

The process involves filling out sections such as 'the thing I'm most passionate about' and 'the most influential person in my life has been...', so the questions tend to dig quite deep and may require a bit of thought, but to quote the eHarmony website: 'why would you rush something as important as finding love?'.

Free membership

eHarmony has quite limited features for those not willing to pay for membership, and you're not even allowed to send messages if you're not a member.

You can browse matches, add people to your favourites list and send winks, but if you want to actually get in touch with people, you'll need to pay up.

So what are you paying for?

Members of eHarmony are able to view photos, have a look at who has put you on their favourites list and see who has looked at your profile.

It's also possible for you to browse the site anonymously.

On top of that, there's the perk that comes with all paid dating sites, which is that you know that everybody else is also paying to be on there, meaning members are far more likely to be serious about finding a relationship than those on free apps and sites.

Membership prices

Length of membership Cost per month
One month £44.95
Six months £24.95
12 months £14.95
24 months £11.95

Membership for eHarmony is one of the pricier options when it comes to online dating.

The cheapest monthly cost is for those willing to sign up for 24 months, but you have to ask whether you want to commit to two years, as you won't be able to get any money back should you find somebody before your membership expires.

'Single premium': what are you paying more for because you're single?

Probably the best-known dating website around, has a huge database of over nine million paying members, according to Statista.

Free membership

It is free to sign up to, and you are able to browse member profiles and send and receive 'winks' without spending any money. 

So what are you paying for?

According to, it is worth paying for a subscription as it ensures you get 'a high-quality service' as well as the 'comfort that the members of the site are serious about finding a date', both of which should give you a better chance of finding like-minded people.

Once you've paid for membership, you're then able to send messages to any members on the site and take part in the website's singles events that take place up and down the country, and they include everything from quiz nights to food tours and even dating workshops.

Membership prices

Length of membership Cost per month
One month £29.99
Three months £19.99
Six months £9.99 does offer a free trial that lasts three days, which gives you a little bit of time to see whether or not you think it is worth the money. (Image:

EliteSingles promises to deliver all member three to seven partner suggestions a day based on a personality test.

The test looks at five dimensions of compatibility: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Free membership

By signing up to EliteSingles without paying for membership you are able to create a profile and upload photos, but you're not able to respond to any messages that you receive.

You are not able to look for matches yourself whether you're paying or not – EliteSingles delivers matches to you instead. Profiles are also verified to minimise the number of fake profiles.

So what are you paying for?

As a paying member of EliteSingles you have access to unlimited messaging and are able to view all of the photos on the site.

You are also allowed to download the app, whereas non-paying members are restricted to the website.

The 'Have you met...' feature is also part of the membership and it gives you up to 20 additional partner suggestions per day.

Membership prices:

Length of membership Cost per month
Three months £49.95
Six months  £34.95
Twelve months £24.95

The target market is professionals, and the site's homepage boasts that 85% of its members 'hold an above-average education'.

As the name suggests, it's clear that the site is trying to attract a certain type of person, and those on the site are likely to consider themselves 'elite', which in itself may say quite a lot about its demographic.


Parship prides itself on matching people based on answers to a test that looks at 30 'essential personality characteristics'.

With this as a basis, the site is geared towards pairing people up who are 'looking for a long-term relationship' and who 'could be genuinely compatible with you', so it's definitely more for people looking to take dating a little more seriously.

Free membership

As a free member, you can take the compatibility test and send and receive contact requests, but the communication between you and recommended matches is limited.

You won't actually be able to respond to any contact requests without paying for membership, which means that it doesn't really work without it.

So what are you paying for?

If you decide to invest in Parship you'll have access to all of the site's features, and after taking the personality test you'll be able to get an overview of your results.

Members also get a much clearer insight into who's interested in them, with lists of people who visit your profile and the ability to view photos that have been sent to you.

Membership prices:

Length of membership Cost per month
Three months £29.90
Six months £19.90
Twelve months £14.90

Security is a big selling point on Parship – only paying members are able to see images on the site, and they are blurred out for non-paying members.

If this is a primary concern for you and you have faith in the science behind matchmaking, Parship might be the option for you.

Cheapest online dating apps and sites (Image: Shutterstock)

Niche dating platforms

If none of the above seems the right place for you to find love, then there is a whole range of other niche dating websites bursting with members.

Think your beauty is wasted on normal mass dating websites? Try – a site for the not-so-modest where you can hunt for someone as attractive as yourself.

Signing up is quite a brutal process, however. 

Current members are given 48 hours to rate how you look before there's a verdict as to whether you're good looking enough to join.

You can even watch the whole process unfurl and see how many people rank you as 'beautiful', 'hmmm OK', 'no', or the rather unflattering 'absolutely not'.

A good choice for those who are overly content with their own aesthetic qualities but probably to be avoided if your self-esteem isn't at its highest.

The newspaper you read often reflects the way that you view the world, so their dating sections might be a good place to find likeminded singles: Telegraph Dating and Guardian Soulmates are just a couple of examples of bustling hubs full of witty and well-written profiles.

Gamers looking for love might want to have a look at, which has over 150,000 single gamers ready to find a match.

There’s also, a dating site for people who are interested in helping the environment and it claims to be the best site for vegan and vegetarian dating.

One niche website that didn't quite get off the ground was RemainderApp, which was designed after the EU Referendum as a place for Remainers to find soul mates who were also sad about the Brexit result.

The website has only reached 5% of its goal in terms of the necessary funds to get it started however, so it wasn't quite as popular as the founders had hoped.

Lastly, is primarily designed for people wanting to help their older parents find love after loss, separation or divorce.

The website allows you to sign you up on their behalf, write a profile and search for matches. Although the name highlights parents, the site can be used to endorse any old relatives, from aunts and uncles to father-in-laws or siblings.

Is online dating worth doing?

As we've already mentioned, there are some really promising statistics when it comes to online dating, which suggests that it's an avenue worth venturing down if you're looking for love.

There are plenty of free apps and sites to play around with if you're just wanting to dabble, whilst the sites that require a paid membership are probably best-suited to those who are really on the hunt for something serious.

Tell us where you’ve found love in the comment boxes below, whether it was online or otherwise!

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