Online Dating: Free Vs Paid Memberships

Online Dating: Free Vs Paid Memberships

Dale J. Lankford

With the proliferation of online dating sites coming to market, how does a potential members decide which service they want to join; free vs. paid memberships.

There is no easy answer and in fact, studies have shown that 90% of online dating users join both. According to third-party research, the typical profile of an online dater shows they join one paid membership site of choice and 2-3 free sites. The paid membership site of choice usually is a niche site where the focus may be on religion, culture, ethnicity, activity or even age. There are approximately 1,500 online dating sites in the United States. Of those 1,500 sites, 80% of the membership pool is controlled by 20% of the sites.


The fastest growing segment of the free membership sites has mobile applications. There is no cost to join the site, fill out a profile, and search for members and contact members. The features you want to make sure free sites have are the ability to contact other members my more than one method. For instance, there are free sites that offer email as the only way to contact another member. As we move up the ladder in quality, free sites begin to offer text chat as an additional way to contact each other. The top quality free sites have email, text chat and the addition of mobile applications.

The way these free sites make money is by having advertisers place banners or text boxes called widgets where members who log on will see an advertisement displayed. If that member is interested in that product or service, that member clicks the banner or test box and is taken to the advertisers landing page. At the end of the month, the advertiser tracks where all the traffic came from and pays the best adult dating websites somewhere between .03 cents and .10 cents per click. It's that simple.


Paid membership sites work almost the same. Online members fill out a profile for free, do a search and when the search results are produced, the only way a members can contact another member they may be interested in, is by paying a monthly fee. Fees range from $9.99 to $39.99.

The difference between the monthly membership fees is what type of additional functionality the site provides. An example would be when a paid member signs on, their profile page will be populated with matches the system determines appropriate from the questions the member checks off. Another functionality is members can save those search outputs, delete them, hide them, check off as favorites and even set levels to let only other certain types of members see their profile but they can see everyone.

In the vast universe of online dating, its best to try several free services first and learn what types of features you prefer and then research one paid membership site and join for a limited time. Make sure before you sign up and enter your credit card, you have the ability to cancel the monthly subscription. Some companies make it difficult to cancel so buyers beware.