Dating apps have exploded in popularity in recent years, and it seems like every day there’s a new app promising to help you find love. But which ones will really help you find matches you’re interested in?
Below is a list of the seven best dating apps available. Whether you’re looking for something casual or long-term, whether you want a lot of options or someone to do the work of matching you to the perfect person, these apps include it all.
For each app, there’s an in-depth explanation of how the sign-up, profile creation, matching and communication processes work so you’ll know what to expect before you download the app. I also explain who each app is best for and give a brief overview of the app at the bottom of each description. As an added bonus, all of these date apps are free unless otherwise noted.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Best dating app for: People who’d prefer a small number of profiles that match their interests rather than a large number of random profiles.
If you’re tired of scrolling through profile after profile of people you’re not interested in, or you’re tired of matches never responding to your messages, Coffee Meets Bagel may be the best dating app for you. Coffee Meets Bagel was created with the goal of connecting people who are well matched and serious about dating. Instead of having to sort through hundreds or thousands of profiles yourself, Coffee Meets Bagel does the work for you by using an algorithm to match you with people they think you’ll connect with.
You’ll create a profile where you can add up to nine pictures as well as information about your height, ethnicity, religion, occupation, employer, and education. There are also three sentences to complete: “I am…” “I like…” and “I appreciate when my date…”. You’ll then set your preferences for what you’re looking for, such as age, ethnicity, religion, height, and how close they live to you.
Each day at 12:00pm, men receive up to 21 high-quality matches (referred to as “bagels” on the app). They’ll have the choice to like or pass each profile. Each day at 12:00pm, women receive 1-6 bagels who have already “liked” them. They then choose whether to pass or like. If two bagels both like each other, Coffee Meets Bagel then sets up a private line where you two can chat with each other for up to a week without having to exchange numbers.
Feedback from users shows many people happy with the quality of matches they receive. Women especially appreciate having the final say in whether or not they want to start communicating with a guy. The app is also specifically for people looking for a serious relationship, so it eliminates a lot of trying to guess if a person wants to date or is only interested in hooking up.
Coffee Meets Bagel also boasts one of the highest educated user bases, with 96% of users holding at least a bachelor’s degree and over a third holding a master’s degree. So, if you’re looking for a well-educated partner, a lot of the users will fit your criteria.
Best dating app for: People who appreciate serendipitous meetings and those who want to connect with people who visit the same places they do.
If you’ve ever passed someone on the street and wished you’d been brave enough to strike up a conversation, Happn is here to give you a second chance. This dating app lets you know which other users you’ve passed throughout the day.
Happn uses your Facebook profile to get your first name, pictures (you can choose which ones you want shown), and age. You can also add your job, schools, a short “about me”, sync your Instagram pictures with your profile, and list your musical preferences. Under “My Preferences,” you can also choose the gender and age range you’re interested in.
The main page of the app will show you a picture, first name, and profession of each potential match you passed during the day, as well as if you’ve crossed paths with them before. You can tap each profile to see when and where you crossed paths. To protect your privacy, Happn will never tell other users exactly where you currently are; they’ll only see a range, such as “this match is less than 800 meters away.” The more specific location is only available later, after you’ve both moved to other places. There is also the option to pause Happn for 8 hours if you don’t want them to show matches where you were during that time. Using Happn, you’ll be able to see who hangs out at the trendy new bar you like, who also visits your favorite book shop, etc.
If you’re interested in a profile, you can “like” someone. They’ll only see that you like them if they like you back. If it’s a mutual match, you’ll be able to chat with each other. Since you visited or passed by the same places, you’ll already have something in common to discuss. If you’re really interested, you can also send a charm, which they’ll get a notification about. The first ten charms are free; the rest cost a small, variable fee of less than a dollar.
Some people find Happn’s premise a bit stalkerish, and some of the initial messages you get can be slightly creepy i.e. “I see we were both at Whole Foods at 6:15 today.”
However, others appreciate the ability to see who they’re passing in the real world and start connections with people who actually live nearby and/or visit the same hotspots they do. For most other dating apps, the closest proximity of potential matches you can request is that their address is within five miles of yours. In some big cities, even traveling five miles to get to each other can be time consuming, but Happn lets you see which users are actually in and around your neighborhood and favorite hangouts.
Best dating app for: People who like making fast decisions and generally aren’t looking for something serious
The most popular and most famous (some would say infamous) of dating apps, Tinder has taken the online dating world by storm. It has over 50 million users, 10 million of whom are active every day, and it’s so popular that even celebrities are getting into it. Tinder recently introduced verified profiles for “notable public figures, celebrities and athletes,” similar to Facebook and Twitter, so if a profile has a blue check mark next to it and the picture looks like your celebrity crush, it may actually be them.
When you setup your account, Tinder uses information from your Facebook profile, such as your pictures (that you select), your first name, age, and Facebook pages you’ve “liked”. Once your profile is set, you can set your preferences for which sex you’re attracted to and the ideal age range and location of matches.
Then you get to the fun part. For every profile you see, you swipe left if you’re not interested in them and swipe right if you are. If you and another person both swipe right on each other, you’ll get a notification that you’re a match. You’ll then be able to exchange messages (text only, no pictures or videos) with them. Tinder has also rolled out a new feature called “Tinder Social” where you and a few of your friends can go on a group date with another set of Tinder users. For Tinder Social, you can swipe either on individuals (who will create a group) or on already-created groups. When you have a group you like, you and your friends can then chat with them to set up a date.
Because it’s so fast and simple to browse profiles on Tinder (you could easily go through 100 profiles in just a few minutes), you can get a lot of matches very quickly. However, the ease of matching with someone also means that many people are on Tinder just for out of curiosity and don’t plan on communicating with many or any of their matches. This can be frustrating when you have a lot of matches but no one initiates a conversation.
Tinder is only available to people 18 and older, and while the app itself is free and most people don’t pay anything, you can choose to upgrade your account to get access to unlimited right swipes, 5 “super likes” per day (to show someone you’re really interested in them), and the ability to go back to someone you mis-swiped on.
Tinder originally started as an app geared towards hookups and casual dating, and many users still use it for that purpose. In fact, the app is somewhat notorious for the blunt and overtly sexual messages some users receive from people they’ve just matched with.
However, as Tinder continues to grow in popularity, it’s moved beyond just a hookup app, and more people are using it for purposes beyond casual dating. It is possible to meet someone interested in a more serious relationship, although you’ll likely have to do a lot of swiping to get there.
Best dating app for: People who like having mutual friends with their blind dates.
Hinge is similar to many other dating apps in that you’ll create a profile and swipe left or right on people depending on interest, but what sets Hinge apart is that you’ll share Facebook friends with all or most of your potential matches. In the anonymous world of online dating, having mutual friends helps give you some reassurance that your potential matches aren’t completely sketchy and may be less likely to disappear after a few dates (because your friends would tell them off if they did that to you!).
The profile you create on Hinge is a bit more in-depth than other dating apps. Hinge will use Facebook to get your first name, age, location, education, job, and hometown. You can create a short “about me” and add pictures, your age, religion, and what kind of connection you’re looking for (relationship/dating/casual). There is also a selection of “tags” you can give yourself, such as World Traveler, Beer Snob, and Science Nerd, to help give potential matches a better idea of who you are. At the bottom of each potential match’s profile, you’ll see who your mutual Facebook friends are.
If you match with someone, you’ll have 14 days to communicate with them (text only) over the app. After you’ve gone through all the profiles available at that time, you can then answer optional questions, such as “Did you ever attend summer camp as a kid?” and “Have you ever been to Australia?” When you’re looking at a person’s profile, Hinge will list all the questions you’ve both answered “yes” to so you can get a better idea of what you have in common.
People who are a bit unsure of online dating appreciate that Hinge finds them matches they have some connection with. Hinge also allows a more in-depth profile than other dating apps like Tinder and Bumble so you can learn more about potential matches (but you’ll also have to write more about yourself). Since Hinge connects you with your Facebook friends of friends, there aren’t as many profiles to browse as many other dating apps, especially if you don’t have a ton of Facebook friends.
Best dating app for: Girls who want to take the lead and guys who are tired of sending messages that never get a response.
Created by one of the early employees of Tinder, Bumble is designed to eliminate the trend of girls receiving creepy messages from guys they’re not interested in. On Bumble, only girls can initiate conversations.
After creating a profile (which uses your Facebook profile to pull information such as your name, job, age, and school), you’ll see a series of profiles, similar to Tinder. Swiping right means you’re interested, and swiping left means you’re not.
When there is a mutual match, you’ll both be notified. The girl will have 24 hours to initiate a conversation. If they don’t, the connection then disappears from their queue. Guys cannot initiate conversation, but if they’re very interested in a girl, they can opt to remain in the queue for an additional 24 hours. (For same-sex relationships, both people have 24 hours to initiate a conversation.) Also, unlike many other dating apps, on Bumble you can send images to your matches as well as text. Use this power wisely.
Bumble is popular with girls who want a dating app where they have more control, but some users also complain that the app attracts a more passive crowd and many connections don’t result in any conversation. If you’re a female user, you should be comfortable sending the first message, otherwise none of your connections are going to go anywhere. Additionally, Bumble has a significantly smaller number of users than the most popular apps, like Tinder or OKCupid, which can also be a drawback for some people.
Best dating app for: People who like to know a lot about potential matches.
OkCupid.com is one of the most popular online dating sites, and its dating app shares many features of the site. You’ll create a profile, either on the site or on the app, where you’ll fill in sections such as “My self-summary,” “On a typical Friday night I am…” and “Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food”.
In addition to that, one of OkCupid’s most unique features is the ability to answer hundreds of questions covering topics like Lifestyle, Religion, Sex, Ethics, and Dating. These questions can range from “How open are you with your feelings?” to “Is art important to you?” When you answer each question, you’ll also list which options you find acceptable as answers. As an example, for the question “How open are you with your feelings?” the answers choices are: always, usually, rarely, or never. You might select that you are “usually” open with your feelings, but you’d be fine if someone answered always, usually, or rarely.
For each profile you view, OkCupid will give you a match percentage, which is an overview of how many questions you agreed on and how many you disagreed on. You can then view their specific responses to each question.
On OkCupid, you can browse for matches by indicating your preferences for things like age, ethnicity, location, education, and match percentage. The app also has a feature called Quick Match. Similar to other dating apps, each day you’ll get a selection of about a dozen potential matches, which you can either like or pass on. If you both like each other, OkCupid will let you know.
Even though it has a dating app, OkCupid was first a dating site, and it still retains a lot of those characteristics, such as the option to have a very in-depth profile and the ability to view all profiles at once and go back to them, rather than making a permanent swipe left/right decision.
If you prefer to know more about other people before starting a conversation or going on a date, OkCupid is one of the best dating apps for this. You have a lot of freedom to personalize your profile, and reviewing a person’s responses to the site’s multitude of questions can really help you get an idea of who you are. On the other hand, some people find this process to time consuming and difficult, and prefer a faster way of evaluating people. Additionally, anyone with an OkCupid profile can contact you, without you having to “like” them first, so you may get messages from a lot of people you aren’t interested in.
Best dating app for: People who’d prefer to meet new people in a group setting as well as people who hate the messaging part of online dating.
Grouper is somewhat different from other dating apps in that it’s for group dates and does the work of sorting out the logistics for you. You sign up for Grouper via your Facebook account, and Grouper then uses an algorithm, which takes into account characteristics of your Facebook friends, such as their age, education, and interests, to set you up on a date with another Grouper you’re not Facebook friends with. You’ll also receive matches each day whom you can choose to like or not.
Grouper will take your likes into account, but liking someone doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be set up on a Grouper with them. Grouper does the matchmaking here, instead of you browsing through profiles. Also, unlike the other apps on this list, Grouper is not a free dating app. For every group date you go on, there is a fee of $17 per person. This covers Grouper’s cost of matching you, choosing the date location, as well as the first round of drinks.
Once Grouper has set up a match, you’ll both choose two of your friends to come along with you. You’re encouraged to choose two friends who are the same gender as you, so your group is three guys and three girls, but this isn’t required. Also, although many people use the app as a way to meet potential romantic interests, Grouper advertises itself as a way to bring people together to make real connections, whether romantic or platonic, so your wing men or wing women don’t need to be single (although most people who go on Groupers are).
You’ll then choose which night works best for you, and Grouper will tell you the location and time of your date the day before. When it’s time for your Grouper, the six of you will meet at the specified location, and the rest is up to you! Grouper is only available on iPhone, so if you’re the one initiating the Grouper, you’ll need an iPhone. The friends you invite don’t need iPhones though, and they can pay the $17 fee online.
Grouper is currently available in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., with plans to expand to other areas.
Grouper’s goal is to get back to quality connections, so you won’t know who you’re meeting or be able to contact them until you see them in person. Many people appreciate that Grouper eliminates the awkwardness of choosing someone, messaging them, and trying to set up a date, but some people prefer to have control over these things.
3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Dating Apps
Even the best dating apps can be frustrating, but these quick tips will help you get better matches and turn those matches into dates!
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Make the First Move
One of the biggest frustrations of online dating is that you’ll get a match, but no one starts the conversation, so nothing happens. Try to avoid this! If you’re interested in someone, don’t be afraid to send them a short message to get the conversation started.
This tip doesn’t only apply to guys either. Many women are reluctant to send the first message, but most guys appreciate it when you do because it shows you can take initiative. Also, many guys get burnt out from sending dozens of messages that never get a reply, so if you’re a woman who sends them a message first, that already helps you stand out from the crowd!
2. Don’t Take Rejection Personally
You’re going to come across a large number of profiles when online dating, so don’t get too hung up on a single person early in the game. If you set your heart on a specific person who doesn’t match with you or doesn’t respond to your message, don’t take it personally. Use the numbers of online dating to your advantage, and dive back in and keep looking for profiles.
3. Keep an Open Mind
One of the main reasons people use online dating is to meet people they wouldn’t otherwise come across. You’ll be seeing a ton of different profiles, so use this as an opportunity to talk with people who aren’t traditionally your type. If you usually go for laid back, artsy guys, give the cute lawyer a shot. You don’t have to go too far outside your comfort zone, but by being open to possibilities, you may be surprised by what you find.