New to online dating and not sure if you can afford to find love in the digital age? Have no fear, because most, if not all, have some form of a free version, as well as what is commonly termed as “premium.” Very few are 100 percent free, and basic or free memberships offer limited options, so most people end up springing for a paid account or subscription plan eventually. 

Not all “dating” sites are geared towards finding a soul mate as much as they are for finding hookups or one-night stands. If you’re trying to find the best free dating sites for serious relationships, we’ve compiled a list of them to sort through at your leisure. This way, you can narrow them down to the ones that would most likely work best for you.

Also as a new user, we should point out that in almost all cases dating sites and dating apps are the same thing because nearly all online dating services offer apps to access their pool of eligible men and women. So don’t let the terminology trouble you. 

OKCupid

Considered one of the best free dating sites for serious relationships, OKCupid is completely free. They’ve been around since 2004, and their team of cherubs state that the website will remain that way as long as they’re up and running. That means there’s no paying for profile creation, to search for or receive matches, flirt with other users, or send and receive messages. 

The service is best known for the use of its proprietary matching algorithm, which is based on your input. First, you’ll be required to provide answers to a plethora of questions; then specify how you’d like your potential matches to answer them; and finally, you’ll have to rank the importance of each question posed and answered.

It’s really not very difficult, just a little time consuming, but you are looking for love, after all. You’d spend more time buying a new car than the time it takes to get started with OKCupid, and presumably, you’re looking to get more mileage out of a partner than a car.

  • 100 percent free
  • Matches based on searches rather than algorithms 
  • Easy to navigate with a laidback feel
  • Each potential match is accompanied by a percentage rate of compatibility

Review by John of Scarborough, ON Verified Reviewer

Original review: March 6, 2019

“Compared to other dating sites, I think OkCupid has the greatest potential of all of them, even if it’s only a LITTLE better. There ARE real humans on it who DO actually message you, and you DON’T need to pay for a subscription to use it…” 

Plenty of Fish (POF)

Another absolutely free dating site that swears you’ll never have to pay to use it, there are no fees with Plenty of Fish for anything, including sending and receiving messages. Additionally, POF users are said to have more dialogues between potential matches than users on any other dating service and boast the exchange of 1 billion messages a month. That far outpaces its competitors. With 70,000 new clients joining up every day, your chances of finding a mate are pretty darn good. As of this writing, it’s available in 11 languages and in excess of 20 countries. 

Don’t let the cavalier name fool you. In search ofs and the matrimonial minded use the site, too, so if you’re willing to dive in, there really are plenty of fish to choose from.

  • Free to join
  • Easy to navigate
  • Unlimited search
  • Helpful questionnaires designed to give you useful insights
  • Seven ways to discover people
  • Standard and advanced searches
  • Alert section to notify users of all relevant activity

Seville of Bells, TN Verified Reviewer

Original review: July 17, 2019

“This is an old review but I’ll send it anyway. Back in early 2006 I started chatting with another POF member. We mostly kept it epistolary until five or six months later when we finally met face to face. We met at a Japanese restaurant, ate and talked until they closed. I must say we hit it off, later closed our POF accounts and got married in a Japanese park the following year. Today I can truly say we are still married going on eight years in a marvelous and wonderful relationship!”

Mingle2

Perhaps not as well known, but Mingle2 is entirely free to members, and the site says that it takes a mere 30 seconds to set up an account. From there, it’s blastoff, and you’re on your way to mingling with real men and women looking for love. That’s because the Mingle2 team keeps tabs on the site to ensure that client accounts are authentic and to keep scammers at bay through regular monitoring. 

One nice feature clients enjoy is the site’s Members Online Now section, an alert which allows you to see other users who are logged in at the same time as you are, hypothetically allowing for even faster love connections. The bottom line is it’s affordable, no matter who you are, because there are zero fees, and it’s not just for fooling around.

  • Free to join 
  • Speedy setup
  • Ease of use
  • Members Online Now feature
  • Site monitoring for phony profiles

Bill of Cut Bank, MT Verified Reviewer

Original review: May 25, 2019

“There are some real users on this site. I was bold enough to be direct with my chosen and now we are off to a relationship. The woman I found is the one closest to my dreams. It’s up to me now to nurture and develop a good match and be good to her.”

Match

At the top of pretty much every list you’ll find on the subject of online dating is the granddaddy of them all, Match.com. Launched in 1995, today the mega-popular site serves millions of singles in 24 countries and claims to be responsible for the most romantic connections to date. As a matter of fact, the site traffic includes 39.7 million visitors monthly, according to Match. Here’s what you get for free:

  • Profile creation with your bio info and images
  • Ability to browse member profiles 
  • Receive a minimum of five matches daily 
  • Flirting, such as liking people and sending winks 
  • Receive Yes Ratings from members who have said “yes” to being interested in your profile 
  • Site keeps users abreast of exclusive Match events
  • Males account for 49 percent of users and females 51 percent

Be forewarned that Match does not conduct criminal background or identity verification checks on its users, so proceed with caution and practice online dating tips for safety. There are three ways you can get it for free: You can sign up for a limited free account, you can get a seven-day free trial, or you can get six months for free with their “6-month guarantee.” A subscription is required otherwise.

AJ of Folsom, CA Verified Reviewer

Original review: April 6, 2019

Match.com is an online dating site that gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing who you contact and a wide search criteria. I met my wife of 7 years on Match. I feel that I was too old for the bar scene, and the nature of my job made it difficult, if not impossible to meet someone to develop a relationship at work. I’ve used other dating sites, and they tend to be more prohibitive to pare down the type of person you are interested in, you have to answer a litany of screening questions, etc.”

eHarmony

Younger than Match by five years, but still old enough to be considered one of the early pioneers of online dating services, eHarmony uses a four-step approach to finding that perfect catch. First, you have to answer a series of questions so the service can narrow down the people who meet your particular criteria. Next, you’ll have to complete some compatibility questions based on key areas of personality. Then you’ll review the profiles of everyone they’ve determined to be a good fit based on the first two steps. Finally, you’ll choose a plan that fits your needs and start communicating. It’s relatively simple.

Besides being recognized for its zero membership fee on basic accounts, here’s what you can expect: 

  • eHarmony’s famous “29 Dimensions of Compatibility Questionnaire” to help ensure the best possible matches
  • Ease of use, because the service literally conducts the searches for you 
  • The possibility of becoming one of the 4 percent of marriages that eHarmony is responsible for in the U.S. each year
  • As many as 4.1 million monthly visitors to the site
  • Males account for 48 percent of users and females 52 percent

Joseph of Dade City, Florida Verified Reviewer

Original review: Jan. 30, 2018 

“Awesome time and could not ask for a better lady than the one I got. Hope to see her again on eHarmony. I would like to get to know her better. It’s a great site.”

Coffee Meets Bagel

This particular dating service has a rather unusual approach to online matchmaking in that it uses a combination of some of the very best aspects from the most popular dating sites and rolls them all into one great user-friendly package with results. To begin with, Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB) provides excellent constructive criticism clients can actually use to improve nearly every aspect of their overall game.

This is accomplished through data collection in the form of feedback from singles, which is then used to increase success rates. A super handy tool is the member’s dashboard. They’re designed to resemble a report card in the sense that each user is provided with crucial info regarding why users liked or swiped past their profile. CMB even breaks the feedback down for customers with reasons like poor-quality profile images, and other input so you know where you went wrong. In their efforts to provide feedback, they also offer encouraging suggestions for improvement, as far as receiving likes and whatnot. 

Coffee Meets Bagel is also unusual in that coffee beans are the “currency,” as it were, and users to the service must earn them through things like daily logins and other actions. Reward centric, members are given a limited number of matches each day based on shared Facebook friends. Each day you log on, those numbers increase, but it must be consecutively. 

With all those beans you rack up, you can use them to voice an interest in other potential matches with shared interests who weren’t originally part of your initial selection of matches. 

  • Free to use
  • Matches made through mutual friends
  • Constructive feedback that actually helps
  • Opportunity to improve
  • Free tool to gauge profile performance as compared to other users

OurTime

For the 50 and up crowd, OurTime frequently makes the grade as one of the best free dating sites for serious relationships with seniors in mind. A steadily growing demographic, it’s no surprise that there are now a number of online dating sites catering to the group. With OurTime, it’s free to sign up for anyone over the age of 50, plus it’s safe and simple to use. You can’t beat that. 

Clients provide their gender, the gender of the person they’re searching for, and specific details like age, hair and eye color, height, body type, ethnicity, marital status, the number of kids they have, how many of them currently live there, smoking habits, and ZIP code. Then it’s go time.

  • Free to sign up
  • Easy to use
  • 8.9 million visitors to the site monthly
  • 48 percent male ratio versus 52 percent females

Daniel of Seaford, DE Verified Reviewer

Original review: June 4, 2018

“I only joined OurTime.com a few days ago, I have not been proactive, rather waiting to see what contacts I would get. I have had several flirts, and actually have been talking to one match almost exclusively. Very happy with the site, so far. The site is very easy to use, and I am quite impressed by the quality of the matches, and it has been fun reading and responding to the flirts and it is nice to know there are other who are also looking. However, there was a huge amount of emails the first day, a bit overwhelming but nothing to complain about. And the couple of obviously fake responses.”

Best Free Dating Sites for Serious Relationships

In all fairness, it is highly recommended you search for reviews through sources other than the dating services’ websites—for a complete picture of what you can expect to find versus what you’re told you’ll find. ConsumerAffairs.com is a great place to start with verified reviews, but be ready for a lot of disappointed reviewers across all platforms. This is to say that all of them, regardless of their monitoring efforts, apparently suffer from scammers and phonies, which seems to be one of the chief complaints.

As with all your dating rituals, remain vigilant, and do your homework for best results, just don’t give up on love.