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Should you Pay for Online Dating Sites?

I’m a frugal lady, but when it comes to certain decisions, I opt for the higher quality option over the frugal. That’s how I feel about online dating – my experience in the world of dating has shown me the value of online dating sites and how to evaluate whether they are worth a small membership investment.

If you’re looking to give online dating a go (and good for you if you are!), I’m sure it can be overwhelming to figure out which type of site to pick: a free or paid membership dating site.  Both options have their positive and negative aspects.

But the truth is – paid membership perks far outweigh those of free dating sites.

You’re hearing this from someone who *loves* to get free things and services… but even I know where to draw the line, and when it comes to online dating, paid membership is the better choice.

Let me show you the many reasons why….

Higher quality people are paying members

I’m going to come out and say it without any fear of sounding superficial – sites that require paid membership, in my personal experience, also have better quality members. I know this may upset some people but I’ll explain why this is so.

I’ve joined many dating sites and apps in the past few years and one thing became progressively clearer  – the men I met from ‘free’ dating sites were… well, the bottom of the barrel. I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but this was unfortunately my experience (and apparently not only mine).

They were as frugal (or broke) in their lifestyle or personality as they were when picking dating sites. One “gentleman” took me to McDonalds because it was easier on his pocket than a good restaurant. Now, I don’t expect a three Michellin star restaurant followed by a horse-drawn carriage, but try to impress me beyond taking me to McDonalds for a $3 meal!

Paid membership sites weed out the worst of the flock. People who aren’t willing to invest on the dating sites may not be as committed to finding a partner (rather, they may be looking for a fling) and will head instead to the free dating sites.

It was on paid dating sites that I found higher quality, serious men who were interesting, knew what they were looking for, and generally behaved more gentlemanly.

As a friend once told me jokingly, “Payers aren’t players”.

Gentlemen need only apply. Image courtesy of jesadaphorn from freedigitalphotos.net
Gentlemen need only apply.
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn from freedigitalphotos.net

Smaller niche dating sites tend to require paid membership

If you’re looking for something very specific – and some of us are – then usually the best niche dating sites will require paid membership. They tend to have a smaller user base and depend on these paying members.

Take a site like My Cougar Dates for example, which is very specifically aimed at older ladies looking to date younger men and vice versa. A free membership will get you access to look around the site. After rummaging, if you decide that it’s what you’re looking for, only then do you need to commit to a paid membership to actively start contacting other members. This is usually how paid memberships work, which means that you don’t have to commit until you’re ready and confident in your decision.

It’s also a great way to limit the pool to people who are genuinely interested in dating within that niche and not just any random Joe.

Search results and matches are better on paid sites

Free sites tend to be more limited in their search functionality and their matchmaking algorithms.

Paid sites will invest into ensuring that you find their dating site useful by matching you to potential partners. Whereas free sites will often match you to people who live close by, irrelevant of your interests, paid sites will emphasize compatibility.

On paid sites, I found myself dating men who had a lot more in common with me than those from the free sites. I can’t begin to go through the parade of incompatibility I dated from the free sites.

Limiting the Scammers

Because paid members need to supply credit card details, there are lower chances for scam artists to become part of a paid dating site. They are also identified much faster, unlike scammers in free sites, where anyone can scam others with little impunity.

This makes for a much safer online dating experience, and that alone is worth the extra investment.

Scammers are everywhere – especially on free dating sites!

Higher chances for responsiveness

Two things are true about paid membership sites when it comes to its members:

1) Because they are paying, they are more likely to remain an active part of the site: updating their profile, answering messages, chatting online and going out on dates. No one likes to invest money into something that they’re not using.

2) No dead profiles. Free sites have thousands of profiles that are no longer in use but remain on the site. It’s sometimes impossible to know when a profile is no longer in use, so you may end up using your energy and putting your hopes into contacting a member who no longer uses the site. On paid membership sites, you can usually see very clearly when the member was last active and whether they too are paid members.

So there you have it. The many reasons why a frugal lady such as myself prefers the paid dating sites over the free. : )

Have you tried online dating? Share your experiences below – free or paid –- good or bad!

Featured image courtesy renjith krishnan from freedigitalphotos.net

About Ronnie E.

Ronnie is the frugal Latina of the group. Hailing from the beautiful Andes Mountains in Bolivia, she lives and breathes frugality. She loves to figure out how to spend less money and takes on the challenge of finding great deals and cheaper options every day.

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  • Christine T

    I actually met my husband on a free site. I have no need for them now, but I can see your points made on paying for one. When I met him, it was a while ago and it was a good site, but I have had friends that have met people on the same site with bad results.

    • Great to hear a happy-ending online dating story! . I knew there must be great people hiding in there.. nice to know you found one. 🙂 I must have attracted all the wrong bunch!

  • I met my husband in the olden days before the internet (lol) but if I were single today, I would use a dating site. I have met so many awesome friends in my years online.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    I can totally see how charging a fee would weed out a lot of people. I guess it’s true that you get what you pay for!

  • Nicole @ Mendez Manor

    This is interesting. I met my husband on MySpace (way back when…) and it was totally random. But I can definitely see how a more expensive service would attract a different type of person!

  • I know lots of people who’ve used online dating sites with mixed results. Paying for a membership shows a greater commitment to finding a mate and also that you’ve given important credit card information to the site to verify who you are. The major ones all charge a fee for good reason.
    Elizabeth