They say you can’t put a price on love, but modern tech is trying.
Virtually all dating apps are free to use, but they offer extra services if you opt-in to their payment plan. The most popular dating apps currently are Bumble and Tinder. I signed up for the premium versions of both to let you know which dating apps are worth paying for.
I spent over $200 testing dating apps to see what’s worth paying for
For the sake of research, I opted for the premium memberships on both apps. After a few weeks of using both (and going on more than a dozen dates), I can tell you which options are worth paying for, and which are not. I can also say with certainty that most time spent on dating apps leads nowhere.
I tried Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Happn to see when paying benefits you… and when it doesn’t. In this post, I compare Tinder and Bumble, but there’s definitely more to come!
The verdict? More money won’t help you find love, but it might help you find dates
Unfortunately, your Prince(ss) Charming probably isn’t hiding behind a paywall. Subscribing to the paid version of a dating app won’t guarantee you’ll meet someone you vibe with, but it could make the process of finding people to date much easier.
However, whether or not it’s worth it to pay a premium for your digital love matches depends on where you live, what app you’re using, and what exactly you’re looking for. The paid tiers of dating apps might make it easier to connect with people, but only if the people you’re interested in are actually in your city and on the app and using it.
My city has a modest population of around 1 million people. From my experience, Tinder has a bigger user base than Bumble here. The disparity is so bad I frequently run out of matches on Bumble and the app asks me to continuously expand my filters. Whereas within 12 hours on Tinder, I had over 3,000 people who already “liked” my profile and waiting for me to return the right swipe.
Tinder was first-to-market in the dating app game, and it remains the most popular dating app available. While it has a reputation of being for hook-ups, a surprising number of people are looking for love on Tinder.
Tinder definitely has an advantage over other apps in terms of the sheer volume of subscribers. However, what it makes up for in users, it lacks in user quality. I personally dislike Tinder because it doesn’t have as many filters as Bumble.
It’s time-consuming to filter through profiles to find someone you might also be interested in. Furthermore, because men can also start conversations, you’re likely to get bombarded with messages if you match with a lot of people.
Tinder Plus vs Tinder Gold
Tinder has two paid tiers after their free version, Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. Here’s a snapshot of how they compare:
|Passport (swipe around the world)||Passport|
|Control display of age & distance||Control display of age & distance|
|Choose who sees you (only show to people you've liked)||Choose who sees you (only show to people you've liked)|
|Unlimited rewinds||Unlimited rewinds|
|1 Free Boost per month||1 Free Boost per month|
|Unlimited Likes||Unlimited Likes|
|5 free Super Likes a day||5 free Super Likes a day|
|Turn off ads||Turn off ads|
|See who likes you|
|Swipe on every top pick, every day|
When I upgraded my Tinder membership, the first feature I made use of “choose who sees you”. This set my profile to only be seen by people I already liked. Or so I thought. Even after I enabled this feature, I was still getting notifications of new likes, even when I wasn’t using the app.
My guess is they let other Tinder Plus or Gold subscribers circumvent these restrictions to like your profile, even when you’ve set it not to be shown.
I found the Super Likes feature next to useless. After a few months on Bumble, I was so used to scrolling up to view the rest of someone’s profile, I would do the same thing on Tinder only to accidentally send a Super Like. I wasted virtually all of my Super Likes on people I didn’t even like a little. I’m also not clear what exactly a Super Like is meant to convey when any old regular Like will do.
Unlimited likes and unlimited rewinds are great features, and worth paying for. I often accidentally swipe left on people I am interested in, and being able to go back doesn’t leave me wondering what could have been. Likewise having a limited number of likes per day could kill the fun of the app pretty quickly, which is undoubtedly why Tinder made unlimited likes a paid feature.
Paying for Tinder
Tinder Gold offers two main features Tinder Plus doesn’t: see who likes you and the ability to swipe on every Top Pick.
Being able to see who likes you seems to be a completely useless feature right out of the gate. Within 20 minutes of downloading Tinder, I had nearly 600 people already like me. When I left it for 12 hours, this number ballooned to 3,000. Sifting through them to find someone I liked back felt no different than just using the regular swiping feature.
Furthermore, sometimes I would swipe left on a profile that had already liked me, and they’d reappear in my regular feed or my Top Picks where I’d just have to reject them again.
The Top Picks is supposed to be a set of curated profiles matching your preferences deduced from your location, education, and more. I suspect another criteria is people who are swiped right a lot because they do seem to be a more attractive group than the regular Tinder stack. However, like the rest of Tinder, being able to see and swipe on a Top Pick doesn’t mean they’ll see and swipe you back.
Is paying for Tinder worth it?
Based on my experience, Tinder Gold is not worth it, but Tinder Plus is. If this is your app of choice, pay a little extra for Tinder Plus! The added features to get unlimited likes and choose who sees you are worth it. While it’s nice to see who likes you and the Top Picks are okay, neither is worth the cost of Tinder Gold.
That said, my overall experience from Tinder is they don’t actually care for the user experience at all. They’re only trying to make money on subscriptions. Therefore, the focus isn’t actually on getting you matches at all. It’s purely about getting you to pay. Treat Tinder like a fun game on your phone, because that’s all it actually is.
Bumble is the second-most familiar dating app out there, and it has an interesting backstory. The female co-founder of Tinder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, felt the app wasn’t safe for women.
She saw the problems women were encountering on Tinder. Literally everything I listed above: no filters to find what you’re looking for, too many aggressive men, and a focus on hook-ups over relationships.
It seems Tinder’s bro culture extended beyond the app and into upper management because Whitney ultimately left the company and sued for sexual discrimination. She won her case, and settled for $1 million… and went on to start Bumble.
Bumble puts the power in women’s hands. You be very selective about your matches by setting filters on age, height, distance, political views, alcohol/smoking/cannabis use, pets, kids, and more. Women also have to start the conversations.
A match can’t progress to chatting unless the woman initiates the conversation within 24 hours. Failure to connect within 24 hours and the match will expire. This too battles one of Tinder’s main problems: a dozen matches languishing as non-starters.
Bumble has only one paid tier above their free version: Bumble Boost. Here are the features:
|$28/mo ($120 lifetime)|
|See who likes you|
|Extend matches by 24 hours|
|Rematch with an expired match|
Free Bumble vs. Bumble Boost
The free version of Bumble lets you set two filters, but Bumble Boost will let you set unlimited. Both are a huge step up from Tinder’s zero! Because Bumble asks so many questions, from how often you work out to whether you’re a frequent cannabis user, selecting the filters you want can make it more likely to find someone that matches what you’re looking for.
… So long as they fill out their profile.
Many people leave details out of their Bumble profile. Just because a guy doesn’t fill out his education level doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a graduate degree. Likewise, leaving his political affiliation blank doesn’t mean he doesn’t lean left.
I often use unlimited filters to zero-in on anyone that might meet my long list of “ideal” traits, but I frequently turn the feature off to browse with no filters to see who’s awesome but simply lazy about filling out their profile.
Matching online is great, but have you ever tried meeting offline?
What’s problematic on both Tinder and Bumble, free versions or paid is many matches rarely translate to an in-person meeting. It’s so common for online conversations to stay in the app and never progress to a date that you’ll see many people write in their profiles that they’re “tired of chat buddies”.
Hundreds of matches at your fingertips gives the illusion of abundance. It seems like there is a neverending supply of potential partners, and human beings tend to become completely paralyzed when overwhelmed by choice. As a result, while getting matches can be easy, getting them onto an actual date might not be.
Another thing that’s fundamentally problematic with online dating is it’s difficult to judge how truly attractive a person is from their photos. Not because people are good or bad at taking photos, but because attraction is more than two dimensional.
I know I must have swiped left on tons of men I probably would have been wildly attracted to in person. Just like I found myself completely unattracted to a person in the millisecond I saw them walk into a bar to meet me for a drink.
We don’t know from someone’s photos and one-line bio if we’ll dig they way they carry themselves or laugh. And with an app, we’ll never know. What really need is Tinder and Bumble to start hosting offline events, so we can all go back to dating the old-fashioned way.