NerdWallet’s 3 Favorite Free Dating Websites

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In the world of online dating, you are likely to know a few big names. Match.com, eHarmony, Chemistry.com, and Spark.com are all big players in the market of love over the Internet. These websites, often guaranteeing results, have lots of algorithms and matchmaking tools that can help anyone find their one true mate. They also carry with them big commitments, from requiring detailed personal information to sometimes pricey monthly subscriptions. There is an alternative route someone searching for love could take, and it doesn’t require a credit card!

OkCupid: The best thing to come out of Harvard since Facebook

Recently free online dating websites have started to pick up steam, mostly by playing to the crowd that wants low commitment and low cost. Sites like OkCupid.com, founded and run by a few Harvard nerds turned entrepreneurs, are doing well for themselves because their site looks and operates a lot like Facebook. Free and easy-to-create profiles and similar features like “notifications” and “messages” make OkCupid an easy draw for people already connected to online social networks.

Grouper: easier with friends

Other free sites have become more innovative in the product that they offer, but remain closely tied to popular social sites. The website Grouper will arrange drinks with groups of friends, effectively setting up comfortable group dates. Grouper will match two of its members and have them each bring two friends to a set location where a round of drinks will be waiting. A great idea, but one that requires jumping through a couple hoops. Grouper requires you to register through Facebook specifically, and does not let you build a unique profile which is typical of most dating sites. It will then require you to fill out some more information about yourself and your entire application will be reviewed for 1-2 weeks. This can be a little disconcerting, but it also means you’ll probably be with a good pool of people and won’t get set up with fake profiles.

Coffee: Meet Bagel?

Another up-and-comer free dating website is CoffeeMeetsBagel.com. This website also forces you to register through Facebook, but then matches you with other people based on mutual friends or acquaintances. You’ll have the option to accept or decline the match, and if both parties agree they will be connected through a private SMS line to text and meet up. Going out and grabbing coffee with someone just got made even simpler. To make things even better, CoffeeMeetsBagel also partners up with local businesses to get discounts and complimentary gifts for its members on the first date. Catch? CoffeeMeetsBagel is still in its beta phase and has only occupied New York and Boston, but is looking to branch out quickly.

Know your sites

A couple other free websites still hang around and get hits on Google. DateHookup.com and Mingles.com both allow free profiles and provide chats, forums, and a couple generated matches that probably don’t deserve the same credibility as the big-buck sites. These services still provide opportunities for good contact, and at a price you just can’t beat, but if free is your goal go for a newer, more alternative website. They offer novelty and better weed out fake profiles by having a stricter registration process, doing the most on their limited budget. Group dates or texting to get coffee might be just what you need to find your special someone.