Best Dating SitesReviewAdvice

Best Online Dating Sites for 2016

We review the best online dating sites and uncover our top picks

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Best Dating Sites

More people than ever are on the hunt for the best online dating sites. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 109 million single adults in the United States today. If you're one of the many Americans flying solo and have tried online dating, then you're part of another statistic: 49,250,000 people have turned to online dating sites at some point to find the guy or girl of their dreams.

There's no doubt that dating has reached the digital age. While the numbers vary depending upon the source, data suggests that at least one in five couples meet online. In order to help you increase your odds of joining those couples, I've put together a list of reviews of the top 5 dating sites.

Best Dating Sites: What to Consider

With more and more marriages facilitated through dating sites, it's hard to ignore their efficacy. Keep the following considerations in mind while perusing the vast array of providers:

1. Affordable Monthly Premiums

It's hard to put a price tag on love, but most of the top dating sites do charge a monthly premium. Look for a site that accommodates your budget and offers a free trial to test out the waters before you dive straight in.

Most of the top rated dating sites limit the features available via unpaid membership, however, it's a good way to get a feel for the interface and see if it's right for you. Once you decide to upgrade to a subscription, you can expect to pay anywhere from under $15/month to as much as $60 per month. Paying for one month at a time is typically more expensive than purchasing a multi-month membership.

2. Number of Users

For the average single adult looking for love, the larger the user base the better. Consider your personal situation first, though, before assuming this will be the best approach for you. In some cases, a niche dating site might be most effective, even if the number of matches you're given is smaller. For example, you might want to find the best interracial dating sites. Or, if you're seeking someone with a certain education level you might sign up for a service with a smaller user base that offers higher odds of finding that perfect match.

3. Variety of Filter Options

Filters are an easy way to weed out matches that you're not interested in. Perhaps you only want to meet someone who lives within 50 miles of you or is below a certain age. With filters, you can specify these factors, as well as things like whether your matches want children or have pets. Other aspects that are important to many singles are lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking. While deciding on the best online dating site for your needs and wants, prioritize your desires and choose a site with the appropriate filters.

4. Online Customer Care

Genuine customer care is at the heart of the best dating websites. Ensure that your provider has a positive track record with their clients, is upfront about terms and costs, and emphasizes your privacy and safety over everything else. While 24/7 access to customer support is rare in the industry, you want to make sure there is at least some way to contact a representative if you have an issue. In addition, you should check out consumer reviews of the site to see if their customer service team is satisfactorily responsive.

5. Mobile Capabilities

In this ultra-busy day and age, it's important to be able to track your matches on the go with a mobile application. Most of the top online dating sites offer mobile apps which allow you to access important features of your account. These should include member searches, profile editing, and of course messaging so you can keep in touch with your matches no matter where you are.

Can You Really Find Love on the Best Dating Sites?

It's natural, wise even, to approach online dating with a small measure of skepticism. The good news is that despite the fact that 23% of Americans think of online dating as an act of desperation, online relationships have proven to be as stable as any other. In research out of Stanford University, social demographer Michael J. Rosenfeld found that although couples who meet online tend to marry much sooner than those who meet in traditional ways, they don't break up any more frequently than others. So if you do meet that special someone, you can have confidence that you have the same chances of making it work as anyone else.

The Best Dating Sites and Marriage

When it comes to online dating and marriage, the evidence is just as encouraging as Rosenfeld's research on relationship stability. A study of more than 19,000 people was done by researchers at University of Chicago and funded by eHarmony, between 2005 and 2012. The data showed that one-third of the married participants had met their spouse online, and 92% of those couples were still married at the conclusion of the survey. Those are pretty good odds, which should give you confidence moving forward with your ventures into Internet dating.

The Best Online Dating Sites

Match.com Review

  • Pros
  • Easy-to-use site
  • Customizable profiles
  • Search tools with filters
  • International reach
  • Large user base
  • Cons
  • Some packages priced high

Launched in 1995, Match.com places a pool of singles directly at your fingertips. As of this year the site has 21,575,000 members in 24 countries worldwide. "Whether you're interested in Christian Dating, Jewish Dating, Asian Dating, Black Dating, Senior Dating, Gay Dating, Lesbian Dating, Match.com can help you find the date or relationship that fits you best."

Match.com has one of the highest success rates of all the providers in the industry! What's responsible for their far superior results? First off they have a tremendous user base of all races, ages, and ethnicities across the globe. Their site uses a proven formula of matching men and women to their compatible partners. When you initially sign up you'll be instructed to create a profile describing the type of person you'd like to date as well as details regarding yourself. From there, the site will rate matches based on compatibility from the criteria you've selected. You can customize your profile with photos, hobbies you enjoy, as well as a bio.

This site has all the tools you'd want for an online dating site. Communicate via chat, email or instant message. Plus, narrow down your search using powerful filter tools that range from geographic area to hobbies and interests.

I've got to admit that Match.com is the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to online dating. Their site is easy to navigate, reaches all corners of the globe, and they have a range of subscription options. The one drawback that might turn off some users is their price. With that being said studies have proven that messages sent on a subscription-based site (like Match.com) are two times more likely to result in a date in comparison to a free dating site. So basically, that higher membership fee could be the key to land you a dream date, which helps to put this site at the top of my list of the best online dating sites.

eHarmony Review

  • Pros
  • Modern layout and navigation
  • Range of subscription options
  • Millions of users worldwide
  • Comprehensive compatibility questionnaire
  • Free communication weekends
  • Cons
  • High membership costs
  • Inability to see pool of profiles
  • Past lawsuits regarding same-sex matches

In 2000, eHarmony's founder, Neil Clark Warren, developed a matching process that identifies singles based on 29 unique dimensions. With over 35 years as a clinical psychologist and counselor to thousands of couples, Warren identified the specific ingredients for a lasting relationship. As a result, the site claims that every day an average of 438 singles marry a match they found on eHarmony.

To date, eHarmony has operations spanning over 150 countries and has been considered one of the most trusted relationship service providers within the U.S.

The process is not as simple as uploading your photo and browsing profiles. You'll first need to answer 400+ questions specifically selected to identify potential matches. If it seems like a lot, that's because it is. In all it could take about an hour completing this step alone. This is significantly longer than some of the other sites on the list, which may be unappealing to some visitors. However, this time consuming step does have an advantage in the long run because it means your matches will be finely tuned to your desires. Once you've completed the questionnaire and reviewed your matches, you'll then be prompted to pick a membership that suits you.

There are a number of drawbacks to eHarmony. You don't have the ability to check out anyone's profile on the site-you're limited in that sense to your matches. Moreover their membership costs in the past have been quite high. What's even more substantial is the site's 2008 lawsuit for the refusal of same-sex matches. Since then, eHarmony founded Compatible Partners, a dating site for homosexual singles.

Zoosk Review

  • Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Competitive pricing
  • Large user base
  • Social media tie-in
  • Good chat feature
  • Cons
  • Paid membership required to reply to messages
  • Limited matches

Zoosk is unique in that it combines the usability of social media with the features you want from a traditional dating website. This isn't surprising, as the service began in 2007 as an integrated Facebook tool. Zoosk experienced fast growth over the first few years, and is now available as a standalone website, mobile app, and Facebook app.

Users like the fact that this dating site is intuitive due to its similarity to a social media tool. You can even import friends from your Facebook or email contacts. The chat function is comprehensive compared to others, allowing you access to your inbox and the member search from within the chat window. In addition, the compatibility questions used to narrow your matches are well-designed, increasing your chances of finding someone right for you.

Pricing is comparable to many other dating websites. You'll pay $29.95 for one month at a time, $19.95 per month if you choose a three-month membership, and $12.49 per month if you opt for a six-month subscription. You will definitely want a paid membership if you expect to communicate with your matches. The free membership allows you to send a message to another member, however you cannot reply to any messages.

Zoosk may provide fewer matches than some of the larger sites, but with around 35 million members you'll still have a good chance of encountering suitable dates. For those who prefer a contemporary, social media-type experience, this is a great option to add to your dating arsenal.

Chemistry.com Review

  • Pros
  • Comprehensive personality test
  • Over 13 million users
  • Simple to navigate site
  • Founded by Match.com experts
  • Personality insights from Dr. Helen Fisher
  • Cons
  • Limited to contact with matches
  • Caters to U.S. and Canada residents

Brought to you by Match.com, a pioneer in the online dating world, Chemistry.com utilizes science and psychology to deliver compatible matches.

Developed by Dr. Helen Fisher, a human behavior researcher with over 30 years of experience, this site analyzes hormones and personality traits to find your match. When you initially log on you'll be prompted to fill out some of your personal information prior moving on to the four-part questionnaire. This questionnaire consists of the standard 'describe your lifestyle' questions to more in-depth personality traits. Upon completing the questions, you'll be given a detailed explanation of your results with additional information from Dr. Helen Fisher.

There are a few caveats with this site. You're limited to contact with only your matches so if you're the type of person who likes to browse the entire pool, this may be a dealbreaker. Moreover, the site caters to singles in the U.S. and Canada.

Chemistry.com leverages science with good old fashioned compatibility tests to create a match made in heaven. With over 13 million users, they've surely found success with their approach. Select from either a free or paid subscription. The free subscription reveals insights into your personality analyses but limits contact with users. I'd recommend going with a paid membership once you've given the free version a test drive.

Elite Singles Review

  • Pros
  • High percentage of quality, educated singles
  • Effective compatibility algorithm
  • ID verification and fraud protection
  • Casual and infrequent users removed from site
  • Orientation-diverse friendly
  • Cons
  • Smaller pool of matches
  • Higher cost than most sites/no monthly option

EliteSingles.com is a unique site which my research showed lives up to its name. This partnership service is one of the top dating sites for discerning, well-educated singles seeking a long-term commitment. The site hails from European origins and boasts a membership of which more than two-thirds hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree. There's no doubt that Elite Singles is designed specifically for those who want to bypass the sometimes less than ideal match pool offered by massive free sites.

The service does come in a free version, however this is intended to give you an idea of how it works before committing to a paid subscription. It's a good idea to take advantage of the free membership to check things out, as Elite Singles does have a higher price tag than most online dating sites. If you use this option, you will be able to create a profile, receive messages, and answer compatibility questions. You will, however, need a paid subscription to use the mobile app, view all the photos of other members, send messages and see whether they have been read, and enjoy other bonus features.

Once you decide to become a verified member, you can choose from three plans - $49.95/month for three months, $37.95/month for six months, or $27.95/month for a full year. It sounds steep, but if you're a well-established single looking to find a long-term partner or spouse, Elite Singles allows you to cut to the chase and be matched with like-status, like-minded people. The effectiveness with which this company fills a specialized matchmaking niche earns it a spot on my list of the top 5 dating sites.

How to Avoid Scams on the Best Online Dating Sites

Whether you're using one of the best free dating sites or a high-end paid one, there is always a risk of encountering people with less than honest intentions. By following a few guidelines you can prevent heartache and problems when looking for a partner online.

Tips for avoiding scams:

  • Be skeptical if your match doesn't reside in the US. Scammers often claim to be overseas, which should be your first clue to end communications.
  • Avoid anyone who asks you to send money. This seems obvious, but online dating scammers tend to be very effective at using romantic advances to earn trust. Never give money to anyone with whom you've been communicating via the Internet.
  • Be wary of anyone who refuses to meet you in real life, for whatever reason. This should be a major red flag, as it should only take a few weeks at most to arrange to meet for a date.

Using common sense and listening to your gut is very effective in preventing you from falling for any online scams.

How to Stay Safe on the Best Online Dating Sites

Safety should be one of your main areas of focus when looking for love online. Once you've been talking to your match long enough to determine that you both want to meet up for coffee or drinks, you should keep some basic ground rules in mind.

Tips for staying safe when meeting a date:

  • Always meet in a public place when meeting for the first time. No matter how well you think you've gotten to know someone on a dating site, you still never really know that person or what their intentions are until you get to know them better in real life.
  • Give a friend or family member information on where you will be. Also confirm the person you will be meeting, and when they should expect you to arrive home. Then text or call them once your date is over so that they know you're safe.
  • Never go home with someone on the first date. Excitement will be very high and it can be tempting to abandon common sense and go to a private place with your date. It's best to err on the side of caution and wait until you know them much better.
  • Don't give out your address until you know your match better. Be very conservative with personal information when communicating with, and meeting, matches you've found on even the top dating apps. There will be plenty of time for sharing more info once a good measure of trust has been built.

There's no need to be paranoid, but using the same precautionary measures you would use in any other situation with a stranger can help you stay safe and sound as you navigate the world of online dating.

Best Online Dating Sites Recap

My hope is that you find the man or woman of your dreams through one of these top 5 dating websites. They all boast positive user reviews and convenient features. Review each provider's offerings in relation to your personal needs. And remember, you get out of it what you put into it so keep your search up and remain hopeful that love will find you!

Once you've found that ideal person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, prepare to pop the question by starting with the best online jewelry stores. Then get started planning the honeymoon by finding the best site to book hotels.

Dating Sites FAQs

In what ways does a dating site ensure my privacy?

Privacy is probably the number one concern when anyone thinks about finding a potential mate online. With most dating sites, you create a profile with your personal information; however, the site will give you email and messaging functionality through the site. This means that the person you communicate with does not know your personal information unless you share it.

It's important to note, though, that despite the fact that the sites provide resources to keep your private information secret from potential mates, your private information is not always private from third party marketers or from the public in general.

When you sign off on the terms and conditions of most dating sites, you are typically giving them the right to harvest your general information and use it for their financial gain. This is typically not at a huge burden to you as the end user, and it may be a small price to pay for finding Mr. or Mrs. Right; however, you should take that into account before you fill out lengthy profile questionnaires.

Images and information that you include on your profile also become a part of the internet domain and available for people to access with a simple Google search. Make sure that any information about yourself that you would add to a dating site, you would add to any other public forum.

Despite the best efforts of most dating sites to weed out the potentially harmful and fraudulent users, they are not perfect, so you need to make sure that you do not only rely on the site's protections but your own as well when it comes to your personal contact information. You should only give your personal email and phone numbers to people that you have vetted thoroughly and trust implicitly.

Plenty of wonderful people are online looking for the loves of their lives; however, there are also scammers who are looking to take advantage as well, so make sure that you protect yourself first and foremost.

What is the cost of an online dating site?

The cost of online dating depends on the site that you are using and the type of access that you expect to have. There are numerous sites that are 100% free of cost to you like, DateHookup and Plenty of Fish; however, you should be careful when you proceed with the completely free sites. Their privacy and oversight are not always as robust as the paid sites. Some sites allow you to sign up for an account and do basic searches at no out of pocket cost to you; however, if you want to engage with someone more actively, you will have to pay a monthly fee that could be as much as $29.95.

There are other sites that charge significantly more money; however, they claim to provide you with more services and scientifically proven matching capabilities. eHarmony, for example, could cost you up to $60 per month; however, they claim to have an extensive 29 point test that matches you accurately with your potential mates and thus saves you time and money in searching for Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Whatever dating site you determine is best for you; make sure that if there is a monthly cost that it fits into your budget and lifestyle. If it takes you a while to find the right person, the monthly expense of a paid site can certainly have a negative impact on your personal bottom line.

If you do not have the resources to pay for a site, then just try out the free sites until you save the money for another site. Who knows, you may actually find the love of your life on the free site. If you don't, at least you did not put your personal finances in jeopardy on your pursuit to finding the perfect mate.

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In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.