If diving into the world of online dating is something you’ve been considering, then you are not alone. Believe it or not, it’s estimated that more than 40 million Americans have swiped left or right at least once.
Furthermore, around 30% of adults ages 18-40 report having used a dating site to find a significant other. And here’s another interesting statistic: according to a study done by eHarmony, a whopping 20% of all current committed relationships began online in some way.
With stats like these, it’s no wonder new dating websites and apps seem to pop up on a regular basis. Still, there are three apps that seem to have separated themselves from the also-rans. Bumble, Tinder, and Hinge -- Each claims thousands of loyal adherents, but which one is right for you? In this article, we take a closer look at the three most popular dating apps.
While websites like Match.com and eHarmony have long been established as popular dating sites, Tinder was really the first successful phone-based dating app that was free for users. Established in 2012, Tinder can be credited with the whole “swipe right”, “swipe left” concept that has become so common in our society.
Tinder works by providing users with options from their greater region. For example, if you live in San Francisco and use the app at home, you would see profiles of those living in the Bay Area. But if you traveled to New York City and opened the app, you would find options local to New York.
Mutual swipes to the right result in a match, and then you are free to begin messaging the other Tinder user. Once a day, you can also Super Like a potential match to let them know you are really interested. Perhaps it is this method of organization that has given Tinder its reputation as a hookup app. Still, many have found long-term relationships on Tinder, too.
How To Tinder
1. Find and download the Tinder app from the iPhone’s App Store or your Android’s Google Store
2. Set up your Tinder profile with a short biography and some photos
3. Begin swiping! Swipe right for someone you are interested in, and left to remove them as an option.
4. Once you’re matched, you can begin messaging
Tinder is free to download, and it doesn’t cost anything to start swiping. If you want added perks like hidden ads, unlimited likes, and rewinds, or the Message Before Match feature, you will need to upgrade to one of Tinder’s three tiers: Tinder+, Tinder Gold, or Tinder Platinum.
Pros and Cons of Tinder
Has the largest number of users, and the most variety. You can also increase or decrease your selection by changing your search radius and desired age range
Easy to set up -- just upload a few photos, add a quick snippet of bio, and choose a song that best captures your personality (though even that last bit is optional)
No backtracks. If you accidentally swipe left to remove a potential match, then they are gone for good
Tends to attract flakes and “venhoes” -- that is, those who include “Venmo me and see what happens” in their bio
Limited to just 100 swipes per day
Some stats suggest that as many as 80% of Tinder users never find a date
Requires a premium subscription to access some features
Interestingly, Bumble was created by a group of former Tinder employees. The two apps look and work very similarly, but with one major difference. On Bumble, female users make the first move. Although both men and women can create profiles and start swiping, only female Bumble users may initiate a more personal conversation.
If a woman messages a man and he does not respond within 24 hours, then the match expires. For those seeking a same-sex match, then either person may message first. Another clever Bumble feature is the blue-tick certification. When you register for a Bumble account, you are required to take a selfie that Bumble technology then matches to your chosen profile pictures.
Once verified, a blue checkmark appears next to your profile picture to assure potential matches that you are who you say you are. Bumble users seem split between those looking for a hookup and those looking for something more serious. In either scenario, the app’s unique way of working certainly cuts down on the risk of sexual harassment.
How To Bumble
1. Download the Bumble app onto the device of your choice
2. Set up a Bumble profile, and add some personal photos and a bio of 300 characters or less
3. Women can begin searching other profiles, and messaging anyone they find interesting. Men can begin swiping at other profiles while they wait for their first messages.
You can do a lot on Bumble for free, but there are some premium features that you can pay a small fee to access. Currently, Bumble’s premium features are Bumble Boost, Spotlight, SuperSwipe, and Bumble Premium.
Pros and Cons of Bumble
Allows backtracking. If you accidentally swipe left, you can backtrack for a re-do
Identity verification deters catfishing
About 60% of all matches result in a conversation
Gender demographics that are pretty close to equal
It can be difficult to make the first move, especially on a platform where witty one-liners and icebreakers are needed to catch someone’s attention
Once two Bumble users have both swiped right, the woman has only 24 hours to initiate a conversation. Otherwise, the match disappears
Requires a premium subscription to access some features
Hinge has dubbed itself “The Relationship App.” Unlike other dating apps, Hinge uses your social media friends lists to match you to people with whom you have at least one mutual friend. In other words, if you’ve ever had a crush on your best friend’s brother, then Hinge is the dating app for you.
Granted, the app doesn’t just offer you anyone that meets these basic criteria. Rather, Hinge employs a sophisticated algorithm that analyzes your answers to their introductory questions, then connects you to those with complementary answers. As you can imagine, the fact that Hinge focuses on a select group of people means that it doesn’t provide an endless supply of options.
While some find this annoying, others appreciate that right off the bat it sets up potential couples with something they have in common. Unlike Tinder and Bumble, Hinge doesn’t require you to swipe right or left. Instead, you’ll be shown potential matches’ photos and icebreaker questions, which you can then like and comment on.
How To Hinge
1. Download the Hinge app from the iPhone’s App Store or your Android’s Google Store
2. Create your Hinge account, and add photos and basic information to your Hinge profile
3. Begin commenting and liking other profiles
Hinge is free to use, however free accounts only receive a limited number of “likes” to use. Free users will need to be discerning if they do not want to pay for more “likes.” For more “likes,” you will need to spring for a Preferred Membership at $9.99 per month.
Pros and Cons of Hinge
Comparatively easy to make the first move and get a conversation going
No need to wait for someone else to swipe in your favor or send you a message
Profiles are more in-depth, so you can decide on a potential match based on more than just a picture or two
Offers more free features than either Tinder or Bumble
An intense registration process can be time-consuming
A much smaller pool of potentials since your only potential matches are based on your Facebook friends list
Limited to a mobile app; Does not have a desktop version
Requires a premium subscription to access some features
Hinge vs. Bumble vs. Tinder: Which Is Right For Me?
If You are Looking for Serious Relationships
If it’s a long-term relationship you are after, then start with Hinge. After all, Hinge’s slogan is “Designed to be deleted.” Hinge users receive “likes” to use as they search for a potential match. But unlike on other apps, a “like” on Hinge is meant for individual profile components -- such as a photo, quote, etc. -- instead of an entire profile. This encourages users to look through someone’s entire profile, instead of making a decision based on a single photo. If you still aren’t convinced, consider this: 72% of Hinge dates result in a second date.
If You Want Lots of Options
If you want as many options as possible, then Bumble is the place to begin your search. Bumble boasts an incredible 12.3 million users, 1.35 million of whom are paying, preferred members. That’s almost twice the number of global Tinder users.
If You Aren’t Good at Starting the Conversation
Both Hinge and Bumble are set up for those who aren’t very comfortable initiating a conversation with a potential match. If you are male, then consider starting with Bumble. Unlike nearly every other dating service or matchmaking app, Bumble requires female users to make the first move.
Though meant to lessen the risk of overt sexual harassment, this ladies-first feature can be helpful to those guys who aren’t quite sure about what to say first. Whether male or female, you will find Hinge to be another good option for those who aren’t so great at starting the conversation.
Hinge is designed very much like Facebook or Instagram and looks like something most of us are already comfortable using. Users like and comment on each other’s photos and answers to icebreaker questions. Like and comment enough, and you might find yourself in a back-and-forth that feels much more organic.
If You Want Easy
If it’s an easy process you are after, then Tinder is the right dating app for you. Creating a Tinder account is as simple as uploading a couple of flattering photos and a snippet to help you stand out. Once you get started, it doesn’t get much more difficult than remembering that right means you like, left means you don’t like. If it’s an easy hookup you’re after, well...we still recommend Tinder.
If You Are Concerned About Safety
If you are a little wary about the concept of online dating, then you will want to stick with either Hinge or Bumble. Bumble especially has been thoughtfully designed with safety in mind. The entire concept revolves around women initiating the conversation, which goes a long way in avoiding any issues of harassment, sexual or otherwise.
Bumble also verifies each user’s photos by requiring a selfie which it then compares to all of one’s profile photos. By sticking with just those profiles with the blue verification checkmark, you can be sure you are chatting with who you think you are. Though Hinge lacks the verification that Bumble offers, it does provide a sort of safety net by matching you with only those with whom you share a mutual friend on Facebook.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to the best dating apps, the three biggies are definitely Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble. Each offers something different and can be someone’s ideal choice of dating site depending on priorities. Women looking for honest connections -- or at least fewer x-rated photos -- will appreciate Bumble’s unique ladies-first organization.
Those hoping for something more serious, but okay finding something more casual in the meantime, will likely find what they are looking for with the uber-popular Tinder.
Finally, Hinge provides singles with the best chance at finding successful long-term relationships. The app that is “designed to be deleted” only connects those with whom they share a mutual friend.