A Guide To Today’s Top Dating Apps: Which Are Best?


A Guide To Today’s Top Dating Apps: Which Are Best?

Key Points:
  • Dating apps as we know them today didn’t come into existence until the launch of the now-defunct Kiss.com in 1994, soon followed by Match.com in 1995 and eHarmony five years later in 2000.
  • Today, nearly 45 million American dating app users bring in over $600 million in revenue for the industry. 77% of online dating app users have been out on a date with someone they met online.
  • As of 2021, the most downloaded dating apps are: Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Badoo, Match.com, OkCupid, eHarmony, Coffee Meets Bagel.

Going out and meeting new people was hard enough as it was before Covid, but now — after the pandemic taught so many people how to find and pursue romantic partners without ever having to leave the house — it seems a person must resort to dating apps if they want to find success in the dating pool. This can be just as (if not more) intimidating than approaching a stranger at the bar, especially if you have no idea which of today’s top dating apps is the best of the best. 

Match.com, eHarmony, Bumble, Tinder … with a new platform to flock to practically on the daily, how can one possibly expect to know what the best dating apps are? Not to mention all the subcategories and other factors to consider: features, safety, membership fees, the best ones for men, women, young adults, serious relationships, casual relationships, for over 40 … the list goes on and on. Thankfully, you don’t have to know all the ins and outs to find success on a dating app. This helpful guide will help you parse the best dating apps and eventually clue you in on the best overall dating app for you and your particular needs. Let’s begin by explaining how we got here, then we’ll go from there.

Hinged, aimed towards a younger demographic, was released in 2012.


A History of Dating Apps

Tracing dating apps back to their origins would place you firmly in 1959 when Happy Families Planning Services launched with the help of an IBM 650. Happy Families Planning Services’ employees — just a pair of Stanford students — handed 49 men and 49 women a questionnaire and then used the computer to match them together based on compatibility. Regardless of the success of this initial proof of concept, it was now clear that computers could help bring potential romantic partners together. The rest, as they say, was history. 

While many computer-based compatibility tests, chat rooms, and mail-in services would come and go in the following decades, dating apps as we know them today didn’t come into existence until the launch of the now-defunct Kiss.com in 1994. From there, it was like an avalanche of options. Match.com came a year later in 1995, eHarmony five years later in 2000, and — with the increased popularity of smartphones in the mid-to-late 2000s — these sites gave way to a whole slew of dating apps like Grindr, Tinder, Hinge, and more came onto the scene from 2007 onward. From this point forward, it was no longer about sites and all about the apps.

Today, nearly 45 million American dating app users bring in over 600 million dollars in revenue for the industry. What’s more, 77% of online dating app users have been out on a date with someone they met online. There’s no doubt about the sheer amount of cultural relevancy these sites and apps hold today. With that being said, which of these are the top dating apps? And, of these, which is the best overall dating app? Let’s take a look below.

The Top Dating Apps

Below are the best dating apps in the United States based solely on downloads in 2021:

Alternatively, here are the top dating apps in the U.S. based on paid users in 2020:

  • Tinder
  • Bumble
  • Match.com
  • eHarmony
  • OkCupid
  • Plenty of Fish
  • Hinge
  • Grinder

Lastly, here are the most-downloaded dating apps around the world in 2021:

  • Tinder
  • Badoo
  • Bumble
  • Tantan
  • CuteU
  • Lamour
  • Grindr
  • Plenty of Fish
Bumble, with an 18+ age restriction, was released in December 2014.


Which of the Top Dating Apps Are Best?

While the above statistics on the best dating apps are undoubtedly helpful, they offer little about features and specifications. What about platform safety? Or membership fees? What about the best platform for men, women, young adults, or over 40? Serious relationships, casual relationships? These lingering questions mean we need to take a look at which of the top dating apps are best for these particular niches. 

Best Features: Bumble

When it comes to unique and attractive features, Bumble takes the cake. With plenty of interesting conversation starters, fun questions to answer, and disappearing matches after 24 hours left untouched, Bumble has features that elevate the typical dating app experience and take it to new heights.

Best Safety: Tinder

While all dating apps carry similar risks of harassment, stalking, online abuse, catfishing, and the like, it seems Tinder is the best app for dating safely. This is due to the sheer number of built-in safety features on the app. What’s more, Match Group — which covers Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid, Hinge, and Plenty Of Fish, among others — has announced plans to give users the ability to purchase background checks on their matches.

Best for Men: eHarmony

For whatever reason, men seem to have the best luck finding partners on eHarmony. Whether it be the site’s unlimited matches and communication, its advanced search, or any other number of its exclusive features, men claim to prefer eHarmony over the rest of the competition. 

Best for Women: Bumble

Once again, Bumble comes out on top in this category. What makes Bumble so great for women is that the app relies on women to make the first move, subverting a very popular (and often very annoying) dating app trope that sees men making the first move every time. Not only does this help to make women feel safer on dating apps, but it also adds a nice little spice to the formula to make things more interesting for both parties.

Best for Young Adults: Tinder

Tinder, released in September 2012, is available in 56 languages.

©Happy Zoe/Shutterstock.com

Far and away, Tinder is the best dating app for young adults. As a matter of fact, a staggering 75% of young adults have used or are currently using Tinder for finding a match. The next-closest app for young adults is less than half that: Bumble at just 31%. 

Best for Over 40: Hinge

When looking for the best app for users over 40, the best bet is none other than Hinge. Designed to help users get away from the dating app scene and into the real world, Hinge developers created the app with those old souls in mind. This is what makes it so nice for those 40 and above. Sure, you have to use the app at first, but you don’t have to “hinge” the whole dating experience on it. 

Best for Serious Relationships: eHarmony

Unsurprisingly, eHarmony is the best dating app for serious relationships. Its reputation precedes it in this regard: eHarmony is the place those looking for a long-term committed relationship flock to, just like all those ads on TV say.

Best for Casual Relationships: Tinder

Alternatively, Tinder’s reputation also precedes it: It’s the very best dating app for casual relationships by far. You probably already knew this, though, because Tinder’s reputation in this realm is practically synonymous with the app itself. If you’re not looking for anything serious, you know Tinder’s the way to go.

Find saved passwords on an iPhone

Countless singles have turned to dating apps to connect with others in our technologically advanced day and age.


Best Overall Dating App: Hinge

While it’s hard to make a sweeping judgment based solely on these very specific and very unique factors, many agree that the best overall dating app is Hinge. By cutting through a lot of the red tape of other dating apps and allowing users to fine-tune who can match with them and what they can talk about with those matches, it seems many people have a lot of success with the one app that lets them get straight to the fun part without sacrificing that meaningful connection in the process.

Up Next…

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the number one trusted dating app?

Presently, Hinge is the most trusted dating app around.

What is the best dating site for serious relationships?

As you might have guessed, eHarmony is the best site for those in search of serious relationships.

Are dating apps safe?

The safety of dating apps remains one of the biggest lingering question marks. Because these apps do not conduct anything like background checks and few work diligently to verify users’ identities, it’s up to the user’s discretion whether or not they feel safe enough to meet a potential match.

What is the most exclusive dating app?

Lately, the most exclusive dating app is the invite-only service, Raya.

Who is accepted to Raya?

Raya’s 8% acceptance rate includes celebrities and users who received invitations or recommendations (or both).

Are there membership fees for dating apps?

Some dating apps have fees and others are free to use. Additionally, some free apps have extra features users can unlock for a price that free users don’t have access to.

Who uses dating apps?

One in 11 Americans uses dating apps, and nearly 30% have used dating apps in the past. Within these stats, Millennials are most likely to use apps and Baby Boomers are the least.

What age do you have to be to use dating apps?

You must be 18 to use dating apps, which coincides with the age of consent laws in the United States.

What are the benefits of using dating apps?

Dating apps give users a fast, efficient way to vet potential dates without ever having to leave the house or meet with strangers you might not be compatible with.

What are the risks of using dating apps?

While there are plenty of benefits, using dating apps also opens users up to harassment, stalking, online abuse, catfishing, and other safety risks.

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