5 Best Free Dating Sites of 2021

Meeting people doesn't have to cost a fortune

Using a website to form romantic relationships and make new friends online is a hugely popular activity. However, finding the best dating site of 2021 can be difficult because of the sheer number of options there are out there.

This is the list for you if you want to cast the widest net to meet the most people possible from various locations and backgrounds. They deliver a consistently balanced experience for anyone who's looking for connections with like-minded people.

These websites are supported by ads because there aren't membership fees, but please know that not all of the ads are considered family-friendly. Please use caution when visiting. 

There are also online dating apps if you prefer to match with people from your phone or tablet. All of the sites in this list are also available via an app.

01
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OkCupid

Screenshot of OkCupid
What We Like
  • Find matches that fit your personality and desires.

  • Shows a match percentage for easy swiping.

  • Send messages to anyone you 'like.'

What We Don't Like
  • Long signup process.

  • Chat only accepts text.

  • Payment required to see who likes you and to send unlimited 'likes.'

One option you have for a free dating site is OkCupid. What sets this dating service apart from most others is that you're matched up with people via a mandatory personality test.

During the test, you're asked various questions such as whether you're carefree or intense, if politics is important to you, how you feel about dating someone with debt, etc. You're then asked to choose an answer for your ideal person. During these questions, you can mark them as important or irrelevant so that the matching algorithm favors people who answered in the way you're wanting them to.

Like most dating websites, you're taken through a setup wizard after signing up, which involves not only the personality test but also adding images, introducing yourself, deciding who and what you're looking for, and more. Once your account has been made, there are additional profile questions you can answer for viewers to get an in-depth look at what you stand for.

As you click through matches, you can see a simple percentage that indicates how well you might work together based on the personality test. You can even see which answers you agreed and disagreed on before matching.

Some other things we appreciate is the advanced search tool, that you can sort matches by match percentage or online status, it lets you view the people you've liked even if they haven't liked you back, your Instagram feed can be attached to your profile, and you can spend a few bucks for boosts that crank up your profile's visibility.

02
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Bumble

Free dating site Bumble
What We Like
  • Clean, ad-free design.

  • Controls spam through auto-expiring messages.

  • Fast signup process.

  • Includes a payment option to stand out.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't feel as interactive as some dating sites.

  • No personality matching options; mainly location-based.

Bumble is an interesting free dating site because unlike some of these where you can message someone at any time, this one requires the woman to initiate the conversation before the man can say something (if you're matching with the opposite gender), else the match expires.

In your profile settings are a few parameters you can set such as the gender you're interested in, an age range, distance to look for matches from where you are, and filters. You can choose two filters so that your potential dates must match up with whatever you choose, such as that they exercise often, never smoke, are non-religious, are of a certain height, etc.

After matching with someone, you can exchange text, pictures, and GIFs. You can also snooze your account to hide from Bumble without losing your matches or closing your account, boost your profile with Spotlight to be seen by more people, and find friends and business opportunities through the two other areas of the site: bumblebff and bumblebizz.

You can get started with Bumble quickly by signing in with your Facebook or Apple account, or via your phone number.

03
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Tinder

Free dating site Tinder
What We Like
  • Simple and straightforward.

  • The experience feels more immediate.

  • Premium options if you want more features.

What We Don't Like
  • Has a reputation as a hookup site rather than a dating site.

  • Based mainly on appearance, which has sparked controversy.

  • No pre-made questions to answer for a fuller profile.

  • Must pay to see who has liked you if you haven't liked them.

Tinder is a location-based dating site, and it's extremely popular. It popularized the "swipe right" idea where you match or ignore people with a swipe motion. If you're using Tinder from a computer, the right arrow is the same as swiping to the right.

Unlike some dating sites that seem to find a few matches and then force you to wait for days for new users, you'll likely find other people on this site no matter where you live. The sorting option lets you locate people anywhere from 1-100 miles from your location, and if you run out of results, you can enable a global option to find people all over the world.

Here are some other features worth mentioning: set the age range anywhere from 18 to 55+, disable read receipts so that matches can't tell when you've read their messages, turn off your recently active status, use Smart Photos to have Tinder automatically pick the best image to show people first, hide yourself if you're communicating with someone and don't want to be matched with anyone else, message via text but also easily send GIFs and contact information, and pay for things like Super Likes for a supposed better chance at matching, Skip The Line boosts to be a top profile in your area for 30 minutes in an effort to get more matches, and Rewinds to undo swipes.

04
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Plenty of Fish

Screenshot of the Plenty of Fish search results page
What We Like
  • Always fresh with new users.

  • Digs deep into understanding what you're like to help find valuable matches.

  • Lets you send messages to anyone.

  • Super-detailed search options.

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for quick signups; there are lots of initial questions.

  • Some really useful features are available only after you pay.

  • Stale website design.

  • Logs out and refuses signups seemingly randomly.

With approximately 3 million members logged in every single day, Plenty of Fish is definitely one of the world's largest dating sites. It uses what it calls Ultra Match, a "sophisticated matching algorithm," to find compatible users in your area and find the best matches just for you.

Right after you register, you've asked lots of really specific questions about yourself, which is great for finding matches, but not so great if you just want to sign up and start meeting people right away.

Some things we like: you can get a list of everyone who's currently online, pick "maybe" instead of "no" for someone you're unsure about, join live streams, view members that are only in your city.

05
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Meetup

Screenshot of in-person Meetup events around Dallas Texas
What We Like
  • Easy joining process.

  • Fosters matches based on mutual interests.

  • Hundreds of thousands of groups available worldwide.

What We Don't Like
  • Group organizers must pay a nominal monthly fee.

  • Not geared specifically to online dating.

If you're not a fan of the idea that you need to go out on a date right at the start of a relationship, consider using Meetup to find friends first.

This isn't your typical dating service because it doesn't revolve around finding people to go out with like Tinder and these other websites do. However, it's a fantastic way to find people who are interested in the same things you are, from mountain climbing to book-of-the-month clubs, language learning, and everything in between.

There are groups gathering in your area for virtually any interest you can think of, and many friendships and relationships spring out of these casual gatherings. You can even search for singles and hope that there's a group just for that.

The search tool lets you pick any city to find Meetup groups anywhere from 2 miles away from any distance. You can also filter by online or in-person events, as well as by date.

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