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To pay or not to pay: That is the question. If your goal is to get a date—or find a mate—are you better off with one type over the other? In the Consumer Reports Online Dating Surveymore than 9, people who had used an online dating service in the last two years were asked which one they had joined.

Forty-eight percent said Match, a paid site, but PlentyOfFish free and eHarmony paid tied for second most popular, with 23 percent apiece. But in terms of overall satisfaction, our survey found that free dating sites actually score a touch better than paid ones, probably because they're a better value.

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Although our survey found that no dating site or app sweeps online daters off their feet in the satisfaction department, OkCupid is rated highest overall by respondents, and Grindr, a free app for gay men, is also near the top.

Some experts argue that paid sites attract more serious users.

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Even Tinder, despite its reputation for attracting users seeking causal romance, may deserve a more open mind. On a site like OkCupid anyone can send you a message, whereas on the free app Bumble or on Tinder or eHarmony, only people you are matched with can get in touch. Perhaps beyond just charging for messages, sites could adjust the price according to how high quality someone's engagement seems to be.

In the meantime, the bottom line is that while some users think quality does come at a price, there are benefits to free dating services as well. Online daters may be best off trying both types.

Our survey suggests that 45 percent of online daters have tried multiple dating websites or apps. Please call Member Services at Welcome to Consumer Reports.


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