The true cost of finding love

Sign up for free! It tales just two minutes! - it's easy to think online dating is free when websites use marketing blurb such as this.

But while you can sometimes add your profile, upload your photos, search a site for potential matches and receive messages from possible suitors without paying a penny, you can't usually reply to a message until you've coughed up for a subscription.

And with Valentine's Day fast-approaching, it's well worth knowing how much your quest for love might set you back.

The good news is online dating can be relatively cheap. One month's subscription costs between £14 and £40 - so around the price of a meal out. It's a bit irritating, however, that most sites are coy about revealing their fees until after you've registered.

A free trial will give you the chance to see if there are potential matches in your area and in your age group. Some dating sites mainly focus on the mid-20s to mid-40s age range so if you're a 'mature' woman, you could find that men your age are looking for matches 10 to 15 years younger, limiting the possibilities for you.

Monica Porter, journalist and author of Raven: My Year of Dating Dangerously, which she wrote when she turned 60, says it took her a while to find the right dating site: "The first site I used was a smallish one designed for older singles and it was a dead loss for me. There were very few men who I would ever consider meeting.

"Then I went on to, a mainstream dating site for people of all ages and types. It was certainly an improvement, and I did make contact with a number of men but I still felt it wasn't for me.

"It was only when I signed up to my third site, Lovestruck, that things took off. It was much more cosmopolitan, fun, a bit wacky, generally for more professional and educated types, while still being mainstream. So I would recommend bigger sites rather than the smaller niche ones."

While you can still find sites where you just upload your profile and search for a possible match, many are jumping on to the scientific bandwagon by offering compatibility and psychometric testing to pick out partners with the personality traits to suit you. How well they work is hard to gauge.

Porter is not convinced these methods are any more successful than online browsing: "I think it's always better to do a bit of trawling of your own, as I am a bit sceptical as to how good those systems are for matching you up with the right people."

Watch out for automated re-billing

One thing to be aware of if you decide to sign up for a paid subscription is that if you don't cancel it, you will be automatically re-billed. So if you sign up for a month, then you will be billed monthly whether or not you are using the service until you cancel.

It's easy to forget this and end up paying hundreds of pounds by direct debit for a service you no longer want or need. The only way round this is to cancel your subscription almost as soon as you've joined. Then if you're happy with the service and want to continue, renew your subscription just before your membership is about to expire.

If you're interested in trying your luck in the romance stakes, here's Moneywise's lowdown on eight popular dating sites - prices are correct at the time of going to press but sites sometimes have special offers.


eHarmony has almost 60 million members globally and 3.7 million registered users in the UK, with a core age range of between 25 and 65.

How does it work?
eHarmony uses a compatibility matching system based on 29 dimensions of compatibility, so people are partnered according to their behaviours, values and characteristics.

How much does it cost?
One month: £39.95
Three months: £89.85 (£29.95 a month)
Six months: £143.70 (£23.95 a month)
12 months: £191.40 (£15.95 a month)


Winner of Best Dating Site, Best Dating App and Best Singles Party in the UK Dating Awards 2014, Lovestruck currently has 500,000 members and operates in most UK cities, Hong Kong and Singapore.

How does it work?
Lovestruck matches new members based on their interests, age, and location. Once members start using the site, an algorithm finds potential matches by building up a picture of their behaviour.

How much does it cost?
One month: £39
Three months: £65 (£21.67 a month)
Six months: £99 (£16.50 a month)
12 months: £139 (£11.58 a month)


Probably the UK's best known dating site, pick if you want a large database of members to choose from – more than 15 million members have joined in the UK and Ireland in the past 10 years.

How does it work?
Create a profile, search
for matches and message them. The site
offers advanced filters to search for different ethnicities, religions, and gay and lesbian dating. It offers dating advice and arranges singles events around the UK.

How much does it cost?
One month: £29.99
Three months: £59.97 (£19.99 a month)
Six months: £77.94 (£12.99 a month)


If you're 'country-minded' or 'muddy' (whether you live in the countryside or just enjoy spending time there), this site is the one for you. It was voted Best Specialist Dating Site in the UK Dating Awards 2014.

How does it work?
A Muddy/Townie ratio on each profile gives browsers an idea of how rustic you are, so a 20:80 ratio might indicate someone who lives in town but is a country weekender.

How much does it cost?
One month: £24
Three months: £45 (£15 a month)
Six months: £69 (£11.50 a month)
12 months: £90 (£7.50 a month)


Created by TV presenter Sarah Beeny, MySingleFriend sees itself as a social network of single people, described by their friends. Groups of friends can be linked together to form an online community.

How does it work?
You can sign up or a friend can register for you. Either way, as well as a profile about you, your friend will write a few paragraphs about you, which you can approve before it goes live.Your friend can also browse profiles and suggest matches.

How much does it cost?
Fees can be found on the site's FAQs, so no need to sign up to see them.
One week: £7
One month: £28
Three months: £55 (£18.33 a month)
Six months: £79 (£13.17 a month)


OkCupid is one of the few dating sites that lets anyone send and reply to messages before paying – though you can pay more to join the site's 'A-list'.

How does it work?
The site asks you to answer lots of questions about yourself.The more questions you answer, the better your compatibility results will be.

How much does it cost? (US site so fees are in dollar)
One month: $19.95 (£13.19)
Three months: $44.85 (£29.66) – $14.95 a month (£9.89)
Six months: $59.70 (£39.48) – $9.95 a month (£6.58)


Plenty of Fish claims to be the world's largest dating site with more than three million people using POF every day. Like OKCupid, you can send messages when you sign up for free, so it's a good site to test the water if you've never done online dating before.

How does it work?
Plenty of Fish has a relationship chemistry predictor to measure five 'personality dimensions' that the site suggests are essential for developing a romantic relationship. It also has a psychological test that tells you what you really want in a partner as opposed to what you say you want.

How much does it cost?
Two months: £38.70 (£19.35 a month)
Four months: £51 (£12.75 a month)
Eight months: £81.40 (£10.18 a month)


Who says you're too old to date? Aimed at mature romantics, this site covers people in their 40s upwards – with no shortage of octogenarians looking for love.

How does it work?
Saga offers a two-way matching feature to score your compatibility, with the highest-ranking matches appearing first.You also have access to profiles from other sites, such as,,,, and

How much does it cost?
Well done, Saga. It is the only site to have a Subscribe tab at the top of its home page with fees clearly stated, which are:
One month: £28
Three months: £54 (£18 a month)
Six months: £80 (£13.33 a month)
12 months: £126 (£10.50 a month)

Stay safe online

Before you sign up to any site, check if it is a member of the Online Dating Association, which has a code of practice to promote customer safety and visit to read its safe dating guide.

When you're setting up your profile and sending messages, always avoid giving personal details such as your address, workplace, email, phone number and date of birth. Stick to messaging through the dating website where you met, rather than texting or instant messaging.

When you're seeing a date for the first time, meet in a public space on neutral ground, let a friend know where you're going and take your mobile with you. Also keep an eye on personal belongings and avoid leaving your drink unattended.


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Your Comments

You forget to mention most of Plenty Of Fish features allow you to message people and look at profiles for free.
The cost you have shown is for the premium features which include a lot of things like seeing who wants to meet you.
Purchasing this added extra isn't required to get going as you can message people and check out as many profiles as you want for free.