Pay As You Go or Monthly Subscription? A User’s Dilemma in the Online Dating World

Over the past decade, the online dating world has reached new heights. This is because customers feel much safer and more comfortable when using and paying on dating sites.

Besides that, the pandemic and social distancing measures have encouraged people to use the internet even more to find love or at the bear minimum, a potential match. It seems that going to a public place to meet new people has become a thing of the past.

Time has also become a significant factor for this increasing trend. In other words, when a user registers to a dating site, they do not want to wait for weeks or months to be able to find a potential partner.

Additionally, the “stigma” attached when dating online (especially when referring to the best dating sites) has faded quite some time ago, as using the internet to meet people has become part of our daily lives.

With this in mind, dating websites have drastically evolved regarding the services they can offer to their users and therefore, have adopted various payment models to cater for their customers even further.

Another topic to consider is the choice between paid and free dating sites. A lot of people raise the question on whether it’s worth paying in search of finding love or a casual relationship. It would be fair to say that on most occasions, a paid dating site has a lot more to offer than a free dating site.

With paid dating sites you will benefit from a number of features and extra services, such as:

– Better quality customer service

– Increased checks to verify users profiles

– Paying on a dating site also counts as a vote of real intent towards other users

Moving forward, the next big question is if a “Monthly Subscription” or a “Pay As You Go” would be the preferred payment model and why?

The choice between a paid or a free dating site as well as the payment model could be determined on what type of relationship a user is searching for. As an example, if a user is looking for “friends with benefits” or a no-strings-attached fling, then a Pay As You Go structure may be preferable. However if they are looking for casual dating or a long term relationship, then they may favour monthly subscriptions instead.

Monthly Subscription

A monthly subscription is a payment system where a user will pay a repeated fee in order to use a company’s services. As far as subscriptions go, a user will usually pay monthly, quarterly or annual instalments depending on the site and service they are looking for. It goes without saying that the longer the subscription basis, the cheaper the cost will tend to be.

In the online dating industry as an example, a user will pay a subscription to use certain features, such as checking who has read your messages, using a search bar to look for other profiles or just to chat to other users.

Some examples of dating sites using subscriptions are Tinder, Badoo and POF.
For instance, Tinder currently promotes its “Tinder Gold” subscription, where users are able to pay instalments for extra features such as unlimited “Likes”.

POF (Plenty Of Fish) uses a monthly subscription to gain access to special features.  For example, being able to see more information on a user’s profile or being able to upload more images to your profile.

On the other hand, Badoo offers a type of subscription-based membership called “Badoo Premium”, where users are given access to a set of unique features. To give you an idea, one of the features that Badoo is known for is the “Invisible Mode”, where you will not be noticed when browsing through different profiles.

Pay As You Go

Pay As You Go is a model where a user will pay a one-off cost depending on which services are selected. The payment needs to be made before gaining access to these services. The Pay As You Go system is commonly represented by:
– Credits
– Tokens
These “virtual currencies” are mainly spent on chatting and when purchasing any of the above, they tend to come in “Packages”. As with monthly subscriptions, the bigger the package, the better the value!
An example of a dating site using a “Coins” based model would be click-date. The site offers standard rates in exchange for their services. As an example, “coins” can be used to chat and exchange pictures. The “coins” can also be used to get a “VIP” status on your account (where you will receive extra attention from other users).

Pros and Cons

Monthly Subscription

✅ Convenience –> Users do not need to worry about following up on payments each time

✅ Easier to budget

❌ Locked in to product –> It’s harder for the user to have flexibility on pricing and selection

❌ There may be hidden costs when using or ending a subscription

❌ You pay for more services than what you usually need

💡 Check small print on the Terms and Conditions on recurring purchase / automatic-renewals

Pay As You Go

✅ No commitment to a contract or agreement
✅ Easier to sample a service than a subscription
✅ Services are constantly updated to keep the users interested

❌ May become expensive over time as its hard to budget

💡 Affordability and Flexibility → The user can choose which service they want


To conclude, it seems that a “Pay As You Go” system is the preferred choice for users as they do not feel the burden of being committed to something. Additionally,they will only pay to get exactly what and how much they are looking for.

Moreover, from a dating site’s perspective, it is easier for an online dater to try a service if they do not have the feeling of being tied down to a recurring payment or worrying about having to pay for any hidden costs that may appear over time.

If we take an example from above and also one of the known dating sites, Bumble and click-date provide its users with free coins so they can “test the field” before needing to purchase anything. However, even though the latter does not offer a dating app, their users can still use any free or paid coins on any device nonetheless.

As time has moved forward, we can slowly but surely see that the Monthly Subscription is being considered as the old classic payment model. Companies have started pushing towards a Pay As You Go structure as it brings a lot more benefits and freedom for their users as well as reducing any waste throughout the process.