Should You Pay For Bumble Boost,  Spotlight, Tinder Gold, Coffee Meets Bagel Premium, Hinge Boost or Preferred Membership? Is Upgrading Worth It? Do They Work?

Most dating apps these days operate on what is called a freemium business model whereby basic functionality is free but additional premium features come at a cost. Unlike, you don’t need to pay money to read or send messages to others on dating apps like Hinge, Bumble or Tinder. 

Upon creating a profile, most people experience a good surge in likes and matches. For more on that check out this post outlining the importance of starting off strong with a new dating profile. After a few days, users experience what is called a regression to the mean whereby the likes slow down and fewer matches are had. 

Dating apps are like video games and can get users hooked pretty easily. Getting folks to experience a euphoric ego boost with likes and matches is to apps benefit as they pull the rug underneath users so that they feel compelled to buy upgrades to attain more likes and subsequently matches. These premium features and subscriptions can add up over time.

Rather than take the plunge, I urger all folks to invest in their photos (order, quality, lighting, variety), profiles (bios, questions, answers, completeness) and app choice. There is plenty of self-sabotage on dating apps that it doesn’t make sense to pay for premium marketing features when the core product (you) can use some help. Sure one might get more likes but will likely come from users who accidentally clicked like, come from new users (like bots, spammers that haven’t been banned) or users outside a preferred radius.

If profiles, photo and bios are done effectively, users don’t need to pay for premium features and subscriptions to have success (for the most part) on dating apps. Basic (free) functionality should work for most people if they carefully curate their dating profiles. It’s those that rush it, have no clue what they are doing, lack self-awareness and realistic expectations who are most likely to have negative experiences with paying for such features. According to Vice, it’s almost never worth it to spend money on dating apps.

With that said, some features are reasonable if one is trying to expedite the number of profiles shown to you or if the main focus is to expedite visibility in a like or match queue. Other features can seem a bit creepy, needy or inefficient. Here are my takes on some main paid features and subscriptions for popular dating apps in Hinge, Bumble, Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel.

Bumble Boost, Bumble Spotlight

Bumble Boost’s main benefit is that it allows users to see who has liked them and thus can swipe accordingly on them first. This expedites the number of matches as one does not have to waste time swiping on people that either swiped left on them or have not seen their profile.

The main drawback to this though is if one focuses only on those that swiped right on them, they might miss out on those in the same position (have Bumble Boost and are waiting on others to like them first). Additionally, time is of the essence on dating apps. The longer people are on apps, the more likes and matches they will accumulate. Fatigue kicks in and users tend to focus on a handful of people at a time (particularly during covid) so one might miss out on people by focusing only on those that have expressed interest.

Rematching with expired connections is another benefit but my logic to this is if someone is interested, they will reach out even if it’s to say they are busy and would like to connect in x days/weeks when things settle down from work, school etc. Basic online dating messaging etiquette, one does not want to seem desperate by rematching or extending matches beyond the 24 hours.

Unlimited swipes and unlimited filters can be effective but often times users can be too picky and eliminate great matches prematurely. People tend to be more selective with dating apps than they would if they met the same person offline. Don’t fall don’t that rabbit hole of treating dating apps like food ordering apps. Dating apps are merely online introductions!

Bumble Spotlight is another paid feature whereby users can pay to increase visibility of their profiles to others users for brief periods of time. I generally equate this to taking out paid ads for a sub-par product – invest in your profile, photos first before even considering this.

For tips on photos, prompts, first messages and how to reply to messages, check out my Bumble blog posts.

Hinge Boost, Hinge Preferred Membership

Hinge is one of the most popular dating apps on the market. Some women prefer the app over Bumble because they don’t have to make the first move which can be intimidating for someone who considers themselves old-fashioned. Hinge Boost briefly makes a user’s profile more visible to others for bursts of time. As with Bumble Spotlight, I view this as taking out paid ads for a sub-par product – invest in your profile, photos first before even considering this.

Similar to Bumble Boost, paid subscribers can see who liked them, send out unlimited likes and also set advanced preferences around education, family plans, politics and more. Again, invest in the profile and photos first before considering upgrading. Features like this will give you around the same quality of users, sometimes like but more quickly.

It’s possible to run out of profiles if too much swiping occurs. It’s better to make a good first impression rather than try to rebound from a bad profile being shown to someone that piques your interest.

More tips around profiles, messages, photos and more on Hinge.

Coffee Meets Bagel Premium Subscription

CMB’s free version is rather limited compared to Hinge and Bumble but its premium features are interesting. Activity reports provide details around responses from matches like percentage of times first message is sent. Read receipts are another benefit but are they necessary? Features like this downplay fundamental human skills to analyze people and their communication and effort. I don’t think one should rely on apps for basic engagement and interaction analysis.

With that said, unlimited skip the line is an interesting feature. Users have to wait awhile to be seen by others but with this premium benefit, users can expedite the line and be seen up to 3x faster (according to CMB). Like other apps, users receive more likes through 8 likes a month in Discover.

For additional tips and insight into CMB:

Tinder Subscriptions: Tinder Gold, Tinder Plus

Tinder’s subscription products provide a slew of options geared towards gamification like no other. Undoing left-swipes, ability to send Super-Likes, ability to change location in passport, and 1 boost per month. All these features in Tinder Plus are unique to the mindless swipe culture Tinder has created.

Tinder Gold possesses all the features in Tinder Plus but adds in ability to see who likes you, unlimited likes and curated profiles in Top Picks.

Tinder App Review:

Final Thoughts

Invest in your photos and profile first. Make sure you are self-aware and have realistic expectations based on your location, looks, age and lifestyle. If you do upgrade, do so for reasons that don’t try to make up for deficiencies in your profile.

Further Reading: Should You Super Like On Tinder or Super Swipe On Bumble?

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer and dating consultant specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

Dating Profile Critique

For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.

For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog for more helpful advice.

Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More).

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