There's plenty of competition out there, but Tinder remains the biggest dating app in the world and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere.
Whether you're a Tinder veteran looking to upgrade their profile, or an app dating newbie trying to figure out how everything works, this comprehensive guide to all things Tinder is where you need to be.
What is Tinder?
Tinder is an online dating app that matches couples based on their physical attraction to one another. It alerts you to other Tinder users who fall within a specified age range and gender and are within a certain distance of your location, and it lets you know whether you have any mutual friends.
You decide whether or not you like the look of a person: if you do, great; if you don't, they'll never know. If you're both interested then Tinder's messaging function offers you a private chat thread in which to talk and get to know each other better.
It's very much like being introduced to the hot friend of a friend in a bar, but it removes the clumsy, drunken matchmaker and the want-to-curl-up-and-die cringeworthiness from the equation.
How do I get Tinder?
Previously you would need a Facebook account to log in, but in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal Tinder added the option to create an account using only a phone number. That will prevent you from using some of the app's features though, such as pulling photos directly from Facebook, and showing you when you have mutual friends or Likes with another user.
How do I use Tinder?
Tinder is a really simple app to use. Just download it, set up an account or log in with your Facebook profile, specify the gender and age range of the people you'd like to meet, and how far you're prepared to travel to meet them. When Tinder finds people who match those criteria it places cards on your screen that show a large photo of the person; tap this to see a short description they've written along with more photos.
Below the picture is a heart icon and a cross - tap the heart if you like them and the cross if you don't - or swipe to the right if you like them, and to the left if you don't. If you like someone who also likes you Tinder will tell you that a match has been made and opens up a simple messaging function.
You'll also have to fill out your own profile. Tinder pulls some information from your Facebook profile, such as your job and education, but you can choose what to display and write out a short bio of yourself. You also need to pick a few photos to include - you can pull these either from your phone's image library or your Facebook account.
Tinder will also do its best to help you out thanks to a feature called Smart Photos. If you choose to activate it, it will continually assess how favourably people have responded to each of your profile photos, and automatically order them so that your most popular photo appears first - taking out all the guesswork as to which photo you look best in.
You can also link your Tinder to both Instagram and Spotify. The former will show your most recent Instagram photos on your profile while the latter will let you show off some of your staple songs.
Why aren't I getting any interest on Tinder?
Tinder is a two-way street - you can't just sign up, forget about the app and hope people will come to you. Because the messaging system is opened up only when both parties have confirmed their interest, you won't know anyone has liked you unless you also like them. So if you want to see results, open up the Tinder app and get involved.
What happens if I like someone and they don't like me?
There's no need to hide your face in shame. The only way someone will know if you've liked them on Tinder is if they like you too, then a match is made and the messaging function between the pair of you becomes active. So set your sights as high as you like - no-one will call you on it.
Will someone know if I don't like them?
Likewise, Tinder won't tell someone who fancies you that the feeling isn't mutual. That person might eventually work it out when several weeks have passed and a match hasn't been made, but the chances are they've liked a few people in that time and won't be pinning all their hopes on you. It's a very gentle way of letting down those in whom you're not interested without hurting their feelings.
Will I meet a psycho on Tinder?
Only the people you've liked are allowed to contact you on Tinder, so there's no chance that you'll get a bunch of unsolicited messages; and those users you have allowed can be blocked if they get annoying or a bit creepy.
But you do still need to apply the same rules on Tinder as you would with any online dating site: you'll never really know who you're agreeing to meet until you do so.
If you want to know more, check out our guide to Tinder's safety features below.
One of Tinder's more recent additions is Prompts. These are quick conversation-starters that can be added directly onto your profile - much like many older dating sites and few other dating apps use.
- The one thing I won’t take for granted again…
- I’m talking to my pet about…
- Why hasn’t someone invented…
You can pick a few prompts to add to your profile, and write your own answers to them for matches to argue with you about in chat. They'll appear mixed in with your photos on your profile, so people will see your prompts as they swipe through your pics.
To find prompts, tap the profile icon in the top-right of the app, then go to 'Add media' and 'Text prompt'. Tinder will also keep adding new prompts over time, so check back every now and then for new options.
For a while Tinder allowed users to upload two-second 'Loops', but it's now replaced these with the option to add longer videos to your Tinder profile - up to 15 seconds.
You can add up to nine videos, which sit on your profile within your photos and prompts, and you also upload them from the 'Add media' section of your profile settings.
You'll get the option to trim and crop your video as you upload it, so don't worry if the video you want to use is a little too long, or if it needs to be cropped to fit a phone screen well.
Super Likes and Boosts
Since Tinder launched it's added a few new features to give hopeful singles some more options. First up are 'Super Likes' - you can Super Like someone by tapping the blue star icon or swiping up on their profile - unlike a regular attempt to match, this will immediately send them a notification that they've been Super Liked and the chance to see your profile.
It's a more upfront way to try and match with someone, but be warned that some users can see it as slightly too forward. With a free account you can also only use one Super Like per day, so use it wisely.
One of the other more recent features is Boost. This is a paid option that pushes your profile to the top of the queue of every Tinder user nearby for 30 minutes, making it much more likely you'll get matches over the next half hour. A single boost costs £3.89, so they're not cheap, but you can get them at a discount by buying packs of five or ten. You can find the Boosts by tapping the purple lightning bolt icon.
Explore is a newer section of the Tinder app, only introduced in 2021 - though it includes some slightly older features. You'll find it to the right of the main swipe tab on the bottom bar.
The Explore section gives you new ways to find matches beyond simply swiping. It includes limited time events like Vibes and Hot Takes - more on them below - but also two ways to access more focussed queues of potential matches.
The first is by interest - you'll see stacks of users based on terms like 'Foodies', 'Thrill Seekers', or 'Early Birds', giving you the chance to only swipe through users that match specific interests or personalities.
You'll also have the option to only swipe through profiles that have gone through photo verification in case you're worried about getting catfished. You'll still see all users in your main feed, but at any time can go through exclusively verified users through Explore. If you don't see this option, it may just be because you aren't verified yet yourself - so get on that.
Only officially introduced in 2021, Vibes is a silly name for a pretty straightforward features: quizzes. Every now and then users will get a notification that a Vibes event has started in their area, and you'll also see it in the Explore feed. If you take part, you'll get to answer a series of personality questions - all with a slightly silly tone - but you only get 48 hours to do so.
If you decide to Vibe, your answers will appear on your profile for the next 72 hours, and they'll also pop up in the chat window when you're talking to someone else who took part, giving you a quick 'n easy conversation starter.
Hot Takes are pretty similar to Vibes, but there are a few key differences. Available worldwide for English language users, they're available between 6pm and midnight every day, found in Explore.
If you take part, you'll see a Hot Take prompt pop up. Let your opinion be known, and you'll be thrown into a chat with someone else who answered the same prompt - though they won't have necessarily opted for the same answer.
The catch is that chats are timed, so you'll have to act fast to impress your chat partner and figure out if you're a match - otherwise they'll be gone forever.
Face to Face video chat
2020 brought with it one major addition to Tinder: video chat. Dubbed Face to Face, the new option is designed to offer a Covid-safe way to chat directly to new matches without ever leaving the Tinder app. Plus, it offers a few safety features you won't get if you just switch straight to WhatsApp.
First up, like matching, both of you have to agree to enable video chat before it becomes an option. There's a toggle you can hit once you're comfortable video chatting with a specific match, and they won't know when you've hit it. Once you've both enabled it Face to Face unlocks. Oh, and you can also turn this toggle back off whenever you like too, for those days when you know you don't want to be on camera.
At the start of every call you have to agree to specific behaviour guidelines, and at the end of every call there's the chance to review it and flag any unwelcome behaviour. The app also requires both of you to enable camera access, so there's no fear it'll be one-sided.
To learn more, check out our in-depth tutorial: How to video chat on Tinder
Block your ex
Tinder has also added the option to avoid awkward encounters with your exes (or family & friends...) by blocking specific contacts based on their phone number.
To block someone, simply go to your profile settings within the app and select from your phone contacts which people you don't want to see within the app - whether it's exes you don't want to run into again, or friends & family you'd simply be a bit embarrassed to see on a dating app.
Any contacts you block won't appear as a potential match for you in the future (or vice versa), so long as they signed up to Tinder using the matching contact info. This will even work if they're not currently Tinder members, but sign up in the future.
This one is UK-only, but there may be similar schemes elsewhere in the world. Tinder has temporarily added a 'vaccine centre' to the app to promote vaccination, allow users to show off their vaccine status, and give access to NHS vaccine information and resources.
You're able to add an interactive sticker to your profile to show that you're vaccinated - or will be soon. If you do so, Tinder will even give you a free Super Like.
Tinder may have been one of the first dating apps to move people away from clunky websites, but things have come full circle as Tinder itself moves into your browser.
The company launched Tinder Online, a web-based version of the app designed to give people access to Tinder even if they don't own a smartphone - or just don't happen to have access to one at the moment. Just head to Tinder.com and sign into your account and you can use all the normal Tinder features - including Super Likes, Boosts, and Rewind - chat with your matches, and even edit your profile.
Best of all, there's 'work mode' - a button that brings up a semi-convincing imitation of a Google Drive document in case your manager picks just the wrong moment to walk past your desk.
Is Tinder Plus worth it?
If you're serious about trying to use Tinder to make a match, you might want to consider investing in Tinder Plus. This is a premium, paid tier, which offers a few advantages in exchange for a monthly fee.
There are a few benefits to Plus: for one, it makes Tinder ad-free. It also gives you one free Boost per month, and five Super Likes per day, rather than just one.
Plus-exclusive features include a 'rewind' button so that you can re-do your last swipe in case you accidentally went the wrong way, and Tinder Passport, which lets you change your location - this is useful if you're planning a trip and want to match with a few people before you arrive.
Arguably the biggest benefit of Tinder Plus is that it lifts the 'right swipe limit'. Normal users can only swipe right on so many users per day before they have to wait 12 hours - a way of discouraging people from trying to match with every profile they come across. There's no fixed number of swipes you're allowed, as it's determined by an algorithm based on your typical behaviour, but either way, Tinder Plus users can swipe to their heart's content.
So how much does Tinder Plus cost? Again, there's no easy answer. Pricing is determined for each user by Tinder's algorithm, with prices based in large part on your age: the younger you are, the cheaper it costs. It can reportedly range from as low as £1.49/$1.49 per month right up to £14.99/$14.99 per month - with discounts if you commit to six months or a year in advance.
Is Tinder Gold worth it?
If Plus isn't enough for you Tinder has a second paid tier called Tinder Gold, which offers all of the features of Tinder Plus, and two big additions: Likes You and Top Picks.
Likes You does what it sounds like - it lets you see who's already swiped right on you, so you can make sure to pay special attention to the profiles of people who you know like you before you commit to swiping in return. You can see a full list of every profile that's liked you so that you can browse through and swipe either way on them while knowing they're interested in you.
Top Picks is a more recent Gold feature, which shows you a daily selection of profiles selected specifically for you by the Tinder algorithm. You'll see a few picks each day (but they disappear after 24 hours), with each including a highlight drawn from their profile - things like 'Doctor' or 'Adventurer'. You can also pay extra to access additional Picks each day.
Beyond those two big features, Gold also offers a few more granular controls to who you see, and who sees you. You can use the default algorithm to pick profiles or ask the app to prioritise accounts who've been active recently. In turn, you can also restrict your profile so that it doesn't show your age or distance, and even restrict it so that only people you've already Liked see your profile in the first place.
As for pricing for Gold, expect to pay an extra £3.49/$4.99 per month on top of Tinder Plus, with discounts for longer commitments - and again, variations depending on age.
Is Tinder Platinum worth it?
For the real big spenders, there's an even higher tier available: Tinder Platinum.
As you'd expect this includes everything you get with Tinder Gold, but also throws in another two features: Priority Likes and Message Before Match.
Priority Likes essentially guarantee that your Like will be seen before non-Platinum subscribers, essentially pushing you to the top of the stack for any potential matches, meaning your profile is more likely to be seen.
Message Before Match is a bigger change for Tinder, and allows you to attach a short message - up to 140 characters - to your Super Likes. Not that you can still send Super Likes without a message, and that this only allows you to send the one message, not bombard someone with chat-up lines before they even Like you back.
In 2020 Tinder added several new safety and security features to the app to help users feel comfortable using the app without risk.
First up, accounts can now have their photos verified, with a blue tick appearing next to the user's name if they have been. Verification is optional, and sees users asked to recreate a series of poses in new photos to prove who they are, with 'human-assisted AI' then checking that those photos match the photos on the user's profile.
It won't solve the problem of users who've changed a bit since their photos, but it should help reduce the risk of catfishing on the service.
More advanced ID verification is also rolling out worldwide, following a trial in Japan. This will involve checking people's photos and details against government ID, for an extra level of reassurance that they are who they claim to be.
Tinder says that ID verification will remain optional for now - acknowledging that for some marginalised communities verification may be a genuine safety risk - except for countries and regions that require it.
Depending on what country you're in - it's only in 'select markets' - Tinder has also added a feature that will try to detect offensive messages. If you've received a message flagged by the system, it will ask you if the message bothered you, and if so will report the user.
Finally, in the US Tinder has paired with Noonlight to give Tinder users free access to the security app. You can access Noonlight through the same menu that lets you attach GIFs or images to messages, but will need to register and connect your accounts. Once you do, it will allow you to record any plans to meet a new partner within Noonlight from Tinder.
If an emergency then comes up during the date, you open the separate Noonlight app and hold a button to trigger the emergency. The app will ask for a PIN to delete the alert, and also try to call and text you, and if there's no response then the app phones emergency services. Users with Noonlight connected also get a Noonlight badge on their profile - hopefully a deterrent for anyone who would be a threat.