Top free dating sites like PlentyOfFish.com, OkCupid.com and DateHookup.com don't have broadcast media campaigns like eHarmony.com, but that hasn't stopped millions from flocking to these sites which allow users to find matches and communicate without any financial commitment. Finding a serious relationship is definitely more difficult on these free sites since there's no price of admission, but they offer all kinds of community features (forums, blogs, quizzes from users, etc.) that make them fun.
OkCupid.com, founded in 2004 by the creators of SparkNotes.com, allows users to search for matches and also automatically generates matches. (In 2011 it was acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp, which also owns Match.com and Chemistry.com) The matching algorithm is surprisingly robust, and the more questions you answer, the better the matches will be. About.com's dating guide, Bonny Albo, reviews seven free dating sites and gives a perfect rating of 5 stars to OkCupid.com. She says that she and her friends have been well matched during the years they've been using the site. It's also a favorite with users who appreciate the many features offered to them at no cost.
Older reviewers do grumble, though, that it leans more towards the under-35 set. Scammers and inactive profiles are also rampant here. On the plus side, OkCupid.com is up on technological trends with good social media integration and a free mobile application. There's no chat feature, though, which is mostly standard on paying dating sites. Note that if you don't want to upload a photo, you won't get access to many features. Several reviewers point out that the site tends to cater to people with nontraditional worldviews.
PlentyOfFish.com, launched in 2003, is still largely free, though some features that used to be free are now on a pay-only basis. The site does offer compatibility matching, but it costs money. Paid membership also bumps your profile to the top of search results and allows you to receive notification of users who have read messages you sent and those who haven't, allowing you to weed out inactive users.
When searching, you can specify the type of relationship you're interested in (from long-term to intimate encounter),and you can even search by astrological sign. Unlike a lot of paid sites, the last login date is prominently noted. However, multiple reviewers say that PlentyOfFish.com is more for casual relationships and not those looking for something long-term. Bonny Albo at About.com emphasizes the usefulness of the forums, which are active and cover all manner of dating topics, and not just the site itself.
DateHookup.com, launched in July 2002, boasts that it's "100 percent free dating." It has a simpler interface than its two main competitors and is shorter on features. Search options include physical features, ethnicity, astrological sign, education, employment status, politics and religion. You can only communicate through email (no instant messaging or chat), save searches and "friend" people. There are forums, but they're much less extensive and active here than at PlentyOfFish.com.
Marilyn Winfield of RandomerThanAverage.com gives DateHookup.com her highest score of 3 out of 4 stars on her video review. She notes that the word "hookup" in the name implies many non-serious relationships, but people who are serious can be found on this free dating site with some careful weeding. Reviewers would have liked DateHookup.com to require members to specify their level of seriousness, since there's no way to know this unless members choose to reveal it. Like many of the dating sites in this report, there's an emphasis on people younger than 30.