Almost all subscription based dating sites allow new users to register and post a profile free of charge. No, this doesn't mean they are being generous, quite the opposite . The reason they offer free membership is to encourage new members to join, and just maybe, once they get hooked they buy a subscription.
So what does a Free, Trial and Paid membership offer and how different are they?
Types of Dating Memberships
Free memberships differs from site to site, however, many only allow minimal access to the site's features and tools, and limit communication between members.
Usually with a free membership users can browse profiles, do searches, but only using the most basic of search tools, flirt or show interest using "Smiles" or "Ice Breakers. Some dating sites do allow free users to respond to mail receive from a paid member, but rarely are they able to initiate mail contact themselves.
Generally speaking, a free membership has only one purpose - it gives you time to check out the service, see what features and tools are available, who's using it, then decide whether or not you like it enough to put out your cash for a paid subscription. Other than that they have no real value.
Trial memberships are a bit different. They are still free, but instead of limiting your use of the tools and features, it limits the amount of time you get to spend on the dating site without paying. Trial memberships can last anywhere from 5 to 10 days.
Unlike free memberships, trial users have full access to everything the dating site offers. The service allows you to communicate with other members using chat or instant messaging, and participate in forums ( if the site happens to have one). You'll also have access to the matching systems, advanced search tools, and best of all - you can initiate mail contact with anyone you want.
Serious singles, men and women that are using an online dating service with the intention meeting someone, will benefit more from a paid membership.
Dating sites that work on a pay to use basis often will only allow paid subscribers to use the advanced searching and matching tools. Without the use of these highly sophisticated tools you can spend days, even weeks browsing and reading profiles that won't be of interest to you. Having the ability to narrow it down and view only the kind of profiles that will interest you definitely saves you time.
Another advantage is being able to communicate with other members - which of course is an essential part of online dating. Once you find someone you can get to know them better through online chat, real time instant messaging, or email, and some services now even have audio and video chatting. Seeing and hearing your online date is more personal and can help you connect on a much higher level.
Subscribers often get to have their profiles come up first in the search results, before free members. This extra exposure alone is worth shelling out a few bucks. Since everyone posting an ad is competing for the same attention, having your ad come up first can mean more people are seeing it - perhaps reading it and responding to it... and now isn't that the whole point!
Now, I'm not recommending that you rush out and buy a long term subscription right away. Start off with a one month membership and use that time to test out all the features, and see if any of the members interest you. If you find that you don't like it, just cancel and move on to another site, there is plenty to choose from. A one month membership usually run between $20 and $40 depending on the site.
Once your time expires - and you want to continue using the service, better to commit to a 6 or 12 month membership. Not only will this save you 30% to 50% off the cost of a monthly membership, it gives you more time to find, meet and make a special connection with a desirable partner. When you don't feel rushed, you can be more selective in who you choose to communicate with, and better your chances of meeting someone that's perfect for you.