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What Is Tinder? And Is It Just A Hookup App? (Updated 2023)

Tinder is a free mobile dating app that matches you with singles in your area. Tinder launched the location-based dating app craze back in 2012, and it's still the most popular dating app in the US.

For that reason alone, if you're single, Tinder is worth checking out.

Tinder’s revolutionary (at the time) “swipe right if you like her, swipe left if you don’t” format has since been copied by numerous competitors, and apps like Tinder abound. Bumble, Hinge, and CoffeeMeetsBagel are some examples.

Tinder is currently part of the Match Group, which also owns dating sites like Plenty of Fish, and OkCupid.

VIDA Select's dating experts have spent hundreds of thousands of hours on Tinder, optimizing profiles, sending messages, and arranging dates on behalf of the clients we represent. We've been using Tinder since it made its debut on the dating scene, and have experienced firsthand how the features have changed over time.

So if you’re curious about the ins and outs of this popular mobile dating app, there’s no better place to learn everything you need to know about using Tinder for the first time!

Let's start with the basics!

What Is Tinder?

Tinder is a location-based dating app that lets you swipe, match, and exchange messages with local singles.

You may have heard it referred to as a “hook up” app. And it was, back when it first hit the market in 2012. Tinder users were mainly singles looking to find more casual.

And while that’s definitely still the case, Tinder isn't just for hooking up anymore. You can also find plenty of people looking for serious relationships. Even marriage!

Tinder lets users display what they're on the app to find in the Relationship Goals section of the profile screen.

Tinder wasn’t designed for any specific age group, although it tends to be most popular with singles in their 20s. In fact, Tinder has said half of its users are Generation Z.

That's consistent with reporting from other sources:

what age group Tinder is best for

That being said, it attracts people of all ages to varying degrees. Tinder is a good app to try if you’re under 50, especially if you’re in a big city. (Dating over 50? Check out these best dating apps for older singles!)

You’re also probably wondering how much it costs to be on Tinder. The basic Tinder app is free, with the option to upgrade to Tinder Plus, Tinder Gold and Tinder Platinum. (More about that in a minute, as well as other in-app purchases and premium features.) 

Once you’ve downloaded the dating app, you can sign in via your Facebook account or use your mobile number.

While you don't need Facebook to use Tinder, it does make creating your account a bit easier. Most of your profile information is auto-populated from your Facebook profile, and it makes uploading your photos a breeze.

Tinder is available for both iOS and Android devices.

You can also use Tinder Online, which is basically Tinder for your pc - or any other device you want to use.

Creating Your Tinder Profile

If you didn't use Facebook to sign up for Tinder, don't worry - the app will prompt you for the required information.

Tinder Photos

Photos are the most important element of your Tinder profile, so you want to choose your strongest ones. A recent neuroscience study discovered the recipe for the most attractive Tinder photo:

perfect Tinder photo

Getting your photos right the first time is important. Tinder no longer relies on your elo score, which was an internal secret ranking that determined which profiles you were (and weren't) shown. But the number of right swipes you get is still taken into account by the matching algorithm.

In other words, if you want the chance to match with the most popular people on Tinder, your photos need to impress.

Tinder has a built-in Smart Photos feature that can help identify your best primary photo option.

Tinder Smart Photos

When Smart Photos is enabled, the app automatically auditions every photo in your lineup in the primary spot. It then rotates in whichever one receives the most right swipes.

For more info on how (and if!) Smart Photos actually works, check out this article. Want even more picture tips? Find out how to choose the best photos for Tinder!

Tinder Prompts

(Editor's Note: Tinder has removed this feature in some markets, so it may not be available to you.)

If you don't have the strongest photo lineup, consider adding a few Tinder Prompts to it. You can choose from text prompts like, "Fun fact about me" and "Two truths and a lie:". Each one has a 144-character limit, and will be shown as a card in your lineup of pics.

Ending on a witty Tinder Prompt could tip the odds in your favor of a match, so it's worth the extra effort. You can have any combination of prompts, photos and Loops (which are 2-second videos that play on repeat). Tinder has space for 9 total.

Tinder Prompts can be added to your lineup from the profile settings screen. Simply tap "Add Media" then "Create a new Prompt."

Tinder Bio

Once you have your photo lineup addressed, you’ll want to turn your attention to your Tinder bio. You can access and edit all of your profile information at any time by tapping on the icon at the top of the screen.

There’s a section called “About Me” with space for a short, 500-character or less bio.

As a guy on Tinder, you don’t want to leave it blank. With men outnumbering women on Tinder (at 75%), you don’t want to miss an opportunity to intrigue her. We’ve got 4 irresistible Tinder profile examples you can use for inspiration.

Tinder Passions

Adding a few Tinder Passions can help round out your profile. Passions, also known as Tinder Interests in some markets, are simple topics that will display on your primary photo, and will be highlighted if you have it in common with a potential match:

Tinder passions example

Tinder requires you to add at least 3 Passions, but no more than 5. Choose which ones by going to the profile editing screen and tapping on the Passions menu. Then tap on the interests you want to add to your profile:

How to add Tinder Interests to your bio

Adding a few Interests to your Tinder profile is a sure-fire way to make starting a conversation with you a lot easier. And you can use this handy copy and paste messaging hack to quickly send an icebreaker to matches who are interested in the same thing you are.

Linking Social Media

You can also link your Spotify and Instagram account to your Tinder profile

Social media is a great way to give potential matches more hints of your personality, but keep in mind once connected you should view them as an extension of your dating profile. Be mindful of what you post and how it might come across to potential matches who have zero context of your personality.

Once your basic profile is completed, you can set your search criteria. Tinder has minimal filtering options, just maximum distance, gender, and age range.

How Tinder Works

Now it’s time for the fun part - swiping.

Tap on the flame icon to swipe through the singles in your local area. If you're not a premium member, you'll check out each person's profile one at a time. You can use your finger to swipe the image left if you’re not interested, right if you are.

Swiping up “Super Likes” someone.

Basic users get 100 swipes every 12 hours. If you don’t want to physically swipe with your finger, you can tap the Tinder icons at the bottom of the screen instead.

This shows what all the Tinder icons mean:

Tinder symbols

When you swipe right (“like”) someone’s profile, and they do the same for your profile, a match is formed.

Tinder Explore

Tinder's Explore feature gives users a way to check out a curated feed of profiles based on mutual interests. In the special "Discover By Interest" section of the Explore hub, you'll find categories like Gamers, Music Lovers, Entrepreneurs, and many more. Matching in the Explore hub works the same way - a mutual right swipe results in a match.

You can also access Tinder's Vibes, Hot Takes, Festival Mode and Swipe Night features from within the hub. To open the Explore hub, tap the window icon on the menu bar.

Tinder Explore icon in menu bar

I’ve Got A Match, Now What?

Once you’ve made a match, either of you can start the Tinder conversation. To access the message screen, tap on the conversation icon at the top of the screen.

Attractive women on Tinder get tons of messages, so your icebreaker needs to be attention grabbing to stand out from the competition.

Example of bad Tinder messages in an inbox

Don’t just send a basic “Hey.” That puts the pressure on her to actually start the conversation, and worse - it will make her think you’re boring, uncreative, and nothing special.

Instead, send her a question that’s creative, engaging, and above all easy to answer. Try one of our 7 Tinder icebreakers that actually work right now!

Tinder Reactions

(Editor's Note: This feature has been discontinued in many markets.)

Only women can send “Reactions” in response to a message. So if you send her a less than stellar icebreaker, be prepared to get an animated eye roll or a virtual drink thrown in your face.

Tinder Reactions can be positive as well, including a round of applause and a thumbs up. To send a Reaction, simply click on the smiley emoji next to the message field. Then choose which one you’d like to use.

How to send a Tinder Reaction

Tinder Feed

(Editor’s Note: The Tinder Feed feature has been discontinued.)

You can also message your matches via Tinder Feed, which is where all their latest activity on the app is posted.

For instance, if someone changes their primary photo or chooses a new Spotify anthem, you can comment on it. simply tap the conversation box on the relevant piece of content, and type your message!

To learn more about how Tinder Feed works - and how to use it to get more matches - go here.

Tinder Face To Face

Tinder also allows users to video chat within the app after they've started a message exchange, provided they've both expressed interest by activating the Face To Face feature. To indicate that you'd like to video chat with a match, simply tap the video icon and toggle it on.

Face to Face feature on Tinder

When your match does the same, you can initiate the video call.

All of that you can do for free... Now let's talk about the premium features!

Is Tinder Plus Worth It?

Upgrading to Tinder Plus costs around $7.99 for 1 month, depending on your location. If you commit to 6 months or a year, the monthly cost is slightly less.

Here’s what you get for your money:

  • Ability to rewind your last swipe
  • Ad-free swiping
  • Change your location to anywhere in the world with the Passport feature
  • Unlimited right swipes
  • Limit the information that’s visible to others
  • Have your profile shown only to people you’ve “liked”

If you travel frequently, upgrading is worth the price just for the ability to change your location. Start swiping through the local girls in your destination city, and you can have dates lined up before you’ve even stepped off the plane.

YouTube video

Since 76% of Tinder users live in larger urban areas, if you’re not within “dating distance” of a city center, upgrading probably isn’t worth the extra cost.

Go Global

But if you do live in a larger city, you’ll burn through your 100 swipes with a quickness, so upgrading can save you the frustration of having to wait 12 hours to get some more.

Tinder Plus is also worth it if you’re concerned about just anyone finding you on Tinder. By upgrading, you have the ability to hide your Tinder profile from other users, and only have it revealed to people once you’ve swiped right on them.

Want more dating app privacy tips? Check out which dating apps and sites have private profile options so you can use them discreetly! 

Should I Upgrade To Tinder Gold?

With Tinder Gold, you get all the Tinder Plus perks, and these four additional premium features:

  • One free Tinder Boost every month
  • 5 Super Likes each week
  • A grid view of all the local singles who have “liked” your profile already - so swiping right = instant match
  • 4-10 Top Picks delivered daily (free users only get 1)

Top Picks are profiles of singles whom Tinder’s algorithm has identified as people who match your dating preferences as identified by your swiping patterns, so you’re virtually guaranteed to like them.

To learn more about how Tinder Picks work, watch this:

YouTube video

How much Tinder Gold costs varies by factors like your age and location, but you’ll pay somewhere in this general vicinity:

Tinder Gold Cost
1 month - $24.99
6 months - $12.50/month
12 months - $8.33/month

If you tend to get a lot of matches or don't want to spend a lot of time swiping, Tinder Gold can be helpful.

Not only can you focus on swiping through profiles of singles who are already intrigued enough to swipe right, you can instantly match with all of them.

Is Tinder Platinum Worth The Cost?

Tinder’s premier upgrade, Tinder Platinum, comes with two extra features: Priority Likes and Message Before Matching. You’ll also get *all* the upgrades from the other two levels as well.

Priority Likes means anytime you swipe right on someone, your profile gets priority placement in their card stack. Message Before Matching allows you to include a comment when you Super Like a potential match, something Tinder claims ups your odds of matching by 25%.

For anyone swiping in a big city with tons of Tinder users, paying for Tinder Platinum is probably worth the competitive advantage. Being seen sooner rather than later is always a good thing on Tinder.

Depending on the specific market you're in, upgrading to Tinder Platinum costs around $29.99 for 1 month.

Tinder Platinum Cost
1 month - $29.99
6 months - $15.00/month
12 months - $10.00/month

How Do I Get The Most Out Of Tinder?

Regardless of what you are looking for on Tinder, it’s important to know how to use the app effectively if you want to get any dates at all.

It’s definitely worth taking a look at our fool-proof Tinder hacks as well as these 10 Tinder tips, but here are the basics:

  • Tinder is literally all about first impressions. Your photos and profile need to stand out.
  • Make the first move when it comes to sending messages - research shows only 7% of guys send the first message, so impress her by taking charge of the conversation.
  • Don’t wait too long to ask her out - your goal is to take things off the app as soon as possible. Always suggest meeting for the first time in a public place - that’s what 75% of women prefer.

While Tinder is a great way to meet attractive women, you’ll find that all that swiping and messaging can start eating up a huge chunk of your free time.

On average, users log on 11 times a day, and spend around 90 minutes a day on the app. That’s about 10.5 hours a week, 42 hours a month. Bet you didn’t realize a free app could turn into a part-time job!

But setting up and using Tinder doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming. Lots of busy people hire someone to Tinder for them. There’s plenty of reasons why outsourcing Tinder makes sense, but the most important one is simple - it’s the quickest way to go on dates with attractive women. Intrigued?

Click here to learn more!

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