A matchmaking service can sound great—and can have a price tag that makes you do a double take.
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Many of us have made a poor choice or two on the quest for love everlasting. But with prices well into the thousands for personalized services, singles are often left wondering if they can really afford to find their love match through advertised matchmaking services.

Heated debates about which dating apps or websites to use often come down to a difference in cost, not quality of available singles. In fact, other parameters—such as success rate, time frame to match, accuracy of matches to preferences, security, and confidentiality—are some of the reasons people switch from apps to professional matchmaking services.

Although the premium costs are likely worth it just to weed out catfishers and scammers, people who have used these services say that the only true measure of the value to cost is if you actually find your person.

Online Dating Apps

Cost: Free to Low-cost

One of the least expensive services out there is OkCupid. On the market since 2004, this communication-centered experience encourages written responses, as opposed to photo-based experiences like on Tinder.

While both services have free versions, there are subscription offerings that provide advanced services and features. These sites fall into the category of low-cost matching options, because they tend to cost under $20/month for advanced matching. They are akin to Plenty of Fish, Bumble, Grindr and more that rely on technology to initiate introductions that lead to offline romance.

Among dating apps, there's a tiered structure when it comes to finances. Match gives a seven-day free trial, after which its one-month plan quickly jumps above $19.99/month based on how many months you agree to sign on. As part of its value, Match provides a robust, thoroughly vetted, and detail-rich profile feature—but it has a slower profile approval timeframe than some other sites. In the same category, there is eHarmony. In both sites, the costs are pretty hard to find, and are only offered after a user provides key information about who they are and who they want to meet.

eHarmony has a free dating site, and if you scroll all the way to the bottom of its homepage you can see its demographic-focused sites, specifically catering to clients who are Black, or LGBTQ, or Christian, or 50+, etc. After digging around the main website for hours, you may never find the actual cost; that's because eHarmony only shares this info with registered users inside the account. There, users can upgrade to a Premium Membership, which reportedly ranges from $35.90/month to $65.90/month.

Which of these services are worth it, and for whom?

  • OkCupid – Worth it for people looking for a personality-based dating experience 
  • Tinder – Worth it for people looking for hookups and casual dating
  • Grindr – Worth it for people looking for LGBTQIA+ hookups and casual dating
  • Match – Worth it for professionals looking for long-term relationships
  • eHarmony – Worth it for anyone looking for a serious, long-term relationship 

Dating Coach

Cost: Mid-range

If you've been putzing around on dating sites for a while and still striking out, you may realize that getting the first date is not the difficult part; it's getting a second or third date you actually want to go on. Relationship experts and dating coaches might be the next best resource before going to a full-scale matchmaking service.

Part therapist, part coach, these service providers tend to focus less on finding your mate as much as helping you understand how you come across during dates. Do you fidget when meeting new people, come on too strong too fast, bore easily, or never get asked out on a second date? If so, then a coach might be worth it.

Most coaches offer one-on-one sessions, although some might offer group or webinar-like classes. In 2018, Elite Daily reported that prices ranged from $59 to upwards of $4,000. Growing Self offers coaches across categories of years of experience; its doctoral level clinicians charge $160/ hour, but newer coaches charge as low as $60/hour. In 2021, the NY Post shared that a NYC-based dating coach, Amy Nobile, offered a $2,500 monthly rate, if clients wanted to continue to work with her after a four-month initial contract. The Anchorage, Alaska based P.S. Curators advertised a $6,000 package that included coaching and matchmaking, but it has been suspended due to COVID. Its online offerings include coaching ($3,000 for a package) and online help (around $350).

It is important to remember that coaches are going to be worth it if you use them in parallel with an app—or if you have a strategy for meeting possible matches in droves. Most coaches will help you improve your profile, take better pictures, understand non-verbal cues, and improve your communication skills. Not all of them offer matchmaking services.

Coaches are most worthwhile for people who have no problem meeting many qualified mates, but who are just struggling to secure a long-term commitment. It is best to keep in mind the length of time you want to commit to these services, so you can determine if you can truly afford them. If a long-term relationship develops within a year, then most people would call coaching a win.

Matchmaking

Cost: High

Consumer Affairs says that matchmaking services can cost between $5,000 and $50,000 per year. This is the most personalized relationship service, and it is said to generate the most successful matches. That claim might be misleading, though, because many people who use matchmaking services have exhausted low-cost options, which may include users who were never looking for a serious relationship in the first place.

Matchmakers' success rates can be hard to pin down, since so many of their clients choose to be anonymous and confidential. Also, reputable services don't take all the fish in the sea; they screen clients and only commit to work with those they believe they can successfully match during the client's desired timeframe. More often than not, it is only the successful clients who are willing to share their stories. And to further discourage naysayers, some companies offer full or partial refunds, or extend their services for free or discounted rates if a client still hasn't found love by the time their package ends.

Although most matchmaking services, like Canada's Friend of a Friend (which offers dating coaching and matchmaking services that range from $49 to $499 CAD per package), use tech and human-centered knowledge, many matchmakers advertise on the reputation of the lead (human) matchmakers. Not only do these individuals specialize in compatibility, but they also claim to truly know their demographic. They can charge a premium from customers doing a very targeted search.

For example, LUMA is a luxury service geared towards high-achievers and high-earners. Pink Lobster is free to join its global database, and its advanced matchmaking services focus on women who like women. Eli Simone is a service exclusively for women of color; its coaching programs start at $3,000 and matchmaking packages start at $9,000.

Matchmaking Reviews

Because company websites are built to convince, there are lots of positive reviews all over matchmaking websites. Other sites like Quora and Reddit do a deep dive on both sides of the coin, however, sharing the stories of those who just don't see the benefit.

Oakland-based lawyer Alyson Palmer is among them. When I asked if she thought matchmaking was worth the cost, she said, "If you're a Black woman looking for a Black man, probably not. I spent roughly $3,400 for six months or eight dates. I was disappointed with every single match."

Palmer had already tried Bumble and Hinge and struck out, so when she put her hopes in an encouraging matchmaker, she was optimistic that the investment would pay off. She knew that her dates were all in good professions, but none were Black (which she specifically asked for). Also, they weren't as sociable or confident as the person she was looking for.

"It seemed like an aunt signed them up for the service," she sighed. She had hoped that the matchmaker would honor her "must-haves," but she was disappointed to find that the service kept asking her to be open-minded, which meant that she never got the opportunity to date the kind of people she asked to meet. 

Palmer is onto something when she says that some daters seem like they didn't sign themselves up for the service. In places and cultures in which arranged marriages are common, or whenever an eligible bachelor or bachelorette seem to have bad judgment, parents and relatives might foot that bill for them. Chara Yadav, a journalist and press director in Mumbai, says her parents won't even tell her how much they paid for her matchmaking service: "My parents decided that I was unable to find a 'suitable' husband, so they engaged the service on my behalf, but from what I can gather it was somewhere in the region of $9,000."

Although she didn't find a mate, she said she was grateful for the experience. "It taught me what I didn't want from a partner, and that I shouldn't leave my romantic future in the hands of anyone else," she explains.

The matchmaker offered a refund, but Yadav doesn't know if her parents ever accepted. Although she played along with the service, Yadav said she wasn't really focused on finding a relationship and that might also be why she didn't value the service at the suspected price tag.

Bottom Line

Worth, like love, is in the eye of the beholder. There are a variety of services that claim to be able to help you find a match, but their prices and processes can be opaque. To get the most value for your dollar, know that you'll have to invest in price shopping; there's a huge range of service providers and packages.

Websites rarely tell you how much their services cost upfront, so by the time you figure out the price, you're already in the middle of a sales funnel. You might feel like you're already committed to the process with a matchmaker before hearing their costs—and by then you might not want to start that entire vetting process again with another service. But, as with any high-priced commitment, it is best to get at least three quotes.

Top tips? Consider providers who specialize in the demographic and profile of the person you're most attracted to—not necessarily people who live in your region (given online dating and the move towards remote work). Also, be willing to be coached—and to demand that you get the kinds of matches you requested. It can feel like you're to blame if you don't find love, but that shame might actually keep you from getting the most value for your money. Ask for a refund or additional matches if you come up empty after heeding all the matchmakers' advice.

And if you're just exhausted by the entire process and don't want to revisit any more dates? Know that many people learn a lot about themselves through the dating-service process, even if they don't find a long-term partner. And that, too, can be extremely valuable.