Setting up and replying to personal ads online can get expensive. Fortunately, there are free sites where you can meet your lobster and not break the bank. All of the sites listed here are free to browse, to set up a profile, and to communicate with others via message or email -- whether you initiate the contact or the other person does.
Sites that Offer Free Personals
DateHookup's criteria include hair and eye color, education, personality (shy or outgoing) and occupation. It has social networking aspects such as a blog and an add a friend feature. The site does have some Google ads on the pages.
OKCupid allows users to create an individual matching system in order to find the most compatible singles. Users can take over a dozen quizzes and answer hundreds of questions on everything from whether or not they believe in love at first sight, to questions about values and morals, to really narrow down their matches. This site also has a mobile app available for free.
Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish works to set you up with other members you're likely to be compatible with based on a chemistry test. You'll also get free relationship coaching via blogs and a popular message board. This site is for people looking for dates and also for casual flings. Be sure to specify what you want in your profile.
Date is another one that uses an algorithm to match users. One advantage is that it's been around since 1997, long enough to have a base of over 5 million users, even though it is a lesser-known site. You can also view the site in Spanish or Portuguese, which may be helpful if you are bilingual.
SoulMateFind is geared toward people who are trying to find life partners. While using the site is free, it does require "credits" which you earn by logging in every day or by referring friends to the site.
Casual Kiss is, as the name implies, for those who are looking for something casual. You can browse anyone's profile without even logging in to the site, and most of them are brief in text and short on information. However, if you only have a few minutes, it can be a good starting point.
The profiles on Mingle2 are pretty brief, but one advantage is that it allows you to search for people by interest. These interests can be anything from spending time with your kids to engaging in interesting philosophical conversations.
Connecting Singles has some fun embellishments that make it a little different from other sites. For example, you can play games, send virtual flowers and deliver e-cards to those you are interested in connecting with.
Oasis Active offers the option to search for romantic partners or platonic friends. It boasts that 300,000 users become members of the site every month - making it reasonable to check back often.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Coffee Meets Bagel is free, but it does require a Facebook account and it is only available in limited areas of the United States. The point of the Facebook connection is that you can meet people who are friends of people you already know.
Problems With "Free" Personals
A lot of dating sites that were free at one point are no longer free to use now; for example, Match and LavaLife. Both sites let people browse ads for free, but they must pay if they want to respond to these ads or read and reply to messages they receive. In addition, some sites, like eHarmony, offer free trials but require credit card information before that trial begins, hoping users will forget to cancel. Always use caution when registering for a new site and read all of the fine print.
Since free sites have no barriers to entry, they are sometimes used as a way for scammers to set up free profiles to ask for money. If someone contacts you on one of these sites wanting money, block future communication immediately if something seems "off." It's also a good idea to meet for first dates in a crowded, public place, whether you're using a free site or not.