Dating app traps: swipe left on pricey premiums

5 min read
February 13, 2024

With Valentine’s Day upon us, we wanted to remind UK consumers that problems with dating apps are one of the fastest-growing areas for complaints – with a leap of more than 800% since 2020!

Based on what Resolver users tell us, the biggest issues with dating apps relate to premium services. Almost every week we hear from someone who either hadn’t realised they were paying for premium, or are experiencing difficulty cancelling the services and getting a refund. 

Dating apps and websites are a fixture of dating and relationships in the modern world. So it is absolutely vital that you know how to protect yourself from being taken advantage of by companies looking to turn a profit.

What does premium even offer?

Premium options vary considerably across dating apps. In general though, paying a little extra promises to ‘unlock’ a range of services, including unlimited “likes”, a wider range of filter options (height, age, interest etc.) or additional features, like travel or incognito mode. 

On Tinder, the first app to make it big, paying extra means you have more control over what information is displayed on your profile, access to Incognito Mode (so your profile will only be seen by users you like first), the ability to swipe ad free and unlimited right swipes.

Bumble Premium includes access to advanced filters, the ability to see who has liked you, and a travel mode with allows you to change your location to another city.

With a Hinge membership users have unlimited “likes”, making it easier to connect with more people on the app.

Feeld’s “Majestic Membership” unlocks similar special features, including unlimited “likes” and 1 free Ping a day.

Premium on Plenty of Fish increases the visibility of your profile, grants access to advanced search filters and gives you the ability to see who has viewed your profile. 

On OkCupid, paying extra lets you see everyone who “likes” you before you “like” them back.

The problem with premium services

The biggest driver of complaints about dating apps and websites are people checking their bank accounts and realising they are being hit with considerable charges for these premium services.

Cancelling is also a problem – in that it is not as easy to do as it should be. Back when lockdown was preventing meeting up in the real world, we heard from hundreds of people who had tried to pause their online dating, only to find they were still paying a very real price on their apps. 

Dating app premiums are usually debited from bank accounts, credit cards or (potentially) phone bills through ‘continuous payment authorities.’ While these can be easy to miss if you don’t keep an eye on your statement, the payments can be cancelled by your card provider or bank straight away.

However, what hundreds of Resolver users have told us is that it can be really hard to speak to a human or directly interact with customer services – the in-app reporting functions can make it seemingly impossible to find a way to get in touch and cancel a subscription.

Others have expressed concern about being debited hundreds of pounds for services they never wanted and don’t even remember signing up for. 

On top of this, other people have reported being debited in six-month chunks rather than by the month, difficulties in reporting fake profiles or abusive people on site, and limitations on promised premium services in practice. 

Don’t let dating apps drain your finances

Premium services on dating apps aren’t cheap and can add up significantly over the course of the year. Our users have reported charges ranging from £10 to £49.99 a month, with some more traditional ‘tailored match’ services catering for wealthy professionals charging much more. If you’re paying by the month you could end up paying £200 to £300 or more. 

This is not helped by the fact that many services are not transparent about their charges – often you’ll get one price when you sign up, but another a few months in. This also makes it easier to commit without realising how much you’ll actually end up paying. 

If you’ve signed up to a dating app or are thinking about doing so, take a proper look at all the terms and conditions on their sites, particularly those relating to cancelling services. In the T&C’s there will almost always be an outline of the procedure for reporting an issue, making a complaint or cancelling a contract.

As we have covered in our article on subscription traps and uncancellable contracts, when you sign up for something like this it’s worth putting a reminder in your calendar for when the free trial or discount period ends.

If you’re worried that you’re paying more than you should be or were expecting, the first thing you must do is check your account statements going back at least a year to see if there were any price hikes. If there were then it is your right to cancel right away – if the company are dragging their feet, you can ask for proof of your consent.

Getting your own back

You may be surprised to know that if you don’t authorise a company to debit your account, they are legally obliged to give you your money back. Unless they can prove that they had permission, any charges should be refunded.

So if you are in the unfortunate position of being exploited, obstructed or caught in an online dating subscription trap, you can get your own back. Speak to your bank and get their help asking the company to provide evidence that you gave permission to be debited – if they can’t, you may be able to obtain a full refund.

Remember, you’ll need a copy of the advertisement or original agreement in order to get a reimbursement for mis-selling or lack of authorisation.

Need some extra help?

Our  free service makes it easier for you to raise a complaint about dodgy business tactics, unfair charges, or to get in contact with companies to cancel your subscription. So if you’ve had a problem with an online dating service and want to make a complaint, we’re here to help.

Use Resolver to submit a complaint.

If you’ve been targeted by an online scam or experienced cybercrime, you can contact the charity Victim Support  for free and confidential support and information.

If you have any thoughts on this topic, or any other consumer issues you would like us to cover, feel free to get in touch with us at .

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