With the enormous growth of social media over the past two decades, it was only natural that dating and hookup websites would become an inseparable part of the way we interact and communicate with others. Busy schedules, work mobility, as well as extended travel are the reason more and more people look online for either no-strings-attached fun or romance.

And while the market is brimming with dating apps of all sorts, how does the same busy person, who has no time to waste on the bad stuff, figure out the best free hook up sites, which actually work? And if they are free, even better, since you can lose a lot of cash trying out the premium ones that make you pay extra for every single service. Let’s find out what are the key features that make certain websites stand out as compared to others, so you can make a neat little list to check against before you take the plunge.

Your Preferences Count

The main purpose of a top hookup or dating website/app is to locate a partner that is perfect in view of a user’s preferences and choice. Verify the platform you consider signing up for has a well-planned algorithm, which helps match one user’s preferences with another’s. Do they ask the basic questions about age, sex, relationship type sought, etc.?

There are some good ones that put up a pretty detailed questionnaire aiming at understanding someone’s characteristics and the corresponding user profile that would suit them the most. This is mostly important if you are looking for more than a fling but even in the latter case there are aspects beyond personality traits which can make your membership more successful and enjoyable, regardless of the reason for signing up.

Instant Messaging

The channels of communication available are literally the most important thing on a dating website. You cannot get anywhere unless you strike up a conversation with someone, right? The instant messaging option enables you to contact other members and find out the degree to which they are interested in meeting, how much their purposes for using the app align with yours, and whether or not they share similar tastes in specific types of experiences as you, to name a few.

IM is the fastest way to find a potential match or figure out when someone isn’t. However, not all websites have it, or it might not behave in the same way everywhere. For example, some apps only let the ladies make the first move, so if she is not interested in pinging you and arranging for a meetup, there is no other way for males to get in contact.

Sexy Stats

Let’s face it, nobody can be online and active around the clock on a dating website, unless they are on a mission of some sort (and don’t go to work on weekdays). Jokes aside, you will want to know how many people liked your profile (by the way, here‘s a really good guide on how to make it stellar) or checked it out while you were not in front of your computer or on your mobile phone.

You are likely to see tons of activity, as well as numerous records of profiles who chose to review your information as they were browsing. But this does represent quite a challenge figuring out who is worth contacting in the first place. That is probably the main reason why really few sites allow their users to check who visited their page, especially if they provide the messaging option.

Location and Social Media Integration

When it comes to love and especially hookups, it is a must for people to be able to find a partner close to their own location, so that they can meet up. That makes it obligatory to use an app that has the geo-location feature enabled and working. That is, because it will suggest profile matches near you or at locations included in the selected proximity range.

Is the hookup app you are considering joining integrated with social media platforms? Today it seems that everybody, from teenagers to the elderly, are there. If such an integration is present, that would facilitate your access but also provide you with a wealth of information about a potential interest’s likes and dislikes. That’s definitely a plus, as you can never guess whether a hookup might actually develop into a relationship. Why not increase the odds of making it successful?

Anti-Fraud Screening

However casual the desired encounter, you are going to want to know when an account is real or fake. It’s only natural to do your best to avoid being tricked or get involved with a shady or dangerous persona. This makes fraud screening a must, and could safely be pronounced a critical feature. It’s OK to want to have fun but you’d better stay on the safe side, especially if you are a woman.

In order to avoid fake profile creation, a dating app should authenticate each new member’s identity by obtaining access to details such as name, email, id, and photo. Verifying users are real happens with the help of a 2-step authentication process which helps filter out anybody who intends to break the rules. While not many sites perform user screening at the depth and level they are supposed to, most will incorporate the Facebook sign-up option, which is one way to check the authenticity of a person. Regardless, users should always be able to block members that appear questionable to them.

Matchmaking and Real Connection

Dating and hookup platforms with a built-in search algorithm are the first feature to look for when you start your journey. If you are a complete beginner, start by reading some tips online, such as https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/dec/02/newly-single-a-beginners-guide-to-the-best-dating-apps. And never forget that personal preferences can make or break even the shortest encounter. A picture or photo gallery option is a must, so never join sites that overlook this detail. Not only because you are unable to tell anything about an impersonal profile but also in terms of staying safe while interacting with strangers.

On that note, the option to meet someone in your current whereabouts seems pretty amazing, right? Some websites already have the option of matching you to people in your current vicinity, giving you a chance to encounter someone and possibly build a real connection by getting to know them in person before you say yes or no to anything else.