With the number of dating sites and apps out there in the wild, you might think it’s never been easier to find someone special. And in some ways, it is. Options are good, right? Thanks to technology, there are loads of choices for connecting with someone online. Love is now just a swipe away. 

But with each new dating app or dating site that hits the market, there is the potential for new dating sites to dilute the dating pool, thus making it more challenging to find a parter who’s well-suited to you.

Zoosk has a great platform with a clean design that makes it really easy to use.

Enter Zoosk, an online dating site and mobile app that promises ease of use and practicality in the singles world. Instead of filling out long and tedious questionnaires about yourself and your ideal match, it simply takes the online profiles for the social media accounts you’ve already created and seamlessly integrates your information into your account. Who knows you better than Google and Facebook when it comes to your life online? In fact, Zoosk started out as one of the first Facebook apps when the social media platform began to open up to more users back in December 2007. 

Who’s on Zoosk

The dating service has made it really easy to start a profile, meet other users, and cast a wide net for potential matches. The company brags about its more than 35 million members across upwards of 80 countries around the world. It’s even supported in 25 languages, which makes it convenient to find someone special in a different country, if you’re on vacation, or if you’re looking to date in your native language wherever you are. No matter which country you’re in, there’s a good chance you might match with someone. 

The primary demographics for Zoosk appears to be split 48% males and 52% females, with the average ages of 27 and 24, respectively. But single people of various ages from 20 to 93 are using the app everyday. It’s also gay, lesbian, and queer-friendly with a wide range of ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds — depending on the region. Lifestyles, on the other hand, seem to be exclusively single, while there are no options for open, polyamorous, or non-monogamous relationships. But Zoosk seems like they might for the future. 

How the dating site works

Zoosk uses a proprietary “Behavioral Matchmaking” engine and algorithm that delivers users better matches through their actions. It takes account who you’re liking, messaging, and winking at, so you don’t have to fill out a long string of questions to determine who you might like and who might like you back. This goes along with the company’s “pick-up-and-go” and “flirty” philosophy when it comes to online dating. But, while Zoosk can promise ease of use and millions to match, the reality is that when using a dating app, matching can really depend on the user.

Key features:

  • Super easy set-up

  • No long questionnaires

  • Verified profiles

  • Intuitive and modern design

  • Millions of users to match with

  • Matches can be broadened or refined to taste

  • Upload photos 

Pricing and payments:

  • Free basic account: $0

  • 1-month membership: $29.95/month

  • 3-month membership: $19.98/month ($59.95 in total)

  • 6-months membership: $12.49/month ($74.95 in total) — save 58%

Let’s get started

Creating a profile is pretty easy, especially if you have a Google or Facebook account already. Simply sign in to one of those existing internet accounts and the service will prompt you to answer a few basic questions about your gender and partner preference, birthday, and zip code. The site then asks you to create a password to log in, but it’s less important because you could always log in with your Google or Facebook account. 

There are only 11 questions to get you started.

There are only 11 questions to get you started.

You’re then asked about your body type, if you have children, your highest education level, and then ethnicity. This is followed up with your height, your religion, and whether or not you are a smoker (of cigarettes, I presume). And that’s it. Your profile picture is then uploaded from your Google or Facebook account. Creating a profile is really easy and only takes about a minute or so, especially when you compare it to sites like EliteSingles, which has a pretty robust sign up process.

You can refine your profile later with more photos, a short bio or “story,” details about your perfect match and ideal date. The dating site pools your interests and likes from Facebook and populates them throughout your profile. Since it’s already filled out on Facebook, why not just use the same information on Zoosk?

Key features of Zoosk

Success stories on Zoosk populate the site's blog.

Success stories on Zoosk populate the site’s blog.

The dating site also has something called a “Boost” feature, which puts your profile front and center for all users in your area. This is a way to get more views and hopefully more matches. However, boosts are not free. Each one costs 100 Zoosk Coins, which I will describe later in this review under the “Is Zoosk worth its membership price?” and “Let’s talk about coins” sections below. Feel free to skip ahead now if you’d like.

In addition, the dating platform has a “Carousel” feature that gives you a rapid-fire look at profiles in a Tinder-like manner. You’re given a profile photo with an age attached and you simply pick “like,” “dislike,” and “maybe,” before moving to the next profile. You’re not given the chance to scroll through more photos or read their profiles. You just aimlessly like and dislike until you run out of users. While it’s a faster way to scroll through matches, it would be nice to get some sort of additional information like a name or location, or a way to message the user, if someone strikes your fancy. 

It seems that it’s more important to start using the dating app rather than getting discouraged with so many questions about your personality or lifestyle. The algorithm will learn everything about you and your likes and dislikes as you use the app. However, since it’s so convenient to create a profile, it also seems really easy to exploit it and bombard the dating site with spammy accounts and even brands. Luckily, there is a profile verification system that helps real users, who are indicated with a green check mark, to weed out the not-so-genuine ones. 

Let’s get verified

Profile verification is just as easy as setting up an actual profile. It will prompt you with three ways to verify your account, by photo, phone number, or Twitter account. If you select photo verification, the app will give you a few instructions. First you have to hold your smartphone at arm’s length and press record when prompted. 

It’s not so effortless as taking a selfie, but Zoosk wants to know if you’re an actual person holding a phone and not just placing a photo in front of its camera. The site will then ask you to turn your head to the right and then left, as if you’re taking a mugshot. Your photo is then sent to administrators for verification. This process took a few hours to complete, instead of a few seconds with a phone number (it sends you a special PIN via text message) and Twitter verification. 

Zoosk does the work to ensure that your “video” photo lines up with the one on your profile. Although it takes some time, you can now rest easy knowing your matches are real (or at least verified) when you see that green check mark on their photo.

Verified!

Despite all this, I still encountered a number of questionable profiles throughout Zoosk. Considering it’s really easy to create one, anyone (and I mean anyone) could potentially create a sham profile if they have a Google or Facebook account. And in that way, the online dating service is really easy to spam people with shady and phony users who advertise for free sex if you follow a link to another website or dating app. 

It’s easy to lure someone with an attractive profile and then hit them up with spam for another service. The green check verification does come in handy in those situations, but it can be tough to scroll through all the accounts to seek them out. Within one minute of creating a new profile, I was messaged eight times from people who seemed not to be real. Most of them simply viewed my new profile, but some wanted to meet or sent a generic message to elicit a response. It’s a red flag whenever you get that many messages from randoms after just signing up.

You may run into another problem with seemingly inactive users. It’s true you can avoid the potentially fraudulent ones out there because you have the option to only interact with the verified ones, which is just a good rule of thumb for anyone who dates online. However, just because you choose to ignore some profiles, it doesn’t mean those profiles will choose to ignore you. The longer you’re active, the longer you’ll be susceptible to unwanted messages and sham views, winks, “wants to meet,” and requests to chat notifications you’ll see on an hourly basis. 

Out of the 11 messages and notifications I received during my review period, it was difficult to tell which ones were genuine and which ones were not. But don’t let the bogus profiles get you down. There are still a number of real people on Zoosk who are excited to match with you. 

The design of the website and app are pretty modern, as they both emphasize engagement and interaction. In fact, the first thing you do after you create an account is start “liking” people, so the algorithm can get a feel of your preferences. 

You can either like someone with a smiley face, which indicates friendship, or you can like someone with a heart, which indicates love. There is no “dislike” or “pass” option in the main online matching section, so if you don’t want to mingle with a profile, you simply leave it alone.

Refine your matches

Zoosk lets you cast as wide or as small of a net as you please, with preferences that you can broaden or refine. You have the chance to match with people depending on their location between three miles to 100, while the default setting is “auto-selected.” You can pick the age range of your matches too — anywhere between 20 to 93 years old. (Awww!)

You can also go a bit deeper with settings for height, religion, relationship history, body type, children, ethnicity, education, and smoking preferences all in the mix to tweak or leave alone. It seems no matter what your type, the platform has someone in mind for you. 

Is Zoosk worth its membership price? 

Well, maybe. If you want to do anything, you’re going to have to pay for a membership. With a basic account, you can only browse and like other users. If you want to read or send any messages, you’re going to have to pay for it. While other sites like OkCupid, Tinder, and Bumble have a robust free option that allows you to read, send, and receive messages, Zoosk does not. But there are some benefits to becoming a member. 

The price points are on par with other dating sites and it’s a little bit easier to navigate. You also know that if you receive a legit message from a real user, then you can also send a reply back to them. Speaking of which…

What is the messaging like on Zoosk? 

The messaging system is quite impressive. If you’re going to pay for a service, then something has to feel like it’s worth it. With Zoosk, it’s all about the messaging. You can message within each profile card, so you don’t have to leave the page to reload another to send one. 

The coin system seems very antiquated as a relic from the mid-2000s.

The dating site even has a few canned “ice breakers,” so you don’t have to come up with something that’s witty or clever. You can ask things like “How’s your Thursday?,” “What did you study in college?,” or “Do you like going to church every Sunday?” The ice breakers are generic, but sometimes suited for the profile, such as the church question is for someone who is religious, while the college question is for someone who graduated from college. It’s a good way to say something, if you can’t think of anything right away. Of course, there are a number of alternatives out there. 

With a lower tier premium account you can only send and receive so many messages until you have to pony up more money. Zoosk makes these “microtransactions” cute, with in-app purchases of “coins,” which is frustrating considering you have to spend more money after paying for a subscription.

Let’s talk about coins

The site has a virtual currency system that allows you to “buy” matches virtual gifts so you can stand out from the rest. These “gifts” can be roses, bouquets of flowers, beach balls, chocolate covered strawberries, and much, much more. You can also use coins to send special emails to matches, send more messages, or have your profile highlighted during searches. 

Zoosk Coins are completely optional, so you don’t have to buy them and there are ways to earn coins for free by simply using the platform, becoming friends with the service on Facebook, or recommending it to friends. Just be aware, it’s an additional cost on top of membership fees. Although its design is very modern and user-friendly, the coin system seems very antiquated as a relic from the mid-2000s.

Zoosk Coins (optional):

  • 180 coins: $19.99

  • 480 coins: $39.95

  • 1800 coins: $99.95

How does Zoosk compare to other dating sits and apps?

If there are singles in the world, there will always be matchmakers and dating sites. The big names in this space are OkCupid, Tinder, Bumble, Match, and eharmony. They are all great at finding potential love interests, but they do different things for different people. 

If you want a desktop component, then Match and eharmony are for you. These sites cater to people who use traditional laptops and web browsers, and perhaps skew a little older than millennials who are generally on mobile devices all the time. A younger demographic is more prone to use Tinder and Bumble for its app and usability.

If you’re looking for something more lasting than just a hookup or something casual, Match and eharmony are good alternatives. Like Zoosk, Match and eharmony have a paid subscription model, so the matches are more likely to be looking for a relationship that’s more serious and long-term. If you have “skin in the game,” then you’re going to take it seriously. 

There are just so many seemingly inactive profiles that it might feel like you’re on The Walking Dead.

However, Zoosk has all of these features built-in to their platform, but the number of spammy profiles makes you wonder why you’re even on this site to begin with. The site might be good for mobile and desktop users who are looking for real relationships, but it seems you’re just wading around the ocean of phony people, as you look for a life-preserver of an actual person to connect with. Finding a partner is already difficult, so adding a questionable online dating experience on top of that shouldn’t be this difficult too. 

The word on the street

I combed through various review websites looking for positive things people are saying about the Zoosk site and mobile app and it was really tough. Most of the user reviews say that the dating site is full of deceptive and inactive profiles that resulted in spam messages or cold opens with no replies. In some cases, with the company offering members free weeks and months, if they stayed with the service. 

Datingsitesreviews.com user writes: 

“Zoosk boasts ‘Millions of Members!’ Well, this is true, and not true. What Zoosk fails to mention is how many of those millions are actually active. See, if you join Zoosk and quit, your profile remains active. It still shows up years after you are gone. After the big push with Facebook in 2007, nearly all of those accounts are dead.

In reality, only a small percentage of the people you see on Zoosk are current, active members. The rest are dead profiles.

This is easily proven by finding photos that are date-stamped. It is not unusual to find photos stamped 2006, 2007 or even older. Dead profiles, guaranteed.

So, if you were to randomly email 30 people on Zoosk, odds are that 85% of those profiles are dead and you’ll never get a reply. 4 of your emails might make it to living, breathing members. Not good odds.

Zoosk even tactfully uses these dead profiles in their extra charge services, such as “Boost”. You physically need to be online to activate this service. Yet, when you click on a boosted member, you’ll find that they haven’t been online, even recently. So, how did they get onto this extra-charge service? Zoosk pretty much randomly loads in members for their “Boost” feature when they don’t have enough current members willing to pay for it.

If you want to test this theory, do a search, say within 50 miles of your location. Keep track of those members who show up as “Currently Online” or “Recently Online”. If the member isn’t tagged with either one of those, odds are it’s a dead profile. 

If you decide to quit Zoosk, take down all your photos and delete the bulk of your profile. This will keep from misleading other members 10-years from now.”

Reddit user writes:

“Most of the female profiles are fake or inactive. You will get auto responses from many of them after you send them a message, but its misleading because they don’t appear to be auto responses at first. I find this to be deceptive of on Zoosk’s part. Hopefully the site has changed since then, but I doubt it.”

But it’s not all negative, there are some success stories here, such as Datingsitesreviews.com user writes:

“There are a lot of negative reviews about this site, but I have a positive one. I was on it for maybe 3 months. I had some dates, met my boyfriend. We’ve been together almost a year and are expecting twin boys in the fall. I never had any issues with billing, but I read the fine print and I knew their cancellation policy. So no surprises and I’m completely in love. :)”

Reddit user writes:

“I heard that Zoosk was full of dead accounts and phony profiles. However, i’ve also been told that they have revamped it and it’s way better now. I just signed up but will have to wait till next pay to pay for the features. I had a friend that said she did meet a few people on there and had some success versus OKC. They asked me to verify my acct through text or FB…”

The final word on Zoosk

Zoosk has a great dating platform with a clean design that makes the site really easy to use and interact with other members on the website and app. But, there are just so many seemingly inactive profiles that it might feel like you’re trying to get out of a city in The Walking Dead

With its 35 million members in over 80 countries, it’s tough to decipher the bogus users from the real ones, though we have high hopes that the verification system could work to combat this. 

Its pricing structure is on par with other dating sites, but not competitive enough considering all of its flaws, especially when it comes to its “microtransactions” and coins system. While paying for upgrades makes sense for “freemium” games like Clash Royale, Pocket Frogs, and The Simpsons: Tapped Out, it just doesn’t always make sense for a dating site.

Overall, every problem with the platform boils down to who is on the other side of the profile. While navigation is clean and easy, the experience just isn’t. It’s frustrating that it makes more sense to just approach actual people you find attractive in the real world.

But if you’re over other dating apps like OkCupid, Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, eharmony, and Match, then maybe you might find that special someone on Zoosk. Every dating app has its fair share of problems with bogus and inactive users — it just seems (in this writer’s experience) like they’re more prevalent here. But because of its ease of use, intuitive design, and pick-up-and-go-style, it has some saving graces that might be worth it for some singles.

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