How Does Tinder Work? A Beginner’s Guide

Tinder is one of the world’s most popular dating apps. It’s home to 50,000,000 active users around the world, and it was the original “swipe app.” 

It revolutionized online dating, making it far easier than it ever was to land dates, while in the process removing any lingering stigma that was attached to online dating. After the Tinder, online dating suddenly became acceptable

But while Tinder can be a LOT of fun, it can seem overwhelming if you’re new to it (as well as online dating in general) and you’re not sure how to make a start. 

That’s totally okay – we’ve all been there. I know the feeling! And that’s why I’m here to help you today. In this article, I’m going to run you through Tinder and how it works so that, by the end of the article, you’ll know exactly what to do next. 

Who Is Tinder For? 

When Tinder was first launched in 2012, it was widely seen as a hookup app. However, while Tinder continues to market itself as a hookup app, it’s now also used by people who are looking for short-term or long-term relationships. Some people even use it to meet new friends or people in a city they’ve just moved to. 

You’ll often see people state that they’re not looking for a hookup on their Tinder profile, and most users have a very relaxed, easygoing vibe on their profiles. 

As such, Tinder is for anyone aged 18+ who’s looking for anything and everything when it comes to dating and seeing what happens. That said, it’s not aimed specifically at people who are looking for swinging or something kinkier. In such cases, it’s a much better idea to find a more niche adult dating site. 

How Does Tinder Work?

Step 1. Create Your Account 

Like with any dating app, the first thing you have to do with Tinder is to create your account. You won’t be able to browse any profiles until you do this. 

One of the best things about Tinder is that it requires the most basic of information from you. You need to hand over a couple of details, such as your mobile phone number, and you do need to upload at least one photo. However, there’s no pressure to fill out your bio – that’s entirely up to you – and you don’t have to take any “personality tests.”

Within a minute or two, your profile should be up and running – for free! 

Step 2. Tweak Your Profile 

As soon as you’ve created your profile, you’ll start appearing in ‘search results’ (I put quotation marks around that because, as we’ll soon learn, there is no search function on Tinder).

However, there’s still plenty of time to tweak your profile so that it looks just right. 

For example, you may want to add more pics at this point (you can add as many as nine), and you might want to modify your bio by adding a few lines. The best Tinder bios are the ones that are short, snappy, and a little bit funny. Going for cute one-liners is always a winner while listing your likes and dislikes works, too.

Just make sure to keep things light and consider tossing in a few emojis for good measure. Long-winded, serious profiles don’t tend to work too well on here.

Step 3. Start Swiping 

As I mentioned earlier, Tinder is a “swipe app,” which means that it dispenses with the usual search functions that old-school dating sites have and replaces it with a queue of profiles. 

What does this mean? 

Basically, the app puts someone’s profile in front of you. You’re free to take a look at their pics, bio, and – if they’ve linked it – their Instagram. If you like the look of them, you need to swipe right. If they’re not for you, you just need to swipe left. 

If you really like the look of them, you can “super like” them. The super like is represented by the blue icon in the middle of the left and right swipes. 

What's a Tinder super like?

You get just one a day if you’re on the basic account, and the advantage it gives you is that your profile will jump to the front of the queue of the person who you super liked. This means there’s more of a chance that they’ll actually see you. They can then decide if they want to like you back or not. 

While there’s no end to the number of profiles that are queued up for you during a single day, you’re limited to a specific number of right swipes (likes) per 24 hours. Unless you upgrade to a paid account, that is. Once you’re on a paid account, you can like as many people as you want. If you stick with the free account, this means you’ll need to use your “likes” carefully. If you use them all too quickly, you may end up missing out on someone you liked the look of!

Step 4. Start a Chat With Your Tinder Match

If you swipe right for someone and they swipe right for you, the app lets you know straight away. Their profile will appear to the left of your screen (the “matches” section). Here, you’ll be able to see everyone you’ve matched with.

If you feel as though you made a mistake and swiped right on someone by accident, you can easily remove them from your list. If, on the other hand, you like the look of the person who’s matched with you, you’re free to shoot them a message. 

Messaging is entirely free on Tinder. However, unlike many other dating sites, messaging is the only thing you can do to break the ice. In other words, you can’t send virtual gifts or “winks.” However, you can send GIFs. 

It’s also free to receive messages, but if you want to see if someone has read your message or not, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the paid accounts.

Sometimes, you’ll find that people reply to your Tinder openers (or maybe they’ll message you first). But sometimes, they won’t reply at all. If they matched with you, why wouldn’t they reply? This happens a lot. Sometimes, people use Tinder out of boredom and change their mind the next day. Sometimes, they might accidentally have swiped right for you (it happens and you’ll make that mistake a few times, too). 

The Paid Tinder Features:

Tinder is completely free to use, but to get the best out of it, you might want to spend a bit of money on the two paid features:

  • Tinder Boost 
  • Tinder Super-Likes

I’ll get onto the paid accounts in a moment, but first, let’s go over the paid features:

  • Boost

What's Tinder Boost? 

A boost literally “boosts” your profile for 30 minutes so that – theoretically, at least – more people see your profile.

See, the problem with Tinder is that, because it has no search function, every single profile is placed into a queue. And the queue is often huge. If you’re at the back of the queue, it can be very hard for people to even see your profile. The boost puts you at the front of the queue (or, at least, near to the front) for half an hour. 

The boost is seen as a useful feature by most users who are struggling to get seen. However, its powers can be negated if too many people in your area decide to boost themselves at the same time as you. 

You can buy bundles of boosts at any time. At the moment, Tinder is selling them in packs of 3, 10 or 20.

It’s also worth mentioning that boosts are never free unless you upgrade your account (and even then you’re paying for the account, so the boost is technically not free). 

  • Super Likes

When profiles are queued up in front of you, you have the option to swipe right (like them), swipe left (pass on them) – or super like them. 

The super like option is repressed by a blue star. Every user gets one super like for free each day, and the idea is that, whenever you super like someone, your profile will jump to the front of their queue. 

Why does this matter? 

Because Tinder is used by millions of people around the world (including thousands near you), it’s very hard to get seen by the people we want to be seen by! The super like option should only be reserved for profiles you like the look of, and who you hope will match with you. 

However, one super like a day isn’t a lot. If you find that you need more super likes, you can upgrade your account (more on this soon) to get 5 super likes per day.

They can be hit and miss, though. While super likes do ensure that your profile is definitely seen by the person you’re using it on, some people see them as a bit cringe – and even creepy. 

The Paid Tinder Accounts 

As we’ve seen, Tinder is free to sign up to and send messages. However, because of the way Tinder works, it can be very difficult to get seen by other users. There’s no search function, and this can mean that landing a suitable match can be tricky. This is where the paid accounts come in.

There are two types of paid accounts on Tinder:

  • Tinder Gold 
  • Tinder Plus 

Tinder Gold lets you like as many people as you want in a single day, thus improving your chances of matching with someone. It also lets you “rewind” one profile if you’ve swiped left or right by mistake. You can’t go further back than one profile at a time, though.

Tinder Gold also nets you a free “boost” each month, and it grants you 5 super likes. You can change your location to anywhere in the world, too.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of Tinder Gold is that it lets you see who’s already liked you. This is useful because, when we know someone has liked us, we often spend ages sifting through the next few profiles in our queue to see who it is. This can then cause people to swipe right on everyone in sight in the hope of landing a match. 

Many times, people can be swiping endlessly without figuring out who’s liked them. As such, Tinder Gold saves you heaps of time by showing you exactly who’s liked you. Then, all you need to do is take a closer look at their profiles and decide whether or not you want to match with them. 

Another standout feature of Tinder Gold is “Top Picks.” This feature presents you with many profiles each day that Tinder feels are your most compatible matches. Because Tinder doesn’t make you take a personality test, some users are skeptical as to how Tinder knows who we’re compatible with. However, Tinder uses your swipe history to learn more about what type of person appeals to you, and what type doesn’t. 

Tinder Plus, on the other hand, has all the same features as Gold except for the “see who’s liked you” feature, and the “Top Picks” feature. These are pretty key features, but Tinder Plus compensates by being $5 cheaper than Gold. 

Prices: 

  • Tinder Gold – $25 per month
  • Tinder Plus – $20 per month

Hopefully, you now understand more about Tinder, including who it’s aimed at and how to use it. If you like the sound of it, the next step is to create an account, upload a few pics, add a line or two to your bio – and get swiping!