Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

Tinder’s secret pricing practices

A mystery shop conducted by CHOICE found a person can be charged up to five times as much as another for Tinder Plus, and the company won’t tell you why

A CHOICE investigation has revealed that popular dating app Tinder is charging people vastly different prices for its premium subscription service, Tinder Plus, without informing customers that this will happen.

"Our mystery shop found that for Tinder Plus you can be charged up to five times as much as another user of the app. On average, people over 30 were offered prices that were more than double the prices shown to people under 30," says CHOICE Director of Campaigns Erin Turner.

"We found prices between $6.99 to over $34 for a one month subscription to Tinder Plus. Nowhere on Tinder's website, privacy policy, or in its terms and conditions does the company say that it will charge you a different price based on your personal data." 

As part of the mystery shop, 60 Australians with a range of backgrounds signed up to Tinder, capturing information for prices for people of different genders, sexualities, locations and ages.

E4RwoNDgR-aFBiaDtD32V6UjF_rUSgkmhrmDa-iBRw2PhZWrKsU1yckTAJFV8XBDBJt6qIp4S49zufANcQMPMooQeiaG1O6xOYCsvmnoOtM1aapELx3DSwWC1KYnCB_OL1vEh63-
Infographic available for embedding here: https://infogram.com/tinder-plus-mystery-shop-1hxr4z8np9m74yo?live

"Based on our mystery shop, we know that Tinder is using age to set different prices. But even within age groups, we saw a range of prices, demonstrating that there are other factors at play that Tinder is yet to explain." 

"It is really concerning that we don't know what information about us Tinder is using to determine these personalised prices. Without knowing what factors influence the prices people get for Tinder Plus, customers aren't able to really compare prices with other services and can't judge whether Tinder is unfairly discriminating," says Ms Turner. 

"When we contacted the company and asked them how they set their prices, and why they charge people different rates, we were met with radio silence." 

"What we do know is that Australians are worried about how companies are using their data to set prices. A recent CHOICE survey found four in five people are concerned about businesses using data on their online habits to present them with a higher price for a product. Four in five people are also concerned about businesses not being transparent about different prices they may be providing to different people. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Tinder is doing in this case," says Ms Turner. 

"Tinder's privacy policy and terms of use goes into great detail about what data it collects and how it is used. Not once does Tinder clearly mention that it uses personal information to inform the range of prices available to customers. It's misleading by omitting one very important fact: this company will use your data against you." 

CHOICE has made a formal complaint to the ACCC, asking the regulator to investigate Tinder for potential breaches of the Australian Consumer Law. 

Read the full investigation here: www.choice.com.au/tinderprices

Read CHOICE's op-ed on Tinder pricing here: www.choice.com.au/tinderopinion

Complaint to the ACCC, images and infographics available on Dropbox: https://shwca.se/tinderprices

Media contact: Katelyn Cameron, 0430 172 669, media@choice.com.au

Editor's notes: 

CHOICE mystery shop methodology:

We commissioned a mystery shopping agency to conduct the fieldwork, which started in the last week of February, 2020 and finished mid-March, 2020. The mystery shoppers were asked to sign up to Tinder (if they hadn't already) and take screenshots of the prices of Tinder Plus, as well as information on their profile page. Quotas were set based on gender, age group, location and sexuality, and a total of 60 mystery shops were done.

CHOICE Consumer Pulse survey methodology: 

CHOICE's Consumer Pulse survey has found:

- Four in five people are concerned about businesses using data on their online habits to present them with a higher price for a product

- Four in five people are concerned about businesses not being transparent about different prices they may be providing to different people

Fieldwork was conducted for Wave 24 of CHOICE's Consumer Pulse survey from the 12th - 24th June, 2020. The survey was designed and analysed by CHOICE with fieldwork and sample of n = 1,113 provided by The ORU. The ORU are ISO 20252 and 26362 accredited and are full AMSRO members. The data has been weighted to ensure it is representative of the Australian population based on the 2016 ABS Census data based on age, state, gender, household income and education levels.

A note on Tinder's privacy policy, from CHOICE's complaint to the ACCC:

CHOICE asserts that Tinder's 'Terms of Use', specifically terms within its 'Privacy Policy', are not sufficiently transparent. In the 'Privacy Policy', Tinder states that information is primarily used to 'deliver and improve' Tinder's services. 

The 'Privacy Policy' explains that personal information is used exclusively in the following ways: 

- To administer your account and provide our services to you

- To help you connect with other users

- To ensure a consistent experience across your devices

- To provide new Tinder services to you

- To serve you relevant offers and ads

- To improve our services and develop new ones

- To prevent, detect and fight fraud or other illegal or unauthorized activities

- To ensure legal compliance

There is no mention of Tinder using personal information to determine pricing, demonstrating a complete lack of transparency on Tinder's part. Customers can reasonably assume and expect based on the conditions listed above that their personal information will not be used to set pricing. 

CHOICE has asked the ACCC to consider this omission as misleading and investigate a likely breach of the Australian Consumer Law (section 18(1)). This practice could also be considered a use of unfair contract terms that are not sufficiently transparent (section 24(1)).

Customers should be told that their personal information is being used to set prices so that they can make an informed decision on whether to use the service or not. Failure to make this clear to customers gives the company a significant advantage in the exchange.