The short answer is yes, Only Friends offers a free basic membership so you can match, chat and connect with potential friends without paying anything. However, to unlock unlimited chatting and other key features that make finding friends easier, you‘ll need to upgrade to their paid "Pro" membership which costs $9.99 per month.
Keep reading as I‘ll provide a detailed walkthrough of how Only Friends works, what‘s included for free, which features require an upgrade, and expert tips to help you make real friends on the app!
Overview of Only Friends App
Only Friends bills itself as "the friendship app to combat loneliness." It launched in 2019 and now has over 1 million users worldwide.
The concept is simple:
Create a profile showcasing your personality and interests
Swipe left or right to match with potential new friends in your area
Once matched, you can chat, set up hang outs and join group activities
It essentially takes the popular swiping mechanic from dating apps, but focuses it exclusively on platonic friendships rather than romantic connections.
While mainly marketed at millennials, Only Friends can work for adults of any age looking to expand their social circles. Whether you just moved to a new city and are lacking local connections, or find yourself with fewer friends as you get older, Only Friends provides a platform to meet like-minded people nearby.
According to Only Friends founder and CEO Shaun Mahoney:
"Our passion is to make a difference in the lives of others. Loneliness is critically affecting 2 out of 3 people and we need to do something about it."
The app aims to provide solutions for adults struggling with loneliness and lack of meaningful friendships in their lives.
Free Features on Only Friends
The basic version of Only Friends is completely free to use. Here are the key features included:
Create a profile – Make a profile showcasing your personality with photos, bio and interests to match with potential friends
Swipe matching – Swipe left or right on other users‘ profiles. It‘s a match if you both swipe right on each other.
Chat – Message your matches through 1-on-1 chats or group chats. However, daily limits apply for free users.
Browse locals – Browse profiles of other users in your local area and age range.
Group activities – Join group hang outs, events and games set up by Only Friends community.
So with a free account, you can match, chat and connect with people in your area to kickstart making new friends!
Paid "Pro" Membership Features
While the free version of Only Friends offers the core matching and chatting capabilities, upgrading to a paid Pro membership provides additional benefits that make finding friends easier.
Here are the key features that require a Pro membership, which costs $9.99/month:
Unlimited chatting – Send unlimited messages without daily limits.
See who likes you – View full list of users who have liked your profile and match back instantly.
Advanced search – Use filters like interests, distance and age to narrow your matches.
Ad-free – Browse profiles and chat without annoying ads.
Priority support – Get faster responses from Only Friends support team.
Profile badges – Pro badges on your profile signal you‘re a verified real user, and may get you more profile views.
Pro members also get exclusive access to content like personalized tips from relationship experts.
How Only Friends App Works
Here is a step-by-step walkthrough of how to use Only Friends to match and connect with potential new BFFs:
Create your profile – Select photos, write a fun bio showcasing your personality, list hobbies & interests that others may share.
Swipe to match – Swipe left to pass or right to match with people in your area. It‘s a mutual match if they also swipe right on you.
Chat – Once matched, send direct messages or join group chats to get the conversation started!
Move to hanging out – If hitting it off over chat, suggest meeting up for coffee, going to a local event, hanging out as friends.
Nurture the friendship – Put in the effort to grow the budding friendship through more meetups, conversations, and sharing life experiences.
Upgrade to Pro – To maximize matches and chats without limits, upgrade to a Pro membership for $9.99/month.
It takes some work, but those are the basic steps to turn Only Friends matches into real life friendships!
Making Genuine Friendships on Only Friends
With over 1 million users, Only Friends provides a large pool of potential friends who you can get matched based on shared interests and proximity.
However, some users report difficulties moving beyond the chat stage to convert matches into actual friendships.
Here are 5 tips to help foster genuine bonds:
Be clear about friendship goals – State upfront you‘re looking for real friends to do activities with. This sets the tone.
Suggest low-stakes first meetups – A simple coffee date allows you to see if bonding comes naturally, without pressure.
Find common interests – Having shared hobbies, values and passions helps build a foundation.
Put yourself out there – Share personal details, make plans, invite them to events. Developing a real friendship requires vulnerability.
Give it time – Meaningful relationships take time to cultivate. Have patience and keep nurturing the bond.
Pros and Cons of Only Friends App
Huge user base for meeting friends
Free basic version still allows matching and chatting
Verified profiles and focus exclusively on platonic friendships
Features like group chats help transition to real-life hangouts
Main features require paid subscription
Can still be flaky people looking for attention, not friends
Takes effort to move matches into meaningful friendships
Lacks deeper personality matching metrics beyond interests
Fun Alternatives to Make New Friends
While Only Friends provides a solid platform specifically for making new friends, there are also some other fun options to consider:
Bumble‘s friend-finding mode uses the same proven matching technology as their popular dating app, but purely for platonic connections.
Find groups for every interest where you can repeatedly meet people through regular activities. Great for finding friends who share your hobbies.
Join local Facebook Groups centered around an interest, activity or demographic to connect with like-minded people.
Local community events
Check community calendars for free public events like outdoor concerts, craft fairs, or hobby meetups. A relaxed way to bond over shared interests.
Working beside people regularly can lead to natural friendships. Coworking spaces facilitate this for remote workers.
Giving back together builds camaraderie. Look for local volunteering groups that align with your values.
The Verdict: Worth Trying for Making Friends
Overall, I recommend giving Only Friends a try, especially if you‘re feeling isolated and want an easy way to meet potential new friends in your area.
The basic app is free, so you have nothing to lose. Be upfront that you‘re looking for real friendships, not just matches. Suggest low-pressure first meetups to get the ball rolling.
To maximize your results, the Pro membership‘s unlimited chatting and seeing who likes you is worth the $9.99 monthly cost in my opinion.
Finding new friends as an adult does take consistent effort. But if you put yourself out there on Only Friends, keep an open mind, and nurture budding connections, you have a great chance of building the types of meaningful, genuine friendships we all need in life.