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The Cove Dating App Review: What Makes it Different & Is it Free?

dating app cove review

I’ve been testing a new dating app called Cove, which is designed to help users determine if there’s chemistry before meeting in real life. If you want the full nitty gritty on how it works read this article, but to briefly summarize – users of the app play compatibility games, then sequentially send text, voice, and video messages before exchanging phone numbers.

I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts and recommendations in this Cove dating app review so you have the answers you need before jumping on the bandwagon. You might be wondering, for example, “is Cove free?” The answer to that and many other questions can be found below, so keep reading.

Like other dating apps, Cove offers some free features as well as upgraded options for people who want to pay for perks. The cool part is that whether you choose to pay or not, you can still earn points that translate into Starbucks and Uber rewards credits.

What Makes Cove Different Than Other Dating Apps?

Cove is positioned to attract only those people who are looking for serious relationships. They are so committed to keeping the integrity of their user base high that during the signup process they present a disclaimer that says “Cove is not a hook-up app.” They also provide a list of 32 other apps you can use instead if you’re looking to “hit it and quit it.” How thoughtful.

The goal of the app is to help people avoid going on lame dates, which can also save users precious time and money. Cove’s objective is to give users the ability to establish comfort and compatibility, verify that no one has misrepresented themselves, and ensure there’s chemistry before meeting for a first date.

Cove uses three levels of gamification to make the messaging portion fun and easy; level one is text messaging, level two is voice messaging, and level three is video messaging. The first level requires that users exchange three text messages to reach the next level. In level two, users exchange two voice messages. And in level three, users must exchange one video message.

There is a compatibility game at the beginning of each level, and at the end of level three users are prompted to share their phone number. If you’re not ready to hand out your digits after level three, there is an option to play more compatibility games. If that’s the case, two more compatibility games are displayed.

You have seven days to make it through all three levels with your match before the conversation thread disappears. This keeps the ball rolling and improves your likelihood of meeting up in real life. 

Is The Cove Free? How Many Free Likes Do You Get? 

Men who opt for a free membership get 200 free likes per month, while women get 400 free likes per month. I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind men getting half as many monthly likes as women. I hope Cove equals this out in the future.

During our testing of Cove, our male user quickly ran out of free likes and was given the option to purchase 50 additional likes for $1.99 (see image above). He also mentioned that he could easily like 200 women in one sitting (assuming the 500+ mile match preference was selected). He feels that Cove should reconsider their “monthly like limit” and have a daily or weekly free like limit. For example, giving a user 10 free likes each day pretty much guarantees that they’ll consistently log into the app.

What if you’re a guy and you want more than 200 free likes? Well my friend, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Cove’s paid membership plans.

how many free likes on cove

What Are Cove’s Membership and Purchase Options?

Cove Plus

Cove Plus is $7.99 per month. The main upgrade with Plus is you’ll get 400 free monthly likes (instead of 200). Becoming a Plus member also gives you immediate access to people who have already liked you, and you’ll match with them instantly. Lastly, you can control your age and distance preferences along with limiting what others can see about you.


Cove SELECT is their premium membership that runs for $99.99/month. SELECT users receive the following perks:

  1. Black card privileges: get VIP treatment and discounts in your city
  2. Get exclusive access to interact with other Cove SELECT members
  3. Get a total of 500 likes per month
  4. Get access to Coves “see who likes you” feature and match with them instantly
  5. Control your age and distance settings

 I didn’t get a chance to test Cove’s SELECT membership so I can’t tell you whether I recommend it or not – but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tested it.

What is a Preferred Like and Should You Purchase Them?

the cove preferred like

To score a guaranteed match within 72 hours, users can purchase Preferred Likes in three size bundles:

  • $11.99 for 3 Preferred Likes
  • $17.99 for 5 Preferred Likes
  • $29.99 for 10 Preferred Likes

If you purchase preferred likes, and don’t get a match in 72 hours, Cove will refund your purchase. That’s actually really cool. But do I recommend purchasing them?

The Gender Inequality I’m Feelin’ Here

My least favorite thing about the Cove app is that it caters to gender inequality. First, only men can purchase preferred likes. And second, women can choose to ONLY receive preferred likes from men. Men, on the other hand, don’t have this option.

The silver lining here is that gold diggers self-identify themselves – so you can avoid them. 

Research from my 100 date experiment revealed that giving women gifts and paying more than $10 on a first date directly contributed to the dreaded friendzone. Evidence supporting this claim is readily apparent in my 1-on-1 coaching client’s experiences as well.

Money has nothing to do with physical or sexual attraction. Giving a woman a gift before she feels she’s earned it will only attract women who want something from you, not women who truly care about you. Don’t fall into the wealthy man’s trap. With all that said, Cove has some hilarious videos that promote their preferred likes, here’s one: 

What I Really Like About The Cove: Access to Coaches

I love that the Cove provides access to professional help. Cove coaches specialize in dealing with a breakup, breaking bad habits, toxic relationships, a cheating partner, getting back into the dating scene, general dating advice, the opposite sex’s point of view, life goals and motivation, confidence, dating with kids that are a handful, dealing with stress, and for people who just need a friendly ear.

dating app cove coachesIt can be so helpful to talk to someone who has been in your shoes and knows how to navigate those turning points. I use coaches for many different areas of my life and I think Cove is right on the money by providing users easy access to a variety of different coaching options. With all this said, I have been told their “coaches” feature might be discontinued soon. 

What I Really Like About The Cove: Video Messaging Saves You Time and Money

Receiving a video from a match helps to weed out bad chemistry by allowing users to see the other person’s body language in advance of meeting for a date. Vocal cues and body language offer deep insights into sexual attraction.

I know this is powerful because during my 100 date experiment, I was really excited about this one guy until he sent me a video message. Looking back, I’m so grateful he sent me a video because after watching it, I realized I had no interest in meeting him for a date. Up to that point, I’d been filling in the blanks with these idolized, fairytale features. I envisioned this handsome, masculine guy with a deep voice but when I heard him speak in the video, I felt almost a feminine energy about him. It took about two seconds to tell that he wasn’t the one for me. 

I also think that bringing video into mainstream dating apps could help to authenticate people’s photos better. Seeing the real person, without all the filters and poses might help us all to relax our expectations about what’s attractive on a dating app. Perhaps Cove’s video feature will provide a much-needed escape from the over-filtered Instagram era of dating apps. 

Consideration #1 Before Downloading Cove: The Quality of Cove’s Members

The quality of Cove’s members is, without a doubt, very high. My first thought after downloading it was, are these people real? My second thought was, are they getting paid to be on here? And finally, what is the likelihood that these people will actually meet up in real life?

As I kept swiping, the good looking people seemed to slowly disappear and the real people emerged. Once I got to the beer-bellied cat lover, I knew at least some of the profiles had to be real. It’s an interesting concept (if my suspicions are correct) of sprinkling in real people with Instagram models.

If there really are models being recruited for this app, isn’t it still possible that some of them would want to meet up in real life? While I may be a skeptic, I certainly don’t see the problem with trying your hand at messaging them. In a way, the “not knowing” whether they are real or not is alluring me to explore further.

Consideration #2: Limited Database Size

In terms of Cove’s database size, my male test user mentioned it was relatively easy to run out of profiles to match with. Cove is launching one city at a time – so if you’re not able to browse many profiles just sit tight and wait for them to grow and/or launch in your city.

I always encourage my clients to use 5 different apps concurrently. Therefore, even if Cove isn’t showing many profiles in your town, I’d still recommend you add it to your dating app arsenal. If you travel a lot, you can easily set your distance settings to 500+ miles and meet a Cove match on your next trip. 

Consideration #3: Does Incentivizing Users with Free Starbucks Really Work?

The more you interact with other Cove users, the more points you’ll accumulate. These points can be used as credits for charitable causes, Starbucks drinks, or Uber rides. 

cove rewards

While I have mixed feelings about incentivizing communication, there are some obvious benefits. First, it means that your match will be more likely to log back into the app to see your message, which should reasonably boost response rates. Second, even if some users only use it with the intent to score free a free latte or Uber ride, a skilled dating app user still has the potential to sway them into going on a date. What woman isn’t looking for prince charming?

My primary concern with incentivizing people to interact on a dating app is that, with a reasonable degree of estimation, a portion of people will log on and participate just to score free stuff. Keep in mind I’m only speculating here, but I have to believe this type of point system won’t completely attract people who want a real relationship. Who wants to be ghosted by a woman who’s looking to simply get across town for free? 

The Cove Dating App Review: Conclusion

I do think you should download and give Cove a try. It’s unique voice and video messaging feature all by itself will save you time and money.

Before you pay for the app, try and use it for free. Once you lock in two or three dates, then I’d recommend upgrading your membership. If you’re properly MegaDating, you’ll need to use a few dating apps to hit your monthly date goals anyway. 

Before you determine if Cove works for you or not, I’d set a “dates goal” with the app. If you count dates 1 through 3, then you could aim for 10 dates before assessing results. Treat it like an experiment. A/B test the quantity and quality of your Cove dates to the quantity and quality of the dates you secure from other dating apps. It’s all about what works best for YOU.

I’d love to get your opinion of Cove too. If you decide to give it a try, email me and let me know your thoughts and outcomes.