If you’ve heard of Raya, you’re probably aware of its reputation as the “celebrity dating app” - but it’s since expanded into a broader range of users and use cases while still maintaining a private and exclusive membership.
While Raya has a firm stance against sharing user profiles or exposing users, the app’s dating pool has been rumored to include big names like Drew Barrymore, Ben Affleck, Demi Lovato, Chelsea Handler, John Mayer, Amy Schumer, and more.
While you don’t have to be a celebrity to join Raya, it is touted to be the most exclusive dating app and unlike other dating apps, membership is not offered to just anyone.
In fact, Raya has an application process and according to the New York Times, only around 8% of applicants are accepted.
Whether you’re on a mission to match with Channing Tatum, or you just want to explore a more exclusive online dating option, you're in the right place to learn more about the dating app Raya.
Raya was first launched by founder Daniel Gendelman in 2015. It started as a private, membership-based dating app, but in the 7 years since its launch, Raya has become a multipurpose platform for dating, meeting friends, and professional networking.
Raya is currently only available as an iOS app. If you have an iPhone, you can search and download Raya from the app store.
Raya’s exclusivity is the main feature designed to set Raya apart from the thousands of other dating apps. It also has some unique features that aren't seen on any other platform. Here's what makes it different.
As we’ve mentioned, there’s an application process to get on Raya. So unlike other dating apps, where you typically create an account and can almost immediately create a profile, Raya has you fill out a few basic questions and then it’s a waiting game. While it’s not super clear of what Raya looks for in its members, we can assume that they’re trying to maintain an exclusive group of members, which means they may be looking at and verifying a potential user’s identity, job, net worth, unique value (such as hobbies, awards, etc...), connections to other members, and other factors.
Unlike most dating sites that have a free trial or offer a free basic membership, Raya requires all members to pay a monthly fee, even if you're just looking to try it out. While some people don’t see the value in paying for a dating app when there’s many free options out there—the caliber of Raya users may be worth the price tag for others.
Most apps have a distance range to keep potential matches near you, with the option to access “travel mode” and set your location to anywhere in the world, like Bumble Premium offers. Raya, in general shows you potential matches from anywhere in the world rather than just focusing on local matches.
If you’re not into long distance and you prefer to limit your dating pool to people nearby, you can use Raya's map feature to find users close to you. Raya members do have to opt in to location based browsing in order to be viewable on the map - which many members not opting into this for privacy concerns. You can also use the app’s pay-to-play direct message feature which allows you to message potential matches before you match.
Raya has an in-app directory where you can search for Raya users that match certain filters. You can filter by interests, location, profession and more. Some members that are on the app strictly for networking or even hiring purposes will use the directory to find professional connections.
Raya’s privacy rules set the platform apart from other dating apps, as it prioritizes maintaining a level of secrecy for users. Users are warned against screenshotting profiles and sharing conversations. One user even got banned from the app for sharing her conversation with Matthew Perry on TikTok.
Raya profiles consist of a slideshow of photos set to any song of the user’s choice. This multi-sensory design aims to give users more of a personal sense of who they're swiping on, which isn't seen on any other dating app. Raya profiles also require a linked Instagram account (which serves as the app’s version of identity verification), but written bios are optional.
Whether you want to sign up for Raya or you're just curious about who's accepted onto the platform, you should know that they only accept a percentage of applicants based on somewhat vague requirements. The basic requirements include being 18 years or older, and being an iOS user as there is no Android app.
Technically, if you meet the two criteria aforementioned, you can apply for Raya. However, you still have to fill out an application and be accepted. Raya claims to value work, familiarity (aka referrals from existing Raya members), and special qualities in its application review process, and the majority of accepted users work in a creative industry of some sort.
If you decide Raya is right for you, here are the steps to take to get started.
First, download Raya from the iOS app store and answer basic application questions (like the ones shown in the screenshots featured here). The app will ask for your basic personal information and details on your location and career, before asking who you know.
Next, you’ll have the option to add referrals – these are, in essence, invitations from existing members and it’s basically the app’s way of checking that you fit into the “exclusive” category. You can submit your application without referrals but this will leave you with a pretty slim chance of being accepted. Generally speaking, unless you’re a well known celeb, it helps to have multiple referrals in order to get on Raya.
Once these steps are done, the app will get you to verify your email and wait to hear back on your application status! All users are placed on a waitlist after submitting their application. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to be approved - and submitting an application doesn’t guarantee approval. It’s not clear what percentage of applications are approved - but exclusivity is key to their brand.
Ultimately, it’s up to the admissions team to decide if you’re worthy of dating their elite users, but according to Dating By Blaine, “Raya members tend to be influencer-types, actual and aspiring”, so having a decent sized following on social media could in fact improve your chances. But, as seen on TikTok, Raya seems to be letting in a broader set of users from “NY finance bros” to “wannabe artists”.
If your Raya application is accepted, you’ll be prompted to choose your membership level. Standard membership on Raya comes to $19.99/month if you pay monthly, $14/month if you buy 6 months at a time, and $9/month if you buy a whole year. That’s relatively inexpensive when you consider other elite options, like matchmaking, can cost much more.
Meanwhile, a Raya+ membership is a bit more expensive but buys you more features. At $49.99/month (or less if you buy 6 or 12 months at a time), you can see who likes you, get more daily recommendations, twice the amount of Maps and Directory results, and unlimited likes and “Travel Plans,” which allow you to plug in your itineraries and connect with locals and others traveling to the same destinations!
After choosing your membership level, you’ll create a profile, which is the slideshow of photos you select that are set to your choice of music as mentioned above. Unlike most apps, Raya doesn’t offer prompts for your profile and a written bio is optional, but remember that users are required to link their Instagram profiles and it will be on full display. So, keep in mind that potential matches will probably scroll through your IG grid to get a better sense of your personality.
Just like Hinge or Bumble, Raya functions on a swipe, match, and message design, but you can pay to message a Raya user that you haven’t matched with.
User privacy is Raya’s top priority, so it’s against their rules to share the identity of other users. If you’re caught sharing member profiles or talking about individuals you’ve seen on the app, there’s a high chance you’ll be kicked off the platform. This includes sharing on social media, including TikTok and Facebook Groups around dating.
If you want to take a break from the app, you can hide or pause your account at any time for any reason.
First things first, please don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get accepted. Raya’s waiting list is rumored to top 100,000 and can take months to hear back. There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t make it onto Raya and there are other elite or membership-based dating platforms and options out there such as Tawkify or The League.
If you do get accepted, please keep in mind that more exclusive does not necessarily mean safer!
Just because Raya is a membership-based dating app focused on more elite singles, that does not mean Raya is any safer than a traditional dating app. Raya members should utilize the standard dating safety tips and make sure you do your research on your potential match as Raya does not conduct background checks related to users having a criminal record or history of harm.
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