Ashley Madison Review: Does It Really Work? We Paid For Credits | Chicago Reader
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Ashley Madison has developed a notorious reputation over the years. As the first popular dating site for extra-marital affairs, it has generated its share of press. But regardless of what people say, it’s a popular dating site full of people looking to broaden their horizons. In this review, we’ll let you know whether it’s for you.

Whether you’re single, attached, or looking to experiment, Ashley Madison might have just what you’re looking for. With its wealth of “available” candidates, you’ll have no trouble finding hookups if you approach the site the right way. We’ll cover everything you need to know, starting with a comprehensive outline of how the site works, and then jumping into detailed first-hand accounts of Ashley Madison users. 

But if you want a brief synopsis, check out the pros and cons of Ashley Madison:

Pros

-       Very active community: Ashley Madison claims to have more female users than male.

-       Easy to find a consistent hookup or a fling: Users on Ashley Madison are there for a reason. They aren’t messing around!

-       Intuitive interface and design: Easy to navigate the platform even if you don’t use social media often.

-       Discreet and anonymous: Users can opt for anonymous profiles (with fake user info), discreet billing, discreet payment methods, and discreet desktop and mobile app access.

Cons

-       There are scammers on Ashley Madison, but they are easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for.

-       Data breach occurred in 2015. It has since been resolved, but users are understandably wary.

-       Quite expensive: See below for details on the credit system.

-       Complicated pricing structure: Ashley Madison uses a combination of credits and subscriptions to charge members. It can be difficult to keep track of how much you are actually spending.

The Sign-Up Process

Registration on Ashley Madison is simple and doesn’t cost anything. You only have to provide the basics: age, marital status, height, weight, etc. Then, you’re free to browse profiles to find someone to hook up with.

You do need to provide an e-mail address, but it’s a good idea to use a separate account that does not include your real name or any identifying information.

What Can I Do For Free?

First thing’s first, if you’re not ready to make a (financial) commitment to Ashley Madison just yet, how can you get your feet wet without dropping your credit card info? There are a few ways to try out the site for free, especially for women. If you’re a man, your options are limited, but there are still a couple. Simply put, if you want to get the most out of Ashley Madison, you have to be willing to pay.

Free Sign-Up: Ashley Madison offers free sign-up. In other words, you don’t have to give your credit card info to open an account. Ashley Madison allows you to make an account, fill in your details, and start to use a basic version of the website for free. You can browse profiles and have a look around the site. You can search users depending on your preferences, and you can see which users are ready to interact in your area. Men can send one free message upon registration, but they’ll have to buy credits to continue the conversation after the initial message.

After this, as you might expect, you need to start paying to continue interacting with other users. Men need to purchase “credits” to start messaging and establishing connections with users. Below, we’ll outline the payment system, including the credit process, in detail. 

Free Messaging for Women: Ashley Madison offers free messaging for female users. The entire site is free for female users, which is one of the reasons Ashley Madison can maintain such a strong female user base. So, if you’re a woman, then your free Ashley Madison options are plentiful. You can send chats, open chats, initiate conversations, and more. The interactivity that men have to pay for, women will receive for free.

If you happen to be a male user, there are much more minimal free options, which include:

Your Free Options are Limited: Basically, that’s about it in terms of free options for men who want to use Ashley Madison! It is very much a “paid” service. Male users need to purchase credits to interact with other users (along with a few subscription options). Because of this, Ashley Madison will cost you more depending on how much you want to use the platform and how many users you intend on messaging.

If you’re a man using Ashley Madison, you’re going to need to pay. Next, we’ll explain the convoluted system in more detail.

What’s the Credit System?

Instead of a subscription model, Ashley Madison has opted for a credit system. Men using the platform need to pay for credits to interact with other users. Credits are more affordable the more you buy, and different actions require a different number of credits. It’s a bit complicated because Ashley Madison wants you to spend more money on their platform! Luckily, considering what you can potentially get out of the deal, it can be well worth it.

On one hand, it’s great that you only need to pay for the services you use. On the other hand, it’s still pricey!

Women, though, can do everything on the Ashley Madison platform for free, which is how Ashley Madison maintains such an active user base.

Signing Up: Signing up for Ashley Madison is completely free, and you don’t even have to give your credit card info. You also don’t have to use your real name or address. Some users choose not to use a profile picture, although this might make meeting people difficult!

How Much Do Credits Cost?

On the Ashley Madison home screen, you’ll see a big, brightly colored button that says “BUY CREDITS.” If you can’t tell by now, they want you to take out the credit card!

Credit costs are subject to change and might also depend on your region or be affected by sales and promotions. Here’s a general idea of what you can expect credits to cost:

Credits are sold in bulk, with Basic, Classic, and Elite plans:

-       Basic gets you 100 credits for $59, or $0.59/credit.

-       Classic (their most popular plan) gets you 500 credits for $169.00, or $0.34/credit.

-       Elite gets you 1,000 credits for $289.00, or $0.29 per credit.

o   NOTE: An Elite plan also nets you access to an “Ashley Madison Premium,” which gives you 24 hours of free chat, and “Priority Man” status. Priority Man puts your name higher in search results, making it easier for interested seekers to find your account.

After you’ve purchased credits, Ashley Madison will prompt you to automatically “Top Up” your credits each month. In other words, they want you to set up automatic payment when your credits run low. We’d advise against this, but it’s your call.

Member Initiated Contact Fee: Upon purchasing credits, Ashley Madison prompts you to sign up for a Member Initiated Contact Fee (MIC fee), allowing you to view and respond to messages sent to you by other members for free (without using any credits). MIC is free for the first month and $29.99/month after that. It’s optional, and you can choose to use credits to respond to these messages instead. If you’re a very active user, this might save you money in the long run.

What Can I Do With Credits?

As you can see, Ashley Madison’s credit plans are pricey. But it’s even more difficult to know how pricey until you know what you can do with them! Unfortunately, the credit system isn’t so straightforward.

It costs you five credits each time you send a message or open one sent by another user. Then, it will cost you credits depending on the time spent chatting with that user. You get charged 50 credits per hour of live chat with another user, and Ashley Madison will ding you another 30 credits once the hour is up, and another 20 credits once that hour is up.

Ashley Madison also allows you to send “virtual gifts” to catch the attention of other users. These gifts cost, you guessed it, credits. Depending on the gift, it will cost a different number of credits but typically ranges between 20, 30, and 50 credits.

Basically, as a man on the platform, you can expect every interaction you have to cost you credits. You can view your balance at any time, and you’re also free to re-up on credits at any time.

Bottom Line – How Much Does Ashley Madison Cost?

If you can’t tell by now, Ashley Madison is expensive. Well, if you’re a man, that is. Of course, just how expensive depends on how active you are on the platform. If you plan to message several users, carry on conversations, and maintain these connections, you can expect to spend a pretty penny. Many users spend hundreds of dollars per month on the site.

Luckily, you only have to spend as much as you want. Once you find a hookup, you’re free to stop using Ashley Madison’s services. For this reason, in the next section, we examine how easy it is to find a hookup on Ashley Madison.

Using Ashley Madison to Find a Hookup

So far, we’ve examined the platform and taken a detailed look at how much it’s going to cost you. The big question is, how easy is it to use Ashley Madison to find a hookup?

As long as you’re ready to spend some cash on the platform itself, Ashley Madison is an excellent place to find a hookup. Ashley Madison lets you sign up as attached, single, seeking males, females, or anything in between. People on Ashley Madison haven’t taken that decision lightly. They know what they want and are not ashamed to look for it (but they’ll still be discreet). If you want a hookup and want it to be discreet, Ashley Madison is a great place to find it.

People on Ashley Madison are not afraid to tell you what they’re looking for, and they’re not looking to mess around. They’re there for a reason, and they’re not going to waste their time on someone who isn’t looking for the same. Just check out some of the profiles we found:

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So, as long as you’re there for the same reason, we think you’ll find success.

That said, as with most dating sites, you need to initiate contact if you want to find what you’re looking for. Ashley Madison makes it very easy to browse user profiles and find like-minded people who share your interests and want the same thing as you.

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After that, send them a message, and you can spark something from there.

Of course, as with any dating site, not everyone will be interested in you. For this reason, we can’t say you’re guaranteed to find a hookup on Ashley Madison because that’s a two-way street. If people aren’t interested, then they aren’t interested. But we can say that many users on Ashley Madison are looking for hookups ranging from casual (most) to serious (some) and everything in between. If you take the effort to present yourself well, be up-front about what you’re looking for, and engage users in an approachable manner, we think you can find success too.

Ashley Madison is the world’s largest hookup site for those seeking an extramarital affair (or something else). If that’s what you’re after, you can find it there. But, as with any hookup site, the onus is on you to build your success.

So, Does Ashley Madison Work, Or Is It a Scam?

What do we think about Ashley Madison? Ashley Madison is “as-advertised.” It’s a hookup site that is full of real people looking for extramarital affairs and more. If that’s what you’re after, then it’s extremely tough to beat Ashley Madison. Nowhere else will you find a more active user base, and nowhere else will you find a platform that has been built to maintain such discretion.

That said, it’s not free. It’s very expensive. We might as well tell you that now because any user of Ashley Madison will learn it eventually. For the most part, the credit system allows you to only pay for what you use (although the MIC and Priority Man subscriptions can alter that), but just about every action on Ashley Madison costs credits. In other words, if you’re looking to use the site to its fullest, and to interact with many different users, then expect to spend money.

All that said, if you want a no-nonsense platform to find what you’re looking for, you can’t beat Ashley Madison. Here are some tips to safely get the most out of the experience.

Be Up-Front About Expectations: We’ve said it before, but it’s worth restating. Be up-front about what you’re looking for. Ashley Madison users aren’t there to mess around, and you shouldn’t be either. Be up-front about the exact kind of relationship you are looking for. People appreciate this honesty and it makes it much less likely for everything to blow up in your face if you’re straight-up with other users.

Be Yourself: Yeah, we know, it’s a cliché. Be yourself, don’t lie and pretend to be someone else. You can’t fake it in the long run, so you may as well be honest about who you are and what you’re looking for.

Carefully Craft Your Profile: This is true of any dating site, not just Ashley Madison. Your profile is your “billboard” that you’re putting out there for the world to see. It’s everyone’s first impression, and it’s often the make or break for whether someone even responds to your message. You want your profile to build you up, but be careful that it’s not too misleading! After all, if you’re a letdown in real life, then it won’t have been worth it anyway. Talk yourself up, but don’t lie. Use flattering pictures, but be sure that they’re current. People expect you to brag on a dating profile, but they don’t expect you to bald-faced lie.

Is Ashley Madison Legit? Yes, Ashley Madison is “legit” as long as you keep your expectations in check. Most of the time people asking these questions want to know whether the site is full of real users there because they want to hook up. For the most part, it’s a yes, although you’ll have to watch out for scammers who want your money (which is the case with just about any dating site). Check out our section below for advice on dealing with scammers.

Ashley Madison is a real place where users come to hook up and to seek an extramarital affair. If that’s what you want, then it’s very much legit.

A Few Tips To Have the Best Experience

Before we wrap up, here are some general hookup site tips. We’ve gathered these tips from experience, and they’re especially relevant to Ashley Madison:

Beware of Scammers: Yes, there are scammers on Ashley Madison, just as there are on just about any dating site. Scammers are fake profiles that aren’t looking to hook up and are generally just looking to get you to spend money on them. They’re unavoidable on hookup sites. Beware of profiles that look “too perfect” or users who are way too over-eager. Ashley Madison does their best to ban these users, but they can’t get them all.

Be careful, and be aware. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Watch Your Credits: Ashley Madison is a for-profit business. It’s designed to make you spend money. Not only that, since you are spending “credits” and not dollars, it’s easy to lose track of how much real money you have spent. Keep a careful eye on your credits and have a keen understanding of the payment system before you start (see our section above). Ashley Madison will also tempt you to sign up for “automatic top-ups” of your credits, and we’d advise against that.

Remember, It’s Not Easy: We’re not here to pass judgment on anyone, and everyone has their reasons for seeking an affair. We’ll just let you know that it’s often not easy. Be sure you put the proper thought into it and be sure it’s what you want. People have certainly faced repercussions from Ashley Madison, both emotional and real. Just be sure that you’ve thought it through, and that’s all we’ll say. This is an article about Ashley Madison; we had to mention it at some point!

The Final Verdict

The bottom line, is Ashley Madison worth it? Well, if you’re looking for what the website offers, then yes! Ashley Madison is the most active, discreet, and legitimate network you can find if you’re looking for an extramarital affair. It’s expensive, especially if you’re a man, so be prepared for that. But if you’re looking for what’s offered by Ashley Madison, then you truly can’t beat it as a hookup destination.