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LAST UPDATED: September 10th, 2020

Raya is a celebrity dating app that brings elite people together into one platform. It prides itself on being a place for “famous people” to mingle and meet. Each application goes through a vetting process and is then given to an anonymous committee to look over, intending only to accept the highest quality users. The committee uses Instagram as a significant factor in deciding whether or not to accept an applicant.

Raya is relatively new and launched in March of 2015. However, the app is so exclusive that not many people have even heard of Raya, and the exclusive dating app wants to keep it that way. Because the private dating app prefers to be out of the spotlight, it stays out of the press. The app has been criticized for being too exclusive. Raya wants to market to "famous people" and "celebrity dating "and has been known to give off an elitist vibe.

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The Good

  • Niche Dating for Famous People
  • All-Inclusive Membership Fee 
  • A Place Famous People Can Feel Safe
  • Easy to Navigate
  • Sponsored Profiles
  • LGBTQ Friendly
  • Professional Networking

Niche Dating for Famous People

Raya goes through a complicated verification process to create a niche site exclusively for like-minded people in the creative industry who use Instagram as a way to connect with the world. Raya does not let just anyone in. Interested users must apply through their Instagram account. According to Raya's website, applicants are considered based on the following:

  • Overall Instagram influence
  • Who recommended the applicant
  • How many active Raya members follow the applicant on Instagram

The dating app claims all of these factors are calculated through Raya's proprietary algorithm. From there, the Raya committee takes a vote on whether or not the applicant is accepted. Raya committees are anonymous, but are usually people in various creative industries. 

It is particularly difficult for a member to make it into Raya without a recommendation from a current Raya member. Users on Raya can include cast members of Dancing With The Stars, famous nightclub DJs, advertising executives, etc. In August of 2015, Kelly Osbourne's Raya profile was leaked. Most users have at least a few thousand Instagram followers or are beautiful and young. Raya users like the exclusivity feature because a majority of the members have respected jobs.

All-Inclusive Membership Fee 

The Raya app requires a monthly membership fee. However, once you pay this fee, you unlock unlimited access to messaging. Many other online dating apps have online currency and membership fees that quickly make the dating process expensive and complicated. Raya’s inclusive membership fee gives users an accurate up-front cost. This is a unique benefit absent in many regular dating apps. With the Raya membership, you don’t need to make decisions about who to spend your money on or when to boost your profile. The platform simply allows for swiping, connecting, and chatting.

A Place Famous People Can Feel Safe

Because Raya goes through such an intricate selection process, members can feel more comfortable interacting with others. Raya aims to foster a place where individuals in the creative industry can connect on a quality level. Each person is selected for a reason, and everyone is verified as real before acceptance. Members do not have to worry about getting spammed or running into fake accounts. Raya makes sure it is not a place for "catfishing." Raya takes care of weeding out the scammers and lesser quality individuals, so users don't have to.

Easy to Navigate

Raya is similar to Tinder in that it follows the "swipe to like or pass" structure. Users are only allowed to chat with each other if both have mutually hit like. The app uses a clean interface that is not cluttered with ads. According to Esociably, "users' profiles — or "stories" — are a series of images set to single tracks of music(...)" Music can tell a lot about a person, and the profile song they choose is a way to learn more about their personality. Esociably noted that "One user, who was interviewed by The Cut said, ‘The music is a great way to tell if someone is basic. Like, if a girl picks Trap Queen.'"

Sponsored Profiles

Some members are comped and do not have to pay the monthly membership fee. However, there are only a select few who get to enjoy this privilege. Raya claims that members who make the "highest tier of the algorithm (mostly based on how many people an applicant knows on Raya) or receives a unanimous committee ‘yes’ vote" could potentially receive a comped membership.

LGBTQ Friendly

Anyone a part of the LBGTQ community is welcomed to apply to Raya. The exclusive dating site does not turn away individuals for sexual orientation and claims that "Raya is for EVERYBODY." 

Professional Networking

The purpose of Raya is to bring together successful individuals with like-minded goals. While intended to help individuals find romantic partners, users also have the opportunity to network. Raya makes it easy to filter your search intent by allowing users to switch between “social” and “work” mode.  Work mode focuses on professional networking. Input the company you work for to make connections across different industries. This is a unique feature specific to the Raya dating app. 

Members come from different areas of expertise, and if a romantic relationship doesn’t work out, you may find some valuable work connections. 


The Bad

  • Not Free to Use
  • No Matching Algorithm
  • Not Available on Android
  • No Desktop Platform 
  • Fewer Matching Options 
  • Hard to Join

Not Free to Use

Users sign up for either a month-to-month membership for $7.99 or a six-month membership for $29.99. Raya fears that by making the app free, it would cheapen the experience. Raya is meant to feel anything but cheap, letting only the Instagram elite in. According to Raya's website, the focus is on quality over quantity. Raya is not worried about having fewer members as a result of the price. However, the membership base is mostly wealthy and successful individuals. This monthly cost is unlikely to make a large difference for Raya users. 

No Matching Algorithm

Raya uses a mysterious algorithm that somehow determines the worthiness of profiles, taking a lot of information from how many social media followers the applicant has on the Instagram social network. 

Many do not like Raya's strategy, claiming that someone's social media following is not a good indication of whether or not they are a good match. Social media is sometimes described as a pseudo-reality because people can photoshop pictures and portray one's life however they would like. Raya does not list any information on its algorithm and exactly how it accepts users. 

It is assumed that most of the choices are based on the Instagram following and physical attractiveness of the user, which are superficial qualities. There are no personality quizzes or compatibility tests for users. However, users can create a picture montage set to a song of their choice, that other profiles can view.

Not Available on Android

Raya is not available to download for Android phones. As of now, there's no information on if it is coming to the Google Play store. You must be an IOS user to download Raya.

No Desktop Platform

If you want to start using Raya, you will need to pull out your IOS device. Raya does not offer a desktop version of its online dating platform. The only way to log on is through the mobile app. Because the Raya user base tends to be younger individuals, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Fewer Matching Options 

One consequence of creating an exclusive app is fewer members. The Raya app has around 10,000 members in total. Most members are located in the United States. When compared to Tinder’s 50 million users, Raya has a relatively small user base. Fewer members mean less opportunity for finding a long-term partner.

The “social” mode allows users to connect with members in their area. Location is a big factor in the matching selection process. You will likely find and connect with more members when you are living in creative cities such as Los Angeles or New York. For smaller cities, you may find it more difficult to connect and meet up with other Rayay members, especially since Raya has such a small user base. 

If you are not set on dating a famous person, you may find better odds on Tinder or another online dating app. However, if you get invited to join Raya, you might as well take the opportunity to see who is on the app. You can always sign up for multiple dating apps and see which apps bring you the most success. 

Hard to Join

Members cannot just sign up for Raya. Raya "rarely if ever considers an applicant who wasn't referred to by a current member of the Raya community." According to Business Insider, only about 8 percent of applicants are accepted onto the app. The vetting process is a way to keep the app more of a niche platform for like-minded individuals to connect. Often regarded as a celebrity dating app, Raya has a fairly small dating pool since it doesn't allow just anyone to join. Not only that, but if an applicant has a corporate or business Instagram account, it hurts their chances of being accepted into the Raya community.

If you want to join the app without a recommendation, you can go to the Raya website and fill out an application. The application process can take a few days to a few months — if the committee ever updates you on your application status. You may never get a rejection letter if they don’t accept you. Your status will just say “pending indefinitely.” If you give the company access to your contacts, the staff can search and see if you are connected to any current Raya members. This may increase your odds of getting accepted onto the app. However, your best bet is to be recommended by an existing member.


The Bottom Line

Raya is dubbed by some as the "Illuminati Tinder" because it is similar to Tinder in structure, but far more tight-knit and exclusive. This app is not intended as just a platform to find hook-ups. Its primary purpose is to connect like-minded, creative types. Raya doesn't do much to help users find their perfect match. In fact, a lot about the app seems very superficial. The application process is based on social media following and Raya connections, rather than personality and character traits. Some even say that the anonymous selection committee screens users based on physical attractiveness.

This app is best for Instagram-lovers who are tired of meeting creepy people on Tinder but want a similar dating app structure. Whether you're a stand-up comedian or a professional athlete, Raya is a way to meet other social media elites and mingle with creative people in respected job positions. Raya monitors activity and keeps users' personal information as secure as possible. If a user screenshots another Raya profile, they are threatened to be kicked off Raya. If one is recommended to the application process by a current Raya member, they must remember that it isn't free and that there is no guarantee of finding a mate.

Have you used the Raya dating app? Tell us about your experience and contribute to our Raya reviews. 

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Amanda Warrendale, PA

Raya won't let just anybody on the app, including me. Their approval process is pretty strict which I guess could be good or bad.

4 years ago

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