Raya is an exclusive dating app that launched in 2015. It's like the Soho House of online dating.
📰 It’s buzzy. There's a reason you've bothered to read this review! Raya’s been aptly described in the New York Times as the "Illuminati Tinder."
🎟️ It’s exclusive. You can’t just sign up for Raya. A current Raya member must invite you, and even then, your application may or may not be approved, as we'll cover later.
✨ Celebrities dig it. People like Cara Delevingne, Amy Schumer, Kelly Osbourne, Demi Lovato, and Chelsea Handler have all been spotted on Raya.
Functionally, Raya isn't super different from Tinder or Hinge, though it has some unique aspects we'll discuss next.
How does Raya work?
Raya works like most other dating apps. Once you're accepted, you need to:
📸 Create a photo-centric profile. Create photo in "slideshow" format to spotlight who you are, and what you look like, to potential matches.
📲 Review potential matches. Review your matches in a single-file queue, who you can swipe right on to approve, or swipe left on to reject. Raya shows you a few new profiles each day.
💬 Swap messages with your matches. Swap them via the same in-app, text-based chat you're used to from apps like Tinder and Hinge.
Nominally, Raya's "slideshow" photo format is unique.
Rather than presenting your photos as stand-alone images, Raya has you curate photos to play sequentially to a song of your choice.
I've linked a recording of my profile later in this article to illustrate, but here's a teaser in the meantime:
In practice, Raya's slideshow = choosing photos for any other app.
You'll still upload the 6 best photos on your cameral roll to Raya to market yourself to prospective matches. You just also choose a song to play in the background.
Other small differences between your Raya profile, and your profile on other apps:
🤔 Raya requires an Instagram handle. This tells you something about what kind of people use Raya!
🤭 A written bio is optional. This also tells you something about what kind of people use Raya!
Looking beyond your profile, Raya has some other cool functionalities:
📍 Map you can use to locate other Raya members near you, plus browse their profiles if you’ve both opted in to location-based browsing — this feature is called “social mode.”
🔎 Directory you can use to find other Raya members based on interests, profession, location, and whatever else you want to search for.
💬 Pay-to-play DMs you can use to message potential matches before you matched (i.e. premium way to shoot your shot).
Ultimately, though, what makes Raya special is who uses it.
When I opened the app to write this review, the first potential match in my queue was a pro tennis player, and the next was a TV actor I recognized.
Basically, the people using Raya are different from the people using less exclusive apps!
Raya profile examples
If you're curious what a Raya profile looks like, here's a video I took of my old Raya profile:
Note that Raya doesn't allow you to screen record or screenshot in the app, hence me recording this with another phone!
Also, note that I'm happily married, so don't even ask 😜
Here's what a male profile in my review queue looks like:
Here's another Raya profile example:
How to get on Raya
Raya isn’t for everyone!
To obtain Raya membership, typically, a current Raya member must invite you to join the community.
Even with a referral (or multiple referrals), there’s no guarantee your application for membership will be approved. I know a number of people with 2+ referrals who are stuck on the waitlist...
Here's what my referral request queue looks like if you're curious:
Please don't ask me for a referral, btw. I only refer actual friends and certain clients!
If you’re wondering who gets approved for Raya membership, according to Raya’s website, the Raya community values "creativity," and the application criteria are:
💼 Your work. Is it interesting and creative?
🤝 Familiarity. This is Raya’s way of saying, “Know anyone inside?”
✨ Something extra. What special qualities do you bring to the table?
Wondering how to get on Raya without a referral?
You can always download the app, and apply directly without a referral.
Don't hold your breath, though 🥵
I'm not familiar with any Raya members being admitted without referrals, and I'm familiar with many people who have good referrals and are still stuck on the waitlist.
Raya waitlist vs rejection, and Raya rejection message
I've never heard of anyone getting officially rejected from Raya before.
If your Raya application isn't approved, it will stay in "pending" status (i.e. you'll stay on the waitlist) ⏳
There's no "rejection message" you'll receive if you're application isn't approved 🚫
Basically, be patient.
I don't have any special insight into the Raya application process — it's opaque, and anyone outside of the company who claims to know more is probably trying to rip you off— but I have friends who've been approved after sitting on the waitlist for multiple months , so don't give up hope!
Who gets accepted to Raya
Raya members tend to be influencer-types, actual and aspiring 😎
You know who I’m talking about... People who wear Amiri jeans, and talk a lot about where they vacationed last summer.
This isn’t to dunk on Raya or its members. I’ve connected with genuinely cool people on there!
It's just that the tie that binds in the Raya community seems to be less creativity, and more 3+ hours of daily screen time on Instagram 😜
Raya requirements for membership
I read a Raya review on Vida Select that claims Raya has a 5,000 minimum Instagram follower requirement.
🙄 This is blatantly false. I had a Raya account from when I was single, and my Instagram following was way smaller than 5,000 then. I have several friends on Raya who have <1,000 Instagram followers. I don't know why they made this Raya statistic up!
🤷♀️ Still, this sentiment is directionally correct. Raya members tend to be actual or aspiring Instagram influencers, and I'd imagine the average Instagram follower count of my friends on Raya is >1,000.
Raya application questions
Raya's application is straightforward.
First, share some basic personal info like your name, email, and DOB.
Next, share some info about your location and career:
Finally, you can add a referral from your phone's contacts:
That's literally it!
How much does Raya cost?
As of the time I'm writing this in 2023, Raya has two membership options.
🅰️ RAYA STANDARD MEMBERSHIP
Raya standard membership costs:
$19.99 / month (not $9.99/month as some other reviews claim) if paid monthly;
$89.99 / six months which equates to $14/month if paid semi-annually;
$119.99 / year which equates to $9/month if paid yearly;
🅱️ RAYA+ MEMBERSHIP
Raya+ membership costs:
$49.99 / month if paid monthly;
$239.99 / 6 months which equates to $39/month if paid semi-annually;
$349.99 / year which equates to $29/month if paid yearly;
You get bonus features for ponying up the extra cash for a Raya+ membership, the most important of which are:
Seeing who's already swiped right on you 🔮
More daily recommendations (i.e. more opportunities to match with people) 🔥
Is Raya expensive?
In my opinion, Raya is actually a killer financial deal 🤯
For context, Hinge now charges $34.99/month for their "Premium" membership, which is required to swipe on "standout" users (i.e. most of the attractive people using the app...)
That makes the basic Raya package look like a steal.
Is Raya worth it?
In my opinion, Raya is 100% worth it, assuming you can get in!
🔥 People on Raya are hot. Raya almost certainly has the highest concentration of physically attractive singles of any app, and I know people who've found both hookups and serious relationships on Raya.
💵 The price is right. Like we touched on a moment ago, Raya provides good bang for the buck relative to other apps right now. I'm genuinely surprised Raya membership is so cheap.
Stuck on the Raya waitlist, and feeling frustrated?
Don't sweat it. At the end of the day:
You can meet anyone on Raya in-person. If anything, they'd probably prefer it! Most people hate dating apps as much as you do 😜
Attractive people are on every mainstream app, too. Only a tiny segment of the single population ONLY uses Raya 👍
Your matches on Raya = your matches on other apps. That is to say, if you're not attracting high-quality people on Bumble, you won't suddenly start attracting high-quality people on Raya 😅
To that last point (and I don't mean this to sound harsh, but...) if you can't find your way onto Raya, you probably wouldn't be drowning in Raya matches anyway.
By and large, people using Raya are seeking to meet people who have the connections to get onto Raya 😬
Basically, you'll see higher ROI from improving your profiles on apps like Hinge and Bumble than from spinning circles trying to finagle a Raya invite!
Wrap up & next steps
Want an A+ profile so you attract women you're excited about, no matter what apps you use?
I've got three ideas for you 👇
Idea #1: Unlock my best free guides
I'd love to share my best FREE dating guides with you:
📲 What I Swipe Right On Get better matches on apps like Hinge, fast.
💬 Master The Message What to text to create more chemistry.
🏀 How To Bounce Back Dating 101 for guys who are newly single.
😅 You're Nice, But... How to stop being too nice to women.
Just tell me where to send them!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
I'll also add you to my email list. 100% privacy, no spam or b.s.
Idea #2: Follow me on Instagram
Join 400,000+ guys who tune in for dating tips on my Instagram every single day!