What is Raya? – Here’s Everything We Know

A lot of people have heard of Raya, the exclusive dating app where celebrities and millionaires go to find love. that said, surprisingly little is known about the app, and even much of the information out there is riddled with inaccuracies.

The app keeps itself under wraps, which adds to the feeling of exclusivity, and the wait time for approval is absolutely absurd. In fact, there are over ten times more people waiting to use the app than those actually using it. 

So, why do people keep signing up? We wondered the same thing and took a deep dive to learn everything we could. So, if you’re ready to unwrap the secrets of the Raya App (AKA Illuminati Tinder), just read on!

Can you join Raya? The real scoop

Raya App Logo with Demi Levato and Harry Styles - Discovering the Secrets of Illuminati Tinder

Alright here’s the hot take. Raya is weird…

It’s made the news a few times for one controversy or another, but through it all Raya founder Daniel Gendelman has done everything in his power to keep this community a tightly locked secret (For example – trying to take a screenshot of the app can result in permanent account termination). And, like with most secret societies, the vacuum created by non-answers and secrecy has been filled with speculation, spicy rumors, and heaps of misinformation. We’re here to set the record straight…

For most dating app users the bottom line is this—Raya is not for you.

As much as we all long to taste of the lifestyle of the rich and famous this app was not made to help celebrities date their fans (sorry J Biebs). The truth is that fewer than 10% of Raya applicants make the cut. We know you’re an amazing person, but these stars are strictly looking for other celebrities and highly influential people, otherwise they would just use traditional dating apps.

Don’t believe us? Consider this, one of the biggest factors in your pending approval is the number of followers you have on Instagram. So, if you’re a celebrity, popular youtuber, star of a recent movie, or major influencer then by all means apply. This app was made specifically for you.

For the rest of us…there’s really no harm in taking 5-10 minutes to poke at this secret society, but we recommend doing it in conjunction with using another dating app if you’re looking for love. This is because it can take months to to go from “waitlisted” to “accepted” on the Raya App (if you even make the cut), and it would be a bummer to miss out on all that time with no guarantees.

So, while the user bases of other dating apps may not be as star studded as Raya you will find real, successful people, that are excited to get to know you for you (and not just what you do on social media).

What is Raya? – An Introduction to This Dating App

The Raya dating app was imagined by founder Daniel Gendelman in early 2014. This private social networking application was then built and launched in February of 2015 and has been registering users and growing since then. So what was the idea? Well, Gendelman put it this way…

“I wanted to create an app like a perfectly curated, intimate, yet thoroughly vetted dinner party”

Daniel Gendelman, RAYA CEO

and that’s exactly what this Los Angeles based company now does. It’s provided a private way for Instagram stars and other celebrities to meet each other online and strike up conversations and relationships.

Raya Dating App Logo

Big-name celebrities reportedly using the app include….

  • Demi Lovato,
  • Cara Delevigne,
  • Channing Tatum,
  • Emma Watson,
  • Harry Styles,
  • John Mayer,
  • Ben Affleck,
  • Raven-Symone,
  • Sharon Stone,
  • Lewis Capaldi,
  • Lil Dicky,
  • Clairo,
  • Owen Wilson,
  • and more!

But here’s the thing… No one knows exactly how many or who few users Raya has and that’s a purposeful ambiguity that the team at Raya wants to preserve

“Whether or not we are 100,000 members or 5,000 members there will be people who think both of those numbers are too big and both of those numbers are too small”

Daniel Dendelman to Vanity Fair

So how do you join Raya? Well, that’s a complicated question really. Signing up is the easy part, but the Raya dating app prides itself on being the most exclusive dating service anywhere online. There are currently estimated to be over 100,000 members waiting for approval and many of them have been there for weeks, months, or longer.

From what we’ve seen your level of Instagram fame definitely has an impact on how quickly your application will be reviewed, but the only guaranteed way seems to be having an existing Raya member recommend you. This really completes that “vetted dinner party” feel Gendelman was going for.

Raya Dating Site Logo

The application process isn’t too long, but acceptance is extremely slow, sometimes taking months (or longer). The application will ask you questions about your past, dating preferences, life goals, and more to get a good feel for you as a person.

However, the actual approval process depends very heavily on your social media presence. Specifically, your Instagram account. 

The application process also gives approval out first to those that are recommended by other users of the app. So, if you know anyone already using Raya, you should definitely try to get that sweet, sweet recommendation!

Some people are able to get approved for a Raya account in as little as one week after applying for the app. But this is the exception, not the norm. Many users will have to wait much much longer than this (assuming they are ever approved).

If you’re dead set on giving Raya a try then we wish you the best of luck for the application and what comes next

Not everyone is using the Raya app to find love. In fact, those involved with the project have often said that it’s not even meant to be a dating app. As a result there are 2 modes which we’ve explained below:

Work Mode

Once you are on Raya as an active user, you will have the option to change your account to work mode. This will change up your intent on Raya to something more professional and you will be shown other users in your industry, or even in your same company. 

Social Mode

Social mode on Raya is intended for making friends and dating. You will be shown profiles of compatible singles who you can chat up and get to know. 

Celebrity Members

While this isn’t necessarily a “feature,” we can’t help but point out the excitement of knowing you are sharing a dating space with big names. Some of the iconic singles that have used Raya are:

Will you find your other half on Raya?

What can we say? Maybe, maybe not…

The whole reason people put up with the outrageous application process and small user base at Raya is because the selection of singles is something out of your wildest fantasies. Celebrities, influencers, surgeons, CEOs, and other high profile singles flock to Raya to ensure they are only dating singles with similar careers, goals, and lifestyles. 

In this sense Raya does exactly what it was designed to do. So, if you think you can get approved for Raya, you probably don’t want to miss out.

On the other hand, there’s more to the quality of singles than just how good looking they are, or how much they earn, or how many followers they have on social media. Since Raya’s matches aren’t based on detailed compatibility algorithms like other successful dating apps they can’t really be expected to yield the same results.

Even if anyone who ever applied to Raya was approved, the reality is that the vast majority would still never talk to Harry Styles, Demi Lovato, Cara Delevigne, or any of the other stars you hear about using the app.

If you’re looking for love and want to find someone who shares your experiences, goals, and dreams you’ve got to look in the right place.

Hard to get in, but it’s pretty cheap though!

So, like with most apps, signing up for and applying to Raya is free. But get this, the cost once you’re approved is surprisingly pretty cheap. When someone is cleared to use the app they will have to start paying the monthly membership fee, which is $9.99 (literally cheaper than a standard Netflix subscription 🤯).

There is no version of the app that functions beyond the application that is free, as far as we can tell.

Photo of author

Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.