There are dozens of free email lookup and reverse email lookup tools available online. Let’s see which ones really deliver results.
Are you part of the 51% of people who have kept the same email address for more than 10 years? Then it shouldn’t surprise you that there’s a significant data trail attached to it.
But the fact is, even fresh email addresses can reveal a ton about their users. Because you use them to sign up for everything online, they are the closest thing we have to a digital passport.
This is precisely why free email lookup and reverse email lookup tools are becoming so popular these days.
The problem: not all of them are created equal, or even for the same purpose.
So in this post, I wanted to help clarify which reverse email tool you should use, how they work, and actually compare some free email lookup services to see if they are as useful as they claim. But first:
What are Free Email Lookup Tools?
A free email lookup, or reverse email lookup tool, gathers information about someone based on their email address alone. It searches a variety of databases and online sources to reveal where the email address has been used before, and establishes links with its user.
Why Use These Free Email Lookup Tools?
I know it’s not the most intuitive question to put this high on the list, but understanding this point helps make sense of all the rest.
Basically, there are three main reasons to use a free email lookup tool:
- Marketing purposes: for marketers or sales teams, it’s essential to check if the email address you’ve acquired is valid. Because you don’t want your email marketing newsletter to bounce, it’s wise to confirm you’re dealing with real people as soon as possible.
- Background checks: usually performed by professionals who need more info about a potential hire, a prospect client, or a business contact. Some individuals request them too, for every reason you can imagine, including getting the full picture about a new romantic interest to, sadly, cyberstalking.
- Risk analysis: small and large businesses use reverse email searches to learn more about their users in the context of fraud prevention, risk assessment, and cybersecurity.
Now I wanted to establish these reasons early on because this means there are essentially three types of reverse email tools, each one tailored for these specific purposes.
That means the technology and pricing will be different, and of course they will deliver very different results. Which brings us to our next question:
What Data Can You Get With Reverse Email Lookup Tools?
To answer that question, let’s break it down into our three categories once more:
- Marketing: you will be able to see if the email address is valid or not, and whether it can receive your emails. This is done via a SMTP-MX check. You can also find other addresses on the same business domain, and that’s about it.
- Background checks: on paper, these are more sophisticated. You can find basic social media information attached to the email, the person’s full name, and geo location info based on domain lookup. If you are in the US, they include a search through public files like bankruptcy reports or criminal records. The accuracy of these reports tends to be hit and miss.
- Risk Analysis: Serious tools with serious results. You get precise social media profiling (to see if the user is connected to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the email address). You can learn if the email was involved in a data breach, and get useful information about the domain, including whether it is free or paid, and how old the address is. You also get a risk score that helps you review if you should trust the user or not.
What Are the Limits of Free Email Lookup Tools?
“…the trick these companies use the most is that the search is free, but getting the results is not.”
The first limit obviously has to do with the “free” aspect. Companies offering a free service for individuals and businesses don’t do it out of the kindness of their own hearts: they usually operate under a freemium model. (Risk Analysis tools, however, usually charge a micro fee for each request). So you really get what you pay for in terms of the quality of the results.
|Email lookup for:||Marketing and sales||Background Checks||Risk Analysis|
|Ease of use||Easy||Easy||Easy|
|Payment||Monthly based on number of email checks||Monthly, unlimited checks or per single request||Monthly payments based on email checks|
In fact, the trick these companies use the most is that the search is free, but getting the results is not.
This makes them completely useless as free tools. Been Verified, for instance, like many “free” tools, goes through a long search process (up to 5 minutes), and then redirects you towards their premium plans.
Another annoying issue would be to think you’ve found a free service, only to find it sends you towards a paid one. This is what happens for instance if you use EmailSherlock.com, which must just act as an affiliate of InfoTracer.
Something else to consider, especially for marketers, is that verifying webmail addresses can be difficult, or unavailable. For instance, hunter.io lets you clearly know that it only works with professional domains.
Then there are issues with speed. If you are, say, an ecommerce that needs to verify email for large amounts of users in real time, your only option is to plug in an email analysis API into your system. The results with Risk Analysis tools are near instant. With other services, you have to enter addresses one at a time, and wait upward of 5 minutes to get the results.
Finally, there’s of course the issue of data quality. Ideally you want data that’s fresh and up to date. But a quick test reveals that many free email lookup tools must go through very old databases to acquire their information, which defeats the purpose.
In fact, with background checkers, you can often get better results simply by typing the email address into a search engine yourself.
Are Email Lookup Tools Legal?
A good question, and the answer is generally yes. However there are some caveats. Digital data leaves a trace worldwide, but the services and users of the service themselves are restricted by their geo location.
For instance, Social Catfish is only available in the US because it doesn’t meet the GDPR requirements. Other services like InfoTracer, Spokeo and BeenVerified are also geo restricted to only operate in the US.
So if you’re in the market for a free email lookup tool, do make sure it meets your local regulations, or you could put your business at risk. However, a number of tools like SEON or Snovio ensure they only collect data from public sources, making them GDPR compliant.
Can I Use An Email Lookup Tool to Find Someone’s Email Address?
Some services include it. If you know the domain and full name, for instance, Sellhack and Hunter.io can help.
Most of these services also operate under a freemium model, so don’t expect them to really be free.
However, they can be worth paying for if you are a marketer who needs to find leads and prospects, as you can often extract all email addresses associated with a business domain (e.g.: everyone with a tesla.com address.).
Comparison Table of Various Email Lookup Tools
|Best for||Really free?||Best Features||Pricing|
|QuickEmailVerification||Marketing and Sales||100 credits free daily upon signup, no credit card required||Bulk email verification, Real-time verification, GDPR compliant||$4/500 credits, $8/1,000 credits and so on. Monthly plans at US$25/500 daily credits|
|Snov.io||Marketing and sales||Not bad: 2 free months if you purchase yearly plans.|
Registered users get 100 verifications for free
|Validating long lists of email addresses. |
Export results in any format.
|Monthly price, based on number of checks|
|Sellhack||Marketing and sales||Sign up and get 10 credits a month for free (Browser extension)||Bulk email verification. |
|Monthly price, based on number of checks|
Basic: $19 Starter: $49
|Hunter.io||Marketing and sales||You can create a free account with 50 requests/month||Email verifier, |
|Monthly price, based on number of checks|
Starter: 49€ Growth: 99€
|TheChecker||Marketing and sales||100 free validations when you sign up||Flexible pricing, |
|1k emails: $4 10k emails: $19|
25k emails: $49
50k emails: $79
100k emails: $139
|MyEmailVerifier||Marketing and sales||100 free validations for signing up|
5K free credits for writing a review at G2Crowd
10K free credits for sharing a 1 min video testimonial
|Flexible pricing, |
|500 credits: $1.44|
1k credits: $2.88
2k credits: $5.04
5k credits: $12.6
10k credits: $21.6
20k credits: $43.2
50k credits: $60$
|NeverBounce||Marketing and sales||No||Email verification, |
Bulk email list cleaning
|Price per email up to 10k/$0.008|
|Been Verified||Background checks||No||Find work history, consult public legal documents||$22.86 a month|
|PeopleFinders||Background checks||No||Full reports (minus social media), |
|$25 per month|
|Universal Background Screening||Employee background check (US only)||No||US compliant||Need to contact for quote|
|Sterling Talent Solutions||Employee background check (US only)||No||Small business |
|Flat fee between $29.99 – $79.99 per check|
|Emailage||Risk analysis||Demo available after “discovery call”||Email Risk Score, machine learning||Starts at $499 per month|
|Arkowl||Risk analysis||No||Email Risk score, unlimited users||From $0,04 per query|
|SEON||Risk analysis||Free demo, free trial available||Chrome extension|
Integration with other fraud prevention tools, most in-depth check and widest range of information available
|Starts at |
Breaking down the Best Features for Marketers: Snovio.com
Snovio has all the features you might need for validating email addresses, and it’s blazing fast, delivering results under 1 minute. Like many other tools, it uses an SMTP-MX check to verify the deliverability of the address.
You get 100 verifications for free, after that it works with a credit system. You can use each credit on email drip campaigns, email finding or email validation. It costs $39 a month for 1,000 credits, $69 for 5,000 credits, $129 for 20,000 and $199 a month for 50K credits.
You can upload bulk addresses and export the results. CSV, XLSX or Google Sheet formats, and the customer service gets loads of praise from users. Definitely worth checking out for free.
- Great for: Chrome plugin, 100 free email validations, customer service
- Closest competitors: Sellhack, Hunter.io, Neverbounce, Zerobounce, Briteverify, Xverify…
Best Features for Background Checks: Been Verified
Been Verified will give you email verification, in some cases person’s name from LinkedIn, and limited to two linked social media accounts (Twitter and Linkedin). It is for US use only, and will trawl through legal documents to get info on criminal records and bankruptcy reports. Each search takes between 2 – 10 minutes.
Registering with Been Verified costs $22.86 a month, even if you only need one report.
- Great for: get info from public records, affordable compared to competitors
- Closest competitors: Instant Checkmate, PeopleFinders…
Best Features for Risk Analysis: SEON
For the sake of transparency, I should say that I work at SEON. Because it’s the tool I know the most, I will use it as an example to explain the features of our Reverse Email lookup features. And yes it’s entirely aimed at businesses who need to reduce fraud like online stores, iGaming operators or online banks.
A good email analysis tool should work in real- time, fast, and at scale. This is primordial when hundreds or thousands of emails must be checked at once. So at SEON, we worked really hard to ensure the results come under 1 second.
Flexibility is also important for fraud teams, so we allow companies to use our tool via API, with a dedicated GUI or via a Chrome plugin.
Finally, it’s easy to fully integrate it with our other tools like Phone Analysis, Device Fingerprinting and IP Analysis, to get a complete 360 view of customers.
We charge a price per request, and our most affordable package starts at €100 per month. Here’s an example of what the kind of reports you get for each address:
As you can imagine, each parameter lets you understand how risky a user is. For instance, we found that 76% of defaulting customers in the lending industry hadn’t registered their email with social media networks.
That kind of insight is what can really help you solve all your problems associated with bad users, from high chargeback rates to lost goods and a reduction in user trust.
- Great for: reducing fraud, flexibility of use, powerful integration with other fraud prevention tools
- Closest competitors: Arkowl, Emailage…
Final Overview of the Best Reverse Email Lookup Tools
|Check if the address is valid?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|New or old address?||No||No||Yes|
|User full name?||No||Yes||Yes|
|Connected to social media?||No||Twitter and Linkedin only||20+ platforms, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram|
|Domain related information (free, disposable, creation date etc.)?||No||No||Yes|
|Found in data breaches?||No||Yes||Yes|
|Legal records||No||Yes (US only)||No|
|Results speed||>1 minute||2-10 minutes||<1 second|
|Legal||Worldwide – GDPR compliant||US only||Worldwide – GDPR compliant|
Hopefully, this in-depth explanation of what email lookup tools are and why you should use them was helpful. At the very least, it should have cleared two misconceptions. First, free email lookup tools don’t really exist.
Second, you need to segment your search for the best tool depending on whether it’s for marketing, background checks or risk analysis as the features and target users are vastly different. Hope this helps your search for the ideal email lookup solution!
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Bence is the co-founder and COO of SEON whose vision is to create a safer online environment for merchants in high risk verticals.