Is Lyft's New Monthly Subscription Plan a Good Value?

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Lyft has shown it will explore any avenue it can to distinguish itself from rival ride share company Uber, from adorning its cars with giant pink mustaches to putting Jordan Peele and Tilda Swinton in space . Now Lyft is offering a monthly subscription plan called All-Access aimed at riders willing to pay upfront for a guaranteed amount of free rides. But the terms and conditions of the plan mean you might actually lose money signing up, depending on your habits, so it's important to know the ins and outs of Lyft's new subscription plan before hopping on board.

The Netflix of ride-sharing has arrived

For Lyft, the nationwide rollout of its All-Access Plan represents a significant step forward toward its goal of making personal ownership of a vehicle an option instead of a necessity. "Where I see this going is instead of getting keys for a 16th birthday...you get a Lyft subscription, and it provides you with your transportation freedom at a cost much lower than car ownership," Lyft president and co-founder John Zimmer told the Wall Street Journal in August. The company tested the Lyft All-Access Plan in select markets, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, earlier this year, and now feels confident the ready for the national stage.

Details of the Lyft All-Access Plan

For a monthly fee of $299, you get your first 30 rides for free—so long as the value of each ride doesn't exceed $15. If you go over the $15 limit, you have to pay the difference for that ride (if it costs $20 to get you from your house to the gym, for example, you're on the hook for $5). The All-Access Plan only applies for car trips (sorry scooter and bike aficionados), and you can cancel the plan at any time—just be aware you won't be refunded for any trips you haven't used yet that month. Also any tips you leave the driver come at your own cost, and you can't pay with Apple Pay, Google Pay or a prepaid card.

Lyft's also offering a limited-time 5% off on any rides beyond your first 30, though there's no word on how long that discount will last.

How the Lyft monthly subscription plan math work out?

A Lyft ride's cost depends on several factors, including the time of day, how many drivers are currently available, and whether there are local fees and surcharges. To figure out if the Lyft All-Access Plan is a good deal for you, you need to be honest about how you use Lyft and apply some basic math (but don't worry, we'll do the math part for you). At $299 a month for what amounts to 30 rides valued at $15, that means you're getting a $450 value ($15 multiplied by 30) for $299. If you take 30 rides each month that ordinarily cost $15, that means you save $151, which makes choosing the All-Access a no-brainer.

But your actual Lyft habits are probably more complicated than 30 rides a month totaling exactly $15. If you're taking frequent trips that, without the All-Access Plan, only add up to $2 each, you're leaving money on the table and overpaying. You can find the exact inflection point of when the All-Access deal starts costing you money by taking $299 and dividing it by 30:

299 ÷ 30 = 9.96

If the cost of your rides usually total less than $9.96, then you're actually losing money by paying for Lyft subscription plan. For example, if your commute from the home to the office consistently costs around $7, then 30 rides would total $210—less than the $299 you pay for the plan.

For that reason, Lyft's new plan makes the most sense for riders who take regular, habitual trips (like to and from work) that cost between around $10 and $15. The easiest way to estimate how much your ride costs is to plug in your location and destination to Lyft's app (or online with its fare estimator ) to see the Lyft All-Access Plan is a smart choice.

This article, " Is Lyft's New Monthly Subscription Plan a Good Value? " was originally published on ValuePenguin .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Personal Finance , Saving Money , Travel and Lifestyle

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