TPG readers are questioning Lyft Pink discounts. Here’s what we know so far.

Feb 15, 2020

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Some TPG readers are reporting that Lyft has started raising base prices for Lyft Pink members, essentially eliminating any benefit from the 15% discount on rides.

Lyft Pink is a loyalty membership offered by the ride-hailing company. Members pay $19.99 per month to receive 15% off all personal rides. They also get additional surprise offers and upgrades, three complimentary bike and scooter rides per month, priority airport pickups, three free cancellations per month (terms apply), waived lost-and-found fees and exclusive partner benefits.

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For many who find themselves in the back of a Lyft often, Lyft Pink is theoretically a valuable membership — especially since Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders now get a complimentary membership as part of recent card updates.

Lyft mobile ordering
Multiple TPG readers have reported pricing discrepancies between the base fares on regular Lyft and Lyft Pink rides. (Photo by d3sign/Getty Images)

However, if the largest perk of the membership — 15% off personal rides — isn’t actually a discount when you get the final, out-the-door price, that greatly reduces the value of Lyft Pink as a whole. It’s certainly not a good look for Lyft.

We received a tip from TPG reader that said the following:

“I want to bring to your attention an issue I discovered with Lyft Pink. As a Chase Sapphire reserve member, I redeemed my free membership. My husband and I were looking to book a car to the airport and entered the ride on both of our apps. I have Lyft Pink, and he does not. We realized that we were getting almost exactly the same fare, maybe a few cents off. This was due to the “base fare” (before savings) being higher on my app than his. We tested this out a few times and came to the conclusion that the base fares for Lyft Pink members are higher, and therefore the “15% discount” is essentially meaningless.”

A spokesperson for Lyft tells TPG that, “Lyft does not alter the undiscounted upfront price for any riders based on their membership or ride pass. Full stop.”

I reached out to members of the TPG Lounge Facebook group to see what other people were experiencing and received mixed responses.

One reader claimed her husband (who has Pink) regularly has higher base prices than she does (without Pink) for the same trip at the same time. She isn’t the only one. TPG reader Gregorio was kind enough to send over screenshots of a test he did with his sister of the same route at the same time:

In this case, Lyft priced the Lyft Pink base ride higher and after the discount, the costs of the rides ended up within 45 cents of each other, rendering the discount useless.

However, there were also plenty of TPG Facebookers who haven’t seen discrepancies when comparing the base prices of Lyft Pink and non-Pink side-by-side. One TPG Lounge member said, “I didn’t do before-and-after screenshots, but I just booked a Lyft ride and I hadn’t activated Pink yet. It was originally approximately the $28.80 shown but $24.48 when I booked a minute later after activating Pink.”

Another Lounge member and Lyft Pink user who frequently uses Lyft services in major cities in California said that they’ve consistently found that their rides are cheaper than those of friends and family members who do not have the subscription.

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I decided to check for myself. Although I plan to upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve in the coming weeks, I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for the time being. My friend Patrick, on the other hand, has the Sapphire Reserve and an activated Lyft Pink membership. We put in the same grocery store location as the pickup spot and had it route us to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT). Here are the results:

Note that the base prices are the same for both of us, although I have a 25% promo applied to my account right now and that affected the final discounted price. Nonetheless, the base price for both rides was $22.53.

Related reading: How to maximize points and miles through Lyft partnerships

I then asked two other friends to run the same route. Neither of them had any current promos available nor did they have Lyft Pink memberships. There was a slight difference in their base fares compared to the price that Patrick and I got, but it was only about 10 cents. That could easily be due to a small time delay between the first request (from me and Patrick) and the second (from my two other friends).

The Lyft spokesperson tells TPG that, “There are a few instances where riders may see slightly different prices for the same trip, and the reasons are completely independent from their Lyft Pink membership or Ride Pass status,” and cited the following reasons for price discrepancies:

    • Rides requested at different times: Our service levels are always changing and pricing is dynamic based upon how busy it is at any given time. If rides are requested even seconds apart, they may have different base fares.
    • Rides to or from (even slightly) different locations: Different locations have different rates, calculated based on time and distance. If either location is slightly different, that may lead to a discrepancy.

Bottom line

There are mixed reports on whether or not Lyft Pink is charging higher base prices before applying its 15% discount. While it’s far from a nationwide pattern, as many are reporting no issues whatsoever, there are enough responses from TPG readers to make this an issue worth looking into.

Of course, rides on platforms like Lyft and Uber are dynamically priced based on a wide variety of factors, so it’s not abnormal for two different people riding the same route at the same general time of day to get different ride estimates. But it’s certainly not a good that multiple customers are experiencing increased base fares when Lyft Pink is touting a 15% discount.

In my mind, this isn’t enough confirmation to warrant switching loyalties if you’re currently a happy Lyft passenger — especially if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve and are able to stack Lyft rewards. But it does call into question the actual value of Lyft Pink. If non-members are able to get a consistent stream of promos such as my current 25% off rides, a 15% discount with Lyft Pink may not save you any money.

Related reading: Why I no longer use services like Lyft and Uber

Whether you’re a fan of Lyft or would rather use Uber or another ride-hailing service, this is a good reminder to always compare prices. Have all potential apps downloaded and check prices on each before confirming a ride. In the age of dynamic pricing and intense competition in the travel, transportation and credit card markets, it doesn’t make sense to be blindly loyal to any particular company — especially if a premium membership isn’t providing value.

This post has been updated with a statement from Lyft. 

Featured image by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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