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The Alto Rideshare Pricing Model Explained In Detail

The Alto rideshare pricing system works differently from other rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. Let’s see how it compares to its competitors.

Key Takeaways

  • Rides include a base fare, service charge, and minimum price; rates vary for members and non-members.
  • Alto’s stable pricing contrasts with Uber and Lyft’s surge pricing; it’s pricier than standard rides but competitive with luxury options.
  • Alto offers monthly ($12.95) and annual ($119) subscription plans, higher than basic rideshare but cheaper than luxury services.
  • Subscribers get a 30% discount per ride and perks with partner brands.

How Much Do Alto Rides Cost?

Alto rides cost more than the cheapest rideshare options but less than the priciest.

The ridesharing service provides subscription-based membership packages. But if you prefer a different user model, you can order individual rides by paying a booking fee and the fare. You can also preschedule rides.

Still, the bulk of Alto’s high-end ridesharing business aims to attract riders who opt for the monthly membership.

What Are Alto Membership Options?

Alto offers riders a variety of different membership options, catered towards three different tiers of riders.

a screenshot of the alto membership options available to riders

The most popular subscription plan is the monthly $12.95 plan. If you choose the annual payment package, you save 24% and pay only $119 for 12 months.

The family plan is similarly priced, except you have to pay an extra $25 for each new member added to the subscription. To join this package, you must first complete the in-app user registration and email Alto support to add new members.

There’s also a 14-day free trial for new users. After joining, you can enjoy exclusive Alto discounts and rewards, including:

  • Full access to the Alto fleet and booking priority during peak hours
  • 30% discount on each ride
  • 10% off the WAYB Essentials Bundle
  • 50% off orders over $100 from Brightland

Several discounts are also available with partners like Hyde Closet, Pacaso, Wonder, CLEAR, and Dorsia.

How Does Alto Pricing Work?

The pricing for Alto rides consists of:

  • Base fare
  • Service charge
  • Minimum price

The base fare for all Alto rides varies depending on your membership. There’s also a surcharge of 18% on each ride, stemming from the W-2 employment status of Alto drivers.

Whichever city you reside in, there’s a minimum price of $14 for each ride, so if your ride costs less, you’ll have to bump the price up for the driver to pick you up.

A per-minute and per-mile fee is also counted into the overall price you must pay at the trip’s end.

To get an overall view of Alto’s complicated pricing system, here’s a breakdown of fees for a passenger in D.C:

Member Fees

  • Base fare: $5.50
  • Price per mile: $2.24
  • Price per minute: $0.49

Guest Fees

  • Base fare: $7
  • Price per mile: $2.69
  • Price per minute: $0.58

Prescheduled Ride Fees

  • Base fare: $6
  • Price per mile: $2.26
  • Price per minute: $0.58

Alto cancellation fees are $10, $12, and $13 for non-members/guest users, members, and prescheduled rides, respectively. There’s also a waiting charge of $0.6 per minute.

Note that there’s no need to tip Alto drivers, as they’re W-2 employees with employee benefits like health insurance, the charges for which are already a part of the fee you pay per ride.

If you want an estimate of a ride with Alto, you can use the free Fare Estimator on the official website.

How Does Alto Compare to Uber?

Alto prices for riders tend to be more consistent than those of Uber. For instance, features like price surging and other unpredictable charges don’t apply to Alto.

Like Alto, vehicles used for Uber Black are also held to rigorous standards and often include cars like the Audi A8, Hyundai’s Genesis G90 sedan, and the Maserati Quattroporte.

Alto remains the pricier option of the two, as the Uber One $9.99 subscription is cheaper than Alto’s plans.

Uber Black costs about 20%-40% more than UberX, but Alto’s average prices are still higher than both. If you’re on a tight budget but still want a black car service, Uber Black might be a better option.

The Uber Select costs between $13 and $16 for a 2.61-mile trip, while an Alto costs more.

Still, Alto rides cost less than the Uber SUV luxury service. The latter offers the same luxury you’d expect of an Alto ride but it’s more expensive.

How Does Alto Compare to Lyft?

The Lyft XL and Lyft Extra Comfort rides cost more on average than the Alto ridesharing service.

The Lyft Lux Black has a pricing comparable to that of most Alto rides, but the Lyft Lux Black XL is more expensive to book than the Alto.

You can’t keep a Lyft Lux Black and Lux Black XL waiting for more than 5 minutes, or else you’ll pay a cancellation fee. With Alto, the average wait time of about 11 minutes is more than anything obtainable on Lyft.

Like Uber, Lyft also has surge pricing, which is absent in Alto rides.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

Alto is seen as a more premium, consistent, and professional ride-hailing service compared to Uber and Lyft. While it is generally more expensive, users who value these aspects of the service find it worth the additional cost.

Specifically, riders I have talked to have indicated that they are happy to pay increased prices in exchange for booking consistent, high-quality rides in advance.

But, in their eyes, the pricing is not even that bad. During times that surge pricing is happening on Uber and Lyft, Alto’s pricing may be competitive.

In addition, the pricing covers the ability for the company to own their own cars.

These are usually clean, comfortable, and driven by salaried drivers – not 1099 contractors – which leads to a more consistent and professional experience when compared to traditional ridesharing companies.

Wrapping Up

Alto’s competitors operate a looser gig system for drivers looking to earn some money on the side. With Alto, it’s full employment with paid benefits and health insurance.

As a premium service provider, Alto appeals more to passengers who want an elevated ridesharing experience and don’t mind paying a little extra for it.

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