Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Lyft announced a new loyalty program on Monday, in which riders accumulate points that can be exchanged for trip upgrades or access to more experienced drivers. The rewards program, which launches next month, is further evidence of Lyft’s effort to introduce new products ahead of a planned IPO in 2019.

Details about Lyft’s rewards program were scant (a spokesperson said further information would be released at launch in December), but based on the company’s blog post, the rewards program won’t be available to everyone who uses Lyft at first. Riders in select cities will be invited to participate via email. They earn “points” based on the amount of money they spend with Lyft, which can be exchanged for “rewards,” such as upgrades to Lyft Lux, savings on future rides, and access to more-experienced drivers. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see.

Loyalty programs are widely used in the airline industry where a handful of carriers compete intensely for a finite group of passengers. It was only a matter of time before the idea migrated over to ride-hailing, which is dominated by Uber and, to a lesser degree, Lyft. Both companies are planning on going public next year, and in the run-up, they’ve been introducing a flurry of new products that are designed to keep both riders and drivers locked in their respective ecosystems.

A few weeks ago, Lyft introduced a subscription service. Uber released its own a few days later. Uber also unveiled a rewards program for drivers. Will Lyft respond? It’s a good bet that it will.

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