LastPass Is Seriously Nerfing Its Free Tier Starting Next Month

Illustration for article titled LastPass Is Seriously Nerfing Its Free Tier Starting Next Month
Photo: Leon Neal (Getty Images)

If you’re currently using LastPass’s free tier, I have some bad news. Starting March 16, you’ll only be able to use one type of gadget. To make matters worse, beginning May 17, free users will also lose e-mail support as well.

What the hell, LastPass?

The whole point of a password manager is to, well, manage your passwords across multiple devices and operating systems. But after March 16, free LastPass users will have to choose whether they want the password manager to work on their computers or mobile devices. If you choose computers, you’ll lose the ability to use LastPass on your phone, tablet, and smartwatch unless you cough up for LastPass Premium. If you choose mobile devices, you won’t be able to use LastPass on your laptops and desktops.

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“As a free user, your first login on or after March 16 will set your active device type,” reads LastPass’s blog announcing the change. “You’ll have three opportunities to switch your active device type to explore what’s right for you.”

As a kicker, free users will also lose the ability to receive customer support for technical issues over email beginning May 17. LastPass says they’ll still have access to its Support Center, which “has a robust library of self-help resources” and access to LastPass Community forums that are “actively monitored by LastPass specialists.” Basically, it’s an ultimatum to free users to either fix issues themselves or pay up.

LastPass Premium costs $3 a month and is billed annually, meaning you pay $36 upfront once a year. The more expensive family plan is $4 a month, or $48 annually. Until March 16, current free users can choose to upgrade to Premium for a discounted price of $2.25 per month or $27 annually.

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Unfortunately, it’s not unthinkable that LastPass is trying to squeeze a few extra dollars out of free users who may have gotten used to multi-device access. Google, Mozilla, and Apple all offer robust built-in password managers into Chrome, Firefox, and Safari for free. Many features that you might turn to a password manager for—like multi-user support or password sharing—often do require a subscription. Meanwhile, competitors like Dashlane and Keeper already limit access to a single device for free users.

One of the biggest strengths of LastPass was that you didn’t have to pay for a password manager that was just as capable as some paid alternatives. Given that many people are increasingly online during the pandemic, and with more than 10 million Americans unemployed, a free password manager is an invaluable tool. While it’s true that LastPass Premium is pretty affordable, the dire economic pressures triggered by the pandemic haven’t disappeared either. Arguably, if LastPass wanted to be generous, it could’ve grandfathered in existing free users while putting these restrictions on new users. Instead, it’s forcing users to pay for features they’ve previously enjoyed for free, at a time when they may not be able to afford any extra expense. That’s kind of a dick move.

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Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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DISCUSSION

I haven’t found any free password managers that work on multiple devices and it looks like LastPass is following suit. They’ve been slowly taking away features that were once free and putting them behind a paywall for a while. I think last year they put dark web monitoring behind a paywall. Luckily I transitioned everything to Google recently so I don’t have to find another password manager for the moment. I don’t need all the extra stuff they have behind the paywall. I just need to be able to access my passwords from all my devices. And I get that they have to make money but I’m just not the one to give it to them.