To tip or not to tip: That is the question. As English students try and decipher Shakespeare plays from the 16th century, we’re faced with the very 21st century struggle of deciding who really needs a tip. Like, should you tip hair dressers? What about dog walkers? And do you tip Uber drivers? The answers are yes, yes, and yes.
When practically every store, restaurant, and coffee shop asks for gratuity through a digital screen, it can be difficult to determine if their iPads are giving you a polite demand or a pushy option. The gig economy adds an additional layer of complexity to this question. After all, peer-to-peer services like Uber and Lyft have created brand new industries that even lawmakers don’t know what to do with yet.
As ridesharing continues to shape how our world works, norms are being created, which means you don’t want to be left behind. In this article, we’ll go into detail about tipping expectations and methods to help you navigate your next Uber ride.
Rideshare Tipping Etiquette
Tipping is the standard across all rideshare services. Much like taxi drivers, Uber drivers and Lyft drivers are providing a service in which gratuity has a huge impact on their daily income. While tipping isn’t technically required by any ride-hailing service, there are several reasons why riders should feel obligated to tip, just like you would at your local hair salon or your favorite restaurant.
First, tipping rideshare drivers ensures that they’re earning a living wage. While the median income of Uber drivers — $13.70 before tip — may sustain some individuals, as it exceeds all state minimum wages, this is lower than America’s average living wage for families of four. Lyft drivers earn slightly more than that living wage, and expenses aren’t factored into drivers’ estimated income.
Another important point is that plenty of Uber drivers are working longer hours than traditional employees. Even if your driver isn’t a full-time contractor for the company, they’re likely working hard with a goal in mind. Whether they need an extra financial boost to pay their rent or complete their college degree, they’ll appreciate the tip.
Tipping your driver is not only to thank them for their service, it helps them live comfortably and reach their goals.
How Much Do You Tip Uber Drivers?
As with all tipping standards across the American service industry, 15% is generally an expected minimum. But you should consider bumping it up to 20% when you receive great service.
Think about what you look for in an Uber — cleanliness, safe driving, and friendly conversation or a polite lack thereof. If your bar is met (don’t be too picky), it’s great service. If your driver created a near-flawless experience or put in extra effort to help you with heavy bags, it’s not uncommon to provide up to a 30% tip. This same judgment can be used to determine how much to tip a Lyft driver.
Finally, tip amounts truly should be based on the level of service you received but any adjustments you make should generally fall into this 15%-30% range. Even if a driver’s service is subpar, your tip makes it possible for drivers to stay on the road. Even with a couple dollars, you’ll be contributing to everything from self-employment taxes to maintenance expenses, so they don’t come out of your driver’s relatively small paycheck.
Tipping on the Uber App
In the continuous, head-to-head battle between Lyft and Uber, Lyft is often seen as the leader in positive driver treatment. A large contribution to this perspective was the fact that in-app tipping was already a norm for Lyft when public scrutiny fell onto Uber. Inspired by their competitor, as well as legal issues surrounding drivers’ employment status, Uber developed their own tipping feature in 2017.
Tipping Uber drivers is now cashless and easier than ever. Whereas the company once largely focused on making the rideshare experience great for riders — stating that no one was obligated to tip — Uber app and email features are now built to encourage riders to tip and help Uber drivers make a solid living, or a fair amount of extra money from their side hustle.
At the end of your Uber ride, your app will automatically prompt you to give your driver a star rating and a tip. To make tipping convenient, Uber provides three tipping options — $1, $2, and $5 — though you will always have the option to type a custom amount. During this transaction, you’ll even have the chance to compliment your driver for the most memorable aspects of their good service.
Missed the prompt or forgot about tipping? Uber provides 30 days after your trip completion to tip. During this period, you’ll be prompted to tip and rate whenever you open the app. If you’re not receiving the prompt, you have two additional options.
Within the app, you can tap “Your Trips” on the sidebar to enter your tip via your trip history or receipt:
You can find another option within your emailed trip receipt. Click “Rate or Tip,” and it will open the app and take you directly to the appropriate screen:
Tipping Uber Drivers in Cash
Adding tips on the Uber app offers the convenience of automated debit or credit card payments, or transactions through your favorite digital payment systems — including Venmo, PayPal, and Google Pay — but you’re not required to take advantage of the platform. Cash tips are equally acceptable, and the face-to-face interaction may leave your driver with a good impression that boosts your star rating.
For riders who opt to tip in cash, tips are typically handed to the driver just before you exit the vehicle — a taxi ride custom carried over into the modern sharing economy. If you want to tip your driver sooner, we’re sure they won’t complain.
If you’re still struggling to uncover the best tipping method, rest assured that you don’t have to worry too much about gauging the benefits of one over another. Uber doesn’t take any cut of tips through the app, so drivers will be earning the same amount of cash regardless of the payment method you decide on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even when you know that you should tip your Uber driver, tipping in a relatively new industry can be confusing. We’ve answered a few frequently asked questions to help you out:
1. Do I need to tip when riding an Uber outside of the United States?
We recommend tipping your Uber driver in any country. While Uber rates vary based on local demand, the median income for drivers is unlikely to vary much in relation to the city’s cost of living. Plus, drivers across the world still have to pay expenses to maintain their own vehicle. Vehicle expenses aren’t covered by Uber.
Uber’s tipping feature should be available in the latest version of the Uber app regardless of country, but if it isn’t, we recommend having cash on hand to ensure you’re leaving a tip.
2. Will the amount I tip affect my star rating?
Your final tip amount shouldn’t affect your rating. While your driver may have an inkling of who has tipped them, Uber’s tipping policy allows riders to tip anytime in the next 30 days. While we definitely don’t recommend skipping out on a tip, it’s unlikely that your driver will sacrifice the possibility of receiving a later tip with an impatient action against a stranger.
3. If I experience bad service while riding in an Uber, is it okay to withhold a tip?
Bad rides can occur, but fully withholding a tip is not common. So how much do you tip Uber drivers when you have a bad ride? If service is truly bad — for example, if your ride was strewn with trash or your driver was rude to you — you can downgrade to a 10% tip. Since a tip is helping your driver make a living wage, a better course of action would be to report your issue to Uber, which can be done when you select your trip under the “Your Trips” tab.
Before you elect to lower your tip, we recommend considering whether the experience was actually your driver’s fault, or if it was an issue with Uber or your app.
Tip Like a Pro
Now that you have all you need to know about Uber tipping, it’s time to request your ride and top off the trip with the gratuity your driver deserves. Whether you’re in New York or Sri Lanka, helping your Uber driver make a living is always worth the extra bucks, especially for an affordable service that makes expensive taxi rides a thing of the past.