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We live in an increasingly cashless world. The advent of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin signals that the economy is relying less and less on hard currency and more on digital payments.
However, some people still prefer to use cash. Whether its due to an unwillingness to give companies your personal information, a distrust of credit card companies or just your senior citizen family member who doesn’t have an online bank account, you may be wondering if you can use cash to pay for today’s wide range of rideshare and delivery services.
In this guide, we’ll look at what cash payment options (if any) exist for the following popular rideshare and food delivery apps:
To skip to a particular section, click the links above.
Let’s start with Uber, the company whose name has become so synonymous with rideshare services that people use it as a verb. Uber was designed from its beginnings to be a cashless experience. This simplifies the issues that can arise in cash transactions such as making change or riders not having enough cash.
Current options for the default payment method include a linked credit card, debit card, PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay. Under normal circumstances, you cannot pay cash for your Uber ride.
There are certain markets with a cash payment option, however. Notably, Uber now offers a cash option to riders in India. To enable this option, select CASH as your payment option within the Uber app.
Regardless of the market, you are welcome to leave your Uber driver a cash tip instead of tipping from within the app.
To get a discount on your first Uber ride, use the promo code TRYNOW when you sign up for Uber (only available to new riders).
Just like Uber, Lyft is a cashless experience. You cannot pay for any Lyft rides with cash, regardless of the market (Lyft is currently available in major cities in the United States and select cities in Canada). Current payment options for Lyft include major credit cards (like American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover), debit cards tied to checking accounts and prepaid cards. You can also use PayPal, Apple Pay and Android Pay.
For the same reasons as Uber, Lyft has designed their app to take cash out of the payment process. This is how they distinguish themselves from taxi companies, ensuring that Lyft drivers don’t have to handle cash for any ride payments.
As with Uber, however, you can still leave a cash tip if you like (or tip from within the app). Tipping of any kind is a nice gesture, especially since Lyft drivers (and all other drivers discussed in this guide) are independent contractors for whom every extra dollar counts.
While you can’t pay for Lyft with cash, there are ways to offset the ride cost. Sign up using the code RIDESTERLYFT to get $50 in ride credit.
Moving on from the world of rideshare and taxi drivers, we come to the exciting new area of food and grocery delivery apps. Up first, we have Postmates, a delivery service that can deliver practically anything to your current location from local stores. Generally, this means groceries or restaurant delivery, but it can also include alcohol, gifts or household items in certain markets.
But can you pay for your deliveries with cash? Unfortunately, no. Postmates works as a cashless experience. All delivery fees and service fees are paid using the card you have on file with the app. While this isn’t ideal for every person, we think it’s worth it for the convenience the app offers.
You can tip your delivery driver in cash if you like, however. Tips are not required, but we recommend giving at least a small tip amount if you received excellent customer service and prompt delivery. You can also leave a tip within the Postmates app. It’s a favor that your Postmates driver will appreciate.
Looking for a way to get free delivery (or at least offset your delivery charge)? Sign up for Postmates and use the promo code 6AAMA to get $10 in Postmates delivery credit.
Next up, we have DoorDash. DoorDash is an app that offers on-demand delivery from your favorite restaurants. You open the app, browse the restaurant’s menu and then make your selections.
A DoorDash driver then delivers the food to you in person, all while allowing you to track the progress of your order in real time. In exchange for this convenience, DoorDash charges a delivery fee as well as an extra service charge during peak delivery times.
DoorDash works as a cashless experience. You can pay for DoorDash orders using a linked credit or debit card. The only part of the process for which you can use cash is tipping (though you can also tip using the DoorDash app if you prefer).
As with all the services in this guide, tipping is optional, but we encourage you to leave a tip if you received great service. Food delivery drivers work in hectic, sometimes dangerous conditions to pick up orders and deliver them on time, so a bit of extra cash is appreciated.
If you’re a new customer who would like to receive a discount on your first DoorDash delivery, check out our guide to DoorDash promo codes.
Grubhub is another app that lets you order delivery from popular restaurants at the tap of a few buttons on your mobile phone (you can also order food online at Grubhub.com). But does Grubhub take cash?
Grubhub is the only app on this list that accepts cash as payment. If you’re concerned about typing your credit card information into an app, Grubhub could be the food delivery app for you. The app also accepts Apple Pay, Android Pay, PayPal, eGift, debit cards and credit cards. Your Grubhub delivery person also appreciates cash tips, though you can tip through the app as well.
Last on our list, we have grocery delivery service Instacart. Instacart gives you the convenience of a personal shopper without the high price. Using the Instacart website or app, you browse a list of the grocery store’s items and select what you want. Your Instacart shopper then goes to the store, gathers the items and delivers them to your door.
As convenient as Instacart is, it doesn’t allow you to pay with cash. You can pay using a credit or debit card linked to your Instacart account. But you can tip your Instacart shopper in cash when they deliver your order (or add a tip when you check out, whichever you prefer).
With most of the apps in this article, the bottom line is that you can’t pay with cash. The technology that makes these apps so convenient doesn’t permit it. For most users, the cashless experience is a bonus feature of the apps, not a defect. If you want to pay with cash, then your best option is to stick with the traditional versions of the services in this article: taxis and restaurant delivery over the phone.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.