Delivery apps make our lives a whole lot easier, but when it comes time to leave a tip, calculating the right tip amount can be tough.
Suggested tips can vary widely depending on what you’re ordering, what platform you’re on, and what occurs in the delivery process.
So how much should you tip a delivery driver when everything goes well, and when things go wrong?
In this article, we’ll answer this question by taking a deep dive into tipping etiquette for modern delivery apps that connect you to drivers who are independent contractors, rather than full-time or part-time employees.
Think gig economy platforms like Uber Eats, Instacart, and Grubhub, which are transforming delivery — and, in some ways, tips — as we know it.
Keep reading as we explain what standard gratuity is and when it’s okay (and expected) to tip more or less, so you can become the fairest tipper in your market.
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How Much Should You Tip a Delivery Driver?
Your driver tip is an essential part of a contractor’s income.
Because delivery drivers for modern apps are often classified as self-employed, they’re responsible for all their own expenses, sometimes while just making or making under their local minimum hourly wage before gratuity.
Due to this, standard tipping etiquette calls for you to tip at least 15% — just as you would a traditional pizza delivery driver, a restaurant server, or even a Lyft or Uber driver.
However, depending on what you’re ordering, your base tip may look a little different.
Here’s how much you should tip a delivery driver based on their role.
Food Delivery Drivers
Whether you’re ordering DoorDash, Uber Eats, or another food delivery service, tipping etiquette usually falls right in line with the standard 15%.
However, this is really only the standard for small orders — those that are easy to pick up and drop off.
If you request a large order, such as a catering order or a request that involves more than two bags, we recommend a base tip of 18-20% to ensure your driver is well-compensated for their efforts.
Follow the same tipping etiquette even if you request a contactless drop-off.
Just because you don’t see your delivery driver doesn’t mean the effort wasn’t the same.
Grocery Delivery Drivers
When you save yourself a trip to the grocery store by using Instacart or Shipt, you’ll commonly need to bump up your base tip to 20%.
Grocery delivery orders are usually larger — often significantly so — than those on food delivery apps, which means the service itself naturally requires extra effort.
Beyond the size of your order, you may also want to tip more because your driver gives you far more of their time, since they spend time shopping for your requested products themselves.
While it’s arguable that this time is included in their pay, grocery delivery drivers also often have to provide more service than any other type of delivery driver.
They’re trained to reach out to you when at a variety of touchpoints — for example, when they’re on their way or when an item is out of stock — as well as pick out the freshest produce possible.
This special service definitely deserves a little extra added to your base tip, though 15% is still fine if you place a small order that doesn’t require much communication.
Though tips aren’t expected for traditional courier services, package and mail delivery services are rising in the gig economy.
When you choose these alternative courier services, a 15% tip is still a great rule of thumb — especially if all you’re delivering is a single envelope or small box.
However, if you’re delivering a heavy package or a number of packages at once, you’ll want to tip at least 18-20%, depending on the exact size, weight, and volume.
Only the person requesting the courier service will need to tip, so if you’re on the receiving end of a package, don’t feel obligated to grab your wallet, though your delivery driver will certainly appreciate an extra dollar or two.
On apps like TaskRabbit, you may request services from a driver who’s helping with multiple tasks, including package delivery, in-store pick-ups, dry cleaning pick-ups, and more.
In these cases, you typically won’t have to worry about tipping more just because your driver is going to several locations. Their pay should compensate for their time, so 15% will do.
However, you should once again take into account the effort your driver needs to put in.
Start with a higher base tip if you expect a lot of lifting or other forms of strong effort.
When to Tip More
The suggested tips we listed above should only be considered a base tip.
If your driver goes above and beyond the basic requirements for completing the job, turning good service into great service, it’s custom to leave a higher tip amount.
We already touched on how large, heavy requests can warrant a higher base tip, but there are more situations where extra effort may warrant even higher tips.
For example, if your delivery driver had to climb several flights of stairs to get to you, make sure to thank them for their effort by tipping at least 5% higher.
Exceptional customer service definitely warrants a higher tip, too.
If your delivery driver makes your day with their positive attitude, communicates with you at each stage of the delivery process, or otherwise makes sure you have the best experience possible, again make sure to increase their tip by at least 5%.
When to Tip Less
No matter how much you love a delivery app, there are still two situations that may arise that warrant a reduced tip.
For the most part, poor service is the only reason that you’ll ever tip less than standard gratuity.
Examples of poor service that may warrant a reduced tip include:
- A delivery to the wrong location, despite clear instructions
- A bad attitude
- Rude statements or gestures
- Incorrect grocery items or number of packages delivered
In these scenarios, it’s perfectly fine to tip 10% instead of the standard 15%.
This is a standard reduction for showing that you’re unhappy with a service.
We typically don’t recommend forgoing the tip altogether, because independent contractors often depend on tips to support their families and sometimes even to make minimum wage.
However, if poor service escalates to the point of harassment or other major issues, feel free to opt out of tipping and report the situation on your app.
Keep in mind that delivery drivers should not be penalized for poor service that occurs due to bad weather, traffic, or other situations beyond their control.
Another situation in which you may tip your delivery person less is if they actually damage your purchase.
For example, if they spilled your food in their car or broke a fragile item by tossing it on your doorstep, you may tip less or nothing at all, depending on the extent of the damages.
In most of these cases, you should be able to further report the situation to the company your driver is contracted by and receive a discount.
Again, avoid reducing your tip amount unless you’re confident that your driver was at fault.
For example, if your Uber Eats driver delivers melted ice cream, despite placing it in a cooler bag, they likely put in their best effort to keep your items cool and don’t deserve a reduced tip.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answer to our initial question — “How much should you tip a delivery driver?” — can vary between situations, but once you have basic tipping etiquette down, calculating the right gratuity isn’t so hard.
Here are a few frequently asked questions to help you navigate tipping during your next delivery service request:
1. Can I tip my delivery driver in cash?
Although most delivery apps are designed for you to pay and tip in-app with your credit card, there’s nothing stopping you from tipping your driver in cash.
Some drivers may actually prefer cash tips, since they’re able to spend it right away, instead of waiting for their payments to process.
When tipping in cash, the same tipping etiquette applies, though you may want to round up to avoid both undertipping and tipping with coins, which can be inconvenient.
2. Does tipping etiquette change if my order was delivered on bike or on foot?
No, the same etiquette applies for on-foot and on-bike delivery services.
Most, if not all apps match their contractors with delivery orders based on what they can safely handle, so you won’t have to worry about leaving a larger base tip for a biker who had to handle an extra large order.
3. Do I need to tip if a delivery fee was included with my order?
Yes. Delivery charges, service fees, and similar costs should be expected on top of your tip.
These fees do not go directly to your driver and some actually go straight to the delivery company you ordered from.
Your driver tip is the only portion of your payment that goes 100% to the delivery partner you’re matched with.
4. Do I need to tip my Amazon driver?
Amazon, which does use contracted drivers for many of its services, is a unique delivery platform where tips are only sometimes accepted.
If you can tip, you can see the option after your delivery (usually for Amazon Prime orders).
However, you don’t need to feel obligated to leave a tip on this platform.
Amazon drivers are paid significantly more than most contractors for gig economy apps and tipping for Amazon services isn’t custom.
However, if your delivery driver took extra care to hide your package in a secure place, feel free to give them any tip amount desired.
Tip Drivers What They Deserve
Whether you tip at checkout or after your delivery, making sure you leave the fairest tip possible is a must when you’re requesting a delivery service.
Modern delivery platforms, ranging from the Uber Eats app to the courier platforms like GoShare, all employ contractors who depend on your tips to make a living.
When you’re using gig economy apps to request rideshare services instead of delivery, tipping etiquette doesn’t change too much.
Read more about Uber tipping expectations to ensure you leave the right gratuity amount for your Uber driver.