One big question that Uber drivers have is, “How can I boost my tips?” Even though passengers have the option to tip drivers within the app (a feature that Uber added after drivers demanded it), few of them do. Indeed, few even bother to rate the ride.
This can cause problems for you as an Uber driver, as earning tips is key to taking rideshare driving from a part-time gig to a profitable full-time one. The main secret to earning tips is to provide outstanding service. This has always been the case in any service profession, and no amount of technology will change that.
However, there are other things you can do to boost your tips. One of those things is to add a tip box or jar to your car. When you combine it with a sign promoting tips and the right amenities, the result can be an increase in tips. In this guide, we’ll look at what Uber tip boxes are, why you should use them, and review some of the top tip boxes on the market.
- What Is an Uber Tip Box?
- Do You Need an Uber Tip Box?
- 3 Uber Tip Boxes to Consider (Plus a Bonus Accessory to Boost Tips)
- Uber Tip Box FAQ
If you’ve ever been to a coffee shop with a tip jar on the counter, then you’ve seen the concept behind an Uber tip box in action. While tip jars are common in coffee shops, restaurants, and other service establishments, they don’t tend to work as well in cars. Glass jars can break, plastic jars are flimsy, and both are difficult to secure to your car’s interior.
A box, on the other hand, can be attached to your car using Velcro straps, zip ties, or whatever other method you can devise. As long as you make sure the box is super secure (with a lock or other fastening mechanism), you can place it within reach of your passengers and (hopefully) use it to collect cash tips.
Beyond those basics, the details vary considerably. We’ll look at some tip box models and ideas in a little bit, but first, let’s examine why you’d want to have a tip box at all.
Quite possibly, the answer is “No.” Uber tip boxes were quite popular back in the days when Uber didn’t give riders an option to tip within the app. Now that tipping is available in the Uber app, having a box for customers to deposit cash may be overkill. It could be sufficient just to have a sign encouraging customers to rate your ride and leave a tip if they had excellent service.
On the other hand, tip boxes can be a big plus if they include amenities for passengers. For instance, many tip boxes come with built-in phone chargers. Passengers always appreciate this amenity, especially if they’ve been out all night and have drained their battery snapping Instagram pics and texting friends.
A cleverly designed tip box can also serve as a conversation starter. Establishing rapport with a passenger is key to getting them to like you and trust you. If you can get both of these things to happen, then your chances of getting a tip go up immensely. But you can’t build that connection unless you have a way to break the ice and get a conversation going. A tip box could be the link you and your passenger need.
Ultimately, a tip box can’t hurt you. It’s not as necessary as it was in the days before in-app tipping, but it can still have additional benefits beyond leaving a place for passengers to put a few dollars of appreciation.
Now that you understand what tip boxes are and why you should consider getting one, let’s look at three of the top tip boxes on the market. All will make effective tip jars, but some will be better for specific situations.
Our first option is the most basic (short of taping a plastic cup to the back of one of your seats). It’s also the most affordable, at just over $10. The first thing we like about this tip box is that it comes with a lock. This will keep passengers with sticky fingers from prying any of your tips out.
The main disadvantage of this Uber tip box is that it doesn’t come with a way to secure it to your car interior. You’ll have to get creative with this. One option would be to drill holes in the back of the box and then attach it to the back of a headrest using zip ties.
You’ll have to be careful in doing this, as you don’t want to crack the plastic or render your front passenger seat uncomfortable or unsafe. Still, it works if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind using a MacGyver type of solution. We also recommend decorating the box, as it’s kind of bland in its default form.
This next Uber tip box isn’t a box at all. It’s an actual Uber tip jar, and it’s quite stylish. This tip jar is made of glass and is filled with blue LED lights to illuminate it (you can also set the lights to white or pink if you prefer). You’ll find the phrase, “Thank you!” printed on the jar within a heart shape. A metal lid fits on top of the jar and has a slot for passengers to deposit cash.
While certainly more stylish than our previous tip jar option, the extra style comes at a higher price tag of $29.99. Along with the increased price, there are also some design issues. The main problem is that you have to figure out how to attach the jar to your car.
The cup manufacturers suggest placing it in a cup holder near the passenger seats or using heavy Velcro to attach it to the center console. You could also use zip ties, chains, or even long Velcro straps to keep the jar in place on the back of the headrest. This does mean more set up work for you, however, time that you might better spend picking up more rides.
There’s also the issue of the lid, which doesn’t lock in any way. While it’s unlikely, a passenger could unscrew the lid and walk away with all the cash as they exit the vehicle. We’re not sure of a way to overcome this problem, except for physically offering the jar to the passenger at the end of the ride (though this could make it possible for them to snatch it out of your hands).
Designed by Uber driver Carlos Cruz, this one of the fanciest tip boxes on the market. Not only does it include a box for tips, but it also includes a compartment for free candy, gum, mints, or whatever other incentives you want to have available for passengers.
Additionally, there’s even a built-in braided charging cable with iPhone, Android, and USB C phone chargers. Finally, the tip box contains LED lights to make it stand out at night, a lock to keep your tips safe, and a strap to attach it to your car’s center console
This is not your average tip box, and the price reflects that. At $95 (plus $15 shipping), it costs more than you might make in a typical night of driving. Is it worth the price? Reviews are mixed.
Many Amazon reviewers remark that it’s a superb product and an investment worth making for serious rideshare drivers. Others, however, complained that the clear plastic portion of the box was not a high-quality material or that they had trouble fitting the box in their specific vehicle (minivans, in particular, seemed to have trouble).
We think that having a tip jar like this could help contribute to an exceptional ride experience for passengers due to its built-in amenities. On the other hand, you can provide phone chargers and candy to riders without having to spend $95 on a box to hold them.
Honorable Mention: Tipdash
We couldn’t review Uber tip boxes without mentioning a popular option called Tipdash. It’s similar in many ways to the Carlos Cruz, except that it’s made of black acrylic and has a message printed on it that says, “Tips not required but greatly appreciated. Thank you.” It attaches to the center console, and it has an optional 3-in-1 charging cable and LED light with a remote control.
While it’s a good option for drivers (costing only $39 for the box itself or $59 for the version including the accessories), we can’t currently recommend it. This is because it’s out of stock on the Tipdash website. We hope that Tipdash resolves this issue soon, as it’s an excellent option (and the fact that it’s out of stock suggests that supply couldn’t keep up with demand).
Even if you don’t want to invest in a tip box, adding a tip sign to your car can be a good way to make passengers aware of tipping. While Uber has added a tip option to their app, they haven’t gone to a lot of trouble to make it obvious to passengers.
To even see the tipping screen, a rider first has to rate the Uber ride. This doesn’t happen too often, so it’s in your best interest to encourage passengers to at least leave a rating. If you can get them to this point, then they’ll be able to see the tipping screen.
There are lots of tipping signs on the market. If you’re looking for a premade option, we recommend this sign (it’s pictured above). It covers the basics, is made of durable laminated material, and is easy to hang on the back of the driver’s seat.
If you’re of a crafty persuasion, then you can feel free to make your own sign. Express your personality and even use some humor if you can. Just be sure that it’s legible and easily visible to someone sitting in the back seat of your car.
You can feel free to combine a tip sign with a tip box or jar, but we think that having the tip sign is the bare minimum if you want to make some extra cash on your next Uber ride.
To wrap things up, let’s answer some common questions about using an Uber tip box.
Will adding a tip box or sign lower my ratings?
It’s understandable to wonder this. Adding a box or sign related to tips could come across as pushy or needy to some passengers. Overall, however, these additions don’t lead to lower ratings in our experience.
What’s key to understand, however, is that you need to provide five-star, tip-worthy service in order to make it worth having signs or tip boxes. If you have these but are a mediocre driver, it could lower your ratings (though the poor customer experience you deliver is just as much to blame).
What are alternatives to having a tip box?
A tip box is just a way to encourage passengers to tip. To that end, there are many other ways you can get people to leave you higher tips (so long as they’re aware that they can tip you to begin with).
The key is to go the extra mile for your passengers. This foremost comes in the form of being courteous, polite, and attentive. Ask your passenger if you can do anything to make their ride more comfortable (adjust heat or AC, pick a particular radio station, etc.). If they want to talk, chat with them. If they’d rather not talk, don’t force it. Clarify where they want to be dropped off (sometimes the GPS location isn’t the best or safest place to let the passenger out).
The other side of going the extra mile is to provide amenities. We’ve already discussed some, including phone chargers, candy, gum, or mints. But you can also provide bottled water or even snacks (though be prepared for crumbs in your car).
If you really want to go all out, you can get a 4G WiFi hotspot that will allow passengers to stream video or audio without having to burn through cell phone data. Having the expensive WiFi gadget necessary for this is probably not worth the cost, though it could be a good investment if you’re driving for UberBLACK and want to boost your already high tips.
Is there a risk of my tip box getting stolen?
Yes, this is a risk. While most passengers are honest, it only takes one dishonest one to steal all the cash you worked hard to earn. To prevent this, we recommend securing the box with a lock or chain, as well as choosing one that isn’t easy to open.
Remember: Most theft is opportunistic. If you put even a couple barriers in the way of a would-be thief, you won’t have to worry as much. You can also periodically stop to empty the tip box if the amounts start to get large. This is because it’s not worth the effort to steal a few dollars for most passengers, but a couple hundred dollars might be.
Just make sure to leave a few dollars behind, as this makes it look like people have already tipped you. This is called “salting the tip jar” in the hospitality industry, and it leverages a principle of human psychology known as social proof.
People look to the actions of others to help them decide what to do, and having a few tips already in the jar will help nudge passengers towards putting in some money. They don’t need to know that you put the dollars in yourself.
Does Uber allow cash tips?
Yes, cash tips are in line with Uber’s policies. The key is to never demand tips or lead passengers to believe they’re required. Uber goes to great pains on their website to tell passengers that tips are optional.
As long as you don’t mislead passengers to believing the contrary, you’re welcome to use any of the tactics we discussed in this article. You’re an independent contractor, and you should treat your rideshare gig like a small business. From a small business perspective, everything we’ve discussed is a form of marketing, an investment that can pay off.
Use a Tip Box to Boost Tips and Complement Great Service
We hope this guide has shown you all that’s possible with Uber tip boxes. While we’ve been talking about Uber, all the advice in this post could also apply to Lyft drivers (though having a Lyft tip box isn’t as necessary since Lyft makes tipping more prominent to passengers in their app).
If you’re shopping for rideshare accessories, we also recommend investing in a dashcam. Check out our guide to the best dash cams for rideshare drivers to learn more. We also suggest these guides to learn more about other driving income opportunities: