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Have you ever gotten out of an Uber and thought to yourself, “do you tip Uber drivers?” or “what is the proper Uber tipping etiquette?”
Well, you’re not alone. I’ve thought the same thing multiple times over my course as both Uber driver and passenger. I’ve given and taken thousands of rides over the years, and have an intimate knowledge of this topic.
Today I am here to reveal four things:
- Why you should absolutely tip your Uber driver on every trip.
- How much you should tip.
- The different methods you can use to tip.
- What your driver expects once the ride ends.
So without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Quick Post Navigation:
- Do You Tip Uber Drivers?
- Does Tipping Affect Ratings?
- More Reasons To Tip
Do You Tip Uber Drivers?
Yes. Riders should leave a tip after every Uber ride they take.
From a driver’s perspective, it takes a lot of money to keep your car running, and there are quite a few hidden fees involved that passengers don’t realize.
From a rider’s perspective, taking an Uber ride is pretty cheap overall, and definitely less than a taxi in most cases.
Even if it’s just a dollar or two, every little bit adds up. The simple gesture of a tip is oftentimes also enough to make a driver appreciate the ride and rate you higher.
|Should you tip?||Yes|
|How much?||10-20% of the total fare. Usually $1-2 on short rides, $5-10 on long rides|
|Cash or in-app?||Either is fine|
How Much Do Drivers Make On Tips?
Drivers only make as much as riders are willing to tip them. However, getting tipped, no matter how much or little, is a driver’s favorite part of the ride. This is because drivers have many expenses that riders might not expect. Typically driver expenses include gas, vehicle maintenance, and taxes (because they are contracted workers), insurance and mobile data plans.
I could write an entire article on this topic alone, so just watch the video below to learn more about Uber tipping, as explained by one of our favorite rideshare drivers.
Uber Tipping Policy
If you’re confused about this issue, don’t worry, it’s not your fault. If you’re a loyal user of the app, you may have noticed that the policy has shifted multiple times throughout Uber’s short lifespan.
Tipping on Uber is not something passengers (especially long-time users) are conditioned to do so it’s natural they would have questions about it. Given Uber’s nearly 10-year war on tips everyone is wondering why they should tip their Uber driver at all.
But in a recent move to win back driver morale, tipping with Uber has now been made seamless in an update that built a tipping option right back into the rider app.
The company basically went from outright discouraging tipping to building an in-app tipping feature that suggests throwing a few bucks to drivers at the end of a ride.
We are going to show you how much to tip and how to actually do it below, but first, let’s talk about the reason I believe should tip your driver after every ride you take.
Why You Should Tip Your Driver
The main reason you should tip your Uber driver is because they’re providing you a personal service that involves your safety and comfort, and they simply don’t make that much doing it.
It’s not that they’re doing something wrong when driving, they’re just at the mercy of Uber and its aggressive price-slashing strategy. Yet they’re out there working hard every day taking you safely to and from your destination.
Traditionally, tipping has always been a part of the car service business, whether it be taxis or limos, Americans have always tipped their drivers nicely. It’s amazing people even have to think twice about tipping Uber drivers.
It’s customary to tip people who provide personal services. The only reason this even seems to be a question is because Uber’s original CEO made a big deal out of telling everyone they didn’t have to tip on Uber. This has since changed and that CEO has been ousted.
Another reason you should tip is safety.
If you had any idea how little drivers actually make, which I’ll outline for you below, you will appreciate the fact that it’s very difficult for them to afford the upkeep and maintenance on their vehicles.
A poorly paid driver will put off routine maintenance until the last possible minute. That means driving around on worn tires that should have been replaced 5,000 miles ago. Or going too long between oil changes. This behavior is very unsafe for you as a rider!
The best way to ensure that Uber drivers are transporting you in safe cars is to make a small contribution via a tip at the end of each trip. Your contribution combined with others will give him the extra cash he needs to properly maintain his car.
How Much To Tip
I recommend tipping the standard service amount, as you would in a restaurant. I use a sliding scale depending on the level of service I receive during the ride:
- 20% for outstanding service
- 15% for pretty good
- 10% for average
- nothing for below average
In my opinion, since rideshare is a service, drivers should earn the amount of tips anyone in the service industry would expect. I think it’s is a great way to separate the average drivers from the ones who truly care about their passengers.
If they go above and beyond to provide great service, reward them for it. If they don’t? Well, then that’s what they have coming to them.
You can run some example scenarios to find out your tip amount by using the Uber tip calculator below.
If you ask a driver, they’ll likely agree. As we referenced in our Lyft Tipping Guide, here’s a screenshot from a driver’s reply on Quora.
Throwing even a couple dollars at your driver upon completion of your ride will go a lot longer than you think.
Many drivers give a good amount of rides every time they go drive, so even little amounts help pay for expenses such as gas, insurance, phone bills, and the other hidden costs of rideshare driving.
Just ask yourself, if you were driving would you want a tip?
How to Tip an Uber Driver
When the trip is finished the passenger app will ask you to rate your driver. You have to do this before you can leave a tip.
On the next screen, you can leave a tip. You can choose either a pre-set amount or you can tap “Enter Custom Amount”.
You can also tip Uber drivers using cash. That’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t need explaining. However, even without cash, you can tip Uber drivers using the app.
How Long Do You Have to Tip?
Uber allows passengers up to 30 days after a ride has been completed to leave a tip. But of course from the driver’s standpoint – the sooner the better.
But if you meant to tip and forgot, don’t think just because a few days have passed that it’s too late. It’s not too late until 30 days have passed. You still have time!
Does Tipping Affect Passenger Ratings?
It’s hard to say for sure, and this is a very highly contested topic among drivers.
Before Uber allowed tipping, there were drivers who said they’d never rate a passenger 5 stars unless they gave a tip. That’s back when all tips were cash and given at the end of a ride. But now that tipping can be done through the Uber app, drivers won’t know that you tipped until after they’ve rated you.
But as part of Uber’s 180 Days of Change – Uber gave drivers the right to rate trips retroactively. If a driver “realizes” he rated a passenger too highly, he can contact Uber and say he’d like to change his rating. So on the off chance that you really rubbed the driver the wrong way and he found out later that you didn’t tip, he could potentially lower your rating after the fact.
If you desperately want your rating to improve, the best way to do it is to give drivers a cash tip – before the trip ends. Almost all drivers will rate passengers 5 stars if they know for sure they tipped. And the only way they can know for sure – before they rate you – is if you tip them in cash before the trip ends.
With that said, it’s very unlikely that your rating will suffer much if you don’t tip. Most drivers are not going to contact Uber afterwards to change their rating.
Here’s the sequence of what the driver sees and knows.
When you get dropped off at your destination, the driver slides a button over on the Uber driver app that officially ends the trip. Immediately after he does that, he is taken to a screen where he has to rate you.
He cannot do anything else until he completes this step. He can’t get a call from a new passenger until he finishes this process. He has to rate you before he can do anything else.
Once he ends the trip and rates you, you then have several days to rate him and leave him a tip. The sad truth is, most passengers never rate or leave a tip for their driver. And this affects how drivers perceive passengers and makes them more likely to leave something less than 5 stars.
Since he won’t know if you tipped until sometimes days later, his rating will be based on his feeling toward you when you get out of the car. The very best way to improve your rating is to simply say a cheerful good-bye and thank him for his service.
More than likely when you do that, you’ll get a 5-star rating. Add a nice compliment in there, like, “nice trip” and he’ll be even more likely to give you 5 stars.
Don’t tell the driver you’re going to tip though. Some passengers want to tell drivers they’re going to leave a tip because they know drivers won’t know until later – so they think by promising a tip the driver will give them 5 stars.
However, most drivers seem to believe that if a passenger says they’re going to tip – that’s a sure sign that they’re not. They might therefore rate you 4 stars just to retaliate against you in advance for making a promise they don’t believe you’re going to keep.
But don’t blame them. They have picked up this practice from experience. Too many riders have promised tips then never materialized.
Additional Reasons To Tip
We’ve all heard from Uber that drivers are making a ton – without tips. Up to $90,000 a year in New York – according to numbers Uber released a few years ago (when rates were much higher than they are today).
We’ve also been told that tips were included in the total fare. So the questions about whether we should and why should we should tip are certainly legitimate.
Let’s look at some of the questions and objections people have about tipping Uber drivers.
Aren’t drivers making more than I am already?
No, drivers receive a very small salary considering the work they do.
A few years ago Uber released some very rosy numbers suggesting that drivers in big cities like New York, Chicago and L.A. were getting into upper middle class territory. But since then, Uber has slashed rates several times. And they’ve added thousands of new drivers, making each driver less busy than they were before.
The rates are now about half what they were a few years ago – which means drivers make half as much on every trip as they did before. Which in turn means they would have to drive twice as many trips to make the same money. And it’s simply not possible to do twice as many trips.
What they also didn’t tell you was that the total income drivers were making was the gross fare figure, which excluded the driver’s cut after fees.
For example, if a driver racked up $90,000 in total fares for Uber within a year, Uber reported him as making $90,000. However, after Uber takes their healthy slice of the pie (commission/fees), the driver would have actually only made about $67,500 according to my estimate.
Still not too bad – but not nearly as good as Uber wanted everyone to believe. $67,500 is certainly not $90,000. And of course that was before all expenses that drivers routinely incur as part of the job.
So, no they aren’t making nearly as much as Uber led us to believe and they’re not making nearly as much as they were a few years ago. They’re making far, far less.
I thought tips were included in the fare.
No, tips are not including in the Uber far.. And they never have been, even though for a long time Uber told passengers they were.
In the very earliest days, Uber told passengers that there’s no need to tip because it was already included in the fare. However, that was never true.
A tip was never included in the fare and drivers never received any payments for tips. They never received any payments outside of the normal time and distance charges.
Passengers who doubt this can look at their old invoices they received by email. They detail what all the charges were for and they’ll never see a charge for “Tip”.
Why should I tip for a job I’m already paying them pretty well to do?
That depends on how you define “pretty well”. Drivers are making about $9 – $12 an hour, after all expenses, including long-term expenses such as major repairs and depreciation, are thrown in.
And whatever you’re paying your Uber driver it’s usually 2.0x – 2.5x less than you’d pay to take a taxi – depending on the city.
In the end, riders aren’t paying that much and drivers aren’t making that much. So, a little tip goes a long way in helping drivers keep it together and continue to provide you with reliable rides.
The drivers knew what they were getting into when they took this job – why should I reward them for making a bad choice?
That’s a good point. They did know what they were getting into in terms of driving. Unfortunately for many drivers though, Uber changed the game plan halfway through the game.
Originally, Uber paid drivers 80% of the total fare. Then they began lowering prices and increasing their percentage take, which came as a huge surprise for many.
In short, when you tip your Uber drivers, you’re offsetting the massive fees and expenses they incur while picking you up. So again, a couple bucks goes a long way.
Drivers should find better opportunities and if I tip them I motivate them to stay where they are.
Fair enough. But did you know that according to various surveys, a large portion of Uber drivers are over 50 years old? This is an age group where if people find themselves out of work, it can be very difficult to find work again.
Surveys have also consistently shown that about half of all Uber drivers have a college education or advanced degrees. So, the old excuse non-tippers like to give that they’re helping to motivate those who they don’t tip to find something better, doesn’t really work here.
Drivers, on the whole, are a rather well-educated and hard-working group of people. Most are doing this work because for whatever reason they can’t find anything better at the moment. But that’s not necessarily because they’re lazy or they haven’t gotten a good education.
In the end, tipping Uber drivers shouldn’t be a hard choice. We tip wait staff, we tip the people who do our hair, we tip all kinds of personal service providers. We even tip taxi drivers. When we get into an Uber, that’s less than half the price of a cab, why shouldn’t we tip the driver?
With all this in mind, tipping uber drivers, really shouldn’t even be a question.
What do Drivers Really Make?
Everybody wants to know what Uber drivers really make. But it’s not like a traditional job where the employer incurs all the work-related expenses. So, we can’t just look at the gross earnings figures because they only tell half the story.
An Uber driver, first and foremost has to bring a very expensive piece of equipment to the job… namely, a car. When you work at McDonald’s you’re not asked to bring your own McCafe espresso machines priced at $13,000; and your own muffin equipment priced at $4,500! If McDonald’s required their employees to bring that kind of equipment, they would surely pay them a lot more than minimum wage!
But that’s all provided at most jobs. Uber drivers on the other hand have to bring own equipment worth about that much and bring it to the job every day. And they have to pay all the expenses related to it.
Drivers come up with different arrangements for obtaining a car, but for most, it’s a car that they have taken out a loan to purchase. Some drivers, however, rent them by the week and pay exorbitant sums like $350-$500 per week.
On average, nationwide, Uber drivers earn around $16-$19 per hour. And it is estimated they drive anywhere from 18-25 miles each hour they work.
The easiest way to calculate their real earnings is to take the IRS’s standard deduction for mileage because that figure includes all the expenses of owning and operating a vehicle and averages it out among all vehicles.
In 2018 the IRS is allowing drivers 54.5 cents per mile as an expense deduction, that number for 2019 is 58 cents per mile. The higher the IRS’s mileage deduction, the less money they’ll bring in – so they have every incentive to make this number as low as possible. Therefore, we can conclude that this is a conservative average expense figure that takes into consideration all makes and models and driving conditions.
So, if an Uber driver brings in let’s say the top of the range, $19 per hour, but he normally drives 20 miles each hour he works, he would have expenses of $10.90. This includes everything from cost of the car, to gasoline, oil changes and routine maintenance. And it includes the cost of major repairs and depreciation.
When you subtract the full car expense from the driver’s earnings, you can see he doesn’t end up with much. In this case, he’s making just $8.10 per hour.
If you ask any driver what they make – they’ll always say it’s much more than that. That’s because they don’t see or feel many of these expenses until a long way down the road. They may not incur a major repair cost until two years from now. And they won’t see and feel the depreciation until it comes time to sell or trade in the car. When they go to trade it in and find out it’s worth much less than they thought – they’ll end up paying a much bigger price upfront on their next vehicle. That’s when they’ll feel the depreciation.
Since no one gets a monthly depreciation bill it’s kind of an invisible cost. You don’t see it or feel it, until it hits you at the end. But it is no less a real cost than the cost of filling up their tank.
What do you think of Uber tipping? Do you agree that riders should tip on every ride? Let us know in the comments below!
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.