From the Forum – Should you tip your Uber driver?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Miki J.

Should you tip your Uber driver?

“I’ve been using Uber now for roughly two years. Ever from the start it was my assumption that tipping is not included in the cost and that was part of the beauty of Uber. You don’t tip, you don’t have to carry cash and all costs are included in your fare.

Officially, with respect to tipping, Uber’s website states,
“You don’t need cash when you ride with Uber. Once you arrive at your destination, your fare is automatically charged to your credit card on file — there’s no need to tip.”

However, recently I came across an article called “7 Things You Do That Annoy Your Uber Driver — This is Uber etiquette 101.” The second thing listed was tipping and the article goes on to say,”
“Uber actually makes all new passengers set a tip percentage for UberTaxi rides when they first sign up, …… referring to the option for passengers in some cities to use the app for hailing taxis rather than private cars. This, he added, “leads to lots and lots of passengers incorrectly assuming that tip is included in the fare price for UberX,” which is the app’s cheapest option. Tip is “most definitely not” included for UberX…”

In addition to this the following articles from the NY Post and Boston Globe seem to indicate that you should tip your driver.

So, with all this in mind, I’d like to hear what others have to say.”

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80 Comment

  • Like you, I believed tips were not required or accepted, and found that to be a selling point of the service overall. Though I guess I never gave any thought to whether it applied to UberX. Oops?
    However, I DO tip the peruvian ukelele man. He has more stamina than anyone.

    • Is that the guy who plays at Farragut North in the mornings? He’s really good and I tip him. I do not tip my Uber drivers.

    • I started tipping him after I saw him playing in 8 degree weather during the polar vortex days last year. The man is impressively dedicated to playing that ukelele.

  • No. One of the primary premises on which Uber operates (and gained popularity) is the lack of need to carry cash and worry about tipping the driver.

    Uber drivers knew this when they started driving. If they don’t like it, go get a taxi license.

    • +1 – unless I have such a phenomenal experience, then sure. But I thought that was one of the main points of Uber, that you were essentially paying into a system where the driver earned an actual wage and wasn’t dependent upon tips. I may have to reconsider Uber now….

      • By all means, please, go back to using taxi’s. I’m sure economically you will fare better.

      • For the record, we do not earn a wage. We get a percentage of the fare, same as a taxi. We also assume the burden of all of our expenses. Gas, tires, breaks, oil, depreciation, insurance and more. For your cheap $5.00 ride we get $3.20. This is what we get paid to drive to your location, wait for you, help you into the car, take you to your location. So again, please, I implore you. Go back to taking a taxi.

    • The primary premise was that you could use your phone to hail a cab, and then have the bill automatically hit your credit card. Not tipping the drive was not part of that premise.

      • I didn’t say “not tipping the driver” I said not “worry about tipping the driver.” Tips are built into the fare for Uber Black and UberX and always have been. Drivers know this when they sign up. This is what the VAST majority of Uber riders expect and one of the things we appreciate about the service.

        Whether UberX drivers are underpaid (Sasha) is an entirely different issue — take that up with Uber. Adjust the rates and see how demand responds. That’s a free market for you. At the end of the day, the sheer availability of UberX rides in this city demonstrates that other UberX drivers disagree — nothing is forcing them to be out there on the street vs. earning money doing something else.

        • Tips are most certainly not included, never have been. Please read your rider agreement section 4. I’ll quote the relevent portion

          “Uber does not designate any portion of your payment as a tip or gratuity to the third party provider. any representation by uber (on uber’s wesite, in the application, or in uber’s marketing materials) to the effect that tipping is “voluntary,” “not required,” and/or “included” in the payments you make for services or goods provided is not intended to suggest that uber provides and additional amounts.”

          Please, read it yourselves.

      • Actually, not tipping was built into the primary premise of Uber and was a big selling point, hence why they emphasize “no need to tip.” I agree with earlier posters that I never think of tipping b/c I had always assumed it was not needed. Honestly, though, I have reverted back to hailing a cab if it is at all possible b/c of the way it seems Uber treats its drivers and b/c UberX drivers are often not good at driving/navigating at all. I only use Uber now if I really am in a spot where I can’t get a taxi, which, to be fair, is often.

        • This is true from what I understand, but uber actually lowered fares awhile back to be more competitive with cabs, basically cutting out exactly the amount that uber drivers were tipped.

          • UBER drivers have never, ever, been tipped through the app. Tip or don’t, that is up to you. But please stop spreading blatantly false information.

    • I completely disagree with you. As a part time uber driver, there are times when I sit in traffic for half an hour and get paid 8 dollars for my trouble. tipping is a nice way to say thank you. Lyft has an option for folks to add a tip to their payment without using cash…

  • If I have small change, I usually give the driver a few bucks for a tip, unless the ride was awful. If they were particularly friendly or skilled I give a little more. I am constantly amazed by how cheap uber trips can be, so it seems hard for me to believe the drivers are earning much money. I like tipping in this manner, but I don’t think it is obligatory.

  • Nope, never tip as it is most definitely included in the cost of the fare. Also, my rating is high (near 5*) even without tipping, so the drivers aren’t pissed about it. You can request your rating through the app.

    • Adam

      No, you’re paying for the mileage and time of the ride. That’s it. There is no tip in the formula:

    • On the other side of the coin, I’ve only ridden uber twice. The first time I got a one star rating – why, I have not idea since I was totally sober and (I thought) pretty nice, but i assume it’s because I didn’t tip. The second time the guy who picked me up told me about that and said he was shocked and it must be some mistake. But now I can’t get an uber because people see my three star rating and want nothing to do with me.

  • I’d also thought that tipping was included for UberX – I started taking Uber in 2012, when it was just black cars, for which tipping is expressly banned. Based on the discussion in a PoPville post earlier this year, I learned that the tip is not included, so I tip whenever I have cash. 90% of the drivers whom I’ve tipped have seemed genuinely surprised (and of course happy) to get a tip, which makes me think that it’s not that common.

    • Adam

      This is what exactly happened. The “no tipping” policy on the original Uber black car service in 2011/2012 bled over into uberX in 2013, combined with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s insistence in a “no tipping” culture in America brings the confusion today.

    • Here’s the big problem with Uber’s advice… they advocate tipping simply because it is the only way in which THEIR business model works. In other words, this isn’t about the customer rewarding good service or the service provider picking up a nice bonus for a job well done… it’s about Uber’s desire to construct a business model that works for them. Just one more in a long line of businesses that see their service as a means to an end (ie enrichment of their bottom line).

    • Also, note the stupidity of asking service providers if they think others should tip them. I feel the same way about cashiers who put out a big jar for tips… thanks for, uh, punching a few numbers on a machine and taking my money. Here’s even more money for your trouble.

  • I just asked my friend who works at Uber HQ, and he says:

    “So tipping is not part of the Uber experience. You’re free to tip your driver if you want, but that is very much to your discretion.”

    So I asked if many people tip. He said: “Most people don’t.”

    So there you go.

  • NO! tipping is not required – included in the fare.
    Their rating is their tip.
    Please stop reading click bait listicles! All the info you need is in Uber’s website.

    • That’s crap. Ratings are not tips. Ratings are ratings. You are not required to tip your taxi driver either but you do it because that’s the expectation. You are paying half as much to ride with uberx, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip.

      • but you are not a taxi driver. You driver for Uber who’s selling point is that you don’t need to worry about tips as a passenger. It’s on their website.

    • Please read section 4 of your rider agreement. Then re-post if you still believe this.

  • Tips are for people who don’t collect the money you are paying for the service. For example, when I pay a restaurant for a meal, the waiter doesn’t get that money. Ergo, a tip. When I pay a hotel bill, the maid doesn’t get that money, so I tip.

    On the other hand, an UberX driver is working for himself and directly collecting the money I am paying (minus Uber’s cut). So no tip. If drivers want more money for each ride, they can petition Uber to raise its prices.

  • binpetworth

    Another vote for no tipping. It even says on the Uber FAQ:
    You don’t need cash when you ride with Uber. Once you arrive at your destination, your fare is automatically charged to your credit card on file — there’s no need to tip.

    • Adam

      Just because someone says you don’t need to tip, doesn’t mean that you can’t.

    • Read your rider agreement. Section 4
      “Uber does not designate any portion of your payment as a tip or gratuity to the third party provider. any representation by uber (on uber’s wesite, in the application, or in uber’s marketing materials) to the effect that tipping is “voluntary,” “not required,” and/or “included” in the payments you make for services or goods provided is not intended to suggest that uber provides and additional amounts.”
      Please, read it yourselves.

  • A few months back my husband and I tried to tip a particularly excellent Uber driver and she immediately said “oh no no no” when the cash came out and told us that tips are not to be accepted by drivers.

  • Not having to tip is one of the things I like about Uber. Just charge me enough to pay your employee a fair wage.

  • Lyft offers the option to tip your driver. It’s added to your total and shown on your email receipt. I like having the choice to give the driver an extra buck or two for a particularly efficient and/or pleasant ride.

    • I’m never sure if I should tip my Lyft driver. But, I think I have only not tipped once. I usually do $2 or $3 or whatever 20% is. I feel bad not tipping a few extra bucks especially if the ride/driver were really good.

    • binpetworth

      If Uber did this, I’d be amenable and likely to use this feature. But until then, I’m not going to start saving small bills in the event I’m taking an Uber, when that defeats the purpose of getting an Uber (no cash) in the first place.

      • HaileUnlikely

        1.) Agreed. 2.) This makes me want to sign up for Lyft.

      • This is exactly how I feel.

      • Yeah, I like Sidecar and Lyft for that reason. I’ll always tip if I can do it on my card, but Uber definitely makes a point to discourage people from tipping, and I always give all my ones and change to panhandlers, so I wouldn’t want to use it for Uber. Especially since I could get a taxi and charge a tip on the card as well. Uber could add this functionality but they deliberately don’t, which to me is a big indication that they don’t want people tipping. I agree that it’s generous to do so, but I don’t feel like it’s a social obligation.

  • Adam

    An uberX minimum fare of $5.40 gets you exactly 1.5 miles in the city. After deducting DC 5¢ tax, SFR of $1.35 and uber’s 20% cut of 80¢, the driver receives $3.20. And then the driver pays expenses out of that $3.20 and then tax (federal, state & self-employment) on what remains. A 1.5 mile taxi ride is $6.50, the cabbie keeps it all (but also pay expenses and taxes out of that), and typically receives a couple dollar tip on top of that.

    A 10-mile uberX ride fare is $16.50, while a 10-mile taxi ride is $24.50. UberX driver receives $12, cabbie gets the full $24.50.

    Tipping is not expected on uberX. But a single dollar is HIGHLY appreciated, especially on a minimum ride. It pays for the next McD’s sweet tea or 7-11 coffee. The longer the ride, the less I feel tipping is necessary because then a driver’s time is being fairly compensated. Earning $25/hr for simply driving a car is appropriate. Earning $50+/hr for simply driving a car is ludicrous. As a driver, I just want my wheels to be moving with a paying passenger in the backseat….the more miles, the better.

    What’s even better than tipping an uberX driver? Waiting on the curb as he/she pulls up because every second waiting on a rider to get to the car is money and time that’s simply lost.

    • Great response. I agree!

    • How do you figure the cabbie keeps all the fare? Many cabbies work for bigger companies, so a portion goes to them. Even if individual, there are fees and medallions to pay. I get your overall point, but this piece is just not true.

    • I don’t think it’s fair to say the cabbie is keeping the entire fare. Unless the taxi driver owns his own cab, he is paying “rent” for that cab. Before the new taxi livery colors, you could tell who were the individual owners by the color of the cab they drove, either white or black. But the drivers who work for companies are paying a daily rent on the cabs which I’ve been told can be over a 100 dollars a day and not to mention the cost of licensing. So maybe when it’s all said and done, the salaries of Uber drivers vs cab drivers is probably the same. Just that Uber makes the barrier for entry a lot easier. At the end of the day Uber is very clear with their terms for its drivers and passengers. Their whole premise is that tipping is not required, so If passengers want to, then so be it, but drivers shouldn’t expect it.

  • The better question is why do we tip taxi drivers….

  • When I first started using Uber I asked the first 3 drivers I had because I just couldn’t believe that I shouldn’t tip. They all told me it was included and I shouldn’t/didn’t need to. I have only ever used UberX.

  • The entire reason I signed up for uber ~3 years ago was because they specifically advertised it as a “tip included, no tipping required” service.

    If they’ve changed that, then I will have to rethink the whole thing. If you want your riders to have tip, atleast give the option through the app. I don’t carry cash, and Uber has my card on file, why would I carry cash?

  • I’ve tipped on a few occasions–once the driver helped me move some boxes, for instance–but only when they’ve gone above and beyond. When I did they were always resistant at first, I assumed because there was a policy against it.

    Recently had this conversation with friends and it made me somewhat concerned, but I’m inclined to go with most of the posters here that it’s not expected. FWIW, I just checked my rating and I’m still holding down a 4.8, so it doesn’t seem like I’m pissing too many drivers off.

  • That this is a post and additional contains lots of confusing and confused responses shows just how bent the U.S. way of tipping has become.

    Straight from the Uber website:

    You don’t need cash when you ride with Uber. Once you arrive at your destination, your fare is automatically charged to your credit card on file — there’s no need to tip.

    Simple, and thank goodness.

  • I tip every single time no matter what. I’ve even tipped for horrible service. I just feel SO guilty not. $1 is standard, but if you were friendly, $2 🙂 If you can’t afford THAT, try walking, biking or another less expensive alternative

  • In the beginning of using Uber when it came to DC, I did try to tip and sometimes it was accepted. THEN the drivers said no .. they couldn’t accept extra tips.

    I’m so confused now.

  • I don’t generally tip my uber driver. However, on halloween, Uber took myself and a very inebriated friend home. Said friend was on the verge of doing The Big Spit in the car. Our driver was nice, gentlemanly, and drove in the gentlest manner possible in order to keep things contained (if you get my drift). Because he was so nice about the whole thing, he got himself a $20 cash tip on an $8.00 ride.

  • I used to not tip – but then I started talking to the drivers and now I regularly tip. $5 for an airport run and $2-3 around town.
    If they are bad and can’t navigate without the GPS – no tip.

  • Why has no one mentioned the fact that it’s safer for the driver not to carry cash with them! If tipping Uber drivers becomes the norm, people will know the drivers have cash and they will risk getting robbed (granted it wouldn’t be a large amount). I thought that was part of the reason for the no tipping.

  • I have never tipped and apparently my driver’s have not complained. Now that you can easily request your user rating, I discovered that mine is a 4.9…so clearly tipping is not the end all and be all for the driver.

    • I rate all riders a 5 whether they tip or not. None of us expect tips, we do appreciate them and they do help make ends meet. However, with comments such as this, you’ll no longer be getting 5’s from me, a 1 is more likely and soon you will be using cabs again. Good luck.

  • justinbc

    LOL, no freakin way. This isn’t as silly as tipping the trash men, but it’s damn near close.

  • Rather than tipping in cash, be sure to rate the driver.
    Where do I find how the drivers rated me?

    • I got curious and just figured it out. You open the app, go to “help” under the menu, select the “account” option, and near the bottom is “I’d like to know my rating”. They’ll email it to you.

  • A friend told me that the drivers have the ability to turn off the surge. Sounds strange to me, but if true, I’d certainly throw in a cash tip for that.

  • Agree with what others have said. No tip, no way. The only reason I use uber is because I hate tipping and uber advertised the service as tip included.

  • All companies should pay a living wage. Tips are a nice little gift for nice little extra services.

  • It’s very simple, really.

    Once upon a time, fares for UberX were set at a level where drivers were satisfied with earnings. While tips would have been a nice enhancement to those earnings – they certainly weren’t “needed”. In essence, tipping wasn’t required because the fares compensated drivers for their time and expenses fairly.

    Over the course of a few years, competition and desire to grow market share has resulted in Uber reducing UberX fares to bargain levels. This reduction in fares has increased the number of UberX rides, increased Uber’s profit, and REDUCED driver earnings by 50% or more.

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