How much you should tip your Uber and Lyft driver, according to drivers and etiquette experts

Tipping culture has become deeply ingrained in the United States, leaving it up to individual customers to decide how much, if anything, they want to tip when they dine at a restaurant, order a coffee, or take an Uber or Lyft. However, there has been a decline in tipping frequency over the past year. According to a Bankrate survey conducted in May, fewer people reported always tipping service workers such as waiters, hair stylists, food delivery workers, taxi and rideshare drivers, hotel housekeepers, and baristas compared to previous surveys conducted in 2022 and 2019.

Conversations surrounding tipping, including the decision of whether or not to tip and how much to tip, have intensified in recent times, particularly as elevated inflation puts a strain on Americans' finances. While tipping rates could be returning to normal levels after increased generosity during the pandemic, some Americans may be becoming frustrated with the expectation of tipping, such as encountering tipping prompts at self-checkout lines. Some rideshare drivers have even attributed poor customer tipping to Uber and Lyft.

Insider has spoken with several rideshare drivers who claim that tipping has worsened in recent months. However, Uber has stated that tipping has increased since 2020, while Lyft has yet to respond to requests for comment. Despite any potential weariness or financial constraints, etiquette experts and drivers uniformly advise that customers should not forgo tipping their Uber and Lyft drivers. When it comes to tipping frequency and amount, we consulted four etiquette experts and drivers who provided their perspectives on how often and how much Americans should tip their rideshare drivers after reaching their destination.  

You should always tip your driver

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Thomas Farley, a New York-based etiquette expert known as Mister Manners, told Insider that as long as the trip was completed safely and satisfactorily, customers should always tip their Uber and Lyft drivers.

"The custom of tipping a driver has been in place since well before rideshare apps," he said. "And the convenience of being able to summon a car with a tap on one's phone — versus having to hail a taxi — should put us in the mindset of being even more likely to tip, not less."

Gabe Ets-Hokin, a part-time Uber and Lyft driver in Oakland, California, told Insider that most of his customers don't tip — regardless of the level of service — and that it shouldn't be this way.

"I think passengers should tip as frequently as they do food servers, bartenders, or other customarily-tipped service workers," he told Insider. "As long as we're not guaranteed a living wage, I think the ethical thing is to tip drivers."

You should generally tip your driver at least 15%

Jeff Hoenig
Jeff Hoenig 
Jeff Hoenig

Nick Leighton, an etiquette expert and co-host of the podcast "Were You Raised By Wolves," told Insider that tipping between 15% and 20% is the general recommendation for Uber and Lyft drivers in the US.

"If you've done something that has made the ride less pleasant for the driver, such as watching YouTube videos without headphones at full blast or spilling food on the seats, then a larger tip is also a good idea," he said.

Farley said 20% should be the standard tip, but that customers who feel the driver went above and beyond should consider tipping 25% or more. For short rides that cost under $10, he said Americans should tip at least $2 as a baseline and no less.

Jeff Hoenig, a 63-year-old part-time Uber driver in South Carolina, told Insider that roughly half of his customers left a tip last year.

While he said a $3 tip is reasonable for most rides, there are a few types of trips where he thinks a bigger tip — of at least $5 — is particularly warranted. These include rides that are from the airport, late at night or early in the morning, over an hour long, or involve the driver loading or unloading something from the vehicle.

However, Hoenig said even a $1 tip would be appreciated.

"If all the riders who don't tip, started tipping $1, drivers would be happy with the extra money," he said.

When Ets-Hokin gets tipped, he said it typically averages between 85 and 15%. He said he thinks it should be at least 10% to 20% as long as the ride has met the customer's basic standards.

Inflation shouldn't stop you from tipping

Gabe Ets-Hokin
Gabe Ets-Hokin 
Gabe Ets-Hokin

While many Americans' wallets have been impacted by inflation, Farley said this shouldn't prevent them from tipping.

"One's personal finances should not prevent a passenger from tipping at least the minimum acceptable percentage, though they may influence the frequency with which one uses a ride-share app," he said. "If you can afford to take a ride share to work every morning because you are always running late and just don't have time to bother with the train, you can afford a tip."

Farley said that customers can find other ways to save money on their rides, including accepting a longer wait time, comparing ride-hailing prices, and trying to ride during less busy times.

If you still don't plan to tip your ride-hailing driver, you're unlikely to get more than one Lyft ride with Ets-Hokin.

He said that Lyft provides him 24 hours after the ride is completed to rate his customers — and that he frequently gives non-tipping passengers a 3-star rating. Doing so "permanently unmatches" them from him, he said, which means he won't get the same customer again. He said Uber only lets him rate customers soon after a trip ends.

"Since I only drive in a 5-mile radius of my house, it's possible this has improved my tips," he said.

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