A lot of UponArriving readers use Uber and Uber Eats, especially since they can get $15 monthly credits from the American Express Platinum Card and other occasional discounts by utilizing Amex Offers. But when it comes to saving money a lot of people wonder whether or not they should tip Uber Eats drivers since tips are not included in the order.
As someone who uses Uber Eats all the time, this question intrigued me so I started asking around and talking to Uber drivers, passengers, and also reviewing what people were chattering about on web forums like Reddit.
In this article, I will talk about whether or not you should tip your Uber Eats drivers, and I will present arguments for both sides. I will also show you how to tip your Uber driver through the app (or using cash). Finally, I will talk about ways that you can avoid the tipping situation altogether with alternative choices.
Uber’s position on tipping
Let’s start off the discussion with Uber’s official position. With regards to tipping drivers, Uber states:
Am I expected to leave a tip?
While tipping is never required, you can add a tip as an extra way to thank your delivery partner for their efforts. For feedback regarding items in your order, you can rate the order and restaurant.
We offer the option to tip your delivery partner directly through the Uber Eats app, or you can tip them in cash when they deliver the order. Either way, 100% of the tip goes to the delivery partner.
Despite raising the question of whether or not you should be expected to leave a tip, Uber doesn’t give a clear answer on whether or not tipping is expected. It just states that it is not required and it’s a way to give thanks to your driver for their efforts.
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The case for tipping
There are a few very good reasons why you should tip your Uber Eats driver.
At least in the United States, it is customary to tip workers who are providing you with a delivery service, especially in the food industry. This is the case for other food items like pizza, Chinese take out, etc. so why wouldn’t you also tip your Uber driver?
Yes, you technically are paying somebody extra to do the job they signed up for. But that’s just the way that our society works, so there is no reason why an Uber Eats driver should be singled out as someone “not worthy” of consideration for tips.
It’s warranted by their efforts
Sometimes the situation just mandates a tip, in my opinion. Could you imagine riding a bike in sweltering hot weather, freezing winds, or through torrential downpour to deliver food on time? Then you show up, deliver the food, and never receive a tip for your efforts?
And in some metropolitan areas there could be a danger element — dealing with aggressive drivers, unkept roads, and whatever else could be lurking out there. Not to mention the fact that parking and/or leaving your car idle is very difficult, impossible, or illegal, in many locations.
Also, if your Uber Eats driver is delivering your food directly to your doorstep, the convenience involved in that should warrant a tip. This is especially true if they have to hunt down your apartment building, climb up flights of stairs, and then locate your unit (and then find their way back out).
After factoring in vehicle expenses, it is expected that Uber Eats drivers make around $8-$12 per hour (some do report much higher wages). Depending on where you live that can be a pretty low amount of wages. If this is that driver’s only source of income then a small tip with each delivery could go a long wait for that person.
Also, if you live out of the way and it takes your driver a longer time to get to you then those wages could be even lower. In some cases, the driver could be working effectively for well below minimum wage and so tips could be extremely important to keeping them afloat financially.
The case for NOT tipping
Not everybody is on board with tipping their drivers. Here are some reasons that many people might think to not leave a tip.
“Uber is a non-tipping service”
Uber originally marketed itself as one of the ride share services that does not require or expect tips. To me, there always seemed to be an emphasis on not tipping when using their services.
And while they did slowly roll out the option to leave a tip it definitely felt like more of an afterthought. So many people do not associate tipping with using Uber. And in fact may even associate not tipping with using Uber.
Related: How Much Does Uber Charge Per Mile?
The outrageous fees
“The fees are too damn high.” When you order Uber Eats, you’ll be expected to pay a delivery fee. The amount of this delivery fee can vary greatly. Once upon a time there was a flat $4.99 delivery fee and for the most part you probably will still be paying a fee of $5 to $6 these days. Paying a delivery fee for a delivery service is understandable.
However, the delivery fee will vary and it also can get very high during surge pricing hours. For example, some people have been charged delivery fees of over $20. When you get hit with an insanely high delivery fee of that amount it is really hard to throw out more cash out of your wallet to tip a driver.
Obviously, the driver has nothing to do with that fee but many people feel like they do not want to support Uber any more than necessary to receive their meal when that happens.
Uber Eats also recently added an additional service fee. This adds an additional 10% and additional $2 when your order is below $10. So by the time you factor in the delivery fee, the service fee, and the taxes, it is really difficult for some people to want to hand out more money for a tip.
For some people, they may also believe that if they refrain from tipping over time and many others do as well that fewer people will drive for Uber Eats, and they will be forced to adjust their fees. That sounds good in theory, but I don’t think that will ever actually happen.
A bad delivery experience
Sometimes you might have a terrible delivery experience. When using the app, you can track where your driver is and it is for the most part pretty accurate.
Sometimes you can witness the frustrating experience of watching your driver miss your road over and over again or taking some unexplainable backwoods route that takes 3X as long to get to where you are.
If you notice that they take a substantially longer time than what was needed and your food arrives cold or melted then that can be a major problem. It’s one thing for them to call you if they are having issues navigating but it’s another for them to never reach out to you and let you know anything and just expect you to be okay with food they should know is in an unacceptable or subpar state.
The difficulty with this is that sometimes your food may have just taken a long time to be handed over to the driver. You might perceive them as taking a long time but the real culprit with your cold food may have been with the restaurant’s service to begin with. This is especially the case when items are not delivered.
Also, sometimes the app gives the drivers horrible directions. If the driver is not familiar with your area than it really is not their fault for being led astray.
Helping them out
If you go out of your way to meet the Uber driver and make their life easier rather than forcing them to come to your apartment unit or some other area, then you may be justified in thinking that you don’t owe them a tip.
In that case, the argument is that all the driver had to do was drive from Point A to Point B and that is the entirety of their job. They were not asked go above and beyond and probably did not even have to get out of their vehicle.
I think there is some legitimacy to this argument because you are saving them some time, parking issues, etc. But maybe in those cases you just go with the minimal tip of $1 or something.
Higher food costs
Some people have reported that the menu prices for ordering food through Uber Eats are higher than they would be if you ordered your food in the restaurant. The higher price paid for the delivery option makes them feel less inclined to offer a tip. Again, this is another thing that is not the driver’s fault but is something that definitely is not helping their cause.
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Should you tip your Uber Eats driver?
I think that in general you should tip your Uber Eats driver. The main reason is that the wages can be very low, it can require frustrating work, and a lot of the negative aspects of the Uber Eats experience (e.g., fees) are out of their control.
The only time I would not tip is if the driver showed a blatant disregard for providing me with the food ordered on time. When there is no apology or explanation for why the order was so late, it’s clear that the driver really doesn’t care. And I would like to discourage that person from working there because they are probably doing the same type a thing for other people and ruining their meals as well.
How to tip Uber Eats
There are basically two different ways that you can tip the driver.
Tipping through the app
First, you can tip the driver through the Uber Eats app. When you are getting ready to place your order you can choose to tip your courier. Your tip will be sent to them one hour after delivery and you are able to adjust that tip before then. Personally, I don’t like to tip until after I have received the service, so I usually just hold off.
You can also wait until after your delivery has taken place and select an amount to tip them. First, you will need to select either thumbs-up or thumbs down for their delivery. Then you will see preselected tip amounts but you can also choose to set your own custom amount.
Finally, while Uber Eats does not accept cash as a form of payment like Uber does, you are allowed to provide them with a cash tip. You should note that whether you tipped in cash or you tipped through the app, the driver will receive 100% of that tip (so there’s no need to feel the need to tip in cash just to make sure they receive all of it).
If you have a gift card or some sort of credit that can also be applied to the tip.
How much should you tip Uber Eats drivers?
If you decide to tip your driver, the next question is how much should you tip them?
This is just going to depend on your personal preference but you can tip based on a percentage or just offer them a flat tip.
Generally, I think leaving $1-$2 for easy, cheap orders is not a terrible tip because at least you are giving them something.
However, if the delivery involves any kind of extra effort on their part such as biking through a city, finding your apartment, dealing with certain elements, I would advise to give them the middle or higher option offered by Uber. This would probably amount to a 15% to 25% tip.
Do Uber Eats drivers know if you tipped?
Yes, your Uber Eats driver will know whether or not you gave them a tip for your delivery.
An alternative to tipping
If you are in a location that is also served by GrubHub (or a similar service), you may consider ordering takeout. This should allow you to avoid the delivery fee altogether. (However, you should be aware that many take out places do receive tips and many believe that it is the right thing to do.)
If you get a card like the American Express Gold Card and you can get a monthly $10 credit to use on a service like this. By avoiding the delivery fee and potentially a tip is a great way to maximize the value of your credit.
I think you should tip your Uber Eats drivers on most occasions and just use your judgment on the amount. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and that should help you decide on what type of tip they deserve.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.