Big news from the world of ride-sharing this week: Uber will finally incorporate tipping into its app, which means customers who use the service while traveling will soon be able to tip their drivers anywhere in the world. Many media outlets, including Bloomberg, are discussing why Uber was so late to market with this feature. They’ve also noted that the new tipping feature became available immediately to Uber riders in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston and will be rolled out in all U.S. cities by the end of July.
Now, the big question for Uber customers is this: How much do you tip?
Answers to this question vary. For taxis, standard operating procedure is to tip somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. For ride-shares, however, when customers are riding in a driver’s personal car, the riders may feel obligated to tip more—as a recent MarketWatch story suggested—even upward of 30 percent.
However, a recent USA Today story indicated that norms for tipping after ride-shares are still evolving. Chris McGinnis, editor of TravelSkills.com, has established some norms of his own. McGinnis travels anywhere from three to six times per month and said he always tips his Lyft and Uber drivers 10-20 percent when their meters are running on regular rates, but sometimes tips less during surge pricing, which can raise rates precipitously.
“I’m less likely to tip when surge rates are in effect, since the driver is making sometimes significantly more for the surge ride,” he said.
McGinnis also said that regardless of whether he’s using a ride-share or a regular taxi, he’ll tip closer to 20 percent when a driver’s vehicle is clean and when a driver gets out, pops the trunk, helps with luggage, and greets and thanks him.
When pressed to put his tipping philosophy into the context of the marketplace, McGinnis cited two separate TravelSkills.com polls that asked readers about their ride-sharing habits. The first, conducted in February 2016, garnered more than 3,400 replies, and the results overwhelmingly indicated a disinclination toward tipping on ride-shares. The second poll, conducted this past April, garnered more than 300 responses and they were almost evenly split—47 percent opposed to tipping on ride-shares and 46 percent in favor.
“The change between the two tells me there’s a trend toward more tipping,” he said.
Data from Lyft, which has featured tipping capabilities for nearly five years, supports this claim. Spokespeople this week said the main competitor to Uber had collected more than $250 million in tips since launching the feature.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you’re tipping on a ride-share, but rather that you’re tipping at all. Remember: Good service deserves a tip, period.