top of page

The Modern Taxi: Uber Etiquette

Uber is the face of a completely new industry built equally on independence and ease of transport. Like many trends in society, one of Uber’s hallmarks is its accessibility and flexibility for drivers and passengers alike. While the concept at first glance seems a lot like a taxi, there are some key differences between these two industries. The most important is that being an uber driver is much more unstructured and customizable than driving a taxi. Uber provides its employees with verification and an app to connect with riders, but ultimately the driver has to take care of everything from gas and directions to most importantly, the car. As Uber is still new, there are differing perceptions as to what it means to be an uber driver as well as what constitutes proper passenger behavior. In this article, we outline the proper etiquette practices that all Uber riders should follow.

The main factor which determines overall etiquette in any industry is tipping, and that’s no different for Uber. However, tipping with Uber has been a bit complicated as until recently, Uber had an anti-tip campaign. Now, in a complete switch, they not only promote tipping but have also added a feature for tipping on the app itself. So why the change? We will review this change as well as good tipping practices in the following paragraphs. 

Until recently, Uber was against tipping as they believed that the practice would unnecessarily complicate their model. However, after receiving complaints from riders and drivers, they have finally decided to reverse this policy. 

This came at a good time, as Uber has recently come under fire for some questionable practices.

For example, wages. While Uber publicizes it’s high hourly wages and flexibility of schedule afforded to drivers, they also gloss over the fact that being an uber driver comes with a lot of costs. Unlike other minimum wage jobs, uber drivers have to bring their own equipment to their job, their car. While Uber does pay some liability and collision insurance, the basic vehicle insurance is the drivers responsibility. Aside from maintenance, Uber drivers have to cover gas prices, tolls, car washes, and self employment taxes, which can quickly add up.

Additionally, Uber openly states that they take 25% of earnings as commission, however, booking fees and safe riding fees also go directly to Uber. In fact, a San Francisco-based study found that Uber has been actually taking about 39% of earnings as commission when this is taken into account.  As of recently Uber has drastically decreased the rates they charge, which is good for riders but another sting for the drivers.

Ultimately, Uber drivers are part of the service industry, thus making tips a go to, which is why people had been tipping Uber drivers even while Uber was advertising their faulty anti-tip campaign. 

While some have always tipped in the industry, there are many that believe that Uber should be exempt from receiving tips.

According to Reddit user u/blakeitrain, 

...for some reason it’s almost taboo to tip an Uber in the public’s eyes.. why is that? As a uber delivery man only I usually don’t break minimum wage without tips, so why the hell is it common to not tip? The same people who stiff me are for sure tipping their pizza guy so I just don’t understand.

Tipping should ideally be applied to Uber because it is part of the service industry, including all of its subsidiaries such as Ubereats, which this user is part of. 

Ultimately, driving for Uber is not as high paying as one might think, which makes tipping Uber drivers now more important than ever. Also, it is more affordable than ever since the decreased rates have been put in place.


Uber drivers are responsible for their own cars which means they are also required to take care of their car and pay out of pocket for any repairs. Without the added income from tips, some Uber drivers may put off making repairs or providing upkeep, which ultimately affects the safety of the rider as well as the driver. Therefore, when you are taking an Uber, you are paying for the service, but the tip is what pays for the quality of the experience.

Oftentimes, Uber drivers have cleaner cars and provide a more comfortable overall experience compared to a taxi. Whereas taxis offer standard services and are meant to be a general mode of transportation, Uber drivers drive their own cars, which they usually keep their vehicles in better conditions than  taxi drivers do. Therefore, taking an Uber is a more luxurious option than a taxi and usually cheaper as well. Therefore, while leaving a tip is always a good practice, the high-level service that Uber provides warrants at least a tip similar to that which you would give at a restaurant.

That being said, it is a good idea to consider tipping even when taking a taxi. Taxis are ultimately another part of the service industry, and if a driver puts in the extra care to ensure a customer’s satisfaction, their work may warrant extra compensation on the passenger’s discretion. Now we have to consider how tipping with Uber is different due to the services provided by the app. 

You could always tip the old fashioned way, with cash at the end of your trip. However, Uber has now made it easier for riders to tip using the app. At the completion of your ride it will first ask you to rate the driver. Then you can either choose one of their options to tip or leave a custom amount. Since tipping is optional, you can also choose to not leave one. Make sure to update your app first as this feature is relatively new and won’t come up if it hasn’t been updated first. This nice addition removes the hassle of haggling over change with cash.

While Credit cards and gift cards can work for tips on the app, promotions cannot be used. So if you are using a promotion, make sure you still remember to tip your driver if you’re feeling generous! 

Even with the update, the option to tip may not be there. This is because the driver may have opted not to accept tips in-app or maybe you are in a region that does not have in-app tipping available yet. In this case, you should give a cash tip if you can.

Another thing to note is that Uber does have a maximum as to how much you can tip while there is no minimum(meaning tip is not required). This cap is at 200%, which means that a rider cannot tip over 200% of their fare. So if you are extra happy with your ride, you may have to tip in cash!

How Much Should You Tip? Based on Region

As taking an Uber is a service, tipping follows the same scale as that of the service industry. About 10-15% is the standard for service, which is what you should tip for Uber as well. It is important to note that these standards of etiquette apply to the United States. In Europe, the standard is to usually just round up the bill so tips are lower, whereas in Japan, there is no practice of tipping whatsoever. Therefore, when determining how much to tip an Uber, think about how much you would tip at a restaurant since an Uber is at about the same level of service. However, in some cases, it may be appropriate to tip more or less than this standard, depending on your experience.

Every driver is different and so is every rider. While your experience may not be the best, that is not necessarily the fault of the driver and therefore the driver shouldn’t be punished for it. 

Therefore, remember that while Uber is a new industry, it is still part of the service industry and tipping your Uber should be as mainstream as tipping in a restaurant. The main rule of thumb is that you should always tip the driver as a thank you for getting you where you need to go. The rating is where you should measure their service capability and where a little more judgement is warranted.

Other Reasons to Tip More:

Another point to remember is that if you have a short ride, it might be better to tip more than 10 percent. For example, a 5 dollar trip would probably warrant at least  1 dollar tip as leaving 50 cents is bordering on insulting and is just plain annoying. Nobody wants coins jingling around in their car and tipping on the app only 50 cents will still make you look cheap!

Also, if your driver helps you with luggage or getting your children settled, this could be another reason to give a little extra tip to show your appreciation. Remember, a tip shows your appreciation for the quality that your driver is providing. 

What if You Forget to Tip?

If you forget to tip but remember later, that’s not a problem! The new update on the Uber app allows you to tip a ride up to 30 days later. Even if you feel awkward tipping after a couple of days or even weeks, you should always give the tip if you can as it will make a big difference to the driver. Click on your most recent trip and on the right side, under the fare, should be an option to add a tip. You can then type in a custom amount to tip. If you want to give a tip but not a rating, you can also do it this way.

Will Tipping Affect Your Rating?

With Uber, drivers are at the mercy of the riders. Tipping doesn’t affect your rating since on the app the option to tip appears after you rate the drive. However Uber does have a retroactive rating policy for the drivers so tipping can make a difference. The way this rating policy works is that drivers can call Uber and change the rating they gave a previous customer. So if you had a rocky start with your driver, it may be a good idea to tip. To be more on the safe side though, you should probably tip by cash before the end of the trip to make sure that the driver gives you a high score to begin with. That being said, a tip is another way to thank your driver while the rating is more of a performance review for both the rider and driver. 

Tipping is a standard practice in the service industry, and when it comes to Uber drivers, it can make a huge impact and difference. Therefore, always try to remember to tip your Uber driver, and even if you forget, you can always tip after!

When taking an Uber, safe driving habits are key. 

SafeMode is a company which utilizes behavioral artificial intelligence to improve on the driving habits of drivers for fleets. It can be integrated into existing fleet management systems and because it is custom for each driver, each driver is given personal feedback and rewards in order to encourage safe driving habits. Using SafeMode can improve the other side of service etiquette: the side providing the service. By providing better service and a more beneficial experience, tipping will increase as well as overall productivity, which creates a happier and more efficient situation for everyone. 



Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page