While tips are rarely expected by drivers using Uber, getting a tip makes many drivers feel appreciated – and helps boost earnings! If you’re not getting many tips as a driver, there are a few strategies you can use to tip the scales in your favor. Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins shares seven tested ways drivers can boost their rideshare earnings below.
“Tipping” can be a bit of a tricky topic. People tend to feel very strongly either way — either you’re adamant about always tipping or you think that tips are optional, or only for “above and beyond” service. There’s not a whole lot of in-between.
However, as rideshare drivers, receiving tips can help offset a low earning day or week. It can mean putting more gas in your car to keep going for a bit longer. At the very least, getting tips makes you feel good! It’s confirmation that people are recognizing your hard work and are appreciative of it.
In the current climate, we’ve heard from many drivers who are finding people are tipping less.
There are several factors that could go into this. For one, it’s hard to communicate while wearing masks — no one can see you smile. It’s also becoming more difficult to find safe ground when it comes to conversational topics.
If you’re curious about which topics to avoid, check out Never Talk About These 4 Topics with Passengers!
As rideshare drivers, we’re nothing if not tenacious. If you tell us we can’t do something, chances are we’re going to find a way to do it – and do it better! If you’re looking for ways to boost passenger tips, we have tried and tested methods for you!
This article was sponsored by Uber but, as always, opinions are our own. Uber does not guarantee future earnings or tips. Earnings can vary depending on many factors, including time spent driving and delivering with Uber, rider and delivery demand and other factors.
How to Boost Passenger Tips as a Rideshare Driver
Recently, Uber implemented some changes to the Uber passenger app to boost tips from passengers. Uber made the opportunity to tip even easier than before by redesigning the tip part of the app to encourage more tipping.
How? Now, if a rider wants to give a tip for excellent service while they’re in the car, they can do so easily with just one tap! And after a rider finishes their trip, the option to tip is now the first thing that shows up.
Above is an example of what passengers see to encourage them to provide tips while on a ride and after a trip. After a rider finishes their trip, the option to tip is now the first thing that shows up.
Ready to get started driving with Uber? Sign up here!
1. Provide excellent customer service
As rideshare drivers, we’re providing a service, and passengers expect you to put a little effort into making their ride comfortable and safe. You won’t be guaranteed to get a tip, but it’s always a good idea to go that extra mile.
If your passenger has trouble getting in and out of the car, offer a helping hand, grab the door or at least give them a smile instead of a grumble if they are taking longer than you’d like.
This is especially important when it comes to airport rides! Many drivers we’ve spoken to prefer airport rides, since airport riders typically are more accustomed to tipping and therefore give more tips than the average about town rider.
The key to getting more tips, especially when you’re taking passengers to and from the airport? Helping them with their luggage!
This just makes good common sense – Managing Editor Melissa Berry has given a number of airport trips, and she always helps passengers with their luggage. As she notes, “Sure, I do it for tips, but I mostly do it because I know how to load my trunk efficiently, and I do it carefully so I don’t scrape my car!”
Helping passengers with bags, luggage, etc. is a win-win: no one cares about your car more than you do, so you won’t scrape your car, plus passengers usually love the help!
Note: We understand not every driver can help with bags! If a bag is too heavy or you have mobility issues, being upfront with the passenger is key. Most passengers, if you briefly explain, will understand.
2. Be professional
You don’t have to dress up in a shirt and tie, but at least looking presentable will go a long way toward making your passengers comfortable.
Being professional would also include not taking personal calls while driving your passengers, not texting and driving (that’s a safety issue anyway), and trying to keep your car neat and clean.
Not really sure how to clean your car? Check out the best car cleaning products according to drivers!
Note about smells: Think twice before putting on really strong smelling perfume or cologne. It can give some people major headaches – and a grumpy passenger usually means no tips. Save the good-smelling stuff for when you’re at home or on a date!
At the very least, make sure to do this to keep your car clean throughout the day or night:
- Shake out your floormats 1-2 times a day when you’re driving passengers around.
- Wipe down the exterior of your car with a microfiber cloth.
- Wash your windows with a squeegee. Remember: passengers only see the exterior of your car for a few seconds but they’ll be staring out the windows for the entirety of the ride.
3. Knowing when to talk and when to not
Some passengers value a silent ride, others will be absolute chatterboxes. You’ll be better off rolling with the punches and being ready for a quiet trip – or learning the life story of your passenger.
When we polled our Facebook audience on their top suggestions for getting tips, there were three simple, overarching themes:
- Drive carefully
- Be polite (if not friendly!)
- Read the ‘room’ – not everyone wants to chat, so start with a greeting and see where it goes
Maybe talking with strangers isn’t something that comes naturally to you. Check out 9 Keys to Being a Great Rideshare Conversationalist to help improve your tip chances by getting in some great convos with your passengers.
On Reddit, this theme kept coming up:
Everyone seems to agree that talking (or knowing when not to talk) is key to getting more tips.
Personally, I had one couple who had just finished DJing a set and wanted silence along the way home. I happily turned off my radio and kept quiet unless they initiated a conversation. It ended up being a pleasant trip for all of us and they were grateful enough to leave a tip for following their simple request.
Interested in signing up to drive with Uber? Sign up here!
4. Play good/neutral music
I’ve gotten a $20 cash tip just for a certain song coming on the radio. Granted, one of the passengers (I was driving a group of 5 guys at the time) had tuned the radio to the station of their choice, but another was so stoked about the song that came on that he tipped me well for it.
This happened in the “before times” when passengers were allowed in the front seat. I had a packed van and the front seat passenger was the one who requested permission to change the station. I don’t mind if my passenger has a musical request. As long as they or I can safely change the station, I am happy to oblige.
On average, I try to find classic rock stations or playlists to have on. You can’t go wrong with classics like Stairway to Heaven and In the Air Tonight. Don’t believe me? RSG contributor-at-large and driver extraordinaire Jay Cradeur swore by playing the classics as a way to increase tips!
It makes sense, right? People typically love hearing the music from their youth, or even common tunes almost everyone’s heard. It’s familiar yet not “in your face” like other genres can be.
Keep the music at a respectable level, too. It’s uncomfortable and likely to lead to bad ratings if you have blaring music. It can also be uncomfortable or awkward if there’s no music at all. I like to keep it loud enough to tell what song it is but low enough to converse with my passengers.
If the passenger requests you turn up the music, feel free to do so. The more comfortable a passenger is during their ride, the more likely they will be to leave a tip. No one tips for bad experiences.
5. Be on time to pick up your passenger
For the most part, this doesn’t seem to be a difficult strategy for most Rideshare Guy readers! However, if you usually wait a little while after accepting a ride request before heading out, reconsider that strategy!
After all, think about the last time you requested an Uber ride. Most passengers will check their app and see if their driver is heading out – and there’s nothing more worrying than requesting a ride and not seeing the driver on the move!
Yes, drivers will get stopped by lights and traffic. As long as a passenger sees you on the way, that will alleviate any of their stress and make the ride that much more pleasant.
6. Be willing to wait (a reasonable amount of time) for a round trip excursion
Some passengers realize that you’re taking extra time out of your day and possibly lowering your potential earnings if they run an errand as part of their trip. Some of these passengers will reward your patience with a tip.
If it’s going to take longer than a few minutes, you can politely ask them to request a new ride when they are done or almost done. Not all passengers are understanding, but others may surprise you.
7. Have a sign that says “Tips are appreciated”
This can be considered controversial. Some say it’s tacky or manipulative to have a sign asking for tips. However, if you keep it to simply saying “tips are appreciated”, it may be a subtle hint to your passenger that tips are not automatically included.
Back in the day when Uber first started, tipping was discouraged and not allowed within the app. In this day and age, it’s rare for passengers to have cash on hand. They didn’t know how to tip or thought it was included as part of their fare.
One of our Facebook followers said, “I also have a sign that tips are appreciated. You would be surprised how many didn’t even know we [accept] tips or that you could tip in the app since most don’t carry cash.”
I had a similar experience. I added a sign that reminded people to buckle up, let them know that I had bottled water available for them to take and it stated that tips were appreciated.
My tips noticeably increased when I added that sign. Again, this was before tipping was allowed in-app. Once Uber allowed passengers to tip within the app, my tips increased again.
Honorable mention: Drive during inclement weather
This is mainly for states where we get a lot of snow. If you are comfortable driving in snow, you will likely rake in the dough including getting more tips. People in these areas realize how difficult it is to travel in the snow and are often so grateful that you’re there to bail them out.
The strategies above aren’t a guarantee you’ll get tips – we all know that “one person” who absolutely refuses to tip, no matter what, ever. However, if you’ve been struggling to get any tips and can’t figure it out, the suggestions above can help point you in the right direction!
In addition, these strategies will not only help you get tipped more often, they’ll also help you with Uber Pro status and your driver rating.
If you need a recap, here’s what to keep in mind when you’re looking to increase the number of tips you get from passengers:
- Provide excellent customer service / be kind
- Be professional
- Take the passenger’s lead when it comes to talking
- Play good music!
- Be on time to pick up your passengers
- Be willing to wait
- Consider having a ‘tips appreciated!’ sign
Ready to sign up and drive with Uber? Get started here!
Drivers, which strategy have you found to be the most effective to get more tips? How do you view tips – nice to have, but not expected? Or expected for every ride?
-Paula @ RSG