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I have used both Uber and Lyft on several occasions. I don’t really have a preference for one service over the other. Both have great drivers, and either beat taking a taxi. However, there is one big distinction between the two services: Lyft allows tipping through the app while Uber does not. Since Lyft allows you to tip through the app, it begs the question: should I tip Lyft drivers?
There is definitely a divide on this issue. Lyft and Uber have completely different ideas about tipping drivers. Let’s explore Uber’s policies first before diving into whether you should tip your Lyft driver.
Uber’s stance on tipping
Uber’s FAQs can easily be read to discourage tipping, although in essence the company is completely hands off. Drivers are allowed to receive tips and even place signs in the car encouraging riders to tip. Uber explicitly bills itself as a “cashless experience”, which is one of the things I really like about the service. And people definitely use Uber because of the easy, seamless experience that does not include tipping.
The lack of an option to tip your driver without carrying a few greenbacks is an explicit choice by the company. It is also a frustrating one. Uber does not plan add the ability to tip your driver through the app, which is inconvenient, to say the least. From Uber’s help section:
Tipping is voluntary. Tips are not included in the fare, nor are they expected or required. As a rider, you are not obligated to offer your driver a gratuity in cash. If you decide you would like to tip, your driver is welcome to accept.
For people who want to tip their driver, this means carrying some cash. Which flies in the face of the way Uber bills their service. Overall, I see it as a net discouragement of tipping.
Should I tip Lyft drivers?
Lyft, on the other hand, does allow you to tip through the app, which essentially encourages tipping. This implies that a Lyft fare does NOT include any sore of gratuity for the driver. There is even a help section spelling out exactly how to tip your Lyft driver.
Lyft is explicit that 100% of tips go to drivers, and you can tip through the app up to 72 hours from when you complete your ride. Even after that time-frame has passed, you can send a message to Lyft to manually add a tip to a driver. Tips are charged to your card on file. You cannot use promotional credits to cover a tip.
Personally, I find that being presented with an option to tip your service provider essential obligates you to do so, for better or for worse. If I’m not prompted to tip, I generally don’t. If I’m prompted to tip and decide not to do so, I tend to feel like a jerk. Thus, I usually tip when prompted, even if I believe the service was poor or overpriced. I certainly will not tip as much for poor service.
All that being said, I think you should tip your Lyft driver, especially if the service was very good and you are rating your driver highly. I’ve been provided free bottled water by both Uber and Lyft drivers on a couple occasions. I’m also glad that Lyft prompts me to tip through the app, since it makes it much easier on me than digging out cash. The cash I carry while traveling is often only for emergencies. Being able to tip my driver through the app is much easier.
In my opinion, tipping encourages drivers to provide better service to riders. If a driver is rude or doesn’t drive safely, don’t tip him. If she provides great service, show her you appreciate it. It’s that simple.
With prices being slashed, should tips be expected and/or encouraged?
Uber has pushed prices lower and lower for their services. Uber’s CEO even got into hot water recently after arguing with a driver over fare pricing. When Uber rolled out the flat fare pricing in several cities (SEE: Get flat-fare Uber rides for as low as $1.99 in select cities), I couldn’t believe the fares offered. There is no way the bulk of rides are anywhere close to economical. Does Uber pass on these uber-low prices to drivers, or do they still pay them the time and mileage fare? It left me scratching my head.
As the fierce competition continues among ride sharing companies and taxis, I feel more compelled to tip both Uber and Lyft drivers (and drivers with any other ride-share company). Uber drivers also say you should tip them. They say they would struggle to make a living without them. It’s funny that I feel less inclined to tip my taxi driver. Uber and Lyft have always provided smooth, pleasant service. Either beat taking a ride in a car that reeks of smoke with a grumpy taxi driver, who then expects a tip.
At the end of the day, though, tipping is still voluntary. You don’t have to tip. I think Lyft makes the right call by allowing riders to tip their driver seamlessly through the app. Even though Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors, they are still service workers in an industry where tipping has been customary. Like in any other service industry, tipping allows good service to be rewarded over service.
So, should I tip Lyft drivers? I believe the answer is yes, and I certainly do tip. And I will continue to do so. I’m generally a fan of our U.S. tipping culture (unlike Dan). It allows good service to shine and be appropriately rewarded.
The service industry is not foreign to me. My wife works part time at her parents’ restaurant and routinely makes a great deal in tips. She is attentive and engaging with customers, and has regulars who LOVE her. There are times when a table of two will leave her $10 or even $20 for a check of $20. Why are they tipping like that? Because they are getting great service. When I hear of the idiocy of “communal tip jars” for waitstaff, I shake my head. Why work harder so someone else can freeload on your efforts?
Now that we have answered the question “should I tip Lyft drivers”, have you ever considered tipping your flight attendant? (SEE: Tipping flight attendants: fact or fiction?)
If you have not signed up with Lyft yet, you can get $10 in ride credits if you’re a new user by using my Lyft referral link. I will also get a $10 credit – thanks in advance
Featured image courtesy of Sergio Ruiz under CC 2.0 license.