This article is written from the perspective of your friendly neighborhood Uber driver. Please note that I drive full-time, that it’s my primary source of income right now, and that I drive a very expensive car with crap gas mileage, so I may be a bit biased. But I did want to offer my perspective on whether or not you should tip your Uber driver.
Driving for Uber is expensive
You read that right. Uber is cost-effective and reasonable for riders. It provides excellent, quick, generally-friendly service (in other words, a great experience) at half the price of cabs. Uber is the best thing to happen to transportation in a while – when you’re looking from the perspective of a rider.
Then there’s the perspective of someone who drives for Uber.
Like most drivers, I didn’t exactly plan to make driving for Uber my primary source of income or rest my ability to pay rent on it. As such, I drive a beautiful 2010 Dodge Charger RT with a 5.7L HEMI V8 and heated leather seats.
Do you know what kind of gas mileage that sexy beast gets? Especially in the city?
Also keep in mind that Uber takes a 20% fee from the fare you pay. It’s even worse for shorter trips. That $5 minimum fare for a short trip? We make $2.55 from that.
Except that we don’t.
Driving for Uber is a contract position, so we don’t have any taxes withheld. So take about 30% away from that to cover my tax.
If I have to drive a couple miles to pick you up and drop you off right around the corner, I just made less than $2, and in a saturated market like El Paso (or most other markets at this point – Uber is really pushing driver sign-ups right now), I could be looking at a 30 minute or longer wait time for my next passenger.
That’s less than minimum wage. Way less than minimum wage.
None of this factors in wear and tear (new tires, oil changes, getting my vehicle services at 100,000 miles, which will be happening shortly…).
Should you tip your Uber driver? Hell yes you should. Even a few quarters could save me at the end of the month.
I can’t afford to overachieve
Like anything I do, I try to be the best Uber driver I can be. I’m friendly, I make conversation, I adjust the volume of my music to be comfortable and only put on songs that seem to have a nice appeal and fade away into an ambient soundtrack.
But please don’t judge me for not offering you bottles of water, snacks, or gum. Don’t think I’m a jerk for not having an extra phone charger. If my car has a slight odor from the previous passenger, I’m terribly sorry that I didn’t have time to air it out or wipe it down.
I can’t afford to do those things.
(See above for why.)
Should you tip your Uber driver if he’s friendly but doesn’t quite go the extra mile? I say yes. That tip may be what enables him to go above and beyond in the future. But leave your thoughts down below!
Side note: How to tip your Uber driver without cash
Let’s say you’re convinced, but you don’t have cash. It’s 2016, after all. Who has cash nowadays?
If we drove for Lyft or any of the other decent rideshare companies, you’d have an option in the app, but you don’t.
If you really want to tip, see if your driver has a PayPal account so you can send money to his or her email address. Or try out the Cash app. Or any other money sending services. There are ways if you legitimately want to help a brother (or sister) out.
Final Consideration: It could be saving someone from bankruptcy
I talked very briefly about my “oh shit” moment a couple weeks ago, but I wanted to elaborate on this story a bit more. My credit card bills come due on the 16th of each month. Last month was a particularly crappy one because I had already fallen behind, some unexpected expenses came up, and I was running low on rides during even peak times.
On the 14th, I was freaking out. Legitimately freaking out. Like crying in the shower for 45 minutes and unable to get out because I was paralyzed by the fact that in 48 hours, I’d be defaulting on a credit card payment.
That was hard to take.
I was rescued, though, by a few people on a lovely Tuesday evening. I got a $5 tip, then a $2 tip, and then a $20 tip. Those pretty much made my night. They certainly made the difference between me falling into deeply desperate trouble and being able to continue forward for another couple weeks.
When it comes time to tip your Uber driver, try to keep in mind that this could be their livelihood and that your tip could mean the difference between eating and going hungry for them. I know that’s a lot of responsibility to take on and that it’s not your problem. Trust me. I recognize that fully.
But as Uber drivers, we deal with getting yelled at, people throwing up in our vehicles, fighting with traffic and weird GPS, getting sent to weird locations we don’t know (and that aren’t right anyways) to try and survive in this world.
If that $3 in your pocket doesn’t mean the world to you, try to remember that it could mean the world to someone else.
(And that’s not just the case with Uber – it’s the case with anything.)
On a charitable note
I had the opportunity to
go play with kittens and puppies create a video in coordination with the Humane Society of El Paso last week. If you missed it, make sure you give it a look-see.
Also consider donating, volunteering, or adopting a pet from the Humane Society of El Paso. It’s an excellent organization full of super cute animals and really rad people. Let’s do our part this holiday season.
And tip your Uber driver.