If you spend even one shift as a rideshare driver, you discover your income is not limited only to what you earn through giving passengers rides. You make more than the Uber and Lyft driver pay by generating tips.
This past July, an article in USA Today titled Do You Tip Uber and Lyft Drivers? Rideshare Tipping and Compensation Explained recommended that passengers set a tip of $4 to $6 for rideshare.
However, not every passenger that hops in your car will be a generous tipper. So what can you do to increase tips? Take a few minutes and read on as we reveal some conventional–and unconventional–ways to generate more tips and how to make the most money on Uber and Lyft.
Topics we cover in this blog post include
- tips come from everyone
- 12 ways to increase your rideshare tips
- all this stuff is tax deductible
- hot driver tip – use Gridwise
Tips come from everyone
Anyone involved in a service industry where gratuities are part of the custom can tell you that good tips come from the least expected sources. This is true with rideshare, too. You may transport an attorney across town or take a flight attendant a few miles to the airport, and you find that only the flight attendant tips. You may drive someone home from what appears to be the most menial job, and they leave you a five-dollar tip. It may not always sense, but this is what happens. The moral: Don’t dismiss any passenger as the source of a tip.
But there is more you can do.
12 ways to increase your rideshare tips
- A clean car goes a long way
According to an article by the U.S. Census Bureau titled America’s Love Affair With (Clean) Cars, “because many see their cars as an extension of their personality, maintaining an image by keeping their cars clean also matters.” Now that more people use rideshare as their main form of transportation, the clean rideshare car becomes an extension of their personality. They’ll tip for it, too.
Many drive-through car washes offer unlimited drive-through washes for a monthly fee, as low as $20. They take five minutes. Use their vacuums to clean the interior. Don’t forget the windows, too.
- Have a dress code for yourself
You don’t have to wear a button-down and tie (although some drivers do), but some drivers have found success in dressing up a little for the job. One driver in Los Angeles wears a bowtie during the cooler months. It is part of his image, and he says he gets comments all the time—and tips, too.
- Collect good tunes
The best Lyft or Uber driver advice for improving tips is to build a good music playlist. Build an extensive music library with Amazon Music, Spotify, and others. Strive for an eclectic collection. Everyone likes Sinatra, even the younger crowd. Throw in Billie Holiday, Tony Bennet and Lady Gaga duets, jazz, classical guitar, doo-wop. Experiment and see which genre of music works.
- Be a good conversationalist, but know when to be quiet
Talk it up with your passengers. Stay away from politics and sex, but most everything else is fair game. It’s always best to listen more than you talk. There is a certain anonymity to being a rideshare driver. People expect they’ll never see you again, so they feel as if they can tell you anything. Occasionally you get a passenger who doesn’t want to talk. Respect their desire for silence.
- Maintain a supply of goodies
We mean gum, breath mints, and water. If airport pickups are part of your passenger base, know that many folks sleep on the plane. They need to freshen up when they get off. No one wants to show up at a meeting with dragon’s breath. A case of water costs less than five dollars. Make sure every cupholder in your car has a bottle, replenishing as needed. You get extra points for toothpicks. The ones individually wrapped in cellophane are perfect.
- Have a stash of power cords for recharging phones
It is amazing that on just a ten-minute ride, you can get a passenger that wants to charge their phone. You can earn a tip if you can accommodate them. Keep three extra power cords in your car: the USB-C, the iPhone lightning charger, and a micro USB. Keep a few extra hidden away, too. These things tend to grow legs and walk. Make sure they are long enough to reach your back seat unless you are fortunate enough to have a USB charging port back there.
- Have three or four cash apps
We mentioned this a few blog posts back. Many car dealerships have agreements with Lyft or Uber to take clients home or drive them to the dealership when they get their car serviced. There are also medical insurance companies and others that contract with rideshare companies for patient transportation. Sometimes the customer wants to tip the rideshare driver but can’t because the ride is not on their app and they don’t have any cash. It is worth downloading a few of the more popular cash apps on your phone, such as PayPal, Cash App, Venmo, and others.
- Use icebreakers in group rides
Have you ever had a Lyft shared ride or an UberX Share, and when the second passenger gets in the car, all conversation screeches to a halt? It’s a psychological thing. Nobody wants to be vulnerable. Well, it’s your car. You run the show. Try playing two truths and a lie. Everyone tells three things about themselves. Two are true, and one is a lie. Everyone else in the car gets to guess which is the lie. It is a lot of fun. One driver reports that the most interesting truth he had in his car was a woman who spoke six languages. Check out tinypulse.com for a list of 11 icebreakers. Some might work for you. Ironically, people use these group rides to save money but end up tipping you for a great rideshare.
- Watch over unaccompanied women
A rideshare driver with daughters made it a habit of watching unaccompanied women passengers get in the door of their house, but he sensed that some of them were uncomfortable with him watching. That’s when he made it a point of telling them, “I am going to watch you get in your front door. I want to make sure you’re safe.” The unexpecting and surprising result is that 75% of them tipped.
- Return lost cell phones
There isn’t a driver around who has not had a passenger leave one in the car. This happens regularly when you work the bar crowd. Take the phone home and put it on your nightstand. They will most likely call it when they wake up in the morning, preferably a little more sober than the night before. One driver reported adding more than $80 in tips to his previous night’s earnings by returning three lost cell phones. The best part? Two people drove to his house to pick theirs up. The third was willing to meet him that night when he went out to rideshare again. If the owner doesn’t tip you, report it to Lyft or Uber. They automatically ding the passenger $15, which gets credited to your account.
- Hand out smiley face stickers
This sounds corny, but it works. Keep a few sheets of smiley face stickers in your glove compartment, center console, or tucked in the sun visor. When a passenger says or does something nice, or if they seem a little down, peel off a sticker and give it to them. Blue collar men in overalls will get out of your car wearing that sticker like a badge of honor, and they’ll tip, too.
- Learn the second language in your market
Master key phrases or become conversational in the second language you’ve always wanted to learn. Many non English speakers are delighted when they find you took the time to learn how to communicate with them. They reward it, too. Check out Babbel, Duolingo, or any other language learning apps. They have short lessons of 10 to 12 minutes. Perfect for between rides.
BONUS: Have a snappy response to “I’ll tip you in the app.”
Every rideshare driver knows that 80% of passengers uttering that phrase will never tip. Imagine if all the passengers who say, “I’ll tip you in the app,” actually do. Prepare a snappy response. One driver on Facebook a few years ago had this standard response: “I appreciate that. I use my tip money to buy medicine for the kids.” Another approach is to say, in a joking way, “Oh, wow, you just jinxed it. Four out of five people, when they say, ‘I’ll tip you in the app,’ never do. It’s common knowledge.” Now you’ve challenged them to tip you. Work on your delivery of this one. You’ll see those tips increase.
All this stuff is tax deductible
We’ve given you a lot of solid information for generating Lyft and Uber driver tips. About half of these things cost, but most of the expenses are negligible and are also tax deductible.
Hot driver tip – use Gridwise
Gridwise has many features that help drivers boost their earnings. In addition to having a free Uber and Lyft mileage tracker, Gridwise helps gig driver income with:
- When to Drive and Where to Drive – these features show you profitable neighborhoods and times of day to drive.
- Airport info – use the app to find out when the peak times are for arrivals and departures at the airports in your market.
- Event info – doing rideshare to take people to and from events? Gridwise shows all events in your area and lets you set reminders for when the event is starting and ending.
- Gridwise Gas – get up to $50/month off on gas
Ready to earn more on the road? Use some of these tip boosting recommendations and download Gridwise!
Do you have other suggestions for getting better tips? Let us know in the comments!