Some rideshare drivers are making $50+ in tips per day amid COVID-19

Some rideshare drivers are making $50+ in tips per day amid COVID-19. We’re going to show you how


It’s no secret that working rideshare and delivery with a lethal virus in the air is a big risk. Yet many of us agree to take on the risk because we need to earn money, and also because it feels good to know we’re transporting essential workers to their posts and keeping families fed. 

Given all this, you would think that people would notice the service drivers are providing, and want to reward them for putting their lives on the line. There are some customers, in both the rideshare and delivery businesses, who do tip as they should. Many even tip more than what we’d expect, but…

There are some customers who tip very little—or not at all. Although it boggles the mind how this could be possible, it happens. 


There are some drivers who are making a LOT of money from tips, including now amid COVID-19.

Over the past week we sat down with a few rideshare drivers who have had success getting tips, and we drilled them on the strategies and techniques they use. Some of them have even had days where they made $50 in tips.

And in today’s post we’re going to share with you what works best. We’ll cover …

  1. What it’s like to have a poor tipping experience
  2. Why passengers should be tipping more
  3. Why passengers might not tip more
  4. How the companies can incentivize passengers to give bigger tips
  5. Things you can do to improve your chances of getting more and better tips

Going that extra mile, but coming up empty

Although the prevailing belief is that we’re not supposed to expect tips from our customers, most people should know it’s only polite to tip the driver. In COVID-19 conditions, it’s hard to believe people expect drivers to go through with driving and delivering without being compensated at least a little bonus on top of the fare. They depend on our services, and again, we’re taking big risks to deliver them.

Here’s a scenario. You get a call on Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub, DoorDash, or whatever food delivery service you use. Picking up the food entails putting on your mask, going into the store, often waiting for extended periods, remembering to social distance (six feet from other delivery drivers!), and then finally getting the heavy bag loaded with a bunch of burritos placed into your delivery satchel or crate … or your (recently sanitized) hands.

You go back to the vehicle, load the food, take off your mask, and the destination is revealed: It’s an apartment building … in a high-crime area. Worse, the delivery instructions say, “Please find my name in the directory, call me, and I’ll buzz you in.”

After driving there, you have to put your mask (and possibly gloves) back on, grab the heavy bag of burritos, ring the main door, wait for what seems like forever to get an answer, and when the door finally clicks unlocked, you have to go inside, board an elevator (with WAY LESS than six feet between you and the people in there with you), pass by several of his sketchy-looking fellow tenants, find the guy’s apartment … and deliver the food.

You try to smile through the mask (and by the way, he’s not wearing one), and greet him cheerfully. You hand him the food, being careful not to touch him, and showing him where you haven’t touched the bag. You think you’ve done so well!

He accepts the food and closes the door in your face. 

When you close out the delivery on the app you notice that, for your half hour of time and trouble, you’re going to collect $7.50. Is there a tip? NO.

It’s the kind of delivery that makes you want to go straight home, get yourself lost in Netflix, and wait for the unemployment payment to roll in. 

Show us the money

In ordinary circumstances, people tip when we give them extraordinary service. In rideshare, this might mean using your street-savvy senses to find an extra-expeditious route to the airport during rush hour. In delivery, it could mean remembering to bring extra napkins, or adding extra condiments in the bag.

In the COVID-19 environment, any service we offer is extraordinary. For all the reasons we listed, people who choose to work in these conditions deserve the respect and remuneration for going above and beyond the call of what a driver would call “duty.” While we, as drivers, definitely know this is the case, customers may have a different point of view.

Why people might not want to tip

You’re not serving them beautiful meals on a plate

When it comes to food delivery, you have to consider the customer’s point of view. They’re probably paying more than they ordinarily would for the food, because restaurants pad the price to compensate for paying the delivery company’s fee. 

People are typically more willing to give tips in restaurants because someone takes their order and serves them their food. In the delivery situation, they figure the company is paying you anyway, so why should they tip you? Unfortunately, there’s no way for them to tell how little you’re getting for each trip.

They already got hit with a service charge

Grocery delivery customers have even more things to consider. Not only are they trusting someone else to pick out bananas at the right stage of ripeness, they’re paying a service fee to the grocery delivery company. 

The tip they would give you comes on top of that. Customers are not prone to fork out even more money when they’re already getting hit with a premium charge for the food they buy for their families.

They’re waiting longer, too

In the rideshare world, things are not much better. There aren’t as many rides, and quite often we end up driving 10, 15, and 20 minutes in between rides. Customers would know this because they have to wait for you. As it turns out, they’re just ticked off that you didn’t come as fast as you used to when there were more drivers on the road. 

Also, there are instances where the rideshare companies slap a surcharge on the customer, particularly if you had to drive a long distance to take the trip. Adding a tip on top of all that may just be more than a lot of people can afford.

They figure it’s the company’s job to pay drivers extra for working in the pandemic

It’s hard to blame them for that, but the reality is, the companies are also taking a hit during COVID-19. Many are suspending delivery charges to keep the food going out to hungry customers, and the rideshare business has been decimated through this crisis. Still, people don’t feel they should pick up the slack, and when we turn the tables, we can’t really disagree with them.

What the companies do to get tips for us—and what they could do better

While tips are supposed to come to us because of what we do as individuals, the companies also play a part in it. During the COVID-19 crisis, in-app suggestions from the companies could have an influence on their tipping habits. Let’s see what the individual companies are doing—and not doing—and how they contribute to the average driver’s tip jar.

Uber’s policy

Uber got in a lot of trouble a few years ago for not having an in-app tipping option. That has changed, thankfully. Now, for both Uber rideshare and Uber Eats, after the customer rates the driver, tipping options come up, for a 10%, 20%, or 30% tip. Customers can also tip you through their email receipt, up to 30 days after you drove or delivered for them. Uber also mentions that it’s fine to tip in cash.

How to do better

While an easily clickable range of tips could turn out to be pretty sweet if you’ve just done an $80 airport run, a 30% tip on a $10 burger and fries order is only going to be $3. It would be nice … if they sent messages to riders and delivery customers explaining how important it is to tip drivers extra for going out into the COVID-19 environment to provide services for them, even if it’s just to the local fast food eatery.

Lyft’s policy

Lyft’s tip policy is almost identical to Uber’s, with an in-app tipping option and directions on the website (and in the rider app’s help section) on how to honor the driver’s service.The one difference with Lyft is that the time range for tipping is only 72 hours. 

How to do better

Here again, more reminders about what drivers go through to make sure customers have a safe and pleasant ride, and how much they deserve to be paid extra in these challenging times.

DoorDash’s policy

DoorDash offers the option for in-app tipping, but the screen for this comes up at the time they place their orders. That isn’t great because it’s hard for customers to know what kind of service they’re going to get. What if they tip someone 30% in advance and they bring smooshed fries and a cold burger, with half a milkshake dripped all over it? 

It’s still possible to add or change a tip after the delivery, but the customer would have to go back to the help section to get that done. The worker who delivered the disaster of an order would probably lose that tip, deservedly so. But … if someone wants to tip you big after the fact, the need to find the right page in the help section is going to make that much less likely to happen. 

How to do better

DoorDash really needs to change the ways they offer options for customers to tip, so they can do it on the front and back ends of the order. Also, they could do more to emphasize how much the drivers are doing for their customers.

Grubhub’s policy

Grubhub offers customers the opportunity to tip at the end of the order. They even suggest tip amounts based on the full cost of the order, not just the food. This is an excellent policy, particularly when customers are ordering drinks as well as food.

On the Grubhub blog, there’s an article about tipping your Grubhub driver. It mentions how important it is to the driver to receive this extra amount. And … they even suggest that you never tip less than $5.

How to do better

Grubhub doesn’t go out of its way to let customers know how much extra work and risk drivers are going through with the pandemic. If they were to do so, their already generous efforts to help drivers to get more tips would be even more beneficial.

Postmates’ policy

The Postmates app lets customers leave tips after they receive the order. This is the reverse of DoorDash, and it presents similar problems. What if the customer forgets to go back into the app to leave a tip? As for cash tips, in the COVID-19 environment most customers don’t want to see you face to face. They want you to leave it at the door and walk away, to avoid spreading the virus.

How to do better

Postmates needs to give its customers more opportunities to leave a tip—and more reminders as to why it’s important, especially considering the extra hardship drivers endure these days.


The giant grocery delivery company has even more of a checkered history than Uber when it comes to their tipping policy. In the past, they’ve even taken tips that customers added on—and took part of it away from the driver to add to their service charge. After being called out on this, the company changed its ways.

Working for Instacart is even more involved than rideshare or food delivery because in most cases, there is actual shopping involved. A lot more time is necessary for each order, and the basic pay is not very high. This makes it even more essential for the company to convey the importance of tipping.

Instacart suggests a tip of 5%, then allows the customer to adjust it—or remove it altogether. Because there’s already a service charge for all orders, many customers balk at also adding on a tip.

How to do better

It would be nice, especially because of Instacart’s past troubles, if they provided the public with more information about how their shoppers and drivers deserve generous tips.

What drivers are doing to get bigger tips

If you’ve been in the rideshare or delivery business long enough, you know that the more you relate to your customers and provide those extra touches, the more likely you are to get good tips. Even though it’s true you’re doing the world a favor just for being out there, you should avoid acting like that’s how you feel. 

We sat down with a few drivers who are regularly making $50+ per day in tips, and they gave us their insight about how rideshare and delivery drivers can increase gratuities.

Tips for rideshare drivers

Have great customer interactions.

“Everyone is pretty sensitive right now,” says James, a Pittsburgh rideshare driver and Gridwise user. “So it goes a long way to simply do what you can to brighten a passenger’s day. That makes it hard to forget to tip.”

If you want to consistently receive tips, you need to make an impression on your passengers that causes them to remember you.


Make sure to have extremely positive interactions with customers from the moment they call you to the moment they leave your car.

James offered the following examples of ways to create a positive customer experience.

  • Put on your mask before the customer enters the car.
  • When you’re wearing a mask, it’s hard for your customers to see that million dollar smile! Wave at them, in the friendliest way you can think of, so they know you’re happy to welcome them.
  • Offer to play the kind of music or other entertainment the rider would prefer.
  • Offer to open car doors and the trunk to allow the rider to avoid contact with these surfaces.
  • Ask your passenger if the temperature is comfortable.

Keep your car clean.

“It’s all about having a clean car these days,” says Regina, a Chicago area rideshare driver. “With COVID-19, everyone wants to feel clean and safe, so the more you can do to make sure your car feels, smells, and is clean, the more you’re going to get tipped.”

We couldn’t agree more with Regina here. Uber and Lyft know how crucial cleanliness is in this COVID-19 world, and so should you.

Regina offered some tips to ensure your car feels spotless to passengers:

  • Put on your mask before the customer enters the car. This is often the first signal to a passenger about the cleanliness of your vehicle.
  • Offer the customer the option of cleaning any surface he or she would like with wipes or whatever cleaning products you’re using in your car.
  • Follow all company and state guidelines for protecting you and your riders from the virus.
  • Offer to open car doors and the trunk to allow the rider to avoid contact with these surfaces.
  • Spray air freshener after every ride.
  • If possible, arrive with your windows open to show the passenger that air has been flowing throughout the vehicle.

If they’re up for it, spark a conversation.

Who doesn’t love a talkative passenger?

People are incredibly interesting, and one of the best perks of being a rideshare driver is that you get to meet and chat with dozens of people each week. However, amid COVID-19, people could be less inclined to speak for fear of spreading the virus through their breath.

“You need to read the room,” says Kate, a Lyft driver in NYC. “Sparking conversations certainly helps with tips, but some passengers just want to sit there and think about nothing. I respect that.”

If a passenger has earbuds in, is working, has his or her eyes closed, or just looks preoccupied, be cautious when sparking up a conversation. You can throw out a question or two to test the waters, but don’t be pushy.

Let them be the DJ.

No matter what’s going on in the world, most people love music.

Music is a big part of the in-car experience, so asking passengers if they want to listen to a certain radio station is a great way to make them more comfortable. If you want to take things a step further, offer an auxiliary cord to your passengers and let them completely choose the music you listen to during the ride.

Letting passengers play DJ also gives you the opportunity to connect with them. Some passengers will have similar tastes in music as you, and you can share your experiences or recommendations with them. This is a great way to spark an enjoyable conversation.

Tips for delivery workers

Execute the delivery as quickly and smoothly as possible.

“Before anything else, you just have to get the food to the right place, as quickly as possible, with as few issues as possible,” says Reggie, a Miami-based DoorDash driver. “If there are issues with the order or speed of the order, that’s when you start to run into problems.”

Use a mask and gloves to demonstrate your efforts to avoid spreading the virus.

“A lot of people are going contactless delivery,” says Laurie, another DoorDash driver in Miami, “but when you do see a customer, you want to make sure that you have on your protective gear.” 

If you leave the order at the door, let the customer know you’re there so it doesn’t get cold or eaten by neighborhood animals—including humans.

“It’s honestly surprising to me how many food delivery people I see that just leave the food there with no notice,” says Reggie. “You did all that work to get them the food, send a message to tell them it was delivered!”

Take a photo of the delivery at the door, if instructed.

“As a customer, I love to get the photo of the food at the door,” says Oscar, a NYC-based Grubhub driver. “A lot of people live in apartments and have to go searching for their food. Simply alleviating that can be huge.”

If you get to meet them, give the customer the receipt. Often, this inspires them to tip you, as they see the amount and that the tip isn’t on there.

“My favorite trick is to give them the receipt,” says Oscar. “A lot of people don’t really realize that they’re not tipping sufficiently, so putting that in front of them and showing them that it’s not is a great way to spur more tipping.”

A (hat) “tip” to you

We hope this discussion about tipping in the COVID-19 environment addresses some of your concerns, and gives you the tools you need to keep the tips coming. You are doing a great service by working in this scary world we find ourselves in, and you deserve all the appreciation the world can afford to give you.


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