Uber Is Rolling Out In-App Tipping Throughout The US

Filed Under: Uber

Uber has been in the spotlight for the past several months, and not for good reasons. Their policies towards drivers, riders, and their employees have caused many to boycott the app. Many people have even gone back to using taxies, which is funny, since part of the reason people loved Uber to begin with was because it was a chance to boycott the (rather corrupt) taxi industry. A few days ago Uber’s former CEO stepped down, given all the things that happened under his watch, not to mention the things he did directly.

Clearly Uber is trying to turn over a new leaf, and as part of that they’ve promised “180 Days of Change,” in which they plan to roll out all kinds of changes that will help out drivers. Here’s how Uber introduces these changes in a message they sent to their drivers:

We’ve heard you. You’ve told us what you want, and now it’s time we step up and give you the driving experience you deserve, because simply put, Uber wouldn’t exist without you.

Today, we’re making a commitment. For the next 180 days (and beyond) we’ll be making meaningful changes & improvements to your driving experience. Some changes will be big, some will be small — all will be the changes you’ve asked for.

While not all of these changes have been announced yet, here’s what we know so far:

Uber is adding in-app tipping in the US

It’s finally happening. As of today, Uber has introduced in-app tipping in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston. It’s being rolled out on a trial basis in these cities, and by the end of July Uber plans to roll out tipping in markets throughout the US.

Am I happy to see tipping rolled out through the Uber app? Yes and no. On one hand Uber was founded with the idea of not expecting tipping, but over time things have evolved, especially given how low Uber rates have gotten in many cities. I’m all for people making a livable wage.

On the other hand, I think this change was inevitable, and is overdue. We got to the point where there was almost hostility between divers and riders over this topic, where drivers started to expect tips. There was a disconnect in terms of expectations. The problem is that the unique selling proposition of Uber has been that it’s a cashless experience.

I guess getting to a point where tipping was expected was inevitable, and if that’s the case I’d much rather it be cashless, than the expectation be that we tip in cash.

The ride cancelation window is decreasing to two minutes

Currently riders have five minutes to cancel a ride before they’re charged a fee, though that’s being lowered to two minutes. That seems fair enough to me, and hopefully will help drivers waste less of their time and earn more.

No more unpaid wait times

Drivers won’t have unpaid wait times anymore — drivers can earn a per-minute rate when waiting for a ride, starting two minutes after arrival.

Bottom line

While there are some other changes, I think the above three will have the most positive impact for drivers. Uber will finally allow in-app tipping (which at least seems better than the current situation of drivers expecting cash tips), the cancelation window will be decreasing, and drivers will get paid for waiting.

If this helps drivers earn a better living with Uber, I’m all for it. So while I appreciated Uber’s initial goal of not soliciting tips, this change had to happen sooner or later. If the expectation for tips is there, it’s nice that this can at least be done in a cashless way.

What do you make of these changes coming to Uber?

(Tip of the hat to The Points Guy)

  1. this is the WORST thing happening to uber. now drivers will use that as a leverage – bad tip, then 1 star pax rating. this totally defeats the advantage of uber.

  2. Firmly against the tipping change. The whole idea is that what you see is what you pay. Having tipping leads to *more* expectation that you do something that is undefined, and more bad behavior by drivers expecting something. It is no longer a signal of good service – and we have the star rating system to manage feedback. If Uber wants drivers to receive more money, then let their prices increase, or their cut of the profit decrease.

  3. Seems like riders’ thoughts are not being addressed at all. The tipping thing has gotten way out of control. Uber was founded on no tipping. To go against that, goes against their foundation.

    And though we’ve read many stories in the press about people boycotting Uber, every driver I’ve talked to has said that’s not been the case whatsoever.

  4. Basically a bunch of negative changes for riders. Two minute cancel window is way too short…drivers will play games, idle for a couple minutes and try to get you to cancel. Drivers who don’t know where they are going, make a wrong turn and add significant time to the pickup estimate win here too.

  5. Any word if Uber credits can be applied to tips?

    I have the AMEX Platnum Card with the $15 Per month UBER credits. I don’t use uber much, trying to use it for an under $15 ride since it’s free, would love to round up to $15 and give the driver some “free” money, if my Amex credit will cover tips.

  6. Tips on Lyft are anonymous (or close to it). So I’m not worried about that.

    I do wish Uber was able to set an expectation that their fares were a fair wage and didn’t require tipping. But I’m not surprised that changing this aspect of the industry was too much for them. Nearly ever other form of transportation, except public transit, has some kind of tipping custom.

  7. If the driver can see how much they were tipped prior to rating, this is a hideous change. Otherwise, it’s fine because I won’t be tipping anyway.

  8. How would this impact taxes? With cash, it’s easy to declare a random amount of tips as income and for some people, they don’t even declare it at all to avoid paying taxes. I imagine Uber drivers will get an income statement which will include tips received through this mode of payment. I can see that some won’t be happy about this and would rather get cash tips instead.

  9. Riders aren’t the key to Uber… Drivers are. Riders will always need rides and the demand for rides is not new, but without enough Drivers, the system collapses.

  10. Besides, tipping will likely lead to better service, as it does in most industries where tipping is optional yet customary.

  11. Uber should just up the rates to allow drivers to make a living wage rather than add tipping. Easier for everyone involved.

  12. Y’all are ridiculous. I use Uber a lot and have wished for a long time that there was an option to tip. Sometimes for whatever reason I want to reward the driver, but I don’t carry cash.

    For those of you willing to bail over $1 maybe that will decrease the wait time for me. By far Uber is still cheaper than taxis.

  13. Ditto to what folks above have said about the smaller cancel window…while the majority of drivers are good, there are plenty that will screw around in order to game the system. It’s not a stretch to think that such a driver could try to game the ‘paid wait times’ change.

  14. The only times I’ve ever cancelled Ubers are when idiot drivers are lost and can’t find me, well beyond the estimated arrival time. Why should I have to pay for that?

  15. @Travli

    “Besides, tipping will likely lead to better service, as it does in most industries where tipping is optional yet customary.”

    How about we compare the US and Japan/Taiwan/SK? How about people do the job they’re paid for? (And how about we just pay a living wage and kill the tip?)

    We’re surrounded by services. Why stop at taxis if tipping is so great for the customer? Why not tip the delivery driver, the grocery bagger, the bank clerk, the teacher, and the mechanic? In fact, if tipping truly is key to prop up the system and provide good service, you really ought to tip your anesthesiologist.

  16. When I started using uber in December 2011 in San Diego, it was amazing.

    Drivers were honest and polite and chatty and gave free water or gum and seemed to really enjoy their jobs, over the years I’ve noticed less and less people doing it for fun at the weekends to earn some extra cash and just find now its only people who drive Taxi’s full time who mainly seem to be my Uber drivers.

    Sorry to say, but the real taxi drivers are the ones who are more miserable and want tips and still get lost and don’t want to talk or anything.

    Such a shame, all down to the $$$ again.

    Uber should reduce it’s cut, so drivers make a good wage and riders get lower fares than taxis and then everyone, except uber is happy.

  17. @Charles,
    In my market, drivers get paid $0.15 per minute. By cutting the wait time from 5 min to 2 min, this could cost you an extra $0.45 per ride.

    My personal belief is that drivers should be getting paid from the moment they arrive. If you make them wait at all, you are being rude.

  18. Yeah, like you haven’t noticed how often drivers hit the “arrived” bottom 5 minutes before they actually do…

  19. None of this will matter in a few years when Uber goes to self-driving vehicles; @Travli, don’t think your views on the keys to Uber’s success are all that accurate.

    The tipping culture in the U.S. has gotten way out of control and is so out of touch with the rest of the world where you generally have great or adequate without some preposterous expectation of paying workers for the service they have to provide. In NY, receipts often list suggest tipping ranges from 20-25%, well beyond the 15% that was the “norm” years ago. complete lunacy driven by the restaurant industry’s lack of willingness to reform.

  20. “Many people have even gone back to using taxies, which is funny, since part of the reason people loved Uber to begin with was because it was a chance to boycott the (rather corrupt) taxi industry.”

    An unintended consequence of Uber entering markets is that taxi drivers/companies have upped their game.

    In DC (home), I now always look for taxis and only take Uber when I have to. Same in many other US cities where Uber has entered.

    In other countries I take taxis or Uber based on schedule and service need.

  21. I have had SO MANY drivers play with paid wait times. they will say they are at my address from 5 minutes away and then I get charged before they even arrive. I’ve had drivers then sit at my location on the phone while I am paying their fare…

    i really like 95% of drivers, but some Uber policies just encourage the 5% to milk their customers

  22. @Daniel


    Tipping not customary in those places… not what I’m talking about.

  23. @Tom: “My personal belief is that drivers should be getting paid from the moment they arrive. If you make them wait at all, you are being rude.”

    I completely agree with that. The point I was making was that not all drivers are honest (just as all riders can be jerks too).

  24. So many people commenting against tipping here I can’t even begin to address them individually! I would love to know if drivers can see tips before rating you. Because the logical thing would be to have to rate you before knowing whether you tipped! And that way both rating are based on the same as before – what you see is what you get. I also don’t know if the driver gets to see who tipped what or if he just gets a total amount at the end of the day/week/month.

  25. As an Uber/Lyft driver, and rider, I don’t like the people that complain about the service but continue using it.

    -some prefer higher rates to tipping, really?
    -you happily tip a taxi driver but not your Uber/Lyft driver (it’s cashless now)
    -you worry so much about your rating

    I’d rather tip a few bucks instead of raising fares (though as a driver I’ll welcome higher fares).

    I will rate riders accordingly, not all riders are created equal, so if you deserve a low rating, you’ll get it.

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