Uber, Postmates and More: A Guide to Mobile Tipping Etiquette

Living & Spending, Travel
on July 26, 2016

These days, you can have everything from taxis to coffees, takeout to groceries, and even an on-demand mini bar delivered straight to your door. Because yep, you guessed it—there’s an app for that. However, that level of convenience doesn’t mean you should leave manners by the wayside. To master tipping etiquette in the digital landscape, follow this simple guide to tipping through seven top service apps (and others like them).



Uber App

The Service: Pioneers in the ride-sharing realm, Uber allows you to request a reliable ride in minutes from virtually any location, without worrying about reservations, taxi lines, or even handling cash. The service is completely digital, which means you pay through the app itself with your credit or debit card. Say “goodbye” to counting change and “hello” to convenience. But what about tipping your drivers?

In-App Tipping Option: Generally, no, there is not a tipping function on the Uber app—except in select locations, where the uberTAXI option is available.

Official Tipping Policy: According to Uber’s website, tips are not expected or required, but drivers are free to accept them.

Tips for Tipping: Contrary to popular belief, tips are not automatically included in the fare of your Uber ride. Yet, while tips are not a feature of Uber’s app, they are sincerely appreciated by drivers.  The etiquette experts at Emily Post Institute offer guidelines for tipping across industries, which explain that 15-20% tip is the norm for taxi drivers. Though you can’t tip through the app itself, you can take advantage of the app’s fare-estimate feature to calculate a tip and pool any of your friends’ spare bills before your driver arrives.



Lyft App


The Service: Another popular taxi-alternative and ride-share app, Lyft’s mobile app calls itself, “Your friend with a car, a ride whenever you need one.” Simply download the app, request a ride, and pay upon arrival for a friendly and completely cashless experience.

In-App Tipping Option: Yes.

Official Tipping Policy:  Lyft’s app does encourage tipping by offering a cashless tipping option along with your bill, which is typically presented at the completion of your trip. However, tips are not presented as a percentage of your fare. Instead, riders can choose from the options of “No tip,” $1, $2, $5, or “Other,” if they would like to create their own custom tip amount. If you accidentally forget, you can log back in through the app and add a tip up to 72 hours after your ride.

Tips for Tipping: While, 15-20% is the norm for taxi drivers, don’t forget that your tip is how you can encourage your drivers for their friendliness and excellent service, so look at your fare and use your best judgement for each individual ride. Don’t be afraid to make someone’s day! You can also read Lyft’s helpful hints for tipping their drivers here.





The Service: Postmates is reimagining the way goods travel about cities by offering on-demand delivery 24/7, 365 days a year. No matter if you’re craving your favorite Chinese takeout, low on household cleaning supplies, or find yourself in desperate need of a personal care package composed of candy and cold medicine, Postmates has you covered.

In-App Tipping Option: Yes.

Official Tipping Policy:  The app calculates a recommended 20% tip based on the total price—which includes your order subtotal, an operational service fee, and a delivery fee. However, users are free to tip any amount they choose. You can also read up on the breakdowns of Postmates’ fees here.

Tips for Tipping: Postmates’ delivery fee is not the same as a tip, so don’t forget to tip your actual driver for their time and care with your items. You can choose to tip when you initially place your order but Postmates also allows you to go back in and tip your driver after they have made their delivery. This means that, while Emily Post recommends a 10% tip for take-out drivers, you still have the power to adjust your tip according to the quality of service, good or bad.



Starbucks App

Starbucks App

The Service: Home of the classic Pike Place Roast and the Pumpkin Spice Latte, you’ll find a Starbucks around just about every corner. Their mobile app can now streamline your morning routine by helping you locate nearby stores and place advance orders from their full menu on the app, complete with nutritional info.

In-App Tipping Option: Yes.

Official Tipping Policy:  When you pay with the mobile app, Starbucks automatically allows a custom tip option with every order. They also have physical tip jars at each of their registers for those of us who still carry cash, so you can take your pick.

Tips for Tipping: Is your latte’s design looking especially fine this morning? Did you and your barista share a laugh and are now well on your way to becoming besties? Did your barista go above and beyond for you in any other way? Go ahead and tip a buck. It’s the generous thing to do. Just be sure to consider the amount of effort involved in your order—a triple shot cappuccino with extra whip and a cinnamon sprinkle definitely requires more time and attention than a black drip coffee.



Grubhub App


The Service: Grubhub is a leader in online and mobile food ordering. Thanks to these guys, more than 44,000 takeout restaurants in over 1,000 U.S. cities and London can now deliver your favorite meal straight to your couch. Netflix and yum.

In-App Tipping Option: Yes.

Official Tipping Policy:  Matt Maloney, co-founder and CEO of GrubHub.com takes tipping delivery drivers very seriously, and he offers a handy reference sheet of their policies on their Facebook page, which you can read here.

Tips for Tipping: Follow Matt and Emily’s advice: 10% is standard and $1-$5 is always appreciated.




The Service: Consider Instacart the fairy godmother of groceries, who transforms your shopping experience into three simple steps:

  1. Order fresh groceries online from your favorite local store.
  2. Schedule your delivery for a time that’s convenient for you.
  3. Get your groceries delivered directly to your doorstep.

Bippity, boppity, done.

In-App Tipping Option: Yes.

Official Tipping Policy:  Instacart automatically calculates a 10% and adds it to your bill. Visit their Help Center to read more about their official policies regarding tip calculation and where your tip goes.

Tips for Tipping: The 10% is standard for delivery drivers. However, if you would like to readjust your tip amount, you can log in and update it with a customizable amount. The Instacart Help Center walks you through that process here.



Minibar Delivery App


The Service: Minibar Delivery Service brings the party to you by delivering wine, beer, and liquor to your stoop seamlessly. You can also book a bartender to really kick your party up a notch. It’s “the easiest way to lift your spirits.”

In-App Tipping Option: Yes.

Official Tipping Policy:  According to this helpful section of their website, Minibar automatically adds a 10% to your bill, but this amount is fully customizable. In general, they recommend a 10-20% tip for your delivery.

Tips for Tipping: Our favorite go-to tipping expert, Emily, recommends that you give bartenders a 15-20% tip of your total tab and 10-15% for home deliveries. Play it safe and stick to 15% to keep everybody’s spirits high.



%d bloggers like this: