Immediately after the announcement of Uber reaching a settlement in two high-profile class action lawsuits, an Uber driver from San Jose, CA puts up a sign in his car. It reads,

“Thank you for riding with me today! Tips are not required but always appreciated.”

As an Uber driver, this is exactly how I feel about tips.

Most riders do not understand tips are not included in the fare. Unlike Lyft, Uber’s app does not have an option to add tips to a ride. One time a passenger told me that she read tips are included. Unfortunately, her information was not accurate. All Uber rides, including UberX, UberPool, UberBlack, do not include a tip in the fare. The only fare that includes a tip is UberTaxi, which is not available in most areas.

For each ride, the driver receives only a portion of what the rider pays. After Uber deducts their fees, which include a rider fee ($1-$2 per ride) and Uber’s commission (25-30% of the fare), the reminder is paid to the driver. For instance, my take-home was only $4.33 from a 13.4-minute UberPool ride. Sometimes, we get five to ten fares like this in a day.

At the same time, drivers are independent contractors and must pay for all expenses associated with driving with Uber. Most common ones include gas, car payment, frequent vehicle maintenance, insurance, taxes, and much more. These not-so-obvious expenses substantially reduces our net income. As a result, any additional incomes like tips will help us greatly.

In fact, the best “tip” I have received is not cash. A few week ago, I picked up a construction worker around lunch time.

Three minutes into the ride, he asked me, “Have you had lunch yet?”
“No.” I replied.
“Do you mind stopping by Costco for a quick bite? My treat.” He said.
“Sure! Costco sounds great!” I was pleasantly surprised.

At Costco, I ordered the famous dollar-fifty hot dog combo. Although this wasn’t the biggest tip I have received, it’s definitely the best tip ever.

A rider told me earlier this week that he never tipped Uber drivers before, but after reading an article on the class action settlements, now he tips.

We never expect tips from our riders. But when they do tip, we truly appreciate it. It shows they care.