Uber Limits How Much You Can Tip

I didn’t used to tip Uber drivers in cash. Much of the value add of the platform was its seamlessness. Tap a button, there’s your ride get in get out. No messy transaction to deal with. I even have to remind myself to pay when taking a taxi.

I hate tipping, but here are my 5 simple rules for it.

Uber added tipping to their app and the company’s new CEO says you should tip drivers aggressively. He even says your rider rating can suffer if you don’t, which isn’t true, and you probably shouldn’t care about your rating anyway unless it’s really bad such that you’re in danger of being banned from Uber. (Drivers can now leave narrative feedback on you, too, not just rate you with a number.)

In-app tipping is far better than cash, anyway, it’s more convenient for riders and you avoid the problem of scantily clad women stealing Uber driver tips.

It turns out though that there are limits on how much you can tip through the app.

Uber confirmed to CNET it does have a limit to safeguard against “fat fingers.” You know the problem: You want to tip $10 but accidently type $100 or $1,000. This way, you won’t have to go through the pain and hassle of getting your money back.

Uber’s tipping limit is “200 percent of the total, up to $100,” a company spokesman says. That lets a passenger, say, tip $50 on a $25 fare. “Of course, riders are free to tip additional amounts in cash if they’d like.”

Airlines have mistake fares, it used to happen more often than it does today precisely because there are now controls on accidentally dropping a few zeroes from a price. Uber does the same thing, and Uber riders are far more likely to be drunk or distracting than airline pricing analysts.

Lyft takes a similar approach, “limit[ing] gratuities to $50 or 200 percent of the cost of the ride, whichever is lower.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Maybe they also did this as a way to prevent manufactured spending?

    If drivers receive 100% of the tip, I could tip my Uber driver spouse $10,000 and receive the rewards on that (i.e. 30,000 points with the CSR), and then Uber eats the credit card fee. Then you get creative with your tax write-offs and find a way to justify that particular expense to avoid the loss from taxes.

  2. This isnt about drunks. It’s about eliminating the ability to circumvent the cost the driver has to pay Uber.

    “Hey, your trip is normally $55 to the airport. How about I shut off the ride at $10 and you tip me the balance instead of paying the full price?”

  3. Definitely isn’t about manufactured spending. Tips are income, and would appear on the driver’s 1099.

    It’s probably just as advertised, although @Easy Victor might be partially right. It would not be a great idea to do that though, as Uber/Lyft’s insurance only applies during an actual ride, and the private auto insurance wouldn’t cover someone driving you for money.

  4. straver,

    What would prevent someone from creating a pass through entity and justifying as a business expense? Then, if filing jointly, that expense would offset their spouse’s income.

    I’m not suggesting that one should do this, just that there may be a loophole there.

  5. Obviously fraud. Collusion between riders and drivers i.e. rider uses a stolen credit card and maximizes payment to the driver, then the rider and driver split the stolen fare (boosted by a huge tip).

  6. The fraud would be just as easy with the $6.99 ride pass on charges up to $30.
    I could have a friend who drives for Uber drive back and forth all day and rebate me more than the $6.99.
    Not that I would actually do that.

  7. The best way to solve this problem is to get rid of the option for tipping altogether. Tipping needs to die out everywhere, period. Putting tips in Uber was backwards to begin with. Can’t wait for self driving cars to solve the problem of tipping Uber drivers once and for all.

  8. Your self driving car option eliminates a lot of people’s jobs. I’m not saying it’s not going to happen anyway, but to relish it because of someone’s tip is really quite cold.

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