We all know how much you should tip a server in a restaurant: 18 to 20 percent is the gold standard across the board. And we’re happy to shell it out because those waiters bring you your food, often offer witty banter, and can tell you which blend of white will go best with your swordfish. But what about for those who are just responsible with getting food to your door? Like a Grubhub or Seamless driver?
While they might not refill your water glass throughout your meal, they’re still always there to bring you a bagel in a snowstorm (no, just me?) or wings for your Super Bowl party.
So do the restaurant rules still apply when your food is brought to your door, not the table? Glamour spoke with Grubhub drivers across the country for their recommendations. Read on for their best delivery service tipping advice.
How Much Grubhub Delivery Drivers Actually Earn
Unlike waiters, they aren’t paid by the restaurants outright. They’re paid by Grubhub—and it’s not based on the size or price of the order. “Grubhub has a $3.50 base [depending on location], plus mileage, any bonuses they’re offering, and tip,” says Curtis, who delivers for Grubhub in Denver. While actual fees can vary based upon the city or state you drive in, an anonymous driver in Rochester, New York shared that he gets paid, “50 cents a mile,” as his mileage rate. It’s also important to note that, “we don’t get paid from where we are to the restaurant, we only get paid from where we are to the diner, so we can drive up to 20 minutes sometimes to pick up the food that we’re not getting paid for,” says the Rochester driver.
But how do tips factor in? Because Grubhub actually accounts for tips in their payment algorithm—they matter a lot. For John William, a driver in Pennsylvania, “about 50 percent of my weekly earnings is from my tips,” he says. So when you go to tip your delivery driver, remember that it’s a huge portion of their overall pay.
They Have Fees You’d Never Think Of
Grubhub drivers don’t simply walk away with the full fee they’re earning. Much like those working for ride-share companies, the majority of a Grubhub driver’s work is done in their own car. So a portion of their paycheck goes back to gas and overall maintenance on their vehicle. Curtis in Denver estimates that he puts 12 percent of his paycheck back into his truck on things like needing, “new tires, oil changes—which can cost up to $25—or needing to have my brakes redone,” he says. And that’s without gas, which depending what kind of car you’re driving, can cost upwards of $50 a week.
Why It Pays to Tip
Something you might not know about Grubhub is that drivers can actually see just how much you’re tipping—before they accept your delivery request. “If you’re only tipping something like 10 or 40 cents, there are drivers that will open that order, see it, and reject it,” Curtis says. “It will get bounced over to another driver until somebody is willing to deliver it. Some drivers will even purposely hold the order before they re-assign it.” The Rochester driver has heard similar stories, “I’ve gotten orders that are already an hour late because they’ve gone through so many drivers who don’t want to pick it up because it wasn’t worth it. Or the order will just get canceled,” he explains. So if you want your food before it turns cold, you better tip generously. They’re watching.
What You Should Be Tipping
For the majority of orders, you should be tipping about 20 percent. Curtis advises, “if it’s a large order, and I’m going to a place like Outback Steakhouse and picking up $100 worth of food, 20 percent would be nice,” he says. But a lot of the orders he delivers are from fast food places, with a much smaller price tag. “Twenty percent on a Taco Bell delivery would be less than $2, so for smaller orders, around a $3 tip or so would be what I’d expect.” Also, if you live in a major city, not all delivery people drive—many bike or walk. So if the weather is atrocious or your order is a far distance to deliver, you should really consider giving more than the standard 20 percent. The more of a convenience it is for you should mean more of a tip for them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to tip in cash—which is totally acceptable—make sure to write it in the notes. “[Grubhub users] think they can give a cash tip, but if we’re not told, and just see we’re not getting the tip, we won’t do the order,” the Rochester driver says.
Just because they’re not waiting on your for the duration of the meal doesn’t mean they’re not doing a similar service, so tip them like you would any other waiter—they deserve it.
This story is part of Glamour‘s guide to tipping. Tips are approximate and based on varying factors. Learn more about how much to give in this seven-part series.