Complete Guide to Limo Driver Tipping Etiquette

September 9, 2020
9 mins read

Did you just over tip your chauffeur, or ingratiate him?  Many executive travelers that use limousine  services  often ask me about proper tipping etiquette.  There are subtle nuances in the service sector and it’s easy to miss them altogether. While some services add on gratuitiy to a bill for an all -inclusive pricing, others leave it to the client’s discretion.  Executive travel gives us all a chance to say thanks to those who have made our journey easier (chauffeurs, baristas, concierges). Here’s a worry free guide on how and when to tip, guaranteed to help you look like the savvy executive traveler that you are.

Knowing how to spell chauffeur is one thing, but knowing how to act in a limo is something else entirely. 

You should know limo etiquette whether you’re hiring one to chauffeur around a bachelor party or for a corporate event. Keep reading to learn about tipping limo drivers, where to sit, and more. 

Hallmarks of a Great Tip

When it comes to tipping your chauffeur, a little goes a long way—depending on how much they earn. In the United States, tipping limo drivers is a common practice, depending on the type of service rendered. 

Tips are generally accepted and appreciated. We recommend that you tip your driver a minimum of 15%, but feel free to tip them more if you feel that they’ve gone above and beyond. 

Whether you tip by hand, leave a personal tip in a tip quadrant, have a percentage transferred to your driver’s pre-taxed earnings, or add an optional tip at the time of payment—the overall sentiment of a good tip is the same—”thank you!”

The amount you should leave can range from 20% to 60% or more. Be sure to keep in mind how much your limousine service costs, your personal tipping policy, the quality of service you receive, and the location of your pickup and drop off.

What to Do When Tipping Limo Drivers Isn’t an Option

Traditionally, limousine drivers do not accept tips, but they may be happy to receive them other ways. 

Some drivers receive a percentage of their earned revenues from your final payment, but they may not receive the whole amount of the tip. 

Some services do not allow tips to be added on to a bill at all. 

Drivers receive tips as a rough percentage of their overall earnings—anywhere from 10-30% depending on location and service. 

High-end limousine companies are usually the ones that offer service without an option to tip the chauffeur a direct cash tip. Also, some upscale limousines come with gratuity included in the cost of the services.

When is a Limo Driver Tip Appropriate?

You should tip a limousine driver for a simple airport pick up, but you may not need to tip them again depending on the type of service you received. 

If you travel from the airport a couple of miles in a typical sedan, that driver will still need you to tip them. 

A limousine driver will usually take you anywhere within a dozen miles of the airport and wait for you, which could earn them a nice tip. 

Better to err on the side of generosity. People are always looking for the opportunity to complain to their limousine vendors about their chauffeur but very few people will mention a big tip, which should never be expected.

The driver is tipped per the cost of the ride (taxis have a set rate) so it is the passengers’ discretion what they tip. 

Tip amount is based on a variety of factors, including whether the fare was for one vehicle or multiple vehicles, and whether the fare was for point to point, roundtrip, or one direction.

How to Tip a Limo Driver in an Uber or Lyft

If you used the Ride hailing services of Uber or Lyft, you also need to give a tip! 

At the end of your ride, you can tap the “Contact us” button.

Inside you should see a “Leave a tip” link. 

Tap and hold the tip button.

Do this before you get out of the vehicle.

Send the maximum amount you can.

A tip can still be given after your ride.

You can even tip your driver for any trip they make to drive you home.

How to Tip a Limousine Driver

If you’re going to tip a limousine driver, the time to do it is when the service is rendered. 

If you do not want to tip with cash, the traditional way to do it is to slip the driver a few bills discreetly when they first open their door to let you in the limo. 

Do this before you are seated in the car. 

If you tip your driver with cash, be sure to roll it together and conceal it in your hand to prevent anyone from seeing you slip them the tip. 

Make sure you have the type of cash you need for the tip and your final payment ready before accepting the car. When you leave that limo, your driver has earned it.

Uber and Lyft both allow you to tip your driver after service and at the time of credit card payment. You can use Google Pay and Apple Pay as well. Keep in mind that the one-tap paying shows your credit card to your driver, which means they can see the final amount you want to tip through the app.

The easiest way to tip a driver is just to have the app send them a percentage of your fare. That’s usually what we suggest to our clients. Just keep in mind that you get the convenience of paying with your phone but some drivers may think you’re trying to cheat them. Just do your best to conceal your credit card or cash.

It’s best to tip you chauffeur and driver before your service comes to an end. If you do end up using a tip-based service like Lyft, then do all the steps above on your phone before you get into the car. This way you don’t have to worry about the process at the end of the ride when you might be in a rush. If you aren’t sure what to tip, it can’t hurt to start by tipping the pre-calculated amount of 20% and making sure the payee is your ride service.

A limo driver can be tipped in a variety of ways and they appreciate almost any form of gratitude. The most common forms of tipping a chauffeur include cash, postal money orders or certified checks, cashier’s checks, or credit card payments—all of which are made at the time of your service. Regardless of whether you tip in cash or by credit card, it’s customary to add a gratuity to the final charges for better service in the future.

You may not always need to tip your driver, but they appreciate the added generosity if you do.

What Should I do if I Don’t Need a Tip

You should tip a limo driver for good service and a friendly attitude. If you don’t want to tip the driver a cash gratuity, you need to let the driver know at the beginning of the trip. 

It is important that you keep your driver up to date on your gratuity policy so they know how to treat you.

Some companies will not allow you to change your gratuity policy after you’ve already made a booking. It’s always a good idea to request permission ahead of time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that tipping 10%-20% is the industry standard. Oftentimes, the higher end a limo is, the higher the tip is expected. Some limo services will dock driver pay if they don’t get a generous tip.

If you are heading to a show or a concert and want to tip your driver, just ask the driver to wait for you. If your driver is waiting for you, ask if s/he is available to remain until after the show, especially if it’s local. Many drivers will wait for you to come out and take you home without needing to be tipped again. 

When and What to Tip a Limo Chauffeur

Tipping a limo driver is customary in the limo service industry. Most drivers will accept tips at the time of service, but others prefer, or are required, to receive payments from a higher-ups in the company. That way, if the driver does not earn a tip or if there is a complaint about the service, he or she can be held responsible.

There is no industry standard for tipping chauffeurs, so you should tip cash or credit as you see fit. Tip amounts will vary depending on the level of service provided and whether gratuity was built into the bill.

All Inclusive Limo Service

Many limo owners include gratuity in the final payment, especially on large occasions like weddings or proms. If you book service like this it might be in your best interest to review the terms and conditions before you book. There is no industry standard for adding gratuity to your bill and some companies lose income if your gratuity included is higher than 20 percent of the bill, so they might add the gratuity themselves for the driver.

If you must tip your chauffeur or driver a direct cash gratuity, you should do it at the time of service. The best way to do this is to have it in a separate cash roll. When your driver opens the door for you, hand them the roll, with the top visible so that they can retrieve the correct amount. If you choose to tip using a credit card, you might want to consider paying with cash. Your driver will see the card swipe so will know you tipped them.

Understanding the Limo Chauffeur Experience

If you plan to tip a limo driver, it is important to understand the limo chauffeur experience. You may not always need to tip a driver for limo service, but they do appreciate the added generosity. While there is no standard tip amount for actions like holding the door open for you, there may be tipped chauffeurs that do not get tipped at all, so it’s important to consider your rank the next time you make a reservation for limo service.

As mentioned above, tipping your driver is customary in the industry and the amount you tip may vary depending on the quality of service. It’s not uncommon for people to tip their limo drivers with cash, credits cards, or gift certificates. It is also customary to tip a driver after service. In fact, the British do not ever tip their chauffeurs.

How much is a Limo Chauffeur Tip?

How much should you tip a limo chauffeur? How much you tip depends on the quality of service, your relationship with your driver, and the amount of service you receive.

Some drivers of luxury limousines, such as chauffeurs at a destination wedding or long-term drivers, are paid less by their employers and rely on tips to make up the difference. For this reason, you should find out the amount that your chauffeur is being tipped in advance, and how much s/he receives from his or her employer.

Ask your chauffeur how s/he prefers to be tipped. Most will expect you to make the tip in cash or with a credit card. However, some may prefer to be tipped directly and then report the tip to their employer. It’s important to clarify this with your choice of chauffeur before service begins.

What is a reasonable amount to tip your chauffeur? It is customary to tip your driver between 15% and 20% of the total. If you are not sure how much to tip your driver, ask if he or she minds if you tip less, and s/he should be able to help you figure out the right amount.

General Attitudes Toward Tips

Tipping a limo driver is expected and necessary to maintain the industry’s professionalism and reputation. Over the years, a negative attitude toward tipping has been developing in the United States. As the number of foreign visitors who tip less or not at all has increased, this attitude has spread. Tips are now considered “optional” for limo chauffeurs rather than “neccesary” like they used to be.

Tips for Limo Drivers

Recognizing that the tip is not going to solve their problems or support them for a lifetime, many drivers feel that tipping is unnecessary. For some, it’s simply a cultural difference. Tips are not the norm in other countries and this attitude is affecting the reputation of the overall industry.

If you are tipping a limo driver, rather than a traditional taxi, be sure to make the tip at the end of the ride and if the chauffeur was rude or impatient, you should tip less than the standard amount.

Limo Driver Tipping Etiquette: Conclusion

What’s an appropriate tip amount to give a driver? There’s no industry standard for tipping a chauffeur, we suggest starting at 15% and move up to 20%. If you tip more or less, be sure to let the driver know before the trip begins, and remember, everyone is expected to tip their drivers.

While it’s important to consider the large amount of education required to become a professional driver, it’s also important to consider the necessity of such a commendable career. There are people who need to earn an income in this way and if you are planning on tipping a limo driver, you should consider that fact.

Note: we are not a big fan of handing cash so recommend you use a credit card for your tip. Limo drivers typically get a statement that shows their earnings. Showing your card may or may not help your driver get more tips (depending on the company) but will help your driver feel more respected.

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About Levi Keswick

LeviKeswick serves as a vibrant hub for diverse individuals to share their stories, absorb and contribute to emerging fashion trends, lifestyle concepts, and innovative ideas. We offer valuable insights and advice, amalgamating information painstakingly curated by experts in the field, alongside fashion connoisseurs and influential social media personalities.