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Money Manners: How Much To Tip For Food Delivery

A miserly reader asks: “Do I even need to tip 10 percent to someone who isn’t actually taking my order, saying hello, and all of the other stuff waiters do?”

How much do you tip for food delivery?This month, a reader asked, I have food delivered to my house once a week. Some online food delivery companies, like Grub Hub, give you three tip options – 10, 15, and 20 percent. But do I even need to tip 10 percent to someone who isn’t actually taking my order, saying hello, and all of the other stuff waiters do?”

I understand complaining about paying $2 ATM fees, but what’s so bad about giving a few bucks to a food delivery driver? Often, pizza guys and other delivery drivers earn less than the minimum wage because tips are considered part of their compensation. They usually pay for their own gas. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics once rated food delivery driving as the fifth most dangerous job in America.

Sure, the driver doesn’t take your order (I bet he says “hello”, however). But he does get your food from the restaurant, buckle it into the back seat, and bring it to your door.

According to Jorie Scholnik, an etiquette expert, that calls for a tip. “Tipping 10-15 percent is a good start,” she says. “I usually give the delivery person 15 percent if a delivery charge is not included.” If the weather is bad, The Emily Post Institute recommends tipping a driver 15-20 percent.

Here are some of their other standard tipping recommendations:

  • Restaurant server: 15 to 18 percent, 20 percent for good service, 10 percent for poor service
  • Bartender: $1 per drink or 15 percent of tab, whichever is greater
  • Valet: $2 to return your car
  • Restroom attendant: 50 cents to $1
  • Taxi driver: 15 percent
  • Food delivery: 10 percent, at least $1. Tip more if the delivery was difficult (e.g. bad weather)
  • Barber or hairdresser: 15 – 20 percent
  • Skycap: $1-2 per bag, $2 minimum
  • Hotel doorman: $1-2 per bag, $2 minimum
  • Hotel concierge: $5 for getting reservations, no tip for directions
  • Hotel housekeeper: $2-5 per night

As for tipping for food delivery, there are other ways to save money if you’re not in the mood to cook for yourself. Pick up the food yourself from the restaurant. You won’t have to pay a delivery fee, or tip a driver. “I don’t usually tip the to-go person because no one is serving my table, but sometimes I’ll include an extra $1 or $2 if the person was extra courteous and accommodated a special request,” Jorie says.

You can also save a few dollars doing an advanced search on Grubhub. Under the filters option, check the box marked “Offers coupons.” This will pull up any restaurants that are offering deals.

If you’re ordering out because you can’t get to the grocery store regularly, consider a meal-kit delivery service like Plated or Blue Apron. For anywhere between $8 – $15 per meal (the cost depends on whether or not you become a member), these sites will ship you all of the ingredients, and a recipe, to make a dish at home.

How do you tip the pizza guy — or for more regular food delivery? Who do you hate tipping?

Published or updated on June 3, 2014

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About Patty Lamberti

Patty Lamberti is a freelance writer and Professional-in-Residence at Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches journalism and oversees the graduate program in digital media storytelling. If she doesn't know something about money, you can trust she'll track down the right people to find out. You can learn more about her at www.pattylamberti.com. And if you have any story ideas, or questions about money etiquette that you'd like her or an expert to answer, email her at moneymannersqs@gmail.com.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Christina Habib says:

    For those who say they don’t tip, as a delivery driver I want you to think about this. We Literally risk our lives to give you your food something you could have done yourself. We risk being hit by cars as we are crossing the street majority of thr time Jay walking since our concern is getting your food to you on time. Driving our cars is just plain dangerous. If we are liable for thr accident, and in bad weather it is just very easy to happen if our car slides into another. We lose our jobs! Finally, if we fall or get hurt majority of thr time we are getting paid very little that we can’t afford insurance. Plus most of us are independent contractors if this happens our families suffer.
    What can you do as customer? Tip what you would a waitress/ waiter, better if in cash (we don’t have to take taxes out of what you paid us), and if you live on thr 3 or 4th floor please come down to the 2nd.

  2. Ryan S says:

    Why is it that you all complain about the customer that doesn’t tip enough when the source of the problem is the tipping system itself. It’s a broken system that needs to go away. The employer is screwing over the employees by paying extremely low wages and passing on the responsibility of paying a good wage to the customer. It’s time to change the system and get these employers to pay fair wages.

  3. Youcheapskates says:

    I agree with what Natasha wrote… I used to work in a restaurant…. Preparing takeout takes just as much, if not, more effort, especially if it’s a large order or if they ask for extra condominiums. I hate when they custom order and want it packaged their own special way and don’t leave any tip at all… Why we go extra mile for you, cheap princess….

  4. Elisabeth says:

    I won’t tip delivery people if the business is charging a delivery fee to me already. (Such as when you order pizza online)

    • tysymo says:

      As someone who spent his college years as a pizza delivery driver, this attitude is very troubling. There is a difference between being frugal and just plain cheap. Of that $1.50-2.00 delivery fee, the driver making $3.25 an hour may receive $.50 or $.75 to cover gas. The rest goes to the restaurant to cover hourly cost of the driver and insurance.

      If you honestly believe this is fair, please consider takeout next time. You are not being fair to the 19 y/o working late nights for tips to try and keep up with his dorm fees.

    • Paul says:

      I was a delivery driver for 2years and tips were the majority of my income. That delivery charge is to cover insurance cost and salary cost. The driver doesn’t get any of that. Always tip your driver. A lot of the time it’s a kid trying to make his way through college. Tip especially when it’s bad weather and you don’t want to leave your house so you order a delivery.

    • Sabrina says:

      I deliver for dominos pizza and we don’t get the delivery fee the company keeps that it is not a tip for us! We also use our own gas and the company does not pay for it! So with us making below minimum wage and paying for our own gas maybe you shouldn’t be so stingy and cheap delivery is a convenience to you and you should tip your driver it is rude not to.

  5. Aldo says:

    I think your tipping recommendations are reasonable. I sometimes want to not tip for bad service but I end up giving 10% anyways. I guess I try to be the nice guy.

  6. Natasha says:

    I don’t like feeling obligated to tip a bathroom attendant, unless you actually use their services (and I don’t consider them forcing a paper towel on you to be a service).

    I also think you should generally tip for to-go orders, more so if it is a complicated or large order. I used to work as a cashier at a small Italian restaurant, and even a meal for 2 took me quite some time to pack up nicely between salads, dressing, bread, butter, entrees, utensils, etc. If you can afford to order food, you can afford to throw down $2.

    Otherwise, I agree with the recommendations.

  7. Michael says:

    Doesn’t tipping 10% at restaurants when service is bad negate the incentive for servers to provide quality service? I’m not saying that if a server steps a toe out of line you should refuse to tip. It just seems that tips are becoming more of an entitlement rather than an incentive.

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