Sometimes, you just need a limo. Maybe it’s a formal affair, your wedding or prom. Perhaps you are out for a night on the town with ten of your closest friends; you are definitely going to need a limo. You have set up a contract with the limo company for the day, but then what about tipping the driver?

As with most professionals in service industries, Limousine drivers and chauffeurs depend on tips to round out their incomes. The average limo driver makes only about $11 per hour. If they spend all day waiting for you, they definitely need a quality tip. 

The general rule of thumb for tipping your limousine driver or chauffeur is 20% of the total charge. If the service is exceptional, you can increase the tip or decrease the tip if it is inferior. 

What Should you Expect from a Limo Driver?

Your limo driver should be a few minutes early to pick you up. They should be dressed neatly and have good personal hygiene, and the car should be clean inside and out.

If you have luggage, your driver will likely carry it and load it for you. In a limo, you can also expect the driver to open the doors for you. 

While these are the obvious services a driver performs for you, they also take care of less obvious issues. Drivers spend a lot of time waiting for their riders. All the hours they are waiting for you is time that they are not driving other fares.

Also, they need to know all the available routes in the city where they operate. They have to be on point to avoid traffic jams, construction delays, and car accidents.

While the drivers are tending to your comfort with the air conditioning and your favorite music, they are also mentally computing drive times, alternate routes, and protecting your safety from road hazards. 

Benefits of Renting a Limo

Although it may be an expense, renting a limo can be beneficial. You don’t have to worry about driving in an unfamiliar city. You won’t be distracted by the conversation that your friends are having in the backseat.

You and all of your group can travel together enjoying one another’s company rather than trying to follow one another, find parking, and meet up at a given time. It’s a convenience that is worth the money.

Limousine drivers are discrete professionals. You can trust that a private conversation or business meeting will remain confidential. 

The Limo Contract 

If you have contracted a limo for the day, your contract should outline the services that are included in the day’s contract. It should also indicate whether the gratuity is included in the total price. One question you should ask is whether the driver will get the whole tip.

If so, you can trust that you don’t need to tip any further unless you feel the service was excellent and deserves recognition. If the tip is shared among multiple staff members, consider adding a cash tip for your driver’s services.

When Should you Tip the Driver?

It may seem that the obvious answer is to tip at the end of the night when the service is completed, just like you would at a restaurant.

However, there are some contingencies to take into consideration. If you are planning on drinking, you might go ahead and tip your driver at the beginning of the evening.

That way, you won’t accidentally forget to tip or run out of cash by the end of the night. You can tip at the beginning of the service for any service just to ensure you have done it. If you tip generously, you may receive stellar service. 

Single Direction Rides

You may be catching a limo from the airport to the hotel or vice versa. This will be a single-ride relationship between you and the driver.

The 20% rule is appropriate on this ride unless you have many pieces of luggage or quite a few people. If you have more than five bags, add a dollar per bag to your 20% tip. If you share the ride with several people, the minimum tip should be at least $5 per person. 

Business Trips

A limo is an excellent choice for a business trip. You can spend the time in the car sending e-mails, working on proposals, or polishing up your presentations. The driver will take care of directions, traffic conditions, and parking. It frees up your attention to take care of what is essential for your trip. 

It also makes a good impression on the people that you are working with. You don’t want to arrive at the big city headquarters in a rented pinto.

You don’t necessarily need a stretch limo, but a sedan with a driver certainly makes a good impression. Since most of your driving will be daytime rides, a 15-20% tip is appropriate.

Wedding Limo Rentals

If you are renting a limo for your wedding, you will definitely have a contract for the day. Be sure to clarify the gratuity when you book the limo. Renting a limo for the day of the wedding will probably be expensive, and you should calculate the tip for the driver into your budget.

You don’t want to have to worry about driving on your special day. If you ask the limo driver for any special services, like additional stops for photos, an additional portion should be added to the tip. 

Prom Limo Rentals

Prom is a big night for high school seniors. Often several couples will go in together to rent a limo. This is another contract situation. Clarify with the limo company all the stops you want to make on the way to and from prom.

If your group wants to stop for photos, ensure that you have discussed that with the limo company. Maybe you all plan to go out for dinner afterward. It would be best if you planned in advance for that as well.

Those of you renting the limo should prepare for the tip ahead of time and tip the driver at the beginning of the night. Go with the 20% rule or at least $5 per person riding in the limo. You should also be on your best behavior. 

Night on the Town

You and your friends may be out for a night on the town, and a limo is an efficient and fun way to transport your group. The 20% tip rule still holds true, although you might consider a few other factors. Driving a larger vehicle, a stretch limo, or a party bus requires more skill than driving a basic sedan.

Remember that you may be less focused as the night goes on if your group chooses to drink. If that is the case, tip your driver at the beginning of the night. And, although you won’t intend it, you or your mates might make a mess in the limo. The driver has to clean that up, so be thoughtful and generous with the tip.

Other Considerations

Day vs. Night Limo Rentals

Generally, you are going to tip more during the evening than you will during the day. If you are taking a limo during the day, especially for one-way rides, a 15% tip might be appropriate. 

In Las Vegas, New York, or Los Angeles

When renting a limo in a big city, you should expect to pay more for both the basic fare and the tip.

Carry Cash for Tips

You will need small bills for tipping in general. It will help if you keep $1s and $5s on hand when traveling to tip the service people. If you tip on your credit or debit card, the gratuity may be distributed among the staff instead of going directly to the person you want to tip.

Travel Time, Traffic, and Weather

Increase the amount of your tip if your driver has to contend with long travel times, traffic jams, or severe weather. Just like you don’t want to be tied up in traffic, neither does the driver. The longer they are stuck in traffic with you, the fewer fares they can pick up.

When your driver faces the weather for you by providing an umbrella and getting the car doors and building doors for you, realize that they are giving up their personal comfort and dry feet for you. Be generous with the tip when they go out of their way for you. 

Related Questions

  • Why should I rent a limo?
  • How much should I tip hotel staff?
  • Should I take a taxi or a limo?
  • Do I tip outside of the U.S.?

Final Thoughts on Tipping the Limo Driver

Overall, a limo is an excellent choice for travel. You might have a special event like a wedding, prom, anniversary or birthday. Maybe you have an important business trip, or you and your friends want a safe but fun night out on the town.

Your limo driver is a highly trained service professional and needs to be treated as one. Be prepared to tip at least 20% in cash. If you have a contract with the limo service, check to see if the gratuity is already added to the final price.  


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