Should You Tip the Tow Truck Driver?

Tipping is a personal decision to reward good service, and your driver will likely appreciate a tip.

Amy Beardsley
Written byAmy Beardsley
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Amy BeardsleyInsurance Writer
  • 3+ years writing about auto, home, and life insurance

  • 7+ years in personal finance and technology

Amy specializes in insurance and technology writing and has a talent for transforming complex topics into easy-to-understand stories.

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Evelyn Pimplaskar
Evelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
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  • 30+ years in media, PR, and content creation

Evelyn leads Insurify’s content team. She’s passionate about creating empowering content to help people transform their financial lives and make sound insurance-buying decisions.

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Updated March 1, 2024

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It’s unfortunate when your car breaks down and you need assistance. Now, you need to call a tow truck company. It can be stressful for anyone, especially if your car won’t start or if you’ve been in a car accident. While waiting for your tow truck driver to arrive, you might wonder if you should tip them for their help.

This guide outlines everything you should consider before tipping the tow truck driver. If you’ve ever called a tow truck, you know how expensive it can be. Comparing car insurance quotes could help you find affordable coverage that includes roadside service and covers towing.

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Should you tip tow truck drivers?

Most people view tipping as a reward for good service. In fact, 77% of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center say quality of service is a significant factor in whether they decide to tip and how much they give.[1]

And although suggestions and requests for tips are popping up in more places these days, it’s still really up to your discretion whether to tip. Keep in mind, though, that the average annual salary for tow truck drivers is $50,533[2] — well below the U.S. median household income of $74,580.

If your tow truck driver went above and beyond to give you good service, you might consider tipping them to express your appreciation for their hard work.

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Best Car Insurance Companies

Should you tip roadside assistance?

A tow truck driver will move your vehicle from the scene of an accident or a location where it broke down and tow it to a repair shop. But a roadside assistant technician will often help you get back on the road right away by doing simple on-the-spot repairs, like changing a battery or tire.

Like tow truck drivers, the average base pay for repair technicians is well below the national median income, and they work in potentially dangerous conditions. People who work for towing and roadside repair companies can be very busy, understaffed, and underpaid.

Again, the decision to tip a roadside repair person is up to you.

You can tip if you believe you received outstanding service or want to show your gratitude for getting you out of a tough situation.

How much should you tip the tow truck driver?

If you want to tip the tow truck driver, giving $5 to $20 is appropriate. But you can tip less or more, depending on the circumstances. For example, you might offer $5 for a simple jump-start, lock-out service, or other smaller job. But $20 might be more appropriate if the weather was poor or you received exceptional service.

You might give a higher tip amount if:

  • The road service is during bad weather.

  • The operator arrives quickly.

  • They were polite and updated you regularly.

  • They check under the hood to potentially save you the towing cost.

  • You need service in the middle of the night or along a busy road.

  • You want extra service, like a ride home.

When in doubt, default on the side of generosity. But if you can’t afford the extra money to tip, let them know you appreciate their service in another way. For example, you might offer to leave a positive online review.

What does it cost to tow a car?

You can expect to pay between $2.50 and $7 per mile for a tow, with the national average cost being $109 total, according to J.D. Power. But there’s no set amount, and many factors determine the price. For example, it can depend on how far away the repair shop is, the degree of inconvenience, and the danger or risk involved.

But some insurance policies cover the cost of calling a tow truck. You may be able to have your car towed or a flat tire changed without additional fees. If your policy doesn’t include towing and you don’t have roadside assistance service from AAA or another company, your cost might vary depending on:

  • The type of car you own

  • Time of day

  • If it’s a weekend or holiday

  • Terrain that your vehicle must travel through

  • Condition of your vehicle

  • Types of automotive services you need

You might pay more for a tow of 40 miles than if you simply need a few gallons of gas delivered because you ran out.

What to consider when deciding whether to tip

When deciding whether to tip, consider these questions:

  • How well did the operator do their job?

  • Were they on time?

  • Did they work quickly and efficiently?

  • Did they go out of their way to help you?

  • Did they handle your car with care?

If you think that the driver did an excellent job, it’s a nice gesture to offer a tip. On the other hand, if you aren’t happy with how you were treated, you can skip the tip and focus on the next steps to get your car going again.

Cheap Car Insurance

Cheap Car Insurance

How much does roadside assistance cost?

Roadside assistance costs can vary widely depending on the type of service. Generally, though, it’ll be cheaper to pay for an annual roadside assistance plan than to pay for service a la carte.

For example, if your car battery dies in a parking lot and you make a one-time call to a service station for a jump-start, you could pay $75–$100 (or more). By comparison, an annual plan could cost around $50–$150, depending on the plan provider, and this could get you service multiple times.

Adding roadside assistance to your full-coverage car insurance policy is often the cheapest way to get roadside protection. Roadside assistance coverage generally adds a few dollars per month to premiums.

The following table shows roadside assistance plan costs from some top insurance companies. Keep in mind your costs may vary depending on your state and other factors.

Insurance CompanyAnnual CostMonthly Cost
Allstate$89$7.42
GEICO$14 (per car)$1.17 (one car)
Nationwide<$48 (in most states)<$2 (in most states)
The General$120$10

How much to tip for other services

How much should you tip for other services like restaurants, hotels, and furniture delivery? The answer can vary depending on how much a particular service costs and how often you use that business. Gratuity etiquette varies from service person to service person, so here’s a guideline to help you know when and how much to tip.

ServiceSuggested Tip
BaristaTip not required; putting change in tip jar appreciated
Bartender$1 per drink, or 15% of your total bill
Cab driver10%, or at least $2
Dog walker/groomer15%
Food delivery10%, or at least $2
Furniture delivery$5–$20 depending on the size of the item, or offer refreshments
Pickup takeoutTip not required; if the order was large, add to the tip jar
Hairstylist15–20%
Bellhop$1–$2 per bag
Hotel housekeeper$2–$5 per day of stay
Manicurist/spa15% of total
Roadside assistanceTip not required, $5 for jump-start and $10 for tow appreciated
Room service$5 minimum if tip not included in total
Restroom attendant$1 if you used their service
Valet$5–$10
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Best and Worst Sites to Compare Car Insurance

Tipping the tow truck driver is a personal choice

It’s never fun when your car breaks down on the side of the road. If your tow truck driver is kind, punctual, and professional, it’s always nice to offer them a little something extra if you have the means.

Towing companies don’t typically leave out a tip jar for their drivers. Even so, most tow truck drivers will appreciate receiving a tip because their work can sometimes be dangerous or take them away from home in the middle of the night. Most tow truck drivers will appreciate the gesture.

Tow truck driver tipping FAQs

  • When should you tip tow truck drivers?

    Tipping tow truck operators is not required but is appreciated. Tipping is a great way to reward a driver if they provide excellent service or go the extra mile by helping you with other tasks.

  • Do you tip for a battery jump?

    There are no hard and fast rules about tipping. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice. If the service person was prompt, friendly, and professional — and did a good job — $5 is appropriate for jumping a dead battery.

  • Should you tip roadside assistance for a flat tire?

    If you’ve ever had a flat tire on a busy interstate or highway, you know how great it feels when someone stops to help change it. While most tow truck drivers don’t expect tips for changing tires, some will accept it graciously if offered.

  • How much is a good tip for a tow truck driver?

    A good tip for a tow truck driver would be around $10. But consider whether the driver went above and beyond or helped you during late hours or inclement weather. If so, $20 might be more appropriate and make the driver feel like their work was truly appreciated.

  • Should you tip the AAA guy?

    Roadside assistance is an important part of your paid membership with AAA, which can cost $59–$119 per year, depending on your plan level. While the AAA guy earns a salary, it’s certainly appropriate to tip them if you feel you’ve received exceptional service. Again, tipping is a personal decision that your AAA guy probably doesn’t expect but would likely appreciate.

Sources

  1. Pew Research Center. "Tipping Culture in America: Public Sees a Changed Landscape."
  2. Economic Research Institute. "Tow Truck Driver Salary."
Amy Beardsley
Amy BeardsleyInsurance Writer

Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

Evelyn Pimplaskar
Edited byEvelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
Evelyn Pimplaskar
Evelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
  • 10+ years in insurance and personal finance content

  • 30+ years in media, PR, and content creation

Evelyn leads Insurify’s content team. She’s passionate about creating empowering content to help people transform their financial lives and make sound insurance-buying decisions.

Featured in

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