- The legal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13.
- Business Insider spoke with 6 people who shared how they earned higher tips at work.
- Servers wore pigtails, red lipstick, and even gave away free food to earn more tips.
A tipped employee in the US can legally earn as little as $2.13 an hour from their employer. The rest of their wage depends on the generosity of consumers. As companies everywhere ask more and more customers to tip, workers who rely solely on tips to earn a liveable wage have gotten creative.
These workers have done everything from updating their hairdo to giving away free food — all in hopes of earning higher pay.
Business Insider spoke to six people with jobs ranging from rideshare drivers to restaurant servers, and they shared different steps they’ve taken to earn higher pay and extra tips while at work.
An Uber driver became a rideshare influencer and once received a $3,000 tip
Singer Deanna Dixon told BI she felt there was a stigma attached to driving for Uber when she started working with the company full-time in 2023. However, she was able to find success and earn higher tips after she started recording her wholesome interactions with passengers.
“After about six months of driving, I set up a dashcam and started making content with my Uber passengers,” Dixon said. “Since then, my riders have blessed me in the most unexpected ways.”
Dixon is now an influencer known as the Rideshare Queen. Some riders request her driving services outside the app, and one even tipped her $3,000.
An Olive Garden waitress gave away free food
Thais Rodriguez worked as an Olive Garden server for two years. During that time, Rodriguez told BI she’d give away free desserts to earn higher tips.
“I got the idea from when I went out to eat at a restaurant where a server gave me and my group free dessert,” Rodriguez said. “We all ended up tipping her much higher than the suggested 20% and that got me thinking.”
Rodriguez said she started giving away free desserts sparingly and would sometimes earn a tip up to 50%.
A college student used “multi-apping” to earn more money with UberEats and DoorDash
Full-time college student Joseph Kaiser does what he calls “multi-apping” to earn more money while delivering food.
“This strategy works by going online on both platforms and accepting any delivery that pays $7 minimum and at least $1 per mile,” he told BI. “This has helped me earn more money at times, especially if one platform becomes slower than the other.”
A food-delivery driver declined 75% of orders and hung out in wealthy areas
A DoorDash and Uber Eats driver named Jay had an average base pay of between $2 and $2.50, according to delivery records provided to BI. In order to maximize his time, Jay told BI he accepted orders with the highest payments and upfront tips, which led him to decline about 75% of the orders he received.
“I’m not doing this to gamble. I’m doing this to make money,” he said.
A waitress at a sports bar wore pigtails to get more tips from men
When BI interviewed Katlyn Boss she was working at a sports bar in Salt Lake City. Her base wage was $2.13 an hour and she had come across the “pigtail theory” on TikTok.
“I was looking for any ideas and tricks I could use, and I came across the hashtag #pigtailtheory trend,” Boss said. “In it, women realized that if they wore their hair in pigtails, they made more money in tips.”
Even though Boss found the idea that men like the pigtail look disturbing, she tried it out and earned her first $100 tip.
A different waitress made more money when she wore red lipstick
Amelia Hepner worked in restaurants for almost a decade and noticed her tips significantly increased when she started wearing red lipstick.
“The difference in tips with a red lip was wild,” Hepner told BI. ” I’d make significantly more on the nights I wore red lipstick and a cute ponytail with my hair pulled back and curled.”