Charter bus drivers: they are certified professionals who go the extra mile to keep us safe and on schedule during our group travels. But how should your group tell your driver “thank you” for all their hard work?

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of tipping your charter bus driver—from when you should tip them to how much your tip should be. And if you have any other transportation-related questions, feel free to reach out to the National Charter Bus team at 1-844-755-0510. We’re always here to make your group transportation experience as easy and stress-free as possible.

A charter bus driver sits in the driver seat of a bus as a passenger hands them an envelope of money

Do I need to tip my bus driver?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: it’s complicated.

Depending on where you’re traveling, you may face different expectations as to who accepts tips and who doesn’t. For example, throughout parts of Europe, tips are only given when you’ve received exceptional service above and beyond what you’d anticipate from your driver. Here in the United States, however, tips are more or less expected in some professions. Workers in many service industry positions are paid lower wages with the expectation that tips received from patrons will compensate for it.

So no, you are not required to tip your charter bus driver in the U.S., but tips are seen as a common courtesy. Gratuity will always be appreciated and can be a great way to show your appreciation for a job well done.


How much do charter bus drivers make?

How bus drivers are paid differs from provider to provider. Some bus companies (especially those who specialize in scheduled shuttle services) pay their drivers by the hour. In this case, motorcoach operators can expect to take home anywhere between $29,800 and $50,000 per year, depending on the driver’s experience, the demand for bus drivers in a given area, and the location’s average cost of living.

Most charter bus providers, however, pay their operators per mile driven. Like hourly rates, per-mile rates vary depending on location; but 8 cents per mile is the average pay in many major cities. Pay-per-mile structures mean drivers are not compensated for time spent inspecting their vehicles—which is mandatory before and after trips—or for the time it takes to load and unload all passengers, assist with packing luggage, and wait for passengers in parking lots. In other words, if your charter bus driver is on the clock from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., they will only be paid for the 3 total hours spent concentrating on driving, and not for the other aspects of keeping your trip safe and comfortable.

With all that in mind, most charter bus drivers do not expect a tip for their services. But given how they are paid and how much work goes into providing quality service for your passengers, your driver will be thankful if you provide them some form of gratuity.

A charter bus driver inspects a bus mirror before a trip

Who should tip: the passengers or the trip organizer?

For most crowdfunded group trips (think private vacations or bachelor/ette outings where passengers chip in for the cost of their bus rental), it’s common to ask each passenger to contribute a few dollars to cover the tip as well.

Corporate trips or outings that are not funded by the passengers themselves tend to take a different approach. When a trip is paid for by an organization, the tip will usually be budgeted for already. That way, a company representative can have the money set aside to pay the driver after the trip.

In either case, be clear with your passengers about how you’ll be handling your bus driver’s tip before you embark on your trip to avoid confusion and accidental double-tipping.


How much should I tip my charter bus driver?

Most bus companies suggest tipping your driver between 10% and 20% of your bus rental’s total cost. If you’re thinking, “Well, that’s a wide price range,” that would be a fair assessment! Bus rentals can potentially cost upwards of $2,000, and deciding between a $200 tip and a $400 tip can be a tough call to make.

How much you ultimately decide to tip your driver can depend on a variety of factors. Of course your satisfaction with your transportation service matters, but so does the type of transportation you rent, the length of your group trip, and where you travel.

Why does the length or type of trip matter?

As a rule of thumb, the longer you need your bus rental, the more you should tip your driver.

Travel planners tend to tip in the 10-15% range for day trips and one-time shuttle services, while multi-day journeys with overnight stops tend to earn drivers closer to a 15-20% tip.

If you’re renting a full-size charter bus and your passengers are chipping in to cover gratuity, consider asking everyone to contribute $3 – $5 for a half- or full-day trip and $6 – $10 per day for a multiday trip. And if your driver is especially helpful (answering passengers’ questions, making special accommodations not outlined in your itinerary, etc.), then you might want to double that amount.

What about location?

As we’ve mentioned before, tipping culture can vary depending on the country and continent. But how much you tip your driver can also differ between cities. For example, you might consider tipping more if you’re traveling within a major city like New York or Chicago with a local driver. After all, living in a big city is expensive, and navigating, maneuvering, and parking a 45-foot-long charter bus in tight city streets is no easy feat!

A bus driver smiles and sits in the driver seat of a charter bus

Is the driver’s tip included in my bus rental?

Generally, no; tips are not included in the final cost of your bus rental—along with parking fees, tolls, and your driver’s room and board.

But our team understands you have a lot to juggle when it comes to budgeting a group trip. If you already know a ballpark percentage of the total cost you’d like to tip, your reservation specialist can include gratuity in your rental quote and final invoice, no problem. Just let us know you’d like to tip in advance when you call to book!


Do I have to tip after the trip, or can I tip beforehand?

Offering a tip either before or after your trip is totally acceptable—though your group may prefer one or the other depending on your circumstances.

Given that a tip usually reflects the quality of service you feel you’ve received, most folks wait until after their group trip to pay their driver. Tipping is often seen as a “thank you” for a job well done, so for many groups, it makes sense to thank their driver on their way out.

That being said, there are plenty of reasons your group may want to tip in advance. For one thing, your passengers may not want to carry a lot of cash on them during the trip. In this case, pooling together the tip in advance will ensure everyone can contribute without worry. Also, corporate organizers and non-profits may consider rolling gratuity into the upfront travel costs for the sake of easy budgeting and keeping track of expenses.

A young couple carries suitcases as they enter a bus

What if I have other questions about charter bus rentals?

Whether you need further assistance budgeting for your next group trip or need help picking the best bus type for your group, National Charter Bus is here to help. Our team is available 24/7 to help you with any part of the reservation process. Get in touch today by calling 1-844-755-0510, and we can offer you a no-obligation, free quote for your next group outing!