Starbucks mobile tipping: Will you use it?

Starbucks mobile tipping: Will you use it?

Automated tips are 50¢, $1 and $2


mobile tippingUsers of the popular Starbucks mobile payment app may have noticed a new feature after their last update.

As of April 15, Canadian customers are able to leave a tip for their baristas with a single tap through the  mobile app, putting an end to fumbling for change at the counter.

After each transaction, customers are prompted by a notification with the option to leave a 50¢, $1 or $2 tip from their Starbucks card balance.

A tip can be given or edited for up to two hours following the initial transaction. If a user has app notifications disabled, they can still leave a tip remotely. There is an option beside your transaction history that says “Leave a Tip at…” the Starbucks where you had your last transaction. The tipping amount options are adjusted depending on how much money you have on your card. For instance, if all you have left in your account after ordering a decaf grande half-sweet non-fat extra whipped cream mocha is 20¢, you could fork it over to the barista that made it for you.

Otherwise, the options remain the same, regardless of whether you just spent $5 or $30, ordered one drink for yourself or six to take back to your coworkers.

Just like cash tips, digital tips are pooled and divided among non-salaried employees based on how many hours they worked.

“As far as our customs right now…specifically in Canada…there is no social obligation to tipping the coffee barista. Tipping is something that’s cultural,” says etiquette expert Julie Blais Comeau (@EtiquetteJulie). Some say it’s best to tip a few cents, while others say it is unnecessary when you’re already paying $5 for a beverage. While being a barista at Starbucks is no easy feat, (full disclosure: I’m a MoneySense intern and a Starbucks employee so I can say with confidence that making a triple long venti vanilla soy extra hot latte is an acquired skill), they are paid minimum wage ($11 in Ontario) and get raises every six months depending on performance, if that factors into your tipping decision. Servers in the province, on the other hand, are paid an average of $9.55 an hour. Blais Comeau says that the new Starbucks app tipping options are fair and reflect an average 10% gratuity.

The new feature will be helpful for those who want to show their gratitude for the barista that knows their name and regular order but don’t have any loose coins on hand. “We don’t carry coins anymore, so the app is certainly reflecting our times,” says Blais Comeau.

Digital tipping comes to Starbucks Canada more than a year after it was already available in the U.S. to its more than 13 million mobile app users.