Trust begets trust. Tell the cab driver where you want to go as soon as you get into the cab, and respect the vehicle while you’re inside. Pay promptly when you reach your destination, and tip the driver before you leave the vehicle. Thank the driver, and perhaps even tell him/her to have a great day. Monetary tips are great, but a few kind words can take your tip to the next level.
Consider tipping the cab driver with an item or gesture that is equivalent in value to the amount of money you would tip. Make sure that you give the driver something that he or she actually wants – an unwanted gift can be more of a burden than a blessing. Do not present a non-monetary tip as a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum; instead, if you have something worth offering, give the cab driver the option to take the object instead of a traditional tip. Try to leave a cash tip unless you have spent absolutely all of your available funds on the fare.
For example, if you have an old (but unexpired) $10 gift card to a restaurant you will never visit, offer it to the driver in lieu of money. Say, “I can give you a cash tip for the ride, but I have this Applebee’s gift card that I’m never going to use. Would you take that instead?”
Bear in mind that many cab drivers are hustling to pay their bills. They must pay a daily or weekly lease on their cab, plus rent on their house or apartment, plus gas – all out of their own pockets. Card-swipe fare payments don’t usually pay out in the same day, so it’s common for drivers to take rides on credit unless you pay them in cash. Thus: a non-monetary tip may feel unique and whimsical, but odds are that most drivers will prefer cash.