What Is Proper Tipping Etiquette?

Whether we're dining out, traveling, or at the salon, we've all been faced with this question: how much should I be tipping? Unfortunately, there's no singular answer for every situation. It's important to tip people in certain professions for their work, especially when their livelihood depends on it. But sometimes there's confusion on what that dollar amount is. That's why we put together this guide that details how much gratuity is necessary in pretty much every scenario you can imagine.

Tipping Etiquette for Restaurants/Dining Out/Nightlife

  • Wait Staff (sit down): 15-20%, pre tax; keep in mind most servers make $2 an hour, so be generous
  • Wait Staff (buffet): 10%, pre tax
  • Fast Casual Restaurants: No tip necessary, unless you want to
  • Host/Maitre D’: No tip necessary; tipping is welcome, especially if they go above and beyond or you are a regular customer
  • Take Out: No tip necessary; 10% is customary for extra services, like curbside delivery, or large/complicated orders.
  • Delivery Person: 10-15% of the bill
  • Bartender: $1-2 per drink or 15-20% of the tab
  • Restroom Attendant: $0.50-$3 depending on service
  • Valet: Tip $2-5 when the car is returned to you
  • Barista: Spare change up to $2
  • Tip Jar: No tip necessary, but tip occasionally if your server goes above and beyond or you’re a regular customer
  • Coat Checker: $1 per item
tip jar

Tipping Etiquette While Traveling

  • Airport Skycap/Porter: $1-3 per bag
  • Bellhop: $1-2 per bag delivered to your room
  • Housekeeping: $2 per night at a budget hotel; $3-5 per night at high-end hotel. Leave tip daily with a note marked “Housekeeping”
  • Concierge: No tip necessary for just answering questions; for special services, like securing reservations or hard-to-get tickets, tip $10-15 dollars (or 10-20% of ticket price)
  • Taxi/Uber/Lyft Driver: 15-20% of the fare
  • International Travel: Every country has their own tipping etiquette; when in doubt, do your research before you travel

Tipping Etiquette While at The Salon or Spa

  • Hair Salon: 15-20%
  • Manicurist: 15-20%
  • Facial, Waxing, Massage: 15-20%
  • Makeup Artist: No tip necessary at the makeup counter; 15-10% for artist hired for special occasion

Miscellaneous Tipping Etiquette

  • Appliance/Furniture Delivery: $5-10 per person; throw in an extra few dollars for assembly or navigating a tough stairwell
  • Movers: $20-50 per person; add more for a hard move
  • Car Washer: $2 for standard car; $3-5 for large vehicle or luxury car; 15% for extra detailing
  • Body Piercer: $5
  • Tattoo Artist: 20%
cash tip

How Not to Tip

You may find some "tipping tricks" around the web that are disguised as life hacks that will save you money, but are really just methods to underpay hardworking people and look cheap. In 2018, CNBC published an article about a "simple tipping trick that could save you over $400 a year." The author suggests that instead of tipping the standard 15-20%, just take the tax amount and double it. The problem with this is that each state has different sales tax and spreading this message has the potential to cheat servers, whose income is reliant on their tips, out of money. If you really want to save some money, stay at home.

On the flip side, there are also situations where consumers feel like they are being guilted into tipping when it's not necessary. As iPad POS's with devices like the Square Reader increasingly become the norm at places like your local coffee shop or food truck, the recommend tips that pop up when you're paying may make you feel obligated to leave a much larger tip than you would normally. Square, Inc. says, "It's one thing to bypass a tip jar or just leave the gratuity line blank when you're signing a check, but it's hard to physically press a button saying you aren't going to leave anything."

While it's always nice to tip more when you can, you don't need to feel obligated to tip every time you run into this scenario. More than likely, people who work at these establishments already make at least a minimum wage instead of a server's wage.

Places You Can Skip the Tip

  • Bicycle-repair person
  • Bouncer
  • Chiropractor or Physical therapist
  • Dry Cleaner
  • Grocery Bagger
  • Personal Trainer
  • Plumber
  • Repair Person
  • Tailor
  • Tech
  • Cable Installer
  • Flower Delivery
  • Contractor
square reader with tip prompt on screen

At the end of the day, if you're still worried about how much to tip, it never hurts to be generous. If you're in the financial position, show your servers how much you appreciate them with a nice tip!

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