When did tipping become such a minefield? Who do you tip, how much, how often? We are going to sort it all out for you. We are giving you just the tips and will tell you how much to tip pizza delivery and everyone else.
It seems that everywhere you go, no matter what you do, there is someone you need to tip. And tip well.
A decade ago for instance, 10 percent was an acceptable tip — 15 percent if the service was impeccable. Now, anything less than 15 percent is considered inappropriate. For good service, 20 percent is the norm. In more expensive restaurants, patrons are sometimes expected to tip up to 25 percent on the total amount of their bill (taxes included).
Sometimes you expect it. If you are out to dinner, you know you are expected to tip the server. But there are a lot of other situations where you might not be so sure.
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We will explain what you should tip in both kinds of situations.
Tipping around food probably causes the most consternation for people simply because there are so many scenarios. Unless you shop for your own groceries and cook all of your meals at home, these are some of the situations you will run into that require a tip.
Standard practice is to tip 15-20% on your restaurant check, and yes, that includes drinks. Sometimes there is a workaround for this. If the restaurant allows BYOB, do that.
Sometimes BYOB places require a corking fee, a charge incurred for the server opening and pouring the wine. See if the corking fee is less than it would cost to buy wine in the restaurant.
If you have a wait for a table, grab a drink at the bar and drink it slooooow then cash out before moving to your table. It’s customary to tip the bartender a dollar or two for drinks purchased at the bar so doing this may save you some money on the tip.
Even if you do order more drinks with dinner, at least you won’t have to factor that first one into the tip when you get the bill.
If you want to earn a little money when you go out to eat, book your reservation through Seated. You’ll get a $10-50 credit for Lyft, Starbucks, or Amazon. It will basically cover your tip!
What if you had poor service? Unless the service was really egregious, it’s not cool to leave no tip at all. Servers generally tip out support members of staff so when you stiff a server, you stiff people like runners and bussers too who did nothing to deserve it.
If you had poor service, consider who exactly is at fault. Was the food cold? That’s likely the server’s fault. They didn’t get the meal out to you in a timely way, so it sat in the window getting cold.
Was the food of poor quality? That’s the restaurant’s fault, not the server’s. Tip them the standard 15-20% and just don’t return.
Pizza and Food Delivery
Well, you could have taken your lazy ass to the restaurant and eat in or brought the food home, but you couldn’t be bothered for whatever reason. So the person carrying food right to your door deserves something for doing so.
But they aren’t refilling your drinks or checking to make sure everything was to your liking once you began eating. A fair tip for delivery is 10%.
However, if the weather is terrible, tip at least 20% and preferably in cash. Delivery workers have a hard, dangerous job on a nice day; it’s ten times worse in searing heat, pouring rain, or driving snow.
You were too lazy to cook but not too lazy to go out and pick up your food. Do you have to tip on a pickup order? If it’s a small, simple order and there is a tip jar on the counter, throw a dollar or two in there. You don’t have to, but it’s a nice gesture.
If there isn’t a tip jar and it’s a small order, eh, you can skip it. If you have a huge order or request a lot of changes and substitutions, 10-15% is acceptable.
If you use a delivery service like Fresh Direct or Hello Fresh, $1-2 per bag or box is an acceptable tip. If you ordered a box full of really heavy stuff like canned goods, add a few dollars to that.
I never ran into this in New York. Either you bagged your own groceries or the person checking you through did it. But now that I live in the South, I see this all the time. There is a dedicated person who bags groceries for you.
A tip of $1-2 per bag is appropriate and a few bucks more if the person brings the groceries out to your car and loads them for you.
Water is free, but if you prefer an adult beverage or need a jolt of caffeine, it’s going to cost you.
At the Bar
A dollar per drink is a sufficient tip for a standard drink. If you are asking the bartender to make you a special drink that isn’t on the menu, another dollar or two more is appropriate.
But what if you’re in a bar but not having an alcoholic drink? Maybe it’s your turn to be the designated driver, maybe you don’t drink or just aren’t in the mood at that moment to drink.
The bartender is still providing you a service even if it’s just pouring you a glass of water so you should still tip the same $1 per drink that you would if you had an alcoholic drink.
For a plain cup of coffee or tea, there is no need to tip. The person working in the coffee shop hasn’t done anything but pour the coffee or hot water into the cup. There is more work involved in making more complicated drinks like espressos, lattes, etc.
But those are still standard drinks, so $1 or the change leftover from your order (so long as it’s not an insultingly small amount like a few pennies or a dime) is sufficient.
If you have a special order drink or require a lot of substitutions, tip $1-2. If the barista has drawn a pretty picture from the steamed milk on top of your drink, tip $1-3.
I know $3 is ridiculously high for a drink that probably cost $3-5 but that person has a skill, and they have added a little moment of delight to your day. I think that is worth paying a little extra for.
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Whether you’re on vacation or getting a new couch, there is going to be someone expecting a tip, especially if you’re on vacation it turns out.
If a trip would ordinarily cost $10 and costs $18 because of surge pricing, do you have to tip based on the surge price? I wouldn’t; I would still tip based on the regular price for the trip.
Ride-sharing customers have further incentive to tip. If you don’t, drivers might give you a poor rating which can make it more difficult for you to get a ride so keep that in mind.
Beauty covers things like getting your hair and nails done, facials, massages, waxes. Basically, anything you might get done in a hair salon or spa. The standard of 15-20% applies to these services.
Moving is one of the top stressful life events and having to figure out how much to tip the movers make it even worse. If your move takes half a day or less (4 hours), $10 per mover is recommended.
If your move takes longer than half a day or is extra strenuous due to lots of heavy things (boxes of books, especially heavy furniture), a lot of stairs, or having to maneuver stuff through tight spaces, you should up the tip to $20-25 per person.
If the cleaner works independently, you don’t need to tip; you are paying them directly. If they work as part of a service, they aren’t getting the full amount you are being charged, so a tip is appropriate.
For a small apartment or home, $5 per person is a good tip. If you have a big house, especially one with a lot of bathrooms, $10 per person is reasonable. You should also tip more if you treat your cleaner as a maid.
A cleaner cleans, a maid cleans and does stuff you should really be doing yourself like putting dirty dishes left around into the dishwasher or having to move piles of clothes or other family detritus in order to clean.
I love curbside check-in, so much more convenient than dragging your bags through the ticket line. Tip $1-3 per bag. I always err on the side of overtipping skycaps in the probably mistaken belief that if I do, it reduces the chances of my bag getting lost.
If a bellman carries your bags to your room, tip $1-2 per bag. If a concierge goes above and beyond for you, scoring you a hard to get a reservation or arranging transportation at the last minute, tip $3-4.
Leave $2-3 a day for the person cleaning your hotel room. Be sure to include a note that the money is for the cleaner. Most people will be hesitant to take unmarked cash because it could be that the guest just left it out.
There is no need to tip the valet when they take your car but when they bring it around to you, tip $2-3 each time. The same applies to a restaurant valet.
If you are doing a paid tour, tip the guide 10-15% of the cost. If there is a separate driver (you’ve taken a bus to the location), give them $2-3.
A lot of cities feature free walking tours. While technically they are, free, you don’t have to tip the guide anything; it’s incredibly poor form not to tip. No one’s time is free and whatever you choose to tip is probably less than what a paid tour would cost. A good rule of thumb for a pay as you wish walking tour is $10-15 per hour.
It’s not customary to tip utility workers but if the person went above and beyond for you, giving them $10-20 is welcome. Maybe they had to crawl under your house to access something, or there is some complication that means the job took much longer than expected, it’s a nice gesture to give a tip.
The same applies to furniture delivery as to movers. Presumably, no delivery takes more than half a day so $10 per person, $15 if the pieces are unusually heavy or there are a lot of stairs or tight spaces involved.
If you live in an apartment and can call on a super to do things like unclogging a drain or repair a malfunctioning appliance, tip them $5-10 a trip depending on the complexity of what they are helping you with.
People You Don’t Have to Tip
After everyone on this list, you might have thought there isn’t anyone you aren’t expected to tip but thankfully, there are a few. It’s not that you might consider tipping these folks on a regular basis, but you might wonder if you should tip them for the holidays.
It’s illegal to give a mail carrier a cash tip or a gift worth more than $20, so a $20 pre-paid credit card company branded gift card is your best bet. You likely don’t know your carrier well enough to know their gift card preferences so they can use these cards anywhere that takes credit cards.
It’s considered inappropriate to give teachers money. If you want to thank a teacher, small gift or gift certificate, particularly one to an office supply store would be welcome. Many teachers spend their own money to buy needed things for their students which include your kid, so this is an especially nice gesture.
No one in a doctor’s practice from the doctor to the nurses to the receptionists is expecting a tip. Hopefully, you aren’t having to go to the doctor often enough even to consider doing this but if you have and want to say thank you, a food gift the whole office can share like chocolates or pastries are lovely.
No country in the world tips as much as America so if you’re taking a trip abroad, do some research on tipping customs before you go leaving your cash around.
In some places, like France, servers are paid a living wage so while it’s nice to leave a small tip for excellent service, you aren’t expected to leave anywhere near the standard 15-20% like we do here.
In Australia, a service charge is usually included in your bill so like in France, you can leave a small tip for excellent service but the server is not depending on a tip to earn the majority of their income.
And in some countries like Japan, leaving a tip is considered an insult. You are implying that the person does not earn enough on their own to support themselves or their family. Jobs we would tip for in the States are paid a regular wage in Japan, so tipping is unnecessary.
It Means More To Them
I know all this tipping is frustrating not to mention expensive. The week I moved into my last apartment in New York City, I calculated how much I spent on tips that week, and it was $150. It wasn’t a typical week, and a big chunk of that $150 went to tip the movers.
But damn, $150 in a single week is nothing to sneeze at!
But think of it this way, you are lucky enough to be able to afford to pay other people to do things for you whether that is to paint your nails or pack your belongings for a move that you really could do for yourself and that is a luxury.
So if you are grousing over tipping your Uber driver, think how lucky you are to be able to take out your phone and summon a person to drive you wherever you need to go in just a few minutes. And then give them a tip.
Of course, if you are going to write a whole article about how much to tip, you have to include a section that teaches people how to calculate those tips.
I always tip 20% because I don't feel like doing the math.Tweet This
This one easy trick will change your life!
Assuming you are tipping 20%, 10+10=20. Just move the decimal and double. If the bill is $133.33, that’s 13.33 and 13×2 =26. Boom, $26 is the tip.
Ommegang Hennepin: A hoppy, crisp golden ale.