Guest check with cash and coin

Tipping Etiquette: A Definitive Guide to Gratuity

Whether you’re checking into a hotel, getting a massage, or accepting a delivery, not knowing the proper tipping etiquette can be extremely embarrassing, turning a situation that’s supposed to be relaxing or enjoyable into an unpleasant one. While gratuity guidelines for certain services can vary somewhat depending on region and who you ask, there is a general consensus as to whom you should tip, and about how much. Consult our definitive guide on gratuity and never again be in doubt as to the polite amount to tip any service professional.

How Much Should You Tip?

The most important part of tipping etiquette is knowing how much you should tip for different types of services. Read on to learn the appropriate amounts to tip, depending on the type of service and other factors.

Food and Drink Service

Waiter/Waitress: 15 percent of the total bill (pre-tax) is standard; 20 to 25 percent is recommended for exceptional service; 10 percent is generally considered the minimum socially acceptable tip for poor service.

Bartender: $1 per alcoholic beverage, or 15 to 20 percent of the total tab

Restaurant/club washroom attendant: $0.50 to $1

Restaurant/club coatroom attendant: $1 per coat

Restaurant/club parking valet: $2 to the person who brings your car to you

Maître d’ at a restaurant: Not necessary to tip, unless they go above and beyond to get you a table or you are a regular

Food delivery person (including pizza): 10 to 15 percent of the total bill, but no less than $2 (drivers typically do not receive any of the “delivery surcharge,” if one is charged)

Takeout food (pick-up): Tipping is optional. However, some sources recommend tipping 5 to 10 percent of the total bill. If you want to err on the polite side, a good rule of thumb might be to tip a dollar or two.

Barista: Tipping is optional, although some people recommended tipping mom-and-pop coffee shop baristas a dollar or your leftover change; tipping at corporate coffee places is generally unnecessary, unless you have a regular rapport with a particular barista who knows you and makes your drinks just how you like them.

Drive-through pick-up: Tipping is not necessary, though as with coffee baristas, mom-and-pop establishments might appreciate it if you tip a dollar or some change.

Travel Services

Taxi driver: 10 to 15 percent is standard; $2 is the minimum

Limo driver: 15 to 20 percent is standard

Bus or shuttle driver: $1 or $2, if they help you with bags (does NOT apply to mass transit drivers)

Tow truck driver: $3 to $5 (even if the tow is covered under AAA)

Hotel door attendant: $1 per bag they help you with; $1 for hailing you a cab

Hotel bellhop: $1 per bag brought to your room, $2 minimum

Hotel housekeeping: $2 to $5 per night

Hotel concierge: Nothing for providing you with directions; $5 for getting you tickets or reservations, and $10 for hard-to-get tickets

Hotel room service: 15 to 20 percent of total charge; no tip necessary if there is a charge for gratuity

Overnight car storage: $2 to $5 per car

Airport skycap: $1 per bag they help you with

Tour guide: 10 to 20 percent the cost of the tour; for sightseeing bus tours where drivers double as guides, tip $1 per person, per day (don’t tip tour guides at national parks).

Entertainment Services

Casino dealers: Typically, $5 chip per dealer rotation, or 5 to 10 percent of winnings

Drink server at a casino: $1 per drink

Golf caddy at a country club: Varies depending on how high-end the course is. Usually about half the caddy fee, or $15 per person, is sufficient.

Museum guide: $1 per participant

Disc jockeys: $5 for requests

Salmon fishing guide: 10 percent for larger companies, 15 percent for independent guides

Personal Services

Barber: $2 to $3

Hairdresser: 15 to 20 percent

Masseuse: 15 to 20 percent

Spa service (e.g., facial, spa package): 15 to 20 percent

Manicure/Pedicure/Wax: 15 percent

Other Services

Furniture or appliance delivery: $10 to $15 per person; $20 per person for very heavy or difficult deliveries

Dog groomers: 15 percent

Tattoo artists: 10 to 20 percent, depending on the amount, quality, and difficulty of the work performed

Body piercing: 10 percent

Auto detailers: 15 percent

Car washer: $2 to $3 per car

Grocery baggers: $1 to $5 if they carry your groceries out for you and load your car

Wedding officiant: $50 to $100

Movers: $40 to $60 total, or $20 per person

Holiday Tips

NOTE: Whom and even whether you tip during the holiday season depends a lot on your lifestyle. For example, if you employ a housekeeper and live in a building with a doorman, you can and should give them a holiday tip or gift. However, the average renter or middle-class homeowner might just need to tip the babysitter and make some cookies for the mailman. Gifts can also be provided in lieu of cash tips.

Nanny: A week’s salary

Personal trainer: Price of one session

Gardener: One week’s pay

Hairdresser: $25 to $100

Manicurist: $10 to $50

Babysitter: An evening’s pay

Dog walker: A week’s salary

Newspaper carrier: $5 to $15

Superintendent: $30 to $100

Mail carrier: Non-cash gift worth up to $20 (mail carriers cannot accept cash)

Housekeeper: One week’s salary

Elevator operator: $20 to $50

Doorman: $25 to $100

Parking-garage attendant: A third of your monthly bill

Garbage collectors: $10 to $20 per person

Do Not Tip

  • Government employees (e.g., police officers, postal workers, firefighters, city transit workers). One exception is if a judge or another civil servant performs your wedding ceremony.
  • Health care professionals (doctors, nurses, chiropractors, therapists, etc.)
  • Accountants
  • Repairmen
  • Carpet cleaners
  • Plumbers
  • Flight attendants
  • Salespeople
  • Dry cleaners

How to Calculate Tips

Part of the trickiness of tipping is having to do some quick mental math when calculating percentage-based tips. When possible, use the calculator your cell phone to calculate tips.

Another good rule of thumb when figuring out a tip at a restaurant is to tip double the sales tax on the bill (depending on the sales tax in your state, this usually equates to a little over 15 percent of your bill; you may want to round up to the nearest dollar after doubling the tax).

Increasingly, restaurants and even taxi drivers will provide you with the dollar amount you should tip if you want to tip 15 percent, 20 percent, or another amount, on a printed receipt or digital display. This way, you don’t have to calculate the appropriate gratuity amount yourself.

You might also want to try learning some mental shortcuts to help you calculate percentage-based tips on the fly.

Other Tipping Tips

  • Always carry some small bills with you, especially when you are traveling.
  • Tip discreetly. Being ostentatious with your tipping might turn off other members in your party and even make the person you’re tipping feel uncomfortable.
  • Calculate tips based on the pre-tax, pre-discount amount.
  • Provide service workers in your home with cold beverages, regardless of whether you tip them.
  • Tip extra if you make a huge mess or have otherwise been a burden.
  • When traveling in a foreign country, respect local tipping customs and tip in the local currency.
  • While this might seem to go without saying, you don’t have to tip when gratuity is included in the bill.
  • When in doubt, tip 15 to 20 percent.

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Join the Discussion

  • TexasFisher2020

    My goddddd do I have to tip all these people??? I didnt tip my wedding officiant. He didn’t complain, he got a free dinner!! lol. I can’t believe all the social requirements for tipping people over the holidays. If I had to give my personal trainer a day’s pay and nanny a week’s pay and all those I’d fall in the red zone! no wonder lots of people kill them selves over the holidays.

  • really I am not cheap

    Poor service is also rewarded with 10 percent. I am tired of being taxed. Some restaurant print recommend tip in post tax so I am asked to tip the government. I guess I’ll just cook. Hey ladies, I can cook.

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