Tipping Etiquette: A Definitive Guide to Gratuity

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Tipping has been an not only an expectation in many industries for centuries, but it has been relied upon by staff within those industries to live on – due to low wages. The fact of the matter, some people simply don’t tip, they never have, they never will. In other cases, some people are simply not sure on how much ‘should’ be tipped for good service, bad service and somewhere in between. Here is a guide to help you along the way.

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.

Depending on the type of service, there can be different expectations on tips as a percentage or as a whole number. But of course, based on the level of service given, that could be the underlying factor that determines if you give a tip or not.

For a night out on the town

If you are heading out for dinner, a night out you should always expect to pay something in terms of a tip. Based on the role within the restaurant or establishment, the rate will be different.

  • Waiter/Waitress: 15 percent of the total bill 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: 15 to 20 percent of the drinks bill is considered the norm
  • Restaurant/club washroom attendant: $0.50 to $1
  • Restaurant/club coat room attendant: $1 per coat
  • Restaurant/club parking valet: $2 – $5 per car
  • Maître d’ at a restaurant: Not necessary
  • Food delivery person (including pizza): 10% to 15% of the total bill
  • Takeout food (pick-up): Tipping is optional. But 5%-10% is considered nice
  • Barista: Tipping is optional, but if you want great service and your coffee to be remembered, but some change in the tip jar on the counter!
  • Drive-t through pick-up: Tipping is not needed

Travel Services

When you get to the hotel or travel around, you need to ensure you are tipping the wonderful people who are taking you around. Again, if you are getting poor service, tipping is subjective, however, if someone is going above and beyond, it is not only the right thing to do but expected you show your appreciation.

  • Taxi driver: 10% is standard
  • Limo driver: 15% – 20%  is standard
  • Bus or shuttle driver: $1 or $2 – but not if you pre-pay
  • Hotel door attendant: $5 – will have them looking after you well
  • Hotel bellhop: $5 again, will ensure your luggage is attended to
  • Hotel housekeeping: $2-$5 per night is a nice thing to do, if the job is done well
  • Hotel concierge: If they go out of there way or get you something special, then offer something here, maybe $5 or $10
  • Hotel room service: 10% – 15%of the bill, watch the bill as a tip is often provided in the charge.  
  • Tour guide: $10 or $20 depending on the size and the cost of the tour.

Entertainment Services

When you are letting your hair down, relaxing and letting off some steam, it is still an expectation that you contribute to the people who facilitate your experience.

  • Casino dealers: 5% – 10 percent of winnings on lower tables, or a small nominal amount per spin is considered the norm.
  • Drink server at a casino: 10% of the total bar tab
  • Golf caddy at a country club: ½ the caddy fee or $10-$50 depending on the service and the golf club in question.

Do Not Tip

There is, however, a list of people who don’t need a tip or cant take them for reasons such as undue influence or legal requirements. You should remember these as a rule of thumb.

  • Government employees – police officers, ambulance officers and parking inspectors
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Accountants
  • Carpet cleaners
  • Plumbers
  • Flight attendants
  • Salespeople
  • Dry cleaners

A final work on tipping

Firstly, whenever you are paying the bill, ensure that you check that a ‘gratuity’ has not already been added automatically to your bill. Many establishments do this regardless and you may be overtipping simply by being unaware.

Second, tipping is customary, not mandatory, so if you feel your service was bad, your food was not up to standard, your hotel room was unclean, you should always provide ‘constructive’ feedback to the service provider as to why you are not tipping, so they can aim to improve their performance for the next customer. Don’t be rude, just ensure they know why.

Finally, remember that in some countries – such as around Asia – bills have ++ after the price, which includes the tax, while other countries such as Australia it not expected that people tip, but it is always appreciated. There are however some countries, such as Japan, where it is considered rude to tip, so if you are traveling abroad ensure you do your homework.

Tipping is a way of life in the USA and provides many low-income earners money to make ends meet, treat others the way you would like to be treated if you were working their job and everything will be on the right track.

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