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Budgeting

How to Tip in All Situations

People holding two burgers over trays on a table.

11 Minute Read

Odds are, you’ve thought about one of these age-old questions: Should I tip the barista? This waiter? My hair stylist? The valet? The person who has to go to the back to grab me the right shoe size? The usher who walks me to my seat at the reunion concert for my favorite ’80s band? And if so, how much? Well you’ve come to the right place to find out. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to tip.

Tipping at Restaurants

How much should I tip a server?

When you go out to eat at a restaurant, leave a minimum of 15%—but preferably 20%—for good service. Does that sound a little steep? Here’s a reality check: If you can’t afford to leave a decent tip, then don’t go out to eat. Food is a need—eating at a restaurant is a luxury. You don’t have to cook, you get served, and someone else does the dishes. Beautiful. And remember, most servers make around $2 per hour, so they’re counting on those tips to make ends meet.1 Consider the tip part of the overall experience of dining out.

Should I tip at a buffet restaurant?

Things can get a little tricky here—but stick with us. Servers at a buffet may not be bringing food to your table, but they’re still refilling your beverages and clearing your plates. And since you’ve got to grab a new plate for every visit back to the buffet, you’re making a good deal of work for that person. So, while you don’t have to tip them as much as a waiter at a more formal restaurant, you still need to tip.

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A good rule of thumb is to tip at least 10%. Also feel free to up that if you get stellar service. Again, these servers make very little per hour. Think of it like this: If everyone tipped just one extra dollar, it’d be a little expense for the served and make a big difference for the server.  

Should I tip for takeout?

Whether someone brings the food out to you or you go in to get it, you should still tip around 10% when picking up or carrying out from a restaurant.

How much should I tip for home delivery?

Someone had to bring that piping-hot, delicious pizza to your front door. Without them, you’d be either hungry or forced to make dinner yourself. Be generous and give them a few dollars. Somewhere in the range of $2 to $4 is perfectly fine. And if they’re bringing lots of pies to feed a crew at your kid’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party, tip even more.

Should I tip at fast-food restaurants?

There’s no hard rule on tipping etiquette at these types of casual places (wouldn’t it be easier if there was?). Generally, fast-food joints don’t expect a tip.

Should I tip my barista?

Oh, the little tip jar at the counter as you pick up your morning cup of java. It has a cute little phrase on it like “alms for the pour” or “thanks a latte for your tippaccino.” So, what do you do?

If you ordered a drip or iced coffee (aka something that didn’t require a ton of prep), then you aren’t obligated to tip. But if you ordered some fancy drink with several steps and multiple ingredients, you should tip something. Put a dollar in that punny tip jar as a sign of thanks for the work they put in to help you perk.

How much should I tip a bartender?

You didn’t think we’d want to talk about this one, did you? But it’s something some of you are wondering, so the answer is yes. Tip the bartender, especially if the drink requires work to create. A dollar or two per drink is perfectly fine tipping etiquette here.

Do I tip the restroom attendant?

This can be an awkward one to talk about, for more than one reason. First of all, you might not realize a place has a restroom attendant when you walk in to . . . use the facilities. Secondly, you might not have cash on you in that moment. If you’re in an overly elegant establishment, a restroom attendant might be part of the ambience and tipping them shouldn’t feel out of the ordinary. If you’ve got 50 cents to $2, offer it and a smile. If you have nothing on you, then just the smile and a thanks. 

How do I tip the valet?

When making use of convenient services like valet, remember that convenience often costs money. And that’s okay—when it’s in the budget! So, should you tip the valet? Don’t let this question drive you crazy. If you treat yourself to using this service instead of parking your own car, you should absolutely tip a few dollars. Have you seen how fast valets run to serve you promptly? The Flash couldn’t do better. Say thanks with $2 to $5.

Tipping While Traveling

How much should I tip hotel housekeeping?

A lot of people don’t even realize they need to tip at hotels. You should leave a couple dollars a night at a budget-friendly hotel and around $5 a night at a swanky spot. And remember to tip daily since you might not get the same housekeeper throughout your stay.

Should I tip the concierge?

If the concierge has secured impossible-to-find tickets to a Broadway show, then yes—slip them a $10 or $20 bill for going above and beyond with their connections. If they just gave you directions to the nearest coffee shop within walking distance, you can skip the tip.

How much should I tip my cab driver?

We all know to tip the cab driver for taking us safely to our destination. But how much is too much? This depends on the length of your trip and your driver’s ability to handle the road.

If you feared for your life during the ride, that tip is going to be a big, fat zero. If it was an overall safe trip, go ahead and tip 10% to 15%. Add an extra dollar or two if they helped you with unloading any luggage.

How much should I tip Uber and Lyft drivers?

You can easily tip your Uber or Lyft driver by using the app on your mobile device. Yay, technology! Since you can rate your driver, most of them go out of their way to win you over with perks like snacks, drinks and phone chargers. And while both companies say you’re under no obligation to tip, we think the same tip amounts for cab drivers apply to Uber and Lyft drivers.

Tipping at Salons and Spas

How much should I tip my hair stylist/barber?

Do you need to tip your hair guru or your barber? Yes, you should—you’re trusting these people with your hair, after all! It’s one of the strongest bonds: hair trust. Tipping around 15% to 20% is standard, depending on their profession and the service you received.

How much should I tip my manicurist?

When it comes to nail services, tip like you’d tip your hair stylist. With 15% to 20%, you can’t go wrong!

How much should I tip a tattoo artist?

If you just let someone draw something permanent on your body and they created art you’re proud to wear forever, then it’s time to tip. A good tattoo artist absolutely deserves a gratuity of 15% to 20%.

Tipping for Grocery Services

How much should I tip the grocery store bagger?

A lot of grocery stores ask you not to tip the people who bag or carry out your groceries. Some will even flat-out tell their employees to refuse tips. You don’t want to get them in trouble, so if the person is kind enough to carry your bags out to the car, show verbal gratitude. Look at their nametag (without making it creepy) and use their name as you say thank you. You’d be surprised how few people do this—and how much it could mean to the bagger. 

Should I tip for grocery delivery?

Grocery delivery is a relatively new thing, so the proper tipping etiquette hasn’t been totally defined yet. That being said, a 10% tip or a couple of dollars is a good rule of thumb for the store employee who shopped for and brought groceries to your car or the dude from TaskRabbit who delivered milk and your fave cereal to your doorstep. Just keep in mind that, similarly to baggers, some delivery people may not be allowed to accept a tip.

Tipping Everyone Else

Should I tip for flower delivery?

If you’re sending flowers, tip $2 to $5 per arrangement. On the flip side, if you receive a beautiful display of flowers (or a tasty fruit bouquet), it’s most likely a wonderful surprise. We don’t think you have to tip when receiving a gift, but take the time to say thank you. And if you get excellent service, refer that company to others!

Should I tip professional movers?

No doubt about it—if your movers go the extra mile and help you bring in and set up your furniture, they deserve a tip. Or if they did an excellent job moving your exotic fish tank or your grandmother’s old piano up three flights of stairs, they deserve a tip. We suggest $10 to $50 a mover, depending on the level of difficulty, attitude of the crew, and amount of stuff they were lugging around for you. Every situation’s different, so use your own discretion.

Should I tip my cable guy/satellite installer?

Technically, your cable guy or satellite installer is doing their job when they come over to your house. It’s not a service they’re going out of their way to do for you.

That said, if it’s a blazing hot day, go ahead and “tip” them a refreshing glass of lemonade or a bottle of water. And if it’s the dead of winter, why not offer them a nice cup of tea or coffee?

Should I tip my contractor?

Since your contractor is there to do the job you hired them to do, you don’t have to tip them. Now if they’re making you dinner, picking up your dry cleaning, and cutting your hair—that’s a different story. Also, that’s not a contractor. You’ve accidentally hired a butler.

How much should we tip the wedding officiant?

Your priest, your pastor, a guy at the courthouse, an Elvis impersonator—regardless of who officiates your wedding, you need to tip them. If it’s not required as part of the wedding fees, consider handing the officiant $50 to $100 in a nice thank-you card at the rehearsal. If they absolutely refuse to accept it, offer to make a donation to their church or favorite charity instead.

Should I tip my babysitter?

If your babysitter really helped you out (like agreeing to watch your little ones on short notice or cleaning up the result of your child’s stomachache from the carpet), then yeah, maybe you should tip them. But this isn’t an absolute must. It’s just a nice gesture acknowledging the trouble they went through. This can look like a little extra over their hourly rate or rounding up that half hour to a full hour when you’re doing the math of what you owe.

Holiday Tipping Guide

Don’t be a scrooge. Tipping with intentionality means something—all year long. But when it’s the most wonderful time of the year and Santa’s watching your every move, you may be a little more in the gifting spirit.

You don’t necessarily need to tip more than usual, unless your stylist or plumber was able to squeeze you in at the last minute during the holiday season. But adding a “Merry Christmas” or including a card with your regular tip can make someone’s day. And, really, an extra $5 or a coffee gift card on top of your regular tip is a great way to make the day more merry and bright for someone who serves you well.

When in Doubt, Be Generous

You can’t go wrong with being generous. In fact, if you’re in a good financial position, be outrageously generous! Remember, your tip says more about you than the person you’re leaving it for. Tipping well doesn’t just mean you’re good at tipping—it shows that you’re grateful for the service and have a generous spirit. 

And if you can’t afford to tip right now, then you can’t afford to get the service right now. Don’t go to a restaurant with servers if you can’t cover the extra 15% to 20% on top of your food cost. Don’t set an appointment with your stylist if you can’t add the tip into your final payment. These seem like “extras” at first, but they’re actually part of it all—and you need to budget for the full cost of the service!

Hey, that budgeting part is easy with EveryDollar—our budget app that helps you take charge of your money. Tip not necessary. Try for free today!

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