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How to Tip in All Situations

9 Minute Read

It’s a familiar dilemma: Should I tip my barista? This waiter? My hair stylist? The valet? And if so, how much? We break down everything you need to know about how to tip.

Tipping at Restaurants and Grocery Stores

How much should I tip a waiter?

When you go out to eat at a restaurant, leave a minimum of 15%, preferably 20%. Does that sound a little steep? Here’s a reality check: If you can’t afford to leave a decent tip, then you shouldn’t be at a restaurant to begin with. Remember, most servers make in the neighborhood of $2 per hour,(1) so they’re counting on those tips to make ends meet. Don’t be a cheapskate, be generous!

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. So, while you don’t have to tip them as much as a waiter at a more formal restaurant, you still need to tip.

A good rule of thumb is to tip at least $1 per person at your table. Or you can opt for a strict percentage of 5% to 10%. It’s really up to you.

Should I tip at fast-food restaurants?

These are the restaurants where your food is prepared and you grab it while you’re still at the counter (or in the drive-thru). There’s no hard rule on tipping etiquette at these types of casual joints, but leaving a dollar or two in the tip jar would never hurt.

Should I tip for carry out?

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 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, but if the person is kind enough to carry your bags out to the car, it wouldn’t hurt to stick a dollar bill in their hand. And since (hopefully) you just saved money at the grocery store anyway, you can afford to do it.

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Should I tip for grocery delivery?

These days, it’s hard to know what the proper tipping etiquette is for people doing new things—like shopping for and bringing groceries to your car for grocery pickup, or that dude from Task Rabbit who delivered a bag of groceries to your doorstep.

A 10% tip or a couple of dollars is perfectly fine. But just be prepared that your delivery person may not be allowed to collect a tip. For example, Kroger ClickList associates can’t accept tips.(2)

How much should I tip for pizza delivery?

Someone had to bring that piping hot, delicious pizza to your front door. Without them, you’d be plagued with hunger pains and empty handed. Be generous and give them a few dollars. Somewhere in the range of $2 to $4 is perfectly fine.

Should I tip my barista?

That little tip jar sitting on the counter as you pick up your morning cup of java is staring you down. Do you tip?

If you ordered a drip coffee or iced coffee (a.k.a. something that didn’t require a ton of preparation) then you really don’t need to feel obligated to tip. But if you ordered a fancy espresso drink, you should tip something. Even if it’s just the change from breaking your $5 bill.

How much should I tip a bartender?

A dollar or two per drink is perfectly fine tipping etiquette here.

Tipping at Hotels

How much should I tip hotel housekeeping?

A lot of people don’t even realize they need to tip at hotels. But a few bucks on the bedside table will go a long way toward making sure your room gets extra special treatment.

How much should I tip a valet?

If you choose to use the valet instead of parking your own car, you should absolutely tip a few dollars when you pick the car up. You don’t have to go crazy here, but $2 to $5 will be appreciated. Have you seen how fast those guys run?

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 in walking distance, you don’t need to tip them.

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! A tip anywhere in the ballpark of 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 nails, it’s just like getting your hair done—tip a standard 15% to 20% and you can’t go wrong!

How much should I tip a tattoo artist?

If you just let someone draw something permanently on your body, hopefully you liked the service enough to leave a tip! The simple answer here is yes, a good tattoo artist absolutely deserves a tip of 15% to 20%.

Tipping Drivers

How much should I tip my cab driver?

We all know to tip the cab driver, especially if he got 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. 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 rules for cab drivers apply to Uber and Lyft drivers.

Tipping Everyone Else

Should I tip for flower delivery?

When you receive a beautiful display of flowers (or a tasty fruit bouquet), it’s most likely a wonderful surprise. So, we don’t think you have to tip for a gift.

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 up three flights of stairs, they deserve a tip. Every situation is 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. And if it’s the dead of winter, why not offer them a nice cup of tea or cocoa?

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 either. Now if they’re making you dinner, picking up your dry cleaning, and cutting your hair—that’s a different story.

How much should we tip the wedding officiant?

Your priest, your pastor, the guy at the courthouse, or even Elvis—regardless of who officiates your wedding, you still need to tip them. If it’s not required as part of the wedding fees, consider slipping the officiant $50 to $100 in a nice thank-you card at the rehearsal.

If they absolutely refuse your gesture, 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 having to clean 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 little gesture acknowledging the trouble they went through.

How Do I Calculate a Tip?

While most of us probably use a calculator or app to figure out the right amount to tip, it is possible to actually estimate it in your head. We know, math is hard. But this trick is simple—no math skills required!

First, take a look at your pretax bill total (let’s say it’s $32.79). Move the decimal point one place to the left (that gives you $3.27). Now, round the 27 cents up to the next “easy number”—let’s make that 30 cents. So that’s $3.30, right? Double that amount. You should end up with $6.60, which is right around 20% of your original bill of $32.29.

How Do I Calculate a Tip When Paying With a Coupon or Gift Card?

It’s really simple—calculate the tip the exact same way you would if you didn’t have a coupon or gift card. Just because you have a discounted bill doesn’t mean you get to leave a discounted tip. Go ahead and calculate your tip based on the full pretax price.

Is Tipping Etiquette Different in Other Countries?

Yes, yes and yes. If you go to Canada, you’ll find similar tipping expectations as you would in the U.S. If you travel to Egypt to check out some pyramids, the average tip is 10% across the board. But if you visit somewhere like Australia, you’ll find that it’s not the norm to leave a tip at all!

The best rule of thumb is to do your research on the country’s tipping etiquette before you travel. It will save you from embarrassment—or worse—insulting someone. Try using websites or apps like Tip This Much to help keep you in the know.

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 a tip for.

Don’t forget to budget for your generosity! Check out EveryDollar, our free budget app, to help you set aside money for tipping.

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