Guidelines For Proper Tipping Etiquette

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

Tipping is one of the finer points of etiquette that is often overlooked. It can be tricky to remember how you’re supposed to tip in various venues, but fortunately there are some basic rules you can follow to help you figure out what the correct amount to give is in most situations. The following are general guidelines for how and when to tip depending on where you are and what you’re doing.

When Dining Out

For most people, going out to eat is the area in which they have the most experience giving a tip for services rendered. This is especially true with leaving a tip for a server. However, there are several other tipping situations that may be encountered while dining out. Here are the expected tipping rates for those instances:

  • Restaurant Servers: 15-20 percent of the total cost of the meal before taxes
  • Maitre d’: $5-$10 for getting you a table (more when you don’t have reservations)
  • Bartenders: 15-20 percent of the total cost (consider the difficulty of your order to decide)
  • Wine Steward Or Sommelier: 10 percent of the wine bill
  • Valet Or Parking Garage Attendant: $2 to retrieve your car
  • Coat Check: $1 per coat
  • Restroom Attendant: $0.50-$1 per visit

Keep in mind that most servers only make an average of $2.12 per hour, so it’s important to always leave a tip. If the service is so bad that you feel a 15 percent tip isn’t deserved, you should ask to speak to a manager. However, this should only be reserved for rare situations where a patron is extremely displeased with their experience, and even then an absolute minimum tip of 10 percent is appropriate.

Also keep in mind that when dining out with any type of coupon, you should always tip based on the amount that your meal would have been without that discount. In addition, watch for automatic service charges added onto your bill if you’re dining out with a large group; tables of 6 or more people often have an automatic 18 percent tip added onto the bill, so an additional tip beyond that is not necessary (but may be added if you want to give your server a larger tip).

When Travelling

Lots of people only travel once or twice a year so it’s easy to forget the rules about tipping in these situations. Here is an easy guideline for how to tip when travelling:

  • Taxi Driver: 15 percent, plus $1-$2 for help with bags
  • Limo Or Bus Driver: $1 per passenger (as long as company policy allows it)
  • Airport Skycap: $1 per bag checked at curbside, $2 per bag taken to check-in counter
  • Hotel Bellhop: $1 per bag with a $2 minimum (even with one bag)
  • Hotel Doorman: $1 per bag handled and $1 per cab hailed
  • Hotel Housekeeper: $2-$5 per night
  • Hotel Concierge: $5-$10 for securing tickets or reservations
  • Cruise Server, Room Steward: $2-$3.50 per person per day (given on last day of cruise)
  • Tour Guide: $1-$2 per person (more for a private tour)

Always remember to check ahead on local customs regarding tipping if you plan to travel out of the country. For example, establishments in the U.K. and Brazil often include a service charge on the bill. Meanwhile, the French tip about 10 percent when dining out, but visitors aren’t expected to give a tip in most cases, and there is no tipping whatsoever in China.

When Using Other Services

There are a number of other personal services for which you should generally tip. Here are the expected tipping rates for those services:

  • Hair Stylists And Barbers: 15-20 percent of the total cost
  • Massage Therapists, Manicurists, Other Spa Services: 15-20 percent of the total cost
  • Animal Groomers: 15 percent of the total cost (more for tougher jobs)
  • Full-Service Car Wash Attendants: $2-$3 (more for a larger vehicle)
  • Movers: $10-$20 per mover for small jobs, $50 for larger jobs
  • Food Delivery: 10 percent minimum, 15-20 percent for a difficult delivery
  • Grocery Loader: $1-$3 for bringing bags to car (if company policy allows it)
  • Tip Jars: Always optional

In addition, certain services that you receive regularly should be rewarded once a year. Many people tend to do this by giving out cash or a gift card around the holidays. Consider giving an annual tip to those who perform services like pet sitting, house cleaning, yard maintenance or paper delivery.

Tipping isn’t just an obligation to follow due to etiquette; it’s also important to budgeting, particularly when you travel. Always be sure to factor in how much you’ll be tipping when planning to go out to eat, take a trip or spring for luxuries like a spa visit or moving service. This will help you manage your money better while also giving the professionals who provide these services what they deserve.


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