Like it or not, tipping is customary in the United States for many service-based industries.
We tip at bars and restaurants, hotels and salons. We tip for transportation and home deliveries. We tip more when we're satisfied or have outstanding service. We tip less when we're unsatisfied or have poor service –– but we still tip.
Tipping can be confusing, especially for visitors to the U.S. from countries and regions of the world where tipping isn't customary. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that when a tip is based on the percentage of a bill, we calculate the tip before tax.
Who do you tip? How much do you tip? When do you tip?
In this post, I'm going to answer those questions.
Bars, Coffee Shops & Restaurants
Not customary. Tip spare change or $1 to $3 for great service, complicated orders or occasionally if you're a regular. Tip when paying or receiving your drink.
Tip $1 per drink or 15% to 20% per round when receiving your drink, at the end of a round or when paying the bill.
Businesses with Tip Jars
Not customary. Coffee shops, cafes and fast food shops may have a tip jar near the cash register. Tip spare change or $1 to $3 for great service, complicated orders or occasionally if you're a regular.
Tip 15% to 20% of the bill when paying. Restaurants that cater to large parties usually add gratuities to the bill to ensure the servers' hard work is recognized. If you feel they deserve more, tip more.
Server (Buffet Restaurants)
Tip 10% to 15% of the bill when paying. The tip is to show your gratitude for serving drinks, removing dishes and cleaning the table.
Sommelier / Wine Steward
Tip 15% of the bottle's cost when paying the bill.
Takeout / Carry-Out
Not customary. Tip 10% to 15% for great service, complicated orders or occasionally if you're a regular.
Tip $1 to $2 in casino chips per winning hand or a minimum of $5 per session. For high stakes tables, tip more. If you win a significant amount, you might also show your generosity by tipping the dealer 1% to 5% of your winnings. To tip the dealer, slide a chip toward him/her or make a bet on their behalf by placing a chip next to your bet. Tell the dealer that chip is for him/her.
Tip $1 or the equivalent in casino chips per drink when your beverage (including water) arrives. Place the tip on the serving tray.
Slot Machine Attendant
Tip 1% to 2% for hand payouts. Tip the attendant in cash upon receiving the payout.
Appliance / Furniture Delivery
Not customary. Tip $5 to $10 per person upon completion of the delivery and/or offer a cold beverage (water, soft drink, sports drink, etc.). Tip more for complicated or long-distance deliveries.
Not customary. Tip $2 to $5 per arrangement.
Tip 15% to 20% of the bill upon delivery.
Offer cold beverages (water, soft drink, sports drink, etc.) during the move. For small or local moves, tip $10 to $20 per mover. For large or long-distance moves, tip $20 to $50 per mover. Tip upon completion of the move.
Bellhop / Bellman
Tip $2 per bag or $5 minimum per cart upon arriving in your hotel room.
Not customary when asking for directions. Tip $5 for reservations or tickets and $15 for tickets that are difficult to obtain. Tip once the reservation is completed.
Not customary for opening doors. Tip $1 per bag for help with luggage and $1 per person for hailing a taxi.
Tip $2 to $5 per night at the end of your stay. Leave the tip in the provided card (usually on the desk).
Tip $2 to $5 for special requests (extra towels, etc.) upon delivery.
A gratuity is usually included in the bill. If not, tip 15% to 20% upon delivery.
Shuttle Bus Driver
Tip $1 to $5 when arriving at your destination, more if the driver helps you with your bag. Tip $1 minimum per bag.
On the Move
Car Wash Staff
Tip $2 to $5 for a full-service car wash (towel-drying and vacuuming) and 15% for detailing. Tip upon completion.
Tip $1 per coat when picking up your coat.
Tip $0.50 to $3 when leaving.
Salons & Spas
Tipping is customary for a barber, colorist, esthetician, hairstylist, manicurist, masseuse, pedicurist and waxer. Tip 15-20% when paying the bill.
Tip 15% to 20% of the bill when picking up your pet.
Tip 15% to 20% of the bill at the end.
Airport Shuttle Driver
Tip $1 to $2 when exiting the shuttle.
Tip $2 per bag or $5 minimum per cart when arriving at the airport check-in counter.
Tip 10% to 20% of the fare when arriving at your destination.
At this time, tipping is not customary with ride-share services like Uber and Lyft. Tip 10% to 20% of the fare when arriving at your destination. You can either tip your driver with cash or use the Uber and Lyft apps to tip your driver. In-app tips are deducted from your credit card on file with the ride-share service. 100% of your tip is paid to the drivers.
Tip 15% to 20% of the fare upon arriving at your destination.
Valet Parking Attendant
Tip $2 to $5 upon receiving your car keys.
Cruise Ship Staff
Obligatory. All services rendered on a cruise ship include a gratuity. Check with your cruise line for the daily tip percentages for restaurant severs, room attendants, housekeeping, etc. If you're exceptionally satisfied, show your generosity by tipping more.
Tip 15% to 20% of the tour's cost at the end of the trip.
You just learned who, how much and when to tip in the United States. Download The Guide to Tipping (free) and reference it as needed. If you encounter a situation where you're unsure if you should tip someone, just ask, "Do you accept tips?" Acknowledging others with your generosity will make them feel great and you'll feel good about yourself, too!
Can you think of another service where tipping is customary in the USA? Answer in the Comments below.
How Much Should You Tip? A Guide to Gratuities in the USA first appeared on the Culture Gaps Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.
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