From restaurants to hair salons, tipping is an essential part of American society that is here to stay. Most of us are accustomed to adding a percentage onto our restaurant bills or slipping a few dollars to the valet, but sometimes it's trickier than you'd imagine. It's important to know how much to tip so that service employees are paid what they are owed and given financial acknowledgment for a job well done. Here’s a helpful guide for navigating the rules of tipping.
How Much to Tip at a Restaurant
Tipping at U.S. restaurants is not only expected, it's vital to helping restaurant workers make a living wage. Restaurant workers are generally paid below minimum wage with the assumption that the bulk of their paychecks will come from tips.
If you are sitting down for a meal, you should tip your server between 15% and 20% of the total bill, regardless if the service is bad. The easiest way to figure out a 20% tip is to look at the total, move the decimal point one spot to the left, and multiply the number by 2. For example, if the check is $141.98, the tip is 14 times 2, or $28. If math isn’t your thing, install a tip calculator to make figuring out the exact amount easier.
If you’re picking up food from a restaurant, tipping is not required but is appreciated. However, if someone brings your meal to your car via curbside pickup, you should tip 10%. The same goes for casual food settings, such as a buffet — you should tip 10%.
For food delivery drivers, you should tip a minimum of $5, and if they are delivering a large order and are going above and beyond, you should tip 15% of the bill.
How Much to Tip at a Coffee Shop and Bars
One to two dollars per drink is considered fair at beverage-based businesses, such as coffee shops or bars. Depending on the drink’s complexity, you can adjust your tip — fancy cocktails and espresso drinks might warrant a little more. If food is part of your check or a server is involved, you should tip as you would at a restaurant.
How Much to Tip Beauty Services
For personal grooming, such as haircuts, manicures, and tattoos, it’s always good to tip 20% to acknowledge long-term, appearance-changing services.
How Much to Tip Drivers
You should also always tip cab and ride-share drivers — there’s an assumption in their base pay that accounts for them being tipped. Some ride-share apps offer a suggested amount for your driver; otherwise, you can tip between 15% and 20% for a good ride.
How to Tip While Traveling
Tipping while traveling can be intimidating, but planning for your expenses will help ensure you are on top of things. Rather than a big tip for the housekeeping service at the end of your stay, tip a few dollars every day. If you get help with your bags from the concierge, spend a dollar or two per bag and tip the valet for caring for your car.
For international travelers, keep in mind that only some countries accept gratuities. In some places, tipping can be considered rude or even a bribe. While planning your trip, look ahead to learn about the tipping culture in your destination to avoid cultural faux pas.
When Not to Tip
You might be tempted to offer 15% to 20% to anyone who does a good job, but that can sometimes be discouraged — or even illegal. Don’t tip your children’s teachers, for example — settle for a thoughtful gift card at the end of the year instead. While you may have a great rapport with your mail carrier, it’s not legal to give them cash. If you’re feeling generous, consider a box of candy or homemade treats instead.
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