Tipping for services rendered is a part of our American culture. However, sometimes we might not feel like tipping the Dale Earnhardt Jr. wannabe taxi driver, the surly and lethargic waitress, or the stingy bartender. But, unless we want to make a scene or risk getting something unsavory in our food, it’s important to know when to tip, who to tip and how much to give them.

Below is a general tipping guide to abide by.

When dining

– Wait service (sit down): 15-20%

– Wait service (buffet): 10%

– Host or Maître d’: No obligation

– Take out: No obligation

– Home delivery: 10-15% of the bill, $2-$5 for pizza delivery

– Bartender: $1-$2 per drink or 15-20% of the tab

– Tipping jars: No obligation

– Restroom Attendant: $0.50-$3

– Valet: $2-$5

When traveling

– Skycap: $2 first bag, $1 per additional bag

– Doorman: $1-$4 for carrying luggage; $1-$2 for hailing cab

– Bellhop: $2 first bag; $1 additional bag; $2-3 for additional service

– Housekeeper: $2-$5 per day, left daily with note marked “Housekeeping”

– Concierge: $5-10 for tickets or restaurant reservations

– Taxi driver: 15-20% of the fare, plus $1-$2 per bag carried

When visiting a salon/spa

– Hair Salon: 15-20% (ask to be split among those who served you)

– Manicurist: 15-20%

– Facial, waxing, massage: 15-20%

If you receive bad service, you do not have to tip. This may be awkward, but giving a tip is to reward the person for their beneficial service to you. So, if your hairdresser turns your hair orange, or the delivery person gets your order wrong, or your facial makes your face burn, then by all means don’t give them a tip!

(You can click HERE to view Real Simple’s detailed guide for all of the service people in your life.)

Photo: Aimee Symington


    • I have to admit that I literally just had to look up “Growler Etiquette”, because in all of my 20 years of teaching etiquette, I’ve never been asked about the etiquette for growlers! Love it! Anyway, according to 3 sources such as Vegas Seven’s “Beer Issue”, the advice is this…

      When you purchase a growler from one pub/store/bar, you can have it refill there again no problem, but some places might charge you for cleaning it out first. However, if you take that same growler to another (competing) pub/store/bar, and ask them to refill it, that can be uncool (not good etiquette) because the pub might want you to buy their growler. Best bet would be to ask them first if you can bring in your own growler. If you have a generic-looking growler then I understand that you will have an easier time of taking it from place to place to have it refilled.

      I will brush up on my growler etiquette (maybe even personally test it out) for the next question like this. Thanks!! Aimee

        • If you go into a pub and purchase a growler to go and the bartender has to fill it up for you, then it’s a good idea to leave a tip as your way of thanking him/her for their time and assistance. Leaving a $1-$2 tip is fine.

          If you plan to drink there, then plan to tip the bartender about 15% of the total tab.

  1. Rebuttal: when you don’t tip your waiter, they actually lose money, and are essentially paying to wait on you. So think twice before stiffing someone because they weren’t able to keep your water filled to your expectations. I cannot speak to other tipped industries, but I am under the impression they are paid by their employers and tips are supplemental income. So to that I have no issue.

    However, publishing articles like this only perpetuate the idea that it is ok for a company to not pay their employees a wage and tell them to cross their fingers and hope customers are generous enough to give them an income. Call me old fashioned, but I believe if someone shows up to help your company succeed, you, as the owner owe them a wage. So instead of posting articles that feed into the idea that the tipping process in the restaurant industry is in any way acceptable, perhaps encourage your readers to look into why tipping your waiter is so important (or better yet advocate for a change to the system.) Tipping restaurant staff isn’t about giving them extra money, it’s about giving them enough to pay bills.

    • Exactly!! And don’t even get me started on delivery drivers, well actually I wrote a very long reply to this post but I’m not sure that it went through…

  2. I disagree with so much of what you said in this article. I waited tables for almost 10 years, and what people fail to understand, is that it is NOT okay to NOT tip your server because of anything about the quality and/or your order not being prepared the way you asked, or how long it took for you to get your food, or some other arbitrary thing like the music being too loud – things that the server cannot control, therefore this does not make it OK for you to not tip because of it. Yes, the server could’ve forgotten to put in your order right away, or entered the order in wrong, but I promise you that about 90% of the time, it is not the server’s fault. Because your server’s livelihood depends on you tipping ( almost all servers only make half of minimum-wage, under four dollars an hour, and pretty much all of this is taken for taxes, leaving tips as the only form of income), they are going to spend a lot more time and effort making sure that your order is to your liking – unlike the kitchen staff however, who gets paid hourly aka the same amount whether you like your food or not. It always amazed me how clueless most people were to the fact that your server is not responsible for everything, like where the host seated you, how the bartender made your drinks, and that you asked for no onions on your burger but the line cook doesn’t speak English and put extra on instead. Ask to speak to a manager about your issues, and let them know that it was not anything that your server did- hell, you could even be so kind as to tell the manager how wonderful your server was and help them out a little bit. Some managers that I’ve had were really truly awful people who did not care to hear about your side of the story, and got some kind of sick joy out of cutting employee’s hours or firing them all together.

    Also, about delivery drivers – yet again, they do not prepare your food. How would they be able to do that, while also taking all of the orders, and making all of the food, then bagging it all up, and delivering everything. Use your brain. So many times I’ve had people make me stand there while they
    check the bag (as if, somehow, if something is missing from their order, i will magically have it freshly prepared in my backseat) item by item, and then when something ends up being missing, they don’t tip me because of it. Even after I inform them that I do not have a full Chinese restaurant in my backseat, ready to make anything at a moments notice- so they’re going to have to call the restaurant and get the kitchen to cook the right food, and have it brought back out to them – usually by the same driver, who still doesn’t get tipped.

    I could go on and on, but the moral of the story is; tip your **** servers, bartenders, delivery drivers, etc.… And most importantly, go to college.

  3. I too was a waitress at one point in my life, and so I agree that it is so important to tip! In fact, this article on tipping is to help educate those who are unsure about who to tip, when, and how much to give them.

    The only time I would suggest not tipping a server, driver, or any service person is if they personally did something that was incorrect that negatively effected you. I love your point about needing to make sure that we understand whose fault the bad service was, and then not to take it out on the wrong person. I would never suggest not tipping a waitress because the food was bad, or the delivery person got the wrong order handed to him.

    This is a great conversation and I appreciate you helping to clarify the points on tipping.

    Also, I agree with your advice on going to college! 🙂

  4. Thanks for your questions!

    Uber drivers – Only the company Uber drivers get a tip as part of what you pay upfront, but when you read the small print when you sign-up for Uber, the other UberX and Uber Black drives do not get any tip! So, although you do not have to tip, the drivers would really appreciate it since they do not get paid for their time to drive to you or to wait for you.

    Home cleaners – You do not have to tip your house keeper every week/month, but when the December holidays roll around it is really nice (and also expected) to give her/him a tip. The typical holiday bonus/tip is up to the price of one house cleaning. Typically, people give about half of the typical house cleaning as a tip.

  5. Knowing how much to tip is something I struggle with. This was really helpful, especially the point about how to tip a taxi driver. For my next trip, I’m considering to use a taxi to get around.