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How much should you tip?

How much should you tip

The etymology of the word "tipping" as it pertains to leaving a gratuity for services received can be traced back to the slang of the medieval era, when, according to Yahoo! Answers, it literally meant "to hand it over". Additionally, many other languages also link "gratuity" and "tip" together, and the Latin origin of the word is directly linked to the word "gift".

Additionally, some experts believe that the Roman Empire was the first to put tipping into practice when they put brass urns in establishments for dining and drinking, and that the word tip actually is an acronym for the sign placed on the urn, mean To Insure Promptitude, and patrons were expected to toss coins into the urns for prompt and good service.

Essentially, in modern language, to leave a tip is to give a "gift" of money to a service personnel for a service they have provided. It is customary in most sit-down restaurants to tip the wait staff, and in some restaurants is it also expected to tip the host or hostess who seats you. Many upscale restaurants also have a reputation for providing better seating to those who offer a tip to the host or hostess as well.

The concept of tipping also extends beyond restaurants to other service industries, such as delivery personnel, hotel concierges, bellhops, skycaps, and more. Many establishments have taken up the practice of adding Tip Jars on their counters, such as many Starbucks locations and bars and nightclubs, and I actually saw a tip jar at one of the local dry cleaners the other day and a donation jar at a local newsstand.

Many are unsure of how much to tip or why tips are customary. In many states, including my area of Texas, the minimum wage salary of many service oriented personnel is less than the standard minimum wage. It is not uncommon for wait staff to only receive $2.50-3.50 an hour or so, because their income is supplemented by their tips. When service is good, they can make a considerable amount of money, and when it is not so good, their tip salary will be much lower.

Yet the question still arises: How do you know how much to tip?

We've long heard that 10-15% is customary for average service and 20% or more is expected if service is truly exceptional. Many restaurants will now add at least a 15% gratuity to the check if the dining party is large, such as over 6-8 people.

So I did a bit of research recently, before a trip I was going to take, to see what customary tipping for various services should be. Here is what I discovered is commonly acceptable tipping behavior:

Restaurant Wait Staff Tipping

Poor Service:No tip is required when service is poor, but many people prefer to leave a very small tip in order to let the wait staff know they didn't simply forget to leave a tip.

Average Service:A tip of approximately 10% of the total bill, excluding tax and alcoholic beverages, is considered a decent tip for service at a restaurant that was adequate but did not excel.

Good Service:A tip of approximately 15% of the total bill, excluding tax and alcoholic beverages, is considered a proper tip for above average service that was good, but not exceptional.

Exceptional Service:A tip of approximately 20% of more of the total bill, excluding tax and alcoholic beverages, is considered a proper tip for above exceptional service. Additionally, if your party was particularly demanding or difficult, you can 'reward' the wait staff by paying them a good tip for their trouble.

Keep in mind though, the wait staff usually does not share tips with the cook staff, so be sure it is the waiter or waitresses fault if service is poor. It is okay to ask a very good wait staff if the tips are shared, and you can even speak to the manager to ensure that a good tip for good wait service is not shared with a cook who provided poor quality food.

Hair Stylists and Salons:

If the service is poor, the quality of the style, cut, or other service provided is poor, or the professional was unpleasant, no tip is required.

If the service is average, acceptable, and the staff was professional and courteous, then a tip of $1-2 per service provided is customary. For example, if you receive just a cut, $1; a cut and style is $2; a cut, style, and nail polish would be $3, etc.

If the service is really above average in all areas, a tip of $2 or more per service is acceptable.

Barista – Fancy Coffee Shops

Usually will have a tip jar or container that is shared with all staff on shift at the time. It's usually customary to throw your loose change from the sale into the tip container, and many people will often throw a buck in the there instead.

Bartenders or Bar Waitresses

If you pre-tip here, you'll probably get better and stronger drinks. Be discreet, but make sure your bartender or waitress sees you tipping and you'll probably get better service. If you are running a tab, 15% is customary. If you are paying by the drink, then a buck a drink for mixed drinks is customary.

Pizza and Takeout Delivery

The average tip for takeout food delivery to your home or office is 10% of the total bill, but at least $2.00 per delivery. Make sure the delivery company doesn't already include the tip in the bill. Some locations include both a tip and a delivery fee. It's important to note that the delivery employee does NOT receive the delivery fee, so he or she should be tipped even if there is a deliver fee on the bill.

Taxi and Transportation Services

Bus Drivers:$1-$2 if they handle your luggage for you, nothing if they do not.

Taxi Drivers:Minimum tip of $2.00 per trip or 10% of the total fare. An additional $1 for each stop can be considered if there will be more than one stop.

Skycaps or Airport Porters:$1.00 per bag is customary, unless the bag is unusually large or bulky or heavy, then $2.00

Hotel Staff

Parking Valet:There doesn't seem to be a consensus on tipping parking attendants, and no one can say for sure if you tip when the car is parked or when it is retrieved. Since it's likely two different people will do each of these services, most agree you should tip both the parker and the one who retrieves your car. Tipping them well before the park or retrieve your car will usually ensure faster and better service and better care of your vehicle. Most agree the tip should be between $2-5.00.

Bellhop:Same as skycaps and airport porters.

Cleaning Staff:$1-$5.00 per night, depending on the quality of the service and the type of hotel. Fancier and more expensive hotels offer more cleaning services than less expensive hotels. This should be paid daily, and either given directly to the staff member or left with a note on the table or bedding pillows.

Concierge:This one will differ depending on what service he or she provides to you. Giving directions or telling you where local nightlife is should not be tipped, but making reservations for you, booking appointments, delivering items, ordering items, or other specialty services should be tipped between $5-25.00, depending on the service provided.

Coat Checker:$1.00 per garment or item checked.


There are many other instances in which tipping is appropriate, but if you are unsure, it is always acceptable to ask if tipping is expected versus not tipping at all. When in doubt, tip.

When you do tip, tip discreetly. The tip is meant to be a reward and a payment for services rendered, not a means to boost your ego or make you look good. The classiest tippers are those who can do so without anyone even knowing the tip was given.

When service is very poor, it is acceptable to withhold the tip. After all, you do not reward poor service. However, it is recommended that if service is poor enough to withhold a tip, you should mention this to the management or the service provider, so they know there is a problem and not think you are cheap.

If you have been difficult, your party asked for a lot of specialties or extras, or you lingered or stayed longer than is customary at a table, give a bit larger tip than customary, since you were taking up time and trouble that another customer would have tipped for had you not lingered or asked for special service.

Tipping practices and customary tipping rates will vary from region to region, and vary widely from country to country, so if you are traveling, do a bit or research before you travel to know what you should tip. This article is just a general guideline that, if followed, will hit close to the average in just about any location in the United States. However, high luxury or specialty locations and services usually expect a higher than average tip, while small towns, ma and pop locations and establishments usually don't expect as large of a tip.

In general, tip what you believe the service is worth, knowing that anyone who works in a service industry in which tipping is customary probably relies mostly or even solely on tips to survive.

Comments (7)

those tips to give may be usual in the US with 10% and more of the invoice amount. not so in europe. and if the service is "normal" then why give a tip? normal service is always expected by the customers. if you get very good service ( it does not matter in what job you are working ) then I leave a tip sometimes, but not as in the US usual with 10% or more.
just now again in thailand escaping the european wintertime and here I mostly give tip when the service is more then good. if not then no tip. and when I give no tip sometimes the people get crazy and asking/begging for tips. but those locations then are on my "black list" where I never will go again and also a lot of my friends here will not go anymore.
I usually tip between 50 cents and a 1 euro even if the service is included in the bill,
Leaving out the hotel staffs ( that's a another pair of hands ). As you said depends on the quality of the service, being my self an ex hotel receptionist ( Night Auditor ).

absolutly nothing!
I read an article on tipping one time and the author made a comment that struck Me hard .It was words to the effect that "Restauranters" are the only group of employers that successfully tranfer most of the cost of thier labout to the Customer directly outside of the price they charge.
In Europe many establishments have a built in service charge yet staff still expect a tip on top of this ! Some Waiters try and get the Customer to avoid giving a tip on the credit card but to pay "cash" !Others tell you that you cannot put a tip on the credit card !
Also in many establishments the Chef is already on a percentage of the take so giving a tip to Him/Her is unecessary.
I have worked as a Waiter in the US and know how important tipping is but sometimes I think the whole area is mad - why can't there just be a "price" for a meal out like everything else rather than having to guess what to leave behind !
I agree with most of it, I might even tip more for exceptional service at at restaurant, for personal stuff like nails, hair, massage--but hardly a tip of not good service--maybe $1.00
T I P S = To insure prompt service professor

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