Tipping Etiquette: Who Should You Tip And How Much?

by CB on November 17, 2012

how much to tipYou’ve finished the meal, the check has come, and you ask yourself: “How much do I tip?”

It’s commonly accepted that 15-20% of the bill is the standard tip for a waiter or waitress in a sit-down restaurant. 

Remember, under the Federal Labor Standard Acts, restaurants need only pay their wait staff just under half the minimum wage, with tips making up the difference.

Although business owners must cover that difference when tips don’ fill the gap, gratuities still represent an important part of your server’s income. [1] However, when it comes to tipping etiquette, some folks wonder about the proper gratuity for other service providers, many of whom make minimum wage.  

Below, you’ll find some generally accepted guidelines for most tipping situations in the U.S. and Canada. [2]

Buffett restaurant

Tip 5-10% of the bill, unless the service given extends beyond refilling drinks. Tip any less and you’re guaranteed to get a dirty look from the wait staff.

Bar

You should usually tip 10-15% of the tab, but tipping as you go can get you more attention, particularly in a busy place. You’ll get good service at $1 per drink, and even more attention for bigger tips.

Takeout

Restaurants workers don’t expect tips for takeout, but they’ll certainly appreciate $0.50-$2, particularly if they bring the food out to your vehicle. Similarly, large takeout orders of $60 or more should be acknowledged.

Airport

Shuttle bus drivers who help you with your luggage customarily receive $1 per bag. The same goes for Skycaps.  You’ll want to tip wheelchair attendants $3-$5, more if it’s a particularly long trek through a large airport. Electric cart drivers appreciate $1-$2.

Hotel

Like the airport, a hotel offers many tipping quandaries. Use the $1 a bag guideline for anyone who helps with your luggage. On average, you should tip the concierge in the $5-$10 range, more if they provide extra services. Similarly, you’ll usually tip the front desk staff only for providing extra service, in which case $5 is customary.

Valet

If you’re at a hotel, and plan on using valet service during your entire stay, you’ll want to tip around $2, maybe more if you really like your car. At other establishments, such as restaurants or clubs, a $1 tip should suffice. Tip upon retrieval of your vehicle.

Casino

Blackjack, roulette, and poker dealers typically get tipped $5 per session.  Practice good tipping form at the craps table by placing a $1 bet for the dealers every so often.  Waitresses (or waiters) bringing you a drink should be tipped $1 per beverage.

Pizza

For long deliveries, you should tip up to $5.Otherwise, tip $1-$2 per pie.

Barber/hair stylist

Around 15% or $1 makes an acceptable tip. You’ll want to tip more if your visit involves styling or other services.

Coffee shop

This seems to be an area of great controversy. Coffee shop workers make at least   minimum wage, unlike the wait staff at a restaurant, and baristas, the folks that make the drinks, can make close to $10 an hour. Of course they’re not getting rich on that. Tip cups seem to be more and more common in these establishments, but are you compelled to contribute?  There doesn’t seem to be an agreed upon standard for coffee shops, so tip at your discretion. If it’s a complicated order, or you’re a regular and they get your drink going when they see you, tip accordingly.[3]

Tipping tips

Tip on the pre-tax amount of restaurant/bar bills, and so on. Check for a posted policy. Some merchants forbid tipping.  In some cases, cruise ships and resorts for example, the bill includes gratuity. Don’t be flashy. The tip is between you and the service provider. If travelling overseas, research the cultures of the countries you’ll be visiting. Some cultures consider tipping rude. Finally, remember tipping is not compulsory, and it should reflect the level of service. If you receive exceptional service, tip a little more than the guidelines say.

P.F. Wilson writes articles for Check n Go about online commerce, responsible borrowing, investment, and budgeting. Visit their site to learn more about Check n Go payday loans and other services like installment loans.

References

[1] U.S. Department of Labor Web. 05 July 2011 <http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/wagestips.htm#doltopics>

[2]Tipping.org  Web. 05 July 2011 <http://www.tipping.org/tips/us.html>

[3] Wright, Andy. “This is why your coffee shop waitress hates you.” San Francisco Weekly. Web. 05 July 2011 <http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2011/01/this_is_why_your_coffeeshop_wa.php>

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