A hot topic in the media lately seems to revolve the topic of tipping etiquette. Some restaurants are bucking the trend and completely doing without the standard tipping practices in the U.S.  Also, with the many holidays in the next few months, tipping will most likely come up in your life besides just at a restaurant.

Tipping can be difficult to determine at times, however, if someone is providing a service for you, then a tip might be required from you. Tipping does differ in different areas and countries though. Tipping is standard practice in the U.S., but in many other countries tips are not normal or required from you at all.

Below are typical times when you should tip, and how much you should tip if you decide to do so.

Food services:

  • Restaurants typically receive around 15% to 20% of your bill. If you think about leaving a low tip, keep in mind that  tips are usually split amongst everyone at a restaurant, and not just the waiters/waitresses. When I go to a restaurant that I attend a lot, then I tend to tip more as I always want each trip to be of high service.
  • Buffet workers tend to receive around 10%. Some completely forget to tip these workers. However, keep in mind that they usually bring you your drinks, and they do still clean off the table for you.
  • If you are at a bar, then tip is usually around 15% to 20% again (just like at a restaurant), or $1 a drink. I have heard of it going both ways.
  • Carryout is a tough one. Some say that you shouldn’t tip at all, but others say 10% since it is usually a waiter or waitress who assembles your food for you.

Travel-related services:

  • Taxi drivers typically receive 15% of the total bill. However, I have heard that in some cities 15% is above normal and that the normal rate is 10%.
  • If someone brings your luggage to your hotel room, usually around $3 is fine. However, if you have a lot of luggage or they have to shuttle you to your room (such as if the resort is very large), then a couple of dollars per piece of luggage is usually best.
  • Housekeeping usually receives a couple of dollars each night as well.

Personal services:

  • Massages are usually tipped 15% to 20%.**
  • Hair services are usually tipped 15% to 20% also.**  For a shampoo that is done by a designated shampoo person, tip is usually $2 to $3 for this.

**It should be noted that for personal services, tip is not required if it is the owner providing the services.

Miscellaneous-related services:

  • I have never done this, but I have heard that some give their postal workers a tip around the holidays. They might give a $10 or $20 gift card, as they are not allowed to accept cash gifts.
  • If your child goes to a daycare or to a nanny, then you might want to give them a tip as well. If they are not allowed to receive tips, then a gift card or a gift is always nice as well. It just shows appreciation for their services.
  • Landscapers are sometimes given an extra tip, although this depends on how large the project is.
  • House cleaners sometimes receive tips, but I do think this depends on whether or not they are the owner of the cleaning business. An extra tip around the holidays is always nice as well.

Do you tip for the above circumstances? Why or why not? And how much?



Michelle Schroeder is the founder of Making Sense of Cents and Diversified Finances, a personal finance and lifestyle blog about budgeting, traveling, life, and student loans. Read further on her story and life.