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Tipping Etiquette: Every Situation You’ll Ever Need to Know

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Expectations and norms around tipping are evolving rapidly. In 1947, people tipped an average of 10%1 in restaurants., whereas nowadays, that average is closer to 20%. 

It’s not just the numbers that are changing—with digital payment methods taking over our transactions, the little black credit card machine will ask you how much you’d like to tip almost every time you purchase something.

The rules have become fuzzy, too. Should you tip at spas? Starbucks? Your Uber driver?

In this article, we’ll spell out the unwritten rules of tippings in the United States and break down the tipping expectations for every situation.

How Much to Tip In Different Situations

Let’s not beat around the bush! Below are all of the services where you might be wondering if you should tip and how much.

But as you read, remember that your tip should always depend on the situation. If service is the best you’ve ever experienced, consider giving a few more bucks. If service is jaw-droppingly dreadful, consider tipping less.

Tipping is the best way to show appreciation for service and is much appreciated by everyone.


  • Sitting in: 15-20%
  • Takeout: No need to tip.

While tipping can feel like a gray area for many industries, restaurants are not one of them. Sit-down restaurants are the service where people most often leave tips.

Here’s an infographic created by Bankrate that shows how often most people leave tips for different services.

An infographic on tipping etiquette created by Bankrate that shows how often most people leave tips for different services.


  • Food delivery: $5. If it’s an especially large order, go with 15% because it may have been extra challenging for the driver/cyclist to carry all of your food
  • Grocery delivery: 15-20%


  • Uber, Lyft: 10-20%
  • Taxi: 15-20%
  • Limo: 10-20%
  • Airport shuttle bus driver: $2-3. If they help with your bags, then $3-5.

Coffee shops

  • Skill-based drinks: $1. This includes steamed milk drinks or anything complex
  • Simple drinks: No need to tip for basic drinks like drip coffee or a tea bag


  • Beer: $1-2 per drink
  • Wine: $1-3 per glass. The high end of this range is for fancy wines or if the bartender helpfully walks you through the selection process.
  • Cocktails: $2-5 per drink. More if the drink is incredibly complex or if the service is exquisite
  • Drink tab: 15-20% of your bar tab if you’ve gotten multiple drinks over the course of your bar excursion.

Salons and barber shops

  • Barber/hairstylist: 15-20%
  • Massage: 15-20%
  • Manicurist: 15-20%
  • Facial: 15-20%

However, for any of the above, it’s good practice to tip more if you’re a “regular.” For example, if you see the same barber every month and have built a relationship with them, it’s good form and shows respect by bumping up your tip a few percentage points.


  • Babysitting: $5-10 a day. Extra if they worked late or you contacted them on short notice.
  • Nannying: No tip necessary. Though at the end of the year, it’s good form to offer a bonus matching somewhere between one and four weeks’ worth of their salary. Similarly, a birthday gift is a nice touch.
  • Au pair: No tip necessary. Consider giving a birthday gift or holiday bonus to match their stipend for one to four weeks.


  • Movers: $5 per person per hour. Consider upping this if the move is especially difficult—many stairs without an elevator, a hot day, etc. You could also consider offering them food and beverages.

Hotel services

  • Bellhop: $5 for just a bag or two. If you’re traveling as a family with many bags, go with $1-5 per bag.
  • Housekeeper: $2-4 per day. At a high-end hotel, go for $5-10. Make sure to tip daily instead of at the end of your stay because the cleaners will rotate
  • Concierge: No need to tip for basic requests. Though tip $5 to $10 if they help book a reservation or get your tickets to an event
  • Room service: 15-20% (if gratuity was not already added)
  • Doorperson: No need to tip just for holding the door. But if they hail a cab or help you with your bags, tip $1-5.


  • Valet driver: $2-5 when you pick up the car.


  • Tattoo artist: 15-30%. 
  • Tiny tattoos: 25-30%. Tipping more for tattoos that cost the shop minimum is customary because they claim the artist’s time.
  • Creative collaboration: 25-30%. If the artist invests themself creatively in the project and helps design your tattoo, then it’s nice to reflect that in the tip.


Tipping Gray Areas

Food truck workers

  • Food trucks: Fifty cents to $2. 10% if an order is over $30

This one is slightly controversial. Forty percent2 think food truck workers should not ask for tips. 

An infographic on tipping etiquette showing what services people don't think they should have to leave a tip.


While food truck workers aren’t filling your water or checking in on your eating experience, they differ from fast food chains in that the money goes into the owners’ pocket and fuels your local economy.


  • Takeout service: No tip necessary.

Fast food

  • Fast food workers: No tip necessary. 

38% of Americans2 think tips shouldn’t be solicited at fast-casual restaurants. Many of you will relate to this TikToker’s reaction when Subway asked her to tip.

Pet services

  • Dog walkers: No tip is expected. However, it might be a good idea if you want to establish a regular and reliable walker.
  • Pet sitters: No tip is necessary. However, using the same pet sitter multiple times can be a way to show respect and earn their loyalty.
  • Dog and cat groomers: It is customer to tip a pet groomer 15-20%, the same you’d tip a human hair stylist.

When gratuity has been added

  • Services where gratuity has already been added: No extra tip necessary. Review how much was added; you can tip more if you feel it’s deserved.


  • Drive-through workers: No tip necessary.

Self-service restaurants

This refers to places where you spoon your portions. Think of the buffet at Whole Foods.

  • Self-service eating: Tipping is not necessary.

Grocery store curbside pickup

  • Curbside pickup: No need to tip.

Contract workers (plumber, electrician)

  • Plumbers: No need to tip
  • Electricians: No need to tip
  • Cable technicians: No need to tip.
  • Landscapers: No need to tip.

Even though a tip isn’t expected, a holiday gift of one week’s worth can be a nice gesture if you use the same landscaper, for example, month in and month-out.

Fitness teachers (yoga teachers, personal trainers)

  • Yoga teachers: Tipping is not expected
  • Personal trainers: Tipping is not expected
  • Dance teachers: Tipping is not expected
  • Fitness instructors: Tipping is not expected.

Market vendors

  • Artisans and craft makers: It is not necessary to tip
  • Farmers market produce vendors: It is optional to tip.

Therapists and coaches

  • Therapists: No need to tip. In many therapeutic relationships, it’s not allowed because it can blur the relational lines.
  • Life coaches: Tipping is not expected. Generally, referrals are preferred.

The Unwritten Rules of Tipping Etiquette

When you’re considering when to tip and how much, you might find these reminders helpful. They can guide you on how to show appreciation for service workers properly.

When in doubt, go with 15-20%

Tipping is a strange art that varies widely from service to service. If you purchase a service and know that you should tip but aren’t sure how much, the safest bet is to default to the 15-20% range.

According to a survey by Forbes2, 16-20% is the most common range Americans tend to tip.

An survey by Forbes on tipping etiquette showing the most common range Americans tend to tip.


For certain professions, tipping is not optional; it’s part of their income (in many states)

Certain states have their legislature set up where tip-based professions rely on their tips to reach a liveable standard.

For example, the minimum wage3 for tip-based industries is $2.13 in Oklahoma. Two dollars an hour! So, if you don’t tip your waitress, they can survive on only $85 from a forty-hour work week!

If you’re curious, you can look at the tip-based minimum wage for your state in this table.

It’s a funky system, but it’s essential to tip in certain industries.

It becomes gray in industries where the workers appreciate tips but rely on something other than them, like baristas, who often make minimum wage.

While many folks in the service industry are financially healthy, employees working in tipped professions are three times as likely to live on food stamps as other employees. And as seen by the graphic below, tipped professions are far more likely to live below the poverty line.

An infographic on tipping etiquette showing that tipped professions are far more likely to live below the poverty line.

Whether you agree with the concept of tipping or not—as long as it exists, there are specific jobs whose income relies on tips, and avoiding tipping can shortchange someone from making a liveable wage.

Just because a screen asks you to tip does not mean you need to

Part of the reason people feel so confused and pressured to tip is because screens everywhere are beckoning for extra money.

But don’t be fooled—if you’re going through a fast food drive-through and the credit card machine asks if you’d like to tip 20%, 25%, or 30%, it is still not customary to tip.

Maybe feel more brazen than George in the GIF below, but don’t succumb to pressure.

Heartfelt thank you’s are awesome, but they don’t pay rent

If you appreciate someone’s service, a heartfelt thank you can go a long way. And it can often touch a person more than a few bucks could.

With that said, words alone can’t pay bills or buy groceries. In professions where tipping is customary, a genuine “thank you” should complement the tip, not replace it.

Tip extra for great work

If you’ve received service that’s above and beyond the usual—whether it’s a waiter’s excellent recommendations or a barber’s meticulous attention to detail—consider recognizing that outstanding effort with a tip larger than the standard amount.

If the personality and care of the server enhance your experience, that’s a good cue to tip more.

Reward skill or effort

If you’re unsure how much to tip, the general logic is to tip more for services that require more skill or effort.

Tip more for a complex cocktail than a beer. Tip movers more if you live on the 10th floor without an elevator.

If you ask for something special, consider tipping more

Custom requests or last-minute changes can be demanding for service professionals. 

This can include fancy orders—like an espresso with three different kinds of beans and half soy foam and half almond milk foam. 

Or it can include a barrage of questions, like this classic skit for Portlandia:

If you extend their hours, show gratitude with a tip

Consider tipping more if you come into the restaurant a minute before the kitchen closes or slip into the barbershop right before they lock up. 

While there’s nothing wrong with this, often a worker will be itching to close up after a long day, and it might wear them out when you cause them to stay late.

I recently visited a friend in Plymouth, England. We got to a pub right as it was closing, and the bartender shrugged his shoulders as he turned us away. My friend begged the bartender to let us have one drink, and the bartender eventually agreed (my friend was impressively effective at begging!).

However, there was an unspoken yet implicit agreement that because the bartender let us in late, we would reward him with a generous tip.

In certain industries, give a referral.

While tipping is a direct way of showing appreciation, giving a referral can be equally valuable, if not more so, especially in professions like landscaping, hairdressing, or personal training. 

If your service worker is self-employed and makes money based on regular customers, then a referral can be an incredible gift to help them expand their business.

View tipping as a generosity practice

31% of people2 feel pressured when it’s time to tip. And 36% of people feel happy to tip. 

Tipping can bring up a spectrum of emotions. I know I’ve had times when I felt money-scarce and was taken aback by the bill. So, adding a tip on top felt painful.

At other times, I’ve felt glad to use my money to show appreciation.

If you want to participate in tipping culture, it’s best to accept that tipping will happen. Don’t fight it. And if you’ve already accepted it, it won’t feel like the worker is taking something from you. Then, you can give with generosity and abundance, which is better for everyone involved.

If you’d like inspiration, here’s a touching video of a patron giving a $1,300 tip to a waitress.

Tricky Tipping Situations 

Now that you know the fundamental principles of tipping, here are some complex tipping situations that you may have encountered and felt unsure how to handle.

The server is peering over your shoulder.

Stay true to what you believe is an appropriate tip for the service received. Having a standard tipping percentage in mind might be helpful before you go to a restaurant. 

It’s best not to tip more than you’re comfortable with because you feel pressure.

If you felt uncomfortable or pressured, you could give the restaurant management feedback.

You’re splitting the bill with someone who tips differently than you

Open a polite conversation about it. 

You both have different tipping philosophies, which could reflect your views, financial circumstances, or mood. 

It’s often easiest when splitting the bill to tip what you feel is fair for the half you pay for. 

You didn’t like the service.

Maybe the waiter was curt and aggressive, your food took 30 minutes to arrive without explanation, or you couldn’t refill your water throughout the meal.

If the service was below your standard, consider tipping a little less than usual, but it’s good practice to include some tip (usually at least 10%).

Instead of seeking revenge by skipping the tip, it’s probably most productive to give constructive feedback to the establishment. 

The restaurant has a no-tip policy.

Respect the establishment’s policy. 

They’ve likely instituted it to ensure fair wages for their staff.

I used to live in Seattle, and many of the cafés had adopted a policy that pre-included a tip in all orders so customers didn’t have to worry about tipping. Easy.

You could still tip extra if you receive exceptional service and need to express your appreciation. You could consider giving positive feedback, leaving a glowing review, or simply thanking the staff personally.

You paid with a coupon or gift card.

It’s still good to tip. Always calculate your tip based on the original bill amount before discounts or deductions. 

The server’s efforts aren’t diminished just because you have a discount, and it’s fair to recognize their full service.

Tipping Norms in Different Countries

Tipping is very much ingrained into American culture. But it’s not that way in every country. Here are the general tipping norms across several other countries:


Similar to the U.S., tipping is common in Canada. A 15-20% tip is typical in restaurants, with similar expectations for other service professions.

United Kingdom

A service charge of around 12.5% in restaurants might be added to your bill. If not, it’s polite to leave around a 10% tip. Tipping is only common in pubs if table service is provided.


Tipping is less widespread in Australia. It’s appreciated but not expected. In upscale restaurants, a tip of about 10% for exceptional service is common.


Tipping isn’t customary and can even be considered rude in some contexts. Exceptional service is already included in the overall price in many establishments.


Tipping was traditionally not common, and it might even be refused. However, it’s becoming more accepted in tourist-centric areas and international hotels.


Service charges are included in your bill by law, but leaving small changes is common. In upscale restaurants, a tip of around 5-10% is appreciated for excellent service.


Service charge (“coperto”), which covers bread, oil, and salt during a meal, is often added to the bill. While tipping isn’t expected, it’s appreciated, especially for great service.


A 10% service charge is usually added to restaurant bills. It’s not obligatory to pay it, but most people do. Additional tipping is rare.


In restaurants, a 10% service charge might be added. If not, a tip of around 10% is appreciated. Small tips are also given to porters, drivers, and other service workers.


Tipping is customary. In restaurants, a 10-15% tip is standard unless a service charge is added. Small tips are also expected for various services like grocery bagging.


Tipping, or “baksheesh,” is integral to Egyptian culture. Small tips are expected for a wide range of services. A tip of 10-15% on top of any service charge is customary in restaurants.

While these are general guidelines, tipping customs run the gamet depending on if an area is urban or rural. If you’re traveling and unsure, ask a local to give you the low-down.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tipping Etiquette

What is tipping etiquette, and why is it important?

Tipping etiquette refers to the customary practice of giving extra money to service workers for their services, and it’s important because it shows appreciation for their efforts and often supplements their income.

When should I tip, and how much should I give in various situations?

You should tip when you receive personal services, and the amount varies: 15-20% for dining, 10-20% for taxis, and $1-2 per bag for porters, but always consider the service quality and local customs.

Are there different tipping customs in other countries and cultures?

Yes, tipping customs can vary widely between countries and cultures, with some expecting generous tips and others considering it unnecessary or rude.

What should I do if a gratuity is already included in the bill?

If a gratuity is already included in the bill, you typically don’t need to tip extra; however, you can choose to give an additional amount if the service is exceptional.

Should I tip for takeout orders or delivery services?

Yes, it’s customary to tip for delivery services, usually around 10-15%, and while tipping for takeout orders isn’t usually expected, a small tip is appreciated for good service.

Is it necessary to tip for services like haircuts or massages?

Yes, it’s customary to tip for personal care services like haircuts or massages, generally around 10-20% of the total bill, depending on the quality of service.

How can I show appreciation for exceptional service without tipping?

To show appreciation for exceptional service without tipping, you can provide positive feedback directly to the worker or their management, write a favorable review online, or recommend their services to others. However, if a profession relies on tips, it’s best to give positive feedback in addition to the tip rather than in place of the tip.

Takeaways on Tipping Etiquette

Tipping can be confusing. But if you refer to the guidelines above, you’ll be in tip-top shape.

Aside from the specific numbers, it can be helpful to remember these principles that make up the etiquette of tipping:

  • When in doubt, go with 15-20%. It’s the safest bet
  • Tipping is not optional for certain professions; it’s part of their income
  • You don’t have to just because a screen asks you to tip. No need to tip at fast food restaurants or farmers’ markets
  • Heartfelt thank yous are wonderful but don’t replace a tip. Gratitude goes a very long way. But it doesn’t replace rent
  • Tip extra for great work. If the server enhanced your experience, consider tipping more
  • Reward skill or effort. Orders that ask for more effort or skill also warrant a greater tip
  • If you ask for something special, tip more. Whether a complicated order or a barrage of questions
  • If you extend their hours, show gratitude with a tip
  • Give referrals to self-employed services. Therapists, coaches, and massage therapists live off their relationships, so referrals go a long way.
  • View tipping as a generosity practice. Many of us wince when we have to tip. But it’s best to accept tipping as commonplace and give wholeheartedly.

Please feel clear on when to tip and how much! It can be an excellent way to show appreciation and boost someone’s day. If you’d like other ideas on spreading cheer, you might enjoy this article.

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