Tip Etiquette: A Simple Guide to Tipping Right Every Time

These are the tip etiquette questions everyone has had at some point. Maybe several points.

What is the right amount to tip?

Am I supposed to tip this person?

How do we handle the tip in a large group?

Here is our simple guide to tipping right. No matter where you are, no matter the function or event, this is your resource on when to tip and how much to tip.

Quick! How much should I tip?

If you want to tip (or you’re pretty sure you’re supposed to), here’s a tip amount cheat sheet.

Good-to-Great product/service:

  • 20% of bill before coupons/taxes.
  • $1 per drink/bag/person/day/etc
  • This is your base rate for superior service; more is always accepted and appreciated!

Poor-to-Unimpressive product/service:

  • 10% of bill before coupons/taxes
  • $2-3 total for all drinks/bags/people/days/etc

If you’re unsure:

  • 15% is always acceptable
  • $1 per drink/item/person is pretty standard
  • $5 (simply give a fiver)

You should tip (or tip extra) when:

  • Your order was large, custom, or complicated
  • Service goes above and beyond
  • Employees are taking multiple trips to your car

The Simple Guide to Tipping Right

WhereHow much
Buffet restaurant10% is typical
Bar (drinks only)$1-2 per drink
Coffee/bakery$1 per menu item or spare change
Coat check$1 per coat, $2 per large bag
Hotel housekeeping$2-3 per day (+$1 per child/pet)
Hotel porter$1-2 per bag. $10-20 for extended service like hotel tours and room prep
Hotel housekeeping$2-5 per day – remember to tip daily since the staff might change over the course of your stay
Restroom attendant$2 is ideal, down to spare change or “sorry, I didn’t realize and I don’t have any cash on me”
Tattoo artist15-20%
Babysitter/nannyNot necessary, but many people round up the hours or add a little extra when the sitter deals with special situations, staying late, or short notice
Grocery delivery (shopping in-store for you)15-20%. This is a full service where someone shops the store aisles, waits in line, bags, drives, and delivers your groceries
Grocery delivery (pickup-delivery only)Varies; from no-tip to $1 per bag to 10-15% of the total bill
Restaurant delivery$2 minimum, 10-20% of order total
Restaurant takeoutNot obligatory. Some do a few dollars or 10%
Restaurant curbside pickup$2 minimum, 10-20% of order total
Taxi/ride share$2-5 for short trips; 15-20% for longer trips
Valet parkingNo tip when car is parked. $2-5 when car is delivered back to you
Furniture or appliance deliveryNo obligation. If they set the item on your porch or driveway, no tip. Anything beyond that is up to you. $5-20 per person when the delivery involves stairs, disposing of old appliances, multiple items, etc
Professional movers$5-50 per mover depending on size and difficulty of household/location (stairs, pianos, etc)
Flower delivery$2-5 per arrangement/bouquet
Wedding or funeral officiantIf charged a fee, no tip is required. Many pastors/clergy do this for free, so a tip (known as an honorarium) of $50-250 is fairly standard. If they refuse it, you can make a similar donation to their church or organization
Wedding servicesVaries; see here
Funeral servicesVaries; see here
Concierge$0-20 depending on service rendered

Never Tip List

There are some professionals that do not take tips. Some legally cannot accept tips, while for others tipping is either demeaning or simply unneccesary.

For these professionals, if you would like to show your appreciation it is generally appropriate to give a small gift instead of a tip. For instance, a treat for them to share with the office/team, a small plant like a cactus, or coffee/travel mug filled with little goodies.

Exceptions: Law enforcement and other government employees. Also, postal workers cannot accept gifts with a value over $20

You can give a special gift to an individual, especially if you have developed a good relationship with them. Most of the time, however, it is best to give a gift to the entire crew, staff, shift, or department instead of a one-on-one gift.

This would be something like a cake, bakery items, flowers, or a food tray for the entire crew to enjoy.

For more ideas, click on each profession to see a list of thoughtful gifts curated for those in their field.

Tip Etiquette When Using Coupons

You should never, ever feel bad about using coupons.

The business created those offers voluntarily in hopes that they would get you to try their product or service. Without the coupon, you might not even be there for all they know.

Even so, you should be thoughtful and considerate when using a coupon. The business is giving you their service at a reduced rate, but their employee is still actually taking care of you.

So proper tip etiquette when using coupons means that you at least tip based on what the full amount on the bill would have been.

If it’s a very generous deal, such as buy-one-get-one-free or 40-50% off your total, I like to tip a little more than usual. Instead of 20% for great service and a delicious meal, do 25% (on the original price), or if you would have typically tipped $10, go with $15 or even $20.

On the other hand, if it’s a somewhat inconsequential coupon that you happened to have, and only gets you 50 cents off your $5.85 coffee or a few dollars off your meal at a sit-down restaurant, just do your typical tip.

Tip Etiquette When In Groups

Groups are extra-difficult for service industries to work with. All too often groups are loud, unruly, and act overly entitled.

Plus it seems like many groups will actually tip less or not at all. Perhaps they think service staff will not notice in the big crowd. So if you’re in a group, be sure to tip, and tip well.

At the same time, it’s their job. Restaurants and other businesses want groups to come because, like all customers, they buy things. So don’t feel like you need to tip extra when you received shoddy service.

If you’re at a restaurant in a group and the waiter acts visibly annoyed at you (assuming your group isn’t tearing the place apart), as a customer that is annoying. You don’t owe that service person anything for poor or non-existent service.

Tips for Group Tips

So, how should you tip when in groups? The same basic restaurant tip etiquette applies. Give 15-20% of the bill. If the service was good, tip extra – groups just are more difficult and more work.

What if the restaurant adds an automatic group gratuity? Then don’t tip – you’ve already done so. If the server goes above and beyond, you’re certainly welcome to leave a little extra. But there is no obligation to tip above what you’ve already been charged.

Are groups really harder for the wait staff? Yes. Absolutely, 100%. Groups tend to need more little things (like that one guy who just drinks water still needs refills) and make bigger messes (you know it’s true). Also, groups take up multiple tables and tend to stay much longer than typical diners, which reduces the overall earning potential for the server. They’ll often be distracted and forget things like, oh, leaving a tip.

What if we are paying separately? If each person, couple, or family in the group gets a separate bill, make sure to mention tipping with a casual, “Hey everyone, let’s make sure to tip because they didn’t add a group gratuity.” Or, “That waitress was amazing, I think we should add a good tip to our checks.” Or, “Guys, we were super-annoying and also spilled all those drinks. Let’s all leave a big tip.”

Tip Etiquette in the Weird Ol’ USA

There are some tip etiquette customs here in the USA that don’t make much sense. But this is the way it is.

Tipping at Restaurants & Bars

In the United States, restaurant and bar service staff (waiters, waitresses, and bartenders) are typically paid well below federal minimum wage, usually just a few dollars per hour.

The rationale for this is that part of their compensation comes from tips. Fair or not, it’s the law.

So with this arrangement comes a cultural and social expectation that restaurant service members and bartenders should be tipped.

Restaurant: 15-20% of the total bill.

Bar: $1 per “simple” drink, and $2 per cocktail if ordering only drinks. If you order food, follow the same rates as restaurant tipping.

Coffee Shops, Fast-Food, & Food Trucks

Employees at coffee shops, drive-thru and fast food restaurants, bakeries, and other similar locales are paid at least the minimum wage.

Thus, while tipping is often expected (and always appreciated) in coffee shops and cafes, it is not socially obligatory in the same way as is your tip at a bar or restaurant.

If you don’t see a tip jar, don’t tip. However, if there is a tip jar, use your judgment. You shouldn’t be expected to tip prior to even tasting the goods, but if you’re a regular, leave a few bucks.

Fast-food: Most fast-food chains do not allow their employees to accept tips and pay at least minimum wage.

Food trucks: If there’s a tip jar, and depending on what is served, at the very least drop in your spare change. $1-2 is pretty typical for food trucks, or 10-15% of the total.

Coffee shop: Spare change up to $1 per drink/menu item.

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Tip Etiquette - When & How Much to Tip
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Daniel Szczesniak

Daniel launched All Gifts Considered in 2013 to help people find the best gift ideas for anyone and any occasion. He has worked for Northwest Gifts, an online gift shop based in Oregon specializing in American-made and personalized gifts, for...

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