Gratuity Guide: How Much To Tip in Every Situation

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Tipping can be stressful and often involves complicated mental math. To make matters worse, there are also no clear-cut rules on who to tip, when to tip and how much of a tip to leave. The proper tipping etiquette is constantly changing and evolving, and it can feel impossible to consistently stay on top of what the correct thing to do is.

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To help you navigate every tipping situation, GOBankingRates has put together a gratuity guide alongside etiquette experts’ advice to help you feel confident the next time you need to leave a tip.

Who You Should Tip and How Much You Should Leave

Follow this guide to tip confidently and appropriately every time.

Restaurant Servers

The appropriate tipping percentage for restaurant servers has changed drastically over the past decade. While it used to be appropriate to tip 10% to 15% to your server, today that amount is largely unacceptable. To accommodate for inflation and the many setbacks the hospitality industry faced during COVID-19, the recommended tip percentage for servers is 18% to 20%.

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Delivery Employees

There are several different kinds of delivery employees, and different tipping practices should be taken into consideration depending on the type of delivery.

“Your package delivery drivers, such as UPS, FedEx and Amazon drivers, are discouraged from accepting tips the first time they are offered, so be sure to offer twice!” said Jodi RR Smith, an etiquette consultant with Mannersmith. “Many of these drivers have regular routes and can be tipped at the end of the year. If they deliver often to your home, leaving out snacks or drinks is an appreciated kindness as their timed routes leave few moments for a break. If they have delivered something heavy, if the weather was terrible or if your home is not easily accessed, then tipping is appreciated. Tips can range from $10 to $200, depending.”

Food delivery employees rely primarily on tips in order to make a livable wage, so be sure to leave your delivery driver an appropriate tip the next time you order food. Experts recommend tipping these employees 10% to 15%.

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Salon Employees

Show appreciation for your hairstylist by leaving a 15% to 20% tip. If you have built a longstanding personal relationship with your hairdresser and want to do more to support their business, feel free to leave a larger tip.

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Not only is tipping your stylist supporting a small business, but leaving a generous tip at the hair salon leaves you with better chances of getting a more careful cut or dye job, obtaining priority appointment times and being seen as a courteous client.

Bartenders

An easy-to-remember rule of thumb when determining how much to tip your bartender is $2 per cocktail or $1 per beer or glass of wine. Show consideration for your bartender’s time by leaving a larger tip for drinks that take more time.

Taxi Drivers

Experts recommend leaving a tip of 15% to 20% for taxi, Uber or any ride-share driver. While this is the ideal tip percentage to leave, if you are unable to meet this amount, show gratitude in any amount you can.

“These kinds of services are becoming extremely expensive and in some situations, we are not able to tip as we would have liked to,” said Maryanne Parker, etiquette expert and founder of Manor of Manners, an etiquette consulting firm based in San Diego. “In this case, we can round up the bill from $22.50 to $24.00, for example, and still show a little appreciation.”

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Hotel Housekeeping

Many people overlook tipping in this service industry area. As many of these workers depend on tips to fill out their income, be sure to recognize the people cleaning and sanitizing your room during your hotel stay. Etiquette experts recommend giving housekeepers a $3 to $5 tip daily. If you’re traveling with young kids or pets, consider leaving a few extra dollars.

Pet Care Providers

Pet care providers may include dog walkers, pet sitters, groomers, trainers and veterinarians. Although tipping someone who provides service for your animal companion is not expected, it’s a great way to show appreciation to these workers who typically make very little compared to the time and effort that goes into pet care.

If you want to show appreciation to your pet care providers for a job well done, experts recommend a 10% to 15% gratuity.

Valet Drivers

When using a valet, experts have a few key recommendations for getting the best service and ensuring your tip is going to the person who will be moving your car.

“You should always tip upfront,” Parker said. “The reason being is with this gesture, we can get people’s attention right away. Also, the person who parks your car in the beginning might not be the same person who will bring our car in the end. We would like them to care about our car just as much at the beginning at the end. It also shows consideration that we truly respect their services. If the parking charges $20, tip $5 in the end.”

Coffee Baristas

When tipping baristas, experts recommend tipping around $1 per drink if you are ordering espresso or pour-over drinks. When ordering batch coffee, tipping is not expected, but rounding up to the nearest dollar is a nice gesture.

At the end of the day, tipping is all about recognizing and showing appreciation for great service. Make sure to leave a gratuity for baristas who take the time to create intricate latte art or take the time to strike up a friendly conversation with you.

Always Tip Based on the Service

“We should always consider tipping based on good service,” Parker said. “Tipping based on social pressure, peer pressure and guilt might not be the best and appropriate option, because when we start tipping ‘just because,’ the service gradually will start deteriorating.”

If you are unhappy with the service you received don’t tip “just because.” Instead, bring up your concerns with the business so they can improve their offerings for future guests. Stick to tipping when you’re happy with the service and want to show gratitude toward the hardworking employees.

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack writing about finances for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in communication and design from the University of California Davis.
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