Your Complete Tipping Guide: When and How Much To Tip in Every Situation

cash and coins left for tip
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The topic of tipping long has been a mystery. How much to tip? Does this person even get a tip?

And since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we became more reliant on staples such as meals delivered to our doorsteps, the mystery of how to tip has deepened.

When we think of tipping, it’s generally in the context of restaurant servers. But so much has changed through the years, both pre- and post-pandemic, that now is a good time to review how to tip and how much to tip.

What To Tip in Every Situation

To get some guidance, GOBankingRates turned to the Emily Post Institute, a fifth-generation business that has been answering such questions since Emily Post wrote her book, “Etiquette,” in 1922. The Post family offers an incredible amount of advice on the subject that you could create your own tipping chart.

Restaurant Staff

This is where we are most accustomed to the concept of tipping, so let’s start here.

Before the pandemic, the suggested tip for wait service at a sit-down restaurant was 15% to 20% before taxes, and that hasn’t changed. If you’re sitting at the bar, use the same guideline, or $1 to $2 per drink, according to the Post Institute.

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Upscale Restaurant

If you’re dining at an upscale restaurant, extra people who assist could require a tip. There’s no rule about tipping the maître d’ for escorting you to the table, unless the host took special efforts to find a table for you amid what could have been a long wait. If that’s the case, a tip of $10 to $20 is appropriate.

Valet

If a valet parks your car, expect to tip between $2 and $5 when your car is delivered to you. Plan on 50 cents to $3 for a restroom attendant, depending on the level of service you received.

Takeout

But how to tip if you get takeout at the restaurant? The Post Institute says no tip is required if you walk into the establishment to grab your order. If you’re served curbside, 10% is appropriate.

Delivery

If you call for delivery, a tip of $2 to $5 is suitable for a pizza order, or 10% to 15% from another restaurant. Of course, if the order is large or delivery conditions are difficult — such as in a snowstorm — increase the amount.

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The fee charged by delivery companies goes to the company and not the driver, so add a tip to your order or give the driver cash at the door. DoorDash and Uber Eats both have policies that allow drivers to retain 100% of tips left for them by customers.

Personal Care

How much to tip when you get your hair done, have a mani-pedi or enjoy a massage or other spa treat typically ranges from 15% to 20%. In the past, it wasn’t customary to tip the owner of a spa or salon who performs the service, but that has changed. Peggy Post of the Post Institute told Oprah.com that “not tipping the owner is an old tradition that’s dying out.”

On the Road

When staying at a hotel, you might never see the person who makes your bed, grabs your wet towels or empties the wastebaskets, but that doesn’t mean out of sight should equal out of mind. It’s appropriate to leave a tip of $2 to $5 per day for the housekeeper with a thank you note to make it clear the tip is for services performed, according to the Post Institute. Leave a tip for each night of your hotel stay.

Hospitality Workers

The hotel housekeeper isn’t the only member of the hospitality industry to land on the tipping chart. At the hotel, expect to pay the doorman $1 to $4 for carrying baggage or as much as $2 for flagging down a cab for you.

If you’re staying at a luxury hotel that employs a concierge, you don’t have to tip for directions or if they answer a general question. But if you use the concierge’s knowledge or connections to procure restaurant reservations or tickets to a show, for example, a tip of $5 to $10 is appropriate.

If you use the services of a bellhop, delivering your bag to your room warrants a tip of $2 for the first bag, but $1 for each additional piece of luggage.

Airport

At the airport, you’ll want to give the skycap the same amount for processing your luggage — $2 for the first bag and $1 beyond that.

Transportation

Ridester, an online resource for rideshare drivers, recommends tipping Uber and Lyft drivers 10% to 15% percent, and it can be paid through the app or in cash. As independent contractors, drivers have expenses that include gas, vehicle maintenance and taxes. Tips are appreciated.

For taxi drivers, the Post Institute recommends tipping 15% to 20% of the fare, plus $2 for the first bag carried and $1 for each additional bag.

In-Home Help

You likely have negotiated an hourly rate with your babysitter or a set rate with your house cleaner or dog walker, so no tip is necessary. It is a nice gesture, however, to give a year-end or holiday bonus to those who regularly fill these roles for you. It shows them how much you value their contributions to their household. Real Simple suggests a bonus equal to pay for one or two weeks or a gift of the same value.

No-Tip Zone

While you want to offer financial compensation for a job well done to some people, tips are not required — and in some cases frowned upon.

You’re already paying a handsome fee to several people in your life — your plumber, your lawyer, your mechanic, your doctor — and even if your plumber was personable and cleaned up a bathroom flood in record time, paying the bill is enough.

There also are people who have extended kindnesses whom you’d like to tip — but don’t. That includes your child’s teacher or sports coach. A cash tip could be perceived as payment for special favors, such as a better grade or more playing time.

Advice

If you’d like to thank a teacher or coach, organize a group gift for the teacher at the holidays or at season’s end for the coach. That way, parents from the class or team can contribute what they can afford, and the kids can sign a group card with no one child singled out.

How to tip and how much to tip can be confusing, but keeping this guide handy should help.

GOBankingRates’ Tipping Guides

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Jami Farkas holds a communications degree from California State University, Fullerton, and has worked as a reporter or editor at daily newspapers in all four corners of the United States. She brings to GOBankingRates experience as a sports editor, business editor, religion editor, digital editor — and more. With a passion for real estate, she passed the real estate licensing exam in her state and is still weighing whether to take the plunge into selling homes — or just writing about selling homes.

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