How Much to Tip at a Restaurant

Young interracial couple on a date at the Bistro restaurant on Valentine's Day holiday.
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Tipping at restaurants in America is a common practice that many visitors may be unaware of.

It’s important to know how much you should tip your server because it can be seen as disrespectful and rude if you do it incorrectly.

Many people don’t know how much to tip at a restaurant. There is a proper way to tip a server, and doing it incorrectly may cause offense. This article provides general guidelines for tipping in just about any dining situation in the U.S.

What Is the Proper Way To Tip at a Restaurant?

The appropriate amount to tip servers largely depends on the quality of service. However, the standard rule of thumb of tipping at restaurants is 15% to 20%, which can vary based on the place you visit. Here’s what you should tip at different restaurants.

Sit-down Restaurants: 20%

The standard amount to tip at sit-down restaurants is 20% before tax. Whether you’ve just finished a tasting meal at a fine dining restaurant, 20% remains the standard amount regardless of the kind of service. Again, if the service was exceptional, tipping above 20% after tax is okay.

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Bars: 20% at Cocktail Bars

Tips to bartenders stand at 20% as well. As long as you’re sitting down to get served, you should tip just like you would if you were in a sit-down restaurant. But, if you visit a dive bar to get a shot of whiskey, a dollar per drink is acceptable 一 if you take up a seat at the bar, you should tip 20%.

Gratuity-included Restaurants: You Don’t Need To Tip

Some restaurants are eliminating tipping altogether by introducing automatic gratuity 一 this is when a restaurant automatically adds a gratuity charge to the bill. If you visit gratuity-included restaurants, you don’t really need to tip because it’s already included in the bill.

Coffee Shops: A Buck or Two

If you’re grabbing a quick coffee at the local Starbucks, tipping is a great way to say thank you. If a barista was really nice and made your morning that much better, add a buck or two. But, if you’re ordering multiple drinks, it might be appropriate to tip more than one dollar, depending on how much you’re spending.

Food Trucks: A Buck or Two

Food trucks don’t have a set standard for tipping like bars and sit-down restaurants, but it’s okay to add a buck for every purchase. If you’re buying multiple items, then it might be appropriate to tip more.

Fast Food Restaurant: Tipping Is Uncommon

If you’re eating at any fast food restaurant, it’s normal not to leave a tip. However, if you see a tip jar out at the register, consider throwing a few bucks in it.

Casual Restaurants: 20%

The 20% rule still holds true for casual restaurants. If the service you got was excellent, tipping more than 20% of your bill would be appropriate.

Delivery: At least $5

Whether you’re using a popular delivery brand like DoorDash or UberEats or just ordering a burger from a local restaurant, don’t forget to tip the person delivering at least $5. If 20% of your order is more than $5, tipping a full 20% won’t hurt. Delivery drivers often spend more than half an hour out on the road just so that you can eat in the comfort of your own home. Show your appreciation with a tip!

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Final Take

Tipping is a nice gesture and will always be appreciated by the people serving you. If you don’t recall the appropriate tip for a given situation, default to 20%. It’s not only customary, but the hourly wage of tipped workers is usually set with the assumption that the workers will be bringing in tips. Nothing’s worse than spending an hour doing your best to make someone’s night, only to go home with no money to show for it.

Of course, there will always be situations in which you receive poor service, but if the employee does their best to make it right, you still ought to tip them. Rarely, a server will make a mistake and ignore opportunities to make it right — these are the only situations in which not tipping at all is culturally acceptable.

About the Author

Lydia Kibet has been writing professionally since 2017. Her passion for helping brands in all aspects of content marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage she provides — personal finance, investing and healthcare. Her work has been featured in The Motley Fool, Investor Junkie, Green Market Report, and Medical News Today. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, playing guitar or catching up with nature. Follow her on Twitter.

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