How Much Should You Tip?

tippingLet me begin here by saying that I hate tipping. Having lived 10 years in Japan where there is absolutely no tipping for anything, every time I come back to the US I cringe at the thought of having to figure out how much I should tip and who I should tip.

I could take the approach of one of my friends that simply refuses to tip. She takes the philosophy that you are paying for the service and that is all you need to pay (note: she was a waitress for a long time). I know, however, that many industries underpay their staff with the knowledge that tips should make up for that so I’m not sure that refusing to tip is a solution that I want to take.

Doing a bit of research on tipping came up with some interesting numbers. A recent survey from PayScale.com, not surprisingly, shows that waiters and waitresses earn more than half their income from tips. You may be surprised, however, at how much tips account for a variety of professions:

  • Tips account for about 81% of a casino dealer’s income and on average will boost it from $7.55 an hour to $40.20 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 67% of a manicurist’s income and on average will boost it from $11.70 an hour to $32.70 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 52% of a hotel room service clerk’s income and on average will boost it from $5.48 an hour to $11.91 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 45% of a bellhop’s income and on average will boost it from $9.13 an hour to $16.83 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 43% of a hotel desk staff’s income and on average will boost it from $14.87 an hour to $22.44 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 42% of a hair stylist’s income and on average will boost it from $13.95 an hour to $24.00 an hour. (hair stylists also have the opportunity to earn more with commissions on sales)
  • Tips account for about 41.5% of a rabbi’s income and on average will boost it from $43.27 an hour to $74.00 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 37% of a bellhop supervisor’s income and on average will boost it from $8.50 an hour to $13.50 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 31% of a chauffeur’s income and on average will boost it from $11.47 an hour to $16.78 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 23% of a ministry pastor’s income and on average will boost it from $21.62 an hour to $28.18 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 22% of a esthetician’s income and on average will boost it from $15.00 an hour to $19.25 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 21% of a barber’s income and on average will boost it from $12.95 an hour to $16.50 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 21% of a Barista’s income and on average will boost it from $8.12 an hour to $10.35 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 19% of a massage therapist’s income and on average will boost it from $33.00 an hour to $41.00 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 16% of a baby sitter’s income and on average will boost it from $6.52 an hour to $7.77 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 16% of a casino change booth cashier’s income and on average will boost it from $12.31 an hour to $14.73 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 10% of a dog groomer’s income and on average will boost it from $11.73 an hour to $13.15 an hour.
  • Tips account for about 5% of a nanny’s income and on average will boost it from $10.54 an hour to $11.09 an hour.

Knowing that these workers in the service industry rely a great deal on their tips for their income, the question still is how much should you actually tip? While ultimately you have to use your own judgement, this is what PayScale recommends:

Nannies, Babysitters, Maids, Yard Workers, etc

Consider giving the pay for one week, day or evening of work or simply give an extra generous tip. For live-in help, a month’s pay plus a small gift is appropriate

Barbers, Hairstylists, Massage therapists, etc

Consider giving the cost of one service or simply tipping a little more around the holidays.

Teachers, Sports Coaches, Nursing Home Employees etc

Small gifts like cookies, candles and decorative soap can go a long way and anything too impressive might be misunderstood as a bribe. A great gift for a teacher is a gift card for buying classroom supplies.

Letter Carrier, Garbage Collector, Package Deliverer, etc

Depending on how frequently you use a service, choosing a number between $10 and $30 that feels right is always a safe bet.

Casino Dealers, Hotel Staff, Luxury Cruise Staff, Valet Parking, etc

For parking and services, anywhere from $5 to $20 can be appropriate based on the environment. For betting, place a bet for the dealer about once an hour and let them “ride your coattails.” You’ll also want to give the casino cashier a percentage of your winnings.

Religious Leaders

Known as an honorarium rather than a tip, there is no specific range set as to how you should give gifts to religious leaders. You might want to find out if there are specific expectations in your congregation, ask others what they’re giving or just give what feels right to you. You can also give donations to a favorite organization or charity in place of cash.

As with most things concerning money, it’s best to come up with a system you feel comfortable with well before the situation arises. If you don’t have a plan ahead of time, you will likely end up giving more or less than you intended due to having to make a decision at the spur of the moment. Having a plan also will mean you won’t be second guessing about the tip you made hours after it was given.

While I truly wish the US would adopt a Japanese style system where tips are included in all service rendered, it isn’t going to happen. I guess that means I need to start laying out my tipping strategy. Anyone have one I can borrow?

138 thoughts on “How Much Should You Tip?

  1. Heads up to non-tippers: when you go out and eat, the bill reflects the price of THE MEAL (and kitchen labor, cost etc), not the service. The government expects that those working in the service industry will be tipped at a certain percentage, in fact, those workers MUST report the percentage that the IRS demands, or be audited.
    Another thing: Automatic gratuities are to ensure the income of the service employee when a party is larger and can be potentially very difficult, and whomever thinks it can’t be adjusted up or down is a complete moron. Besides, people that have never had the pleasure of working within the service industry may not know that the server often pays for serving you. Yes, it’s true. If you go out to eat and the bill is say $100, the server must pay: 1)taxes on what the IRS says they should make, 2)a percentage to other employees (bussers, hosts). regardless of actual tip. This can amount to 6 to 10 dollars just to serve you, out of their pocket.
    If service is bad, speak to management. Remember at the same time that your ranch dressing is not a life or death condiment, and that a server has many obligations. If they are great at handling it given the circumstances, tip accordingly.
    So if you don’t want to tip, don’t expect service. Eat at home, make your own latte, and cut your own hair. Better yet, try their job for just one day…

  2. some of you people are crazy. tips are EXPECTED. when u interview for a job that pays a low wage they tell you to depend mainly on your tips. if nobody tipped, then there wouldnt be resturants because they would all close cuz they wouldnt be able to pay their servers such low wages. Think here people. Mainly your supposed to tip a base of 15%. if its bad service id say tip lower, and that is coming from a server himself. most of the time if you double the tax, that is about 15%. for the people who complain that they are so sick of tipping… move to japan… or cook food in your own kitchen… trust me servers dont want customers who have to debate on whether or not to tip. for every 1 person that tips bad, or not at all, there are 10 that tip better and make up for it.

  3. Some of you have said that you don’t feel for us because you don’t get extra money at your job regardless of how hard you work. But the knife cuts both ways. You could also have a really bad day at the office, where maybe you aren’t as productive as you should be, or a meeting doesn’t go as planned, and your pay doesn’t go DOWN. Essentially, this is what you are doing to your server. “Sorry, Susie, you accidentally slipped into being a HUMAN for one day, so I’m withholding some of your income.” Give me a break. Sure, if service was terrible and it clearly was through the server’s own fault, then leave only a small tip. (Remember, you still didn’t have to cook it or dish it up or clean it up.) But generally, unless the service was memorably horrible, leave your 15-20%.

    Since some have decided to get into the “who tips better than whom” discussion…

    Men almost always tip better than women…and it has nothing to do with the gender of the server (I’m a male). I think (no offense intended here) it might be because women seem to nit-pick the service more. Refilling your water with lemon at precisely the correct moment seems to weigh more heavily on them.

  4. I don’t believe in tipping! I used to work in a factory and did field work and didn’t make more than waitresses…worked harder…longer hours….no A/C…and didn’t get tipped….I worked in a very busy store and wasn’t making much…wasn’t making any tips either…have some dignity people! Don’t accept charity if you can help yourself! If you want to make more money, get the qualifications to get a better paying job without accepting money that isn’t due you!!

  5. I visited a local bar and grill today with my family and received horrible service with an attitude. I think the problem here in the US is that the people in the restaurant industry feel it is the customers obligation to tip them 15% or more even it they provide horrible service. I usually tip above 20% but have noticed that the service has declined over the last 10 years. I must say that this is the first time that I can remember stiffing a waitress and didn’t feel good about it but I definitely feel that it was necessary.

  6. I just felt the need to leave a quick note for those who are reading this ignorant article. To say you hate tipping and cringe at the thought is really sad. People who work in the service industry don’t work for minimum wage. In japan they are paid a higher salary for their services, therefore tipping is eliminated. In the US we make at the MOST, minimum wage. Some states don’t even pay that much, because they assume the tip will make up the income. Also, tips are reported as income, just as much as an hourly wage, and we are taxed on them whether we get tipped or not because we’re taxed on our sales.
    People work long and hard for their money in the service industry. I dare anyone who says they ‘hate tipping’ to work and support yourself for just a couple of months behind a bar or serving tables. You’ll encounter rude, ignorant, demeaning people who run you ragged and expect you to go above and beyond, just to short you on your EARNED wages that our system is set up for. The hours are long and the stress is high. I would love for the author of this article to leave their desk and step into the world of the service industry and then revise this article. I was shocked and appalled when reading the first paragraph, as anyone who works in the service industry should and would be.

  7. The problem with not tipping is that it effects the economy more than you think.

    Waiters and Waitresses that rely solely on tips NEVER deserved to be stiffed. Bad service or not, they still have to clean up the mess you leave and have to tip other members of the staff on some occasions (bartenders, busboys, etc). Plus, if you’re a regular at a place and you never tip your service will steadily worsen with every trip. Whether intentional or not, what’s the point of going out of your way for a table you know won’t tip, and instead helping the tables that might leave a tip? There is no point.

    T.I.P.S.=Tips insure proper service!

  8. I am a server as well and i only make 2.13 per hour and i would like to tell you how to tip. Look at the tax of your bill (most places it is 9%) just double the tax and that would be a good tip for your server. A GREAT tip would be doubled your tax and add an extra $5.00

  9. This is mindnumbing. You tip Rabbi’s?!! I’m not having a problem with giving a waitress a little extra. However if I have to pay more than I owe-especially on really expensive things-I’m just gonna stay at home, and tend to my own yard. This is ridiculous. Keep pushing these ever raising tip percentages on things that already cost too much, and all of you are gonna find yourself out of business and unemployed.

    And pizza? Already overpriced, rounded up on the bill, and charging for delivery-tip ain’t gonna happen.

    Moreover shouldn’t percentages stay the same, esp. with inflation? Isn’t that the utility of a percentage system. I swear when I was a child, an acceptable restaunt tip in the early 80s was 5%, and 10% was generous. I accepted 15% w/out complaining but now 20% or they don’t like me. Uh wait staff their just aren’t enough stupid rich people to go around for these rates, ok.

    The great generation who survived a depression did so by being cheap. No wonder gen x and gen y is swimming in debt.

  10. “some of you people are crazy. tips are EXPECTED. when u interview for a job that pays a low wage they tell you to depend mainly on your tips. if nobody tipped, then there wouldnt be resturants because they would all close cuz they wouldnt be able to pay their servers such low wages. ”

    Did you read the article? Japan has restaurants as far as I know. So does Great Brittain. Waiters have settled for the tip system, because they know that if they settle for the minimum wage sys., like the hosts and dishwashers, they’d make less. You’ve settled for a low paying system, the customers are generous to give you anything, expecting 20% regardless-who know what it’ll be in another decade, esp. considering inflation, is the attitude of entitlement.

    BTW expectations don’t equal reality. Show some appreciation for the customer. But then I’m just “crazy.”

  11. Whoah! I just read the rest of the comments. I am shocked! I used to have such sympathy for customer service people, now I almost want to never ever tip them again. And I usually double the tax. What a bunch of ingrates! OK I’ll stay home, and when you run out of rich people who are made out of money who you give the privilige of serving them and are unemployed, maybe you’ll start to appreciate the customer.

    You are worse than homeless beggers. And piano man, I’ll take your advice then, and give you nothing. Since I actually work pretty hard for just that one dollar that’s not enough for you. Shocking.

  12. “Yes food is expensive. But the reason is restaurants and many other busineses are paying very high rent. So the ones really taking
    If you don

  13. I left a long comment in here about tipping. I’ve been a bartender for years. All I want to say to those who balk at the idea of tipping an appropriate amount… do everyone a favor and work and support yourself in the service industry and then leave a comment about not wanting to tip or complain about percentages. And the inflation comment in regards to percentage. Why would the tip percent stay the same while inflation makes meals more expensive? This is how we support ourselves and pay our bills, groceries, etc… which also suffers inflation.

  14. Piano Man, I’m so sorry to have insulted you by giving you money. I’ll be sure not to make that mistake twice.
    And Mr. Shaw, the entire point of percentages is that the amount you get rises with inflation as well as the price of the bill. For example, 20% of a $50 bill is $10, whereas 20% of a $100 bill is $20. So no matter what inflation does to prices, if people continue to tip the same amount in percentages, your wages will actually rise with inflation.

  15. I work in a fine dining restaurant in a casino as a server and I make 7.50 an hour. on slow nights I take home 200 in tips and on good nights I can take as much as 500 waiting on 6-10 tables so I can easily say I love working as a server. Even bussers can walk out with 90 bucks in their pockets just from tips that we pay them.

  16. I always tip between 15-20% for adequate and above average service. (Except in Europe where tips are figured into the meal price) I have absolutely no problem, however, with leaving change or nothing for terrible service. In one experience dining out, after having been seated with orders taken, we did not see the server again until the food was ready. After the plates were set down, we never saw the server again. Never checked to see if everything was in order. (We didn’t receive an order of soup) Never saw a refill for drinks. Had to call over a server from another section to get the bill. Of course that server received no tip because she did nothing to warrant a tip.

    That being said, I also left a 500% tip on a $2 tab in the 1980’s for an exceptionally attentive server who kept my friend and I topped off with coffee for nearly 2 hours during a late night stop at a cafe.

  17. I don’t like it when the gratuity is added automatically as one reader pointed out. I have always thought that the purpose of tipping was to reward either good food or service, or both. By adding it automatically, where is the incentive to provide diners with good service? My father, who has eaten at many, many four and five star restaurants, which by the way doesn’t mean that you will automatically get good service just because of the rating, almost always based his tip on the service provided just by the waiter/waitress, not based on the quality of the food which is an issue for the chef and or manager. If the service was good he left 20%, but if the service was poor he has been known to only leave a penny. When I asked him why he said that if you didn’t leave anything then the waitress might have thought that it just slipped your mind, whereas leaving just a penny told her that the quality of her service was poor.

  18. When it comes to tipping I take the “People first” approach. If you take the “I am going to be a cheap a** money first” approach and you don’t pay people for their service you will not be treated near as good as you could be. Remember people can refuse to serve you in many places so don’t be cheap!!! TIP!! What goes around comes around. If you are not satisfied with your service leave a note or explain, but still tip at least 10%. This way a person can still pay their bills and will understand that they need to improve.

  19. The tipping system in the US is very different from Belgium. I read this because I’m planning to go to the US. Both the article and the comments gave me some sound advice.

    I’m amazed at how little waiters get paid, $2 an hour sounds really insane. I will glady tip them when I’m staying in the US.

  20. It’s stupid that the owners pay their waiters minimum wage and take all the profit and enforce me (a customer) to pay for a drink and pay the waiter when all should be included in the price, and he should pay the waiter.
    (I am interested how can you get a loan when you have that small income) I personally don’t mind paying the beer 10 dollars, but I would mind paying 7 and giving 3 more to the waiter, it’s extortion. But I don’t live in the usa and can’t understain that,as where I am from the waiters get paid for their work by their employees and they get tipped only if they offer a great service with a smile and a couple of kind gestures, but the tip isn’t even close to 15-20 %

    I own a bar and as an owner I would be glad to have this kind of system because I would pay a lot less taxes and give a smaller salary to my employees, but as an customer I only tip people that deserve to be tipped, I hate seeing people serve me who don’t like their jobs, but in general I don’t tip because the waiters aren’t the only people who do hard work but they are the only ones getting tipped for it.

    But if I visit the states I wont forget to tip as from what you said that’s their only source of income.

  21. LOL, Those first 10-15 posts are funny. I don’t know what state you live in, but here in California the minimum wage is $8 per hour and Federal is $7.25 This rule only does not apply to Minnesota at $6.15 and Wyoming at $5.15 per hour. What’s that you say….you got $2.13 per hour working in Wyoming? That’s because you were stupid enough to take a job where if you collect tips, the minimum wage is $2.13 per hour. I don’t go into a restaruant looking to help you out by feeling bad about your low paying job and giving you a fat tip. I don’t get paid that much either. I go there to get food and service. IT IS YOUR JOB TO BE PERFECT. I don’t want excuses for things that you could control. No you are not responsible for the preperation of my food but you know when something doesn’t look right. Quit your crying and whinning. You will get a tip cause I am nice, usually no more then $5. If your doing 5-8 tables over an 8 hour period, you should make $25-$40 in tips at $5 a tip. So someone doesn’t tip you, I’ll bet the next guy gives you $10. That tip increase brings your earings for the night from $7.25 per hour up to between $10.37 – $12.25 per hour, or $5.25 – $7.13 per hour in Wyoming…..I guess you guys in Wyoming are S.O.L., but the rest of you are making out like bandits, and that doesn’t even include the drunk guys table that slap $20 on the table or the party that forgets if someone tipped allready so all 10 people leave $3 or even that person that has been checking you out and leaves you $25 and thier phone number. My wife was a waitress for a while and it payed the bills easy. A lot of times she would earn $150+ a night. Point is you will get cheap tips and if you don’t like taking our money that we give you, then f*** off. If you do a good job and my night is perfect, I might give you $10-$15

  22. I am a server and have been 20 plus years. What most people fail to realize is that when you DO NOT tip your server, that server is actually paying to serve you. We are taxed according to our sales NOT what you decide to leave us. In the state I live in our wage is $2.13 an hour, so when I get a party of 8 that thinks they did me favor by leaving me 5 bucks, they actually cost me money.
    Another thing I would like for people to consider is, it isn’t always the servers fault. If the food takes too long, it’s the kitchen and the server shouldn’t be penalized for that. If your steak is cooked incorrect, well we don’t cut it open and check. Again we shouldn’t be penalized for that. A bad server and an overly busy server are two different things and should be looked at as such. Have you ever had a bad day at work? Should you get paid less on those days? Well then why should we?

  23. I worked at several hotels in the 80s (good ones in LA too)-and if I added up all the tips I got (mostly morning shifts 7AM to 3PM, or Nights 3-11PM)-it barely would have been more than $300 in 8 years! (plus a yearly bottle of Booze from Bob Hope)-this article really wrong! Maybe they used a different planet, where desk clerks are tipped?

  24. I was a waitress for many years, up until 2007. I always received 15-20 percent. Our base pay was $2.10 per hour. We really didn’t take a check home, so most of our earnings came from tips. Now when I go out to eat, I start at 20 percent and go up or down in my tip depending solely on the service. I never leave less than 15 percent. Unless the server swore or something very inappropriate like that. Which never happens. Most servers really do take pride in delivering good if not great service. It is a fun job.

  25. I was a waitress for several years and am appalled that people have no clue just how much we rely on tips. I was paid $2.63 an hour, which by the time taxes were taken out, I literally was lucky if I got more than $10 each week in my paycheck; I, and many of my co-workers, literally lived on the tips we got. That being said, I was a good server an usually managed to do well. However, a 10% tip to me means I must have done something horribly wrong. Anything under $10 on a $50 check made me assume I had given the customer horrible service and easily affected my mood for the rest of my shift. People have to understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a waitress to give perfect service 24/7 – we have other tables, crabby kitchen staff who don’t care how long it takes to get the food out since they are paid hourly regardless, and the marathon of running to get to each part of the restaurant to get silverware, re-fill drinks, clean up spills, etc. Add on customers treating us as if we are lesser beings simply because we are servers does not make us want to go the extra mile to make you happy, though we generally put on a smiling face and do our best. One really good tip can honestly make your server’s evening, being polite on top of that…well, you can bet that server will do everything possible to make your meal great simply because we aren’t used to being treated decently, as sad as that is. Yes, it is our job to serve you but it is not our job to be your personal slave for an hour to then be left with a 10% tip and a mess to clean before yet another party comes in to start the cycle all over again.

  26. And to anyone who gives me grief about, “well that’s your own fault for getting a job with such a low wage” or “find something else to do and stop complaining,” I’m not moving to a new state so I can get a higher minimum wage waitressing, that’s just dumb to suggest. Secondly, during my time waitressing, I was going to school for my MBA and am now doing PR in Boston. Whenever I eat out now, 20% tip is my MINIMUM!

  27. Everyone who works a legitimate job in this country should be entitled to minimum wage; this includes waitstaff who are typically paid 2-3 dollars below minimum wage by their employers. I grew up in the food service industry and my children work in restaurants.

    When I eat at a restaurant I expect to tip 15%. However this may go up or down depending on service. Fair service will get 10%–Great service 20% or more. As far as not tipping this is rarely acceptable. The service at my local Walmart is extremely poor, and I don’t get a discount there. Why should a restaurant be any different? I can only recall not tipping twice, both times the service was poor and the wait staff rude. Not only did I not tip I spoke to management about why I would not be tipping.

  28. I have been a teacher for 35 years. Cookies candles, ornaments, gift cards for teaching supplies are good for a beginning teacher. But after a few years, these things pile up. A better idea, is gift cards for restaurants etc.

  29. I too hate the idea behind tipping. Also why do you have to tip a percentage? If I can afford an expensive bottle of wine 15% is a lot to open and pour. Wouldn’t the waiter be doing the same if someone ordered a $5.00 bottle…open and pour.

    The same goes for the price of the dishes. What is on my plate should not be the deciding factor for how much the waiter should get.

    I think tipping should have a fixed dollar amount per person and not the price of what my order is.

  30. The way I see it, If you don’t like what your getting paid to to school and don’t complain. Not every one is able to give a tip. So, If it’s better for people to come and eat, even If they can’t tip. what if all the people stopped coming to eat at the resturant, then waiters or waitress would even have a job. Besides, I think the chef’s should get the tip.

  31. Sounds like a bunch of selfish waiters are answering this comment. Notice how everyone keeps saying you better tip well if you want good service…it’s a bunch of BS!! There should not have to be a damn money incentive for you to do your job!! Everyone else doesn’t get tipped to do their job efficiently. -and don’t complain that your salary is too low- YOU PICKED THE JOB!!!!!

  32. At a Chicago pizza restaurant in the 70’s a group of my friends use to go to almost every week the waitress refused to serve us till we gave her a tip in advance, because someone else in the group left her a bad tip when they were there, I refused and left and never returned telling all my friends who never visted again either.

  33. Im a dealer down on the Gulf Coast for 9 years now and i have no clue where you got your tipping information from..But i make $5.30 an hour and our weekly average in tips is about $18 an hour..So i just wonder what casino in Vegas did you get your info from because we sure dont make that down here..

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