Get expert advice delivered straight to your inbox.

Skip to Main Content

How to Tip in All Situations

Ever wonder how much you should tip the barista for that Cinnamon Toast Crunchuccino? What about the pizza guy? Or your barber or hair stylist? You’re not alone! Tipping can be pretty awkward (and laden with guilt). I can think of a few times I’ve frozen like a cat facing off with a Roomba when staring down the iPad of doom that’s “just going to ask you a few questions” about your order and your tip. Ugh. If you’ve been there, done that too, it doesn’t mean you’re not a generous person. It probably just means you aren’t sure of the rules.

But don’t worry—I’ve got your back. And now you’ll have a handy list of how to tip in every situation imaginable (or at least the most common ones).

Here's what we’ll dive into:

Let’s start by talking about how much you should tip at all types of restaurants, because that can be tricky (especially with these new iPad tipping screens popping up everywhere).

How to Tip at Restaurants

Server or Waiter

When you go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant, you should tip 20%. And if you really want to be generous, go for the 25% mark. Remember: Many servers make around $2 per hour, so they’re counting on those tips to make ends meet.1 And even though you can't spend your way into a meaningful life, you can definitely find meaning in giving to others.

You should consider the tip part of the overall cost of dining out. After all, if you can’t afford to tip your server, then you shouldn’t be eating out to begin with.

But George, what if I get really bad service? Hey, sometimes waiters have a bad day too. But what you shouldn’t do is completely skip the tip. If you want to knock that 20% down to 15%, that’s okay.

Fast-Food Restaurants

When it comes to fast-food (or “fast casual”) restaurants, pay attention to the kind of service you receive. Do they bring the food to your table? Do they bus the table and tidy it up for you? If so, leave a few bucks in the tip jar or on the screen if you’re feeling extra generous. But don’t feel obligated. It’s okay to bypass the tip in those situations.

Buffet Restaurants

Servers at a buffet may not bring food to your table, but they still refill your drinks and clear your plates. So. Many. Plates. Think about it: You’ve got to grab a new plate for every visit back to the buffet, so you’re making a lot of work for that person. Tip them!

A good rule of thumb here is to tip at least 10%. Also, feel free to raise that if you get stellar service. Again, these servers make very little per hour. Think of it like this: If everyone tipped just one extra dollar, it would make a big difference for the server.  


This one is iffy. You shouldn’t feel pressure to leave a tip when you pick up a takeout order, but it would be a nice gesture to leave the workers a little something-something. Assuming you’re just picking up one or two meals, rather than a massive order, a few bucks will show your appreciation.

Restaurant Delivery

This one’s easy: You should absolutely tip for restaurant delivery. After all, someone had to bring that piping-hot pizza to your front door. Without them, you’d probably be eating cold mac and cheese leftovers and that salami that’s about to grow legs. Plus, you didn’t have to leave the house (or change out of your pajamas).

shopping cart

Try our free Meal Planner to save money on groceries!

Be generous and give them 10–20%.


Whether you’re a regular at Sonic or another mom-and-pop drive-in, tipping your carhop is up to you. But I can tell you this for sure: If I brought out a meal and drink on roller skates and lived to tell the story, I’d be primed for a tip! Just like with other fast-food restaurants, a tip isn’t expected, but it’s always appreciated.

Coffee Barista

You’ve seen the little tip jar on the counter when you pick up your morning cup of joe (or if they’re trendy, the more stress-inducing iPad). It usually has a one-liner on it like “alms for the pour” or “thanks a latte for your tippaccino.” (A for effort. C+ for the puns.) So, what do you do?

When it comes to coffee, you’re not obligated to tip. But if your barista went out of their way for you, why not put a dollar in that punny tip jar as a sign of thanks?


A good bartender or mixologist basically serves you tasty art in a glass. So, tip your bartender—especially if the drink requires mixing, shaking or stirring. Two dollars per drink is perfectly fair tipping etiquette here. Although I tend to just tip a standard 15–20% in these scenarios.

Restroom Attendant

I know, this is an especially awkward one, but someday you’ll thank me for including this tip on tipping. If you’re in a swanky establishment, a restroom attendant might be part of the gig. So, if you’ve got a couple of bucks on you, feel free to offer it. If you don’t, just smile and say thanks when they hand you a hand towel or a mint. 


When you use convenience services, remember that convenience often costs money. So, if you treat yourself to a valet service instead of parking your own car, you should absolutely tip a few dollars. And if the valet service itself is free, definitely don’t skip the tip. Have you seen how fast those valets run to make sure you get in your car fast? The Flash couldn’t do better. It’s worth $5–10.

How to Tip Grocery Services

Grocery Store Bagger or Order Pickup Runner

A lot of grocery stores ask you not to tip the people who bag or carry out your groceries. Some will even flat-out tell their employees to refuse tips. You don’t want to get them in trouble. But if the person is kind enough to carry your bags out to the car—show gratitude with some kind words. If you’re feeling extra friendly, go a step further: Look at their name tag and say their name as you thank them (without making it creepy). You’d be surprised how few people do this—and how much it could mean to the bagger. 

The same advice on tipping goes for people who prepare your drive-up or pickup orders. Technically, they aren’t allowed to accept tips either—so again, don’t get them into trouble. Just offer a heartfelt thank you. These people are basically doing what’s now become a regular part of working at a grocery store.

Grocery Delivery Services

When figuring out how to tip for grocery delivery, remember most of the gig workers at companies like Shipt and TaskRabbit rely on tips as part of their income. Once you factor in gasoline use, wear and tear on their car, and independent contractor taxes (not to mention time and energy spent doing the shopping for you), they really don’t have much base pay left.

So be nice. A 15–20% tip is a good rule of thumb for someone who braved the store, shopped for the best produce, waited in line, fought traffic, and brought groceries right to your front door so you didn’t have to do any of that. The same goes for stores like Walmart and Kroger that offer in-house delivery services.

How to Tip at Salons and Spas

Hair Stylist or Barber

Do you need to tip your hair person or your barber? You’re darn right you do! After all, you’re trusting these people with your hair. That’s one of the strongest levels of trust there is! Tipping around 15–20% is standard depending on their profession and the service you received. But feel free to go higher, especially if you get a scalp massage or the best hair extensions of your life.


When it comes to nail services, here’s what I’ve learned from my wife (not that I’m opposed to a good mani-pedi): Tip like you’d tip your hair stylist. With 15–20%, you can’t go wrong!

Tattoo Artist

It takes some pretty incredible skills (and trust) for someone to draw permanent art on your body—and do it well. A good tattoo artist deserves a gratuity of 15–20%.

How to Tip While Traveling

Hotel Housekeeping

A lot of people don’t even realize they need to tip at hotels, so let’s set the record straight. You should tip modestly (a couple of dollars) at a budget-friendly hotel and more generously at a swanky spot. In this new eco-friendly world, you might not want fresh sheets and towels every day, but on the days you request housekeeping, leave a tip for that day instead of one big tip at the end of the stay. You might not get the same housekeeper throughout your stay, and you want to share the love with everyone who kept your room tidy.


If the concierge has secured impossible-to-find tickets to a Broadway show, then yes—slip them a $10 or $20 bill for going above and beyond with their connections. If they just gave you quick directions to the nearest coffee shop, you can skip the tip. But be sure to thank them.  

Cab Driver

We all know to tip the cab driver for taking us safely to our destination. But how much is too much? This depends on the length of your trip and how well your driver drives.

If you feared for your life during the ride, that tip is going to be a big fat zero. If it was an overall safe and friendly trip, go ahead and tip 10–15%. Add an extra dollar or two if they helped you with unloading any luggage.

Uber and Lyft Drivers

Thanks to technology, you can easily tip your Uber or Lyft driver by using the app on your mobile device. Most of them go out of their way to win you over with perks like snacks, drinks and phone chargers. So, the same tip amount for cab drivers also apply to Uber and Lyft drivers (10–15%).

Tipping Outside of the United States

If you’re traveling outside of the U.S., find out ahead of time if tips are expected for particular services. Other countries’ cultural norms are way different than ours, and you don’t want to offend anyone by leaving (or not leaving) a tip when you shouldn’t (or should).

How to Tip Other Common Services

House Cleaners

Hey, if it’s in your budget and you’ve knocked out your debt, there’s nothing wrong with paying for a house cleaning service! The folks who clean houses for a living are really good at what they do. No wonder nearly 10% of households in the U.S. pay a professional service to clean their homes.2 So, how much should you tip these top-notch house cleaners? A good goal is 15–20%.

Flower Delivery

Even this guy knows that a nice bouquet of flowers speaks volumes to someone you care about. Nothing like gifting a dying plant to my wife to show my undying love. If you’re sending flowers, tip $2–5 per arrangement. On the flip side, if you receive a display (or maybe a tasty fruit bouquet), it’s most likely a surprise. You don’t have to tip when receiving a gift. Here’s another tip for free: If you get excellent service, recommend that company to others—a word-of-mouth referral could bring them more business!

Professional Movers

No doubt about it—if your movers go the extra mile and help you bring in and set up your furniture, they deserve a tip. (Think about all that hard work!) Or if they did an excellent job moving your exotic fish tank or your grandmother’s old piano up three flights of stairs, they definitely deserve a tip. We suggest $10–50 per mover depending on the level of difficulty, attitude of the crew, and amount of stuff they were lugging around for you. Every situation is different, so use your best judgment.

Cable Guy or Satellite and Internet Installer

With the convenience of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, you might not use satellite and cable anymore. But we all need internet. And when the installer shows up at your house, technically, they’re just doing their job. It’s not a service they’re going out of their way to do for you. That said, if it’s a blazing hot day, go ahead and “tip” them a cold bottle of water. And if it’s the dead of winter, why not offer them a hot cup of coffee or tea?


By contractor, I’m talking about someone who offers contracted services like marketing for your business, tax filing or building your website. Since they’re doing the job you hired them to do, you don’t have to tip them.

Wedding Officiant

Whoever officiates your wedding—whether it’s your priest, your pastor, a guy at the courthouse, or an Elvis impersonator—you should tip them. If it’s not already required as part of the wedding fees, hand the officiant $50–100 in a nice thank-you card at the rehearsal. If they absolutely refuse to accept it, offer to make a donation to their church or their favorite charity instead.


If your babysitter really helped you out (like agreeing to watch your little ones on short notice or cleaning up the aftermath of your child’s stomachache), then maybe you should tip them. This isn’t an absolute must. It’s just a nice gesture acknowledging the trouble they went through and setting you up for a yes if you need them last-minute in the future. This can look like adding a little extra to their hourly rate or rounding up when you’re figuring out what you owe.

How to Tip During the Holidays

Working during the holidays is really stressful for the good folks in retail and service industries, so don’t be a Scrooge! You don’t have to tip more than usual—unless your hair person or plumber was able to squeeze you in out of the kindness of their heart during the hectic holiday season. But adding a “Merry Christmas” or including a card with your regular tip can make someone’s day.

And really, an extra $5 or a coffee gift card on top of your regular tip is a great way to spread some cheer for someone who serves you well all year long. It would also be a fantastic gesture to give a present to the teachers, delivery people or mechanics who help you throughout the year.

How to Calculate Your Tip

If you’re going to tip a percentage of the bill, that means you’ve got to calculate the dang thing. That can be intimidating, I get it. Especially if you’re in a hurry to get up from the table to make it to the movies or put the kids to bed. But all you really need is a little elementary school math and the calculator on your smartphone.

Here’s an easy way to calculate a tip:

1. Figure out the percentage you want to tip.

2. Move the decimal point in that percentage two places to the left.

3. Multiply that number by the price.

That’s how much you should tip.

Here’s an example: Let’s say your total at the local Applebee’s is $28. Your server did an outstanding job of making sure your fries were piping hot and your milkshake was piled with whipped cream, so you decide to tip them 20%. (Good call!)

All you have to do is move the decimal two places to the left (.20), then multiply that by the cost of the meal ($28). And there you have it, folks—you’ll tip $5.60! You can do that for any percentage, whether it’s 15%, 20% or 25%.

You’ll be an expert at tipping in no time.

When in Doubt, Be Generous

No matter what tipping situation you find yourself in, you can’t go wrong with being generous. In fact, if you’re in a good financial position, be weird and swim upstream in a culture of normal and broke. In other words, be outrageously generous.

Remember, your tip says more about you than the person you’re leaving it for. And if you budget for it, then tipping isn’t a big deal at all!

Speaking of budgets, have you met my favorite budgeting app, EveryDollar? The groceries, the pizza, the rideshares, the tips: Budget for all of it in the app ahead of time—so you’re telling your money where to go (instead of wondering where it went).

Start your EveryDollar budget for free today!

Did you find this article helpful? Share it!

George Kamel

About the author

George Kamel

George Kamel is the #1 national bestselling author of Breaking Free From Broke, a personal finance expert, a certified financial coach through Ramsey Financial Coach Master Training, and a nationally syndicated columnist. He’s the host of the George Kamel YouTube channel and co-host of Smart Money Happy Hour and The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk radio show in America. George has served at Ramsey Solutions since 2013, where he speaks, writes and teaches on personal finance, investing, budgeting, insurance and how to avoid consumer traps. He’s been featured on Fox News, Fox Business and The Iced Coffee Hour, among others. Learn More.

Related Articles

A smart phone displaying the EveryDollar app with a zero-based budget.

How to Create a Zero-Based Budget

Zero-based budgeting is a method of budgeting where your income minus expenses equals zero. Follow these steps to make a zero-based budget each month.

George Kamel George Kamel