Ever wonder how much you should tip the barista? What about the pizza guy? Or your hair stylist? You’re not alone! Tipping can be pretty awkward, and feeling that way doesn’t mean you aren’t a generous person. It probably just means you aren’t sure what the rules are.
But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. We’ve got a list of how to tip in every situation imaginable (or at least a whole lot of them!).
Here's what we’ll dive into:
- How to Tip at Restaurants
- How to Tip Grocery Services
- How to Tip at Salons and Spas
- How to Tip While Traveling
- How to Tip Other Common Services
- How to Tip During the Holidays
- How to Calculate Your Tip
Let’s start by talking about how much you should tip at all types of restaurants, since figuring that out 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: Most servers make around $2 per hour, so they’re counting on those tips to make ends meet.1
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You should consider the tip part of the overall experience of dining out. Because if you can’t afford to tip your server, then you shouldn’t be eating out to begin with. Period!
What should you do if you get really bad service? If you want to knock that 20% down to 15%, that’s okay, but you should never completely skip the tip.
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 for you instead of making you tidy up and throw away your trash? If so, it would be nice to leave a few bucks if they’ve got a tip jar or something at the cash register and you’re feeling generous. If not, then it’s okay to bypass the tip—it’s not expected in those situations.
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.
You should absolutely tip for restaurant delivery! After all, someone had to bring that delicious piping-hot pizza to your front door. Without them, you’d probably be eating cold mac and cheese leftovers and that salami that’s been sitting in the fridge for a month. Plus, you didn’t have to leave the house (or change out of your pajamas).
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. Did they bring out your meal (and drinks) on roller skates with ease? Yup, that probably deserves a tip. Just like with other fast-food restaurants, a tip isn’t expected, but it’s always appreciated.
You’ve seen the little tip jar on the counter when you pick up your morning cup of java. It usually has a cute phrase on it like “alms for the pour” or “thanks a latte for your tippaccino.” So, what do you do?
When it comes to coffee, you’re not obligated to tip. But if you feel like being generous, or if that kind barista went out of their way for you, why not leave a tip? Put a dollar in that punny tip jar as a sign of thanks for the work they put in to help you perk up.
You should definitely tip bartenders, especially if the drink requires mixing, shaking or stirring. A dollar or two per drink is perfectly fine tipping etiquette here.
If you’re in an overly elegant establishment, a restroom attendant might be part of the ambience. 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 you use convenience services like a valet, 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, then definitely don’t skip the tip. Have you seen how fast those valets run to make sure you get in your car super quickly? The Flash couldn’t do better. It’s worth $5–10 (or more if you can afford it).
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, so if the person is kind enough to carry your bags out to the car, show gratitude with some kind words. Look at their name tag (without making it creepy), and say their name as you say thank you. You’d be surprised how few people do this—and how much it could mean to the bagger.
And the same 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 kind and 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 kind. 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 guru or your barber? Yup—after all, you’re trusting these people with your hair! (Let’s face it, 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 color job of your life.
When it comes to nail services, tip like you’d tip your hair stylist. With 15–20%, you can’t go wrong!
It takes some pretty incredible skills 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
A lot of people don’t even realize they need to tip at hotels. You should leave a couple dollars a night at a budget-friendly hotel and around $5 a night at a swanky spot. And remember to tip daily since you might not get the same housekeeper throughout your stay.
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 and offer a thanks instead.
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 your driver’s ability to handle the road.
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 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
You can easily tip your Uber or Lyft driver by using the app on your mobile device. Yay, technology! Since you can rate your driver, most of them go out of their way to win you over with perks like snacks, drinks and phone chargers. We think the same tip amounts 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 States, 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
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with paying for a house cleaning service—it’s hard work! Plus, the folks who clean houses for a living are really good at what they do. No wonder 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%.
If you’re sending flowers, tip $2–5 per arrangement. On the flip side, if you receive a beautiful display of flowers (or a tasty fruit bouquet), it’s most likely a wonderful surprise. We don’t think you have to tip when receiving a gift, but take the time to say thank you. And if you get excellent service, recommend that company to others—a word-of-mouth referral could bring them more business!
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 judgement.
Cable Guy or Satellite Installer
Technically, your cable guy or satellite installer is doing their job when they come over to your house. 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 refreshing glass of lemonade or a bottle of water. And if it’s the dead of winter, why not offer them a nice hot cup of coffee or tea?
Since your contractor is there to do the job you hired them to do—whether it’s marketing for your small business, helping you with your website, or filing your taxes—you don’t have to tip them. Now, if they’re making you dinner, picking up your dry cleaning, and cutting your hair, that’s a different story.
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 from the carpet), then maybe you should tip them. But this isn’t an absolute must. It’s just a nice gesture acknowledging the trouble they went through. This can look like adding a little extra to their hourly rate or rounding up that half hour to a full hour when you’re figuring out what you owe.
How to Tip During the Holidays
Working during the holidays is really stressful for folks in retail or the service industry, so don’t be a scrooge!
You don’t necessarily need to tip more than usual—unless your stylist or plumber was able to squeeze you in at the last minute during the 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 make the day merrier and brighter for someone who serves you well all year long. It would also be a super kind gesture to give a present to the teachers, manicurists and hair stylists in your life.
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 seem difficult, 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.
Ta-da! That’s how much you should tip.
If that sounds complicated, we promise it’s really not. 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 ice cold, so you decide to tip her 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 voilà, you have your tip: $5.60! You can do the same for any other percentage, whether it’s 15%, 20% or 25%!
So, there you go! 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, why not 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 our 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).