To Tip or Not to Tip?

To Tip or Not to Tip?

I recently asked friends on social media for their thoughts on tipping. I was surprised by the number, diversity, and passion behind their responses. While many enjoy demonstrating their gratitude with a generous tip, others felt tipping was an individual decision based on circumstance and preference or that workers should be paid a fair wage that would eliminate the need for tipping. Here are a few of their perspectives:

“When someone provides any service, you show your ‘gratitude’ for excellent service—wait staff, hotel staff, hairdresser, bartender. It’s strange how many people do not tip or tip well. I used to work in food service and had a man who refused to tip. The man told me that I was the best waitress he ever had— but he didn’t believe in tipping.”


“I believe tipping is important and shows appreciation for how you are being served. In a restaurant, I always tip at least 20%, even if service isn’t great. I truly don’t know what has happened that day in the life of my server and they may need grace.”


“In Australia, there is no tipping. Most Australians are perplexed by the whole concept… Minimum wage in Australia is $17.70 … Every employee is valued and paid well. We believe just because someone is ‘serving’ you, they are not a ‘servant’ and should be as well paid as any other member of society.”

The debate over tipping—how much, how often, who to tip, when not to tip—can become heated and, for some, embarrassing. One friend wrote that she always stayed behind to “re-tip” after her dad left a restaurant. She was embarrassed by his lack of generosity and felt she needed to make up the difference. How many of us have done the same?

Etiquette is constantly shifting, and tipping is no exception. Tipping guidelines change over time, and are based on the culture, location, and level of service provided. For example, restaurants in some parts of the United States pay their staff far below minimum wage, counting on tips to fill in the gap. Tipping customs around the world range from mandatory (Chile), expected (Canada), welcomed (Sweden), insulting (Japan and Korea), and illegal (Argentina). Before tipping, always consider your location. When in doubt, ask!

Here are the current tipping standards in the United States:


  • Wait Service: 15–20%
  • Buffet Service: 10%
  • Wine Steward: 10–20%
  • Fast Food Service: No tipping is necessary
  • Pizza Delivery: 10–15%
  • Tip Jar: Optional
  • Coatroom: $1 Per Coat


  • Courtesy Shuttle Driver: $1-$2 per person, or $4-$5 for a group
  • Taxi or Limousine Driver: 15–20% of the total fare
  • Valet Service: $2-$5


  • Doorman: $1-$4 for handling bags, hailing a cab, calling for your car
  • Bellhop: $2 first bag, $1 for each additional bag
  • Room Service: 15–20%, make sure gratuity isn’t included in the bill
  • Housekeeping: $2-$5 per night
  • Special Item Delivery: $2 for one item, $1 each for several items
  • Concierge: No tip is necessary for directions, $5-$20 for special arrangements

Other Service Providers

  • Hair Stylist: 15-20%
  • Manicurist: 15-20%
  • Massage Therapist: 15–20%

Tipping is often about kindness—not the money itself. You have the opportunity to help others whose situation you most likely will never know. Err on the side of being generous. You will never regret being remembered for your kindness.

How do you want to be remembered?™

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  1. Just last week I was staying in a hotel for 6 days. I was unsure how much to tip the maids and whether or not I needed to do it every day since all they were doing was replacing the coffee and soap I used. I did ask for some tissues and an extra blanket and left a $5 tip that day.
    Is tipping “expected” in even small rural markets?

  2. Thank you for your question, Susan. Those who work in the service industry rely on tips as part of their income. This may be especially true in small rural markets, as wages tend to be lower. Leaving a small tip each day, instead of one larger tip when you depart, ensures that the person cleaning your room actually receives your gift. Over a six-day stay, it is unlikely you had the same person servicing your room.

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