How Much Should You Tip?

By Scott Sanchez at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A tip is a small amount of money for some kind of service. A tip is not included in the price or cost of something. For example, when you eat in a restaurant, you pay for the food, but you should also give the waiter or waitress a tip. It is a way to say “thank you” to a person who does a good job.

We also use “tip” as a verb. When food is delivered to my house, I ask my husband, “Did you tip the delivery man?” That means, “Did you give some extra money (a tip) to the delivery man?”

Tipping is very common in the United States for many kinds of service. In other countries, people are not required or expected to give a tip. How much money is a good amount for a tip? Are tips different for different kinds of service? When should you tip someone, and when is it not necessary? These are important questions, and many people disagree on the answers. However, here is a general guide for leaving tips.

Food Service

  • photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    Waiter/Waitress – Most servers in the United States receive VERY little money from the restaurant. They depend on tips to make a living. Most people leave 15-20% for good service. If your food costs $10, a good tip is $1.50-$2.00. If you have a terrible server, you can leave less (maybe 10%). If you have the worst server in the world, you do not have to tip him/her at all. If you have an amazing server, you can leave a bigger tip (more money).

  • Delivery Person – When food is delivered to your home, a 10% tip is customary. Most people give a minimum of $2.
  • Barista – A barista is a person who makes coffee. You do not have to tip a barista, but they usually have a cup or jar beside the cash register. You can put some money into it if you want to. This is true in some restaurants also. When there is no server (waiter/waitress), there is often a container beside the cash register for tips. You are not required to put money into it, but you can.
  • Bartender – You can give a bartender $1 for each drink or 15% of the total bill. If you tip the bartender at the beginning of the night, you might get better service.
  • Takeout – If you order food from a restaurant, go to the restaurant to get it, and take it home to eat it, no tip is necessary.


  • Bellman/Bellhop/Porter – This is the person who helps with your luggage. Maybe they take it to your room for you. Maybe they help you take it out of the car (or put it into the car when you leave). Many people disagree about how much to tip this person. I think it depends on the hotel. At a very expensive hotel, you should tip more. At a cheaper hotel, you can tip less. In general, $1-$2 per bag is customary.
  • Concierge – The concierge can give you information about the city, directions to restaurants, recommendations, and more. If the concierge gives you simple directions or tells you about a good restaurant, you do not need to tip him/her. However, if you receive excellent service, you can tip $5 or more.
  • Housekeeper – Depending on the hotel, you can tip a hotel housekeeper $2-$5 per day. You can leave a tip in the room each day (ask the front desk for an envelope) or leave one big tip when you pay your bill.
  • Parking Valet – A valet parks your car for you. This rule is for hotel valets, but some restaurants and even hospitals have valet parking, and the tipping rules are the same. When you get your car back, tip the driver $2-$5. You can also tip when you leave your car, but it is not required.
  • Room Service – When you order food at a hotel and it is delivered to your room, tip $3-$5. Sometimes, a tip is included in the cost of the food, and a tip is not necessary. Look for the words “gratuity included.” That means the tip is included in the price, and you do not need to pay a tip.

Personal Service

  • Barber/Hairstylist –Many people disagree on this, so you can tip anywhere from 10-20%. Again, I think it depends on the quality of service and how fancy the salon is. If you go to a barber shop and pay $8 for a haircut, the barber probably does not expect a big tip. If you go to an expensive salon and pay $90 for a haircut, they might expect you to tip the person who cuts your hair AND the person who washes your hair!
  • Manicurist – 15% is a normal tip for a manicure or pedicure.
  • Massage Therapist – We usually tip 10-15% for massages and other spa services (like facials).


  • Taxi Driver – Cab (taxi) drivers usually get a 10% tip.
  • Skycap/Porter – This is the person at the airport who helps you with your luggage. Just like a hotel porter, they receive $1-$2 per bag. They usually get $2 if the bag or item is very heavy.

Other Tips on Tipping

  • photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    You can always tip more than the recommended amount for excellent service.

  • If you receive terrible service, you do not have to tip.
  • If you sit at a table in a restaurant for a very long time, you should leave a bigger tip.
  • If you use a coupon or a gift card, calculate your tip based on the full price, not the discounted price.
  • In general, we do not tip public officials or government employees. If you want to offer a tip, you can, but they might tell you that they cannot accept it.
  • If someone says that they cannot accept a tip, just say “thank you” and leave. In some cases, an employee could get into trouble for accepting a tip.