Guidelines for Tipping

In the United States, and in many other countries, providing tips for many services is customary and expected. What is frustrating is not knowing how much to tip, or being unable to determine whether a tip has already been included in the cost of a service. This page provides some information that is commonly understood regarding tipping, and a few of the lesser known facts.

How much to tip for particular servcies (in the United States)

  • Restaurants - The customary tip to a waiter at a restaurant is between 15% and 20%. This should be calcluate befor tax. If the service is very good tip near the high end of the range. If the service is poor, tip near the low and of the range. Only if there are serious issues with poor service should you tip less than 15%.

    If you received any discounts on the check, add back in the amount of the discount before calculating the tip. If you are dining in a large group, or in some other special situations, check to see if the tip has already been included in the bill (it will usually be listed separately). Many restaraunts will do this on large groups. If the tip is already included in the bill, you can adjust the tip upward if you like, but be careful not to duplicate the amount you have already been charged.

  • Buffet Restaraunts - Although you might not think you are being served at a buffet restaraunt, there are still servers that seat you, take away your used dishes, and stock the buffet items. For this reason it is still appropriate to leave a tip. I will usually tip 10% at these restaraunts, plus if there are manned stations that I use, typically an additional dollar or so to the server at that station.

  • Hotel maids - Hotel maids should typically be tipped $1 to $3 per day. I find that the best way to do this is to leave the tip under a pillow, and if you like, in an envelope labeled as such. If you leave the tip nighstand, the maid might be unsure whether the cash was intended as a tip.

  • Hotel porter - For bringing bags to you room you should tip $1 to $2 per bag.

  • Hotel dooman - For hailing a cab, you can tip $1.

  • Hotel concierge - there is not a need to tip the conscierge for answering a quick question, but if you use the concierge's services for reservations, or other arrangements, or if you get a lot of advice then a $5 to $20 tip for your entire stay is appropriate.

  • Hotel room service - you should tip similarly as you would for a restaraunt, but check you bill to see if a service charge has already been included. If you see a service charge of 15% or more, this may be considered as the tip, and you can tip slightly above this amount if you received good service, but don't duplicate the tip if it has already been included in your check.

  • Parking Valet - Tip $1 when your car is retrived. It is up to you if you tip as well when the car is parked. If there is a service charge for valet parking (as distinct from the fee charged for parking itself), I typically consider that to be in place of the tip but I will round up to a whole dollar amount. If the charge is for parking (and would be the same for self parking), then I tip the valet beyond the amount charged.

  • Taxi driver - You should tip a cab driver 15% to 20% of the fare. If the trip is particularly short, and thus the fare low, I will tipically tip higher, setting my minium tip for a cab ride at $3.

  • Shuttle drivers - For parking or hotel shuttles I typically tip $1 per passenger, but if I am the only passenger, then I will tip higher, usally $2. For shared ride shuttles, such as SuperShuttle, I will typically tip 10 to 15% depending on the number of other passengers.

  • Coat checks - Typically tip $1 per item checked.

  • Skycap - If you use a skycap to check you bags at the airport, tip about $1 per bag, or $2 if it is a large bag or otherwise requires special attention. Some arelines have started to impose fees for skycap services, and it is not clear if these fees go to the skycap, or are kept by the airline or airport. If the fees are not going to the skycaps, then it is still appropriate to tip - but feel free to be upset at the airline. If the fees get distributed among the skycaps, then it is ok to consider the fee as the tip.

Additional information on tipping can be found on many other sites including the original tipping page maintained by Manny Gonzalez.