15 Guidelines for When to Tip in Today's World

Let's take the guesswork out of when to tip and how much so you can skip the awkwardness and get the best service.

Published July 26, 2023


Between pre-entered tip screens when you pick up your take-out to the automatic gratuity sometimes added to your restaurant check, knowing when to tip and how much is one of the great mysteries of the decade. Things are changing quickly when it comes to tipping etiquette, but we've got you covered with all the basics plus a few extra tips (get it) to help all your transactions go smoothly.

Tip Around 20% for a Sit-Down Meal


Although the old standard restaurant server tip was 15% (or even 10% back in the day), things have changed. If you were happy with your service, add 20% for the server who helped make your meal great. More is always appreciated, but less sends the message that things weren't exactly up to par.

20% might seem like a lot, but keep in mind, restaurant servers have a federal minimum wage of only $2.13 in the US in 2023. Know what else? That minimum wage hasn't gone up even one penny in the past 20 years. Think of your tip as accounting for inflation (because we all know the cost of groceries has gone up way more).

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Before you add a tip at a restaurant, always check to make sure there's no automatic gratuity added. Some places add a tip to your check for you, especially if you have a larger party.

Tip (Less) for Take-Out and Quick Service Restaurants


When you pick up your to-go order or pay for your burrito at the counter, a fair tip is about 10%. That's because you're receiving a service (someone is making your burrito, packing it in a bag, adding the plastic silverware, etc). Typically, people working in quick service restaurants get at least a standard minimum wage of $7.25, but it may be more in some states. The tip augments their income.

Tip for Coffee if You're Feeling Generous


Although you aren't required to tip at the coffee shop, it's a really nice thing to do. Baristas and counter staff make at least minimum wage, but it's nice to add something extra. Typically, the staff at a cafe will split everything in the tip jar (or virtual tip jar) for their shift, so the person who actually makes the drink definitely gets some of the tip. Go for 20% or at least one dollar per order.

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Same goes for anywhere you order something that's not a meal, such as ice cream, doughnuts, or those delicious soft pretzels (now we're getting hungry).

Tip at Least 10% for Food Delivery


Delivery is a service too, so it's a situation where you need to tip. The minimum here is about 10% of the total bill, but if you're not ordering that much, make it at least two dollars.

Keep in mind, some restaurants charge a "delivery fee," but this isn't the same as a tip. Often, this money doesn't go to the delivery person or driver.

Tip Bartenders at Least Two Dollars Per Cocktail


If you're ordering your signature cocktail at the bar, be sure to tip at least two dollars to the bartender. If you're getting a beer or a glass of wine, one dollar is good. A bartender is a tipped employee, just like a server, so their minimum hourly rate is only $2.13. Your tip helps them earn a living wage.

When you're going to be ordering more drinks and will run a tab, tip around 20% of the total bill.

Tip at Least 15% for Grocery and Alcohol Delivery


Expecting that wine delivery or your weekly grocery order? These are heavy items and require the delivery person to do more than just drop off your pizza. Because this is a pretty big service, you should tip at least 15% of the total bill. If you're getting a super heavy item (like water softener salt or lots of canned goods), it's nice to tip a bit more.

Tip 15% or 20% for Car Drivers


Before you hop out of that taxi at your destination or pay for your Uber or Lyft, get ready to tip. Drivers provide a service, and much of their income comes from gratuities. If there's a service charge, this is not the same as a tip. Add an extra 15% or 20% to your bill as a gratuity.

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What about tipping a tour bus driver? If it's a little tour, about five dollars per person is perfect. If it's a half-day or longer tour, tip around five dollars per hour per person.

Tip Movers at Least Five Dollars Per Hour


Hiring a mover? They don't rely on tips as part of their income, but we all know this is a hard job and a useful service. Tip each mover at least five dollars per hour, more if they do an amazing job or handle some really delicate or heavy things.

Tip Your Housecleaner at Least 15%


A housecleaner is another person who provides a service and requires a tip. Plan to tip your housecleaner after every visit, usually about 15% of the total bill. Make sure it's obvious that the extra amount is a tip and not payment for a service. You can use cash for the tip to help make this clear.

Tip Hotel Employees Based on Their Role


Tipping is a part of traveling, so expect to pay gratuities to many hotel employees. You don't need to tip at the front desk or when you check in or out, but do tip anyone who helps you with something. They're providing an extra service, after all. These basic guidelines can help you know when to tip at a hotel and how much.

Hotel Employee Role How Much to Tip
Porter carrying your bags $2 to $5 per bag, depending on hotel cost
Housekeeping $2 to $3 per day, more with pets or messy kids
Valet $2 to $3 the first time they park your car, $1 to $2 after that
Concierge $5 each time they assist you, more if it's an especially tricky request
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Hotel room service is a little more complicated. If the bill includes a gratuity, add a few dollars or around 10% to go directly to the person delivering your food to the room. If gratuity isn't included, tip at least 20%.

Tip Babysitters About 15%


Whether you're hiring the teen next door or a pro from an agency, plan to tip a babysitter 15% each time they watch your kids. For nannies, tip at the end of the year with a bonus that's at least one week's wages.

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If your little angels are, well, less than angelic, consider tipping even more. A good babysitter is worth hanging onto, and a good tip will help with that.

Tip at Least 15% at Salons and Spas


When you go to the hair or nail salon or get a massage or spa treatment, expect to tip at least 15% of the total bill for the service you get. If you have a good relationship with your stylist and want to show more appreciation, 20% is nice.

Same goes for tattoo artists. If you love the work they did and the way they made you feel comfortable, tip at least 15%.

Tip Contractors and Landscapers Around 20%


If you're having work done around your house, this is a service too (and that means you should tip). Landscapers, remodeling contractors, and others who help out expect a gratuity. You can go as low as 10%, but 20% is a good rule of thumb for contractors you'd like to hire again.

Tip Wedding Vendors Based on Their Role


Weddings involve a lot of service professionals, especially if you're having a large or elaborate wedding. Each person who provides a service can also get a tip, and in many cases, tipping is expected. Here's a super simple cheat sheet on when to tip and how much.

Wedding Vendor Expectation for Tip Tip Amount
Wedding planner Optional Up to 20%
Delivery staff Expected Up to $10 per driver
Wedding transportation Expected 20% of fee
Wait staff and bartenders Expected 20% of total bill
Musicians and DJs Optional $25 per musician, $100 for DJ
Officiant Expected $100+ donation to religious organization or non-profit
Hair and makeup professionals Expected 20% of total bill
Photographers Optional $50+ per photographer
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Before you decide when to tip wedding vendors, take a look at any contracts. In some cases, gratuities may already be included, or there may be a "no tipping" policy.

Don't Tip These Professionals


Although you should usually tip anytime you get a service, there are exceptions. Sometimes, good tipping etiquette means not offering a gratuity at all. In some professions, it's actually even frowned upon to receive a tip (since it can present a conflict of interest). These are some of the people you should not tip:

  • Teachers - Give a year-end or holiday gift that isn't money and is worth less than $25.
  • Accountants, lawyers, and financial professionals - Tipping is a conflict of interest, so don't tip.
  • Car and home repair workers - Tipping isn't customary.
  • Medical professionals - Tipping usually isn't allowed and isn't customary.

Feel Confident Knowing When to Tip


If you know when to tip and when not to tip, you can concentrate on the service you're getting and take all the guesswork out of the situation. In general, tipping etiquette means giving a gratuity to anyone who provides a service (especially if they rely on that tip as part of their income). With a few exceptions, a tip is almost always appreciated.

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15 Guidelines for When to Tip in Today's World