Tipping in any foreign country can be intimidating, and the United States is no different, particularly if you hail from a place where tipping isn’t the norm. To prepare you for life in the US, here is a handy guide to tipping so that you can tip with confidence.
Why Tipping Is So Important in The United States
During the 1960s, the United States Congress implemented a “tipping credit” that allows employers to pay some employees under the minimum wage if they also receive tips. Most waitstaff and bartenders fall into this category. This means that many workers rely on their tips for income, while in other jobs tips are a bonus on top of an already liveable wage.
Tipping in US Restaurants
In the United States, a 15- 20% tip in a restaurant or cafe is considered normal. If you’ve received outstanding service, consider going above 20% with your tip. Many restaurants will include suggested tip amounts at the bottom of your check, so be sure to check for this helpful information. It’s also common for restaurants to automatically include a gratuity on the bill for parties of eight or more diners, so keep an eye out for this as well and add to what they’ve included if you feel you’ve had an excellent dining experience. Tips aren’t a requirement at coffee shops, but a dollar or two per drink is a kind gesture.
In the Covid world, food delivery has dramatically increased. Expect to tip your delivery driver 15- 20% of your total order. Services like UberEats and DoorDash often include several suggested tipping options when you order.
Tipping $1-2 per drink is standard practice, even if you’re there for Happy Hour (a period of the day when drinks are sold at reduced prices in a bar or restaurant). If you’re unsure how to tip for a large bill with many drinks or specialty cocktails, a safe bet is to revert to the 15-20% used for restaurant service.
Taxis & Cars for Hire
Until the existence of Uber and Lyft, a 15% tip was considered standard for taxi drivers with a minimum tip of $2, regardless of the size of the fare. Uber, however, recommends a 20% tip for good service. And don’t forget that when you tip a rideshare service driver, your driver will be rating you too!
Tips are expected for hairstylists and spa services, such as getting a massage or having your nails done. Plan on giving at least 15- 20% of your bill, depending on the level of service you receive.
Hotel stays mean that you’ll come into contact with any number of people whom you should consider tipping, and it can feel like a lot to keep track of! Here are some of the basics:
- If a bellhop or porter helps you get your bags to your hotel room, plan on tipping $5/bag and maybe a little extra if your bags are heavy or there are a number of them.
- Valeting your car? Tip $2 when you retrieve it, or if your valet goes above and beyond, make it $5.
- Housekeeping is a service that is often neglected when it comes to tips. $5/day is ideal, and don’t forget to leave your tip every day since different staff members may clean your room each day.
- If your hotel has room service, count on a $5 tip for the delivery to your room but be sure to check the bill first, as some hotels include a gratuity in the total.
Our Extra Two Cents On Tipping in The United States
Where tipping is concerned, cash is always preferred to adding your tip on a credit card receipt or even a Venmo payment.
Don’t forget that as of the writing of this article, the pandemic lives on. Many people who work in the service industry are working in places where they risk exposure to Covid every single day. Please be generous when considering tipping.
Still feeling intimidated? There are plenty of apps for your phone that will help with calculating tips, and there’s also this handy desktop version if you need a hand.