As one of the most popular tourist destinations world-wide it’s good to know the rules about tipping in the States!
Serving staff in the United States rely on a large part on gratuities from paying customers in order to supplement their wage which means that the tipping mentality is ingrained everywhere. Did the maitre d’ went the extra mile and got you that table with the nice view? $10 given discreetly should do it. How about the bell-boy that carried your luggage to your room? $1 or $2 per luggage. Or maybe the taxi driver? Or the waiter at the restaurant? All of the above and more expect some form of gratuity for the service provided, and by some form I mean money of course.
Here’s a few tips on how to tip when visiting the United States!
Food and drink
Tipping 15-20% of the bill before tax (“some would say 15-30% now,” says Lynn) is the average range for waitstaff, skewing higher for great service. Leaving 10% reflects substandard service, zero abominable.
The old “two pennies on the table” statement just fans flames. (It’s a not-so-sly insult that let’s the server know you didn’t merely forget to leave a tip.) If need be, speak to a manager instead.
Bartender: $1 to $2 per drink or the same percentage on your tab as you’d tip a waiter.
You don’t normally hand over a tip directly to a waiter or bartender.
Although the practice astonishes some international visitors (who perhaps assume lawlessness lurks around many a corner in the United States) it’s standard practice, once your bill is settled, to simply leave the tip on the table or bar top and leave. No one will steal it.
No obligation for takeout, but 10% for special service like curb delivery or larger orders is good form, says emilypost.com.
Delivery people who come to your door — pizza and Chinese restaurants are typical — expect 10-20%.
No need to pay for smiles, doors opened or highlighting a city map. Or to tip each individual member of the bellman tag-team between curb, lobby and guest room.
“Give one handout ($1 to $2 per bag) when you’ve reached your room,” says budgettravel.com.
Tipping the hotel maid daily ($2 to $5) — directly, under the pillow or with a little note marked “housekeeping” — ensures the right person receives it and that your room looks the part during your stay.
Room service: tip at least $5 unless gratuity is included in the check, says businessinsider.com.
Valet: $2 to $5, generally when the car is returned to you.
Courtesy shuttle: $1 to $2 per bag if your driver helps you with them.
Taxis, limos, vans and paid shuttles: 15% of the total fare and up to 20% for above-and-beyond service, advises tipguide.org.
Head to heel
Hair: 15% will suffice but the “cardinal rule” for salons is 20%, says stylelist.com.
Same range is customary for your massage therapist at the spa.
Shoe shine: 10% = Unhappy. 20% = “We’re good.” 30% = “Wow.” 40% = “You’ve just made my day, I want to make yours,” translates a seasoned New York shoe shine person to esquire.com.
Last few tips
Before tipping, check that a service charge hasn’t already been added.
Tip discreetly, respectfully and from the full amount if you use a coupon or gift certificate to offset the bill.
When in doubt, you’re allowed to ask (preferably the receptionist or concierge, and not the person you’d actually be tipping) if tipping is customary and generally how much is appropriate.