Tipping Guidelines: When, Where, and How Much?

As seasoned bartenders who teach new baby bartenders one bartending class at a time, we can tell you how good it feels when we see our tip jars filling up. So good, we might sing, ‘tip, tip, hurray!’ 

Global Payment Trendscollates tells us 4.4 million Americans rely on tips. So we know we’re not the only ones relying on gratuities to pay our bills. But as you’ll see, there are some people who are jumping on the no-tip bandwagon. How are service providers like us going to make it?!

So today, we’re going to talk all about tipping – tipping etiquette and general rules – basically an overall tipping guide. 

And sure, Local Bartending School might typically focus on all things bar-related but we’re passionate about bringing you the right information, so keep reading and you’ll be a Gratuity Master in no time.

What is a tip, or tipping?

Not to be confused with Tip (better known as T.I., King of the South), a tip is a varying amount of money that’s given to an individual who’s performed a service.

Tips can be small, or nonexistent, but they also can be high-dollar. Usually, the size of your tip reflects the quality of your service. More on that later, ’cause we’re all about the money. 🎵

History of Tipping

Why do we tip? What is the origin of tipping? How much to tip? A few things I’ve wondered myself. 

Long story short, it’s not a good origin. You see, originally a master-servant custom, tipping was a reward for good service. Back in the 1850s, rich folks brought the tradition from Europe to the U.S where it spread like wildfire, fueled by racial oppression.

Some other people have a theory that tip was an acronym for “To Insure Promptness”, but nay-sayers tell us it’s a story with mythical roots.

Pros and Cons of Tipping

Like with all things in life, we’re faced with a dueling polarity. Tipping can be both bad and good. Bad for our bank accounts, good for the service providers. 

We’ve made a pros and cons list just for tipping so you can weigh things out.

Pros

  • Better earnings for service staff
  • Good karma
  • Supportive of the economy

Cons

  • Not common in other industries
  • Expected to tip regardless of service
  • Expensive
tipping_guidelines
Credit: Canva Pro| Quick Fact: The history of tipping began during Abraham Lincoln’s heyday.

How Much to Tip in Different Countries Around the World

Tipping in the United States is a tradition that’s been around for a while and we don’t plan to see it go anywhere any time soon. But in other parts of the world, they do things differently than our 15%-20 tip standard. Way different. 

So let’s take a look at how folks across the world view tipping and gratuity.

Canada. Our neighbors to the north are like us in a lot of ways, including tips at restaurants and bars. Expect to fork over 15-20% of your bill.

Mexico. 10-15% gratuity is what this country typically sees for restaurant staff.

United Kingdom. The UK often adds a service charge – if not, 10-15% will do.

France. Service compris doesn’t mean your service is complimentary. It’s a common service charge, much like the U.K. But if you don’t see that charge, leave 15%.

Italy. You can round up your bill in bars and restaurants, but you’re not expected to tip. 

Spain. Not required, but you can leave a 10% tip of the service was *chef’s kiss*.

No Tip, Zone!

For those of you that just hate tipping and want to avoid it at all cost, here’s a list of No Tip Zones. It’s the perfect place for your next vacation!

  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Australia
  • Belgium 
  • French Polynesia
  • Switzerland
Credit: Canva Pro | There is more to tipping than just servers!

Where & How to Tip in Many Situations

Tipping isn’t just for servers and bartenders! In the U.S., your generosity is expected in a bunch of places. Here are just a few. We’ll cover where to tip and how to do it.

Bars

As service providers, bartenders lean on gratuities to make a living. Even Lady Gaga bartended before she became a global artist

When you’re out at a bar, tipping can be a bit tricky, quick, and messy.

If you’re at a club and ordering drinks all night, you might wonder if tipping on every drink is expected. What about a huge bar tab? Or just one drink? Let’s hear from our pros at LBS and see what they have to say…

  • One Drink Wonder. Sippin’ on one drink tonight? We applaud you. 20% of the bill may amount to a bunch of nothing, though. Leave your bartender buddy a buck or two for whipping your drink up.
  • Your Average Check. Much like at dinner, tip 15-20% if your bill is over $15. 
  • Just Put It On My Tab. This round is on you? Why thank you? If you’ve got yourself a hefty bar bill, you can tip 20% and make your barkeep quite happy. If they’ve done a fantastic job taking care of you and all your loud friends (or you made a huge mess), then go ahead and give them a little extra. 

Casino, Gambling, or Gaming Bars

We’ve accepted the fact that we’re tipping 15-20% at restaurants (well, some people are starting a strict no-tip trend – more on that in a bit), but things get a bit confusing when it comes to casinos or gambling bars.

Servers, cashiers, machine attendants, and dealers are all folks who rely on tips. But how much? Let’s clear up the confusion.

When you’re at a table, you can give a gratuity between 15-20% of your total buy-in. What if you strike some luck or are there for a while? That tip needs to go up!

Restaurants

This might be where you find yourself tipping most of the time. At a sit-down, table-side service restaurant tips are usually 15-20%. 

A lot of times, servers strive for 20% or higher. And the only way to get a good tip is to give good service. In the United States, guests usually tip a lower amount if they feel the service is poor or they didn’t get enough attention throughout their meal.

But there are so many different types of restaurants and services, like take out or delivery! Are you still expected to tip like you would at a traditional restaurant? We’ll chat more about that later.

Hotels 

Ahh, hotels. Always busy, always popping. But what’s not popping is how many service staff members there are! Do you tip everyone? I don’t know about you, but I’m not Oprah walking down the lobby – not everyone can get a dollar!

Here’s how to approach tipping at a hotel:

  • Front Desk
    • The staff at the front desk make an hourly wage that doesn’t account for tips, so these folks don’t see many. However, it’s not unlikely to leave a small gift (like a touristy souvenir or cute mug), a warm note, or a few bucks for someone who goes above and beyond for you. Trust me, I’ve worked in hotels – they love these gestures!
  • Bellhops
    • Bellhops are hotel porters that assist with your bags. Typically you’ll pay $1-2 per bag in gratuity. But here’s a tip from a hotelier, “Keep your enemies close, but your bellhop closer. I tip these folks a memorable amount (like $10-20) so they remember me throughout my stay. They’ll help with bags, doors, and give you the best restaurant insights. Same with the concierge staff!”
  • Concierge
    • The service of a concierge is a constant change. One moment they’re hailing cabs, the next they’re grabbing bags. Here’s a rule of thumb – tip $1-5 for basic services, $10 for more complex requests, or excellent service.
  • Banquet/Event Staff
    • The banquet staff often are behind the scenes kind of people. But they’re also some of the hardest workers. Tips are included in the event bill – no need to tip. But good reviews and a nice note of gratitude to the staff can go a long way.
  • Breakfast Staff
    • Your hotel might have a breakfast buffet or a sit-down full-blown restaurant. If it’s your average buffet, there are no expectations of tips. But for hotels of the latter, especially seen in cities, tip 20% or like you would any other restaurant. 
  • Parking Attendant and/or Valet
    • For parking attendants that don’t park your car, you’re not obligated to tip. But if you’ve splurged and are staying at a hotel with valet services, expect to tip anywhere from $1-5 dollars when they bring your car back.
    • If you’re staying in a property that’s full service, your valet could be the same person to help with your bags. If that’s the case, definitely give them a bit on top of that fiver.

Hair salons – 20% minimum

When you’re lookin’ fly and your hair is perfect, you’ll usually meet your stylist or receptionist back at the front desk. You’ll check out and either sign a credit card receipt with your tip written down or provide cash. 

Nail salons – 15%

Mani/pedi, anyone? At nail salons, you’ll pay at the front desk using your preferred method of payment. Sometimes they bring you a check-out book, like they do at restaurants. Either leave a tip on your card or hand that magical manicurist the cash they deserve!

Movers

Movers are the knights in shining armor when you’re in the middle of a stressful move. And honestly, they deserve to be tipped. Word on the street is $10-20 is a good tip for each mover. 

Delivery and Fast Casual Food

Even as a long-standing food service industry worker, I’m always pondering what to write on the tip line for pizza delivery and fast-casual food. And what about takeout? 

According to Emily Post Institute, delivery tips should be about 10-15%. For takeout, the same source tells us there’s no obligation except 10% for large or difficult orders. But as a former curbside, I can tell you I got tipped more often than not!

Watch delivery drivers get some of the biggest tips of their lives (but not as big as the tip I’ll tell you about later).

Rideshares (like Uber, Lyft, etc.)

Oh, rideshares. There’s nothing like getting a warm ride home from a stranger. 

Tip your lift about 15-20%. A little extra if they’re helping you with bags or help you through your most recent relationship drama.

It’s Totally Okay to Not Tip

As bartenders and long-time providers of lovely service, it can be hard to imagine not tipping. But, there’s a huge movement currently happening. 

Patrons all over the U.S. are ditching the notion of tipping altogether. Their claim is that it’s a deeply racist and sexist tradition. It’s all for the server, really. Behind the no-tipping movement is the belief that bar and restaurant owners will pay their employees a more decent wage.

Plus, back-of-house employees in restaurants feel it’s unfair that servers have the potential to make more money when they’re all working for the same cause. By not tipping, people are hoping for a more fair, equitable work environment.  

So, what do you think tipping will look like in the next 10 years? Do you think the no-tipping movement will work? Comment below!

You Won't Believe These Crazy, Tiny Tips

[Blockquote] “I’m a cook but one of our coworkers was hyped about getting a $20 tip. She made such a thing about it the manager came over to see what the commotion was all about. That’s when he informed her that it was a counterfeit 20. And after checking the register, also found out the rest of the cash they used was fake as well. The money didn’t even look real at all. And it’s all now taped to the wall to remind everyone of that faithful day we got paid in basically monopoly money”. – RenAndStimulants

[Blockquote] “During college, I worked at a “Fridays” type restaurant. More than once was given a prayer card as a tip. I was able to chase a few of them down and inform them they needed prayer more than me if they thought pray cards would pay my bills.” – mfwater

The Biggest Tips We've Ever Seen

A bartender in Missouri was left a $200,00 tip only to find out it was a big fake. great expectations, I guess. Apparently, it’s a common scam performed by cheap masterminds to get out of paying their bill. Or maybe they’re a part of the no-tipping movement and don’t want to admit it…

[Blockquote] “I worked a private function where I was both server and bartender. The party was for 25 people who were part of a company where I knew the owner because I waited on him and his wife on a regular basis. At the end of the night, the tip came to $300 and the owner tipped me an extra $600 on top of that. $900 for about 5 hours of work.” – Nancy S.

We hope we answered the age-old question, "to tip or not to tip?"

And if you’re ready to ditch your hourly-rate job and see big tips come your way? LBS is ready to help you get started on your new bartending journey. Reach out to one of us today!

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Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Lipe has been writing creatively since childhood but jump-started her professional writing after college. She's an Indiana native, Ball State Hospitality graduate, and a bartender with over 10+ years in the industry. You can find her making basil Moscow mules when she's not writing. Follow her professional journey on Instagram! @contentbycarriejean

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