How Much Should You Tip? A Comprehensive Guide to Tipping Etiquette

Tipping etiquette can be a tricky subject to navigate, but it’s an important one for service industry workers who rely on tips to make a living. Whether you’re eating at a restaurant, staying at a hotel, or receiving a spa treatment, knowing how much to tip can make a big difference in the level of service you receive and the livelihood of the workers serving you. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of tipping etiquette, who to tip and how much, dos and don’ts for specific services, and the importance of tipping in the digital age.

Explaining the Basics: A Guide to Tipping Etiquette

Tipping etiquette refers to the customary practice of leaving a gratuity for service industry workers in recognition of their services. In the United States, tipping is an important part of many service industry jobs, with tips often comprising a substantial portion of a worker’s wages. Many workers in industries such as restaurants, hotels, hair salons, and spas rely on tips to make a living.

The history of tipping dates back to Europe in the 17th century, where it was a common practice for aristocrats and nobles to tip servants in exchange for good service. The practice eventually made its way to the United States, where it became an essential part of service industry jobs.

When it comes to tipping in the United States, the general rule of thumb is to tip between 15-20% of the total bill for food service. However, there are many different service industry jobs with different suggested tipping amounts.

Who to Tip and How Much: A Comprehensive Guide

Knowing who to tip and how much can be confusing, but it’s important to show your appreciation for good service. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common service industry jobs and how much you should tip:

  • Food service (e.g. restaurants, cafes, bars): 15-20% of the total bill before tax and any discounts
  • Room service: $2-5 per order
  • Hotel housekeeping: $2-5 per day of your stay
  • Spa services (e.g. massage, facial): 15-20% of the total cost
  • Salon services (e.g. haircuts, manicures): 15-20% of the total cost
  • Barber: 20% of the total cost or $5
  • Valet: $2-5 per vehicle

The Dos and Don’ts of Tipping for Different Services

Each service has its own unique expectations when it comes to tipping. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind for specific services:


  • Do tip between 15-20% of the total bill before tax and any discounts.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask your server if they pool tips with other staff members.
  • Do leave cash tips whenever possible to ensure your server receives the full amount.
  • Don’t forget to tip for service at the bar, especially if you’ve ordered a complicated cocktail.


  • Do leave a daily tip for hotel housekeeping, ideally $2-5 per day of your stay.
  • Don’t leave cash out in the open – leave your tip in an envelope or other discreet location.
  • Do tip the valet when they bring your car – $2-5 is a standard amount.
  • Don’t tip for every service at the hotel – tipping once or twice during your stay is appropriate.

Hair salons:

  • Do tip your hairstylist between 15-20% of the total cost of your service.
  • Don’t feel obligated to tip for a bad haircut or service.
  • Do ask if tips are shared among salon employees – if so, you may want to leave a slightly larger tip.
  • Don’t forget to tip for any add-on services like deep conditioning treatments or blowouts.

Tips on Tipping: How Much is Appropriate for Food Service, Delivery, and Other Services

There are many different scenarios where tipping is appropriate, from food delivery to ride-sharing. Here are some general guidelines for tipping in common situations:

  • Food delivery: 15-20% of the total cost, with a minimum of $2-3 for smaller orders
  • Ride-sharing: 15-20% of the total cost, with a minimum of $1-2 per ride
  • Bar service: 15-20% of the total bill or $1 per drink, whichever is higher
  • Spa services: 15-20% of the total cost, with the guide of tip as if you are at the restaurant

Why Tipping is Important: A Look at How Your Tips Affect Service Industry Workers

Many service industry workers rely on tips to make a living, and leaving a generous tip can make a big difference in their wages. For example, in many states, the minimum wage for restaurant workers who receive tips is significantly lower than the minimum wage for other jobs. This means that tips can make up a substantial portion of a server’s income, and a lack of tips can result in financial hardship. In addition to supporting individual workers, tipping can also have a positive effect on the community as a whole by boosting the local economy and helping to create jobs in the service industry.

Tipping Around the World: Comparing Tipping Customs and Expectations

Tipping customs vary widely around the world, and what is considered appropriate in one country may be considered an insult in another. In some countries, tipping is not expected at all, while in others it is seen as an essential part of good service. Here are some examples of different tipping norms around the world:

  • Japan: Tipping is generally not expected, and may even be seen as rude.
  • United Kingdom: Tipping 10-15% for food service is common, with a service charge sometimes added to the bill.
  • Australia: Tipping is not expected, but rounding up to the nearest dollar amount is common.
  • France: A service charge is often included in the bill, but it’s customary to leave a small additional tip for good service.
  • Mexico: Tipping between 10-20% of the total bill is expected for food service.

Tipping in the Digital Age: How to Tip Using Digital Payment Apps and Platforms

As digital payment apps and platforms become increasingly popular, they’ve also changed the way we tip. Many apps now allow you to leave a tip directly through the platform, making it easier than ever to show your appreciation for good service. Here are some tips for using digital payment apps to tip appropriately:

  • Check if the app allows you to leave a tip before you make your payment.
  • If you’re using a delivery service, consider tipping a higher amount if the driver has to travel a longer distance.
  • Remember to leave a review in addition to your tip, as this can help service industry workers improve their skills and get more business in the future.


Tipping etiquette can be a complex and confusing subject, but by following these general guidelines and being mindful of the unique expectations for different services, you can show your appreciation for good service and support the service industry workers who make our lives easier every day. Remember, leaving a generous tip can make a big difference in the lives of service workers, and by tipping appropriately, you’re contributing to the well-being of your community as a whole.

By Riddle Reviewer

Hi, I'm Riddle Reviewer. I curate fascinating insights across fields in this blog, hoping to illuminate and inspire. Join me on this journey of discovery as we explore the wonders of the world together.

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