In some countries, tipping is not required or expected (in most situations) — China, Korea, Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, and Brazil are just a few examples. And if you tip in Japan, you may actually be insulting the person you give money to. (It’s like saying “Here, use this to get some training, the service wasn’t very good.”) (See also: 7 Countries Where You Don’t Have to Tip at Restaurants)
However, the U.S. is a tipping nation, and you are expected to leave some kind of a tip in dozens of service scenarios. So, here’s a handy guide to follow.
You’ll be expected to provide tips to several different employees in your hotel. The bellhops should get at least $1 per bag, as should anyone else who takes your luggage. The housekeeper should not be left a handful of loose change, but instead, figure on around $3 to $5 per night, depending on the location. You can choose to leave the tip daily, or at the end of your stay. If you rent a car on your trip, it’s customary to tip a few bucks to anyone who helps put the bags in your car. You don’t have to give doormen money every single time they open the door, but if they hail a cab, or help you in some other way, it’s appropriate to provide a buck or two.
“I don’t expect a dollar every time I open a door,” says Steve S., a doorman at a large Denver hotel. “But if I go out of my way to get you a cab in the pouring rain, then carry your luggage to the trunk, I think a few bucks is worth the effort.”
You can tip the room service attendant $1 to $2 when they bring you your food, but they don’t expect it every time. The concierge, however, should also receive a generous tip — anywhere from $3 to $10 — if they go above and beyond. For instance, if they arrange show tickets, reserve tables at restaurants, or make special arrangements for your room.
“One time, I was asked to sprinkle rose petals all over the king suite, and have a bottle of Champagne on ice with two flutes on a silver tray,” says Abigail L., who works in downtown Chicago. “It was a Valentine’s Day marriage proposal. I got a $50 tip, I was blown away! And… she said yes.”
Sometimes a waiter will strike gold and get a $100 tip on a $20 check. But all too often servers will get barely 5 percent of the total bill as a tip. On occasion, the tip is a big fat zero, made as a statement against the tipping policy in general. That’s just wrong.
Waiters usually make way below minimum wage, with the average hourly wage coming in at just over $5. That means some people are earning just over $2 per hour before your tip. So please, tip your server at least 15 to 20 percent of the bill. And to avoid some ruthless restaurant owners pocketing the tip from a credit card slip, tip the waiter in cash.
Oh, and when it comes to buffets, or restaurants that have minimal waiter assistance, leave at least 10 percent as a tip, as they still have to clean up after you. (See also: 10 Ways to Be the Perfect Customer)
3. Bars, pubs, and clubs
Let’s start with your bartender. It’s customary to tip $1 per round, and this can be done with every round, or totaled up and added onto the bill at the end. Or you can calculate the tip as a percentage of the check. Twenty percent is the going rate, but if your bartender rocked it, give him or her more. If they were rude, give less. However, if you want to be the recipient of the “healthy pour,” tip generously early on in cash.
“If I get a $10 or $20 at the start of the evening for one drink, I treat that customer well for the rest of the night,” says Nick C., a bartender in Santa Monica. “I’ll make sure that guy or girl gets service as soon as they approach the bar, and yeah, they’ll get the heavy pour now and then.”
4. Taxis (including Uber and Lyft) and valet parking
As a general rule, you should be putting down a minimum of 10 percent of the total fare as a tip, after the gratuity that has already been included automatically. If the driver goes out of his or her way to get you there faster — legally, of course — then tip more. When it comes to Uber and Lyft, find a way to tip. Lyft offers the option to tip as part of the transaction on your app.
If you’re paying by card and there is no line for a tip, do it in cash. If you have no cash, you can actually use PayPal to send money, and it’s free if you do it from a bank account. For valet parking service, $2 to $5 is customary once your car is returned.
5. Take out or food delivery
If you ever pick up food from a restaurant, you’ll see a space for a tip on your receipt. Most people draw a line through it, because they don’t believe anyone did any work for them. Well, that’s not true. The people manning the front of house, taking orders, washing dishes, cooking, they all get pretty mediocre wages. So put a 10 percent tip on there. When it comes to food delivery, do the same, but tip your driver a few extra dollars in cash. If it’s pizza delivery, $2 to $3 minimum is the rule of thumb, adding an additional $1 for every pizza over three.
However, if the pizza is late, find out why. It may be nothing to do with the driver, and he or she should not be penalized for it.
6. Beauty services
Whether it’s a hairstylist, spa treatment, manicure, pedicure, or anything else in that industry, the expected tip is between 15 to 20 percent. However, it seems to fluctuate greatly depending on the service received, the interaction between the customer and the service provider, and the end result.
“I’ve had people tip me $50 for a $25 shampoo and style,” says Sheena B., a stylist at Great Clips. “But I have a friend who works in a high-end salon, and often gets $10 tips on a $100 style. You just never know!”
7. Moving, landscaping, contractors, cleaners, and manual labor
When it comes to moving, judge the situation by the complexity and load. The average is $10 per mover for half a day, and $20 for a whole day. But if you have a ton of heavy, awkward furniture, and the movers have to remove doors and windows to get things in and out, then go beyond the usual rate. And make sure you hand out tips to each mover, not just the foreman. As moving.com points out, it’s a bad idea to give the movers beer for their hard day’s work. It raises way too many liability issues.
For landscaping, cleaning, contracting, plumbing, electrical work, painting, and other services in this bucket, it all depends on the cost of the service, the amount of work put into it, and how the job was completed. Many plumbers and electricians don’t expect any kind of tip, as their hourly rate is quite high. But for people working in your garden, or fixing doors and light bulbs, you can tip a percentage — usually between 10 to 15 percent of the total cost of service.