Navigating Tipping Expectations: How Much to Tip in Different Situations
Why care about tipping? Does something as little as leaving a tip really matter? Well, if you don’t care about it you should know your date or your mate probably does! Not to mention the worker providing your service! We think it’s time to put on your grown-up panties and learn the appropriate amounts to tip service workers.
Some research shows people think tipping is one of the most confusing aspects of etiquette today. (Cell phone usage needs to be at the top of that list too!)
Tipping is an important way to show appreciation for a job well done; however, treating the person who has served you with respect is every bit as important.
Taylor worked in fast food when he was younger so he feels strongly about considerate tipping. Growing up in a family of 9 kids, he learned the importance of giving, cleaning up after yourself, and not leaving extra work for the waiter/waitress. He knows how hard the work is and how often people walk out without giving the service a single thought or a single dime. Always tip, that’s just a given. But exceptional service definitely deserves a larger tip. In fact, people poke around with him about carrying around $2 bills for tipping purposes!
We recommend thinking through this ahead of time and agreeing with your spouse on the appropriate amounts. Educate yourself on how this figures into service worker’s paychecks and your budget.
As a couple you should know:
- When to tip.
- Who to tip.
- How to tip.
Did you know the gorgeous Big Bang Theory star, Kaley Cuoco, dumped a “great date” after she realized he was a “bad tipper”? Better up your game if you’re dating a famous TV star!
And Oprah told Jimmy Kimmel a story on her podcast about her first date with Stedman. He somehow revealed after they left the restaurant (you wonder if she grilled him) that he hadn’t tipped the waiter because he “forgot” and she made him turn around and go back and leave a “generous” tip for the staff.
Apparently tipping really matters. And can be a reflection of your character and care of others. Think through it ahead of time and agree on the different services you may encounter and the amount you wish to tip.
So consider these categories before you leave home (or get scolded by Oprah):
1. Restaurant Tipping
Most people aren’t surprised to learn that they are expected to tip when a waitress or waiter serves them at a restaurant. But the amount of the tip can be a gray area.
The range Emily Post suggests is 15-20%. Taylor and I have decided that we will tip 20% as a standard amount in all situations unless the service is absolutely atrocious. In that case, we’ve agreed to still leave 15% as the worker relies on those funds as income for their work, and often it’s not entirely the server’s fault that the meal was cold or late or wrong.
A “sit down” restaurant is pretty straightforward for tipping, but what about a buffet? Emily Post recommends leaving a 10% tip on your table for any buffet, calculated pre-tax. (Not sure why the “pre-tax” part matters to Ms. Post, but that is the etiquette giant’s advice.)
What About Carry-Out?
If you get carry-out you have no obligation to tip if you go in and take it out. But if they happen to go above and beyond with your carry-out order, i.e. running back to get you ranch dressing or spelling “happy birthday” on the pizza in pepperoni, they deserve an extra tip. Also if you have a large or complicated order you are recommended to add 10% to your carry-out tab.
If you get pizza or any other home delivery service, tip the driver 10-15% of the bill or $2-5 per pizza delivery. We still tip 20% as if we were sitting in a restaurant. You could say the driver made more of an effort than a waiter does in most cases. Either way, discuss it with your spouse, agree on it, and reward food service workers for being on their feet while you aren’t.
2. Uber Tipping
Tipping Uber or other rideshare drivers has been a murky subject. And Uber has changed their policy several times in its brief existence.
Here is Uber’s latest:
- Should you tip an Uber driver? Yes
- How much? 10-20% of the total fare. Or $1-2 on short rides, $5-10 on long rides.
- Tip in-app or with cash? Uber says “Either is fine.”
If you’re confused about this issue, it’s not your fault. If you’re a regular rider, you may have noticed that the policy has shifted multiple times throughout Uber’s short lifespan.
Tipping on Uber is not something passengers (especially long-time users) are conditioned to do so the confusion is natural. For a while riders felt Uber waged a war on tips so everyone is wondering why they should tip their Uber driver at all.
But in a recent move to win back driver morale, tipping with Uber has now been made seamless in an update that built a tipping option right back into the rider app.
So tip your Uber driver! And thank them for the mints. (Is that just us? Don’t you love those drivers who offer a mint or a bottle of water?)
3. Other Tipping Tips
There are a few other gray areas of tipping worth committing to memory. Like when you travel you encounter opportunities to tip (or opportunities to stand there feeling uncomfortable because you’re not sure if you’re supposed to tip).
So ahead of time discuss and agree on these guidelines:
- Skycap at the airport $2 for a bag
- A doorman $1-4 for carrying luggage, $1-2 for hailing a cab (more if it’s pouring rain)
- Housekeeper at your hotel: $2-5 per day
On one trip our son had a twenty-dollar bill taken from our hotel room. When we asked about it the maid said she had taken it as a cash tip. It was a Holiday Inn Express so we thought $20 a day seemed like a lot to assume, but it was a good opportunity to talk about the often forgotten tip to housekeeping. Some hotels post a tipping policy at the front desk or in the information book. Make sure you know and agree on amounts together (and don’t leave cash lying around unless you’re tipping).
One final area we’ll touch on is hair salon tipping. It is standard to tip 15-20% of the service price. You may ask them to split among those who serve you. A manicure is also a 15-20% tip range. If you have a stylist who always takes great care of you and works to fit you in, reward their customer service with a nice tip. (Plus, don’t forget they’re the ones with sharp scissors in their hands. Ha!)
No matter where you get the opportunity to go for the day, remember tipping is one way to bless others while you’re enjoying some time away from your work. It is an opportunity to be generous.
Taylor said lots of restaurant workers hate the “Sunday crowd” because post-church couples and families are often poor tippers. Let’s end that right now! To whom much is given, much is expected.
If you have enough time and money to eat out or get your hair styled, you have enough money to be generous. Let’s look for opportunities to thank those who serve us by being people who care about tipping.
Taylor has some great stories of being blessed by a tip. In fact, one time a man tipped him $50 on a $20 lunch tab. Taylor had chatted with the man’s children and made sure they had a great lunch. Then that man made sure Taylor had an awesome day by sharing a big tip with him. Keeping in mind, this was during his fast food days! So, maybe fast food places should receive tips, too! We would love to hear your stories of being blessed by a tip. Leave them below or tell us on Facebook or Twitter.
Now let’s get out there and Make it happen!
Taylor & Megan Kovar
The Money Couple