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The Tipping Guide: When and How Much to Tip in Common Situations

From tip jars at the coffee shop to those little envelopes at the hair salon, deciding who to tip, and how much, can be exhausting. The pizza delivery driver, the host at your favorite restaurant, the grocery bagger, the list goes on and on.

tipping etiquette

In hotels, it's customary to tip the housekeeper $2 to $5 per night, or more for long stays.

Ask anyone who they tip and how much, and you'll get a different answer every time. There is wild debate among families -- where grown children may secretly slip a few extra dollars onto the table to make up for their parent's out-of-date tips -- and even those in the service industry as to what constitutes an adequate tip.

Even the reasons why we tip are up for discussion. Most people would say they tip to reward a job well done, or perhaps in the expectation that they'll get good service in the future.

In reality, according to Cornell professor Michael Lynn, a tipping behavior expert, quality of service has very little to do with how people tip. According to Lynn's research, service ratings impact a tip's amount by just 4 percent -- similar to the impact a sunny day has on a person's tipping (sunny days make people tip more).

Instead, "the major reason people tip," said Lynn in a CNNMoney article, "is to avoid social disapproval."

Not Sure How Much to Tip? Here's the Guide

tipping etiquette

Generally, you should tip 15 percent to 20 percent of your bill to waiters and waitresses.

Because there is so much disagreement about how much is "appropriate" to tip in common situations, we've compiled a guide from two prominent sources: The Emily Post Institute and The Original Tipping Page.

Without further adieu, here are their recommendations ... but remember, these are just suggestions. Your final decision of who and how much to tip remains up to you.

  The Emily Post Institute The Original Tipping Page
Waiter/Waitress 15% of bill (excl. tax) for adequate service; 20% for very good service; no less than 10% for poor service 15% to 20% of bill;
if you receive excellent service, if it is a 4-star+ restaurant or you have a large party, a 20% or greater tip is recommended
Bartender 15% to 20% of the tab, with a minimum of 50 cents per soft drink, $1 per alcoholic drink 10% to 15% of the bar bill
Sommelier, or wine steward 15% of the cost of the bottle 15% of the wine bill
Coatroom attendant $1 per coat $1 for one or two coats
Parking valet/Garage attendant $2 if your car is brought to you $1
Parking valet/Garage attendant $2 if your car is brought to you $1
Washroom attendant 50 cents to $1 50 cents to $1
Daily Life
Taxi driver Varies by locality, but 15% should be enough; add an extra $1 to $2 for help with bags 15% of fare, no less than 25 cents; for luggage help, $1 per bag up to 5 bags. $2 per bag 5 bags or more or if bags are very heavy (over 50 pounds each)
Food delivery person 10% of the bill (excl. tax), at least $1 for bills up to $10. Should tip 15%-20% for a difficult delivery. A tip of 15% to 20% for large orders such as entire meals, or when receiving meals from a delivery person who's traveled to different restaurants.

For pizza, $1-$2 if short distance, $2-$3 for longer distances, $5 or more for large deliveries.

For carryout, 5% to 10% if they show you the food, offer complimentary items (plates, napkins, silverware) and help you carry large orders.

Grocery loader $1 for bringing bags to car; $1.50 to $3 if you have more than 3 bags. (Check first to see if tips are accepted.) $1 to $5 depending on the load
Barber 15% to 20%, minimum $1, for a haircut. For other services (shampoo, shave or manicure) tip $1 to $2 to service provider. 15% of the cost, generally a minimum of $1. For shampoos, $1 to $2.
Hairdresser 15% to 20%. (It is now acceptable to tip owner, unless he or she says otherwise.) 15% of bill
Shampoo person $2 $1 to $2
Manicurist 15% $1 or more, depending on cost
Spa service (massage, facial, etc.) 15% to 20%. If service is provided by owner, no tip. 10% to 20%
Staff at coffee/food shops with tip jars No tip required. It's completely optional.  
Skycap at airport $1 per bag if you check-in curbside; $2 per bag if skycap takes bags to check-in counter. $1 or more per bag
Hotel doorman $1 per bag for help with luggage; $1 per person for hailing a cab None for opening door or calling taxi from stand; $1 dollar or more for help with luggage or finding a taxi on the street
Hotel bellhop $1 per bag for bringing luggage to your room (but a $2 minimum if you have just one bag) $10 for bringing you to your room with luggage; $5 dollars for opening and showing the room
Hotel housekeeper $2 to $5 per night $5 a night minimum. More if long stays (over a week); consider $7 to $9 a night.
Hotel concierge $5 for getting you tickets or reservations ($10-plus if they're hard to get). No tip required when you ask for directions. $5-$10 on average. More for special services or favors.

Recommended Reading

The 10 Top Dining Etiquette Errors

The Nine Grossest Things Other People Do That Can Make You Sick


The Original Tipping Page

The Emily Post Institute

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