6 Tips on Tipping

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We all know 15 percent is the standard tip for restaurant servers, but what if the service was way above standard? Or way below? Tipping is such a mystery because there aren’t any ironclad rules. And tipping can be stressful because we’ve all heard how servers depend on their tips for their livelihood.

Before we offer you some tips on tipping, here are some facts: Waiters and waitresses can be paid as low as $2.13 an hour, but if their tips don’t bring them up to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and hour, the government requires employers to make up the difference. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average restaurant server earns about $8 an hour, with the top 10 percent getting around $14.25 an hour.

But that’s just waiters and waitresses. Who else should you tip? Money Talks News reporter Jim Robinson talks about tipping many other professionals in the video below – check it out, and then read on for more advice…

As Jim mentioned in the video, these numbers come from The Consumerist. But because there’s no law or rule or even agreement on a guideline, opinions vary. For example, CNN Money’s guidelines for tipping suggests a minimum of $2 per night for a hotel housekeeper while The Consumerist suggests only $1.

But mostly, those two respected media sources agree. By studying those and other sources, Money Talks News has devised an abbreviated list for the more common encounters. While opinions may vary slightly, you won’t go wrong following this advice…

Tip a percentage

  • Take-out preparer (the restaurant person who packs up your to-go order): 10 percent
  • Taxi driver: 10-15 percent
  • Tattoo artists: 10-20 percent
  • Barber/stylist: 15-20 percent
  • Bartender: 15-20 percent

Tip a flat figure

  • Pizza delivery guy: $2-5 based on distance
  • Coffee at mom-and-pop shop: $1 per drink (chain coffee shops? CNN says “completely optional,” Consumerist says, “25 cents tossed in the tip jar,” others say little to nothing)
  • Valet parking: $1 or $2
  • Furniture delivery: $5
  • Housekeeping: $1-5

More advice on tipping

  1. On average, you can see it’s typical to leave 10-20 percent for just about anybody worth tipping. But adjust that based on circumstances: If your delivery guy rushed over in a thunderstorm and is dripping on your doormat, toss him a little extra. Reward people who go out of their way to help. But if your server provides poor service, give a poor tip – but leave something so it’s obvious you didn’t just forget.
  2. Pay attention to what’s included in a bill and who it’s going to. At restaurants, a table of six or more is often charged an extra “gratuity” or “service fee” that may (or may not) go directly to the server. A delivery bill may likewise have a service charge for gas that doesn’t go to the driver, and a tip may already be built into the bill.
  3. If you have a regular barber or bartender you’re buddies with, don’t let that relationship sour over tipping. Treat well those people you’re likely to deal with often.
  4. Try to avoid leaving cash lying around. Hand the tip to your server, leave it in the holder the check comes in, or put it on your card. For housekeeping, leave the money in a marked envelope so they know it’s for them.
  5. Always calculate tips based on the original bill, not based on any discounts or coupons you used.
  6. Some people can’t (or won’t) accept tips. You can still give them a card, a warm handshake, or a genuine, “Thank you.”

We want to know what you think about tipping – are these numbers too high, too low, or just right? Do you tip or skip all of the above? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, and on Twitter @moneytalksnews. And if you want to know what to tip for special occasions, check out our story 3 Tips for Holiday Tipping.

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Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • http://twitter.com/pettia1 allen pettis

    How do you address the tax on a bill. Do you tip on the cost before tax is added or after tax is added?

  • http://twitter.com/pettia1 allen pettis

    How do you address the tax on a bill. Do you tip on the cost before tax is added or after tax is added?

  • http://twitter.com/pettia1 allen pettis

    How do you address the tax on a bill. Do you tip on the cost before tax is added or after tax is added?

  • GC MacCrone

    In Oregon, Johnny Law prevents us from pumping our own gas.  With all the wet weather and the running around the pumps and the fumes and grime of the work, we often tip our gas station attendant a buck.  We think it’s work more worthy of a tip than some barista’s jerking out an Americano.

  • GC MacCrone

    You don’t tip the gubmint…omit the tax before leaving the tip.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2GSLYBMQJC46RNGM72C2777WIY JimD

    I am a firm believer that if you can’t afford the tip you shouldn’t go out or order a service, however, I suspect some very strong east coast bias on these suggestions.  Up to a dollar for Ice Cream or Coffee OK, but take out? To say you cost the restaurant even half of a 20% tip in labor to put your food in a bag?  Outside of the East Coast or California, there is no expectation of ANY tip on take out, other than an occasional dollar in the jar (which probably undermines servers cash flow), but they really didn’t do anything noteworthy to deserve a tip.  

  • Thomas “Wink” Miller

    RIGHT, no need to base your tip on the total including tax– use the subtotal to make your 10-15-20+% calculation then add this to the total.  Also, no need to over-tip because YOU splurged on a nice bottle of wine– use a moderate wine value to establish this based on quality of service, knowledge, quality of stemware provided, proper presentation, and satisfaction with the recommended wine as a suitable pairing to the evening’s selections.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DFDPVNUA3STEL3W4DPRHQZY3IA dawn

    I am a pizza delivery driver. I used to make money doing my job.  But with gas prices up so high and managers paying us less than minimum wage (they think our tips should now make up our wage, like we are wait staff) I am losing money.  I have to pay for all my gas and maintenance on my car.  My company charges a delivery charge to the customer, but keeps over half of it for themselves and pays us just $1.00 for taking the food out to the customer.  Yet, that $1.00 does not really cover our gas since our delivery area is nearly 8 miles wide.  On top of everything else, we are only allowed to take 2 deliveries at a time.  So even if there are 3 deliveries less than a block apart we can only take 2.  This is a waste of gas to send out 2 drivers to the same area.  But managers do not care about that they only care that they get the food out fast.  Our business has slowed tremendously.  I used to take 20 to 25 deliveries on a weekend night and now I am taking 9 to 11.  So my money has dropped seriously bad.  I always tell customers, when they ask about tips, that a gallon of gas is the minimum tip that should be given.  I regularly receive $5 tips, but there are some people who do not tip at all.  These people are hurting us really bad.  It still costs of gas to take them their food.  I am also not allowed to request a tip or even hint to wanting a tip, yet I am paid like a restaurant server even though I use my car and my gas.  All the big companies:  Dominoes, Papa John’s etc are paying their driving this way.  Please always tip your driver.  The more the better because we remember you and will bring your order first if you consistently tip big but if you never tip us or tip us only a dollar we will remember that too and you will be getting your pizza last.  Remember we talk to our co-workers and all of us do the same thing.