6 Tips on Tipping

Photo (cc) by Magnus D

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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