Tipping. In the U.S., rewarding someone for their service isn’t legally required, but it’s often expected. When in doubt about tipping, ask or call ahead. If you still aren’t sure, go for a 15% to 20% tip. When you experience bad service, it’s customary to leave only 10%. In the end, giving someone a tip is not only a way to say “thank you,” but for many in the service industries, your tips help pay the bills. Here’s a guide to every situation we could think of where tipping is expected—and where it’s not.
A Day-to-Day Guide to Tipping
- $5 -10 per person
- Tip extra $5 – $10 per person if they helped with assembling, or for very heavy and/or difficult-to-maneuver items.
- $1 a drink
- $1 – $2 per diner or 10% of the total bill before tax
- $2 – $3 for a car
- $3 – $5 for an SUV or larger vehicle
- 15% for detailing
- Tip extra for waxing.
- $1 per checked item
- 15% – 20% of the total service
Emergency Roadside Service Provider
- $3 – $5 for a jump or tire change
- $5 – $10 if you were locked out of your car
- $5 – $10 for a tow
- Skip the tip if the cost of the tow is outrageous.
- $2 – $4 or 10% of the bill before tax, whichever’s better
- 15% – 20% for a difficult delivery
- $3 – $5
- 15% of the total service
- 20% – 25% when you’ve developed a relationship with them and they spend 1 – 2 hours on your hair
- 20% for a regular manicure, more if you feel your service was outstanding
- 20% for a regular pedicure, more if you feel the service was outstanding
- $25 – $50 overall, or $10 – $20 per mover, depending on the quality of the move
- 15% – 20% of the pre-tax bill
Shuttle to/from Airport or Hotel
- $2 per person
Wine Steward or Sommelier
- 10% of the total wine bill
- $2 – $5 when they return your car.
How to Tip When Traveling
- $1 – $3 per bag and depending on heaviness of each bag
Airport Wheelchair Assistance
- $3 – $5 when you reach the gate
- $1 – $2 per bag
- $5 if the bellhop shows you around the room and is helpful
- $5 – $20 more on the higher end if they go out of their way, or secure hard-to-get tickets for you
- $2 – $5 a night
- Tip extra if there are more than 3 people in the room or suite
Rental Car Employee Who Picks You Up
- $1 – $5 depending on the distance of the drive
- 15% – 20% if the hotel did not include a room service charge on the bill
Taxi Service Driver
- 10% – 15% of the total fare
- 10% – 20% of the cost of the tour.
- $1 – $2 per tour driver for a half-day tour, and $3 – $5 for a full-day tour
- Don’t tip employees of national parks and government sites
How to Tip During the Holidays
Assisted Living Staff
- Bake some cookies or holiday desserts for the whole staff
- $25 – $50 gift certificate, or one night’s pay
- A card or small gift made by the kids
- $75 – $175 on average, with $50 – $500 on a broader range and if the Super has been very helpful
- $25 – $75 or in some places depending on location, it can be $50 – $150.
- Equivalent to one week’s pay (in the form of money or a gift)
- $10 – $20 per staff member
- Consider giving food to the whole staff
Landscaper or Gardener
- $15 – $50
- $20 is the maximum value of a gift that a mail carrier can receive by law.
- You can give multiple gifts to your mail carrier, but they can’t exceed more than $50 in a calendar year.
- One week’s pay
- $10 – $30, or a small gift
- $10 – $30 each.
- For city collectors, call ahead and check if there are any regulations to follow.
Teacher or Tutor
- A small gift from your child, and check with the school first to make sure it’s acceptable.
How to Tip Special Interest Professionals
- 10% – 15%
- A referral
- $2 – $3
- 10% – 20% with 15% being the average
- Go as much as 30% if you’ve developed a relationship with your tattoo artist, similar to a stylist
- 15% to 20%
How to Tip on Special Occasions
- 10% – 20% of the total bill when a service charge has not been added
- $1 – $2 per guest when a service charge has not been added
- 15% – 20% percent of the total bill for the kitchen, serving, and bar staff to split if it’s not in the contract
- 15% – 20% of the total bill when gratuity is not included
- $50 – $100 for each chef when a gratuity is not included
Children’s Party Entertainer
- 5% – 20% of the final bill if you are exceptionally pleased with the performance
- Write a raving review so the entertainer can attract more customers.
Limo or Bus Driver
- 15% of the final cost
- 15% – 20% like you would a stylist, or more if there’s a crisis that requires fixing
- 10% – 20% of the total bill
- $30 – $100 depending on how long they worked, more if they do something exceptional
Presiding Official at a Funeral if an Honorarium Isn’t Present
- $50 – $300
- 10% – 15% of total bill to the band or DJ
- $25 – $50 per band member
- Tip a little extra if they carry heavy equipment to different locations.
- $1 – $3
How to Get Bonus Points for Tipping
- Loose change and up to $2
- $1 – $5 per item, but check ahead with the store policy
Maître D’ or Hostess
- $10 – $20 but typically only when the maître d’ or hostess has gone out of their way to help you
When Not to Tip
- Bed & Breakfast Owner
- Bicycle Repair-Person
- Cable Guy
- Gas Station Attendant
- Grocery Bagger (unless they carry your bags to the car then consider offering a buck or two)
- House Sitter
- Home Contractors
- Makeup Artists at the Mall
- Personal Trainer
- Sports Instructor
- Tech Expert
- Theater or Arena Ushers
- UPS, USPS, or Fed Ex Delivery Person
Note: The tipping guidelines above are average American expectations. Always consider tipping more if you’re happy with a service. Tell us if you agree or disagree with these tipping guidelines in the comments below.