Tipping Guidelines

Tipping is not 15% in all situations. Don't find yourself in an awkward tipping moment. You can tip with confidence in any situation!

While most people feel confident when tipping in a restaurant, many people feel far less secure when it comes to offering a gratuity in other situations. However, most people desire to tip appropriately, but end up tipping either insufficiently, or too generously. Here are some basic guidelines to ensure that you're tipping appropriately in almost any situation. However, keep in mind that these are suggestions, and you should feel free to adjust your tip based on level of service. Furthermore, these guidelines are geared toward experiences in the United States. If you're traveling elsewhere, you may want to consult a travel guide to familiarize yourself with tipping practices in other countries.


Server at a full-service restaurant - 15% to 20% of your total bill. If you've used a discount or received any free items, you should tip on the amount that your bill would have come to if you'd paid full price. If your party is large or placing many special requests, you should increase your tip appropriately.

Server at a partial service restaurant - 10% of your total bill. Use discretion based on how much the server is expected to do for you.

Sommelier - 15% to 20% of your total wine expenditures.

Delivery person for individual home food delivery - 5% to 10% of the total bill.

Delivery person for large corporate delivery - 15% of the total bill. 20% if the person is required to handle unloading of the food and setting up the entrees.

Host - No tip is necessary, unless you convince the host to give you special service. In that case, make your tip appropriate for the size of the favor.

Take Out - If the restaurant features carryout meals, 10%. If the restaurant is typically only a sit-down location, tip at least 15% for the effort.

At the Bar

As a general rule, you'll want to tip the bartender 10% to 15% of your total drink bill. However, if the bar is particularly crowded, be certain to tip generously after each round. If the bartender sends any complimentary drinks your way, you should tip about half the value of that round.

Vehicular Tipping

Valet Parking - $1 to $2 per car is usually appropriate, given when the car is returned to you. However, if you think that you may need to leave in a rush, you should also give the attendant a tip on the front end and request that your car be placed somewhere that it can be retrieved quickly.

Taxi - 10% to 15% of the total fare.

Limos - 15% to 20% of the total bill.

At the Airport

Skycaps - $1 to $2 per bag.

Long-term parking shuttle driver - $1 to $2 per bag, if the driver assists you with your bags.

Special Assistance - Should you be traveling with crutches or a wheelchair, or if you need other special assistance from airport staff, you should tip a few dollars to any employee that gives you an extra hand.


Stylist - 15% to 20% of the total bill

Colorist - 15% to 20% of the total bill, but up this amount on occasion if your colorist works miracles. Also, if a stylist at the salon blow-dries and styles your hair after you visit your colorist, be sure to tip him appropriately, as well. You'll generally be charged a reduced rate for this service after a color, so be a bit more generous in tipping for this service.

Shampoo Tech - $1 to $2

Nail Technician - 15% to 20% of total bill.

Spa Tipping

Massage Therapist - 10% to 20% per massage.

Aesthetician - 10% to 20% per service.

Salon Services - Same as above.

Spa Attendants - At a resort spa, tip the spa attendants about 5% of your total bill at the front desk. If any particular attendant went above and beyond for you, you should tip that attendant individually. At day spas, it is not customary to tip the attendants. However, if the day spa is one that you frequent regularly and the attendants go the extra mile for you, you may want to tip here, as well.

Casino Gratuities

Drink Server - $1 to $2 per drink.

Blackjack Dealer - $5 chip per gambling session (higher at high limit tables). Also, you can set up a side bet for the dealer as a tip, usually at the minimum betting level.

Poker Dealer - $5 chip per dealer rotation (usually every half hour). If you win a big pot, tip a bit extra.

Non-Food Deliveries

Flowers - $1 to $10, depending on the size of the arrangement.

Furniture - $5 per item per delivery person minimum.

Urban Delivery Services - 5% to 10% of total bill.

Hotel Tipping

Maid - $1 - $10 per night, depending on how expensive the room is, and how messy you are.

Room Service - 10% to 15% of total bill. Many hotels add the gratuity to your bill automatically, so be sure to check your bill when the food is delivered.

Bell Desk - $2 - $3 per bag for delivering bags to your room; $1 - $2 per bag for retrieving your bags from storage.

Body Art

Tattoo Artist - 10% to 20%, depending on the complexity of the work.

Piercing Technician - 10% of total bill.

You may find yourself in other situations in which you think a tip may be appropriate. When in doubt, offer a tip in the 10% to 15% range. If the person doesn't normally get tips, this will register in his or her face, and you'll know not to tip that person next time. If your tip is below average, you'll usually be able to see that in the person's face, as well.

Tipping doesn't have to be intimidating; if you're uncertain of how much to tip, just use common sense and you'll be right on most of the time.

© High Speed Ventures 2011