The new rules of tipping: How much to tip in every situation

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Showing gratitude for a service with a tip is a customary practice. But ever since the pandemic took a toll on the service industry, tipping is no longer just an act of civility — it’s crucial to the livelihood of the workers. Here’s how much to tip in certain situations.

How much to tip at restaurants

The size of a restaurant gratuity depends on how well you are served, including whether your order is correct and your server checks on you after you receive your food. Even if the service is bad, it’s recommended you leave something. Check your tab carefully because some places add a gratuity to the bill. You may or may not want to supplement that.

For the wait staff at sit-down restaurants, the tip should be 15 to 20 percent of the pretax bill. Tips are not necessary when you pick up your order or at fast-food restaurants.

How much to tip delivery drivers

Whether you use Instacart, Shipt, or any other delivery service, 10 to 15 percent of the bill is a standard tip. But if they go above and beyond to get you essential supplies during a difficult time, you may tip 20 or 30 percent or more. For takeout food deliveries, it should be at least 10 percent of the bill.

How much to tip at hotels

Expect to pay a variety of tips at hotels, and the bigger and more luxurious the property, the greater the amount.

  • Hotel porter toting your bags: $2-$3 per bag at a basic hotel/motel; $5 per bag at a posh hotel.
  • Room service with gratuity included on the bill: 10 percent on top of the gratuity added to the bill.
  • Room service without gratuity included: 20 percent of the meal price.
  • Toiletry/towel delivery: $3-$5 at a basic hotel; $5-$10 at a fancy hotel.
  • Doorman, if he hails your cab: $5 to $10, even more if the weather is bad.
  • Concierge who fulfills guest request: $5 or more, depending on the difficulty of the request. Snagging hard-to-get tickets to a popular show or sporting event merits a bigger tip than suggesting a great place to eat.
  • Housekeeping: $3-$5 per day for 1-3 people in the room; $10 per day if 6 people in the room; $10 per day at a luxe hotel. Leave money every day for the housekeeping staff because they rotate. Make sure to not leave the tip on the nightstand, as that has sexual connotations. Put it on a desk or counter.

How much to tip while traveling

If you are traveling outside the country, do a little research on tipping customs before you go. Tips are expected in Canada, for example, but not in Japan. And always tip in cash and in the currency of the country you are visiting.

  • Cruise ships: Tipping policies vary among cruise lines, but each one tells you what is appropriate when you board.
  • Airport curbside check-in: $5 per bag, a little more for gigantic suitcases.
  • Airport shuttle bus driver: $3-$5, more if the driver helps you with your bags.
  • Limousine driver: 10 to 20 percent of the fare.
  • Taxi driver: 15 to 20 percent of the fare.
  • Ride-sharing service, such as Uber or Lyft: 10 to 20 percent of the fare. Even if apps for ride-hailing services do not give you an option to leave a gratuity, tip the driver anyway.

How much to tip at weddings

The size and scope of the wedding determine the amount you should pay in tips. Carefully read the contract for the wedding and reception venues before deciding on gratuities, as they might be included in the price. Also, if you are the host, make sure service workers at the party do not leave out tip jars, since you would not want to burden your guests with leaving tips.

  • Wait staff: $20-$50 per server for a sit-down meal, even more for the captain, depending on how lavish it is.
  • Bartender: About $20 per hour.
  • Coatroom attendant: $2-$3 per guest.
  • Bathroom attendant: $2 per guest.
  • DJ: $50 to $150. Read the contract.
  • Minister or another presiding official: $50-$100, but some prefer a donation to their house of worship and others have a suggested honorarium.
  • Altar boys: Check with the house of worship, as sometimes they are tipped, sometimes not. A gift card or other small gift might be appropriate.
  • Wedding planner: Up to 20 percent of their cost, but even better is to refer new clients to them.

How much to tip at salons and spas

For manicurists, hairstylists or barbers, and spa services, the appropriate tip varies between 20 to 25 percent of the total bill.

How much to tip for funerals

Depending on the type of funeral home or religious institution, you should always ask before leaving a tip, since some places find it offensive. If there is no set honorarium, you can tip the presiding official anything between $50 to $250. Tips for the funeral home staff are often itemized on the bill or included in the total cost paid by the family.

Cardinal rules for tipping

Use common sense when tipping. The more difficult the task, the bigger the gratuity should be. The following are a few more guidelines for giving gratuities:

  • Default on the side of generosity: If you cannot afford to tip, acknowledge your appreciation in some other way, such as a handwritten card or a small gift.
  • Don’t regard tipping as optional: Many people who work for tips rely on them to earn a living. Therefore, it is a necessity, not an option.
  • Tip according to the service provided: You would not tip a restaurant worker who delivers a meal to your car more than you would someone who loaded heavy building materials into the back of your SUV during a downpour.
  • Cash is not necessarily king: During the pandemic, many places discourage, or even forbid, paying by cash. People also tend to leave bigger tips when they use credit cards. It’s also helpful to ask the person if they prefer to be tipped via a peer-to-peer payment platform, such as Venmo or Zelle. If you tip with cash, you can avoid handing it to the person by putting it in an envelope and leaving it for them.
Written by
Libby Wells
Contributing writer
Libby Wells covers banking and deposit products. She has more than 30 years’ experience as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and online publications.
Edited by
Senior editorial director