Your Go-To Guide for Every Tipping Scenario (Including When It's OK To Skip the Tip)

Tipping Etiquette 2023

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Tipping Etiquette 2023
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Tipping 101

In today's world, it can feel like everything and everyone is gunning for your hard-earned cash (thanks a lot, inflation). Grabbing a snack at the gas station? Expect to tip the employee just for spinning the iPad around. Ordering a coffee to go? Yup, you'll be greeted with the dreaded 15% or 20% tip option on the screen — and the money probably isn't even going to the barista that actually made your drink. 

When it comes to tipping, some nuance is required. Many service workers — including hairdressers, drivers, and servers — rely on tips as a significant part of their income. That said, it's not always necessary to tip for everything — especially if no tangible service was provided. 

With tipping customs varying greatly around the globe (you generally don't tip servers in Europe, for example), it can take some finesse to figure out just how much you should be tipping in the U.S. We've got you covered with all the details. 

Happy waiter serving food to group of friends in a pub.
Drazen Zigic/istockphoto

1. Restaurant Servers

Servers often have to rely heavily on tips, as their base wage can be quite low. For sit-down dining, tipping 15-20% of the total bill before taxes is standard practice. If you feel like the service was exceptional, you can always tip more. But generally, tipping 18% is considered pretty generous. For buffet settings, 10% is usually a fair amount. 

Hair styling in beauty salon. Woman does her hair in modern beauty salon. Woman stylist dries hair with hairdryer to salon client and smiles
Sergey Pakulin/istockphoto

2. Hairdressers and Barbers

Tipping your hairdresser or barber is a way to show appreciation for their skill and attention to detail. Generally, a tip of 15-20% is standard, but this will also depend on the quality of service and the complexity of your hairstyle. If multiple people attended to you, such as a colorist and a washer, consider dividing the tip among them.

Woman receiving delivery at home
FG Trade/istockphoto

3. Food Delivery Drivers

Delivery couriers for services like Doordash and Grubhub often use their own vehicles and have to cover expenses like gas and car maintenance. A tip of 10-15% of the bill is standard — with a minimum of $2-$5 — especially under challenging conditions like bad weather or difficult-to-navigate locations.

Related: What Is the Cheapest Food Delivery App?

Male bartender preparing colorful cocktail drink serving to customer on bar counter at nightclub.
CandyRetriever /istockphoto

4. Bartenders

Tipping your bartender not only acknowledges their service but also their skill in making drinks. A common practice is $1-2 per drink, or 15-20% of the total tab. If your bartender provides exceptional service or concocts a particularly complex drink, tipping on the higher end is always appreciated.

Related: Costco Superfans Reveal Their Favorite Kirkland Brand Liquor

Driver transporting a business man on a crowdsourced taxi

5. Taxi or Ride-Share Drivers

For taxi or ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, a tip of 10-15% of the fare is customary. Consider tipping more for drivers who help with luggage, provide an exceptionally smooth ride, or navigate through traffic efficiently. If you aren't able to tip, consider leaving your driver a 5-star review, as this can help with their ratings and overall ranking. 

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6. Hotel Staff

This includes various roles like housekeeping and bellhops. For housekeeping, $2-5 per day is appreciated, and for bellhops, $1-2 per bag is customary. For concierge services, if they go above and beyond (like securing hard-to-get reservations at a popular restaurant or helping you snag tickets for "Hamilton"), a tip of $5-20 can be a nice gesture and will definitely be appreciated. 

Related: Enchanting Historic Hotels in Every State

Male barista making coffee for customers at the bar
Su Arslanoglu/istockphoto

7. Coffee Shop Baristas

While tipping baristas is not mandatory, dropping some spare change or a few dollars into the tip jar is a kind gesture — especially for baristas who remember your regular order or craft a particularly elaborate beverage. That said, you aren't expected to tip baristas, so don't feel pressured to do so every time. 

Related: 5 Things You Should Never Order At Starbucks

luxury spa awaits

8. Spa and Massage Therapists

For services like massages, facials, or other spa treatments, a tip of 15-20% is standard. This acknowledges the therapist's skill and the level of personal care involved. The same goes for tattoo shops and other industries where a service is provided by a skilled specialist.

Close up of beautiful and cheerful young Asian woman receiving home delivery takeaway food order from a delivery man at home. Eating at home concept

9. When Picking Up Take-Out

If you're picking up a takeout order from a restaurant and no extra service, like table service, is provided, tipping is not required. I repeat, NOT required. So the next time you're picking up food at a restaurant and the employee does nothing but hand you the order, don't feel bad about not leaving a tip. 

Portrait of a cinema attendant
Drs Producoes/istockphoto

10. Fast-Food Restaurants

At fast-food counters like McDonald's, Taco Bell, or Chipotle where you order and pick up your food at the counter, tipping is not required. The same goes for self-service establishments, including cafeterias or buffet restaurants, where you do the work yourself. While tipping is not expected at these spots, you can always leave a few bucks in the tip jar to show your appreciation. 

A pretty overweight on a nutritionist consultation, talking about a diet plan.

11. Professional Services

For services provided by professionals like doctors, dentists, lawyers, or accountants, tipping is not standard practice. Can you imagine sliding a $20 bill across the table to tip your lawyer? You'd probably get in more trouble than anything else. 

Mixed race teenage boy working as supermarket cashier

12. Retail Workers

In most retail environments, such as clothing and grocery stores, electronics shops, gas stations, or bookstores, tipping is not expected. Retail employees typically receive a regular wage for their services, and the retail industry does not generally operate on a tipping model.