Tipping is a big part of American culture. People who come from countries where tipping doesn’t exist, or isn’t so ingrained in society, the rules for tipping in the US can be confusing.
Tipping etiquette in the United States is an important part of the culture. So important, that it is seen as rude if the proper tip isn’t given.
This is because most people who work in jobs where tipping is customary make most of their income from the tips themselves as their salaries are as little as $2.25 an hour.
Two common questions are, “Who should I tip” and “How much should I tip?” Here are some rules for tipping in the US for five services travelers typically use.
This is the first and main service travelers will find tipping necessary. For restaurants where a waiter takes your order and brings your food to you, the standard minimum tip is 15% of your bill, with 18% – 20% given for above average service. Unless your service was horrible, tipping anything less that 15% is considered bad manners. (Remember, waiters in restaurants make as little as $2.25 an hour in salary so tipping is their main source of income.)
In restaurants and cafes where you place your order at a counter, there is usually a tip jar at the counter where you can leave a tip if you would like. The social standard is to leave a dollar or two if you ordered food for one or two people, or some change if you just ordered a coffee and/or a snack. It’s roughly about 10% of your order price.
Just like at restaurants, bar tenders are typically paid very little and make most of their money off tips. If you order and eat food at the bar, tipping follows the same rules at in restaurants – 15% – 20%. If you are just ordering drinks, the social standard is to tip $1 per drink, or 15% – 20% of the total bar tab.
If you order food in, it is customary to tip the delivery person 15% of the bill.
It is appropriate to tip cab drivers a minimum of 15% of the cab fare. If they are especially helpful and friendly, tipping more than that is a kind gesture.
Many people are surprised to know that it’s customary to tip tour guides. Like other workers in the service industry, many tour guides make most of their income from tips. It’s typical to tip a tour guide 10% – 15% of the price of the tour.