Lifehack logo

Navigating the Art of Tipping

Who to Tip and How Much

By B.R. ShenoyPublished 5 months ago 5 min read
Navigating the Art of Tipping
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

“Any time a service is performed, a gratuity is required,” says Lisa Mirza Grotts, who has been an etiquette expert for 23 years, per U.S. News.

In the not-so-distant past, tipping was a relatively straightforward practice. However, as technology has advanced and social norms have evolved, tipping has become a more complex and nuanced aspect of our daily lives.

From restaurant servers to hotel staff, baristas to spa workers, knowing who to tip and how much has become a topic of confusion and debate.

“There’s huge confusion on this issue. There’s massive resentment,” says Thomas Farley, an etiquette expert also known as “Mister Manners,” per CNBC.

In this piece, I will delve into the guidelines for tipping in various service industries, empowering you to navigate the world of gratuities with confidence and courtesy.

The Evolution of Tipping

Once upon a time, tipping was a simple gesture of appreciation for good service.

You might add 10% to 15% to your restaurant bill for the server, or slip a couple of dollars to the valet who parked your car. However, with the advent of modern technology and digital payment systems, tipping has been integrated into various transactions, even extending to retail locations.

The tipping screen has become ubiquitous, leaving customers feeling compelled to tip for services that were not traditionally considered tip-worthy.

Here is an excerpt from Bankrate:

“Tipping may feel like extra work for you to calculate, but it’s vital for some fields. Because the expectation is that tipped workers will make more through tips, they legally only need to make $2.13 an hour in the U.S, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.”

By Sam Dan Truong on Unsplash

Understanding Tipping Etiquette

To shed light on the subject, let’s explore the recommendations of etiquette experts and industry professionals regarding who should be tipped and how much.

  1. Restaurant Servers: The standard for tipping at sit-down establishments has risen to around 20%, and 10% for quick-service restaurants. While 15% was once considered a sufficient tip, today, 20% has become the new norm for exceptional service. The restaurant industry has seen a significant shift, with tips now playing a vital role in the income of servers, especially since federal law permits employers to pay tipped workers as little as $2.13 per hour in direct wages.
  2. Food Delivery: When it comes to food delivery service, it is customary to tip around 10% of the bill, or $2 to $5 per pizza. However, more generous gratuities are appreciated, particularly for larger or more complex orders. It is essential to acknowledge the efforts of delivery drivers who often navigate challenging conditions to bring meals to your doorstep.
  3. Bartenders: Showing appreciation to bartenders typically involves tipping around $1 to $2 per drink or 15% to 20% of the total tab. If you are running a tab, wait until the end of the evening to provide a single tip for the service received throughout your visit.
  4. Baristas: While tipping baristas is not obligatory, leaving some money in the tipping jar at coffee shops is appreciated, especially if you are a regular customer or have a specific order. Baristas work hard to craft your favorite beverages, and even a small token of gratitude can go a long way in brightening their day.
  5. Movers: When it comes to tipping movers, the standard practice is to tip about $5 to $10 per mover per hour. However, tipping is not compulsory, as movers do not rely on tips for their income. If you choose to tip, consider the effort and care provided during the move and offer your gratitude accordingly.
  6. Hotel Valet Staff: Tipping valet staff is customary, and it is appropriate to give around $2 to $3 for the initial service and $1 to $2 for subsequent services. These gratuities show appreciation for the convenience of valet parking and the service they provide in retrieving your vehicle or hailing a cab.
  7. Hotel Concierge: While a tip for hotel concierge service is not expected for basic information or directions, if the concierge goes above and beyond to secure reservations or tickets, it is customary to tip around $5 to $15, depending on the level of service received. For particularly challenging requests, a larger tip of 10% to 20% of the ticket price may be appropriate.
  8. Hotel Housekeeping: Tipping hotel housekeeping staff is a thoughtful gesture to acknowledge their hard work and attention to detail. Leaving around $3 to $5 for the initial service and $1 to $3 per night for subsequent nights is customary. It is advisable to tip daily rather than at the end of your stay, as housekeeping staff may change during your visit.
  9. Spa Workers: When indulging in spa services, tipping is customary and typically ranges from 15% to 20% of the regular cost of the service. Consider the level of skill and personalized attention provided by the massage therapists and other spa workers.
  10. Hairdressers or Nail Technicians: For hair and nail care services, the standard tipping rate is 15% to 20%, and more for exceptional service. Express your appreciation for the skills of your hairdresser or nail technician with a gratuity that reflects their efforts.
  11. Taxi, Lyft, and Uber Drivers: Tipping your rideshare driver is now considered an expectation, as these drivers rely on tips as part of their income. Plan on tipping around 15% to 20% of the fare, with a minimum of $1. Additionally, consider tipping extra for assistance with luggage or multiple bags.

By Dan Smedley on Unsplash

Here are five types of people you should never tip:

  1. Teachers: Cash tips from individual students or parents are typically not allowed. Instead, you can consider giving a class gift, like a gift card to a restaurant or spa, if the school allows it and follows any applicable guidelines.
  2. Medical Professionals (Nurses, Doctors, Therapists): Many healthcare professionals are prohibited from accepting money and gifts. You can show your appreciation verbally or write a heartfelt card to express your gratitude.
  3. Package-Delivery People: There is generally no need to tip package-delivery people when they drop off your package. However, if it’s the same person regularly and you see them often, a holiday tip can be a nice gesture.
  4. Camp Counselors and Sports Coaches: Instead of tipping individually, it’s acceptable to join with other parents to give one big gift at the end of the season. Make sure all parents are asked to contribute, and the gift is from everyone.
  5. Employees: Tipping cash is inappropriate in a workplace setting. Instead, consider showing appreciation to employees with a small present or a thoughtful gift card.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that there are ethical concerns associated with tipping certain professions, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, law enforcement officers, postal workers, and others.

It could be seen as a bribe and might not be allowed or appropriate in these contexts. Furthermore, tipping is not required for retail cashiers or self-checkout kiosks, as they are typically paid an hourly wage.

By Blake Wisz on Unsplash


Tipping etiquette varies across industries, locations, and personal preferences. However, tipping around 15% to 20% for most service workers has become the customary practice.

Gratuities serve as a way to acknowledge and reward exceptional service, fostering positive relationships with those who enhance our experiences.

When in doubt, remember that tipping should be an expression of gratitude and support for the hardworking professionals who make our lives more pleasant and convenient.

Show appreciation for their efforts and contributions, and let your generosity be a testament to the kindness and consideration we can all extend to one another.


What are your thoughts on tipping? Please share in the comments.

A version of this story originally appeared on Medium.

how to

About the Creator

B.R. Shenoy

Content Creator|Blogger|Nature and Travel Photographer. Connect with me on Medium and NewsBreak.

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For Free

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (1)

  • Test5 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this insightful exploration of tipping etiquette, and for providing practical advice to help navigate this aspect of social etiquette with confidence and courtesy.

B.R. ShenoyWritten by B.R. Shenoy

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.