Tipping is more common than ever these days—you likely see an option to tip at coffee shops, takeout counters, and in all sorts of delivery apps—but is it required? And if so, how much should you leave? It can be confusing to navigate tipping across different industries, so we’ve gathered insights from a variety of experts to pin down tipping best practices in today’s day and age.
The following is a comprehensive guide to tipping in 2023, including everyone from servers to tattoo artists. (Spoiler alert: When in doubt, 20 percent is a safe bet.)
Many workers in the food and beverage industry rely heavily on tips to make a living—because they’re often considered “tipped employees,” their hourly wage can be as low as $2.13. For this reason, tipping is especially important when you go out to eat, and you should budget it in as a mandatory part of your meal.
A tip of 18 to 20 percent of your pre-tax bill is standard for waitstaff. “I've found that sometimes customers don't realize tipping makes up a large percentage of income for hospitality and food and beverage workers,” explains Julia Kesler Imerman, Founder & Owner of Daily Chew. “I always recommend 20 percent, and even going over that a bit more if you receive better than expected service.”
If you’re not totally pleased with your service, consider talking to the manager to find a resolution instead of withholding a tip.
Even if you’re not ordering food, it’s recommended to leave a small tip for the bartender who serves you. “If you get drinks and leave, I recommend $1 per drink,” recommends Amanda Richards, a bartender in Rhode Island. “If you hang out at the bar and get entertained, leave 20 percent, like a meal.”
Tipping isn’t necessary at your favorite coffee shop, as baristas are paid (at least) minimum wage, but it’s always appreciated. Bankrate recommends leaving 10 to 15 percent (which generally shakes out to just $1 or $2), especially if you have a complicated order or received great customer service.
Food Delivery Drivers
Thanks to an abundance of delivery apps, you can get all sorts of food brought straight to your door, including takeout, groceries, and more. While there are “delivery fees” for most of these services, that money doesn’t go to the driver, so you should be leaving a tip for the person doing the hard work.
GrubHub recommends leaving $5 or 20 percent for your delivery driver—whichever is higher. You should also consider adding a few extra dollars for large or complex deliveries, as well as when the weather is bad. If you aren’t willing to brave the rain/snow/cold to pick up your food, it’s nice to offer a little “thank you” for the person who does.
If you order pizza from your favorite local joint, be sure to tip the delivery driver. It’s common to give $3 for orders under $20, or 10 to 15 percent on larger orders. (This is different from app-based food delivery, as pizza shops typically pay their drivers an hourly wage.)
If you’re simply picking up a takeout order from a restaurant, there’s no need to tip, according to etiquette expert Emily Post. However, if you have an overly large order (think: food for an entire office luncheon) or use curbside delivery, a 10 percent tip is appropriate.
Tipping is also a common practice in beauty and personal care industries—in salons, spas, and barber shops, many providers rent their chair or treatment space, meaning they don’t end up taking home the full cost of the service. Plus, you’re trusting them with your appearance, so it makes sense to thank them for a job well done and build a good relationship for next time.
The general rule of thumb is to leave 20 percent for your hairdresser, whether you’re having a trim, highlights, or anything in between. And yes, this goes for barbers, too.
You may want to consider bumping up to 25 percent for particularly complex tasks (think: multi-hour dye jobs) or if they’ve gone out of their way to accommodate you (e.g. if they fit you in last-minute or if you show up late).
Whether you’re getting a facial, wax, or other skincare treatment, you’ll want to leave a tip for your esthetician: “20 percent of the cost of your service is recommended,” says Lia Marchand, an esthetician in Boston. “This also applies to makeup applications!” Follow the same rule of thumb for nail techs—you may even want to leave more if your manicure includes complex nail art.
In a spa setting, it’s common practice to leave your massage therapist a 20 percent tip. (Can you see a common trend in this industry?) However, if you’re getting massages at a chiropractic clinic or physical therapy office, tipping generally isn’t required.
Don’t forget to tip your tattoo artist. “A safe range is 15 to 25 percent of the total tattoo price,” says Jingxi Gu, owner and artist at Patch Tattoo Therapy. “It's even more important if the tattoo artist went over and beyond. If touch-ups or future tattoos are needed later, it also helps to build good feelings.” This practice holds true for classic tattooing, as well as permanent makeup and other cosmetic tattoos.
If you have service people who work in your home, tipping can help build rapport and trust. General tipping practices (aka 20 percent of the service cost) are appropriate for one-time services, but if you have a recurring provider, such as a weekly landscaper or house cleaner, you may want to tip once or twice a year.
There are a few different ways that you can go about tipping a house cleaner. If it’s a one-time visit—for instance, a deep clean before you move out of your apartment—it’s common to tip 15 to 25 percent, depending on how much work is required.
For a recurring housekeeper, you don’t necessarily have to tip at every visit (though you can, if you’d like). Some people choose to offer a tip once a month, while others simply provide a larger tip at the end of the year. In the latter case, it’s standard to tip one week’s pay.
If you have a gardener or landscaper who cares for your yard throughout the year, it’s common to give an end-of-the-season tip. Standard practice is to offer the cost of one week of service—so if you pay $100 per week, tip them an extra $100.
The cost of professional movers can be quite expensive, so it doesn’t always make sense to tip a percentage of the cost. Instead, experts recommend basing your tip off the time it took.
“While there is no flat rate for moving tips, a good rule of thumb is to tip each of the movers $4 to $5 per hour,” recommends Nancy Zafrani, General Manager of Oz Moving & Storage. “So, if the moving process took 5 hours, it’s appropriate to tip each mover $20 to $25 for their service. For a day-long move that takes eight hours, tipping a maximum of $40 to each mover is appropriate.”
It isn’t mandatory to tip furniture delivery people, as you’ve likely already paid a delivery fee, but it is a nice gesture. Consider tipping $10 to $20 per person, especially if the item is extra heavy or if they have to carry it up stairs.
Other Home Deliveries
There are a number of other delivery people who might show up at your door from time to time, and while tips aren’t necessary, they’re always appreciated. For instance, it’s common to give $2 to $5 for a floral delivery.
If you have a babysitter who watches your children, a tip may occasionally be warranted. If they help you out on short notice, handle an unexpected situation, or simply go above and beyond when caring for your little ones, it’s nice to offer a little extra to thank them. There are no hard-and-fast rules here—you can give a few extra dollars, 20 percent of the total, or even an extra hour’s worth of pay.
Other Home Services
When you hire a plumber, electrician, or appliance repairman, there’s no need to tip them, as they’re typically paid a premium hourly rate. As an alternative, Angi recommends offering them a coffee in the morning or a bottle of water on a hot day. However, if they go out of their way to help you, coming during off-hours or fitting you in last-minute, you can always show your appreciation with a 10 to 20 percent tip.
If you use TaskRabbit (or a similar app) to hire someone for odd jobs around the house, tipping is optional. Taskers actually set their own rates through the app and choose the jobs they want to take, so they don’t have to rely on tips.
There are a few other situations when it’s customary to leave a tip these days.
When you use valet parking at a restaurant or hotel, it’s customary to give the attendant $2 to $5 when picking up your vehicle.
After a multi-night stay at a hotel, you’ll want to leave a few dollars per night for the housekeeping staff. An extra $5 is also encouraged if they accommodate special requests.
If you’re using Uber, Lyft, or another ridesharing service, try to leave 10 to 20 percent of your fare as a tip, according to experts at The New York Times. You might offer a little extra if the driver was especially accommodating or their car was particularly clean. The same general rules apply to taxi drivers, according to Charity Cab—leave 10 percent for an average ride or 20 percent if they unload your luggage and provide pleasant chit chat along the way.
While not common anymore, bathroom attendants—whose job is to keep the facilities clean and well-stocked—can still be found in high-end restaurants and other establishments, and it’s customary to tip them on your way out. If all they did was hand you a paper towel, a tip of $0.50 is plenty, but you may want to leave a few dollars if they helped you fix a hem or offered more personalized service.
What are your go-to tipping rules? Share with us in the comments.
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