Guide to Tipping in the US

A guide to tipping in the US

Being Australian, tipping is not a customary part of my culture. When I arrived in the US I didn’t understand the tipping system and often found myself confused! I was over-tipping regularly, and on other occasions forgetting to tip as I had no idea it was expected. To save you making the same mistake as me, I have put together a short guide on tipping in the US.

In general, tipping in the US is expected when you are receiving services from restaurants, hairdressers, taxi drivers, hotel employees, and other service providers.

The amount you tip will depend on the level of service. Those you provide exceptional customer service will be tipped more than those who don’t. In saying that, a minimum tip is always expected. In most cases, a 15% – %20 tip is reasonable.

Service employees in the US are paid a low minimum wage and most of the time are offered no benefits so a tip can go a long way.

Below is more information on when to tip in the US, and how much.

Tipping hospitality staff in the US

Tipping in the US

You are expected to tip in the US at restaurants, bars, cafes, cafeterias, ice cream shops, bakeries and for food delivery.

Tipping at a restaurant in the US

At a restaurant in the US,  15% of the bill is expected as a tip. A 20%+ tip is given for exceptional service. Sometimes the tip is automatically added to the bill, so make sure you check to see if it was automatically added, to avoid tipping twice.

Tipping your Bartender in the US

In the US, you generally tip your bartender between 50cents – $2 per drink, or 15%-20%. You will find that it is usually easiest to tip your change.

Tipping at cafes in the US

At coffee shops, ice cream shops and cafeterias, a tip is expected for good service. 15% – 20% of the bill is more than acceptable.

Tipping for food delivery in the US 

10% of the bill is a generous tip for food delivery in the US.

Tipping Coat check in the US

$1 to $2 per coat is expected as a tip in the US.

Americans will not expect you to tip for counter service. You will sometimes see tip jars. You can tip if you receive exceptional service, but it isn’t customary to do so.

Tipping Hotel Staff in the US

Tipping in the US

There are a number of hotel staff that expect a tip in the US.  I suggest making sure you travel with plenty of cash, there is nothing more awkward than having none when it comes time to tip.

Tipping the Doorman in the US

You can tip the doorman $2 if they hail a taxi for you.

Tipping the Bellman in the US

In general, $2 to $5 per bag is a generous tip for a bellman in the US.

Tipping the housekeeper in the US

You are expected to tip the housekeeper in the US.. $2 to $5 per day is reasonable, or you can tip a lump sum at end of your stay. I prefer to tip daily in case the housekeeper changes. You can leave the tip on the bed or bedside table.

Tipping for Room Service in the US

Be sure to check whether a tip is included in the cost of room service, as it is not necessary to tip on top of this. Otherwise, 15% is common, or $2 to $5 if the staff member is delivering a no-cost item, like extra pillows.

Tipping Valet Parking in the US

Typically, a $5 to $10 tip when picking up your car is acceptable. Some people also tip when leaving the car. I recommend a $5 tip on drop off and pick up.

Tipping the Concierge in the US

Tipping the concierge is not usual, but if you are particularly pleased with your service, a tip at the end of your stay will no doubt be welcomed.

Tipping other service workers in the US

Tipping in the US

These are the people I most commonly forget to tip. The taxi driver, the hairdresser and my tour guides.

Tipping at the Salon / Hairdresser in the US

A tip of 15% to 20% for hair stylists, beauticians, and masseurs is typical. It is also appreciated if you tip the person who blows dry your hair as well as the one who washes it at $5 to $10 each.

Tipping Tour Guides in the US

If the service was good, it is customary to tip the tour guide and driver 10% – 15% of the cost of the trip to show your appreciation.

Tipping for Transport in the US

Tipping in the US

Tipping Taxi Drivers in the US

A tip between 10% to 20% of the fare is expected. For example, a good tip would be $2 on an $8 fare (easy to round up to a $10 bill) or approximately $5 or $6 on a $40 fare.

Tipping the Airport/hotel shuttle driver

Not everyone tips these drivers, but a $2 tip is always welcomed.

As you can see, many service workers expect tips in the US., so it is very important to travel with cash.

Remember: Service employees are paid a low minimum wage and are often offered no benefits. A tip can go a long way in the life of a local. Even if tipping isn’t part of your culture, it is essential that you tip when you are in America.

I hope you found this guide on tipping in the US helpful. If so, pin it for later!

Tipping in the US

Overseas Travel checklist

See more from my trip to the US here. 

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