How Much Do I Tip?

By on February 4, 2013


To tip or not to tip? When it comes to purchasing some common services, this question can turn into one of the biggest triggers of anxiety for people around North America.

In a world so culturally varied and geographically vast, it’s often difficult to define the standard for tipping, simply because there doesn’t seem to be a firmly established protocol for who we should tip and how much.

Unlike many European countries—including Germany, where on my recent visit I was baffled by the notion of paying strictly what’s on the restaurant bill, nothing more—many restaurants and service providers in North America generally do not include gratuities in the final bill, leaving the customer to figure out the tip on their own.

While this may be a source of frustration, the following guide can help you decide whether or not to tip, as well as how much (based on the service and provider).

Here are common tipping figures for 21 common services:

Car Services


Tipping mechanics is by no means mandatory. However if you have someone who regularly works on your car or know they went above and beyond what’s normal to give you a great deal for repairs, feel free to tip between $5-$25 (depending on the overall cost of the bill).

Parking Valet

Tip $1-2. More if they help you with the baggage.

Taxi/Limo Driver

For taxi drivers, 10-15% is a good rule of thumb; 15% or more for limo drivers (amount depends on your region and whether or not they help with your bags).

Food, Drink, and Dining Industry

Delivery Driver

For food delivery services (such as pizza drivers), tip 10-15% of the total bill ($1 more if the drive was more than 3-5 miles).

Drink Barista

At coffee shops, leaving tips in the jar is much appreciated, especially if you have a large or specialized order. From your change to a couple of dollars, don’t forget to tip your baristas (even if you’re paying with a credit or debit card).


$1 per drink seems to be the standard tipping procedure at bars, though this may vary based on the bartender’s friendliness, the quantity/quality of drinks, and the tipper’s alcoholic content (which seems to correlate with the number of tips given).

Restaurant Server

According to, because hourly wages at the average restaurant typically aren’t significantly higher than minimum wage, waiters and waitresses are heavily reliant on tips for a good percentage of their income. For eat in restaurants, the standard tip is 15-20% (more or less, depending on the quality of service). And for buffets, 5-10% of the total bill ought to be sufficient.

Home Services


A small percentage of the total (5-10%) is acceptable (especially if they did an exceptional job).


While it may not be customary to tip your regular gardener, the occasional tip of a few dollars (or more, depending on the scale of the landscaping and lawn mowing required) would be a great way to show appreciation for maintaining your yard.

Interior Maintenance

There is no need to tip plumbers, electricians, cable guys, etc. However, a drink or a few dollars for going above and beyond the basic job requirements would be well-received.

Furniture Delivery

Tips for furniture delivery workers depend on the item(s) delivered (weight, size, configuration). $5 per person is the general guideline, but feel free to tip more if there are multiple heavy items.

Travel Services

Hotel Maids

Few people remember to leave tips in their rooms on the way to checking out from a hotel. For the people who keep your room sparkling in the duration of your stay, a New York Times article suggests $3-5 per day. This figure depends on the quality of the hotel and extent of cleaning done, but as long as you remember to tip the maids (and perhaps leave a thank you note), you’re golden.


For concierge services that get you access to big-ticket items (concerts, hard-to-get tours, etc.), consider tipping $5-15. For other items (recommendations, directions, etc.): no tip necessary.

Tour Guide

For helpful tour guides brimming with interesting information, a tip of 15-20% would be much appreciated.

Misc. Services

Dog Groomer

Many people don’t think to tip dog groomers, but for the people who put up with constant barking, jittering dogs (and yes, getting bitten or peed on), $5 or 10% of the total is appreciated.

Babysitter/Pet Sitter

Tips aren’t necessary for babysitters and pet sitters, but they are certainly welcomed (especially if you have more than two kids, younger kids, or several pets). Figure $5-10 for a tip.

Tattoo Artist

Inked Magazine suggests you tip your artist 20% of the grand total for your inked masterpiece.

Hair Stylist

15-25% tends to be the general guideline for hair salon tipping. No tip is definitely a no-no, so be sure to tip your stylist (amount depends on the length and complexity of your hair and styling procedure).

Party Entertainers

For party entertainers, tip around $10-30 (depending on the type and length of performance).

Golf Caddy

If the golf club allows tipping, check with the pro shop regarding how much to tip your caddy. The amount is reliant on too many factors to be able to generalize: caddy fees, the caddy’s helpfulness, green fees at the club, etc.

Car Wash

A couple of dollars is sufficient for those who put the finishing touch on your clean car.

It’s not always simple to decide how much to tip, but it shouldn’t be an anxiety-inducing decision. Using the guide above should help you successfully navigate the world of service-providers.

Do you agree? Let everyone know in the comments below!


Photo Credit: Qabluna

Kelly Kehoe

About Kelly Kehoe

Kelly Kehoe is a full time college student and personal finance writer. In her free time she competes in speech and debate and writes fiction. Follow Kelly @kellypkehoe or on Google+.

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