Who Are We Supposed to Tip?
For many people, tipping is a way of ensuring continued good service. For example, if you go to the same hairdresser every month, you probably want to keep him or her happy by tipping well, usually 15% to 20%. The added advantage, aside from the quality of the haircut you get, is that the hair dresser may be more willing to work with you on appointment times or squeeze you in when you're in a time crunch. The same idea holds true for other services you receive.

The difference between average service and great service may be the tip you give. When you're dealing with people, it becomes a personal relationship. Both consumers and businesses can improve the services they receive by building these relationships. In many instances, this means tipping well. Businesses that depend on deliveries or other outside services can improve their own customers' experiences by making sure they compensate servers, guides, delivery people, etc., for good or exceptional service.

Some tipping guidelines
So you know that when you go to a restaurant you're expected to tip at least 15% to 20%; but what about all of those other services you receive that also "suggest" tipping? Do you know how much you should really tip the skycap, the bellman, the concierge, the maid, and all of those other helpful folks out there who depend on tips to make a living?

It's extremely confusing, and it varies not only from country to country but from city to city as well. No wonder we need those little pocket tipping charts! Below are some general guidelines for tipping the more common (and a few of the less common) services we receive. The Original Tipping Page also offers more detailed advice on when and how much to tip lots of different service providers.

Who are we NOT supposed to tip?
There are still a few people out there who we are NOT supposed to tip. Some of these include:
  • Restaurant owners
  • Salon owners
  • Other owners of establishments where you tip the service providers
  • Food deliveries under $30, such as those from the grocery store (although this is debated)
  • Airline flight attendants
  • Busboys in restaurants (waiters usually give busboys a percentage of the tips they receive)
  • Hotel desk clerks and doormen (unless they provide some special service for you)
  • Bus drivers
  • Theater ushers
  • Museum guides
  • Salespeople
  • Employees at fast food restaurants

  • Restaurants and bars - Most of us know that we should tip waiters at restaurants 15% to 20% of the bill. But what if you bought a $100 bottle of wine? It didn't take any more effort for the waiter to open and pour it than it would have if you'd bought a $15 bottle. Should you still tip $20 extra? Although there is some debate here, it is often acceptable to tip less than 15% to 20% on an expensive bottle (or bottles) of wine that is served with dinner. Depending on the restaurant, you may also need to tip the sommelier or wine steward 10% to 15%. What you also have to remember is that your waiter tips all of the other servers who assisted them throughout your meal, such as the busboy, the bartender, and others. Take into consideration special requests that you or your guests made and how well the servers were able to accommodate them. This extra effort often deserves extra tipping consideration. If the maitre d' found an exceptional table for you, then tip for that effort -- particularly if you want to get good treatment the next time you come to that restaurant.

    In bars, 10% to 15% is considered average, but you should also take into consideration the complexity of your drink orders. In other words, opening a few bottles of beer doesn't necessarily warrant the same tip as making six rounds of frozen daiquiris.

    At buffets where you serve yourself, you might be tempted to skip the tip, but remember that someone also has to clear your table, refill your drink, and bring you more plates. Ten percent is the usual amount to tip in these restaurants.

    It's also important to note that restaurant servers pay taxes on 8% to 10% of their total receipts, not the actual amount of tips they earn. If you don't tip them, they are actually losing money because they're paying taxes based on the amount of your meal. The management works under the assumption that most people tip 15% to 20%. This makes it easier at tax time, but it's bad for the waiters if they have a lot of customers who don't tip.

  • Hotels - Gratuities to hotel staff vary from location to location, usually depending on the size of the metropolitan area. Typically, however, you should give bellhops at least a dollar for each bag they carry (more if the bags are especially large, heavy, or awkward to carry), and more if they go above and beyond the call of duty to make your stay more pleasant. The standard tip for the maid is $1 to $10 per night. This, of course, depends a lot on the mess you make, the price of the room, and the extra services you request. The standard amount for the concierge is $5 to $10 depending on how helpful he or she was. If the concierge suggested and made reservations for you at a great restaurant, then you might tip more. Tips are not usually necessary for the doorman or the desk clerks, unless they do something out of the ordinary that you really appreciate.

  • Deliveries - Pizza deliveries, flower deliveries, and large deliveries such as furniture have differing tipping standards. Depending on the distance, you might tip the pizza delivery person $2 to $5. Flower deliveries are usually tipped $1 to $10, with the higher amounts going to especially large or multiple arrangements. Large deliveries like furniture usually require $5 to $10 per person, with more for extra service.

  • Airports - Standard practice is to tip skycaps $1 to $2 per bag for carrying and checking your luggage. The same goes for shuttle drivers if they help you with your bags. If they don't, which often happens, then no tip is necessary. Anyone who helps you out with special services, such as wheel chair assistance, should be given a small tip.

  • Parking and auto-related - The usual amount for tipping valets is $1 to $2 per car when you pick the car up. If you ask for special care or for quicker retrieval, then you might also tip when you drop the car off. Other auto-related servers, like the gas station attendant or your mechanic, can be tipped if you feel the service was exceptional. You might tip your mechanic $10 to $20 or more for jobs over $500. Gas station attendants who voluntarily check fluids, wash windows, etc., should get $1 to $2 or more.

  • Others - What about all of those people who provide services throughout out the year? How do you tip them? Most people give a gift during the holiday season. For regular services such as newspaper delivery, mail carriers, or garbage collectors, $15 to $25 is usually a good amount to tip once a year. For others, such as baby sitters, nannies, or cleaning services, a week's pay is usually the standard amount.
These are just few of the occupations that are typically tipped for their services. For a more complete list, visit The Original Tipping Page.