How Much to Tip: Tipping Guide and Suggestions

Tipping Guidelines for Hair Stylists, Movers, Servers and More

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Tipping is a normal -- and often expected -- part of today's service industries. But as a consumer you may not always be sure who to tip and how much to tip, due to the wide range of services for which a tip can be given. Tipping extends so much beyond your local restaurant. Workers such as postal employees, electricians, babysitters and dog groomers will want a tip.

This does not mean that you are obligated to give a tip to all of these workers. Then again, there are those who want to tip every individual they can. Too little of a tip can be seen as rude and too much of a tip is a negative as well. But the right tip will give the worker a sense of a job well done. A little tip etiquette will set you firmly on your feet with the service industry.

Here are some basic guidelines on how to use tipping etiquette:

Tip for a job, any job, well done. There are no set in stone rules when it comes to tipping. However, our basic guide to a tipping gratuity is, if you're unsure if tipping is appropriate for the service performed go with your gut instinct. Even if your neighbor doesn't tip the newspaper delivery person, if you think he does a great job, then go ahead and include a tip with your payment.

Other service industry jobs that are ambiguous are electricians, flooring installers, delivery persons, and movers as well as other similar jobs. Many of these individuals go uptipped because consumers just don't know what to give them. Depending on the type of work and the quality of service, these individuals are owed a gratuity of between $10 and $50.

Restaurant tipping. This is the most common situation in which to leave a tip. It is customary to leave a 15 to 20 percent tip for good restaurant service. Keep in mind that you should leave 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, before tax, and before any coupons or discounts are taken off. If you received bad service, it is appropriate to reflect your displeasure by leaving a lesser tip.

But keep in mind that your server may have been having a bad day or the kitchen may have been slow. It is not the server's fault if the chef overcooks your food, so be sure to keep all these considerations in mind before you leave a reduced tip. If the service was really bad, it's best to talk quietly with a manager about the problem. And remember to check your bill. Most high-end restaurants automatically add in an 18 percent gratuity for larger parties, so your tip amount may already be added into the bill if you go out with a large group. 

Bars and coffee shops. Generally, if you receive good service, you should leave a tip of 10 to 15 percent of your total bill at a bar or a coffee shop. If you aren't running a tab, it is appropriate to leave your bartender a one dollar tip per drink. Coffee servers should fall within the same constraints. Tip 10 to 15 percent of the total bill or one dollar per drink.

And what about those dreaded "tip jars" that you see on coffee shop counters? This is a matter of personal opinion, but if you are given change, it's a nice gesture to toss it into the jar. This is provided, of course, that you received really good service.

The holidays. The months of November and December are when service industry workers receive the most tips. Hotel door workers, daycare workers, and even teachers often receive a monetary gift from satisfied consumers.

Tipping during the holidays is a personal choice. If you do choose to give a little extra during this blissful season it is best to keep it simple. For those that provide great service, they should receive a small gratuity of $20 dollars. Tipping more for services that are performed regularly or that are particularly labor intensive is fine as well.

Beauty salons. This is another place where ittipping etiquette is customary to tip for services rendered. Salon and spa tipping should generally be the same as restaurant tipping – 15 to 20 percent tipping gratuity for a hair stylist is appropriate. However, if you go to a high-end salon where there is a separate shampooer, it is customary to tip the shampooist a few dollars as well. If several people assist you at the salon or spa, you should leave a separate tip for each person (the stylist, the masseuse, the manicurist, etc.).

Furniture delivery. This is a tricky area, as most people are unsure what the proper tipping etiquette is for furniture deliveries. In general, a ten dollar tip per delivery person is appropriate for most furniture deliveries. Since you most likely won't know ahead of time how many delivery people will be coming to your house, have at least 4 ten dollar bills on hand for tipping movers. Tip a little more if the delivery men do extra, like set up a bed or put together a piece of furniture. If the delivery men are unprofessional, don't feel as though you have to tip them.

Flower delivery. What do you do if some unexpected flowers arrive at your door and you don't have any cash? Since flower delivery is usually for a gift and therefore unexpected, it is not mandatory to tip. However, if you have a few dollars on hand, it's appropriate to tip the delivery person a couple of dollars.

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Hotels. When visiting a hotel it is customary to tip a number of employees for services, especially high-end chains. The doorman, the valet, and the bellman should receive 1 to 3 dollars for their assistance. For services that require more aid such as the concierge you should tip 10 to 20 dollars. When tipping at a hotel always remember to check your bill. The restaurant, salon and other businesses within the hotel may charge 18 percent over the total for a tip. If this is the case you do not need to leave a separate tip.

Taxis. This is one industry where tipping is expected and a tip should be given. Use the 15 percent tip rule for taxi cab drivers, too. You should leave a tip of 15 percent of your cab--and leave a little more if the driver does something extra, like helps you with your bags.

Airports, trains and buses. This is another area in which customers feel the need to tip for personal services. You need not tip the flight attendant, drivers or pilots. However, other service workers should get a tip. For example, a porter should receive $2 per piece of luggage and anyone who works within a bar or restaurant should get a 15 to 20 percent tip.

A Couple of General Tips on Tips!

  • How many in your party? More people means more service. This means that you should take the number of persons being served into consideration when leaving a tip. The more people in your party, the more work that must be done. So make sure to tip extra for everyone that is being served by the worker.
  • Quick tip calculating. Lousy at math? Some people carry small calculators or tipping charts to figure out the amount that they should leave for a tip. You can also try this quick calculating trick that follows tipping guidelines: If the bill is $42.00, just figure out what 10 percent of 42 is ($4.20) and double that to get $8.40. $8.40 would be a 20 percent tip on that same $42. In this case you could leave anywhere from 8 to 9 dollars for really good service.

In general, an easy tipping guide to follow is to think about the service performed and how well it was performed, then tip accordingly. Now that you have these tipping suggestions, you can feel confident that you're giving an appropriate amount of gratuity no matter where you go!


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