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To Tip or Not to Tip? And How Much…

A tip is a sum of money given to someone as a reward for their services. It is also referred to as a gratuity. Many workers, especially lower paid individuals, count on earning tip money to pay bills. This is especially true in the food industry for servers, bartenders, and the like who earn minimum wages. However, the American tipping culture is often confusing for consumers who generally don’t carry cash. Rather, they rely on debit and credit cards and apps. When one pays using those methods, some tip options may come up during transactions. Thus, it is essential to know who to tip (or not tip) and about how much.

Tips have long been considered a matter of social custom and etiquette and practices vary from country to country. In some circumstances, tipping is customary and expected. In other situations, tipping is not required, especially when there is a fixed service charge already added to the bill. In rare instances, it may be insulting to offer a tip. For example, in Japan, it may be confusing or rude to leave money at the table and a tip may likely be turned down. Since one rule does not apply across the board, knowing how tipping operates in different cultures is essential for travelers, and can lead to fewer misunderstandings.

Tipping in the U.S. is not a mandatory thing. However, it is considered rude to not tip certain workers, such as waitstaff at a restaurant. Food servers generally expect about 15 to 20 percent of the pretax bill as a tip. It gets tricky with buffet services, but experts suggest tipping at least 10 percent. Take-out food and pizza delivery should be paid 10% or upward for their time. And, if you go in to grab food from a restaurant and see a tip jar, the amount you decide to leave should reflect your purchase, quality of service, and how much attention was required. Same holds true for Baristas. Grocery delivery people will accept tips and 15 to 20 percent is standard. However, cashiers generally are not permitted to receive tips.

Exterminators who frequent a home regularly typically receive a tip for the holidays, anywhere from $20 and up as a thank you for their routine service. They may also accept tips for going above and beyond to perform individual duties, such as moving furniture within a home. Cleaning people often earn tips at holiday time as well as for extra work or for a job well done if you are particularly pleased. Hairdressers and stylists should be tipped after each service at about 15 to 20 percent, including salon owners who are serving you. Same goes for nail technicians.

Tipping a hotel maid depends on how many days you stayed at the hotel, but likely about $5 a day is standard. Other industries that generally accept tips include flower delivery ($5 for a large arrangement), professional movers (up to $50 per mover), private contractors, cab drivers, Uber and Lyft drivers, dog walkers, and more. While most companies allow employees to keep their own tips, in certain situations, money may be pooled between workers and divided up.

Just as there are careers where people are tipped, there are some that are not. This includes doctors, lawyers, accountants, politicians, flight attendants, mail carriers and more. Though they are hard working professionals who perform important services, they are generally compensated through the fees they charge or by the paychecks they earn. Or there may be limits. For example, a mail carrier may accept cash gifts under $20. In some circumstances, and depending upon the profession, some may accept thank you gifts in lieu of cash.

There are many people who feel tipping has gone overboard in the U.S. and dislike the suggestion to tip everyone who does something for you such as the cable guy or the dry cleaner. Their argument is that these people are paid by their employer to do a job and they question whether tips are necessary. However, if you have a regular business relationship with someone and like the service they perform, or if someone is catering to your needs, you should consider it. Tipping is a great way to say thank you to someone who is taking care of you or performing an important service. Those who earn tips can affirm they’ve completed a job well done.


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