Travelling to America? We’re super jealous. You’ll be in the land of Oreos, massive food portions and Beyoncé. But while you’re bouncing around the states, don’t forget one majorly important thing: tipping. Okay, so you don’t havvveeeeee to tip, but it’s considered rude if you don’t. Just remember that the minimum wage in America is $7.25 USD per hour, and that some of these service industry folks make a living off tips. And yes, you’ll probably be judged by how much or how little you tip. That’s life in ‘Murica. That's where a good how-to-tip guide comes in handy.
Unless the service is grit-your-teeth, swear-out-loud awful, here’s our tips on how to tip for different services across America.
Basic rule of thumb: if you’re just getting a drink at the bar, tip $1 per drink. So whether you’re ordering a schooner of Budweiser, a glass of wine or a mixer, just add a dollar to the bill or leave a dollar on the bar (no coins, that’s, like, peasant level).
If you’re ordering a fancy-schmancy cocktail that’s over $10, give a $2-$4 tip (depending on how cool the bartender is). And that’s another thing, you’ll find that most bartenders are superrrrr friendly and down to chat, because tips are life.
The standard for tipping at sit-down restaurants is 15%-20% on the pre-tax amount. This is where you gotta remember that servers in the US are usually working for tips or on minimum wage. A restaurant might give you a suggested tip amount at the bottom of the bill, but you totally don’t have to go by that. It really depends on the quality of service you received.
So if the server had an attitude or it was difficult to get their attention, it’s okay to leave a small tip. If they got your order wrong or spilt something on you, just remember they’re human and it was probably an honest mistake that shouldn’t be factored into their tip. But you’re an upstanding human being, so we shouldn’t have to explain that to you.
If you’re curious about tipping at fast casual or fast food chains in America, don’t worry, they don’t expect a tip. And at cafes, you’ll usually see a tip jar by the cash register that you can drop a few bucks in if you’re really impressed with the coffee (although, don’t expect to find much Aussie-quality coffee in America…remember, they love Starbucks).
You’ll probably only take a taxi in America if your phone dies or the Uber surcharge is higher than your rent. If you hail a taxi in the US, just know that the driver will expect a tip by the end of the trip.
Tipping a taxi driver is usually 10% of the fare (rounded up). Again, it really depends on the quality of service...and if the driver didn’t take you some extra long way to rack up the meter.
Hotel Concierge/ Bellhop
If your fancy-self is staying at a nice-ass hotel in America, it’s customary to tip the hotel concierge $5 for their service. If you’re wondering what a concierge does, they’re usually the all-knowing, go-to person for restaurant recommendations, booking tours and arranging a car service. But just remember, you can always google these things #millennials.
If you packed as if you’re moving to America, and need a bellhop, tip $1 per bag.
Hotel Room Service
Again, if your fancy-ass self-orders room service (which might happen when it’s 3am and you just got back from the club), tip the delivery person $1-$2…even if the service charge is included in the bill. Don’t question it. It’s just how it is *shrug*.
Ah, this is a confusing one, but yes, you should really tip your hairdresser if you get a haircut in the US. It’s usually 20%, depending on if they blow dry your hair/didn’t totally f*ck up your colour. Even for me, a born and bred American, I still get confused about what to tip the hairdresser. Same goes for nail and beauty salons.
If you’ve done otherworldly travelling, you know that it’s customary to tip a tour guide, no matter where you are in the world. Like, duh. It might be different in other countries, but if you had a totally rad tour guide in America, tip 10% of the total cost of the tour. Free walking tour? Give the person a hug and $5 because they’re really working for those tips.
Valet Parking Attendant
Okay fancy-pants, if you really gotta valet park your precious Honda Civic rental, tip the valet dude $1-$2 AFTER you get in the car. But sheesh, park your own damn car, or like, Uber.
Coat Check Attendant
Visiting America during winter? Bold move. As cold as it may be, people still go out and have a good time. So cover your skimpy outfit in a nice, warm coat and hand it to coat check on your way into the club. On your way out (if you don’t forget that you had a coat), tip the coat check attendant $1. UNLESS you already paid a coat check fee…if so then nothing.
Sometimes you’ll see someone sitting in the corner of the bathroom with mouthwash, floss, sweets, body splash, tampons, all that good stuff. While you might not use any of it (technically it’s free), it’s nice to tip the bathroom attended small change for sitting there all night listening to people pee. Someone's gotta do it.
Of course, there are apps for tipping. There are apps for everything. If you can't be bothered to track tips in your head (or percentages still give you grief) here are some tip-friendly apps to load onto your phone before your trip.
- Tipulator (includes split-bill calculator)
- Tap Tip (very green, very easy to use)
- Tip Check (good range of services and guides)
Image credit: Sharon McCutcheon