Tipping Etiquette

What is the proper tipping etiquette? Tipping at a restaurant can be confusing: some people say it should be 10% while other people say 20%. Tipping also occurs in other scenarios as well. What should you tip when you stay in a hotel? What do you tip the bellman for carrying your bags? How about if you must check out, but want to leave your bags at the hotel with the Concierge, what is a proper tip? What is the right tip and when should you give it?

Here are some tipping etiquette guidelines:

  • Tip is on the pre-tax amount, not the total of the bill. The tip should be 20% and up, depending on the restaurant and the quality of the service. For buffet type restaurants, it may start at 15%.

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  • There is no obligation to leave money in a countertop tip jar.

  • Be discreet. Do not flash your money when you tip.

  • Do not tip if gratuity has been added to the bill. The one exception to this is if the gratuity is figured at 15% for a large group, you may want to bump it to 20% if your enjoyed great service.

  • Leave one dollar per drink to the bartender who served you drinks while you were waiting for your table.

  • Give $1 to $2 dollars to the valet parker when he/she brings your car.

  • When staying at a hotel for business or otherwise, hotel room tips can range anywhere from $3 to $5 per night of stay.

  • When the doorman at the hotel carries your bags, the anticipated tip is generally $1 to $2 per bag.

  • When storing your bag with the concierge after you check out to be retrieved later for your departure, it is generally $1 - $2 per bag when they take your bag(s) and another $1 - $2 per bag when you retrieve your bag(s).

  • When the doorman/concierge flags you a cab or car, a $1 - 2 per person tip is expected.

  • If taking a cab, when the fare is calculated, a tip of $2 – 3 is expected

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The most important thing to remember about tipping etiquette is that the tip is well deserved. A great service deserves a great tip, while a poor service deserves a small tip and, in some cases, no tip at all. I have been to many countries, and tipping in the US is generally more generous than what I have found in other countries. You should note, however, that if you are an American travelling overseas, there are times when visiting a foreign countries, that wait staff will expect the tip you pay in the US versus what is customary in that country. These are generally in more “touristy” areas, so you should be aware of that situation.

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