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Are You A Rude Tipper? A Guide To Tipping Etiquette

Sarah Carrillo -- Tipping is a big part of life in America but most of the guidelines are unspoken. When? How much? Whom? Remember that tipping is supposed to be for quality service, so here are some tips on tipping etiquette.

"Here you go," you say, handing the bus person at your neighborhood restaurant a couple dollars. He looks at you confusedly before shaking his head and walking away. What did you do? Were you not supposed to tip him?

You encounter it every day: when you take a cab, go out to eat or get your hair done. Tipping is a big part of life in America but most of the guidelines are unspoken. When do we tip? How much is appropriate? Am I insulting someone by tipping -- or not tipping -- them? It's enough to drive you crazy, but we can offer some help with our tipping etiquette tips.

Tipping goes all the way back to the Middle Ages and in many cultures the word for tip derives from the word for drinking, since the first tips were given with the intention the tipee bought himself a drink with the money. We tip to reward good service and in general the more upscale situation we're in, the more we're expected to tip. Here are some guidelines for common tipping situations:


Restaurants are filled with possible people to tip and it's hard to know where to begin. The Itty Bitty Guide to Tipping by Stacie Krajchir and Carrie Rosten offers these guidelines:

Host -- No tip necessary, unless you want a better table, in which case tipping the host when you arrive could help.

Waiter -- 15-20% of the bill before tax

Busboy -- You don't need to tip because the server will share his or her tips with the bus staff. If they are very helpful though, you can ask the server to give them extra (which you provide, obviously).

Sommelier -- 20% of your wine bill before tax if he or she helps you choose wine for your dinner.

Bartender -- 15-20% of bar bill, or $1 per drink. If the bartender gives you a free round, give him a generous tip.

Coat check -- no tip unless coat check is free, then $1

Washroom attendant -- no tip unless they go above and beyond

Valet -- $2 per car


You love the person who cuts your hair. In fact, you love the whole salon for making you look so dang good when you go there, so what's the best way to show them how much you care? Krajchir and Rosten explain:

Shampoo girl -- $2-5

Manicurist -- 15%

Hair stylist -- 15% or more if he or she did a complicated cut or an amazing color job

Massage therapist -- 15%

Facialist -- 15%

Spa Attendants -- At a resort spa, tip about 5% of your bill at the front desk. If anyone went above and beyond, tip them in person. At day spas, you don't need to tip the attendants. However, if you go to it regularly and the attendants go the extra mile for you, you may want to tip.


When you're on vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is forgetting to tip someone. Here's who you should remember, according to Krajchir and Rosten:

Doorman -- $1-3 per service

Cabdrivers -- 10% of fare, unless he or she goes above and beyond

Bellhop -- $1-2 per bag

Concierge -- $3-5 for making dinner reservations, more for other services like booking tours, etc. If you just ask for directions, you don't need to tip.

Maid -- $2 per night

Room service -- 15% of bill

Foreign countries

Going to a country where you barely speak the language is stressful enough without worrying about the different gratuity customs. Here's a shorthand guide so you don't offend from When traveling to:

The United Kingdom -- American rules tend to apply, except there is no tipping in bars. Instead you can offer to buy the bartender a drink and he may take you up on it or say he'll take the money for a drink later.

France and Italy -- The tip is included in restaurants so you don't have to put any additional money down.

Germany -- Tipping is rare so in most cases you won't need to tip.

Japan -- There is no tipping and many people will be offended if you try to tip them.

China -- You don't have to tip because foreigners are already charged more for services than locals.

Egypt -- You need to tip in most common situations but not taxi drivers.

Mexico -- Tipping is very common and most service workers will expect a tip since they are paid very little.

Australia and New Zealand -- Tipping is usually included in the price so you don't need to add on.

More tips for tipping:

Servers in a restaurant are automatically taxed about 8% for their tips regardless of what they make, so if you don't tip it actually costs them to serve you! So while you shouldn't have to put up with shoddy service, think twice before you leave nothing.

That tip jar on the counter at Starbucks may make you feel obligated to contribute, but it's actually entirely up to you whether you want to throw in a dollar or some change (although I'm sure it's very much appreciated).

Some less frequent situations that require tipping are movers ($10 per person), a casino dealer ($1-5 per win, or you can make a side bet for them) and your wedding planner (a gift is usually more appropriate than cash).

While it may seem like you should, you don't need to tip babysitters or the front desk clerk at a hotel, unless they do some extra service for you.

Remember that tipping is supposed to be for quality service, so if you feel someone is exceptional, it's okay to tip them more. And if someone gives you truly abysmal service then you don't have to tip them at all. If you are going to forego a tip it's a good idea to talk to the manager of the business and explain why so they can fix the situation.

One last tipping etiquette tip -- always have money on hand and ready for tipping. That way the whole process will go smoothly and you'll look and feel like a tipping pro.


This article, written by Sarah Carrillo of, was originally published on, a free Web site community dedicated to connecting, empowering, and informing women everywhere. features articles on dating, love, careers, fashion, health, beauty and important societal issues. Members also use message boards and blogs to build relationships with other members.

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