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Tips on Tipping – Who, When and How Much

Simone Jonker
Simone Jonker worked in NTD Inspired for two years. She wrote light articles and inspiring stories.
Published: February 6, 2022
Whom to tip and how much can be a bit confusing, but these tips on tipping will help you determine what’s expected in terms of gratuities. (Image: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels)

Because service wages are not increasing as quickly as inflation, customers are expected to pick up the tab. Understanding the tipping system is something many are afraid to ask about. After all, places and cultures differ, and no one wants to upset others or embarrass themselves. In most cases, if someone is in the service or a hospitality profession, it’s only ethical that you tip them.

Since the COVID-19 breakout, wait staff, hotel clerks, and bartenders lost a ton of money when everyone was encouraged to stay at home. Public and private services have grown swiftly and food delivery and shopping pick-up suddenly became essential services. Places that didn’t previously ask for tips now do.

Tips on tipping with the times

Tips can take on many forms nowadays. The main idea is to show that you appreciate the service you have received in a way that is helpful or useful to the provider. Whether your tip is cash, card, electronic or a tangible gift, consider how valuable the service was to you, and that the provider does not likely have a high income.

Gift cards: When purchasing a massage or a restaurant dinner gift card, add the tip amount on the gift card. This allows the recipient to pay for both the service and the tip. Tip: 10 to 20 percent of the service charge.

Tipping methods: Many service providers prefer electronic tipping using Venmo, PayPal, Square, and other apps.

When we should tip: Food-service tips now include pickup and virtual orders, as well as tips for the business owner. 

How do firms use the tips? A growing number of establishments now request tips, and gratuities are often distributed among all personnel, including those who do not directly serve customers.

Type of tip: Alternative “tipping” options include food and gift baskets, thank-you letters, and gift cards.

Tipping Etiquette

It is not always clear when to tip and when to skip. These guidelines will help you make that call; but when in doubt, be generous!

When to skip the tip: Tips are appreciated by service employees, a small gift or cash in the holidays is always appreciated, however, USPS drivers and many government employees cannot accept gratuities. You don’t need to tip teachers, doctors, accountants, vets, or the postman. You may write as many thank-you messages as you like though! 

Coffee shops: In the fast-food industry and coffee shops where there are tip jars, tips are optional; but if you’re a regular or ordering anything complicated, please be generous. Every penny counts!

Personal trainers and fitness instructors: No gratuities are required for a single session, but consider tipping after a series of sessions, such as eight weeks. No tips are expected, but gifts are always appreciated.

Waiting tables is a tough and tiring job. Don’t forget to tip your waitstaff well. (Image: Andrea Booher via Wikimedia Commons Public domain)

How much to tip whom

Furniture and appliance delivery people: The gratuity depends on the size of the package and the labor done. Tip extra if they installed an appliance, assembled furniture, or removed old stuff. Tip: $20 or 15 percent of the price.

Special delivery: The person who ordered the gift usually tips the delivery person, but it’s nice to consider tipping them as well. Tip: $5 to $10 cash.

Movers: Even if your employer is footing the bill for your relocation, it is customary to give the movers a gratuity. Having cool refreshments available is also a thoughtful touch. Tip: $20 per person per day and $50 for a supervisor.

Car Guards: If a valet drives your vehicle around for you, tip at least $2. That driver keeps your fine automobile safe.

Baristas: Baristas are often paid the bare minimum or less. tips According to reports from  The Washington Post, gratuities at one D.C. coffee shop amount to almost $3 per hour for waitstaff and over $50 per day at a nearby La Colombe restaurant. Tipping used to be as simple as putting spare change in a jar on the counter but now tipping is expected. Tip: If your order is complex, add $1 per drink.

Waitstaff: Restaurants expect you to tip 15percent pre-tax or 20percent for exceptional service, while a larger tip may be appropriate in certain places.  Even In wealthy cities like Washington, D.C. staff may still make less than minimum wage. Remember that the tipped minimum pay is $2.13 per hour and tip with crisp, smooth bills. Tip: 15-20 percent.

Pet care providers: While how much to tip a dog groomer, dog walker, or pet sitter varies on the service provided, tipping is expected. Tip: 10–15 percent of the bill.

Cab and Uber: Uber allows users to tip through the app. If you do choose to leave a tip, you can select the option that you feel is most appropriate based on the ride that you just had. Tip: 10-15percent.

Take out food delivery services should be tipped 10 to 15 percent. (Image: Mike Jones via Pexels)

Restaurant takeout: When the pandemic struck, many eateries only served takeaway, sparking the question: Do you tip for takeout? Yes. All orders, including takeaway and delivery, should be tipped. Tip in both upscale and casual restaurants. Tip: 10 to 15 percent.

To-Go Orders: You should always leave a gratuity for the service you get when you pick up a to-go order. There are times when only one person does this, and other times when a group helps with the boxing. In either case, at national chain restaurants, rules are almost always in place so that tips for to-go orders go to the person or people who made your meal for you to take home or to work Tip: 10-15 percent. For orders under $10, round off to $1.

Salon and Spa workers: A good rule of thumb, tip your manicurist, massage therapist, and waxing specialist generously. And in the case of massages, working out those muscle knots for 60 to 90 minutes is hard, physical work. Tip accordingly.  Tip: 15-20 percent.

Hairstylists and barbers: Be sure to tip your stylists. One of the worst salon etiquette blunders is leaving without thanking your stylist and tipping the helper who washed your hair. Tip: 15-20 percent, plus $5 to $10 for the assistant.


Hotel: If you are staying at a hotel, leave a daily tip in an envelope stamped “hotel housekeeping” or “hotel housekeeping. Tip: $1-$3 each night, plus $5 for extras.

Valet: Tip cash after handing in keys. If you have made special requests, tip more. Tip: $5-$10

Doormen: Nowadays, doormen do a lot more than just hail taxis, so consider how much they help you. Also, consider the weather. Tip: $5-$20

Bellhop: Tip per bag plus a little more if they carry your bags to your room. Tip: $2-$3 for each bag, $5 for room delivery.

Life is painful and complicated for many people. If we all consider how we can make things easier for others, everybody gains. A little extra effort and sacrifice on our part is nothing compared with the virtue of being generous. As ancient wisdom always tells us, “good is rewarded.”

“What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other? Tipping well is one way to make things a little easier for someone else.”

George Eliot