General Tipping Tips

For most people, the question “Do I need to tip?” is a familiar one. In the United States, tipping is customary for good service, and in many cases it's considered a basic courtesy. Because tipping practices and amounts are not mandated by law or by most private businesses, the particulars around this custom can be confusing. Aside from the typical tipping locations like bars and restaurants and hotels, salons, spas, coffee shops and even dry cleaners often now present tip jars, which can flummox even the most seasoned consumer.

Generally speaking, the rule of thumb at restaurants and salons is 15 percent to 20 percent; bartenders receive $1 per drink; and a pedicurist can receive anywhere between 10 percent and 20 percent. An area that regularly confuses people is taxi tipping. Generally speaking, the rule for taxi or car service tipping is 10 percent to 12 percent, with an extra dollar or two if you receive assistance with your luggage.

Why tip?

No, tipping is not mandatory (although some establishments do include a service charge as part of the overall bill), but it is common practice, particularly in the United States. One reason is that many workers ‒ particularly in the restaurant industry ‒ rely on tips as a large part of their income. Other reasons to tip are to compliment a service employee for going above and beyond the basic duties of their job, for performing an exceptional service or for being especially personable. Some people use tipping as a way of being remembered in the hope of receiving exceptional treatment in the future.

What about Las Vegas?

Tipping in Las Vegas is a little different from tipping in other areas of the U.S. Most employees in Las Vegas, as in other tourist cities like Miami, work for tips and a low hourly rate. While prices for services may seem low, factoring in a tip for all services that require personal interaction with an employee is the standard practice. There are several reasons why. For one thing, the pace is faster in Las Vegas, and cab drivers work very hard to ensure that you safely get where you're going on time in a busy city. Generally speaking, with fares up to $15, a $3 dollar tip is sufficient. For rides with a fare that falls between $15 and $33 dollars, a $5 tip is appropriate. For rides that cost more than $33, a tip of 20 percent to 30 percent is considered appropriate. Generally, if you are going to the airport, the practice is to give a higher tip, particularly if the driver has assisted you with your luggage or gotten you to the terminal during an especially busy time of day.

New York City

New York City is another busy city where service professionals thrive on tips. Bartenders, servers, hotel concierges and housekeeping all rely on tips from patrons to build their income. Cabdrivers are among the most famously tip-dependent employees in the city, particularly since ride-share apps have changed the climate for workers like these. Whether you've hailed a yellow cab or are using a ride-share app, all drivers appreciate tips, particularly in cash, although new technology enables you to swipe for your rides and add the gratuity to your card. An appropriate tip for cabbies is between 10 percent and 20 percent in the City of New York, but rides to the airport should absolutely receive a 20 percent gratuity, if not more. Rush hour in the city is particularly challenging, so if your driver takes a circuitous route in an effort to give you a more timely arrival, you'll want to tip on the higher side.