Your tipping dilemmas solved

When faced with the tip line on the receipt from the coffee shop do you hesitate and wonder if you should leave a tip for the barista who made your pumpkin spice latte? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve had a few people ask me recently about tipping protocol because it seems tipping has gotten very complicated.

Until credit and debit cards became the preferred payment method for even small purchases, businesses would set out tip jars. They were there to collect the change from your purchase or loose change in your pocket to thank the barista. But now with debit or credit card purchases we’re faced with the tip box on the receipt or the Square payment screen. And, somehow writing in 50 cents just feels chintzy even though that would have been a perfectly acceptable tip if it was in loose change. So, what’s a person to do? Here are some tipping guidelines for the most common tipping situations.

Food Service

Barista or restaurant take out: Not necessary to tip, but if you’re so moved give your spare change or up to $2.00 if it’s a large or complicated order.

Food delivery: $2 to $4

Restaurant server: 15 to 20% of the bill before tax.

Bartender: $1 or $2 per drink depending on how complicated the drink was. No need to tip after each drink; just leave the requisite tip at the end when you’re paying your tab. If you’re attending an event with an open bar, event tipping is optional, otherwise if you’re so moved,  give the bartender $1 per drink.

Valet: $2 to $5 when the car is returned to you.

Beauty for You and Fido

Hair salon/Barbershop: 15 to 20%. Ask that the tip be divided up by those who served you – stylist, shampooer, colorist – or you can specify the amount per person – commiserate with how much time they spent on you. If your stylist is the owner of the salon you still tip her or him.

Nail salon: 10 to 20%

Waxing, massage and facial: 15 to 20%, but some massage therapists can’t accept tips, always ask.

Dog groomer: 15 to 20%


At the Airport

Skycaps: $1 to $2 per bag. In case you’re wondering who these folks are, they are the people who check your bags at the airport curbside and transport them into the terminal. They are not employed by the airlines and they rely on tips. Increase the tip if your bag is heavier or larger than usual.

Taxi and limousine drivers: 15 to 20% of the bill.

Rental car or hotel shuttle driver: $1 per bag.

At the Hotel

Doorman: $2 for the first bag and $1 for additional bags for taking your luggage out of the car and putting them on the cart. Give him $1 to $3 for getting you a taxi, depending on how difficult it was to hail.

Bellman: $1 to $2 per bag depending on the size and weight of your bags. If you have a lot of luggage, give him $10 to $12.

Housekeepers: $2 to $5 per night. If you ask the housekeeper for special services, such as bringing you an extra pillow or toiletries, leave an additional $1 to $2 in an envelope labeled “Housekeeping” the day you check out. If you stay multiple nights, put the tip on your pillow each day, as the person cleaning your room may change.

Concierge: This person’s job is to suggest restaurants or activities and make reservations. She usually does not expect a tip. However, if she goes above and beyond, such as getting you a reservation to a popular restaurant or securing hard-to-get theater tickets, pay her $5 to $10.

Miscellaneous situations where you don’t need to tip

  • Acupuncturist
  • Mail carrier – as government employees they actually are not allowed to accept tips
  • Roadside assistance
  • Flight attendant
  • Full service gas station attendant

Helpful non-tipping tip: If you are given a receipt from someone you don’t typically tip and you decide not to write in a tip, don’t write a zero. Just leave the tip line blank and write in the total below.

Are there any tipping situations I didn’t cover? If you’re a service professional do you have thoughts about any of these tipping dos and don’ts?



Please note: We have a new method of delivering blog posts to your inbox. If you have previously received these blog posts through Feedburner, please subscribe to receive these blog posts through the form below and unsubscribe to the posts you receive through Feedburner.

Feel free to share:


Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Janice Gedlund on September 21, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    This is very helpful! It’s hard to know how much to tip.

    Do you know about tipping practices in Canada? I’d always assumed it was the same as in the US; however tipping is much less common, and at lower rates, in Europe. Do our neighbors to the north lean more towards American or European practice in that regard?

    Thank you.

  2. Arden Clise on September 25, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Janice, thanks for commenting. I’m glad the post was helpful. Tipping in Canada is pretty much the same as the U.S. Same percentages and amounts. Have you had a different experience?

    As far as Europe, it varies by country, but for the most part tipping is much less or not expected at all. There is a great book called Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands that covers the etiquette and protocol for most countries in the world. It’s really helpful.

Leave a Comment