Should You Tip in These 10 Situations? If So, How Much?

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • The holidays are coming, and in this economy, your tips can make a big difference for service professionals.
  • 15% to 20% is the gold standard for many tipping situations.
  • You usually don't have to tip people like your lawyer or accountant, but they might appreciate a holiday gift.

'Tis the season to tip generously.

The holiday season is upon us, and while you should absolutely be tipping generously all year round, tipping might be more at the forefront of your mind around the holidays. After all, for people who work in the American service industries, a large part of their income might come from tips, and with inflation still up 8.2% from last year per the latest Consumer Price Index Summary, they can surely use a little help. Read on for a breakdown of 10 times to tip, along with a few notes about when you shouldn't.

1. Eating in a sit-down restaurant

You should always tip your server at a sit-down restaurant because they are working hard to ensure you get what you ordered in a timely manner, as well as refilling your drink and making sure you have a nice meal. The etiquette gurus at Emily Post note that the traditional percentage to tip your server is 15% to 20% of the cost of your bill, and it should be figured based on the total bill, including tax. Also note that some restaurants have servers pool tips so everyone working that night (such as bartenders, table bussers, and so on) will get a cut.

2. Visiting a bar

It's also best practice to tip your bartender, because much like a restaurant server, they're doing their best to give you a fun night out. Emily Post states that 15% to 20% works in this situation as well, or you can avoid the math by tipping $1 to $2 per drink.

3. Getting a coffee

If your favorite coffee shop has a tip jar or a tip field built into its payment system, whether to tip or not is up to you. If you're a regular customer or your barista created some particularly lovely latte art for you, it might be nice to tuck a dollar or two into that jar.

4. Having food delivered

If someone braves the elements to bring your dinner right to your door, you really should tip them (especially as many food delivery apps note, 100% of tips go to the delivery driver, while that driver will likely not see much of the service fee the app might charge you). Emily Post states that 10% to 15% of the bill is a sufficient tip, or $2 to $5 for a pizza delivery.

5. Having your hair or nails done

It's wonderful to have someone help you look your best, and definitely don't forget to tip these miracle workers. Emily Post advocates for a 15% to 20% tip here, too, and remember that your tip may be split among everyone who helped you (say, for example, if another staff member washed your hair before you got it cut).

6. Getting a massage

If you're at a spa for your massage, it's customary to tip in that 15% to 20% range (are you seeing a pattern?). But if you're at a chiropractor's office or a physical therapy clinic for your massage, you don't need to tip.

7. Going for a ride

It's long been customary to tip 15% to 20% to your taxi driver, and you can do the same for a rideshare driver. If you're asked to rate your driver and they did the job well, give them a five-star rating, as it can help them keep their job.

8. Checking into (or out of) a hotel

Emily Post notes that it's best practice to tip your bellhop $2 for the first bag of yours they carry to your room, and tack on an additional $1 for each additional bag. This can add up if you have a lot of luggage, but it's nice to have someone else move those bags around for you.

9. Having your hotel room cleaned

While you can wait to tip on housekeeping services until you check out after your stay, it's much nicer to leave $2 to $5 per day (ideally with a note that says "Housekeeping") to ensure that if different people clean your room each day, they'll each get a little something.

10. Getting your car parked

Finally, if you're taking advantage of valet parking, Emily Post notes that it's customary to tip $2 to $5 when your car is returned to you after its parking garage adventure.

People who don't need to be tipped

There are a lot of people in our lives who you might think deserve a tip, but it's better to give people like your accountant, your lawyer, or your child's teacher a holiday gift instead if they've really gone above and beyond for you (or your child) this year. You also most likely don't need to tip the plumber who came to fix your leaky sink (unless it was an emergency and they came out on the fly, in which case they might appreciate a little extra). You'll also want to check your restaurant bill if you've gone out with a big group of fellow diners; many restaurants will automatically include a gratuity in the bill for parties over a certain size.

One other quick note about tipping: Cash is preferred in many situations, and in some cases, you may be unable to tip using a debit or credit card. I, too, have become one of those people who doesn't often carry cash, but if you know you're going to be getting services such as the ones listed above, it might be a good idea to have some small bills on hand.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow