How Much Should You Tip? A Real-Life Guide To A Confusing Question

So you've had some great food, great drinks, or maybe your just done-up eyebrows are now on fleek. Then comes the moment to summon all the rules of tipping etiquette you've collected throughout your wise years of fine living and revelry. It can get stressful, awkward, and have you unwillingly relive some of your worst math class nightmares. And who needs a day and/or night well spent tainted by that?

There are many speculations as to how tipping actually came about. Economist experts told eHow that the practice of tipping is mostly rooted in either a show of higher status or an attempt to receive superior service. In fact, as pointed out in College Humor's Why Tipping Should Be Banned — Adam Ruins Everything video, when prohibition affected restaurant profits, owners encouraged tipping just so they could pay their servers less.

Whether or not we should reevaluate our system of tipping is an entirely different discussion, but as it stands in the U.S., it's pretty highly frowned upon if you don't tip. So how do you make sure you're doing it right? Luckily, other people have figured it out for us and have broken it down quite nicely. The Emily Post Institute provided CNN Money with a great guide for how much to tip. Real Simple did it too — and even went so far as to explain how specific situations and services affect tipping etiquette.

The next time you're out and about doing your thing, don't fret over that awkward moment of the transaction. Here are 14 tips on tipping for any situation that may come your way.



1. Server

Real Simple list their range for waiters and waitresses in between 15 percent to 20 percent. CNN Money recommended to tip (excluding tax) 15 percent of the bill for adequate service; 20 percent for very good service; no less than 10 percent for poor service.

2. Bartender

Both Real Simple and CNN Money recommended tipping $1 per alcoholic beverage. However, CNN Money said 15 to 20 percent of the tab is best.

3. Barista

While most sources said this is completely optional, Real Simple suggested any spare change or up to $2 would be just fine.

4. Sommelier

Oh you fancy, huh? Well, whenever you find your fine self sipping on some great wine, with the help of a wine expert, it's good to tip 15 percent the cost of the bottle, according to CNN Money.

5. Delivery

You should definitely be tipping these gracious souls who may have risked their lives trekking through ungodly weather conditions and avoiding traffic violations just to get your pizza and mozzarella sticks delivered quickly to you — safe, sound, and still warm. Real Simple kept the suggested tipping range as anywhere in between $2 to $4. CNN Money said to tip 10 percent of the bill (excluding tax) and at least $1 for bills up to $10. With this in mind, for an especially difficult delivery, you should be tipping 15 to 20 percent.



For the longest time, I've been at a loss with how much you should tip at beauty appointments. When I get my eyebrows threaded, seated in my chair, I'm racking my brain and conducting all sorts of math calculations to ensure a smooth transaction and a graceful exit. Well, turns out the rules for being beautiful are pretty simple. Tipping being one of them.

6. Hairdresser/Barber

Because they help you tame that fabulous mane, you should be tipping 15 to 20 percent, according to both Real Simple and CNN Money's guides.

7. Nails

The standard range here is anywhere in between 10 to 20 percent, depending on specific service or time. Yes, you should probably be tipping more for a pedicure. Because feet. I don't care how lovely they may be, they're still feet. An exceptional manicure or any pedicure merits 20 percent for sure.

8. Spa

Facials, massages, waxing, body treatments — these services are mighty generous. And so you should be tipping generously. It's safe to set your amount to 20 percent, but if you received some extra awesome treatment, it never hurts to add a little more.

9. Concierge/Valet


Whether they're helping you carry your bags, parking your car, or making you restaurant reservations, especially in more luxurious accommodations, it's good not to overlook tipping here.

The tipping portion of the Etiquette For Dummies Cheat Sheet recommends the following:

  • If a doorman carries your bag, give him $1 to $2 per bag. Give a doorman who hails you a cab $1.
  • If a bellman arrives at your hotel room with your luggage, tip him $2 per bag.
  • For a concierge who gets you into a fashionable restaurant, tip $10 to $20, or if the concierge gets you into the opening night of a popular play or opera, tip $20 per ticket.
  • Tip the parking valet who retrieves your car $1 or $2.



10. Taxi/Uber/Lyft/Etc.

This one's a little tricky because a lot of it does depend on locality and factors such as rush hour. While CNN Money said it's fair to assume 15 percent will be enough, with an extra $1 to $2 for bags, Real Simple said it's completely optional, but appreciated. Considering some of the shenanigans and characters they may have to deal with on the daily, I'd definitely be generous and give 15 to 20 percent, especially with exceptional service and reliability. Also, like, do you or do you not have some of the best convos with your Uber drivers? Show 'em some love!

11. Hotel/Housekeeper

Real Simple said you should be tipping $2 a night at a budget hotel and $3 to $5 a night at a high-end hotel. They also recommended to tip daily, because more than one housekeeper may be cleaning your room.

12. Room Service

For room service, Real Simple listed 15 to 20 percent of the meal's cost as appropriate. However, it's important to take notice of the difference between a "service charge" and a "gratuity charge." A service charge doesn't cover the tip, but a gratuity charge does. So just be aware.

13. Calculating It All

All these percentages driving you crazy? Same. I've never been much of a mathematician (aka I can't do math at all), so as much as I can drill these percentages into my head, in the heat of the moment when it boils down to the sum, those numbers do nothing for me. And sometimes my smartphone calculator just can't do it for me, either. #JudgeMe.

Well, you can use an online conversion tip calculator like this one that will conveniently compute it for you, in terms of how many people, total cost, and what percentage you want to tip. After a while it does make more sense — even with obscure amounts, it's easier to round.

For more info on what you should be tipping during the holidays or special events like weddings as well as who you don't ever need to tip, definitely check out Real Simple's full tipping infographic here. Happy tipping!

Images: Giphy (4)