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Gratuities: When, Who, and How Much to Tip


sedan service LATipping is a widespread practice in the United States. Typically, a tip is offered on a voluntary basis, but there are times when gratuity is automatically added to the total price of the bill. For example, when dining in a 5-star restaurant, a 15% gratuity is likely to be added by the establishment. For exceptional service, you can increase the amount of tip if you wish.

The bottom line is that tipping is a way to show appreciation for someone who goes above and beyond to provide an outstanding service. The challenge comes in knowing when to tip, who to tip, and how much to offer.

When Is Tipping Appropriate?

Even with well-defined guidelines, there are no hard rules to tipping, although for many situations, tipping is completely appropriate. For example, you would not be expected to tip the person who bags your groceries at the store, but giving a tip to someone who walks your groceries to the car and loads them for you would be appropriate.

While there is a list of people in certain industries who are commonly tipped, this action really is discretionary. If you are in a situation and not sure whether to tip or not, you get to make the call based on the type and level of service received.

Who Gets Tipped?


For people working in certain industries, a significant portion of income comes from gratuities, not base pay. A prime example is food servers, who make very little per hour. They work hard to offer consumers an exceptional service so in exchange they receive nice tips. In addition to food servers, the following people are commonly tipped.

  • Bartenders/Cocktail Waitresses
  • Bellhops
  • Coat Checkers
  • Concierge Service
  • Hair Dressers
  • Limousine Drivers
  • Maid Service
  • Movers
  • Nail Techs
  • Parking Valets
  • Porters
  • Showroom Captains
  • Spa Therapists/Masseuses
  • Taxi Drivers
  • Tour Guides

How Much to Tip?

The general rule is that great service deserves a 20% tip, acceptable service 15%, and less-than great 10% or less. To help you determine the right amount to tip someone who provided a service, some examples are listed below. If you need assistance, there are a number of incredible mobile applications designed to quickly and easily make the decision for you. This type of application works great for all situations, especially when a large party is involved.


  • Bellhop, Doormen, and Skycap – $1 to $2 per bag
  • Coat Check Attendant – $1 per coat
  • Concierge – $5 to $10
  • Food Servers (sit-down restaurants), Bartenders, and Cocktail Waitresses – 10% to 20%
  • Hair Stylists, Tour Guides, Food Delivery Drivers, and Taxi Drivers – 10% to 20%
  • Housekeeper – $2 to $5 for each night’s stay
  • Limo Driver – $10 to $20 for airport and Point-to-Point transfers, $50 to $100 for several hours of service, $100 or more for multiple-day service
  • Parking Valet – $3 to $5
  • Ski Instructors – 10% to 15% 

Additional Considerations

While a 20% tip is considered high, if you receive stellar service and the individual provided a lengthy service, then 25% and even 30% is acceptable. For instance, a party of 20 people dining and drinking in a nice restaurant for hours who receive fantastic service can certainly leave more than a 20% tip.

In addition, gratuity tends to be higher in certain parts of the country, like New York City, Denver, and San Francisco. As mentioned, these are merely guidelines to the rules of tipping. Therefore, if you were to hire a limo driver for several hours of service and that person showed up in a gorgeous and well-maintained sedan, was courteous and professional, and added value to the day, you can certainly be generous with gratuity if you wish.

Posted on Jul 22 2015

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