Tipping points: Your guide to gratuities

Learn how much to tip and when.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, in some industries, workers depend on tips. For example, the cash minimum wage in certain states starts at $2.13 per hour for restaurant workers.

No matter where you live, a tip shows your appreciation for good service and rewards the person who provided it. Tips are customary for restaurant servers, but what about hair stylists, baristas and food deliverers? And are there times when it’s not necessary to tip?

Here’s what to know about tipping, how much to tip, plus some additional advice for leaving gratuities.

How much to tip

Tips for good service typically range from 15% to 20% of the total bill. If the person went above and beyond, you might want to leave a bit more.

Etiquette experts suggest tips for hairstylists, manicurists and bartenders should be 15% to 20%. It’s also common to tip food delivery workers 10% to 15%, particularly when they bring your order in bad weather. Valets generally get between $2 and $5, while taxi drivers get 15% to 20%.

But in other situations, the standards for tipping aren’t as clear-cut, which can make things confusing. Should you leave a tip if there’s a tip jar on the counter at your local ice cream or coffee shop?

In those cases, the amount you tip, or if you tip at all, is up to you.

While it might be nice to tip the person serving you ice cream, it’s not required. The same goes for tipping the barista in a coffee shop. If you can afford to drop a dollar or some change in the tip jar, it’ll no doubt be appreciated.  But it should be OK if you can’t or don’t want to.

Tipping with cash vs. credit cards

Service workers often prefer cash tips because they receive them immediately. Credit card tips work differently and are generally added to their next paycheck rather than disbursed instantly.

In places like spas or salons, however, they may not accept tips on credit cards, so cash is necessary. Increasingly, personal service providers are also accepting digital payment through platforms like Venmo.

Other “tips” to know

If you’re building a budget to include a certain amount each month for dining out or food delivery, make sure to factor in the cost of tips. Budgeting for tips can help you avoid overspending in those categories.

And if you’ll be traveling to a different country, research common tipping practices before your trip. Tipping expectations tend to vary by region. In some cultures, like in Japan, tipping is viewed as rude. It’s important to learn the local customs before you travel.

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